Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Three Hour Tour, A Three Hour Tour

The snorkeling trip had not started auspiciously. Actually, it started over three hours late, so that by the time we pulled into idyllic Bottle Beach, the afternoon downpour was moving in.  We rolled with it though - this was island time, we were vacationing in paradise and, after all, they made a mean latte on Bottle Beach.

Still, as the day neared its end, and as we motored through the ocean back to the dock where the trip had begun, we were tired, wet, hungry and getting a little chilly.  So it did not bode well when the boat started sputtering and making weird grinding noises.  The two teenage boys who were our "captains" started speaking rapidly to each other in Thai.  One hurriedly unscrewed the cap to the gas tank and stuck in a dip stick.  It came out barely damp. The boys gave each other nervous looks.  And then the boat's motor jerked to a stop. We were out of gas.

I'd like to back up by stating the obvious: perhaps you should check the gas before embarking on a snorkeling trip.  Or if you're too lazy to check the gas, why not throw a liter or two into the boat just in case?  Gas on Ko Phangan is conveniently sold in portable, on-the-go whiskey bottles.

These would fit perfectly in a small snorkeling boat
I relayed the results of the dip-stick test to Dave and the other passengers, a French family of four. The French father laughed and threw up his hands.  Dave icily suggested that the Thai boys call another boat to come pick us up. The boys made non-committal gestures (if they head-bobbled in Thailand, they would have been head-bobbling away).  Instead, they tried blowing into the gas tank and then checking to see if new gas had magically been created.  This lasted about twenty minutes.

Guy in black: Blowing
Guy in white: "Nope, no gas in here"
Guy in black: "Yes, I agree.  No gas in here"
Guy in white: Double checking that there is actually no gas in there.
Guy in black: Supervising.
Dave: Barely suppressing his irritation.  Look at that clenched jaw.
Shockingly, the blow method did not create magic fuel to power the boat, so the Thai guys waved their arms around and tried to flag down this fisherman driving by.
About twenty minutes had gone by since the motor shut down.  Black clouds were beginning to gather overhead.  Dave suggested a bit more harshly that perhaps it was time to call for a rescue boat.  Reluctantly, they complied.

A boat approached!  We all cheered.
Actually, not.
It kept going.  It was not our rescue boat.

Dave asked if we had any snacks.  I did not.

We discussed whether we could swim to shore.   It wasn't that far away, and we had life jackets, masks and snorkels, and broken flippers.  Then again, we had just watched The Beach, where Leo and friends swim out from Koh Phangan, through shark-infested waters.
We decided to wait it out a bit longer.
Dave asked if we had any snacks.  No, I still had no snacks.

Finally, about an hour after we ran out of gas, our rescue boat arrived!  An old crappy junker had never looked so good! 
Tow us in, boys!
Our dashing, heroic rescue crew.  Thanks for saving our lives!

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