A news story tonight on a rescue at sea describing 20 foot swells and an incoming storm made me queasy just sitting in front of the television. I get seasick. It was something that I didn’t realize until I got a job working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Back when I thought I would be Jacques Cousteau but didn’t realize I would end up more like Jeremy Harris. Maybe I sort of knew when I was studying marine biology but it never escalated to be a real issue until I had to actually spend entire days working on a boat. I never had a problem doing the bulk of my work when we would be out on Shinnecock Bay sampling marine organisms since the wave action in the Bay is completely different from that in the ocean.
My problems arose when I was assigned to go out with a party boat or on a commercial fishing vessel; both always went out on the ocean. To meet the party boat I would have to get up at the crack of dawn and drive a few hours to the dock in order to catch one of the boats that would head out to take random people fishing. I was not onboard to enforce the fishing regulations but rather to collect specimens from fish that were caught. We were tasked with taking the gill plates out of Blackfish and scales from Porgies. The problem was that, to be honest, a lot of the party boat guys wouldn’t let us on their boats to sample. They felt like we spooked the customers on the boat. To us this meant that they were taking short fish and didn’t want us to know. This may or may have not been true.
I was always sent out on the same boat heading out of Sheepshead Bay. The boat was owned and crewed by two brothers. They were big guys from Queens with lots of facial hair. I thought that the Captain was cute and his brother thought I was cute. The brother would do things like hide the tools I needed to do my job. One time he filled my big container full of supplies with these little crabs that they used for bait. I did not know until they had all died; yeah, that did not smell good. I hated going on the party boat because I would get seasick in the truck even before I got to the dock. I tried medication, ginger and bands. I tried keeping eye contact with a fixed point. It didn’t matter; I would generally feel ill the entire time I was on the boat. I tried really, really hard not to throw up; I knew that I would never hear the end of it. There are contributing factors when it comes to seasickness; like smells; bait, the diesel exhaust from the boat….you think that you are doing OK and then you are not. Kind of like life. You think that you have it under control; that the pot is boiling and the lid is rattling but it is contained. But then there is something. And sometimes there is not much to do about that something but wait it out. Just look at that fixed point and try not to throw up.