A LITTLE ROCKING,
NOT ENOUGH ROLLING
As part of our
South American adventure, we planned a three-night cruise around Cape
Horn, which is pretty much the end of the world. Actually, Antartica is
farther south, but it gets no respect.
before we boarded the boat with 95 other passengers, my wife handed me a
Dramamine patch, which you stick behind your ear to prevent seasickness.
not wearing no stinkiní patch," I declared. "Iím a seasoned
sailor who has spent many days on the open ocean. Drugs are for
get sick watching a video game," she replied. "Put the patch
I have a little trouble with my equilibrium sometimes. But this trip was
mostly through small channels framed by the majestic mountains of
Patagonia. The rough Cape Horn segment was only a small part. I wanted to
enjoy it naturally, with no artificial aids Ďthat may cause drowsiness.í
delicately unwrapped the patch and stuck it behind her ear. I had a quick
vision of me bent over the toilet and my wife laughing outside the door.
Going natural wasnít worth the risk. Reluctantly, I put a patch behind
my ear, too.
the smart thing to do," she assured me. "Everybody will have
As the boat
left the dock and we sat down to dinner with a couple from England, a
couple from Australia, and a couple from Germany, I opened the
conversation by asking who was taking drugs.
seasickness drugs, I quickly explained. And the answer was not one of
them. I snuck quick peeks behind their ears, but I saw no patches. We were
the only ones. We were weenies. How embarrassing.
only one way to save face. Everyone else needed to get seasick. Our
countryís pride depended on it.
the first few hours of the cruise were through narrow channels, and we
might as well have been on the Queen Mary going down the Mississippi
River. The patch was feeling pretty stupid.
Horn loomed in the morning. This was my big chance. I woke up at about
4:30 a.m., and sure enough, we were rocking. I felt just fine, and I
happily pictured all our dinner companions feeling the first bouts of
queasiness. How they would envy our brilliance!
skipped up to breakfast, expecting to see some pretty sour faces, if I saw
them at all. But there they were, feeling just fine. It wasnít right.
But we still werenít all the way to Cape Horn. There was still time.
been 800 shipwrecks at Cape Horn. The winds and waves are legendary. Our
little ship would surely be tossed around like a bathtub toy, causing
everyone except my wife and myself to feel absolutely miserable.
So I was a
bit surprised when the ship anchored just off the tip and we took Zodiacs
to shore and climbed up to the lighthouse. I guess we caught it on a good
day. Not only were we not going to be shipwreck #801, but no one was going
to get seasick, either. Kind of a good news, bad news thing.
was still hope. They say there can be four seasons every couple of hours
in Patagonia, and theyíre right. As we headed back into the fjords, the
weather took a turn for the worse. We were rocking worse than ever.
showed up for lunch. My wife and I asked how everyone was feeling, and got
nothing but positive responses. All they wanted to talk about was their
experience on Cape Horn. I wanted to hear about how they wished they had
I considered randomly knocking on stateroom doors to see how people were
feeling, but my wife wouldnít let me. But time was running out, and our
countryís pride was at stake.
that night, it was calm again. Everyone was there, and feeling fine. I was
getting desperate. When our dinner companions looked at me, I tried
inauspiciously swaying from side to side, seeing if that would help make
them feel just a tad queasy. But nothing seemed to work. Our patches were
looking pretty stupid.
however, we hit some more bad weather. While I happily fingered my patch,
feeling just fine, I realized this was our last chance to legitimize our
my prayers were answered. The English couple didnít show up for
bad they didnít have some of our American ingenuity.