Thursday, August 07, 2008

Hell at Sea, Part 3 (at long last)

When we last left off, the Atlanticat catamaran had just pushed back from the dock, beginning my excursion to see whales and puffins off the Maine coast.  I had found a nice seat and table inside, knowing that the journey to Petit Manan (pictured above) was going to be cold and uncomfortable.  

My feeling of impending doom continued as the boat took up speed, traveling 45 mph across the very very choppy water.  Did I mention the water was choppy?  Perhaps I should call it swellish.    Now, I am perfectly comfortable in lakes, rivers, pools, bathtubs, and even the occasional water-filled pot hole, but 5-6 foot swells do not make for a comfortable ride.  I am a 'buck up little camper' sort of person, so I just took another dramamine and, well, bucked up.  

I could see the people outside hunker down and share their thin clothing with family and friends in a vain attempt to get warm.  Then, one by one, as we traveled across the water, they gave up and headed inside to get out of the wind.  

Have you ever ridden in a speed boat?  Ever gone water skiing or tubing behind a boat?  When you're skiing that 22 mph feels like 60, and the 14 mph tubing speed feels just as fast.  So you can imagine what it felt like standing on the second deck of a boat going 40+mph.

Though the ride was choppy, most folks were enduring it fairly well...until about 25 minutes into the ride.  Then all the kids began to get ill.  On each table were several airsickness bags, and the parents pulled those out for the kids.  My friend, ever so kind as she is, kept pointing out each person who was getting ill, while I firmly kept my back to them, feeling my own stomach churning and roiling.  Not being able to catch the big hint, I finally had to tell her flat out to quit talking about people puking.  I could hear them all quite well, thankyouverymuch.

I looked out the window almost exclusively, trying to focus on the line where the water meets the horizon, but the pitching of the boat had the deck guard rail crossing that horizon so often that it didn't really help.  The ship's crew worked their way through the cabin with large trashbags, picking up the clear plastic bags filled with that morning's breakfast, and handing out clean bags to those in need.

Finally we reached Petit Manan and I practically leapt from my seat to try to get a good spot at the railing to take pictures.  It's all about the pictures....the pictures....the god damn pictures.  There is such pressure to take fantastic pictures and bring them back to show family and friends.  It's almost an expectation.  Hell, I'm not at work; I don't need an expectation placed on me while on vacation!  

The leaping from the seat isn't a problem, and once I was at the rail on deck, it wasn't a problem...the problem with trying to walk on a tossy pitchy boat is getting from the cabin door TO the outside rail.  There is nothing to hold on to, and by golly, you're gonna go where that boat sends you.  I took one step over the threshold and then the boat bucked me into a poor lady about 5 feet away.  I squashed her foot on accident.  Um, sorry, lady.  Then the next movement thrust me against the rail, and at last I was in control of my own body again.  

Of course the wake that we had created caught up with us, and we were up and down and all over the place.  The fact that I took a picture of the island at all is great.  The lighthouse being perpendicular to the ground is amazing.  

Now, I saw puffins...lots of them...but they were all far away and sort of swarm flying.  They are funny birds and did a lot of swooping and diving, but we didn't get close enough for me to get any sort of picture that was recognizable of them.  Too bad.  My friend was highly satisfied.  I was, quite frankly, pissed.  What do you mean I'm braving nausea and anxiety just to see a tiny island with some kind of flying animal next to it?  Hmmm, those birds could have been anything and I wouldn't have known.

We puttered around the island for a bit, and I went back inside, really feeling quite nasty now.  After a while we departed Petit Manan for the whale feeding grounds.  Cool, whales!  Majestic beauty.  Intelligence and playfulness.  And I'd never seen one in the wild before.  Ahhhhh, almost enough to make me slightly less regret ever getting on that boat.  I'm not a quitter; I'm not a quitter; I'm not a quitter.

About this time I started doing the math:  It's roughly a 4 hour excursion.  It took 45 minutes to get to Petit Manan, another 15 of puttering around, another 25 to get to the first whale spot...ok, so...well shit!...we're not even halfway through this hellish experience.  Crap, damn, fuck, turd!  Ahem, ok, so let's try to think of ways to speed it up:  let's start a mutiny on board because so many people feel ill and want to take over the boat and go back.  Hmmm, one feels well enough to mutiny, and we wouldn't even know how to do it, anyway.  Ummm, maybe I could practice my psychic animal abilities and call the whales to us so that everyone can get their fill of whales and we can head home sooner.  Not likely....I'm not psychic, and I don't think we'd leave earlier if the whales stuck around.  Ok, ok, ok, I got it....I can simply will it into existence.  The power of positive thinking, the Secret, the power of intention, right?  I intend for us to head back to Bar Harbor.  I really intend it.  No, seriously, I really strongly enormously intend it.  Well, so's your mother, mister anti-Jenny universal karma jerk!

While I am highly influential and persuasive in my career, it apparently doesn't transfer over to whales and puffins tours.  And so I was stuck, feeling worse and worse and worse, and knowing, yes truly knowing, that I was going to be ill.  And oh, how I HATE to be ill.


Anonymous said...

i go to the aquarium several times a year and see a whale and many puffins and only have to brave massive groups of japanese tourists who all wear matching yellow tour group shirts so they can all stay together in their group. i'm glad you survived the boat.


CatBoy said...

I'm enjoying this, if that in any makes up for your sickness and horror.

vq said...

But ya know, the pictures really ARE great...