It all seemed so simple. My brother, Jim, and I would sail our 12 foot sailboat around Treasure Island, the small island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Jim was 14 and I was 16. Jim and I had been sailing on lakes for a few years and looked forward to a fun adventure. When my Dad, the Supply Officer on the Naval base on Treasure Island, helped us get the boat into the water, we confidently made plans to meet in about half an hour back at the boat ramp.
So on that sunny, summer afternoon, Jim and I happily began our little sail. At first, all seemed well as we waved goodbye to Dad and sailed out into the bay. Since we were going to closely hug the coast of the island, we turned the rudder to bring us around the island -- nothing happened!! We tried to stay calm as we took turns paddling, but no matter what we did, we were slowly drifting out to sea.
I remembered that the island prison Alcatraz was considered escape proof because of the sharks in San Francisco Bay, so swimming was definitely out. We didn't have a radio. In fact, all we had was a very small sailboat with one paddle in a very large bay.
Hours passed. It became cool and the water was getting a little choppy. No longer were we near the safety of the little island. The current had pulled us into the shipping lanes. I turned pale as a large Portuguese freighter approached us. We desperately waved hoping for help. They smiled and waved back. I felt doomed envisioning us lost at sea in the night fog. As I began to despair, we heard the sound of a motor boat engine. It was Dad! When we weren't back in half an hour, Dad convinced a man on Treasure Island to take his boat out to find us.
Tired, and quiet, we rode back to Treasure Island in the motorboat with our sailboat in tow behind us. Having found a new respect for the strong currents of San Francisco Bay, I felt so grateful to have only been "nearly" lost at sea.