Sailing San Blas

When I arrived to the boat club around eight at night, there were already a bunch of other travelers huddled around the picnic tables on the dock. Following standard procedure, I was first asked where I was from, followed by a less important question, “What is your name?” which never seems as important for some reason. I’ve never been told that I have an accent before, but as soon as I said California, two guys closest to me replied “Oh, yeah. I can totally tell.” Our captain, Umberto, quickly briefed us on the itinerary and safety procedures while introducing the staff. The first crewman, Brenden, was from France, and our chef, Encino, was from Italy… Score! We waited a bit longer to put our bags on the boat as the police were supposed to inspect them, and everyone made jokes about the Californian needing to throw all her marijuana overboard. The police didn’t show up after all, thank God… (kidding, kidding!) However, after loading the boat, we still didn’t take off. Umberto said that the winds were too great for us to do any sailing out of the port that night. We’d leave at roughly four in the morning. And with that, we were free to buy last minute supplies at the nearby grocery store.
I was so tempted to buy rum for the trip. I would be living in Captain Jack Sparrow’s shadow for the next week and I’ve always wanted to legitimately ask “Why is all the rum gone?” I opted out of this idea and am I ever glad! No way would I have been drinking any of it for the next few days…
4am
I fell asleep quickly that night, but woke up promptly to the sounds of the crew wrestling with the sails. I tried to fall back asleep, but the room was so hot and I was starting to feel quite claustrophobic. I went out to deck, and Umberto kindly showed me around the sails, and explained how they worked. No one else was up after we left port, so I fell back asleep on the deck’s couch. I slept here the remainder of the trip.
Around eight, people started crawling out of their holes and I woke up to their ruckas. I sat up and looked around me. There was nothing around us for miles. I had just woke up in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. And as spectacular as this was, it didn’t keep me from noticing the nausea in my stomach which stayed with me all day and night. Fortunately, not once did I actually throw up, This was not the case for everyone on the boat though everyone was miserable in their own way. The only way to truly combat this, was to lie down. Therefore most of the passengers stayed in their beds all day. None of us ate much, and certainly none were drinking. This was honestly one of the longest days of my life. It did have some highlights though!
The first was the family of dolphins that stopped by to play with the boat. The second was my sailing lesson. Umberto taught me about navigation, how to steer the massive 50 foot boat, and the concepts of longitude and latitude. He even taught me a little astronomy that relates to sailing and what to do if there is no map. He is extremely knowledgeable and I have much faith that we are in qualified, experienced hands.
I guess it has been a good day. I honestly can’t really complain. After all, I’m in the Caribbean. I just hope this pounding nausea will leave me soon.

I slept on the couches again that night. However, this night was more difficult as we were still sailing and the waves kept knocking me around. Encino told me I could sleep on the kitchen counter, but after falling off the four foot platform after the gnarly waves sent me over the side, I stayed sliding around on the floor of the deck, hoping I wouldn’t fall into the ocean.
The next morning, almost everyone’s sea sickness had vanished and right after lunch, we spotted land. Wow, what a beautiful sight. Tiny shadows dotted the horizon. Our once quiet boat, induced by the fear of vomiting from opening our mouths to speak, now erupted into cheers and chatter. Once at the islands, Encino took a couple of us out on the raft to go snorkeling. We got dropped off 100 feet from the boat. Immediately after taking the plunge, I gulped up a huge mouthful of salty sea water. I looked around me, and everyone was already at the reef, standing up. I followed their lead, letting the current take me. Before I knew it, I was also standing up on the coral. It was way too shallow. Huge waves were pushing me over, and I continuously took an ass full of sharp rocks every time they hit. My knees were getting scratched up, and walking was almost impossible with the flippers. I felt trapped. After treading across this coral desert, I finally made it to deeper water. What I saw of these reefs was incredible, but unfortunately at this point, I just wanted to get the hell out there. Stepping onto the boat, adrenaline losing it’s grip, I felt an immediate stinging pain radiate from the back of my upper thigh to my backside. I looked around my body and I was completely lacerated. The worst pain was that of my backside. There were huge white, swollen blisters dotting my ass. I let out a little cry and the captain came running. “What!?” He yelled, looking at where I pointed to. He replied, “Oh. Jellyfish.”
He poured boiling hot water on it, and I may or may not have used whiskey as my pain reliever during the process.
I also made the mistake of underestimating the Caribbean sun. Did you know it was possible for your kneecaps to burn?
Sleeping this night was difficult because of this carelessness. Even the tiniest movement sent me into tears. This is absolutely the worst burn I have ever had. The jellyfish sting didn’t help any. I woke up in the middle of the night, vomiting, and breaking a sweat. I told the captain the day before that I wouldn’t be needing sunscreen as I’m used to California sun.
“But this is Caribbean sun. Much stronger.”
Needless to say, he had every right to say “I told you so” all day, which he did…
On the brightside, I will certainly be ready for California sun this summer.

2 Comments

  1. Summer your blog reminded me of the time I fell asleep down in Cuba.I woke up 2 hours later with the most painfull sunburn I ever had ,took 5 days to heal.(ouch). Blessings to my beautiful granddaughter.

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  2. Oh, Summer!! The connection was choppy when you tried to tell me that snorkeling story over the phone and I missed some of the details. This fills in the blanks!! Ouch! I hope you have learned your lesson!! Love you!

    Like

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