It was a dark stormy night, the boat was rocking like a possessed cradle and water was coming in from every angle. The spray from the sea splashed across my face and the taste of salt was in my mouth. Actually, that’s not the way it was at all the night I went on an evening fishing expedition. The sea was still, the air was warm and the boat was only moving in time with the gentle waves.
The small eight man boat belonged to David, known to his friends as Dadi. In addition to being the skipper, Dadi’s daytime job was a detective in the Israel police force. In the past Dadi had been responsible for causing the price of marijuana to rise so steeply in the center of the country. He had intercepted and arrested many drug smugglers on the Lebanese border. Dadi was a tough man and fishing was how he liked to relax.
At the time, we both had kids in the same kindergarten in Nahariya and I had mentioned to his wife that I was also starting to enjoy fishing. So, when the phone rang earlier that day, it was Dadi on the other end of the line asking me if I’d like to join him on a nighttime fishing excursion. “Do you have equipment for fishing from a boat?” he asked.
“No,” I replied. I hadn’t been fishing that long and to date all I’d caught was a couple of poisonous rock fish.
“So meet me in an hour at Putchker and I’ll tell you what you need. I have a spare rod but you’ll need weights, line and bait.” Dadi said as the line went dead.
An hour later, as I entered the fishing tackle store at the Putchker sailing center, Dadi was already there joking with the staff. I smiled at him and his face turned solemn. Short cropped hair and a frame as wide as he was tall. Even his muscles had muscles.
“Take a basket.” He said firmly. “Give him weights, line and frozen shrimps.” He politely said to the woman behind the counter.
“First time out with Dadi?” she asked me while filling my basket.
“Yes” I replied as she gave a knowing smile.
I wasn’t so sure about the shrimps but seeing as it was only bait I figured it was alright.
Just as I was paying Dadi looked me up and down and asked “You need a tablet?”
Not wanting to appear anything less than manly, I replied “No. Of course not. I don’t get sick on boats.” Not that I’d ever been on an eight man boat for a five hour fishing trip. It couldn’t be so different than a ferry from Dover to Boulogne could it?
As we left the store Dadi pointed to the boats docked nearby. “My one is the one with the dolphin on the side. Meet me there at seven. Don’t be late.”
The rest of the day passed and I walked over to the docking area for seven.
Dadi was on his boat and six other people were in the process of boarding. I wasn’t sure if these were Dadi’s friends or people who he’d arrested in the past and were now in the process of being reformed. But I was about to spend the next five hours with them in a small boat in the middle of a dark sea, so I thought it would be best to be as friendly as I could. Each man grunted acceptance of my arrival and no sooner had I arrived and boarded, than the boat began to slowly chug away from the dock.
About two miles out and ten minutes later, we stopped. Everyone began to bait their hooks with shrimp and the lines were cast. I was so excited and was already thinking about all the fish I’d be catching that night. I was going to fill my freezer with the best the sea had to offer.
Despite the calmness of the Mediterranean Ocean that night, every small movement felt like an earthquake. An earthquake that was now erupting in my stomach. As the queasy feeling in my stomach grew worse I managed a weak smile at my fellow fishermen. Why hadn’t I taken a tablet? Why? Why? Why?
I drew in my line, placed my rod gently in the bottom of the boat and, not caring about appearances, I lunged my head over the side and unceremoniously lost everything I’d eaten over the past eight hours. Twice. I brought my head up and saw that everyone was now staring at me. Trying to make light of the situation I smiled and said “With all that food floating on the top, I’m sure all the best fish will come out of hiding. If they swim through it, it would probably look like gefilte fish.” If this would have been in the desert, the sound of tumbleweed would have been heard.
Anyhow, at that point I felt a whole lot better and re-cast my line. But my reprieve from sea-sickness was to be short lived.
As I placed another shrimp on the hook about thirty minutes later, I began to feel nauseous once again. The thought of catching a fish in this state only made matters worse. I threw out the line and sat in the bow of the boat hoping nothing would take the bait and I could just sit quietly while keeping a low profile. Gone was the idea of reeling in a humongous catch. I just wanted to get through the night. I could see the lights of Nahariya from the boat and could even make out my house. At that point, I seriously wondered how long it would take me to swim to shore.
“Your line is pulling. You have something.” Shouted Dadi from the other end of the boat.
‘Great’, I thought. I reeled in my catch. As the fish came flapping to the surface I gave way to my inner self. I threw the rod down in the boat with the fish still wriggling on the line, leaned over the side and lost the remainder of the contents of my stomach. I had never felt so ill in my life. My skin felt cold with a film of perspiration over my face. With my life flashing before me I wondered if anyone had ever died from a bad case of seasickness.
I looked at Dadi and, feeling like a five year old child, I spoke in a weak voice “Dadi, please take me home!”
The next day at the kindergarten I bumped into Dadi’s wife. “Are you feeling better now, Michael?” she caringly enquired.
“Yes. Much better now thank you.” I replied.
“Why didn’t you take a tablet?” she asked.
“Well, it probably seems a bit vain now, but I didn’t want Dadi to think I couldn’t handle a boat ride with a seasick tablet.”
She laughed and replied “But Dadi’s been taking them for years. He never goes out with taking a tablet before a trip. Didn’t he mention that?”
“Perhaps I missed that.” I answered.