Arts + Culture

Full Speed (Or Maybe Just Half Speed) Ahead!

Our writer confronts her fear of speedboats bouncing through the waves.

BY October 4, 2016

Sometimes, the adventure leading up to the adventure can be an adventure in and of itself for Ms. Adventure (say that five times fast). Especially when it involves a “thrill ride on a jet boat with 360-degree adrenaline spins.” Trust me when I say that I am not a thrill-seeker and adrenaline is not my drug of choice. While it may not be at all adventurous, I’m perfectly happy to sit on the beach, margarita in hand, watching all the water sports while I’m safe in a lounge chair. I’ve never seen the appeal of Jet Skis, water skis, parasails and especially speedboats.

But, with each adventure, I seem to get braver and braver about stepping outside of my comfort zone, so when the opportunity to go for a spin (literally) on Pure Florida’s jet boat called Odin—named after a Greek God who was associated with, among other things, sorcery, battle and frenzy—I thought, “Why not?” Full disclosure: I may or may not have been enjoying a margarita or three when I agreed to this particular adventure.

So, when the actual day and time came to head to Tin City in Naples for my high-speed ride, I was a nervous wreck. Just ask my good friend, photographer Mila Bridger, who was in charge of “driving Ms. Adventure” from her home in downtown Fort Myers all the way to downtown Naples. I’m irrationally fearful of driving on I-75, so that’s where the adventure starts. Luckily, Mila’s not afraid of anything and has been known to hop on airplanes at a moment’s notice and travel to remote islands in the Pacific Ocean. Plus, she’s a lot of fun, so I knew she’d be the perfect companion for an adventure that boasted adrenaline. She would be the yin to my yang, and, in fact, maybe her bubbly enthusiasm would rub off on me somehow.

As we made our way south on the interstate, Mila played upbeat dance music and sang along as I clutched a bottle of Pepto-Bismol in one hand and a bottle of Xanax in the other. As we got closer and closer to Naples, I remembered going out on one of those ridiculous-looking cigarette boats when I was a teenager. A boyfriend’s father had one, and when his dad was out of town one Saturday, Greg took a bunch of us out for a ride. Being 17, Greg was super excited to show us how fast daddy’s boat could go on the Gulf waters, so he would fly it over the waves as it landed violently back on the water with a heart-shattering thud. I was so afraid of flying out of the boat that I got down on the floor (deck?) and curled up in the fetal position while Greg continued to batter the boat gleefully on the waves. How was this fun? The more I thought about my upcoming jet boat adventure, the more I thought that maybe I had PTSD from that show-off, Greg (whom I never spoke to again, by the way).

On the way to the boat, Mila and I stopped at the Naples restaurant Charlie Chiang’s, where she thought drinking some Sake might help calm my nerves. So, trying warm rice wine for the first time became an unexpected part of day’s adventure. One sip was all it took for me to switch back to Pepto-Bismol. Mila and I discussed my fears: Getting seasick was one, having the boat fly and go thud was another. “You will be FINE,” said Mila with a smile, happily finishing off the little pitcher of sake.

When we got to the docks at Tin City, I don’t know what it was about meeting Pure Florida founder/owner Lance Julian that started to alleviate my fears. Perhaps it was a combination of his kind eyes and his smooth New Zealand accent, but I started to breathe a little easier. Lance told me that not only would I have fun, but if the boat went too fast or the spins were too wild for my tastes, they’d slow down. And then when I saw that Odin was not a ridiculous-looking cigarette boat at all, I really felt better. It was a big, cheery, shiny, red boat with long benches for seating up to 22 guests. “You might get sprayed a little,” warned Lance. “But, when grandparents bring their grandkids aboard, they love it.” Mila gave me a, “See, I told you it would be FINE” look.

Our handsome young captain was Bill, and he did a great job of showing us the speed of the boat, but also taking care over waves and wakes. Part of the hour-long voyage was ecological, too, as Captain Bill pointed out osprey nests, dolphin playing and other wildlife. And believe it or not, the spins were super fun—a little like bring on a Tilt-A-Whirl at the fair. Every time there was another spin, we squealed with delight. All painful adolescent memories of show-off Greg faded into the salt spray of Odin.

When we were back on shore, I tossed my half-empty bottle of pink medicine in the trash, as Mila and I went to go find a bar that served margaritas for adventurous girls like us.


If You Go

Pure Florida
Naples, Tin City
Fort Myers, The Marina at Edison Ford


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