Every now and then, despite the proactive actions we take at Kitty Hawk Watersports to keep our customers safe, there are individuals who neglect to listen to and heed our warnings. The letter below was written by one of those customers.
In 2004, I owned two locations: Kitty Hawk Watersports in Nags Head, and one in Duck (by a different name). On June 25th, I received a phone call from my manager in Duck. At the time of the phone call, I was 20 miles away managing Kitty Hawk Watersports. She informed me they’d had “a bit of weather” (understatement) and that one of our jet ski rental customers couldn’t be found. I gave her instructions to contact our neighboring watersports businesses to see if our customer accidentally returned to the wrong location. I also told her to search the shoreline in case he decided to seek cover at the nearest structure he could find.
I hung up the phone and waited.
Below is a letter we received later that summer detailing the customer’s first person account of the experience:
To all the fine people of your establishment,
I am writing to thank you for a most outstanding jet ski experience this summer. I also want to apologize for wandering way out of bounds on the (Currituck) Sound. Anticipating my first jet ski ride, I failed to pay close attention to the pre-launch instructions regarding the perimeter boundaries.
The sky was blue and the sound was like glass as I headed north, full throttle, that Friday afternoon, June 25th, 2004. After 40 minutes, as I was approaching the (Currituck) lighthouse (in Corolla!), I felt it was time to turn back. As I made a long slow turn around some islands in the middle of the sound, I first saw the wall of black clouds quickly closing in on me from the south. Being several hundred yards from shore I decided the quickest route out of the water would be to get on one of those small grassy islands. The water level was quite low and the jet ski stalled about 30 feet from the island. I figured I would just walk in the rest of the way but when I jumped off the jet ski, it was like quicksand and I was in mud almost to my waist. Making forward progress to the grassy island was impossible, so I began to put the jet ski to deeper water. After much difficulty I got back on and turned the engine over several times to get the mud out. By the time I got it going the storm was now almost on top of me, moving like a freight train across the open sound.
I saw what I learned later was the Whaler house (Whalehead Club,) and I could barely see a small boat launch there. That was now my target. The water was now very choppy, and violent wind was blowing during the five or six minutes it took to cross the open water to the shore. Lightning bolts were dropping out of the sky and hitting the water all around me. If not for the guiding hand of God Almighty, I would not have survived. I hit the boat launch and was thrown over the handlebars. I startled a number of people who had just fled the storm and were sitting in their cars in the adjacent parking lot. As I stumbled into the Whaler house (Whalebone Club), they had just heard the tornado warning, and I was brought down to the cellar with the others to wait out the storm.
Enclosed please find a case of Moet White Star champagne as a small token of my appreciation for everyone’s help, assistance, and warm reception after finally returning after the storm was over. Please send me several brochures to recommend your fine establishment to others.
Jim is not his real name.
Jim was 15 miles outside the jet ski boundary!
While waiting by the phone, I finally got a call from my manager in Duck who told me she received a call from Jim’s sister. He found a landline in the Whalehead Club and, because he didn’t know our number from memory, called his sister who, in turn, called us to say Jim was safe in the cellar of the Whalehead Club.
Upon hearing this, I was shocked to learn he was so far away but extremely relieved he was okay (and wondering how he got that far away in the first place). I started creating a plan to get to Corolla so we could retrieve Jim and our jet ski. In the meantime, I received another call from Duck informing me that Jim had returned on the jet ski to a standing ovation.
Later, my managers and I tried to retrace what went wrong. Simply put, Jim left the dock and, instead of staying in the designated jet ski area, immediately went north. We usually intercept people doing this, but on this day Jim slipped under our radar and kept going.
Additional follow up:
Jim returned the following year, and, after a few laughs, rented a jet ski again. Upon entering the designated jet ski area, he immediately turned north at full throttle. We couldn’t believe it. We successfully chased him down and corralled him into the jet ski area.
Guided Jet Ski Tours
This is a great time to remind everyone about our guided jet ski tours. Why risk getting stuck in mud up to your waist when one of our guides can show you a bunch of cool stuff without the life-harrowing experiences? Our guides will show you places around Nags Head and Manteo that you can only experience from the water. Contact us at (252) 441-2756 for more information or schedule a tour online today.