I’m Really So Sorry

I don’t know how many times I turned onto my stomach to see how far the houses on the shore were, but I was split down the middle on whether I thought I could make it or not. I just couldn’t tell if we we’re making progress. If I thought I was getting closer then maybe I would fight harder and give in later. I thought I had a lot more in me, but the question was “is it going to be enough?” It seemed like we were kicking for forever, but in reality I’m going to guess it was closer to 30 minutes when…“HEY!”

What the hell? Oh my god! Someone’s here! It’s happened! Someone saw us. YES!

I’m not sure if it was immediate or not, but it couldn’t have taken longer than 5 seconds for me to realize that it was the same lifeguard from the night before, the one in Rosarito. His jetski had a rescue sled, so Heath climbed onto the back of his seat and I swam up on the sled and held onto the handles. Here we go.

The ride in was insane. My relief of being pulled out of the water almost instantly turned into fear again when I realized that a jetski loaded with three people in chopped seas was not a sure thing. How do I know how good this guy is? His ski lunged from side to side almost tipping over as he blasted through the waves born from the wind that was now blowing harder than I’d ever seen in my life. What seemed like what should be a 30 second ride took something closer to two minutes. We must have blown further out than I thought. At one point I was aware of how weak I was getting and then I became stricken with this idea that I might fall off the back of the sled and they would never know. Rescued and then lost again.

We slid up to the shallow water and I put my feet down. Holy fucking shit, it’s over, I’m alive. I was instantly swarmed by people who were taking off my lifejacket , my sweatshirt, my button up shirt that was underneath, and my fins. Man, I can’t imagine that whole ordeal without fins. I look up to see Heath coming out of the water and he’s having trouble walking, but then I almost can’t believe what I’m seeing.

Oh my God. He’s still got that damn ipad around his neck. All is NOT lost.

After the lifeguard walked Heath out of the water, he came up to me siting on the sand and said “Are you Jeff?” He wanted me to know that he knew who I was and that he was the one from the day before. A little bit of a zing, but I deserved it a hundred times over. I didn’t know what to say. “Muchas gracias Senor. Lo siento.”

“I’m really so sorry.”

I won’t kill you with all of the details , but Heath and I were thrown into the back of an ambulance after we walked up from the beach shivering uncontrollably from hypothermia. Dying to feel some warmth I asked for a blanket or something. What I got? A piece of cloth the thickness of a bed sheet and the size of a hand towel. Well, better than nothing. We were both mildly convulsing at this point, full body shivers.

We blazed down the highway with the sirens screaming all while they “attempted” to put an IV in to both our arms. I’m assuming just a saline solution, who knows. When we arrived at the hospital we’d gotten ourselves back to a decent temperature so we just agreed to refuse help, which at Rosarito Hospital apparently means to everyone around you, you are now invisible. “Can you at least take this IV out of my hand? Anyone?” Fuck it, I’ll just do it myself.

Heath – “Damn. I guess if you get rescued in the ocean here, they don’t even give you a bottle of water.”

Thinking we’d need to get new passports, we we’re set up with a woman at the hospital who acted as a liaison between us and the American consulate, but it turns out that you don’t need a passport to get back into the country. We were going to need someone to come get us, but between both Heath and I, we only knew one number by heart, our friend Dan Rogers.

“Hey Dan, I can’t talk long, but I need you to find John Santos’ number somewhere and tell him to call us at this numer 011-yadda yadda.”
“Did you guys surf?”
“What! Dude, are you listening?”
“How do I get his number.”
“I don’t know man, use your iphone. Or call your wife, she ‘s better at this stuff” I said. “Well…? Are you busy or something?”
Dan…“Ya, kinda”

Heath says “I can’t believe the one person who’s number I have memorized is the least likely to help.”
(Turns out Dan didn’t understand what had happened, but still called his wife to get John’s number.)

Through the use of our new caretakers computer I was able to round up my sisters number, give her a ring, and arrange for her to pick Heath and I up at the border. Between that, and a little help from the consulate via a ride to the crossing, we’re set. Remember the scene in The Game where Michael Douglas gets dumped for dead in Mexico and walks back across the border with no ID? That was us. Two beat up white guys with no shoes on, no money, and no ID walking across the border.

“Hi there. ID? No, I don’t have any. I just capsized my boat and was rescued off the coast of Baja. I want to go home now.”

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Dropped off at the border and waiting at a Jack in The Box. Left San Diego with a new boat and all my gear, returned home with nothing but the clothes on my back. Reality check.

28 thoughts on “I’m Really So Sorry

  1. Wow that’s seriously epic! Glad you guys made it back alive and sorry that your lost your boat and gear. Did anything wash-up on the beach?

  2. The one dude that you both knew the number off by heart (kinda rare to nowadays) wouldn’t help you??

    That’s some bitch shit.

    Crazy story. Glad you guys are alive!!!

  3. pretty unbelievable story, that’s unfortunate about the gear. hope you guys recover from this situation quickly.

  4. Although your voyage probably didn’t end how you had hoped, you boys sure as hell tested the limits and traded in that boat and your belongings for a hell of an experience and life long memories. All was not lost! You guys fuckin killed it

  5. I guess the lesson here is: There are some things you can wing it on and figure it out as you go, but when it comes to the ocean there’s no room for error. Glad you guys made it out alive! Maybe your next adventure should be bike ride across Europe

  6. Jeff, I am so glad and relieved you guys are alright. Always pushing the limits and that’s what makes life so interesting. Experiences. You make a decision and see it through. Very proud of you for having that courage as most people don’t have the balls and I admire you for it. Happy you are home and safe. Love and light my friend. Stacey

  7. Glad to hear you two made it to shore!!!! I have to admit, I was really scared for you guys. I’ve been a skateboarder for 20 plus years and also been on the water my whole life, so I knew what you guys were in for. I’ve also been lost a sea, so the way you guys handled yourselves is truely admirable!!!! To stay calm and focused in the worst times I feel comes natural to skaters. Anyways, glad your back safe and if ever in Florida look me up. Instagram is RMFS13 or rhmwyim@yahoo.com

  8. I’m surprised your gigantic balls didn’t keep you guys afloat.

    In all seriousness though, your spontaneity, bravery, and determination are such admirable traits! I look forward to the next chapter in this great adventure.

  9. Maybe stick to terra firma for your next adventure. How about John Muir Trail, or Appalachian Trail? Maybe tackle Mt. Rainier or Denali. Glad you all are safe. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing.

  10. Wow, what a climax to the story! I can see a made-for-TV movie in your future. I sure hope Heath had a pedi before he left so at least he had good looking toes marching through the border.

    How about next adventure at Disneyland or Disneyworld? Whatever you both do in the future, I know one fan you will have. I also admire your strong will, courage and determination, you both are very wonderful individuals that could show the world what bravery really is.

    Glad you both are safe! Next . . .

  11. Wow, this whole blog is so epic! That’s the craziest plan I heard in a while. I kindda expect this post since I read the first post on this story and hoped it would’nt exist. Keep doing it! Your life looks wonderful/horrible.

  12. Wow, glad everyone is okay. You guys were very lucky! As I was reading this it started to remind me of a book that I just finished reading.

    Hope this doesn’t dissuade you guys from trying something else soon!

  13. Many thanks seem due to the lifegaurds, Rosarito Hospital, and your friend Dan for their part in your survival. Sounds like without them you would have not been able to write this blog.

  14. No, this time you didn’t do it.

    You made mistakes, exhibited poor judgement, and you were not prepared.

    You almost got yourselves killed and removed yourselves from the gene pool.

    There are plenty of people who do not sit on the couch, but do these kinds of expeditions and have awesome adventures. The difference is that they take the time to learn the skills needed to keep themselves and potential rescuers out of harms way.

    Those of you who comment that “these guys rock” and “are awesome” are belittling the achievements of people who have gone on to do great, inspiring things the old fashioned way: they worked hard to learn the skills needed, and trained and equipped themselves properly,

    Sorry, not impressed.

    1. Thanks for reading Brian. Make sure you don’t miss the last post. I get the impression that you think we’re proud of what I describe as an unprepared failure, but it’s good to have more than one viewpoint on here.

  15. No, I don’t think you are proud. I think you’ve been humbled, no doubt. But folks need to realize that the sea, especially the open ocean, is a much more unforgiving and isolated place than nearly any place on land. In some respects it is the last true wilderness where you are really truly alone and on your own, even just a few miles off shore. People have done some amazing journeys in small open boats (look up Webb Chiles, or check out the Watertribe adventure racing web site), but they gave some very careful thought to what they were doing and spent the time to develop the skills. Someone in a Watertribe event used the exact same boat as yours to sail 300 miles down the Gulf coast of Florida in only about a week. And these are just regular (mostly middle-aged) folks with jobs and families to consider the other 50 weeks of the year.

  16. A lot of adventures occur because of disorganization, overconfidence, and a failure to grasp the magnitude of the task at hand. The plus side is an experienced small boat skipper who knows what you were up against would probably not have tried it., and you guys did and lived to tell the tale. I have been on some similar adventures and lived to tell the tale as well, one that involved a coast guard helicopter and a rented rowing wherry. Congratulations on your return. The only criticism I felt reading the story is your lack of gratitude to those who gave you “nothing but a bottle of water and blanket as thin as a sheet”. I hope in hindsight that opinion changed. But I certainly mean no disrespect by my post. And I hope you try it again, only perhaps this time in an Outred Seal (a home build meant for such trips) after a year of learning the boat. Best wishes.

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