Sailing students sometimes ask the darnedest questions. We
were sailing to windward in a moderate breeze and I thought everyone was having
the time of their lives. Occasionally, a student would fire off the odd
question. Then someone asked, “How do you know if you’re sea sick?” Well, that
should be fairly obvious, I thought. But I hid my bewilderment and answered,
somewhat sarcastically I suppose:
“You have to be on a vessel at sea. You start off by not feeling well. The blood drains from your face and it (your face) takes on a somewhat green tinge. You may feel sweaty
and have hot and cold flashes. Then the stomach starts heaving or retching and
eventually the contents of the stomach are regurgitated. The resulting vomit is
usually a mixture of masticated food in an acid, viscous, yellowish,
foul-smelling, sticky liquid.”
The young man who asked the question promptly deposited the contents of his stomach on the cockpit sole, a large part of it on my ankle and foot.
“Oooh, I feel much better now,” he said with a smile, as he spat the last strands of mucous onto my knee.
I learned my lesson. In response to that question I now say, “First you hang your head over the lee rail…”