Thomas O’Brien and Jake Madison were the best of friends since their days in high school over 30 years ago. Thomas is now a successful architect while Jake is a contractor working on many of the designs that Thomas had come up with in recent years. They were nearing the completion of a housing project that had been in the works for the last 2 months and had decided to celebrate with a little time off on a tropical island.
“Well Jake, where do you think we should head to for this getaway? I don’t care where we go, as long as there are plenty of waves, women, and wild times.” Thomas expressed with enthusiasm.
“I was thinking that we should check out one of the Canary Islands. A buddy of mine went to the island of Fuerteventura once and showed me some pics from his trip. It looked totally amazing!”
“Alright, sounds awesome. I will have my travel agent make the arrangements. You said that you expect to have this project finished by the end of next week, right? So why don’t we plan the trip for the following week, okay?” Thomas asked.
Two weeks later the friends boarded a plane and were on their way across the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Africa to the Spanish-owned Canary Islands. From the air, they could see the white sand beaches surrounding the beautiful mountainous, green paradise. At 2:48 pm, the plane landed at Airport De Fuerteventura and after retrieving their luggage, hailed a taxi and made their way to the Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia Real, a luxurious hotel located on the northern peak of the island. As they drove up towards the arched entryway, an employee was quick to attend to their luggage and lead them inside to the front desk. The Concierge, Senor Cruz greeted them as they approached the desk.
“Buenas tardes cabelleros. Good afternoon gentlemen, how can I assist you today?”
“We’d like to check in senor. The reservation is listed under Thomas O’Brien.”
“Si senor, I have your reservation right here for a single room with a King-size bed, non-smoking with an ocean view.”
“Wait a minute,” Thomas interrupted. “What do you mean a King-size bed? I asked for two Queen-sized beds! Is there another room that you can switch us to?”
“I apologize sir, but we are fully booked and this is the only room available. Perhaps we can offer you a complimentary meal for your inconvenience?”
Thomas looked frustrated as he turned to Jake and asked what he wanted to do. Jake shrugged his shoulders and nodded his head in approval.
“That’s fine. We’ll take it; there’s not much we can do about it now anyway.”
The porter brought their luggage up to the room and helped them get settled in, then Jake offered him a tip for his assistance.
“Don’t worry about it Thomas. Let’s just make the best of it and hope that if we meet any women, that they have a room of their own that one of us can go to,” Jake said with a laugh. “Let’s hit the beach before dinner, okay?”
The men changed into their swimming trunks, sprayed on some sunscreen, and then went out to enjoy the tropical sun. The white sand beach was crowded with scantily-clad women and men of several different nationalities and ethnicities. Tall palm trees swayed in the wind at the far end of the beach and waves washed ashore at a hypnotic pace leaving the suntanning patrons in a relaxed stupor. Thomas and Jake brought along a football which they passed around for a while before going for a dip in the ocean.
“The water here is so warm!” Thomas exclaimed. “What do you say we rent a boat tomorrow and go on a seaward adventure?”
“I’m up for it. Maybe I will get a chance to check out that underwater camera that I bought for the trip.”
The men spent the next couple of hours taking in the sun and fun on the beach, headed in for a bite to eat at one of the hotel restaurants, and then headed back to the room for a good sleep. When they awoke the next morning, Thomas called and made arrangements to rent a catamaran at Puerto de Corralejo.
“This 30-foot-long beauty was overkill for just the two of us, but we are here to have fun and might as well do it in style,” Thomas said. “I had them stock the galley fridge with some beer and food as well. Are you ready to set sail matey?” he said in his best pirate voice.
“Aye-aye Captain! Ready to shove off.” Jake replied with a salute.
They set a course North towards the open sea and decided to drop anchor approximately 200 kilometers or approximately 108 nautical miles from Fuerteventura. Jake grabbed a snorkel, a mask, and flippers and leaped into the water with his camera. Schools of colorful fish surrounded him as he snapped away. Thomas stayed aboard in case Jake needed assistance and after about 10 minutes, Thomas was trying to find a way to signal his friend because he had spotted the fin of a shark fast approaching the boat. Finally, Thomas grabbed the life preserver and threw it towards Jake, striking the surface of the water 2 feet from his head. Jake surfaced and asked Thomas what was wrong. Thomas pointed towards the fin and yelled out “Shark! Grab on to the life preserver and I will pull you in.” Jake did as Thomas said, and Thomas pulled him back to the catamaran just seconds before the shark surfaced, exposing its razor-like teeth.
“Thanks pal. I was almost shark bait. I think we’ve seen enough of the open water. What do you say we head back to shore now?” Jake said, still in shock from the near-death situation.
They weighed anchor and raised the sails and were preparing to turn around and head back when a bank of storm clouds began to roll in from the Northwest very quickly. They secured any loose items that sat on the deck and put their life jackets on just as the winds picked up and the waves began crashing against the port-side of the boat. Soon after, the rain started coming down fiercely; each drop felt like a slap in the face as it struck their skin. Thunder rumbled in the clouds above like a giant bear growling in protest. Lighting filled the sky and struck the Spinnaker sail’s mast sending it plummeting into the depths of the ocean below. Thomas and Jake held on tightly as their craft was tossed effortlessly across the waves. Eventually, they decided to take refuge below and out of the rain since they no longer had control over the catamaran. They just hoped and prayed that it would hold together with the savage beating that it was undergoing.
Fifty minutes later, they felt the boat come to a sudden stop and thought that they had hit some rocks or another watercraft, so they rushed up onto the deck to take a look. They had been washed ashore but had no idea where. All they could see through the fading storm was sand in each direction. Thomas went to the radio and called out a Mayday with hopes that someone would hear his distress call. A voice came on and spoke to them in English but with a Spanish accent.
“This is the Salvamento Maritimo, the Coast Guard based out of Madrid, Spain. What is your location and who am I speaking with?”
“My name is Thomas O’Brien. My friend and I were out sailing on a catamaran that we rented in Fuerteventura when we got caught up in the storm about 108 nautical miles north of the island. We were thrown off-course by the storm, and are now beached at an unknown location. Can you send help please?”
“Yes Senor O’Brien, as soon as the storm eases up, we can send our helicopter out in search of your vessel. Are either of you injured? Do you require medical assistance?”
“No sir, we are both fine; just a little shaken up is all, but our boat looks like it is no longer seaworthy.”
In addition to the missing mast, Thomas had noticed a large hole in the starboard hull and thought of how glad he was that he paid extra for the insurance on the boat. The storm had now passed and the sun began to shine once again. They now had a better view of their surroundings. It was a very arid location; nothing but sand. Not even a palm tree. Thomas had calculated that with the direction the storm was blowing them, they must have washed ashore in the Sahara Desert. The men stayed protected from the intense heat of the sun by staying below deck and decided to enjoy the food and beer that they had brought along. It was just over an hour later when they heard the thumping noise of a helicopter approaching. Thomas grabbed the flare gun that was stored onboard and once they had a visual of the helicopter, he fired the red flare high into the air which was easily spotted by the pilot of the Coast Guard helicopter. The large Sikorsky S-61 hovered above as one of the crewmen was lowered down with a harness with which he lifted Thomas and Jake to safety. They flew back to Fuerteventura where Thomas and Jake had to fill out reports then notify the boat rental company of the location of the catamaran. Once they finally made it back to the hotel that evening, it was already time for dinner, so they decided to try out a restaurant that they passed on the way to the boat rental place in Corralejo called “The Ugly Duckling” and it was well worth the hour-long wait in line for a table. They each ordered the Beef Tenderloin which was cooked to perfection with a side salad covered with chopped vegetables and grated cheese, plus a glass of red wine to wash it down. At the table next to their’s sat two beautiful women in their mid-thirties, one with golden-blonde hair and the other with dark brown hair and a tanned complexion. Jake had spotted them looking over and picked up on their flirtatious expressions, so he smiled back and then motioned to Thomas to take a look. After dinner, they paid their bill and wandered over to the table where the ladies were sitting and introduced themselves. After joining them for one more glass of wine and a short description of their day's adventure, they went out for a night of dancing followed by some “extracurricular activities” later that night. The next morning, they all met up for breakfast and decided to spend the rest of the week together. They experienced all sorts of fun activities such as hiking through the mountains, swimming in the pool and the ocean, and of course shopping, but they refused to ever go back out sailing again.