An Irish breakfast is basically simple. Toast, bacon, eggs, sausage, tomato and orange juice, preceded by cereal and followed by tea. Its the size of it that makes it remarkable. 4 slices of toast, 2 eggs any way you like, two sausage links, a full tomato (cut into quaters), and what must be a full pig's worth of thick sliced bacon. I never hear the death oink and snort from the kitchen, but every time I have an Irish breakfast, there on my plate (minus hooves and head of course) is basically a full pig.
Such was my breakfast before rushing off to catch the impatient ferry back to the Irish mainland. As I opened the front door, I was hit with a gust of wind going at least 40 mph! Gale winds are at least 60 mph. I looked out at the sea which was choppy to say the least. I remembered one of the crew on the way over informing me that the ferry will sail in wind or in swell but not both. He noticed me getting a bit sick on the way out and teased me a bout being from Colorado.
This same sailor was there to greet me as the ferry arrived. He was holding a mop and wearing a stern expression. I jovially referred to the previous day's conversation asking "no swell today?" referencing the strong wind. He wet his mop saying "no, bigger swell today." He turned and mutterd what sounded like "you're in trouble," but I couldn't be sure. Before I could ask him to repeat, my focus shirfted to the islanders returning home. They were pale and moved slowly from the boat to the land.
I boarded and was about to put my things down when I noticed what the mop was for. Puke. Several of the islanders had succumbed to seasickness an their journey over. The Irish breakfast rumbled in my stomach. If islanders - people who were on boats on a regular basis couldn't handle it, I was in trouble.
Freash air is supposed to be the key to staving off seasickness, so out onto the deck I went - Ipod in hand. We left the calm harbor and steamedinto and Irish Atlantic whipped into a frensy by winds agitating an already formidable swell.
The ferry that travels to Tory Island is probably 100 feet from bow to stern, 40 feet from side to side and generously about 30 feet tall. It is safe to say that the waves were almost as big. I began the voyage at the stern - legs spread, knees bent, death-grip on something solid. I did my best to adjust to the pitch and roll of the ship so my stomach wouldn't notice any movement at all.
It was working. We would climb a wave, I would lean forward. We came down the other side, I leaned back. Wave to port, lean left. Wave to starboard, lean right. Soon there was something new. Two waves came at us in rapid succession. We crest the first and slammed into the second. The result was a spray of water twice as high as the ship. Like a pro volley-ball player, as the spray peaked, the wind delighted in spiking it into the faces of the awestruck passengers below.
Several more of these and I was soaked through and freezing. It was time to make a choice: inside to puke, or outside to freeze to death. My travel spirit kicked in: I can puke inside anywhere, but I can only freeze to death from exposure to the frosty North Atlantic here.
Have you heard the phrase "If you go in hard, you won't get hurt?" I never reall knew what it meant, but out of no where, it jumped into my head and I got it loud and clear. I pulled out my iPod and traded soft instrumental for Rusted Root, Guns and Roses and, so as not to totally lose the flavor of it, some Irish sea chanties!
I turned up the volume and headed for the top deck at the bow of the ship. Midway up the steps, a huge wave hit starboard and the ship pitched 45 degrees to port. My feet slipped and adrenalin surged. Beneath me was no longer the nice, hard deck, but now the rolling white-capped entrance to Davie Jones' locker. But my grip held, and as the ship righted itself, so did my feet and I scrambled the rest of the way up the steps.
Now the top of the ship, much like a metronome, pitched far more wildly than the bottom, the wind blew harder, and the spray was more frequent, but it didn't matter. Like the hurricane scene in Forrest Gump, I half sang, half shouted into the wind:
"So have another drink boys,
oh have one with me.
We're home from the sea,
yes we're back on the shore,
(pause to spit our sea water)
and if you get to drink boys,
in this company . . ."
On I went. The ship rolled, the wind blew, the waves crashed, and all to no avail. When we readed the bay, the water calmed and I came down - dripping wet, shivering, and still humming through a beaming smile. My sailor friend stopped mid-sentence when he was going to ask me how I did, and said instead, "What got into you?" I replied, as I stepped off the ship, "Oh, nothing. Just a good Irish breakfast."