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 >>
One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure its worth watching.’ – Unknown Source
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.
Torre DeRoche is the author of two travel memoirs, Love with a Chance of Drowning (2013) and The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World (due out September 2017). She has written for The Atlantic, The Guardian Travel, The Sydney Morning Herald, Emirates, and two Lonely Planet anthologies.