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A Seasick Swiss04.01.2008

Tags: Rainbow Warrior       Comments: 0

The bed sways and shudders, the ship leans at an angle, huge breakers crash over the deck - the "Rainbow Warrior" is making its way through heavy seas. And Louis Palmer is seasick. He now understands for the first time why the Swiss love their mountains.

After three weeks of fairly calm seas, we finally reached the open sea, the Tasman Sea, yesterday. But it’s not tiredness that’s making life hard at the moment, it’s a heavy, rolling swell. I now know why we Swiss have always preferred to stay in our nice solid mountains instead of venturing out onto the high seas. High waves cause seasickness, or they do at least in my case. Any movement, any action, is an ordeal.


I‘ve been lying almost motionless in my windowless cabin, which is below the water level, since yesterday. The whole bed swings up and down, to and fro, this way and that. Here in my cabin, it sounds as if I’m holding my head under water in a swimming pool full of people. Every wave that smacks, sprays, gurgles, churns, and blubbers on the hull also hammers at my ears. Non-stop, day and night.

Huge waves thunder repeatedly against the hull, submerging the entire deck under water and making the whole ship shudder, until the next wave stops the vibrations. Then I think that the ship must finally have broken in two. But the Rainbow Warrior, despite her 50 years at sea, has so far crested all waves coming. Mike, the captain, has already warned us that on the last Tasman crossing, a hole as big as a fist developed in the bow, which the crew were only able to plug with a sack of cement, a car jack, and a lot of toil and trouble. I just hope that the old tub holds out this time.

At Pub Speed Towards New Zealand

Yesterday we were surrounded by three storms and were exactly in the middle of them. Then, as if moved by a ghostly hand, the low-pressure areas around us formed up and drove them all away, although not without leaving five-meter high breakers in their wake. At every movement of the waves my brain sends a signal to my stomach to empty itself out. Luckily there are tablets to keep your stomach stable, although they make you sleepy and your sense of balance is still anything but reliable. There are twenty steps to climb every time I want to go to my cabin. Just getting up there is a triumph, because the stairs are also pitching up and down, the walls are standing at a strange angle and the strength in my hands and feet ebbs from step to step. Gravity is pulling at me with all its strength, trying to throw me to the floor.

Another 1,178 miles of water lie ahead of us. The crew has just set the sails to increase our speed from 7.6 to 7.7 knots. This is "pub speed". At this speed we’ll arrive on Friday and can fall straight into the nearest pub. Otherwise we’ll have to sit around on board in Whangarei harbour until the customs officials come back to work on Monday. And who wants to do that after four weeks on board?

I’m going to stop writing now. Lesley, our nurse, says that the computer is the worst thing possible for my dizziness.



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