‘Oh, my…’ I thought, because I knew exactly what was going to happen - I was about to be seasick. Spew, upchuck, puke, gag, retch, barf, or vomit. Call it what you want – I recognized it was about to occur, and I knew the experience was not going to be a good one.
First I got a good grip on the rising. Then I planted both feet firmly against the boat’s slippery starboard, before placing my lifejacket-protected chest across the gunnel. Now knowing I was going to remain somewhat safe throughout the throwing-up procedure, the only thing left for me to do was ‘let her go.’ And let her go, I did - I heaved and I hurled. I remember staring into the grey blue sea and thinking, ‘Only seven more hours to go.’
Vomiting is a violent event. The way the egg, toast and oatmeal I’d had for breakfast that morning, came back up the same route they had gone down, is not only scary, it’s abusive to the body. It doesn’t matter how often I’ve vomited, I still resist the next time. Even though experience tells me that I’ll not only survive the circumstance, I’ll feel better afterwards. But I couldn’t fool myself anymore. The queasiness I’d been feeling the last few times I’d gone out, had finally caught up to me. I could no longer blame it on the fog. This time, it was all about the ten-foot swells that were tossing me around like a bag of steroid-filled salmon food.
At least the skipper found it funny, using the opportunity to have a few laughs at my expense. “Don’t vomit on my lifejacket, David, when you crawl into the fetal position and start crying up under the bow,” he said. “And don’t think I’m taking you back in, anytime soon, old buddy – I’ve used enough gas bringing your big body out here. There’s no way I’m hauling it all the way back to McCallum without a full day’s catch of lobsters on board. And that’s going to be difficult to get, because, the way you’re throwing your breakfast overboard, those lobsters are not going to need to bother with our bait.”
The last thing I wanted was for anyone to take me home. It’s hard enough for me when I can’t do the work I expect of myself – it nearly kills me when I see I’m in the way, when I know I’m slowing things down. But, at that minute, I was having trouble thinking about anything except how I still had to stare down three-metre swells, and I needed to figure out the best way to do that.
I noticed that if I looked downwards, my stomach felt worse. But simply looking out at the land wasn’t the answer either. I needed a long view – I needed to look up or down the coast to see the whole horizon, and when the boat is bobbing in a bite, that’s impossible to do. Sometimes the only two views I had to choose between were the 700’ granite cliff in my face, and the open ocean at my back where the next closest Canadian location was Cape Breton, approximately 300 km SW.
There was no easy way out. Spew, upchuck, puke, gag, retch, barf, or vomit. Call it what you want. I’d gotten full blown seasick for the first time, and in only seven more hours, all McCallum would know.