David, his sister, and I went parasailing this past weekend. If you asked me, "Hey Bev, how was your time parasailing?" I would reply, "It was fantastic! Although we were flying 800 feet in the air, my stomach didn't drop like it tends to do on roller coasters; in fact, the general sensation was extremely serene! The view was amazing! We saw literally hundreds of sharks in the water (which promotes my fear of swimming too far out in the ocean), but we didn't see any of the wild ponies on the islands of the outer banks. I would totally do it again!"
If you were to ask David and Theresa the same question, "Hey guys, how was your time parasailing?" Their reply would be dramatically different. They didn't have a bad time, per se, but they definitely had an adventure-filled experience. They went up in the air for about 2 minutes before the boat went KAPUT! (I was still in the boat, taking pictures and enjoying a chat with the fellow parasailers). The captain of the boat tried to restart the engine twice, as David and Theresa drifted toward the ocean in the parachute. Recall the hundreds of sharks that David and I saw on our turn in the parachute? Yeah... they were descending directly into THOSE waters. Yikes!
Meanwhile, on the boat, the captain turned to the first mate and said, "Well, shit. Go get 'em!" The first mate promptly threw on a life vest, dove into the water, and proceeded to swim out to my husband and sister-in-law. Because the wind was still blowing into the inflated parachute, Dave and Theresa were pulled about 50 feet onto a small, undeveloped island where they were dragged into a sinking mud pit full of pillars of clams. I couldn't see their bodies anymore, but it was evident that they were on land because I saw them manually deflating the parachute.
During his swim to shore, the first mate was given a ride by an inflatable rescue boat... until the motor of the boat got entangled in the parachute chord. So, the first mate (poor guy!) hopped back out of the boat and continued his trek to the now beached parachute. The captain of the boat continued his attempts to fix the engine by going below deck and switching out the broken fuse. He tried to restart the boat, and the fuse blew out a second time! All he could do was wait with us on the boat while his first made and the rescue boat pursued David and Theresa.
Of all the people that a crash-landing could happen to, David and Theresa are probably the best candidates for several reasons. They are both extremely tough, calm in tough situations, and are problem-solvers. Plus, David is a Marine and knows survival tips that would come in handy during an event such as this one! Eventually, the parachute chord released its grip on the rescue boat and it reached the little island to aid in the rescue. I began to worry when I saw an extremely muddy couple of people emerge from where the parachute had gone down and meet up with the rescue boat, but they were not immediately brought back to the main parasailing boat. I was wondering, "What's taking so long? Is everyone okay? Are they doing first aid?"
I sat patiently, just waiting to hear anything at all, when finally the rescue boat docked alongside the main parasailing boat to "rescue" us as well and take us back to the facility on land. Thankfully, despite landing in shark-infested waters and being dragged 50 feet into a clam-filled sinking mud pit, David and Theresa came out with just a few minor scratches. I thank my lucky stars that they are alive and well!
If you're reading this and thinking, "I am NEVER going parasailing!" that would be extremely unfortunate. The boat failure and consequential crash-landing is an event that happens one out of 10,000 flights! In the four years that the captain had been working for the company, he had never witnessed a situation like ours. It was extremely apparent that they practiced their emergency action plan often because it essentially went perfectly. No one was terribly hurt, and we were not angry at all. We got refunded our money and were given free t-shirts. I really appreciate the manner in which the parasailing company treated the situation and would whole-heartedly fly with them again any time.