A couple of decades ago, when my husband and I were dating, he wanted me to go on a sailing trip with him. To prepare I took a sailing course on the Willamette River, and had so much fun. These were little sailboats that caught the wind and flew across the water. If you didn’t have them facing the right way, the wind would catch them and they’d almost tip over which was scary but exhilarating. I couldn’t wait until we headed to Vancouver, B.C. for a 2-week trip through the Strait of Georgia up to Desolation Sound. Little did I suspect what I was in for.
We stayed a night at Granville Island where we met our friend, Eric, who was going with us. We danced at the Cotton Club and roamed Gastown. The next morning I had this wonderful spinach quiche at a farmers market before we picked up the boat. I can’t tell you how excited I was! Little did I suspect – oh, I said that already.
We rented a 33 ft. sailboat that had two sleeping areas, a kitchen/dining room, and a little bathroom. By little I mean it was about the size of a port-a-potty, but very cool. The whole thing was a shower, too. The boat was trimmed in beautiful wood. I’d never been on a boat like that, and I felt so Jackie Onassis! Eric hadn’t either, and he felt, well who knows.
My husband had lots of experience so he was the Skipper. He popped the top off a brewski, lit a cigar, and stood behind the big steering wheel that was the size of a wagon wheel except not as thick since it was made of metal instead of wood. It was big, is the point I’m belaboring, and he seemed right at home. He was looking very America’s Cup.
We had to travel down this long, straight water alley before we got out into the open ocean. We motored along, the sun warming our faces, our hair blowing in the breeze, cigar smoke perfuming the air, feeling like rich folks.
Then we hit the open sea. I had never been on the ocean before. I’ve been IN the ocean, swimming and frolicking in the waves, but never on a boat. We were surrounded by water – a little sailboat island that dipped and rose 10 feet at a time without any sight of land in any direction. The waves came one right after the other – first we’d be facing down like we were on some free-falling carnival ride, then we’d be pointed toward the sky like we were on a roller coaster heading to the top. When we were in the trough of the wave, it looked like we were in a bowl of water – like we were seeing the parting of the Red Sea. It was frightening but exciting, and my husband-to-be had a grin that nearly went off his face, steering with one hand, his head periodically tilting up to drag on the stogie, and whistling some tuneless song like some happy-go-lucky pirate without a care in the world.
The motion of the boat made me feel funny, and I decided to go down below and rest my head. “Don’t do that,” they both said. “You need to stay up here and look at the horizon.”
“I need to lie down,” I said, and headed below. I stretched out and knew immediately that I wasn’t going to get any relief lying down. I felt queasy and thought I’d better check out the little bathroom. I opened the lid of the toilet to find that it had been made for Munchkins. There was a very small bowl, and just at that second I tried to fill it. Everything I’d eaten for two days decided it needed to be out of me immediately. Thanks to that lovely spinach quiche, it was all green. Just as the gusher left me, the boat dived down and the mini-toilet moved from where I’d aimed. A green wash spread all over the wall. I steadied myself and aimed the second volley more carefully, but the boat lurched upward I coated a different wall. I hoped these two blasts were the end, but was soon disappointed. One after the other gushers about the force you’d see coming out of a fire hydrant squirted all over the walls. Try as I could, not one single blast reached the preferred destination. Not even one drop.
Finally the heaving subsided enough that I thought I could venture out of there. The little room was like some Nickelodeon set where everything gets coated with green slime. By the grace of God none got on me, but I was so drained and disheartened I wouldn’t have cared if it did.
I went up to tell the boys that I was seasick. I found the Skipper still whistling and grinning. Eric, however, hadn’t benefited from staying topside. He was leaning over the rail blowing chips to feed the fishes. Seeing it made me run back downstairs to the green room, where the impossible happened – more blasts from a well I thought surely must be empty.