At the Galaxy Wave ferry terminal in La Ceiba, Honduras, I sat nervously, checking for signs that my dramamine had started to kick in.
Why wasn’t my mouth dry yet? Why did I feel so awake? Why wouldn’t it stop raining?
Things were not looking good.
I’d been warned that the two hour ride out to the Bay Island of Roatan could be rough.
In fact, the ferry operator gives out dramamine, an anti-histamine designed to prevent motion sickness, for free. For free! You know that means it’s going to be bad.
(And for the record, I have my own supply of dramamine and stuck with that)
The wind was howling and the water was choppy. I am not a fan of the high seas at the best of times, but I consoled myself by thinking that it couldn’t possibly be as bad as the time I went out onto Australia’s Great Barrier Reef across the shipping channel from Port Douglas in 35 knot wind, the limit operators will go out in. We had to hang on to the tables just to stay in our seats.
Oh how wrong I was.
I tried to ignore the crew as we boarded. They handed each passenger a plastic bag, and then stood beside giant garbage bins at key points in the cabin, holding rolls of paper towels and more bags, watching the passengers with bemused and knowing grins.
We’d barely left the port when it started.
And I discovered that rough water in a boat designed to roll in the way that the Galaxy Wave is is like a rollercoaster ride from hell.
The ride back was much more…sedate.
We were slammed by waves from all sides. It set your head spinning and sometimes it was difficult to tell which way was up. We seemed to get airborne at some points, and each time I felt that horrible stomach-dropping feeling several passengers screamed. Nearly all the children on board were crying.
Within five minutes (I wish that were an exaggeration), several people around me were losing their lunch, loudly and repeatedly.
Perched awkwardly on the arm of my seat so I could see out the window, I watched the horizon line and tried not to look at the swell. My dramamine was working – I didn’t feel nauseous – but I was terrified. There was way too much adrenaline rushing through my body for the chemical to make me drowsy.
Every time I moved I felt dizzy and although the pure terror eventually ebbed away I sat like that for two hours. Others vomited for two hours straight.
Of course, the next day dawned bright and hot and calm. Was this even the same sea?
I have no idea why I hate boats so much (although it probably has to do with the chance of experiences like this).
I’m not scared of drowning – I can swim perfectly well. But I still hate them.
But like planes, when you travel so frequently boats are unfortunately a necessary evil.