As my alarm jangled at 5:00 a.m., I reached out and shut it off. Slinking out of bed, I searched for a tissue. I was sick and didn’t want to get up, but I had to. This was a big day. My entire class was going on a two-day trip to Dana Point, California, to reenact the way sailors lived in the early 1800s.
After I’d scrambled around getting ready, I went downstairs and ate breakfast with my little sister, Jacque, and my mom. Finally my dad shuffled downstairs, and I ran over and hugged him. He smelled of a fresh shower and cologne. His green eyes still drooped sleepily.
We hurriedly finished our breakfast and said goodbye. Piling into my dad’s car, we sped off.
“Get in line and be quick about it!” growled our captain as he paced back and forth along the pier. Our salty leader was a short gray-haired man with a sharp tongue and a black hat and coat. He looks like a lion, I thought as we stood in our lines on the pier.
We had finally arrived at Dana Point. The clouds that had loomed overhead earlier now poured down rain on us in monsoon fashion. Some of the kids had forgotten rain gear and were draped in plastic bags to keep from getting wet.
After a lecture by the captain and first mate, we boarded the ship (which was stationed in a cove and actually never moved). Once on the ship, each “crew member” started his or her job. I was part of the lanyard crew, and our job was to coil the ropes and let down the masts when needed. (We never did get to let them down!) We sang songs, watched the others doing their jobs, and got rained on some more.
Dinner came very late, and the food was extremely spicy. I felt like throwing up but didn’t. The only things I ate were the vegetables from the stew. I was starving!
By then I felt terrible. I was so hungry, tired, and cold I thought I couldn’t stand it. Then they told us we had to stay up until 10:00 p.m. for “dogwatch.” Ugh.
Finally it was time to go to sleep. My friends and I made a huge bed out of our sleeping bags and lay down. But before we could get to sleep a chaperon started snoring loudly.
“Wake up! Wake up!” our group captain commanded. It was 2:00 a.m., and my group had night watch. I forced myself to get up, pulled on my boots, and climbed up the stairs onto the deck.
Outside it was pitch-black. Although we had been told we would see lots of different animals, my crew saw absolutely nothing. We stayed outside looking at nothing for two hours.
On top of that, it started to rain again. I had lent my jacket to someone for a pillow, so I had nothing to keep me warm.
Finally 4:00 a.m. arrived, and we went downstairs to sleep for another two hours before being awakened again at 6:00 to clean the boat.
Finally! I thought as we left the ship for the second leg of the trip. We were going on another ship to actually sail it. I was looking forward to this part of the adventure.
I boarded the ship and took out my lunch. As I ate, I started to feel worse and worse, even though I was starving. Little did I know that soon I would wish I was back on the other vessel!
As we sailed off, we spotted humpback whales. This shouldn’t be too bad, I thought. I was wrong.
Suddenly I felt seasick on top of already being sick. I lay down and felt the pain start in my stomach and head and then go throughout my entire body. I was reeling from lack of sleep and food.
I did nothing but moan the entire time I was on the boat. My dad, who was one of the chaperons, sat with me with my head in his lap. Finally I prayed silently to God, “reminding” Him about everything that had happened to me. Please make me feel better, I pleaded.
Then, as I lay down on a grate on the boat, I threw up. Suddenly I felt sooo much better. (Now, I’m not saying this was a direct answer to my prayer, but you never know!) However, I soon learned that when I threw up on the grate, I had thrown up in the crew’s quarters. It gave new meaning to the phrase “toss it down the hatch.”
“Ahh!” I said with a grateful sigh, “now this is more like it.” Easing myself into the car, I buckled myself in and went to sleep almost instantly. When I awoke, I was at home on the couch, enjoying the warmth of the blankets on top of me.
As I sat underneath them, I thanked God for helping me survive my nautical ordeal. Then I sat up, ate some food, and this time kept it down.
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