By Anita Beer
When I first moved to Beaufort many years ago, I was chatting with a friend about all the entertaining options available during the annual Water Festival. She preferred the traditional route — enjoying the concerts, good food and fun themes presented each night.
While I enjoyed those events as well, I was more curious about the river route, which of course includes the sandbar. I had heard multiple stories of “experiences” at the sandbar during Water Fest, and I so wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Finally, a few years later, we were invited out on our friend’s boat.
I was a little intimidated. I hated myself in a bathing suit, didn’t like my new haircut, and where, oh where, was I to go when I had to use the bathroom?
Despite my reservations, I simply had to see for myself if all the crazy stories could possibly be true. I sucked in my tummy, did the best I could with my haircut, and even made the mistake of putting on mascara. Off we went.
I was completely amazed by how many boats and people were crammed onto that tiny piece of sand!
We tied up about 10 boats out and proceeded to set up shop — coolers, grills, sunscreen, jump off the boat and head for the crowd.
First mistake: Know the tides. I walked with little effort to the sandbar. Getting back was a different story. How did the water get this high? That’s when I learned about boat hopping. I jumped from boat to boat until I got back to our mother ship.
Second mistake: Leaving the mother ship. When I got back to the boat from the sandbar, the large raft that I was so hoping to rest on was already filled. Fortunately, I spied a cute little purple chair float just two boats down, and no one was on it. Yay!
I proceeded to carefully step on the chair, but it immediately flipped me over into the river. There I was, stuck upside down under this stupid purple chair, tide coming in strong, friends otherwise “occupied,” and I couldn’t get above water! Panic quickly set in. I just knew I was going to drown. I was probably under water for approximately 10 seconds when I saw a hand come down to pull me to safety. Thank you, whoever you were.
Needless to say, my hair was a dripping mess, I had mascara streaming down my face, and I was ready to go home. I stomped back to the boat, all the while my friends were rolling with laughter. Imagine that, a near death experience and they thought it was funny!
At that moment, steaming with anger, I just happened to glance beyond the sandbar and the river and over at Beaufort Memorial Hospital. Voila! My light bulb went off. Of course it makes sense that they planted a medical care facility right on the river on prime Beaufort real estate. I believe they did it solely because of Water Festival.
As the years pass, each time I tell that story, my underwater time increases. I am now up to about 45 minutes under water. (Never ruin a good story with the truth!)
But the moral of my story is this: Even though our hospital is conveniently located for you adventurous young rivergoers, I hope all who partake in the sandbar festivities this summer will use caution, be safe, and stay away from floating chairs. They are evil!