Key West: The Ferry and Seasickness

view from the Key West Express before departure--serene

view from the Key West Express before departure–serene


The early morning hours of May 8th were beautiful as we drove up Estero Boulevard along the Gulf coast toward Ft. Myers. The sun was rising and we were excited about our trip to Key West via the Key West Express, a ferry to the island. The trip would take about four hours in the comfortable three-level cruise ferry equipped with refreshments, movies, sports bar, sun chairs, and beautiful scenery of the southern Gulf of Mexico. The poem by Masefield describes the feeling as Lincoln, Anita, and I started the adventure.

Sea Fever


 John Masefield


I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea’s face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

from Ft Myers to Key West

Key West Express from Ft Myers to Key West

The first hour and a half went by smoothly. The coastline from Ft. Myers, Estero, Bonita Springs, and Naples began to fade away and finally, south of Marco Island, nothing but the sea was visible and waves. Up and down slowly and more waves, up and down waves of water, then waves of nausea, then waves of sweat. I was smart enough to bring Dramamine for the trip. I wasn’t smart enough to take it before the trip.

The details of the last two hours of the trip are not necessary for the general public. Needless to say, Anita and I were sitting on the floor, heads down, eyes closed. Lincoln wasn’t affected by the rock and roll of the boat; his years of rock and roll tour bus rides apparently good training.

So, although I started with the poem by John Masefield, the parody, Sea Sickness, by poet, Arthur Guiterman became most appropriate.

Sea Sickness


Arthur Guiterman


I must go down to the seas again, where the billows romp and reel,
So all I ask is a large ship that rides on an even keel,
And a mild breeze and a broad deck with a slight list to leeward,
And a clean chair in a snug nook and a nice, kind steward.

I must go down to the seas again, the sport of wind and tide,
As the grey wave and the green wave play leapfrog over the side.
And all I ask is a glassy calm with a bone-dry scupper,
A good book and a warm rug and a light, plain supper.

I must go down to the seas again, though there I’m a total loss,
And can’t say which is worst: the pitch, the plunge, the roll, the toss.
But all I ask is a safe retreat in a bar well tended,
And a soft berth and a smooth course till the long trip’s ended


Sunset Key across from Key West

Sunset Key across from Key West

The beautiful Sunset Key with calm waters was a rewarding end to the ferry ride across the Gulf. The waves of nausea resolved and the week of fun in Key West awaited. Lincoln was ready for the networking with friends and colleagues at the Key West Songwriters Festival and Anita and I were ready for rest and relaxation.

It was appropriate to start with poet, John Masefield, and I’ll end with him, too. His poem Trade Winds is a soothing entry for days on a tropical island.

Trade Winds

In the harbour, in the island, in the Spanish Seas,
Are the tiny white houses and the orange-trees,
And day-long, night-long, the cool and pleasant breeze
Of the steady Trade Winds blowing.There is the red wine, the nutty Spanish ale,
The shuffle of the dancers, the old salt’s tale,
The squeaking fiddle, and the soughing in the sail
Of the steady Trade Winds blowing.And o’ nights there’s fire-flies and the yellow moon,
And in the ghostly palm-trees the sleepy tune
Of the quiet voice calling me, the long low croon
Of the steady Trade Winds blowing.

Author Notes

From SALT WATER POEMS AND BALLADS, edited by John Masefield, published by The MacMillan Co., NY, © 1921, p. 54; first published in SALT-WATER BALLADS, © 1902.




About blindcaduceus

Dr. Parish is a full-time physician in Addiction Medicine and Family Medicine in Naples Florida. He is a Kentucky native and alumnus of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. His thirty years of experience has varied from non-profit and for-profit medical groups in addition to private practice. He is a member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, Thoreau Society, and life member of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society.
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