I am 41 years old, and I have never been seasick. Ever.
Until Saturday . . .
A Beautiful Morning
Saturday dawned into a beautiful morning. Beau and I had several projects to take care of – a typical Saturday morning – but we both commented on what a pretty day it was. A good day for fishing. Perhaps later in the day after we finished a few things.
As Beau started to walk out the door to tackle his first project, he hesitated, “Maybe we should go fishing first.”
Indeed, fishing is best early in the morning. So, off we went! We usually get up early, even on the weekends, so, even with all this scrambling around, we were on the boat and backing away from his dock before 8:00 a.m.
We rounded the western shores of our little cay, and I gazed around at the homes, docks, church, stores and our beloved little community as we cruised by. Staying on the protected side, we skimmed across the clear water, bedazzled by the spectacular shades of blue and turquoise. We passed pristine beaches with soft white sand, and I smiled as I inhaled the fresh air while the morning sun warmed my face.
A beautiful day. A beautiful place. Peaceful. Blessed.
I grumbled at myself when I realized I’d forgotten to grab my camera in my haste during our last-minute dash out the door. On such a pretty day, and anticipating some fishing fun, I thought it’d make for a good blog post. Turns out, I was glad no camera could capture what was about to transpire…
Out to Sea
After a few miles, we headed toward a “cut” – a break in the chain of little cays where we can cross from the protected side to the deep blue waters of the ocean. (A prior post describes this a bit more – with pictures!)
Yet again, I was thankful for my experienced captain and the sense of safety and security I have when I’m with him. This day, especially, it was rougher on the ocean side than I had expected. Beau expertly maneuvered us through the waves, but we were still bounced around. I held on tightly because, in these moments, I figure my number one job is to STAY IN THE BOAT.
When we were a mile or so from land, Beau cut the speed back and went to the stern (rear of the boat) to start baiting the fishing rods. I assumed my position at the wheel to keep us on the course heading he wanted. I found a cloud to aim the bow of the boat toward, but also glanced frequently at the compass in front of me. (Since clouds move, you know!)
All of this was conducted while I stood as high as possible on my tippy-toes. My five-foot frame struggles to see the compass, bow and horizon unless I add a few inches. (Beau has since informed me I should try flipping down the step of the Captain’s chair to stand on.)
Beau baited both rods and had them positioned. I was proud of myself for keeping us on a steady course as we trolled along, even turning around at times and heading in the next direction. My boating skills still need a great deal of work, but I was handling things pretty well so far.
A School of Fish
Whhhhhhhrrrrrrrrrrrr. One of the rods started whirring as the line ran out quickly. We hooked a fish! I cut the engines while Beau started to reel.
Whhhhhhhrrrrrrrrrrrr. The second reel took off! I put the engines in neutral and left the wheel to bring in the next fish.
Beau and I both reeled in our lines furiously. As the fish neared the boat, I could see their dazzling colors flashing under the water – dolphin (mahi mahi). I held my fish steady at the side of the boat and kept it out of the way so Beau could bring his in. With the heavy rod in one hand, he held the gaff (hook) in his other hand and leaned over the side of the boat to land the fish.
Now, usually, I’d have the well open in the stern to drop the fish into and that would be that. But with all of our hands occupied and me crowding the stern, Beau brought the fish in over the side and carried it to a well in the bow. Unfortunately, this meant that the thrashing fish spattered blood all over both of us and the boat. (If you’re an animal lover, like me, don’t worry. It sounds more gruesome than it is for the fish who quickly passed on to mahi-mahi heaven.)
As we were leaning over the side of the boat for all of this, we could see other dolphin swimming in the area. I continued to hold my fish while Beau quickly re-baited his rod and cast it overboard.
Well, holy moly, he hit again immediately! (Of course, he was skillfully targeting the fish, but still.) Here we go again! We repeated Beau’s fish-landing and re-baiting process several times, while I hung onto my rod as the fish jerked the line and I pressed against the side of the boat in the rolling sea. Eventually, we got my fish into the boat, too. At this point, we had four dolphin in the well. We were ecstatic and energized from the adrenalin of the hunt.
Well, Beau was excited. I was excited, in theory, but, in actuality, I was pretty queasy. This whole time, I’d been looking down at the water as we drifted in neutral gear and rolled in the heavy waves. The smell of fuel at the back of the boat didn’t help. (That extra rum-n-coke I had late the night before probably didn’t help either.)
Now, I’ve been queasy before on the sea, but I’ve never actually been seasick. I know the drill. Breathe fresh air, get away from fuel smells, look out at the horizon to steady yourself, eat crackers, etc. For me, it usually passes fairly quickly.
I moved forward, staring at the horizon, while Beau took the wheel. He turned us back around so that we could make a pass at that same spot again. We’d seen more fish in the area and stood a good chance of stocking the freezer even further. He filled a bucket with water, pulled down the mop and suggested I clean up while he positioned us and re-baited the rods.
Normally, I’d have already been on this task. Today, however, I said quietly, “I need a minute.”
He looked at me more critically then and realized I was a little sick. He said we should probably head home, but I said no. I didn’t want to be the rookie lightweight that interrupted our hot streak! My pride demanded that I suck it up and let him continue to have fun. “I mean, it’ll pass, and even if it doesn’t, I can power through some queasiness,” I told myself.
A Powerful Constitution?
Let’s pause for a moment, so you can understand my thinking.
I’ve been queasy before; it passes. More significantly, I don’t get sick. That is to say, I don’t vomit. At all. For any reason. Not when a stomach flu has me on death’s door. Not when I’ve had too much to drink. Not when spoiled food is accidentally fed to me. Nope. Never.
I distinctly remember the last time I threw up, and I was five years old. Perhaps I didn’t like the experience and formed some mental block that overrode physical urges for the ensuing three and a half decades. Whatever the reason, I don’t throw up. I don’t even gag. I just feel queasy.
So, in a choice between Beau catching more fish for us to eat and having fun in the process versus me not feeling so hot, the decision to stay seemed simple.
After a few more deep breaths, I took the mop to the bow. Halfheartedly, I splashed water out of the bucket and began to scrub off the fish blood before it dried further. This effort was seeming more difficult than I expected, so I just plopped down on a seat in the bow to proceed. Mind you, this meant that I placed my dry shorts onto a wet, blood-spattered seat, but I was beyond caring.
From this seated position, I moved the mop a few more times and splashed a little more water. Nope. Feeling pretty bad. I need to just be still.
With Beau at the helm behind me, I leaned back against the center console, stared at the horizon and took deep breaths.
It wasn’t helping, and I decided it was time to ditch my pride, tuck my tail between my legs and tell Beau I needed to come home.
As I stood up, I belched. This is not pretty or ladylike, but I mention it because I immediately thought “uh-oh.” I’d been with sick friends or family before, and I knew that THAT kind of belch usually preceded a round of ugliness.
Standing in front of my Captain, I spoke his name, but, before I could continue, I had to interrupt myself by dropping to my knees and spitting into the bucket that happened to be right there.
“Over the side, Dawn! Over the side!” yelled Beau as he cut the engines. I flipped positions. Gripping the rail with both hands while leaning over the side of boat, I proceeded to vomit.
The whole episode was very surreal. It was as though I was observing myself from afar. I remember experiencing each sensation very distinctly and thinking, “So this is what people feel like when they’re sick.” I also remember being so surprised, “But I don’t throw up!”
Apparently, I do. Repeatedly.
Groaning aloud, I continued my white-knuckled grip as the heaving subsided. I felt Beau crank up the engines and turn toward home. After leaning against the side of the boat for a while, I managed to get myself seated into the Captain’s chair, quiet, weak and shaking.
And, of course, mortified.
We returned home, barely an hour since we’d left! I remained silent and still for a few hours, still feeling very nauseous, while Beau was left by himself to put everything away, clean the fish, and then wash down the boat.
As soon as I started feeling better, I became ravenous. For lunch, I cooked up – yup, you guessed it – some good ol’ Kraft mac-n-cheese. By the afternoon, I felt better, though I remained chagrined.
Beau didn’t say too much about the whole thing, and I made a few self-deprecating jokes later. Quite often, we’re accompanied by other people, or we’re guests on other people’s boats. At the very least, I am so glad that we were on Beau’s boat and by ourselves. The embarrassment was bad enough as it was! So much for being an island gal.
In the days that followed, my stomach still didn’t feel quite right. Perhaps it wasn’t only seasickness? It certainly wasn’t a hangover. Even today, I still feel occasional spots of queasiness. (No, gossipmongers, I am not knocked up. Yes, I’m sure.)
I really don’t know why it all converged into that episode on Saturday, but I sure hope I’m done for at least another 41 years.