Barfing on the High Seas

This post is by Abbie Johnson Taylor.


One morning years ago at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Los Angeles, while most of my extended family was gathered for my uncle’s wedding, we were sitting around the pool, discussing what we would do that day. The men wanted to go sailing, and the women wanted to see some sights. At the age of twenty-three, I’d never been on a sailboat but had done my fair share of sightseeing, and being young and visually impaired, I didn’t find that at all appealing.

When I invited myself to go sailing with my brother, dad, and two uncles, they readily agreed, and we set off. At a marina, we found a captain willing to take us on a three-hour cruse for a fee, which would increase if we made a mess. Before heading out, we ate lunch at a nearby establishment where I had a cheeseburger with French fries and a Coke. Once we hit the high seas, I wished more than ever that I’d gone to look at museums and other attractions with my grandmother and aunts.

I wrote a poem about this experience several years ago. Kathy Waller’s 100-word short story inspired me to post it. Click on the title to hear me read it.




In the summer of 1984, my family sets sail

from a marina at Redondo Beach, California.

The rented boat glides through smooth port waters.


A college kid, the only woman on board,

once we hit rough waters,

my stomach revolts.

Moments later, while holding the leaking sack

containing what was once my lunch, Uncle Tony asks,

“Will the EPA mind if I throw this overboard?”


“No problem,” says Shawn, the captain.

He hands me a bucket,

places a hand on my shoulder

while I let it all out.


A helicopter whirrs overhead.

“They’re making a movie,” Uncle Jon speculates.

Oh boy, I always wanted to be in a movie,

I think, huddled over my white bucket,

Barfing on the High Seas.


Later, Shawn reminisces about man overboard drills.

Still nauseated, I glance at the water, the shore.

If I jump in, try to swim,

will I make it?


After three hours, back in calm waters,

I step onto the dock,

exhausted, sunburned—it could be worse.


Afterward, I learned that the women not only saw some sights but also went to an ice cream parlor where they encountered a celebrity from Hill Street Blues. Oh well, some choices we make in life aren’t always good ones.


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.



13 thoughts on “Barfing on the High Seas

  1. I’ve never had air, car or sea sickness, and I count myself lucky. My friend Sharon always gets car sick in the mountains. My Grandma Mid had a similar problem, but she could travel if she took the necessary medication to keep the nausea at bay. I have had some trouble when flying, but not air sickness. I had a stuffed-up head, and in the air, I thought my head was going to explode. Such pain! Oh, did my ears hurt. Luckily, I don’t fly much nowadays, not like ten years ago when I flew once a month or so..


    1. Mike, you’re not the only one. Of late, I’ve noticed that I become nauseated when traveling in the mountains and while encountering turbulence in the air. I’ve never lost my lunch as a result, not since that fateful day in 1984.


  2. Great post. I was right there at sea with you, only I was standing tall breathing in the sea air. I love boats. The choices we make do influence our lives. Cher’ley


  3. Great poem,wonderful story, Abbie! I’m going out on a boat in June when my dad, husband, and I visit Alaska. I do hope we all do well! I take meds when I fly — the going up and coming down always make my stomach lurch! Thanks for sharing your memories, Abbie.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great poem, Abbie. I’ve never been seasick on a boat but I’ve been around plenty of people who have. One time I cruised in the Caribbean during Christmas when I was a teen and almost everyone on the ship was sick (including my mom) as it was turbulent waters. I felt fine but dining carts were flying down hallways – that’s how bad it was.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In order to get onto an Island where Puffins hang out I had to get onto a boat and travel out to sea. As a precaution I took sea sick pills, thankfully they worked. Not one to press my luck I haven’t been out to sea since. I can just picture you and your white bucket. When I get into a canoe I place my camera gear in a 5 gallon white bucket. Now I will think of you every time I put the bucket in the boat.

    Liked by 1 person

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