Scary night…lessons learned….

We’ll be posting more photos once we get to Madeira on the 28th.  Internet too slow to upload photos.

It’s 11:30 pm.
Clocks will change another hour forward at 2:00 am.  With winds close to 65 mph and 30 foot waves, we’re swaying from side to side in our cabin. The walls and ceilings are creaking so much that it sounds as if something is about to break apart.

Many passengers are seasick. Ready-to-use barf bags are taped to the railings. No one can walk a straight line. Most of the entertainment has been shut down until further notice.

Not a word from the bridge since this morning. The TV channel entitled “Word from the Bridge” gave us the above stats.  Are we safe? I guess we are. How will we sleep with the rolling and the noise? I don’t know.

We’re a two and a half days from our first port of call, the island of Madeira, Portugal, off the coast of Algeria. We’re more than halfway across the ocean.

It’s 2:00 am. I actually slept for a few hours. We changed our clocks when we went to bed at midnight. I was dreaming about water running, lots of water running. The water sounds as if it’s
coming from outside the door. Tom is sound asleep. I want to awaken him, but I don’t. 

I want to open the door and look outside in the hallway. I try to open it. It won’t open. The heavy self closing door requires a hefty pull using my right arm. I haven’t been able to open it once since we boarded six days ago due to my bad right shoulder. 

Why would I think I could open it now? I jiggle the lock, but can’t tell, in my harried state, which way is open. Give up opening the door, my head screams. The swaying and creaking is louder than ever. I need to look outside. 

Repeatedly faltering as I maneuver to the sliding door, I fall toward the glass, grabbing the thick drapes to keep me from going down. Pulling the drapes to the side, in the dark I can see the huge white caps, the 30 foot waves, grasping at the ship in an angry rage, as if to attack.

There’s nothing I can do. I’m a little scared, but I must be brave. I crawl back into bed, pulling the covers over my head. Sleep, please come. Thirty minutes pass. I take the Tylenol PM I’d left on the shelf next to my side of the bed, just in case.  Swallowing it down with leftover iced tea in my mug, it feels stuck in my throat.  I drink again and position myself on my left side, as always, protecting the bad shoulder with a pillow under my elbow. 
The noise is deafening, the creaking, the sound of running water, the roar of the sea. Finally, I drift off, desperate to escape my own thoughts.

It’s 8:52 am. Sun is filtering into the cabin through a tiny sliver I left open during the night in the thick red drapes. The sound of the cabin creaking is a soft murmur. The sound of water running is no more. The cabin is rolling gently, a smooth roll, almost comforting as rocking a child in a cradle. 

It’s over.

I made a huge mistake before going to bed. I hooked up the Internet on my laptop at $.40 a minute, researching high winds and waves on cruise ships. The results were ominous.  Over the past 30 years, people died, ships broke apart, ships sunk. 

Not much was written about the ships that “weathered the storms” other than a few comments passengers posted about their terrifying experiences, ultimately surviving without incident.  Why didn’t I glom onto those comments as opposed to the dreadful news? 

My old fearful self, crept her way back into my psyche in my exhausted state. Shoo away, old
self!  New brave self, emerge!  In a way I guess she did, when she gave up and went to sleep. Old self would never have taken the Tylenol PM and gone back to sleep. She needed to stay in control by staying awake.

How can one possibly stay in control and “piloting the ship” or “fly the plane” when one is asleep?  I’ve never slept on a plane. If I slept, it all would fall apart, wouldn’t it?  I guess not. 

It’s 11:10 am. Now as I sit with Tom, still oblivious of the scary night, in our favorite booth in the Garden Cafe, the gentle rolling continues and I’m no longer afraid, not now and hopefully, not in the future. Last night I learned something, something simple.

It’s OK to sleep during the storm.