Sunday, August 4, 2013

Vacation: Day 4 (posted by Steven)

Saturday, June 15th:  Today's first adventure was a snorkel trip on the reef.  We had to check-in at the marina by 8:30am.  Tiffany & Tyler stayed at the hotel again.  Tiffany likes snorkeling, but gets sea sick, so she did not mind staying behind with the baby.  Barbie did not want to go snorkeling either, so she also hung out at our hotel with Tiffany & Tyler.

First, here are some photos of the snorkel trip.  Andre & Dylan were snorkel buddies, Isaac was with me, Malia with Darren, and Noah with Corrie.  The snorkel trip was divided into two reefs.  Here is a photo on the way out to the first reef.  We saw some fish jumping out of the water that looked like skipping rocks. They were fast and jumped far, which almost made they look like they were flying.  One of the guides told us they were ballyhoo.
Here is Isaac.  Before our trip, he and Dylan practiced snorkeling skills in our pool, but I was worried that he might freak out in deep water with fish and possibly sharks.  I actually had no reason to worry though; Isaac did very well and loved snorkeling.
 Dylan did well also and loved it. Here is Dylan with Uncle Andre:
Steven with the two brave boys:
Some nurse sharks:
We saw lots of these blue parrot fish.  They were much bigger than this one looks in the photo:
This photo of Malia was the last photo that Darren took with the camera that he borrowed from Vicki Crew.  He apparently went deeper than the camera was made for:
While we were snorkeling, Tiffany, Barbie, and Tyler enjoyed the hotel.  Barbie brought running shoes for Tiffany because she accidentally only brought 1 shoe on the trip.  Barbie was so nice that she watched Tyler while Tiffany went on a run.  She ran all the way along the south border of Key West to the museum, saw lots of iguanas along the way, got a museum brochure to prove she went that far, and came back. That ended up being one of Tiffany's highlights of the trip.

Here is Barbie's view from the hammock:
After snorkeling, Barbie picked us all up from the marina and we headed to lunch at a place called Amigos. While everyone else was at lunch, Tiffany snuck off to Publix to arrange a surprise Father's Day dessert party for later that night.  We then went to an amazing indoor butterfly garden that was across from the Crew's hotel:
Looking at butterflies, or figuring out if they can jump across?
There were many signs reminding us not to touch the flowers or the butterflies, but this was inevitable.  Malia was reprimanded shortly afterwards:
 I wonder where Tyler learned this:
After the butterfly garden, it was back to our hotel pool.  We were able to have some good quality swimming practice with Tyler:
  This photo was taken moments before Tyler pooed in the pool:
  Luckily, the hotel had a second pool:
And now it's time for a story that we will never forget.  Shortly after we switched to the 2nd pool, the Crews showed up at our hotel.  After swimming for a while, Darren asked the kids if they wanted to go jump off the end of the pier that extended out for our hotel's beach into the ocean.  Malia, Noah, and Dylan went with Darren.  Isaac wanted to stay in the pool, so I stayed with him.  After swimming for about 5-10 minutes, Isaac changed his mind and decided that he wanted to go find crabs on the rocks.  As Isaac and I headed out towards the rocks, I told Isaac that we should join Darren and the other kids for a while.  So we headed towards the pier.  The pier was about 15-20 yards long.  It wasn't made for jumping off.  Instead, it had steps at the end so people could go down in the ocean and swim.  As we approached the pier, I noticed that Darren and the kids had actually swam out to some wooden pylons that were further out in the ocean.  You really can't tell how far it was in the photo below, but I'm guessing it was at least another 40 yards out into the ocean.  The pylons had some steel beams across them so it looked as though they were in the middle of building a platform out there.  Isaac initially agreed to go out to the pylons with me.  As he was going down the steps into the water, he dropped his fin and it went somewhere under the pier.  Meanwhile, Tiffany walked out to the pier with Tyler.  In this first photo, you can see me with Isaac (with 1 fin) heading out to meet up with Darren and the other kids.
When we got about half way there, the water got deeper and the bottom turned from nice sand to grass/seaweed.  Isaac changed his mind and wanted to go back, so I took him back to Tiffany.  I told Tiffany that I was going to swim out there with the rest of them.
Once I got to the pylons, I looked up and immediately saw Darren, Noah and Malia.  I expected to see Dylan pop out of the water or come from behind a pylon at any second, but after about 10 seconds, I asked Darren, "Where's Dylan?"  Darren said that Dylan swam back in.  I thought to myself that that was not possible, because he would have swam right by me on the way back, but just to make sure I yelled back to Tiffany, "Is Dylan back there?"  When Tiffany shook her head no, I thought the worst.  Darren and I started to look around.  A guy was nearby with his son who was about 13 years old.  The boy said, "that looks like a little kid way out there."  At first, I was in disbelief.  Dylan was so far out into open water that I could barely see him.  We first tried yelling to him, but it was useless.  He was too far out to hear anything.  Tiffany also tried yelling from the pier to tell him to float.  I threw my hat and sunglasses up towards Darren and started to swim after Dylan.  I knew I had to get to Dylan fast.  I didn't know how long he had been out there and I couldn't tell if he was struggling, but he was so far out, I knew he had to be tired.  At first, I was a bit conflicted as to be the best way to get to him.  I knew I could swim much faster with my head down in the water, but I also knew that if he started sinking, I would need to know exactly where he went under to save him.  So I decided to stick with my lifeguard training and I swam like Tarzan to him. I slowed down occasionally to try to yell to him, but Dylan couldn't hear me.
One of the craziest parts of this story is that while Tiffany was yelling (and crying) standing at the end of the pier, she snapped the photo below.  She then stopped taking photos because she didn't want this to be her last memory of Dylan.  The photo doesn't exactly show how far away Dylan was because you can't see the pylons where he started, but it does give us an idea.  In the middle of the photo, there is a tiny dark spec.  That spec is Dylan.  There is a paddle-boarder by the white buoy, but he was facing the other direction and could not hear us yelling.  On the far right, that is me swimming as fast as I can towards Dylan.  I was worried that I was going to be so tired by the time I reached him, that if he was lifeless, I would have too hard a time bringing him back in.
This is the exact same picture with Dylan and myself circled. 
Again, this is the same picture just cropped in so you can see Dylan's dot-of-a-head. 
 And cropped in even closer because it was hard to see.
When I finally reached Dylan, he was tired and scared, but he was okay.  I told him to float on his back, so I could swim him back in.  I put my arm under his arm and across his chest and I could feel his heart pounding.  He was wearing fins, but he was also swimming while holding his snorkel in one of his hands.  He did not have a life jacket on.  As we swam back in, I asked him what happened.  He said that when he decided to swim back in, he looked up through his goggles, saw a pier in the distance, and started to swim towards it.  In the photo above, you can see the end of a different pier on the far left.  Dylan said that he didn't see the correct pier, because his goggles acted like blinders.  After I got Dylan back to Tiffany at the correct pier, I swam back out to Darren to get my hat and sunglasses.  Darren said sorry.  Part of me was mad, but I was so relieved that Dylan was okay and exhausted from the swim that I didn't strangle Darren for not having Dylan wait for him or at least watch Dylan swim in.  Tiffany later told me that she felt completely helpless watching this from the pier.  She was with Tyler so she couldn't jump in and help. 

After the ordeal of almost losing Dylan in the ocean, we cleaned up and went to dinner.  It was a long hot walk to dinner along the boardwalks of the marina.  Here are some photos from after dinner.

Since the next day was Father's Day, Tiffany surprised the men with an extravaganza of our favorite desserts.  There was Publix key lime pie, birthday cake, and napoleons.   

End of Day 4.


Aunt Kat said...

Oh. My. Gosh. Wow. Yikes. And ohmygosh again. I am so glad you went out to the pier and looked for Dylan when you did! Holy cow that's scary! Is Dylan afraid of snorkeling now?

And I particularly love the caption for you in the scary photo(s). :) Great job, World's Greatest Dad!

Katy said...

Kat said it perfectly! Oh. My. Gosh. What a crazy story! I'm so glad Dylan was ok. It looks like he was really far out there! This will be a story told for many years.