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Old 05-08-2013, 07:40 PM   #29
Cousteau OP
...seeking adventure
 
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Joined: Sep 2012
Location: Guatemala City / Washington, DC
Oddometer: 61
The Crossing...

After breakfast, before everyone started to go out snorkeling the Captain called us all up on deck to tell us our schedule for the day.

We would all have to be back onboard by 5pm as the boat would then go to the bay and the crew would prepare the vessel for the crossing. An early dinner was served while the crew took down the blue tarps that had provided much of the shade on the deck. The motorcycles were then rechecked, the tie-downs adjusted, and carefully covered with tarps to protect them from the splash of salt water spray.

In the earlier meeting the Captain had warned us that the open waters can be rough and that the crossing would be between 22 to 30 hours, depending on the weather and sea conditions. Many started with their Dramamine regimen while others gnawed on raw ginger.

I've always considered myself of a pretty strong constitution and as we eased out of the bay, thirty minutes later the Captain declared we were in open waters. It was definitely choppier than we had experienced the last few days. We had a strong headwind of 25 knots going against the current, so it was looking like a longer cross. The waves were short and rhythmical, with some of the swells splashing spray up on deck. Several of the passengers had made their way to the front upper deck where they had spent several of the previous nights sleeping. I hung out right behind them on at the main deck enjoying the cool breeze.

Interestingly, no one wanted to go below deck as they feared the movement combined with the lack of fresh air would do them in. Looking out towards the horizon did help a bit.

It was three hours after our departure when I started to get an uneasy feeling in the upper part of my stomach. I took a few deep breaths, which temporarily helped. I knew there was nothing to be ashamed of if I lost my cookies as the Captain had given special instructions on where and how to vomit - particularly to avoid throwing up against the wind as it would simply throw it right up back in your face. Nothing like that visual to motivate you to try and keep it down. I was also worried that if I threw up and got everything out, I would have another 27 hours of dry heaves to look forward to.

I then started counting the intervals between the waves, thinking that there may be some kind of a pattern and in knowing this, that would somehow calm the growing uneasy feeling.

Then Daz, the Aussie on the boat, came out and said what I think most of us were thinking “I'd rather get this over sooner rather than later.”

With that, I got up from my chair and steadied myself through the upper deck and onto the steep ladder to the galley. The Captain had said they would leave the door open to the exterior corridor, but as I turned left, it was clamped shut. By sheer instinct now, I headed down past the galley, then the kitchen and down the narrow steps to the lower level where our cabin was. I was not alone as people were quickly disappearing into their respective cabins and toilets. Ours, because it was the bikers cabin and had a lot of gear, had a padlock on it, so I reached up to a shelf for the key in a panic and on a first sweep my hand didn't feel it. I went further back and reached up again, this time finding the edge of the small plastic keychain.

The swaying of the boat in the lower levels only intensified the urge to upchuck. A burp filled with stomach acid came up and I knew I only had a few seconds left. I quickly fumbled with the key and lock to get it opened.

Finally through the door, the sliding door to my right to the toilet was stuck. I pulled at it with one hard yank and with the same single motion reached to open the lid as the first projectile flew out of my mouth.

As the final of the three expulsions of half digested pasta went down with the flush, I wondered how I was going to make it through the next near 30 hours. The seas were supposed to get rougher still.

After rinsing out my mouth and looking at a pale specter in the mirror, I eased my way up to the upper deck. There I found one of the bed rolls left out for us. I untied it, laid it out, and tossed it near the rear tire of my bike. I plopped myself down and heard the Captain lean back from his chair and say “you picked a good spot, David” to which I remember mumbling something back. I then laid down. After a few minutes the cool salty spray coming over the edge relaxed me and washed the seasickness away. I would lay there for the next 9 hours.

The next day would be one of laying still, sleeping, and just waiting for time to pass. I was no longer seasick, but the boat kept on rocking as we were still facing headwinds and short waves. Thankfully the Captain decided to head towards a chain of islands near Cartagena, cutting down the time in open seas although it added another four hours before we set anchor at port. I didn't feel like eating either breakfast or lunch, but by dinner, I was ready for some food. They served a very tasty and appropriate*lentil*soup. I ate gingerly and thankfully everything stayed down.

We arrived somewhere around 10pm to Cartagena and went back to my cabin to sleep. We would be getting up the next morning shortly after 6am to start unloading the bikes before the port got busy. Tomorrow it will be time to import bikes and find a place to stay. Looking forward to being on firm ground, although I would not trade this experience.
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