(Alternate Title: The Puke Fest)
I have come to realize that whenever you hear someone utter the phrase “I don’t get seasick” you should maintain a certain amount of skepticism. I am not innocent of uttering this phrase (of course), and have been waiting for the day the sea would get her revenge.
Our recent passage just offshore of the Falklands put all our stomachs to the test. It didn’t matter if someone had been seasick before, we were all on an equal playing field. When we left Stanley for Pebble Island back in October, the seas were lumpy: short wave periods created a choppy motion that tossed the boat fore and aft and side to side, creating an unpleasant, rough ride.
What ensued was… truly unforgettable. I have never seen anything like it. JD declared this historic day Puke Fest.
In what Deb dubbed a severe case of “monkey see, monkey do,” the seasickness on board spiraled out of control. One person set off another, and like a horrible vomit-snowball, it grew and grew, eventually taking out 7 of 11 people on board.
The pilot house was transformed into a place of misery. Stomachs and buckets were filled and emptied. Water bottles, saltines, and paper towels were distributed.
A friend of Greg and Keri’s once said that when it comes to seasickness there are the roarers and the gulpers. We had both aboard Saoirse. One particular individual sounded like he was fighting a bear— and rest assured, he was teased relentlessly for the rest of the trip.
At one point, while providing assistance in the pilot house, I heard my name being called from below. I rushed down the main companionway to find one very distressed victim with a leaking seasickness bag. I grabbed another bag, which was barfed into with such force that the bottom of the bag blew out, splattering rather unpleasant contents across the floor. The boat rolled hard and every ounce of fluid went flooding across the floor. I was overwhelmed and scrambling to get the situation under control while simultaneously attempting to dodge the stomach contents sliding across the floorboards, so I stuck my head into the pilot house and shouted “Josh! I need you!” and ran back below.
Josh came flying down the ladder and together, with the help of paper towels, cloth rags, a bucket, and bleach, we got the situation under control.
When I returned to the pilot house some minutes later, Greg, who had been on the helm, looked over at me in astonishment and asked what the hell was happening down there. I assured him he did not want to know.
Somehow we all pulled through the day, and that evening when we entered calm waters we revived everyone by celebrating Derek’s birthday with a big lamb curry dinner and cake.
Puke Fest was officially over.
A few days later, we began our passage from the Falklands back to Chile. Everyone was ready this time and took their seasickness medication early. We were fortunate to have a calm passage and everyone was holding up well… except me. For some reason, I got seasick for the first time in my life. I have felt queasy while at sea before, but normally a steady stream of saltines and water keeps me going without incident. This time, no amount of saltines could keep me from feeling like my stomach had developed a life of its own and was trying to wriggle its way up through my throat and out of my body. Just to err on the side of caution, I spent two days wandering around dejectedly with a bucket everywhere I went— I even cuddled with it at night. I have never experienced real motion sickness before this and, let me tell you, my sympathy for those who get seasick has increased tenfold. I was fiercely determined not to throw up– out of fear that it would trigger someone else to get sick and spiral out of control again— and I never did. But I came pretty close, and that was enough for me.
Puke Fest Part II was prevented, and we will all be forever thankful.