This is a short narrative about a trip that I made to Newfoundland, Canada, to visit my distant relatives.

Billy and I got into a discussion about the temperature of the water. I asked him how cold that he thought it might be, but since they used the Celsius scale up there, I had no idea what his answer meant in terms of Fahrenheit. Billy assured me that it wasn’t very cold at all, and that if someone were to fall overboard, it wouldn’t be too unpleasant. Somehow I sensed that what wasn’t unpleasant to him may differ from my own threshold of cold. Finally, he smilingly threw a bucket over the side with a line attached to it and filled it with sea water so that I might see for myself. I immersed my entire hand into it. I pulled it out almost as quickly as I had put it there. COLD! I didn’t need the Fahrenheit scale to tell me that if I were to fall overboard in that frigid water, it would be unpleasant. Very unpleasant! I do suppose that since we were there in the middle of June, the water was a great deal warmer than it would have been in the early spring or winter. That water would probably kill you in a matter of minutes.

About the time that we arrived at the Cape to see the birds, I looked over at my father to see him turn a very pale shade of green. He handed me his camera, then abruptly threw up over the starboard rail. The entire massive breakfast that Tommy’s wife Maude had cooked for us went right into the grey water. I really felt bad for him. We all looked away as he heaved again and again. When he was finally finished, he took his camera back and leaned against the bulkhead of the wheelhouse for support.

“Much better,” he grumbled, wiping his mouth. I wanted to tell him that the relief would be short-lived, that in a few minutes he would be sick again, but I kept it to myself. I had myself experienced the hell of seasickness. After many hours of sailing and deep-sea fishing, however, my stomach had adapted.

“It’s always when the boat stops that people get sick,” added Tommy. He was right.

We bobbed out there for nearly twenty minutes trying to make out some of the birds on the misty cliffs, then Billy fired up the engines again, and we began the trek back to the harbor in St. Brides.

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  • Amara on Mar 16, 2009

    You’ve got something here. I feel that pull toward your heritage. Nicely written. Thanks for sharing these with me.

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