The Bay of Biscay is known among sailors for its rough seas and violent storms. Big waves and strong winds make for a dreaded passage for many. To be honest, I didn’t give it much thought before we left the shelter of the French coast, however it didn’t take too long for me to join the Biscay Diet Club.
We were blessed with pleasant weather for the beginning of our journey, and even enjoyed a roast dinner as our first crew meal while the sun set in the distance. Once darkness fell, Devin and I snuggled into our bunks to get some sleep before our first night watch together.
So far, so good. Everything was going like clockwork (despite the dying wind which eventually forced us to start the engine and furl the genoa*) and we were all settling in well.
The initial night watch of a trip always comes with a certain sense of excitement. You bounce out of bed when summoned by the previous watchman, dress – almost enthusiastically – in enough layers to ward off the chill, and grab yourself a hot drink. You check the nav instruments often, wonder at the stars above, and jot down notes in the log.
The Ship’s Log. This is where I came unstuck. At 3am, as I scribbled our position and other info down, an unpleasant yet familiar feeling came over me. Calmly, but as fast as I could, I jumped up the companionway steps, carefully clipped my lifeline onto the strong point, and threw my upper-half over the side of the boat.
Seasickness strikes in many forms. There are those who curl up in the most inconvenient spot, wishing the waves would come and sweep them away. Others who sit silently, staring at the horizon, a green tinge spreading across their faces. Some, like Dad, who feel queasy but manage to carry on regardless. Then there is me. I count myself fortunate to be among those who go from feeling sick, to being sick, in a matter of minutes. I have enough time to recognise the feeling, then get from where I am to the ideal place to throw up from, before the waves of nausea hit. Yes, I’d rather not get sick, but I’ll take my form of seasickness over the rest.
The Biscay Diet is not pleasant. Neptune robbed me of my breakfast, lunch, and dinner, on more than one occasion. I cursed him in return, but was thankful when I finally adapted to the motion of the Ocean.
I have been sailing (albeit irregularly) for most of my life, and I still get seasick every time. It is another of those challenges that you simply need to deal with and find a way to overcome. And maybe consider striking up a deal with Neptune..
*The Genoa is the big sail at the front of the boat.