Whale-Watching Whoops

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Whale-watching Whoops

It seemed like such a good idea. “Let’s sign up for a whale-watching boating adventure,” I said gamely to Handsome Hubby, knowing he would be thrilled.

Amazingly San Francisco’s Oceanic Society had openings for Labor Day – just four days later. Who could believe our good fortune? And faster than you can say “Moby Dick,” I made our reservation.

“Ahoy, matey!” I cheered.

So exciting! I’m not a camper or a hiker or a sportswoman of any kind, but all my life I’d dreamed of taking a whale-watching cruise. Now, at age 65, it was happening! Another bucket list item gets crossed off! Hooray!

At least that’s what I thought until I started reading the trip preparation details, details like where to park, departure time, what to wear, what to bring, food and refreshments … the usual stuff, but then … Then I got to the part about seasickness.

Written in bold were these words:

“Seasickness is a real possibility as this is a rigorous open ocean trip.”

That’s when it came back to me. Seasickness. I get seasick just typing the word. I am the Queen of Land Lubbers. How could I have forgotten? Oh, my unreliable middle-aged mind!

Seaweed Green is NOT My Color

Long-ago with a long-ago boyfriend, I had gone on a 36-hour deep-sea fishing ordeal, I mean expedition. While it took a few months to figure out that the guy was a big mistake, it only took a few minutes after the boat left the pier to realize the trip was a huge error.

The boat was dirty. The bathrooms were dirtier. The wood bunks had no padding. The waves were MASSIVE. I turned seaweed green instantly. And the little clever “guaranteed” to prevent seasickness bracelet I wore did nothing. The unrefrigerated bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken we carried aboard did not help either.

After 22 hours, someone finally caught some species of big fish. The still alive creature was hauled on board, thrashing with all its might. Somebody clubbed it repeatedly. Blood spilled everywhere. This, I wondered, as I gagged at the smell of blood and the still-being-munched-upon fried chicken, is a sport?

Back to the Present

The Oceanic Society’s seasickness warnings continued:

“We strongly urge that you consult a pharmacist or physician about sea-sickness precautions …
Bring crackers and soda if you anticipate queasiness.
Remember, prevention is the only cure!
The boat does not turn around due to seasickness “

“Ahoy?” More like “Oy, oy.”

Surely, the boat makes special seasickness exceptions turnaround exceptions? Not leaving that idea to chance, I plotted and prepared a strategy to instantly befriend the ship’s captain. In case of a likely personal nausea emergency, I would ply him/her with compliments and offer favorable Yelp and blog comments.

As an aside, did you ever notice that the word “nausea” portends oceanic stomach woes? Note the last three letters: s-e-a. See?

Plan B

Anyway, not sure that my Yelp/blog media strategy to befriend the captain would succeed, I texted one of my best friends, a neurologist, and queried her about the best anti-nausea medicine. Normally ever so helpful, she failed me. She said seasickness wasn’t her specialty and offered only the already-known-to-me-idea of over-the-counter Dramamine.

Ever resourceful, I thought, who knows more nausea than an oncologist? So, I emailed an oncologist friend. Sure enough, she was a fount of anti-nausea wisdom, and faster than you can say prescription medication, I was ready for whale watching!

But was I really? What if the prescription didn’t work? What if I was still sick? Or what if it worked too well and I slept through the whole adventure? This whole whale-watching idea was giving me a whale-sized headache!

From Headache to Back Ache

“Fortunately,” fate intervened. My bad back went out. I mean, I turned East and my lower back turned West. I spent most of Labor Day weekend in bed on a potent combination of muscle relaxers and pain medication.

Handsome Hubby and I agreed I could not go. Our children, former ardent Baby Beluga lovers, were invited as last-minute substitution whale watchers, but they scoffed and guffawed at the preposterous notion of rising at the crack of dawn to go seafaring.

My Solo Sailor, Always a Sweetie

So, HH, at 6 a.m. on Labor Day, set forth solo for the San Francisco Bay, to meet up with boat, crew, and fellow hearty sea mateys.

I felt bad for him, but I confess, I also was relieved. I had dodged the seasickness bullet. Sure, I had missed the opportunity to meet Moby Dick and company, but I also had avoided eight hours of turning 50 Shades of Slimy Seafoam Green.

But then …

At 9:21 a.m., the garage door creaked open. HH stepped into the house. Had the trip been canceled because of rough seas? No, the weather outside was beautiful.

Whale-Watching Whoops

Something worse had happened. I had made a mistake when making our whale-watching reservation. I thought I booked the trip for Labor Day but goofed. It was actually scheduled for the following week. Poor, sleepy, chilled HH had stood at the dock alone for 30 minutes. Finally, he looked closely at the emailed reservation confirmation I had sent him and saw the error.

Now, had HE made such a mistake and had HE made ME get out of bed ridiculously early on a vacation day, I would have been nasty and snarly and downright mean – AND that is the truth.

But not sweet HH. On his way home, he stopped at our favorite Russian bakery and loaded up on our favorite Russian pastry treats. When he walked in the door, he smiled and kissed me on the top of the head.

“It’s all for the best,” he said. “This way your back will have time to recover and we’ll both get to go next week!”

“Yeah, great,” I said.

“Yeah, just great,” I sighed.


And remember: even if whale-watching expeditions aren’t in your future, you can contribute to the protection of whales and other endangered species through organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund.

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