Sam approaching tusty for trip backSaturday morning, June 21, on board the Tustumena and waiting to sail from the Homer Spit to Kodiak and back, my grandson Sam looks at me and says, without sighing or rolling his sea-blue eyes, “G, I am kind of bored.” It’s raining, and we are in the solarium of the aging, austere vessel once known as the Trusty Tusty, now the Rusty Tusty (it spent a long time in dry dock last year). Think floating government building or post office.  We are approximately 21 hours away from the end of a grandmother’s idea of a fun summer vacation activity for a 10-year-old boy.

view for most of the trip to KodiakI say, “Let’s get going with the movies.” I pull my Luddite-edition Dell laptop from my back pack and dig out the five movies Sam selected the day before at Barb’s Video.  I dose us both with organic, homeopathic seasickness pills from Safeway. Vomica is an ingredient; I am not kidding. Everyone I know who’s made the trip said we wouldn’t have a problem, but the crew member who checked us in suggested otherwise, and I didn’t even ask her about it.

Sam starts watching a movie. I pull out a cross-word puzzle book I bought for my trip to Georgia in May. The puzzles are so easy I fill in the answers while I build a mental image of the creator: she’s about my age, from the South, and she’s very religious. Sam laughs out loud at The Lego Movie. He says, “I don’t get tired of watching it because it’s not animated. Every character had to be put together by hand.”

Sam lounging and laughing as ship moves1The Tusty rocks a little; the sea is a little choppy. Sam goes out on the deck to get fresh air and comes back in, wet and laughing. He spots a seal. We eat in the dining room where the crew members are cordial with an edge of government employee discouragement. The food is not bad and not expensive. We see whale spouts in the distance. Close up, a whale’s tail, a porpoise. Sam tries malt vinegar on fish and chips. “Not bad,” he says. He shows me more features on my iPhone.

life boat

Kodiak entry 2Kodiak fishing boatsSam entering powerhouseTen hours pass, fast. We see Kodiak ahead, the sky clears and rain stops. We find The Old Powerhouse restaurant where I have a salad made with raw fish and squid salad. Real-deal Japanese. Sam has apple juice because he’s still full from fish and chips and cracker jacks.

Flowers at pursar's window

guest instructions on door2We check in for the trip back to Homer. The pursar, practicing U.S. Postal Service style hospitality, hands me a key to our cabin. It’s about as big as a walk-in closet, and Sam loves it.

We settle in. More movies for him. I pull out five back issues of The New Yorker I haven’t touched since I got back from Outside. I put them aside and pull on my sleep mask. I hear Sam laughing in the bunk above me.

Sam on his bunk ship blanket labelSunday morning, I wake up about 6:30, slip out of the room and make a cup of coffee in the magic-bullet machine just outside the dining room. Back in the cabin, I sip coffee and look out window. Good golly. We’ve just spent the night at sea. Sam wakes up when the pursar announces that we’re about 45 minutes from Homer.

Just before 9:00, the Tusty docks in Homer, and Sam says, “G, This is about the most fun thing I’ve done all summer.” He points out gulls nesting in the dock structure. We did not get seasick, the Tusty did not leak or sink, and I’m ready to go again. I think Sam is too.

Copyright 2014. Genie Hambrick

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