The ocean is a scary place. I have a friend who has a phobia of large sea mammals. He will never take surfing lessons. Or jet ski, which I have done, in Alaska, where he is from. He once had a dream where he fell into the Orca tank at Seaworld and Willy proceeded to taunt him and encourage the audience to laugh at him and point.
Upon a recent trip to Sag Harbour/Greenport at the end of the unbelievably long Long Island, I thought a fear of the ocean a thing that plagued the unfortunate, the weak stomached. I was wrong. I enjoy boats. I love being on the open sea, the salty air, even the birds…On this trip to the end of Long Island, a trip that was only supposed to take four hours, the boat escapade took nine. Not because of detours and sightseeing, a jolly stop somewhere along the Connecticut shoreline to have a local pint. Oh, no, no, no. This was due to abso-fricking riddick weather: ever-undulating waves, rain, wind and non-existent visibility.
Leaving the harbour at about 11:00 am and heading out, it’s only rainy. After we take an hour and a half to reach a port that is half an hour away, it’s evident that things are not looking good. My mother goes ashore to find some clam chowder. Not an unreasonable expedition. It is, however, a fruitless one. By this time, both my cousin, Richard, (captain amazing and owner of vessel, One Life) and my cousin-in-law, Edwin, are soaked. We had to open the top and that has brought the ocean in. I make them cups of hot chocolate. Within an hour, Edwin brings his back up into the sink on deck.
At some point later, while trying to go below deck, I manage to hit my front tooth on the pipe of the little sink in the “kitchen” area below deck. My tooth is spared, but I am officially over the boat ride. This is no longer fun, I am no longer sailing, I am in a human piñata and very soon I am going to fall out.
At about 3:30 pm, I’m sure we must be nearing our destination, I ask Richard to tell me when we’ve started our descent. He says it’s going to be a while yet. Not cool. The rocking has not stopped, the waves have not diminished and the rain has not eased up, for even a second. Alaska King Crab Fishermen, you do not get paid enough.
At sometime after 4, I go below deck and sit/lie in a cubby as close to the back of the boat as I can get. I somehow manage to fall asleep. I wake up cold and realize that I have been sitting on wet clothes. I am now soaked from the lower back down. Super.
I come out to the top deck nearing the 6:00 hour and become Richard’s navigator for the remainder of the trip. I search for red and green buoys, and check depth. At 7:40 pm we begin our descent. At this point, I can tell that we had about 10 minutes of sunlight left in the day.
At the house in Greenport, my aunt, my other cousins and cousin-in-law come rushing out, actually teary eyed. Columbus, I totally feel you with the whole reaching shore thing.
Much soup and lasagna later, we are dry and whole once again. And wha d’ya know, the rest of the weekend had Magritte-blue skies and placid water. We celebrated my mom and my aunt’s birthdays, ate more food than most Ethiopian villages see in a year, watched the French Open final and had a really great time sailing back in the rightful four hours. I never say never, but that boat ride out comes pretty close.
This may or may not seem tame to the viewer, but it was casual sailor hell.