Monday, July 21, 2008

Hell at Sea, Part 2

Previously on "Hell at Sea"...

We learned that I remember my quitter days of yore.  But after visiting my family this past Sunday I was reminded that it was AstroWorld in Houston we visited rather than a theme park in San Antonio.  I had an 'a-ha' moment in my tween years and vowed never to be a quitter again!  

And now...."Hell at Sea, Part 2"...

My friend and travel companion, a little gray-haired 60-year old lady named Nancy, who also works for the same company I do, had wanted to see puffins for many years.  When I told a group of friends a year and a half ago that I wanted to go to Maine, and they were all invited to come along, she immediately shouted, "I want to see puffins!"  Well, okay, then.  Over the months leading up to the trip, people bugged out one by one, leaving just the two of us.  That's fine.  It would have been much cheaper per person to have 4 or 5 people go on the road trip to Maine, but lives and careers intervene as they always do.

Nancy made the reservations for the whales and puffins tour, and following a cancellation one morning due to fog, we finally were greeted with a clear day on Thursday, July 3.  Now the sun seems to rise at 4:30am in Maine during the summer, so getting up early to get ready and drive to the town pier early in the morning is not a difficult feat.  We were up and at 'em and made the 9 mile drive to town rather freely.  

I had had a bad seasick experience many years prior while deep sea fishing off the Texas Gulf Coast with my dad on a catamaran, so I had dramamine'd myself quite early in the morning before the whales 'n puffins tour.  Feeling nauseous while trapped on a boat at sea is bad enough, but to feel that way under a hot August Texas-ish sun is 100 times worse.  I felt confident that the invigorating cool temperatures of a Maine Coast morning, in combination with my trusty dramamine, would allay any seasickness possibilities.

Nancy and I were prepared for the voyage.  When she had made the reservations she was told by the representative that the temperature on the water would be in the 30s.  We chose to take the rep at her word and dressed accordingly.  I wore jeans and a long-sleeve t-shirt to the pier, but also took with me a thermal fleece pull over, a fleece zip up vest (in a very pretty pink and raspberry color combination which I had bought in a shop earlier in the week), a rain coat from a camping supply store in Dallas which I had purchased specifically for the trip, and a knit cap.  I forgot to pack my gloves, silly me.

We arrived at the pier, parked my car, then went to get our tickets and stand in the line for boarding.  

In my mind, everything is a competition.  It doesn't matter what it is, I compare myself to others.  And this day, this morning, while standing in the boarding line, I was comparing my clothing preparedness with the other passengers.  I could tell some folks also heeded the advice of the ticket agents; some folks did not.  I eyed the hoodies and fleeces of the smart-choiced folks while inwardly smirking at the people who thought a cotton GAP pullover and capri pants would suffice.  I wondered if others were eyeballing my not-so-small wad of clothing and either judging me overreactive or thoroughly prepared.  I assumed my best standing-with-confidence composure and let them judge away.  Another hallmark of a competitive person is that she (oh, meaning me) thinks that everyone else is also always observing and gauging, watching and judging, comparing themselves to her.  Some might call that paranoia; some might call it an overly emphasized sense of self.  And yet others who have read "Now Discover Your Strengths" by Marcus Buckingham, and subsequently those have taken the online gallup survey on Main Themes, would realize this in a person who has "Competition" as the most dominant of their five themes.  If you don't understand a word of this, you'll now have to do some research to understand.  Go google it now, if you must.

But I digress.

The morning was still chilly, and the Bay was a bit choppy, so I mentally prepared myself for passing what is called the 'point of no return'.  We gave our tickets to a young lady and stepped aboard the Atlanticat, a 3 deck catamaran which picture is above.  Though I must note that the picture was taken on a calm day several days before our actual tour.  It is just a guess, but I estimate at least 300 people were on that catamaran.  

Now I don't like being in situations that I cannot get out of, which is why I have difficulty flying on planes, boarding sea-faring vessels, and the like.  I have not always been this way, it happened after a series of instances where I was trapped in an uncomfortable situation that I wanted to get away from, but couldn't.  Perhaps it started with the roller coaster at AstroWorld, it probably grew a bit with the experience in the Texas Gulf, but I think it was triggered by a particularly horrid flight to Detroit Metro a few years ago when the turbulence was just terrible and we kept having to circle the airport because we couldn't land due to wind sheer.  Yikes.  Yep, I wanted to get off that airplane right NOW.  When we finally landed we all applauded in celebration of our safety.  Yes, you see, I can do without that experience--ever--again.

So here I was on the catamaran, sitting at a nice table on the 2nd deck in a lovely enclosed cabin area/common room.  And even sitting there, still docked, I could tell this was going to be an, um, challenging situation for me.  After everyone had boarded, one of the crew made an announcement on the PA system that the off-shore buoy was recording 5-6 foot waves, high wind speeds, and very cold conditions.  We were told that if we wanted to get off the boat right then that our money would be refunded.  But once the boat left the dock, we'd be on it for the duration, and anyone with a sensitive stomach might want to consider this offer.

I had to tell myself, "I will not get off this boat.  I will not get off this boat.  I will not get off this boat."  And then we pushed back from the dock.

Oh, Fuck.


Anonymous said...

I expect this to mirror my whale watching "adventure" out of Plymouth. Like the pitch of the waves, I can feel it!

CatBoy said...

I have a similar feeling about being somewhere I can't get out of, but for some reason it doesn't kick in when I'm on a plane.

Spidey said...

i was on a gambling boat once 8 miles off of the coast that lost power and started to list when the pumps stopped functioning. i was on the boat with about 300 other people, crammed in the hull of the boat surrounded by slot machines and a bunch of crazy people. somehow i stopped myself from panicking. i am not sure how. i won't be doing that ever again.

CatBoy said...

Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near; just like me, they long to be close to you . . .

I've had to much pie today and I am drunk on fruit and crust. I'm going to wake up tomorrow and remember none of this.