Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Point At Which I Thew Up. The First Time.

Thursday was Traf Night on the base. Yes, I know that Tuesday was actually the anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar, but they didn't celebrate until Thursday. It was a personnel-only night, so I couldn't go and join in the reindeer games. Instead I had a neighbor 'round for tea. (How very English of me.)

Pirate came back at quarter past one in the morning and announced that we were spending the weekend on a yacht with a bloke from work, his bird, and some other people he'd not met.

I have never been on a yacht. My most recent memory of being on a boat that was powered by something other people was a fishing trip my parents took me on when I was 10 out on to Lake Michigan. My dad and I spent the whole time trowing up, and we didn't catch a single fish.

I agreed to go on the grounds that I'd never done it before, and as a rule I like to try new things. I was apprehensive, however, as this seemed to me the kind of activity that was highly dependent upon 2 things:

The quality of the company, and
The quality of the weather.

If the company was lively and the weather calm, it was sure to be a good time.
If the company was dull and the weather lively, it had disaster written all over it.

It started out well enough. The dawn broke radiantly over Rame Penninsula.

Red sky in the morning; Sailor, take warning!
(That was the actual view out our bedroom window on the morning of the excursion.)

We tootled in to Plymouth where we met the crew at the marina and went aboard.

All aboard the HMS Upchuck!

Our skipper had recently passed his Master Yachtsman qualifications, so we were in good hands. All seemed to be going well, and I started to get excited. (Not that way, you filthy sots.)

We got through the lock and out of the marina with no trouble, and set a course to take us around Plymouth breakwater on the west side, then head east for Shag Rock and up the River Yealm, where we moor in the harbor, have dinner in a charming pub in the charming village of Newton Ferrers, sleep on the boat, and return home Sunday morning. It seemed like a good plan. Essentially camping, but on the water. This sounded good to me.

Initially, it was all going very well.

Pirate, relaxing.

Then it all started to go horribly, horribly wrong.

As soon as we got past the breakwater the water got really, really rough, and so did the rest of us. Pirate, despite being an experienced sea-farer, has no sea legs. He was the first to go green. He went below deck to lie down, but that was a mistake. As soon as he got down the steps he lost his stomach, but managed (rather heroically) to hold it in his mouth until he could get back up to the cockpit and spit it over the side.

(Is this all getting a bit too disgusting? Deal. Reading this isn't a fraction as bad as living it, and I survived. You will, too.)

For a while I was doing OK. I stayed up in the cockpit, keeping in the fresh air and my eyes on the horizon. It worked, too, for about 20 minutes. And then I committed a fatal error. Getting bored with looking at nothing but an empty horizon, I just happened to glance down at the water at the side of the boat. The waves were swelling and undulating seductively beneath me. I instantly threw up.

I had no warning. One second I was fine, and the next I was spewing that morning's sausage and spetzle into the wind, spraying the two women who were sitting aft of me.

And then I did it again. And again. And again.

I spent the next 10 minutes heaving over the side of the boat in rapid succession. It was too winding for much of it to actually reach the water. Mostly it just blew all over the place.

I didn't know it at the time, but one of the other guys was on the opposite side of the boat, doing the same thing. The remaining few were standing in the cockpit between us, desperately trying to dodge flying chunks.

Having offered the entire contents of my stomach to the fish, I got a bucket and doused down the deck, then settled in to endure the rest of journey. As we reached the mouth of the River Yealm I saw the calm water on the leeward side of the land and began counting down the seconds until we reached it.

We finally got ourselves bouyed in what might well be the prettiest little harbor village in the British Isles.

I'd really like to go back and spend some more time in the village. It was a really lovely place to be. But next time, I'll take a FUCKING BUS.

After we were securely moored they let me play around in the dinghy, and that was the best part of the whole trip. I really like that bit.

Conclusion: the only boats worth being in are the ones you power yourself.

After a long walk along the coast and dinner in the Pub, Pirate and I couldn't face going back to Plymouth the same way we'd come, so we phoned a cab and went home by car. Last night we got a peaceful night's sleep in our own beds. Today the weather is shit. I can't imagine what the rest of the crew are going through to get home.

And people do this for fun????

Update: The skipper and his gf came by today to drop off our bags. Apparently it was a rough night on the boat, with lots of wind blowing it about the harbor, and people got little, if any, sleep. We totally made the right call. Boo-yeah.


Leila said...

I shouldn't laugh!
But I sympathise!!
Sea-sickness SUCKS!

Dave said...

This yacht wasn't owned by a Russian oligarch then?

Nothing good comes of yachting.

Geosomin said...

I don't envy you...I stick to little pishing punts with my Dad or family out on the lake. Anything bigger or rougher than that and I'd be all levels of chunder.
I'm glad there was somewhere nice and a bit of fun at the end of it all.

michael said...

That's what you get for marrying a pirate! But you look smashing in the dinghy.

FirstNations said...

That is one self-satisfied looking pirate, girl. ;)

Im sorry...I can't get over the irony of the sculler and the navy man succumbing to seasickness. rural muk here rides the island ferry through high seas practically lashed to the bow like a big-booby figurehead (it helps the ferry remain stable when it crosses the wake of the freighters. probably.)

Ponygirl said...

OMG! I laughed out loud - I have sooo been there! Thanks for a hilarious post. Glad you took a cab home and didn't have an encore for the trip back.

Mrs. Chaucer's Pirate said...

leila: welcome to M.E. Go ahead and laugh; everyone else is.

Dave: nope, no oligarchs. But you are correct, nothing good comes of yachting. only human-powered boats for me in the future.

Geo: punts! i want to go in a punt! Dorothy Sayers speaks very highly of them in Gaudy Night.

Michael: I look smashing out of the dinghy, too.

FN: I can suck a cantelope through a garden hose.

ponygirl: so are we. I like your photo!

The Pixy Princess said...

I've been a lurky reader for sometime now, but just HAD to comment on this one.
Admittedly, I found the part about the Navyman being sick ironic (and funny), but having been victim to choppy waters once, I totally take back the smirk and swap that with a sympathetic nod instead. Glad to know it all worked out well, and thankfully you don't have a water bed! ;)

Sal said...

y'big poofs
both a ya

i've been in force 6 in britland in a little motorboat (20-30foot waves) and in force 8-10 (but to be fair: choppy rather than wavy) in oz in a catamaran.

my dad had a yacht same size as yours, got caught by a hurricane b/w brisbane and sydney, used all 3 straps (seatbelts) on the main bunk to tie himself down so he didn't go overboard or get smashed on the cabin, spent nearly 3 days like that. "the worst part is, you can't sleep. it's like you're inside a washing machine."

hendrix said...

Oh dear! I didn't laugh (well not at you - like everyone else I did laugh at the sailors being sick - although why I should be surprised at that I don't know, remembering that historically most sailors couldn't swim). Thankfully I've never been seasick, I read somewhere once that when you start to feel sick you need to eat which, ridiculous as it sounds does seem to work.

Mrs. Chaucer's Pirate said...

PP: waterbed! oy vey! i can't bear the thought.

sal: yeah yeah you're all macho and touch and shit and we're just seasick little pansies. whatever. i'll keep to the land, thank you very much.

Hendrix: Pirate tells me that historically most sailors refused to learn to swim on the grounds that if the ship got into trouble it only prolonged the inevitable and made it all the more agonizing. How morose, eh? Nowadays they're required to swim, and have to pass a test within a few weeks of joining. Pirate can swim, barely. He sinks like a witch. AND he gets seasick whenever he's on the water. I really don't know why he chose a career in piracy. It beats the heck out of me!