Are banana boats safe? My tale of survival
On a Friday, my husband treated me for lunch at one of the restaurants at Bandar Rowdha after which we decided to go for “free banana boat rides”. Being an enthusiastic person, I wanted to try out a banana boat also. We lost two chances to go for the ride.
The first, I had gone to change my clothes and so was late, the second, we had all gone there but unfortunately it had left us again. The third, my four year old son, Hayyaan cried so loud that he didn’t want to go on the boat but we tried to comfort him until he finally accepted. “The boy cannot go with you on the boat. We only take six years and above” the lady said to us.
We then asked if he could go with her on her boat and she said no problem if he is comfortable. Few minutes later another family of not less than five people also came. They also had a five year old son, Adam who went and sat with my son.
” All of you will go on that boat and it will turn over and pour all of you down,” the five year old said jokingly to us. I must admit that this phrase affected me. Him being a very young sweet boy yet saying these words that felt so heavy to me but still we decided to do it.
I hopped on with my husband and the skipper( boat driver) was female. She also had a young man on her small boat who helped her with the rope that held both the boat n banana boat. As we were about to start the experience, they offered us life jackets which did not fit us well but actually no one cared they asked us to just fit them like that.
Then the boy briefed us one thing that when we feel the boat is dragging us right we should go left to balance it. We started off, in a fairly slow speed n I thought to myself so simple like this.
No sooner had she accelerated, that we realized we were in high speed. We were holding on tight to the handles but the waves were so high that we started jumping off from the banana boat up and down.
I wanted to signal the boat ahead that this was too much for me to take but I couldn’t because we were jumping off from the boat and high waves were coming onto us yet she was still driving at the highest speed.
We kept on screaming, jumping up high and I felt it in my heart that our lives were now in danger. I was seated first on the row so I could see all that’s happening straight onto my eyes.
Minute after minute, she-the driver would turn her head behind to check on us which also as I believe lent a helping hand on danger because if one keeps on turning the neck to see what’s behind, then control of what is ahead can’t be seen well.
At this moment we were already deep and far in the ocean with terrifying, aggressive waves and we were all jumping so very high having the only hope in our hands that were holding onto the handles but before we could even notice it, the banana boat over turned and poured all of us down hence drowning us all deep in the ocean.
Not being very good swimmers my husband and I drowned hard underwater that I could only see darkness and I just knew this was the end of my lifetime journey.
Underwater, I was so terrified because I didn’t know where the rest were. Everyone fought for life and the struggles made us go up. I finally emerged my head above level and I couldn’t see my husband for now. After few seconds I also saw him emerge out and he screamed ” heeeeelp” he was taking in water and his life jacket was at his neck already coming off since all didn’t fit us well. He drownd again inside then emerged again still screaming for help. At this point, I am not sure if I kind of lost my senses or the panic was too much when suddenly I felt a tight grip on my jacket. My husband tried to support himself on me which made me drown deep again but thank God, we both were safe for now that we would notice what was around us.
We all held each other tight waiting for help and before we realized it, the pulling boat was there and we all tried to hold on it but saddly I was losing strength of which I thought either she, or the helper would come help us but unfortunately to them it was like normal. We tried to help ourselves around the small boat until we found the ladder but we had no strength anymore to climb it, so we helped each other n finally we made it.
My husband was pulled first then a teenager and I was next. The moment I hopped on the boat I just burst into tears because I felt I had been given a second chance to live.
Later on she asked is there anyone who would like to go back on the boat because this time I will drive it slow and I was shocked even more, why didn’t she drive it slow then? By this I proved to myself that it was true were at a greatly high speed.
The others consoled me and the boat driver asked me “will u do this again?” I said “never”. Then she replied ” Now you have a story to tell the world”. It is true indeed this is a story to tell the world how unsafe these boats are. Nobody cared in the beginning to brief us what exactly is about banana boating. It is wrong of them to just assume that whoever goes on it, has either done it before or is a great swimmer.
The banana boat ride is a very life threatening experience of which one can lose life easily. It is also a pledge for safety control in areas like these where boats are available. Boards of rules and regulations and should be displayed that all these are at owner’s risk. They should know that life jackets should also be in all sizes since people are of different body types and if they don’t have them, they should not take in people. My life got saved but what happens to the same enthusiastic people who might have gone after me?
Thanks to Allah we are alive
(Contributed by Fatmah al Naamani)
Are banana boats safe? My tale of survival