Sea vs. Humans

I am an object in perpetual motion. Put me into an automobile, train, plane, boat, hot air balloon, tuk-tuk or cable car and I am in my element. I am also amphibious, equally at home in water and on land. I grew up a steady diet of ocean and boats, and my sealegs are sturdy.

I have experienced motion sickness only two times in my life: once on a rough sail around Cape Ann after a particularly festive evening the night before; and second after an unnecessarily extended Costa Rican carnival ride during Las Fiestas de Zapote in San Jose. Thankfully, I never reached the barf bag stage in either case.

But I was no match for a boat full of puking Japanese people on a recent whale watch near the Kerama Islands. I will grant them this: it was not a gentle ride. The winds can be fierce around these islands which makes for intense waves, and I caught air several times on the ride out as we crashed down with a thud onto large swells. That’s fun a few times, but thirty minutes of it can be a bit much. So it wasn’t suprising to see the rough water claim its first seasick victim, a city-dwelling teenage girl who buried her face on her mother’s lap for the duration of the trip.

From there, the whole boat went down like a bunch of dominoes and by the time we reached the island bay where the whales hang out, most of the passengers were barfing. Into bags, into the toilets, over the side of the boat. It was, at this point, comical and certainly more entertaining than the one whale we found out there. One whale or twenty seven seasick Japanese people. Take your pick.

When we finally turned around to make our way back to Okinawa, I had pukers to my left, pukers to my right, pukers in front of me and pukers across from me. It was here I succumbed to peer pressure, closed my eyes, and buried my head in my hands for the remainder of our journey.

(Thankfully, I never reached for that barf bag.)

14 Responses to “Sea vs. Humans”

  1. Wayne says:

    Awww.. poor things.

    I am reminded of flying over the mountains in NZ when I was 10. We were in a little 24-seater plane. Myself, parents and 2 grandparents and a number of Japanese and assorted Asian tourists.

    The pilot asked us big white folk to sit at the front of the plane near him, putting it down to weight distribution. We soon found out the real reason. It had nothing to do with the weight.

    One poor chap was so sick, that it took us 45 min to convince him to get back on the plane after the break to return to his tour group. I’ve never seen anyone quite that colour before :S

  2. marya says:

    one: i am by nature motionsick. two: i got a little green in the gills just reading this post. three: that bottom photo tho made it all worth it.

  3. whitney says:

    The lady kneeling on the deck of the boat – I just stared at her for a good two minutes. And laughed. Maybe she was praying her couch bag wouldn’t go overboard?

  4. carolyn says:

    O.M.G. dude. these pictures are hilarious. I think I might start crying I’m laughing so hard. It would have been traumatizing at the time but it’s really funny to look at them completely separated from the experience!!!
    (
    I have been sailing for years, always been a water & boat person, love being out there, blah, blah blah… Then two summers ago, my cousin’s dad (who had taught me to sail in Cornwall back in the ’80s, and the day he told my cousin’s mom that he would trust me in the boat by myself was such a huge moment for me, a great compliment) was visiting Chicago and I rented a sailboat so we could go out on Lake Michigan. He’s been sailing his whole life and he said that sailing one of the great lakes had been on his list for a long time! I was so excited to get to sail with him again and (blah blah blah) on the way home, with the wind behind us, and the boat galumphing about, I was RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF A SENTENCE and suddenly puked all over the place! I did manage to catch most of it in my hand but that doesn’t make it any better.

    Of course this didn’t phase James at all (staid British sailor that he is), he calmly cleaned up the boat, gave me his handkerchief and a jacket to wear over my ruined pants, and never mentioned it to a soul (in the fam). And of course he made me take the tiller so I’d have something to concentrate on for the rest of the ride. ;)

    I’ve been afraid to get back out there sailing ever since. :(

  5. I am impressed you didn’t give into the pressure! The whole story sounds fictionally hysterical.

  6. esther says:

    what Marya said, word for word. That last photo is just frickin’ priceless, and if i had been on that boat, that would most like be me, bending on floor, praying for death. lol

  7. I am sorry to say, I am laughing out loud at this. That last picture is hilarious. The poor person down on the floor…. :)

  8. greg says:

    I have been seasick one time. I was maybe 15, out off the coast of South Carolina in a small 16 foot fishing boat. The seas weren’t that bad–only two or three foot swells–but we’d caught a bunch of small sharks and they were flopping around and snapping in the back of the boat, which is where I was sitting. So I kept my feet up on the gunnel and my eyes down on the sharks, which seemed to exaggerate the motion…and that’s a recipe for revisiting your breakfast.

  9. Angi says:

    Oh I feel so badly, but that last picture sent me into a fit of giggles and I can’t stop!!!

  10. tara thayer says:

    thank you for the first bellylaugh of the day.
    i know…sympathy for fellow humans is so important.
    but, really. you write a damn good sentence, stephanie.

  11. B.Held says:

    I always enjoy your stories. Great photographs, too :)

  12. claire says:

    so so funny, steph. and yet i feel so much for those poor kids. coming back from the uk last year, i had a stop over in calgary, and the ride in was so turbulent that one by one, people were reaching for those bags, and by the end of it, i almost had to join them… turbulence i can handle, but that many people puking in an enclosed space for that long almost did me in.

  13. BF says:

    oh my god. that photo above! unbelievable. and hilarious.

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