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Illustration by Massimiliano Aurelio

Dear BOAT: “We had to keep crew close by in case she decided to jump back in”

7 June 2024 • Written by Risa Merl

Every month, BOAT gets the skinny on all the most treacherous tales from the high seas...

Years ago, I worked as a stew on a yacht for a younger owner who loved to host his family on board. His mother stayed on the boat often and what she seemed to love most was getting attention. She was quite dramatic and wouldn’t think twice about making a scene if it meant everyone looked at her. She particularly wanted to get her husband to notice her, but he usually ignored her, which made her double down.

Once, when the owner’s parents came on board, the crew was waiting on the transom to greet them. After being served a welcome drink on the main deck aft, the mother took off, sprinting back down the steps to the transom, from where she jumped into the water. It was odd, then turned scary when her son shouted: “She can’t swim!” So two of the deckhands dived in and pulled her back on board.

Spluttering and soaking wet, she yelled angrily at the deckhands. “What did you do that for?” she demanded. “My husband was supposed to do that, not you!” This revealed her latest trick to get her husband’s wayward attention. Meanwhile, he was nowhere to be seen – he had already gone to their cabin.

This would’ve been strange enough if it happened just the once, but it happened probably five times during that trip. Every time we saw her, we had to keep crew close by in case she decided to jump back in.

The final time she jumped in, her husband did attempt to help. He reluctantly threw down his newspaper, cursing at her to stop her dramatics, and dived in the water after her. But it turned out he wasn’t a great swimmer either. Instead of rescuing his wife, he started panicking and pushing her under the water as a drowning person would do. The crew had to pull them both out. From then on, two deckhands stood at the top of the steps leading down to the transom like bouncers to keep the owner’s mother – or father for that matter – safe and sound, and dry.

As told to Risa Merl. Do you have a tale to tell? Send your story to thebitterend@boatinternationalmedia.com.

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