Tuesday, May 3, 2016


My family and I tried snorkeling in Hawaii like all of you highly recommended. Thank you for the suggestion!

Normally I get seasick on small boats out at sea. But it was my wife who was stressed out that she might get sick, so nervous and so anxious that she couldn’t enjoy any of our time on vacation in Hawaii.

“There’s really nothing for you to worry about,” I told her. “You didn’t get sick on the boat ride out to the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. The boat ride out to the snorkeling spot is the exact same thing.”

I practically dragged her from our hotel to the dock. Once we were aboard, she realized quite quickly that it was the exact same thing as the boat ride at Pearl Harbor. Only it wasn’t the exact same thing for me.

Wait, what? I’m sick?

My stomach turned for shore as soon as my lead foot hit the deck.

“Maybe you were right,” my wife said. “Maybe there’s really nothing for me to worry about.”

Meanwhile I was freaking out. I thought of all the ways I could jump off the boat without spoiling the experience for my wife and 11-year-old son.

“This is gonna be fun,” I said as the boat pulled away. So much for getting off.

I had three hours ahead of me at sea -- one hour for snorkeling and two more for a follow-up lunch on the ocean. My stomach would make me pay.

Meet the antagonist of the story -- the catamaran. The catamaran is a multi-hulled vessel that has two parallel hulls of equal size. Experts say that the dual hulls allow for faster speeds and a more comfortable ride with less heeling (when a boat leans over to one side) than a boat with a single hull.

Sounds great, right? But even Goldfinger, arguably the most sinister villain in the James Bond movie franchise, initially appeared ever so kind and loving as he coddled his pet cat on his lap. How cute.

Catamarans, as we’ll soon find out, can exhibit (in other words, will exhibit) a slightly unsettling (in other words, alarmingly inhumane) hobbyhorse motion.

Up, down. Up, down. I dubbed the boat Goldfinger, as it slowly tried to break me.

“Do you expect me to throw up?” I asked Goldfinger.

“No, Mr. Bond,” the boat answered (it really did). “I expect you to die.”

My plan: Get off that horrible bobbing craft and into that beautiful, calm water before anyone else.

“You forgot your snorkeling gear,” my wife yelled.

Oh yeah, I thought, snorkeling. That’s why we’re here.

The snorkeling was amazing. Even my wife and son, who were initially alarmed by the idea of the masks blocking their nasal passages, soon began to enjoy the experience. There were hundreds of fish and huge sea turtles to see. All of you who highly recommended it were so right about it being a must-try activity. But were any of you going to mention the part about drinking seawater?

I swallowed a fish-tank-sized gulp of the Pacific Ocean. Not amazing. And not an elixir for my seasickness. The water was still moving, too. My body was going up and down in that hobbyhorse motion, and I don’t even have hulls.

My plan: Get back onto Goldfinger, at all costs. I practically held my wife and kid underwater as I used them as anchors to push myself back onboard. Then I told the captain I needed a boat to pick me up and bring me to shore immediately. He told me that wasn’t an option even though I told him I needed it.

“No ejector seat to shore?” I said under my breath as I turned away. “You’re joking.”

I could almost hear him respond like Q in those Bond movies, “I never joke about my work, 007.”

Once everyone was back on the boat and lunch was served, my wife asked if she could get me anything.

“Dramamine,” I said. “Shaken, not stirred.”

Then I left the party for the vacant bow of Goldfinger. I had a boat to destroy.

No Dramamine, and two hours later I destroyed nothing. There’s no climax to this story -- no exciting James Bond action set pieces or witty Bond one-liners. I suffered, plain and simple. I overcame nothing. I was miserable. It’s been a week and I still feel that dreadful hobbyhorse motion.

So I highly recommend snorkeling to anyone who hasn't tried it. There's really nothing for you to worry about.

-August 2014

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