I wonder if any one has ever written down on paper his sea-sick reveries. There are “Evening Reveries” “Reveries of a Bachelor,” and ” Sea-side Reveries” in abundance ; but no one, so far as I know, has ever even attempted to do his Sea-sick Reveries literary justice. It is a strange oversight, and I would respectfully suggest to any aspiring writer who has the revery faculty, that there is here an unworked field of boundless extent.
One trip across the North Pacific in a small brig will furnish an inexhaustible supply of material. (Loc.218)
Mahood pretends that he is all right, and plays checkers with the captain with an air of assumed tranquillity which approaches heroism, but he is observed at irregular intervals to go suddenly and unexpectedly on deck, and to return every time with a more ghastly and rueful countenance.
When asked the object of these periodical visits to the quarter-deck, he replies, with a transparent affectation of cheerfulness, that he only goes up ” to look at the compass and see how she’s heading.” I am surprised to find that “looking at the compass” is attended with such painful and melancholy emotions as those expressed in Mahood’s face when he comes back ; but he performs the self-imposed duty with unshrinking faithfulness, and relieves us of a great deal of anxiety about the safety of the ship. The Captain seems a little negligent, and sometimes does not observe the compass once a day ; but Mahood watches it with unsleeping vigilance.(Loc. 230)
BRIG OLGA, 800 MILES N. W. OF SAN FRANCISCO.
Sunday, July 6th, 1865.
The monotony of our lives was relieved night before last, and our sea-sickness aggravated, by a severe gale of wind from the north-west, which compelled us to lie to for twenty hours under one close-reefed maintopsail.
The storm began late in the afternoon, and by nine o’clock the wind was at its height and the sea rapidly rising. The waves pounded like Titanic sledge-hammers against the vessel’s quivering timbers ; the gale roared a deep diapason through the cordage ; and the regular thud’, thud, thud of the pumps, and the long melancholy whistling of the wind through the blocks, filled our minds with dismal foreboding, and banished all inclination for sleep.
Great massive mounds of blue water piled themselves up in the concealment of the low hanging rainclouds, rushed out upon us with white foaming crests ten feet above the quarter-deck, and broke into clouds of blinding, strangling spray over the forecastle and galley, careening the ship until the bell on the quarter-deck struck and water run in over the lee gunwale. It did not exactly correspond with my preconceived ideas of a storm, but I was obliged to confess that it had many of the characteristic features of the real phenomenon. The wind had the orthodox howl through the rigging, the sea was frilly up to the prescribed standard, and the vessel pitched and rolled in a way to satisfy the most critical taste. The impression of sublimity, however, which I had anticipated was almost entirely lost in the sense of personal discomfort. (Loc. 256)
A man who has just been pitched over a skylight by one of the ship’s eccentric movements, or drenched to the skin by a burst of spray, is not in a state of mind to contemplate sublimity ; and after going through a varied and exhaustive course of such treatment, any romantic notions which he may previously have entertained with regard to the ocean’s beauty and sublimity are pretty much knocked and drowned out of him. Rough weather makes short work of poetry and sentiment. (Loc. 250)
We all professed to be enthusiastic supporters of the Tapleyan philosophy -jollity under all circumstances ; but we failed most lamentably in reconciling our practice with our principles. There was not the faintest suggestion of jollity in the appearance of the four motionless, prostrate figures against the wall. Sea-sickness had triumphed over philosophy. (Loc. 208)
I remember speculating curiously upon the probability of Noah’s having ever been sea-sick ; wondering how the seagoing qualities of the ark would compare with those of our brig, and whether she had our brig’s uncomfortable way of pitching about in a heavy swell. If she had-and I almost smiled at the idea–what an unhappy experience it must have been for the poor animals! (Loc 213)
BRIG OLGA, AT SEA, July 27th, 1865.
I used often to wonder, while living in San Francisco, where the chilling fogs that toward night used to drift in over Lone Mountain and through the Golden Gate, cams from. I have discovered the laboratory. For the past two weeks we have been sailing continually in a dense wet gray cloud of mist, so thick at times as almost to hide the top-gallant yards, and so penetrating as to find its way even into our little after-cabin, and condense in minute drops upon our clothes. It rises, I presume, from the warns water of the great Pacific “Gulf Stream” across which we are passing, and whose vapor is condensed into fog by the cold north-west winds from Siberia. It is the most disagreeable feature of our voyage.
Our life has finally settled down into a quiet monotonous routine of eating, smoking, watching the barometer, and sleeping twelve hours a day. The gale with which we were favored two weeks ago afforded a pleasant thrill of temporary excitement and a valuable topic of conversation ; but we have all come to coincide in the opinion of the Major, that it was a ” curious thing,” and are anxiously awaiting the turning up of something else. One cold, rainy, foggy day succeeds another, with only an occasional variation in the way of a head wind or a flurry of snow. Time, of course, hangs heavily on our hands. We are waked about half-past seven in the morning by the second mate, a funny phlegmatic Dutchman, who is always shouting to us to ” turn out ” and see an imaginary whale, which he conjures up regularly before breakfast, and which invariably disappears before we can get on deck, as mysteriously as “Moby Dick.” The whale, however, fails to ” draw ” after a time, and he resorts to an equally mysterious and eccentric sea serpent, whose wonderful appearance he describes in comical broken English, with the vain hope that we will crawl out into the raw foggy atmosphere to look at it. We never do. Bush opens his eyes, yawns, and keeps a sleepy watch of the breakfast table, which is situated in the Captain’s cabin forward. I cannot see it from my berth, so I watch Bush.
Presently we hear the hump-backed steward’s footsteps on the deck above our heads, and, with a quick succession of little bumps, half a dozen boiled potatoes come rolling down the stairs of the companion-way into the cabin. They are the forerunners of breakfast. Bush watches the table, and I watch Bush more and more intently as the steward brings in the eatables ; and by the expression of Bush’s face, I judge whether it be worth while to get up or not. If he groans and turns over to the wall, I know that it is only hash, and I echo his groan and follow his example ; but if he smiles and gets up, I do likewise, with the full assurance of fresh mutton-chops or rice-curry and chicken.
After breakfast the Major smokes a cigarette and looks meditatively at the barometer, the Captain gets his old accordion and squeezes out the Russian National Hymn, while Bush and I go on deck to inhale a few breaths of pure fresh fog, and ” chaff” the second mate about his sea serpent. In reading, playing checkers, fencing, and climbing about the rigging when the weather permits, we pass away the day, as we have already passed away twenty and must pass twenty more before we can hope to see land. (Loc.259)