I Survived Hell (But Just Barely)

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August 10th 2008
Published: August 10th 2008
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Sea Lions Everywhere!Sea Lions Everywhere!Sea Lions Everywhere!

Sea Lions could be found under the docks, on the boats, swimming around... just absolutely everywhere! Some boats added a plastic netting to keep them from getting on the boats, but it definitely didn't help. But, hey, they're so cute, so who really cares?
A whale watching tour seemed ideal for our trip. I've always wanted to see whales. In fact, I've been on several short whale tours but with no sightings. The one at Monterey that lasts five hours and guarantees a whale sighting (or they'll give you a raincheck) seemed like to place to be. So, at 8am this morning, that's where my husband, Andrew, and I were.

They offered dramamine at the gift shop. My last experience with dramamine left me passed out for two and a half days, so I decided to skip it. In my mind, a few hours of seasickness was better than a few days of not being able to keep my eyes open.

I wish I knew then how wrong I really was.

The tour was bitter, bitter cold. I'm guessing 40 degrees with strong winds and no sun. I had on my new Whale Watching sweatshirt and my jeans, but I definitely needed more. There were a few passengers who knew what they were getting into and had beanie caps and gloves on. I'm jumping ahead here, but after the tour, it took a full hour for me to start feeling my fingers
Donuts on the WharfDonuts on the WharfDonuts on the Wharf

We snagged a quick breakfast on Old Fisherman's Wharf before setting sail on our whale tour. Little did I know, I'd get a second taste of this same breakfast a few hours later...
again (and even then, it was just the painful needle feeling).

At first, we saw a lot of seals, sea lions, and otters, and everyone felt great. After about an hour into the tour, however, tourists started dropping like flies. I'm proud to say, I lasted about two hours.

Andrew was the first one to go. He left me and went to the back of the boat and started heaving. Some nice, young, bearded man stood by Andrew as he puked and offered him a cookie afterwards.

Within another half hour, at least 20 of the 70 people were at the sides of the boat spilling their lunches. There were kids as young as 3 or 4 throwing up, and near where I sat, there was a heavy man losing it, too. I hate (hate) vomit, and I went into kind of a meditative daze trying to stay solid and not to register the hell around me. That yellow, oozy vomit sloshing along the rail from bow to stern? That's exactly what I was trying not to look at.

After about two hours on the tour, there were still no whale sitings, and I started to
A LocalA LocalA Local

This local shopowner deckbrushed the ground in front of his store.
feel it. I moved to the back of the boat where the motion wasn't supposed to be so bad. I think I lasted about another 10 minutes, and then I had to hit the rail, too. There were orange and yellow vomit streaks everywhere, in spite of the fact that a hand named Aaron was making circles around the boat with a bucket and a deckbrush to keep it clean. I found the cleanest spot I could and started heaving. It was absolutely horrible.

Within a half hour, I was back to the rail. I could no longer be picky about the vomit. It was absolutely everywhere, including on the floor. The waves sent it splashing onto all of the passengers. One kind woman bought a huge bag of ginger hard candies (made from real ginger) to help with nausea, and she started passing them around to everyone.

I was pretty much comatose. When Andrew tried to talk to me, all I could say was, "Mhhhh," because I was afraid if I opened my mouth, more vomit would errupt.

I felt so bad for these two little kids who spent their entire time at the side of the boat. I also felt bad for this poor Asian woman who never lifted her head up from the back rail after the first hour or so of the tour. There was another woman who'd been really excited to see whales and wildlife; she'd jump up to take photos and then heave over the side.

Meanwhile, not only are we sprayed with other people's vomit, but it's still bitter cold. My muscles stayed clenched for the full 5 hours trying to keep warm (now, hours later, I can barely move because my body is so sore). I couldn't feel my finger tips. Literally, I couldn't tell if I was holding something or not because there was absolutely no feeling in my hands. I remained comatose yet crying.

We did see a whale. One stinking humpback whale. I'd wanted to see a whale more than anything, or so I thought. When he appeared at the front lefthand side of the boat, I couldn't even bring myself to turn my head to see him. As he swam away, he crossed into my path of vision, and I saw his tail. Somehow, that tail didn't seem worth $150, 5 hours, and
Ready to Set Sail!Ready to Set Sail!Ready to Set Sail!

We're so happy before the boat leaves the pier and oh so very naive.
a body full of vomit. I just wanted to go home.

During my third vomit session, I started to form a plan in my head. I figured, if I jumped overboard, they'd have to save me, and then they'd have to head back to shore. I later learned from Andrew that he, too, was formulating an escape plan. His was to go tell the captain that I was diabetic and suffering from shock from vomiting. Just when I finally really started to consider leaping, they announced we were heading back. I threw up one more time for good measure, and then got settled in for the one hour long haul back to shore.

I nearly died on the way. OK, maybe not really, but I really thought that death was better than what we'd endured. And those poor kids. Andrew threw up a grand total of 10 times, but that was nothing compared to the little man heaving next to him.

So now, my friends, I can truly say that I have survived hell. We made it back to Monterey with a few more tears and heaving, and it was warm out on shore. I felt the
Otters for Aunt Linda!Otters for Aunt Linda!Otters for Aunt Linda!

I saw a few otters and thought immediately for Aunt Linda. I was determined to snap a photo for her and photo hunted this guy for quite some time.
sun on my skin, but I couldn't warm up. I kept shivering. Even in the car (with the top up) and the heat running full blast with my fingers shoved in the vents, I couldn't regain feeling in my hands.

Andrew and I went back to our hotel and sat on the floor of the shower, holding each other and listening to the horror the other endured during the whale hell tour. After about two hours of the heat from the shower, I finally started to feel like maybe I was starting to get clean, and I finally started to feel the painful needles of feeling coming back into my hands.

My friends, never (ever) even consider joining a five hour whale tour. I've learned my lesson, and I will never set foot in another boat again. OK, maybe in 10 years, I can see myself trying out a kayak, but that's it! Five hours of pain, suffering, and germs...

....and let's not forget their no refund policy!

Additional photos below
Photos: 9, Displayed: 9


I've Got You, Babe!I've Got You, Babe!
I've Got You, Babe!

We're ready to see some whales!
What Net?What Net?
What Net?

Yeah, the plastic netting does nothing to keep these guys off the boats. This is the last picture we took... it was all down hill from this point on.

11th August 2008

I agree, Becky, that whale watching sounds like the perfect tour for you and Andrew. I'm sorry it was such a disaster. I also hate to admit that I chuckled a bit reading your account . . . until I got to the actual whale siting. At that point I was flat out laughing.
11th August 2008

Reading this made me feel sick, seriously. I hope you and Andrew are feeling better.
11th August 2008

Wow...I think you have made me completely scared to go on a boat now. Plus I just had lunch so my stomach is feeling a little loose now that I have read your story. Hope you guys are feeling better!
14th August 2008

Haha Becky that sucks! I can absolutley see you and poor Andrew being so psyched for this tour and coming out of it 10 pounds lighter....well at least you can say that you know what a whale fin looks like...then again you could have sat at home watching National Geographic for that one. =)
15th August 2008

I know!
I'm glad our trip finished on a more relaxing note. It definitely had been chaotic at points! Whew. I'm glad we got to see all the plant and wildlife, though. I'm just trying to block out my memories of the vomit and such... Yuck!
15th August 2008

Aminta, we SURVIVED! I can't wait to be back home, far away from the ocean. Let's get tea!
15th August 2008

Thanks, Mom! I love you, too!
18th August 2008

What a trip
Becky, thanks so much for posting the adorable picture of the otter. I imagine nothing about this experience seemed adorable, but maybe in hindsight, like 30 years from now, you will enjoy remembering the animals you saw on the cruise. But don't count on it. Oma remembered her seasickness crossing the Atlantic from Germany for 50 years. She used to laugh when people asked her what she thought of the Statue of Liberty because she never saw it - too sick.

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