Thursday, May 19, 2011

How Not to wakeboard in Cabo

When our friends invited us down to their chic vacation club resort in Cabo, they said "and there's free wakeboarding!" They had me at wakeboarding; free not so much. You don't want things too low-end to create broad access...on the other hand, it could be a good sign. Means they have lots of staff and equipment that go out frequently. Then it became, "oh wait, not wakeboarding. Maybe it was waterboarding." After some discussion of warfare legalities, we determined it was neither the wake nor the water, but stand-up paddleboarding. Fun yes, but not the wakeboarding of my desperate heart's desire.

You see, I hadn't been behind a boat for 8 years. I sold my competition MasterCraft ski boat when Shane was born, realizing that we might spend his youth skiing, but would not be dragging him on a ski boat anytime soon. So I was desperate to wakeboard, to prove I still had it, to rip behind a boat again. Yes, I was completely overinvested in this wakeboarding.
We researched it before leaving and found the website of a clearly fly-by-night operation who would tell you the beach location *after* you booked with them. My needs high and standards low, I booked immediately. Packed my board & vest and found out United charges only $35 to check. My barriers continued to plummet toward the core of the earth.

Once in Cabo, I got a friendly email from the fly-by-night activity website admitting that they actually did not have a wakeboard operator and could give me a refund. Undaunted - and unsurprised - I prepared myself to hit Mendono Beach (the crazy, busy, touristy place in Cabo) and beg anyone with a big motor to take me out. And that's pretty much how it went.
We wound our way through busy Mendano to dead ends and policemen directing us to go anywhere-but-here, finally locating the valet parking run by The Office. The Office restaurant is this mecca that will actually provide a relaxing, shady, delicious lunch and massive margarita, accompanied by a million fellow diners; however, and this is key, unless you want to participate in a wet T-shirt contest, bikini jump rope or other activities I'm pretty sure don't happen at the Ted conference, you should NOT go there at night. But The Office is at Mendono beach and Mendono beach has lot of motorized boats and that was my target.

Carrying my wakeboard bag, I ask the old man at the booth "how much to take me out?" $70. Too much. We head to the beach. Amid the throngs of jewelry sellers, people boarding glass-bottomed boats, tourists arriving off the three massive cruise ships, and many fathers & kids on rented jetskis, my friends find a slightly organized-looking team of guys clad in yellow rash guards. "how much to take her out?" $60 and they point to the boat. This is no ski boat, it's a fishing boat. There's no easy way to get in or out. I know I'll have to put my board on in the boat and get someone to throw me in, literally...but, I conclude this is it, my only option. We take it and I'm directed to the same old man to pay.

Before I can change my mind, I get my vest on, grab the board and remember the PAM cooking spray. (I figured they wouldn't have foot lube and I'd need it to spray the bindings; I was right.) Adrenaline pumping, I head into the water and at waist-high hand my board to the boat driver and find a way to fling my body over the rail and into the vessel. He introduces himself as Max; I am too concerned about other variables to question the likelihood that this is really his name. He starts the motor as I look around . "Where is the handle?" He gets on the radio to find a boat with a handle. Oh my. We start puttering around the Bay in search of a handle. I'm picturing my option of gripping fishing lines and finishing my outing w/ rope burns. We start bobbing around, waiting for a handle to drop from heaven. I am not good w/ bobbing around. Just as I'm briefly considering mission-abandonment, a voice on the radio announces handle availability. We head over and get the handle.
Fortunately, Max is a good guy and makes me feel comfortable. We find a spot with a sliver of water between cruise ships and tourist boat channels. Knowing I will not have the energy to put on my board in the water and actually get up (it's been 8 years, people), I tell him I have to put the board on first. Max is nothing if not agreeable. I apply my handy cooking spray, slide into my bindings (hello happy memories) and inform Max that he'll have to lift the board over the railing while I try to do the same with my body. We pull this off and I plummet in.

See the dot in the water, in front of the cruise ship? That dot is me.

I ask Max to idle out first to get the rope taut so I can get some pressure against the board and then I'll yell Go. I have no idea what he understands and pray that my arms will not be ripped out of their sockets. Mostly, I want the boat to start and me to be pulled
Max is a dream. I'm pulled up smoothly and easily. (I get up! Hello, Hello, Hello happy memories). And the mogul-jumping through the wildly choppy water of Mendono Beach begins. Wow. Oh my legs. It's like a constant fight just to stay up, but it's also wildly fun. I don't try crossing the wake. I don't jump the wake. I don't do anything but fight to stay up. Soon after, I give the neck-slicing sign to let him know I need to sink into the water to catch my breath.

Panting, but delighted to release my thighs from their death-fight, I hang out for a few minutes of breathing and then tell Max I'm ready for another go. Another great pull from Max and I'm up. I manage to do a little carving and contemplate how much longer I should stay out. In the past, I've completely destroyed any energy reserves for the entire day by staying up a little too long... slithering back into the boat and behaving like a jellyfish on what was supposed to be a lively social outing. So I decided I'd better save a little for the boat ride to The I could have lasted 10 more seconds anyway. I was so spent, so fast.
Forgetting about my plan to toss the rope and go sailing toward the beach to show off for my heroic and patient friends, I make one last carve and sink into the water. Exhausted and wildly happy.