'A most embarrassing moment'
by Michael Ryland

Years ago, on one of the annual Labour Weekend trips to Mayor Island, with the Wellington Underwater Club, I remember a particularly rough launch trip back from the island.  Already exhausted by the overnight bus trip up from Wellington, on the Friday night, I then had to run the gauntlet of late night revelry in the bar followed by early spearfishing dives before breakfast.  This was as well as morning and afternoon long dives during the day.

Completely wiped out by 2½ days of this, with only a couple of hours sleep each night, I was no match for the four metre waves and high winds on the 4½ hour return launch trip.

Suddenly I experienced that stomach churning feeling that told me I had only seconds to get out of the wheelhouse and make it to the railing before experiencing an action replay of lunch.

Have you ever noticed that, just before being seasick, you are completely speechless and cannot say to anyone, "excuse me may I get past, I'm feeling sick?"  Instead you have to stumble and fight your way through congested crowds like some moronic mute.  Once outside I found that the leeward deck was impassable due to a good number of the 30 plus passengers, on the 45 foot launch NANCIBELL, huddled there to get the fresh air, and shelter from the wind and sea spray.  I had to clamber over the long old-style cabin roof to get to the windward side and the only area of clear railing I could find.

The skipper, Johnny Magill, had left his first mate at the helm and ducked out for a smoke and a chat.  He was standing at the rear of the cabin, which came up to six inches above his waist, in height.  A tall man, Johnny got less shelter from the cabin than the others around him.

Next second, I got that irresistible urge and threw up, over the railing.  However, my salvo never reached the sea.  Instead, the vicious wind caught it and, like a frenzied return of service (in tennis), threw the lot into Johnny Magill's face and chest.  Fortunately, there was a bucket of water at his feet and he was able to bend down and wash most of it off quite quickly.

Most of the onlookers thought this was hilariously funny but that only heightened my embarrassment.  How do you begin to apologise to the skipper for throwing up in his face?  Luckily Johnny Magill is a really nice guy and didn't take it too badly.

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