Recollections from the Sea: 17 Reasons Why Snorkeling Is Not for Me


Posted on July 6, 2014 by Blake Leath

(1) Proper snorkeling begins at dawn.  That's insane.  This is supposed to be a "vacation."  I wouldn't get up at sunrise if our house was on fire and Frank the Fireman stood over my bed threatening me with his 4' axe. 


(2) Showering prior is illogical, and any scenario in which showering is a bad idea is a bad scenario. 


(3) To board the boat with 60 strangers, one must remove his flip-flops.  For an OCD germaphobe, this is a mountainous problem riddled with red flags all across its peak.  [Don't even get me started on the problems associated with sharing recycled snorkels and masks.  It reminds me of Ms. Hightower’s 4th Grade Music Class, after which thirty of us plopped our plastic piccolos in a small bucket of water for the class following ours.] 


(4) Climbing the stairs up from the teensy galley, I accidentally strike my skull so hard on the steel crossbeam that I hear four vertebrae crack.  I am now dizzy, nauseous, and sporting a splitting headache and nice goose egg. 


(5) My only breakfast drink choice is a Yoohoo.  Chocolate milk should not come in an aluminum can and contain water in lieu of milk. 


(6) My allergies are so bad transitioning from Texas to here that I down generic Benadryl along with Dramamine, and because "Captain Martin" has scared the bejezus out of us regarding the fates of those miserable landlubbers unfortunate enough to become seasick. 


(7) Time for sunscreen.  Wow, I hate sunscreen.  Applying it gives me the heebie-jeebies.  Slimy, sticky, cold, and stings.  Who makes this stuff?  The Agent Orange Consumer Products Division? 


(8) After 90 minutes of sputtering across the sea, battering wave after wave as if this were Pong, we arrive unremarkable big brown rock.  But apparently, one so treasured that if we touch the coral we shall be put to death, and if we bother the one lone bird circling the alleged "bird preserve" atop the vegetation-free big brown rock we shall be put to death a second time.  Electrocuted, surely, but sans water like the pitiable Eduard Delacroix in The Green Mile.


(9) After some lite instruction from two different men, we are shown opposing ways to put on our snorkel masks, which amounts to this: 'mount' it from the front or rear, just don't drink the seawater, or you shall become sick and/or die.  By now, I'm convinced that dying would not be so bad after all.  Really, really convinced.  Preferred, perhaps. 


(10) After awkwardly stripping down with all these wonderful people, stumbling down the rickety, wet ladder with fins in one hand, sunglasses in the other [it's bright, y'all!], slathered in Crisco, and gasping for air within this contraption-of-death gripping my face, I eventually 'fall' into the gorgeous blue sea, only to think [and perhaps scream like a little girl], "It's FREEZING!"  This 10th eventuality had not crossed my mind earlier.


(11) After peeking at the admittedly beautiful sea bottom for a few seconds, all bets are off: I'm guzzling seawater, my mask is choking me, my little yellow floaties are spinning around this way and that, my sunglasses areof courseuseless, and I'm being kicked by strangers.  I eventually turn in my snorkel and one of my two life vest devices, resorting to just swim around like a dignified normal person for a few stolen minutes before snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  It occurs to me that my "I coulda been a Navy SEAL if only I'd just chosen to" is a silly and childhood delusion.  Had there been a bell, I woulda knocked over the 72-year-old woman in the neoprene knee brace to ring it first. 


(12) Unexpectedly carried one additional meter by a malevolent wave, I gently but surely rack myself on the base of the steel ladder and, for a brief moment, the drawstring securing my ordinary yet necessary swim-trunks gets tangled in and snagged by the 3" Cotter pin attaching the bottom rung to the ladder itself.  I panic momentarily, but do survive and remain clothed.  By this point, admittedly, the prospect of nakedness is not even a Top 5 concern. 


(13) I, along with three score of other drippy, disoriented humans slipping to and fro like Bambi on ice eventually re-board our vessel of hell, but we are SHOCKED to learn that, no, we are not going home yet, we are moving to "another spot" for 3.5 more hours.  Dear lord, take me now. 


(14) After a comical half-day at a second location no different from the first [water is water, rock is rock, fish is fish, bird is bird, sick is sick, headache is headache, sunburn is sunburn], the Captain announces we are heading home.  Praise Jesus.  We eat salad, rice, succulent teriyaki chicken breast, and a buttery roll under the noonday sun on a white catamaran, jostling for 15 coveted yet thinly padded seats, leaving 45 unfortunate souls to eat sitting cross-legged on their derrières, the equivalent of picnicking on the floor of a hotel shower.  [Had we remained another 2-3 days, I'm convinced I could have formed a powerful union among the seven or eight people I noticed grimacing alongside me.  "Germaphobes unite!  Cleanliness for all!  Mutineers Against the Ship Unsanitary!"  I would have listed, "You confiscated our shoes, without notice, dehumanizing us from the get-go" among our first of many deep-seated grievances.]


(15) Captain Martin lied to me.  He promised we were going home after this second detour to the second dirt clod.  We are not.  We are headed for "a surprise."  Good grief.  The LAST thing I need is another surprise.  I'm still coming to terms with the knot on my skull and the fact that I knowingly PAID for this misery.  With money.  The surprise amounts to circling an area where, we are told, magical green sea turtles live.  We see no such creatures, doubt they were ever there, and I'm now wondering if the next surprise will be a snipe or unicorn hunt or Bigfoot expedition back at the harbor. 


(16) For our final 90 minutes back to shore, we are subjected to "merch sales."  As if I'd want to be doing laundry three years from now, come across an overpriced T-shirt commemorating this fiasco, and think to myself, "Oh, what a lovely day that was.  If only I could relive it all over again."  Or just die instead. 


(17) We are absolutely rocked by roiling, rollicking waves, chaffed by gale force winds, and blistered by the sun as we tack our way to and fro into what the captain brags is "the second windiest port in the world, second only to one in New Zealand."  ["Yeah, and that's why no one in his right mind would live here, you martyr," I mumble to no one in particular.  The Darwin Awards are coming, and I nominate every last one o' you.]


Eventually, it is over, and our indignity finally ends when they allow us to collect our shoes from a steamy, communal rubber bin, but not before proclaiming, "If you've had as wonderful a day as we have, be sure and tip Eric, Josiah, Mario, and your other hosts."  Yeah, that'll happen.  Just as soon as I find my wallet in this asylum.  Stockholm Syndrome notwithstanding, these are nice guys, but at this point I just wanna be able to stand on land and die with my flip-flops on.


The shower back at our hotel takes a good two hours, as such showers do.


Gosh, it felt good to be sparkling clean, dry, Gold Bond powdered and to eat dinner with family and friends in a place with white tablecloths and fine china.


On vacation, knowing these are only first world nuisances, it's still nice to celebrate the 4th of July and not worry whether one will survive the day or not.


Long live land.