Spontaneous Rafting

Kim thought that we were both insane; looking back on the situation, I think she was probably right. But, as we ran in our bathing suits down the street across the hot pavement to the beach shack, we thought SHE was insane- how could buying a massive beach raft ever NOT be a good idea? Anyways, Kim remained sitting on Brant Rock Beach, while Cahill and I made the difficult decision about which vessel to purchase for our adventures. We, ultimately, decided we were “going big or going home.” And we were NOT going home…

Brant Rock Beach is a small, charming beach at the very end of RT-139 and Marshfield, itself. The public can access it, but it’s mostly utilized by the locals, whose quaint beach houses line the concrete seawall that stretches across its entire length. Each year on the third of July, the strip goes wild with block parties, cookouts, and, of course, fireworks like you’ve never seen before- all courtesy of the locals and rentals. With even the police sitting back and enjoying the show, it’s always an amazing night!

So, eager to participate in the festivities, my friends and I headed down to the beach around 3:30ish, with hopes of frolicking in the ocean in the back of our minds. It was a beautiful day.  After parking at the marina that houses my grandfather’s boat, we embarked on the half-mile trek to the ocean, passing a classic beach-shack store along the way. We joked about buying one of the giant rafts tied to the fence out front. And on we continued…

Upon our arrival, running across the rocky beach and into the water was literally our immediate reaction. The water was surprisingly warm for Brant Rock- even in the summer. We jumped and danced around. And then we stopped. Cahill and I made eye contact. “We NEED to go back and get that raft.”

Despite the bewilderment of Kim, twenty minutes and $62 later, Cahill and I emerged from the break in the concrete onto the beach hauling the epic ‘M4 BEACH RAFT’ over our heads. “LOOK KIM! LOOK! WE BOUGHT A RAFT!” Everyone on the beach turned to observe the obnoxious kids championing the obnoxious raft. I think Kim literally cried from laughing so hard. Needless to say, we wasted no time setting sail on our maiden voyage and paddling across the sea.

Amid much arguing and fighting and hitting each other and especially hitting Cahill, we somehow managed to journey away from the beach and out into the water, where Kim and I decided to jump into its depths- well, Kim jumped, and I fell over backwards before I had the chance to jump, no thanks to Cahill. Soon, Cahill joined us too, and, next thing we knew, we were all playing in the ocean like little kids again- all around our giant raft! It was amazing!

As the M4 is the largest raft model available, we had no problem comfortably fitting three people across the spacious interior, when we finally tired of swimming. And so, sprawled out across the rubber surface, we eventually decided to forget that everything existed and began to float, float away, watching the people on the beach transform into mere colorful specs.

However, Kim has this irrational fear of drifting out to sea and dying. She had this insane thought that our careless activity could become extremely dangerous. Psht. Not wanting anything to do with it, Cahill and I tried to convince her that it would be o.k. if we drifted away and never returned, that she should just forget everything, and that we should simply let the raft gods take over. Apparently, though, Kim isn’t as devoted to the raft gods as we are, so our reassurance fell on deaf ears. After attempting to singlehandedly paddle the monster raft while the rest of us slept on the ends, she plunged into the ocean and began to propel us back to shore. Thank God, because I sure as hell wasn’t planning on moving anytime soon.

Once we had returned to a reasonable distance from the beach, Cahill and I conveniently woke up from our sun nap and invited Kim to rejoin us in the raft for a game of Pirates. We decided to christen our vessel the “Black Pearl,” but we also wanted to call it “Poseidon,” so really it had two names that we used interchangeably. To our left, the jetty from which Brant Rock derives its name jutted out into the sea. “LAND HO!,” we cried, and began to furiously navigate through sharp rocks and seaweed beasts in an attempt to reach its surface. After several ‘near death’ experiences where we occasionally found ourselves stuck on a rock (during which we made Kim get out and paddle), we successfully docked THEBLACKPEARLPOSEIDON at the tip of the rock, which we claimed for ourselves and our pirate people as KIMSAMCAHILL Island.

Having effectively discovered new land and survived the trials of the sea, it seemed only fitting that we should begin our return voyage. Navigating the raft away from the rocky ocean floor was a task within itself, but, after viciously paddling (I actually helped this time!), we made it back to the ocean water, where we floated for another half hour or so , before, finally returning to the beach. It was, overall, a beautiful maiden voyage.

But, if you think the epic-ness of our day ends here, you are completely wrong. The maiden voyage was only the start of our raft adventures…

Throughout the day, we had, essentially, irreversibly bonded with our raft. It was unhealthy. It was like our child. And like a child, it became the deciding factor in all our evening choices. (i.e. Let’s walk down the block! But what about the raft? Damn it). We didn’t really think this one out before…

Fortunately, as we were now starving, some innovative thinking afforded us the luxury of a delicious sit-down meal on top of the ‘Venus II’ restaurant across from the beach (one of my childhood favorites). And by innovative thinking, I mean that we braved the thick marsh behind the building and tied our baby to a tree out of sight. Leaving it for the first time was, by far, one of the most difficult things we ever had to do, but (with frequent checkups during dinner) we somehow survived.

One pan-seared swordfish, shrimp scampi, and an angus burger later, we joyously retrieved the M4 from the brush, eager to return it to its natural ocean habitat in time for the fireworks. The sun, after all, was almost set; it was only a matter of time before the beach wall lit up with color. It was the event for which we had been waiting for all day.

Now joined by my sister, Erika, my friends and I returned to the beach, where we positioned our raft-baby directly in front of the beach entrance, under the perfectly clear deep navy sky and the thousands and thousands of visible stars. The tide had drifted out, and new people spread across every space of the sand. One house set one off. Then another. And another. And another. And so it began.

I can’t say I’ve ever experienced a firework show as magical and enlivening as the one that I experienced on Brant Rock Beach that night. With explosions painting the sky to our left and right, in front of us and behind us, literally, we were engulfed in the colorful flames. They were over the ocean. They were in the sky. One even miss-fired and hit a house (there was no damage, don’t worry). Lying in my new raft, with my favorite people, watching the show that surrounded me, I could not think of anywhere in the entire world that I would rather be that there. It was perfect.

But, eventually, the day had to end, and before I knew it, the four of us were laughing and fighting as we attempted to haul the giant raft all the way down the street back to the marina. At least we provided some good entertainment for the traffic-wedged cars lining the road leading from the beach. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we made it back to my car- me, Cahill, Kim, Erika, and Raft, all in one piece.

The raft is now in the trunk of my car, deflated, but even without air, it literally consumes the entire space. I fought and fought to keep it alive- we tried putting the seat down in the car, tilting it sideways, tying it on the roof. But in the end, there was absolutely no way we could avoid pulling the plug.

As I have no pump, I’m not sure when the M4 will come to life again. I have no idea if we’ll ever truly play with it as we did on the third of July. For all I know, it may sit in the trunk of my car, or the basement of my house, untouched forever. But, even if it was only for that day, it was worth it- all sixty-two dollars. True, buying the raft was impulsive, even frivolous. You can argue that we didn’t plan accordingly, we foolishly wasted for a mere moments joy. Except irresponsible or not, buying that raft will be something that I will remember for my entire life.

So yes, I bought a giant raft this weekend. Spontaneously. I didn’t need a raft. I wasn’t in the market for one. It wasn’t necessary. But, I bought it anyways, and I don’t regret it one bit.

Sometimes, I’ve learned, you just have to live in the moment.


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