A Boatload of Boating Misadventures

Having grown up in Key West, it was inevitable that I would occasionally find myself on a boat and seasick: many more times than once. Of course I have also been airsick, and carsick. Unexpected motion and I are not friends.

My first boating trip was with my cousin Bill. Scan 4He was home from USNA in his last year. He took my brother and me out on a charter boat. I guess we were about eight and ten years old. I don’t remember getting sick and have a picture of me on the boat, windblown hair askew, broad grin, and proud me holding up the fish I’d caught, which actually was not too small.

When a teenager, I was invited by my friend’s family to go out to the Dry Tortugas where Fort Jefferson is located, the last and most isolated of the Florida Keys. I remember that it took us 6 hrs. to get out there. It is about 68 miles west of Key West. Remember, Dr. Samuel Mudd, implicated in President Lincoln’s assassination, was imprisoned there and played a large role in tamping down a Yellow Fever epidemic. When we visited that weekend in the sixties, I remember seeing stored in the Fort a large stock of canned goods, part of emergency supplies in case of nuclear war stored there in the fifties. It is now a National Park. You can get there by seaplane ½ hr., fast catamaran 2 hrs. and slow boat 6 hrs. I haven’t been since that trip in the sixties. I suspect it’s much more touristy, but still very popular if only for the snorkeling alone, which is amazing.

When I was in my early twenties, five of the Navy guys I knew had gone together and bought a broken down 28 ft. sail boat for $5000 and lots of us would go out on it for a day of sailing fun. The sails were weak, due to inexpert handling or no wind I don’t know, but they had to run the motor all the time. So one night two of the guys invited my friend and me to go on a moonlight sail. The boat was kept in a slip out on Stock Island. The guys picked us up and when we got there, the boat was gone. The guys were peering at the slip but the boat was not there. As callow young women will do, we started giggling saying to each other, it’s a good thing we knew they had a boat. What if they had invited two girls who had never seen the boat and probably never would? The giggling was noticed and not much appreciated. They asked the caretaker and he said a group of partyers had boarded at about 4 in the morning and left. We went down to the Coast Guard to report the theft, but I don’t think the boat was ever found. Of course, they kept the key on the boat next to the helm.

A number of years ago, we had some friends visiting and we all decided to go out for a sunset sail. I told Peter that we needed to go back to the house to get my seasick medicine. He said it was a fairly calm day and I wouldn’t need it. He lived to regret those words mightily. When we got out of the lee of the island, it was not too rough, but there were swells and the schooner was heeling so that standing was difficult. Well it wasn’t long before I was sick and Peter took off his cap, which soon overflowed. To say that we were not the most popular people on the boat, well, Peter told me I could at least raise my head to look at the sunset. Right. I could say after that he always heeded my dire words of prediction, but that probably wouldn’t be true.

IMG_0368Peter took the family out on a Charter boat on Christmas Eve. It was a morning half-day trip. The one on the boat from Indiana was not sure she was up to going, but when morning came she decided to go. It wasn’t a rough trip; they stayed inside the reef, just a half hour ride out. Two were sick or queasy, one not too interested. Two really got into it, especially the one from Indiana. She wants to go deep sea fishing next time and catch a sailfish and have it mounted on the wall. I of the iron stomach, of course, stayed home.


2 thoughts on “A Boatload of Boating Misadventures”

  1. Joanne, you’re in very good company; it is recorded that Britain’s greatest naval hero, Admiral Nelson, also suffered from bouts of mal d’mer — but like you, it still didn’t stop him from doing his part.
    Happy New Year! Skip & Jo

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