The Im-Perfect Storm

flare gun or fireworks?

When I was a rotten teenager, we spent our summer vacations on Sanibel Island, FL.  It’s an island off the southwest coast near Ft. Meyers and directly across from West Palm Beach.  Back then it was the most awesome place ever.  It was small, with no chain restaurants or huge crowds of people.  You could rent a condo for a week with your own private beach and a pool with a swim-up bar, and a hot guy to mix your fruity drink which would inevitably be stolen by a crow (not kidding) or confiscated by your parents.  In any case I’m sure there are still hot gays, I mean guys, and plenty of fruity drinks but I have a feeling the local businesses have given way to chains and there are scores of people on the beaches in the summer.  This story isn’t about any of that, I merely wanted to provide some back story.
One summer my father and I rented a boat to go fishing.  We had a boat of our own back in Texas so we were seasoned pros at trolling the lakes for the perfect fishing spot.  The sea can’t be that different, right?  So the boat we rented (I have another boat rental story involving Captain Becki for later) was what is commonly referred to in the south as a bass boat.  It’s the regular kind of outboard motor boat most people drive around the lake.  On the ocean however, size matters.  Why?  Because every day at around 4:00pm in southern Florida it rains, or at least it did in the 1980’s.
On that fateful day, The Minnow was having lots of luck with the fishing but in the afternoon the sky started to turn dark, and by that I mean black, and then it started to rain.  A LOT.  We decided it best to head back but when we started the engine, well, it didn’t.  No matter how hard my father tried, he could not get the boat started and this was well before the age of cell phones, so we had no way of contacting the National Guard.  As luck would have it, we found a flare gun.  Now, I forgot to mention that this was 4th of July weekend and there were tons of boats on the water earlier in the day.  So my father shot the flare gun into the air in hopes that one of them would see it, but no one came.  Why?  Because it was fucking 4th of July weekend and everyone thought they were fireworks!  Luckily, after a while, another more seasoned fisher-person saw the flare and took it seriously.  He towed us back to his house on the water and generously offered us shelter and whiskey, which I had to decline because I was like 14.  I really wanted that whiskey.  He let us use his land line to call my mother, who drove something like 30 minutes to this guy’s house to fetch her seasoned fisher-people and we all lived, happily ever after. 
I really wanted that whiskey.


2 responses to “The Im-Perfect Storm”

  1. S Stargell Designs says :

    You never told me the boat break down story before I went to Sanibel with y'all the summer of 85 or 86. Shame on you. Between that story and the noseeums, I would have never gone! 😉 I tell my kids about that trip and the beauty of Sanibel, and your Mom's shell collection, and the Manatees, and how much fun we had quite frequently. One of my fondest memories. So glad that Don did not rent a boat while I was there 🙂


  2. remaustin says :

    I can't remember what year that was but I don't think we had met yet. I think I was a sophomore. It's funny how when you're young you assume you're dad always knows what he's doing, and then the boat breaks down and you're just sitting there. I'm pretty sure he didn't know how to fire a flare gun either but I give him credit for pretending he did.


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