When you say this to someone who hates being on the sea, so many stories come to mind. The ferry journey to the Scilly Isles; the boat trip to see the mail being delivered to Bishop Rock lighthouse; one of the most scenic ferry journeys in the world, from North to South Island in New Zealand, except when the weather is shocking!
But, I would have to pick my most recent ‘idyllic’ boat trip. Corfu, August 2012, the Ionian Sea, always calm, like a mill pond, beautiful. Not the day I decided to go on a trip!
As always, I’ve got my wristbands on, taken my ‘sea-legs’, got the packet in my rucksack, I’m armed with plastic bags and warned my travelling companion. She reassures me with all the above information. We weren’t to know that there was a freak storm coming from Italy. I should have known! I should have learnt by now that nothing goes to plan when I get on a boat.
So, we set off. I’m not too keen on the information that it’s nearly three hours to the island we are visiting, but the sea looks OK. I sit on the outside of the boat staring at the horizon. “I’ll be alright as long as I keep looking at the horizon.” As the journey progresses the swell increases slightly and I feel a bit uncomfortable. I get that sinking feeling, you know, the one you get when you know whatever you’re doing you can’t go back. Everyone on the boat is in high spirits, enjoying the journey, eating, drinking, laughing, and enjoying their holiday.
We arrive safely at the island of Paxos. We’re supposed to have an hour and a half here to enjoy the island, and then back to Corfu, with a stop for swimming off the boat in a nice bay. We’re told that we only have an hour on the island because the captain wants to get us back before the storm. Storm! Now I do have that sinking feeling.
We wander round for an hour, have some lunch (a light lunch I might add) and wander back to the boat. What we saw of Paxos was lovely, and would have liked to have wandered further than the quaint harbour. But, we get back on the boat and make our way out of the sheltered bay. And then a bad sailor’s worst nightmare comes true. The sea starts to swell, and swell and swell. We are being tossed around quite frighteningly. We don’t seem to be getting anywhere, constant up and down, like a fairground ride – and I hate those too! The waves are looming over us. My friend asks whether I want to go inside. “No, I’ll be fine as long as I look at the horizon.” Who am I kidding! I grip the side rail. I’m standing up, bracing my legs against the movement of the boat. After two hours my body starts to shake I’m gripping the rail so tight. I look round warily and say, “I’m going to have to sit down.”
She then tells me that several people are the worse for wear. I can’t even look around the boat, but am aware the happy, jolly, holidaying atmosphere has altered.
I’m desperate not to be sick, because once you start, that’s it, the body succumbs. Too late, here it comes. The plastic bag is now gripped and always there. We move to the back of the boat and suddenly the warzone scene hits me – bodies everywhere. The poor Frenchman, prone on the deck, only to move when it’s time to retch.
After 4 hours I feel desperation. I start crying, “I want to get off, I want to get off!” Knowing it’s impossible and you have to somehow live through this awful time. When will it end?
Finally we reach the bay where they’re surely not going to keep to plan and let people swim? Yes, they are! So, we have to stay on the boat as it swells up and down while a brave few go for a swim! I’ve lost the will to live now.
And we’re off again. We eventually reach land! A three hour journey took six. What was going to be a nice day out turned into a nightmare – nine hours on a boat! My worst nightmare.