They spend too much time on firm ground. Never having to pitch one way or the other in order to steady themselves. . I discovered this early on growing up Okie in Los Angeles. My dad wasn’t able at all to use a sextant or read star charts or navigation map. My Okie mother never cooked up sea turtle gruel nor wore red bandana with gold ring in one ear.
Let me back up here. My parents migrated to Los Angeles from Oklahoma in the early 1940s. This was before I was born. So we lived in metropolitan L A but all the while holding on to our simple Okie culture. Certainly a conflict of two social orders. We’ll discuss this some other time however.
But anyway, we lived over 40-miles from the nearest ocean and couldn’t even afford the price of an average wooden paddle much less the cost of a paddleboat. So, my personal sailing experience was limited to just a few boating events.
Once in third grade our teacher, Mrs. Sweeny, took we third graders on a field trip to the L A harbor. There we boarded a ferryboat from San Pedro all the way over to Terminal Island. A sea cruise about two-hundred yards. A ten-minute harbor excursion. Just enough time to walk to the other end of the ferry boat and walk down the boarding ramp.
My next sailing venture was all of us cousins and my uncle boarding on an inner sound ferry ride across the inner waters to Vancouver Island. A trip of about two hours from Port Angeles Washington to Victoria, British Columbia. Certainly a longer sail than the L A harbor trip but most uneventful. However, the excitement we had on this trip was watching the ship’s lower deck-hand toss boxes of garbage off the boat’s stern. All the while flocks of seagulls swooped down, dove into the boat’s floating refuse, and then come up with a pretty tasty afternoon lunch. Most fascinating I must say.
However, the defining boat trip that set me against future sailing was a bobbling, tossing roller-coaster float from L A harbor to Catalina Island. About 26-miles across the sea. Santa Catalina was waiting for me. This event filled trip settled my mind that Okies shouldn’t ever sea cruise. At the outset but inside the seawall protected harbor, it was most uneventful and smooth sailing. But once past the “Break Water” that shields the harbor boat traffic from high ocean swells, the tiny ship started to pitch and roll. Up and down she went. Like a cork on turbulent waters.
This ancient ship was only about a hundred feet from stem to stern. . So the little white ship seemed to become even smaller as the ocean waves rose to six to eight foot swells. Swells that swamped the lower deck and totally soaked a few Catalina bound passengers. As for my sailing party, and me, most of us were turning green and draped over the rails. Hanging over the rails in anticipation of losing our recently devoured breakfast. AS a result, seagulls swarmed nearby.
Nonetheless, this woozy condition lasted about an hour or so on the high seas. We would stand by the lower deck rails and then later find a spot to lie on nearby benches. Then we would rise and hang over the rail once again. Back and forth we flipped and flopped. Like freshly caught tuna flopping uncontrollably on the deck. We just couldn’t find the position that would give us the most relief from our head spinning wooziness.
But, once we inter the Avalon harbor at Catalina, things seemed to settle. The tiny ship gently floated to the unloading dock and we quickly forgot the previous gut wrenching events. After we poured off the ship we all determined to make the best of our trip. It felt really good to be standing on solid ground once again.
However, after a day’s touring the island and eating without much thought, we suddenly realized we were facing once again the same gut wrenching sailing event. Just thinking about this boat return cruising hang over made me feel noxious and, dreading the return to the L A harbor.
Therefore if Okies were meant to be sailors, we would have been born with one wooden peg leg and an uncontrollable urge to say, “Arr yee land lubbers! Gonna swab the deck with yee.” So-o-o, being Okies prone towards Seasickness definitely confirm Okies are not very good sailors. I rest my case. Solid ground is where I want to be. Tell the captain I’ll take the train instead.