An Outdoor View: On being a puker

Hi. My name is Les, and I’m a puker.

Being predisposed to seasickness, I have on many occasions observed while in an under-the-weather, over-the-railing position that some people find entertainment value in my debilitation.

“Y-o-r-r-i-k!”

“Well, we don’t have to pray to the great fish god, Yorrik. Palmer’s praying enough for all of us.”

“Y-o-o-o-o-r-r-r-r-i-k!”

“Heh, heh. We won’t have to chum, either.”

Why me? Why not them? Hard as I’ve tried, I’ve found nothing humorous about ejecting the contents of my stomach out of my mouth while everyone around me is having a good time.

With an air of superiority, they joke about “halibut hiccups” and “technicolor yawns.” Such cute euphemisms for such an abysmal state of being. Believe me, there’s nothing funny about mal de mer, which is French for “slow death by upchucking of the internal organs.”

I’ve lived with seasickness all my life, if you can call feeling like you want to die “living.” My brother, Dave, also was blessed with the debility. As children, he and I regularly retched in the back seat of the family sedan during Sunday afternoon drives. It was a family tradition. I believe we inherited the inclination from our mother, who would turn pale and start perpspiring upon seeing a picture of the ocean.

The thing is, I love the sea so much, I’m willing to suffer to be on it. Until I discovered Scopolamine patches, I suffered a lot. Now, I get sick only when I neglect to put on a patch early enough, or when one falls off and I don’t notice it’s gone. This happens about once a year, just often enough that the nagging fear of nautical nausea hangs over me like a pall.

Some people can function while seasick. Not me. I’m weak as a kitten, sick as a dog, limp as a dishrag. And when I screw up the patch deal, I’m mad as a hornet at myself.

Being a puker, albeit one who hasn’t tossed his cookies for 57 days straight, I have always sympathized with other pukers. Take the one at Deep Creek, one July day a few years ago.

I was standing on the beach, preparing to go halibut fishing on Cook Inlet, when I overheard a terrific altercation between a charterboat skipper and one of his customers. They were aboard the boat, ready to launch, yelling at each other. It got to the point where the skipper told the woman to either sit down and shut up or get off the boat. Grumbling, she sat down.

From what little I had heard, I sided with the guide. The obnoxious woman, instead of quietly following orders, was whining in that shrill, irritating way women do when their delicate sensibilities have been offended. The captain’s authority — and, by extension, all captains and the very laws of the sea — had been challenged. The challenge had been answered. There can be but one captain on a ship. The captain’s word is law. That this particular captain happened to be a man was neither here nor there. Nor did it matter that his loud-mouthed adversary, a loose cannon on deck if ever there was one, happened to be a woman.

I didn’t envy that captain. As I watched his boat moving out onto the inlet, I knew that fishing trip was going to be a long one.

As chance would have it, I was back on the beach when that boat came in, several hours later. I was dying of curiosity to know how the two antagonists had survived six hours on a 26-foot boat. I waited until the skipper had left to get his pickup, then I sidled over and said, “How’ja do?”

I expected to see the carnage of a bloody mutiny. At the very least, long faces. But no, everyone was smiling. Even the woman who had quarreled with the captain was smiling. Gesturing toward her male companions, she said, “They caught fish, but I spent the whole trip in the cabin, seasick. I’m just glad to be back on solid ground!”

My heart went out to that poor, suffering woman. I wanted to hug her. That brutish boat-driver must have said or done something that hurt her badly, the big bully. The more I looked at her, the more she resembled my favorite aunt, a saint of a woman.

We pukers stick together.

Les Palmer can be reached at les.palmer@rocketmail.com.

More in Life

The Christ Lutheran Church is seen on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Musicians bring ‘golden age of guitar’ to Performing Arts Society

Armin Abdihodžic and Thomas Tallant to play concert Saturday

Storm Reid plays June Allen in “Missing,” a screenlife film that takes place entirely on the screens of multiple devices, including a laptop and an iPhone. (Photo courtesy Sony Pictures)
On The Screen: ‘Missing’ is twisty, modern, great

I knew “Missing” was something special early on

Puff pastry desserts are sprinkled with sugar. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Puff pastry made simple

I often shop at thrift stores. Mostly for cost, but also out… Continue reading

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Would I do it again?

I ran across some 20-some year-old journal notes rambling on about a 268-foot dive I took

A copy of Prince Harry’s “Spare” sits on a desk in the Peninsula Clarion office on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Off the Shelf: Prince Harry gets candid about ‘gilded cage’ in new memoir

“Spare” undoubtedly succeeds in humanizing Harry

The cast of “Tarzan” rides the Triumvirate Theatre float during the Independence Day parade in downtown Kenai, Alaska on Monday, July 4, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Triumvirate swings into the year with ‘Tarzan’, Dr. Seuss and fishy parody

The next local showing of the Triumvirate Theatre is fast approaching with a Feb. 10 premiere of “Seussical”

This vegan kimchi mandu uses crumbled extra-firm tofu as the protein. (Photo by Tressa Dale / Peninsula Clarion)
Meditating on the new year with kimchi mandu

Artfully folding dumplings evokes the peace and thoughtful calm of the Year of the Rabbit

A promotional poster for the first event in the Winter Film Series. (Photo courtesy Kenai Peninsula Film Group)
Movie buffs to debut local film series

This first entry is centered on short films

Mashed potatoes are served with chicken breast, green beans and pan sauce. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Mashed potatoes for a chef

They are deceptively hard to get right

Photo 210.029.162, from the Clark Collection, courtesy of Hope and Sunrise Historical and Mining Museum 
Emma Clark feeds the Clark “pet” moose named Spook in 1981. At the urging of state wildlife officials, Carl Clark had agreed to care for this calf at their home in Hope.
Emma Clark: Becoming a Hope pioneer

For 50 years, Emma and Carl had been central to the story of Hope