What I Learned Jet Skiing

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An experience I will never regret.

This past week my sister had a conference in New York City to which I tagged along. As she worked I explored the city. I found new things to see and eat. But after her conference we had one day together. We both picked something we wanted to do because we know compromise and food are integral pieces of us traveling together. She wanted to see The Lion King on Broadway and I, I wanted to jet ski the Hudson.

Wednesday morning we set out to New Jersey, because everything is legal in New Jersey, to meet up with our tour guide. I do not usually voluntarily go on tours, but this one was on jet skis.

The sky was a crisp blue and the sun shine began to beat down on us as we made our way to the pier. Looking out over the Hudson from New Jersey, I saw the skyline glisten in the sunlight. Then as I glanced down at the water I started to see the crashing salt water. I saw the ferry make its way back and forth from Manhattan to Hoboken. The massive waves seemed to swell and fall with more power than I recalled. My palms began to sweat a bit.

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The view from pier

When I was planning this trek to New York City, I got so excited about jet skiing. It was the one thing I really wanted to do. I was so pumped. Now, I am not a proficient swimmer and rarely venture very far into the ocean. So as I stood there watching the waves, I began to freak out. I considered backing out all together. As the other people on the tour showed up backing out seemed less likely. A couple playing hooky from work and a couple from Ireland were going to join my sister and I. The next thing I knew I was on a jet ski about to pushed into the Hudson for an hour ride with zero experience driving in open waters.

Many times in my life I know I let fear stop me. I have let fear hold me back. It is a constant battle in my life. I did not want this to happen in this moment. I did not want to look back and not do this simply because I was scared.

So there I found myself on a jet ski about to be pushed out from the safety of the pier and into the Hudson. Right before he pushed my ski out into the open water I wanted to cry and not do it. My knuckles clenched so tight on the handlebars I feared I would develop a cramp before even starting. I drifted out toward the more open waters to join the others. My heart was beating.

As we began to follow our tour guide I grew accustomed to how to drive a jet ski. As I looked over, I saw the Manhattan skyline from such a unique perspective. I saw barges and sat in the water observing the Statue of Liberty from the water, without the crowd or the sweat. I looked up at such a majestic symbol from a jet ski. We flew through the Hudson waters.

At the start I cautiously inched my way along, but I started to get comfortable. I realized that I almost did not experience any of this because I was scared. In that moment I decided to throw it all to the wind! I bobbed and weaved my way towards the front of the pack. I started going faster and hopping over waves.

My heart leaped every time my machine would splat back down onto the water after getting some air. I am sure I felt way cooler than I looked. My adrenaline spiked as we went through the water of a massive barge. Now entering this experience, I did not want to fall off, get smashed by a whale, or get really wet. The water in the Hudson has a reputation.

So as I took on this huge wave all of these fears flashed before me for some reason. I sped up because I was not as scared as I should be. As I did, I hit a wave just right and was overtaken by water. I could not see or breath for a few seconds. I wondered if I fell off, but realized I was still holding onto the handles. I heard very deep loud laughter and looked over to see one of the others on the tour laughing. He said I disappeared as I drove straight into a huge wave everyone else drove around.

Seemed about right to me. But I was thrilled to be drenched on a jet ski in the Hudson. It reminded me that we cannot let fear hold us back, but also that when we venture outside of our comfort zone it doesn’t always go as planned. And that is ok. It is ok to get smashed in the face with a wave. It is ok to be scared. It is not ok to not go.

Eventually our tour ended and I was on cloud nine the rest of the day (and let’s be honest until now). This experience was one of many highlights. I waved to others on boats, saw the skyline from a such a freeing and unique way, and sat under the Brooklyn Bridge and looked up. I thought I might die, but I did not. And through it all I was reminded yet again to keep pushing to do new things even when you are deathly afraid to get smashed by a whale. It is a legitimate fear. A whale just gave birth close by. Mock it all you want, I did not let it stop me.

In the end, my only regret was not getting the picture package, but I am not mad about my experience!

If you find yourself in New York, go visit New York Harbor Jet Ski. You won’t regret it!


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