Wave Goodbye

{ 15 comments }

By Torre DeRoche

It’s a black night and the wind is vile. The waves must be twenty feet high. We’re tipping, staggering, flying down each angry wave and my stomach keeps bottoming out like we’re in a plummeting elevator. Our little boat, Amazing Grace, isn’t so amazing right now, nor is she graceful. She’s tumbling like she’s hammered on salt water. Our lives are in the hands of a drunken boat.

Boom! A wave collides with the fiberglass. Who knew water could sound like a bomb explosion? These bombs are hitting every minute or two – a horrifying bang, followed by a sharp lurch sideways. My body rolls in my small bunk and I’m thankful for the canvas lip that keeps me from flying sideways. I wait, trembling, praying for Amazing Grace to come back upright. The angle seems too steep. What is our tipping point, anyway? How far can we keel over before we tumble sideways and get swallowed by the jet-black ocean?

Boom! Gear explodes out of cupboards. Out here, gravity has it’s own rules: heavy things are light and light things are heavy. A cupboard door flings open and cans of food pop out to waltz around in a psychotic dance choreographed by the sea. Plant soil has scattered everywhere but who cares about the mess? We’re going to die.

Something worse is on the loose. I can hear it banging, up on deck. At the marina, we stashed two five-gallon jerry cans under the upturned dinghy, one full of water and one full of fuel. Bad idea. They’re smashing around with the waves, leaking their contents. I know this because the smell of fuel is thick. We’re going to die—I know this for sure. What I don’t know is whether we’ll burn to death or drown.

Boom! Another wave-bomb hits – a clean uppercut to a staggering drunk. We’re definitely going to end up rolling. A wave connects and washes the topsides with fire hose pressure. Oh shit – Ivan is out there! I remember the words of my sailing instructor: “If someone goes over the side, there’s really only one thing to remember to do … wave goodbye.”

I try to call out to Ivan but my mouth is quivering and my whistle comes out flat and airy. I lick my lips and try again. “Wheee-wooooo.”

No reply. He’s been swept overboard! My throat closes up in panic. “Wheee-wooooo! Wheee-wooooo! Wheee-wooooo!

Wheee-wooooo,” I hear him call faintly above the wind.

He’s still on the boat. I breathe again, but now my head is spiraling out of control. My liquid innards are suspending and sloshing to the same rhythm as the turbulent ocean. I dash to the kitchen sink knowing I won’t make the toilet in time. Vomit comes out of my nose as well as my mouth this time, but there is little left in my stomach by now, just warm, sour fluid that burns the soft tissue in my nostrils.

“Are you okay?” Ivan yells above the sound of the wind and the waves.

“How much longer?” I say.

“A long time, baby. We’re only 250 miles away from Los Angeles. Still five days until Cabo San Lucas, maybe longer.”

I’m trapped in this floating coffin for FIVE MORE DAYS?

This is an excerpt from the memoir Swept – Love With A Chance Of Drowning. Watch the book trailer here >>

Read More Stories > GO

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One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure its worth watching.’ – Unknown Source

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Writer’s Bio: Torre DeRoche once faced her fear of the ocean by voyaging across the Pacific Ocean aboard a humble boat with a man she met in a bar. Read more about her upcoming book or follow her via Twitter.


 

Leave a Comment

  • Kim April 3, 2011, 3:58 am

    Holy crap, that IS scary! Sounds horrible. Glad you both made it!!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche April 16, 2011, 3:05 pm

      How do you know we made it? :)

      Reply
  • jill- Jack and Jill Travel The World April 3, 2011, 3:57 pm

    Sounds like my worst nightmare. Glad both of you made it.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche April 3, 2011, 10:03 pm

      Mine too!

      Reply
  • Debbie Beardsley April 3, 2011, 5:51 pm

    Oh gosh, another riveting scary story. I can’ t imagine being at the mercy of the unforgiving ocean! Glad you made it through safely.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche April 16, 2011, 3:05 pm

      Thanks, Debbie. The ocean is ruthless.

      Reply
  • Katja April 16, 2011, 3:24 pm

    Torre, I am *so* looking forward to your book coming out!

    On a side note, vomit coming out of my nostrils was one of my least favourite experiences ever. It’s only happened once, and I hope not to be repeating it anytime soon. I’ll be avoiding stormy oceans, I think …

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche April 17, 2011, 1:03 am

      Thanks, Katja. I was 99.9% certain that I was going to barf up an intestine during this sailing experience. Unpleasant :(

      Reply
  • The Rhythm Method April 17, 2011, 2:33 am

    This is an amazing piece of writing. Must have been terrifying rolling around in the belly of a drunken boat.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche April 17, 2011, 2:46 am

      Thank you, Karen. It was absolutely the most terrifying experience of my life — one of utter helplessness that dragged out for days and days.

      Reply
  • sue July 12, 2013, 6:28 am

    Hi Torre, just finished reading your amazing journey across the Pacific Ocean in record time. Enjoyed it immensely. I am 54 and love sailing with my husband out of Adelaide….not quite as adventurous as you or Ivan but understand that feeling of exhilaration when you are riding the crest of a wave in 20 knot winds and pummeling along at 10-11 knots heeling over. Look forward to the next book.
    Enjoy….Sue Beaufoy

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche July 17, 2013, 10:21 am

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Sue! So glad you enjoyed the read. Happy sailing. x

      Reply
  • Ty Gregory October 5, 2013, 5:30 am

    Yes, scary! Good writing. I am just in the process of buying a boat myself.
    Scare me more why dontcha?

    Reply