We have a tradition in my house…it is called the Memory Jar. Inside of the clear Bormioli jar are thin slips of white computer paper. Every time something happens in our family that we want to remember we write it down and throw it in the jar. Every New Year’s Eve, my husband and I sit down together after the kids have gone to bed and we take turns reading them out loud.
My family and I went on a 6 week RV adventure down south this past February. We had such a great time and traveled all over the state of Florida. We spent our last two weeks near my parents, who live in the panhandle near Destin, FL.
It has been a very long dream of my husband’s to rent a pontoon boat in this area. In fact, 5 years ago when we were visiting he got his boating safety certificate in preparations to rent a boat, but then the weather was terrible the rest of the time we were there. Every year we go down he says he wants to rent a boat. Well guess what? 2023 was his year! We rented a pontoon boat, threw in the family, and puttered our way around Choctawhatchee Bay in Destin, FL.
Right before the Destin Bridge, that takes you on to Okaloosa Island, there is what the locals call “Crab Island”. This isn’t really an island at all but a huge sand bar! As you drive across the bridge you will see all kinds of boats anchored and people STANDING in the middle of the water. In the summer it gets very crowded, it is definitely a popular spot to be.
We decided that we wanted to visit “Crab Island” on this pontoon boat rental adventure. It was a beautiful and unseasonably warm early March day and there were a few other boats already there. We rolled up, threw out the anchor and jumped in! Well, most of us. My husband and I were the only adults who jumped in, but our two kids and our niece and nephew were also brave enough. The water was COLD! We were at a spot on the sand bar that was about waist deep.
After a while my two kiddos decided they wanted to warm up, so they hopped into the pontoon boat with the other adults. Those of us who remained in the water were all enjoying ourselves and swimming around with not a care in the world. As time went on I felt like…the water seemed deeper than it did a minute ago. “Hmm…odd”, I thought. And I kept swimming around. I never, I mean NEVER swim in ocean water, but here I was having childlike fun.
Suddenly I heard my sister start shouting that her daughter was having trouble reaching the boat, she could no longer touch the bottom, and she wasn’t the strongest swimmer. The water was suddenly deeper. That’s when it hit me. The boat was FLOATING AWAY! I yelled for my husband to swim toward my niece, which he did, essentially rescuing her.
I was barely touching the bottom at this point so I turn to my 10 year old nephew and ask him if he is a strong swimmer. “Uh no, not really” he replies. So I immediately grab his arm and start pulling him way back onto the sand bar. I pull and pull and pull despite him saying we were “good enough”, until we were both only waist deep.
Our boat is far away now.
We can only hear shouts from my family.
I’m sure we were providing ample entertainment to the other boats at the sand bar. Thankfully my niece and husband got onto the boat without issue and the boat was started up again. As I’m trying to calm my panicky nephew who keeps yelling “DON’T LEAVE US HERE” the boat finally comes back to us. This time when we throw the anchor in to the water we make sure it is embedded deep into the sand. Which proves to be unbelievably difficult because Destin sand is so powdery soft and I’m pretty sure that anchor was not heavy enough for a 2,000 lb boat!
Once the terror and excitement of the ordeal cools down I say… “this is certainly one for the Memory Jar!”
The rest of the boating adventure went smoothly and we had the best time!