I’m an expert at puking. At sea. On land. In the air. I’ve done it all. My qualifications? A lifetime of personal experience. As a little kid in Finland we used to visit relatives in the country. By bus. Mum used to tell me that I would sit in the back of the bus singing away between bouts of puking. I don’t remember that myself. I’m grateful for that as it is not a memory I want to carry with me.
The affliction has never left me. I have tried all the remedies – alternatives and pharmaceuticals. Ginger. No good. Acupuncture wristbands. Useless. Chemical-laden pills. Make me feel nauseous before we leave.
Taking me for a drive as a passenger is just asking for trouble. Especially if the roads are windy. And even more so if I have slept poorly. Or may have perhaps over-indulged the night before. Hubby learnt that the hard way. Now, if I shout “Stop!” the car screeches to a halt, I dash out (if it’s not too late) and throw up whatever is in my stomach. And just for a little while, feel better. Until the next bout. The funny thing is that it’s not readily predictable. Sometimes I’m OK. Sometimes not. We avoid windy roads these days if at all possible. Without argument. Too high risk. If it is not possible to avoid them, he drives very carefully and sedately. Not at all his usual style. I’m quietly grateful next to him keeping my eyes firmly focused on the road ahead. That’s the next best thing to a horizon.
One year we took a ferry across to Kangaroo Island from Port Adelaide. It was a long trip in a big, clumsy old thing that slewed from side to side. I spent a large part of the journey becoming intimate with the toilet bowl. Our toddler sat in the passenger lounge chatting away to his dad. In mid sentence, out of his mouth emerged a huge projectile vomit. He looked on in amazement. “Where did that come from?!” he asked, genuinely puzzled. Once more I ran to the toilet, gagging and dry retching. We never used that ferry again.
On another trip to Kangaroo Island BC (before children) we left from Cape Jervis. It’s a short trip over from there. Hop, skip and a jump really. We took a very small passenger ferry. It was crowded. The ferry rode low through choppy seas. The waves looked ENORMOUS to me. Up and down. Up and down. Uuuup and downnnn. Ceaselessly. For forty-five minutes. With no escape. I sat next to an open door with salt water spraying in. It drenched me but kept me distracted and freezing cold long enough so I was able to keep everything in till we hit land. We never used that ferry again either.
When our beautiful boat was launched I was determined to give it a good bash. And I did. Successfully for several short sails. Then came the fateful day when my sailing days were precariously close to ending. The seas were smooth and calm. The weather was beautiful. At anchor, becalmed, Finnally ever so gently rose and fell with the waves as everyone watched dolphins following our wake. I started feeling queasy. Yep. Ensconced in the womb of our cabin with a bucket, I emerged only when we had docked. The heaving continued at home for the rest of that day. Wobbly sea legs on land. Good-oh. However, I was determined to give it another shot. I love the sunsets and sunrises. I love watching the waves – well, the horizon. It keeps me from throwing up. There’s a lot to like about sailing. And I had caught the biggest whiting on one trip when I actually did not throw up at all. I am very proud of that.
Then the inevitable happened. We were going sailing again. I was assured the seas would be calm. Gorgeous sailing weather they said. Wrong !!! The waves this time WERE gigantic. White water washed over the deck. I threw up everything I had in me. And then some. Eventually I staggered down to our cabin. But not before passing the galley sink and filling it. I heard someone call out to hubby to come and clean up after his wife. With no horizon to focus on I kept my eyes shut tight as I lay spreadeagled on the bunk bed to prevent myself from falling off. Occasionally I tried to sneak a peek. Definitely not a good idea. The strategically placed bucket on the cabin floor was regularly emptied by He Who Lied To Me About the State of The Sea. He comforted me, saying the sea can be unpredictable. Really ?! I was in hell !!! Later I was told that others too had got sick. That did not comfort me at all. Neither did I feel any sympathy for them. I was too miserable and self-focused. I was also told that the port holes had dipped generously under the sea as the yacht was buffeted one gigantic wave after another. I was grateful I didn’t know that at the time. Although worry about drowning and an early death may have provided a welcome distraction.
Foolishly I thought I would be safe on land. Wrong! For two more days I continued to suffer. The floors heaved. The bed heaved. The toilet heaved. The shower heaved even more. I have not sailed since.
She is a beautiful, graceful boat.
I love her and all she has brought into our lives.
We are friends – from afar.
May all who sail on her be blessed and safe from puking.
© Raili Tanska