“Captain Jack Will Get You High Tonight”

Traveling alone is not a first for me; neither is going to Goa, swimming in the sea, or parasailing. But water scootering? That’s a first – and also a second.

You know what a water scooter is, right? Those wonderful vehicles that they go shooting across the water in, in all those thrilling, old-fashioned action movies (the ones without space ships and fire shooting machines and people who vaporize when shot at, I mean). It looks just like a motorcycle without wheels. I can’t understand how I haven’t learnt to ride one yet, this appears to be a serious gap in my education.

I still haven’t learnt to ride the beast, mind you. At best, I’ve learnt not to be afraid that I’ll fall off. Not that the consequences of falling off would have been catastrophic, I was wearing a life jacket, and it was only the sea I’d fall into, how bad could that be? It was more a matter of how stupid I’d feel for falling off. So, the first time round, all my energies were concentrated on not falling off. This was not so easy, all I had to hold on to was a scrap of nylon tied to the handlebar, the handlebar itself being under the control of the driver, who sat, or stood behind me. So, hanging on to this flimsy bit of rope, I just tried to stay upright and waited for it to end, thinking all along that this should have been fun.

Of course, that just wouldn’t do. But, I’d just done parasailing, which I’ve done before and enjoyed, and that had cost 600 bucks. The jet stream, as they called the water scooter ride, cost 700. I had carried only Rs 1000 in my pocket to the beach, because I hadn’t known about the jet stream part of things, the parasailing being quite evident and visible from afar. So anyway, I was already 300 bucks short, and I had explained this to Captain Jack, the organizer (the gig was called Jack’s Cruises or somesuch, so I assumed the chap who runs it is called Captain Jack; anyway, I decided to call him that, after Billy Joel’s song), who was agreeable to providing me service in the expectation that I would return with the cash in the evening. The current shortfall of Rs 300, was probably not too much of a risk for him, he had already made a neat profit; and besides, he had my room number and I’m sure that if I didn’t cough up, he’d certainly come knocking. So what with all that, I didn’t want to extend my credit limit to cover another joy ride. It would have to wait till evening.

By evening, I had almost changed my mind. I had gotten myself cleaned up, and in this season in Goa, getting oneself cleaned up takes a heck of a lot of effort. It’s not easy, getting all that sand off your body. It sneaks into the most unlikely, inaccessible of places, and stays persistently and irritatingly there. It specially likes to lurk in folds and crevices, such as inside and behind the… ears! (What were you thinking?) So, as I said, having got most of the sand off my body, I wasn’t terribly keen to get into the sea again. But this water scooter ride practically guaranteed that you’d be wet and, inevitably, sandy. If you didn’t fall in, you certainly would get sprayed. And, getting on and off the scooter was also liable to get you waist deep in water. It sounded like too much work, trying to get clean again after all that.

So, I paid Captain Jack the dues from my morning session and started to walk away, when he called me back and offered me a ‘discount’ on another ride. Two hundred rupees off the jet-ski, he said. Hmmmm…..

Well, I had come prepared, actually, with money in my pocket and a swimsuit under my clothes, and before you could say Jack Spratt, I had stripped off my T-shirt, my shorts, my glasses, and my watch, and climbed into a safety jacket. A moment later, I was on the water scooter (which had been dragged up on to the beach, so I hardly got my ankles wet) and we were off!

And it was really fun! The chap standing behind me drove, while I sat in front and grinned. I got around the problem of the likelihood of falling off by holding firmly on to the handlebar on the left. The backseat driver used the right side of the handlebar, which had the accelerator. I don’t think the machine has brakes, you just stop accelerating and the sea does the rest.

We went shooting over the breakers, plunging down the other side, then we did a wide circuit of the open sea. It was pretty rough (or so it seemed to me), and my heroic driver appeared to aim for the biggest swells and troughs that he could spot, but I had the hang of it now. It was like riding an exceptionally unpredictable horse. Without reins. All you had to do was balance on your feet and hang on by your arms. It was easy. It was fun! If I had been the screaming sort, I would have screamed in exhilaration. But I’m the grinning sort, so I grinned instead. Captain Jack must have thought me slightly crazy, because I was still grinning when I paid up, several minutes after unmounting… I mean, disembarking.

21 Responses to “Captain Jack Will Get You High Tonight”

  1. Arun says:

    even my first experience with water scooter happened in Goa and i loved that ‘thugg thugg’ noise of the scooter hitting the waves and flying in the air! 🙂
    I wanted badly to ride it myself but they didnt have that option!
    If i get a chance, i would ride it all day!

  2. Sadia says:

    That sounds amazing! I’m glad you’re enjoying your break.

  3. Supriya says:

    🙂 I remember about 7 years ago, Nupur and I went water scootering in Fort Aguada – with the driver guy sitting in between. So must have been clutching his shoulders since there was nothing else to hold on to. Quite a thrill – all that spraying water and the speed – but scary too knowing my discomfort with water. But we went again almost immediately. 🙂

  4. doug H says:

    Sounds like fun, and you must be having a great time!:)

    Judging from your description, water scooters haven’t yet made their way to the States. I hope that they do soon, they sound like a blast.

    (I could be wrong – I haven’t been on vacation (holiday) near a body of water since the ’80’s, which is just nuts because I love swimming and lakes/seas/oceans in general!)

  5. doug H says:

    (my last attempt at a smiley didn’t take)

  6. doug H says:

    Huzzah! Please pretend that the smileys are in my original comment on your blog.


  7. poupee97 says:

    Doug: Is that possible? That water scooters haven’t made it to the US? And, for that matter, that you haven’t been for a watery vacation in 20 years?! Wow!

  8. Sujatha says:

    Oooh! Even the very description of your experience makes me green (not with envy) I get sick taking a ride on a motorboat =. I cant begin to imagine how it wouldbe taking one on an even flimsier vehicle.

  9. doug H says:

    Yes, it’s true. And the even crazier part is that I live within 15 minutes of Lake Michigan, one of 5 interconnecting largest freshwater bodies of water in the world.
    Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I was divorced in 1991 and my ex didn’t swim. That leaves only the last 18 years to account for. Maybe my job is just so physically tiring. Maybe it had something to do with the movie “Jaws.” I dunno.


    (And I can’t be sure that there are no water scooters over here. They do have these other things that you stand on and go flying across the water, and they’re motorized. I can’t think of what they call them. Like I say, the last time I went swimming was in 1982. Water ski’s? No. I’ll try to find out, but based on your description I think the ones in India are different.)

  10. doug H says:

    Oh, just remembered. The ones over here are called “Jet Ski’s.”
    I’ll check out google images and see if they’re the same as water scooters.

    Regardless, hope you’re still having a great time! 🙂

  11. doug H says:

    Mika, here’s the link to images of jet ski’s. Maybe they are the same,and they’re just called by different names.


  12. Anonymous says:

    I am TOTALLY envious! I’ve always wanted to ride one of those things. Gosh, just reading your description has brought out a huge huge longing in me to go to the sea!

  13. andaleeb,w@gmail.com says:

    Anonymous!! Oops…sorry. that was me..I’m so used to seeing my name in the field, I didn’t notice it wasn’t there! I switched laptops with hubby(long story) and I didn’t realise that this one didn’t have my ID.

  14. poupee97 says:

    Doug: I’m back, already. Good things come in small packages. 😀 In any case, I was away for three-and-a-half days, and that’s about all I could take of being away from the kids.

    Jet ski it is. They did refer to it as jet ski in Goa also. And the pictures indicate that it’s the same.

    Living 15 minutes away from a big water body probably explains why your vacations never included one – it would seem too much like home? 😀 Whatever.

    BTW, we say “Hurrah,” over here. Huzzah was a new one on me.

  15. poupee97 says:

    Andy/Anon – well, I hope you get to go to Goa or somewhere with a beach soon. Goa is good if you want to try out watersports, but the weather is deteriorating fast, so if you don’t go soon, you’ll have to wait till October. But this water-scooter/jet ski business is seriously thrilling! You’ve got to go soon.

  16. doug H says:

    We say “hurrah” here too.
    I was just being silly.
    I think “Huzzah” was what they used to say in Britain eons ago.

  17. poupee97 says:

    Doug: Well, I saw “huzzah” as a subtitle on a film on TV recently. The film was in English (so why put English subtitles? For the hearing impaired?), and they were saying “huzzah” too. I don’t remember now which continent and epoch the film belonged to.

  18. Supriya says:

    Most of the good English movie channels now have English subtitles with English movies – I guess to make up for the various accents that each movie has its actors speak in. I for one, prefer sub titles while watching a movie – so that I don’t miss even a small part of the dialogues. So it’s not just for the hearing impaired. 🙂

  19. doug H says:

    Huh? What’d ya say?

    But seriously, it must’ve taken place in the distant past. Nobody says ‘huzzah’ in modern North America anymore.

    Now, get down wiff yo bad self!

  20. doug H says:

    (Some people actually do say that, so I suppose that’s why some English films have subtitles.

    Even I’m not sure what that one means.)

  21. Lubi :) says:

    sigh… I wanna go on vacation too!! 🙂

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