We finally did it. We left the bay and ventured out onto the vast Pacific Ocean. As we passed underneath the Golden Gate Bridge into 6/8 foot waves and a whole lot of chop, the youngest of our intrepid crew was hit with a wave of nausea. After years of sailing on the bay, this was the first time we have ever delt with seasickness.
I responded to the plaintive cry of my seven-year-old, stumbling downstairs to her assistance as Reverie plowed and bobbed through the mess outside. Opening the door, I was greeted with the image of my daughter clutching the nearest handhold with a massive pile of vomit spewed on the floor between us. This had “not fun” written all over it. Bracing myself, I swiftly picked her up and relocated her to the shower, where I proceeded to clean her up.
The weather was getting rougher. I was quickly succumbing to the same illness that had claimed my poor girl. Somehow, I managed to get her clean and dressed again, fighting back that dreaded feeling of sick. My daughter stared at me with the biggest, saddest, puppy dog eyes ever. “Mommy, I’m so sorry you have to clean that up.” My heart melted. She uttered not a single complaint, just sympathy for me. “It’s okay, sweetie. This is what Mommies do.”
We left the head, sidestepping the dancing pile of vomit. I slammed the door shut and announced,” NO ONE use that head! It’s not getting cleaned until things settle down!”
After getting my daughter snuggled with a blanket and a bucket, I ensured her easy access to both the horizon and fresh air. Now I could focus on me. I stumbled and crab-walked my way to the stern, clinging to the boat as it bucked and wildly. I hadn’t felt this bad since the last time I had morning sickness. Gluing my eyes to the horizon, a calm stretch of water we were insanely heading away from, I fought back thoughts that this really was going to be the end of me. What kind of fool does this for fun? I was steadily approaching rock bottom, and considering approaching the captain with a demand to turn around, when up from the water leaped a dolphin. I felt the universe was giving me a sign: “Stay strong”. I took a deep breath of fresh air, letting it imbue me with renewed strength, and smiled through the suffering.
That’s when my daughter came out behind me. “Mommy, I’m going to be sick again.” I held her hair out of her face while simultaneously plastering her onto the boat with my body. I’ll spare you the details, but that was the last time she threw-up that day. I realized as I was cleaning her up, we inadvertently were downwind. Well THAT was a happy accident!
Meanwhile, my other daughter had been stationed next to a bucket and told not to move. She said she felt fine, got up and went about her business. A moment later she ran to the sink in the galley. I held her hair back as she vomited. Now I had a real problem. How does one clean up that amount of let’s-just-call-it-non-liquid from the sink while hanging on for dear life? I briefly thought of the work ahead of me in the head downstairs. Ugh.
I donned a pair of gloves and scooped the offending junk into a bucket. Outside it all went. After disinfecting the sink, I realized the bucket fit inside of it perfectly. This was my Ah-ha moment. That bucket lived in the sink for the remainder of the trip. By day three, I had it down. One bucket in the sink, another next to our designated “sick corner” outside. The girls would come upstairs in the morning, immediately throw-up in the sink bucket, and get cozy outside until they felt better.
Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The one-woman bucket brigade was in action. I battled to keep the bucket full of nastiness steady, nervous that a particularly obnoxious wave would render my efforts futile and cause me to spill it all over our living quarters, or worse, on me.
When we finally dropped our anchor in Half-Moon Bay, I quickly went to work getting every thing cleaned up. Project number one was the head (bathroom for non-boaters) where my daughter had first vomited. Throw- up was dripping from the ceiling. It was literally EVERYWHERE. This was probably a better scenario than the proverbial excrement hitting the fan, but not by much.
I took a deep breath and powered through it. Being at anchor, we had to be cautious of water usage, so I used my handy-dandy bucket and washed the bathroom down first with saltwater and followed with bathroom cleaner. Then, I had to clean the clothes my daughter had been sick on. The bucket made itself useful yet again. Now it morphed into a washing machine!
The next day, the girls wanted to do some fishing. We didn’t catch anything worth keeping, but my bucket was nearby just in case.
By the time we made it back to our home port, I had come to a very clear conclusion: buckets onboard are a necessity. You probably can’t have too many. I had also started putting together a mental list of everything I could use a bucket for, not the least of which was an emergency toilet. I felt proud of my bucket, and all the things it can do. Never had I used it so much in such a small amount of time.
After docking, I pulled out my bucket again for one final job. I filled it with water and marine soap, and we all washed the outside of the boat.