“Thank God for Dramamine.”
That’s just the type of thought that crosses your mind — it crossed mine, at least — when you step onto a small boat bound for a big ocean.
Anyone who’s prone to motion sickness is likely familiar with Dramamine, the little white pills that can calm your stomach and tame your equilibrium when you take on certain activities, like airplane flights, roller coasters and, yes, boat rides in the ocean. The pills seem to mostly accomplish this by knocking you out. If I take two Dramamine before I step on an airplane, I can sleep through a whole cross-country flight. Sure, I miss getting that little bag of pretzels, but it’s worth it.
One thing Dramamine can’t do, however, is repel sharks.
Hold on a second, I’ll explain.
Last week, my family and I went down to Edisto Beach, just south of Charleston, for one last summer excursion before school starts back. An August Edisto run has become an annual tradition for us. We get together with another family, longtime friends of ours, and rent a house just off Palmetto Boulevard, a short walk to the ocean. It’s typically a week filled with swimming and bike riding and movie watching and plowing through mystery novels while baking in the sun as the kids play in the surf. And there are breakfasts at the SeaCow and evening time Lowcountry boils and scoops of mint chocolate chip down at Island Video and Ice Cream. It’s an almost idyllic way to wrap up a Southern summer, and my daughter is particularly fond of the annual tradition.
But this year saw a new wrinkle. Midway through the week, my wife arranged for a boat to take us from the marina in Edisto over to Otter Island, a 2,000-acre expanse that’s protected by the state Department of Natural Resources and is part of the St. Helena Sound Heritage Preserve. It’s essentially an untouched island — a triangle bordered by the Ashepoo River, the South Edisto River and the Atlantic Ocean — where you can spot wildlife and find amazing seashells and lounge on the beach in almost total peace.
The only problem, at least for me, was the whole “riding in a small chartered boat out across the Atlantic Ocean for half an hour each way.” I’m not a boat guy. I don’t have my sea legs, and I darn sure don’t have my sea stomach.
And so, I turned to my little white friend, Dramamine. The problem was, I wanted the protection from motion sickness, but I didn’t want to be drowsy when we were over on Otter Island. So, I washed the pill down with a Red Bull. I would, uh, not recommend anyone else doing that.
But, it worked. Pretty soon we were skidding across the ocean waters, headed to Otter Island on a small vessel driven by a fellow named Capt’n Cooke. (His business card literally said “Capt’n Cooke.”) The kids were having a blast, whooping and hollering like they were on their way into a high seas battle with Jack Sparrow and the Black Pearl. I, meanwhile, was managing to not hurl.
Part of that was aided by conversation with Capt’n Cooke, a longtime Edisto resident with what had to be a permanent tan and a Lowcountry accent thicker than a jar of honey. He was a retired game warden, and seemed to know every river, creek, tributary and backwater in the area.
As we arrived at Otter Island, the Capt’n pulled the boat right up to a sandy embankment where we could hop off. As we stepped onto the sand, right in an area where the ocean met with a wide, marshy tributary, the Capt’n offered, in his Deep South accent, “This is a perfect spot for the children to swim. Just perfect. They can jump right off the sand bank into the water here.”
It did look like a good swimming hole. But, just then, about 25 yards away, we saw a big splash, then a fin cut through the water.
“What was that?” we wondered.
“Well, that was a shark,” came the answer from the good Capt’n.
So maybe it wasn’t such a great swimming hole after all. Granted, if you get in the ocean, anywhere, you could encounter a shark. But, in this case, we spotted one, and while my cocktail of Dramamine and Red Bull might have fought off motion sickness, it would probably prove useless for fighting off Jaws.
I think I’ll stick with my beach chair and mystery novel next time.