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A Very Rough Ride

There are three ways (that I know of) for everyday people to get from Helsinki, Finland to Tallinn, Estonia.

  • One is by flight. It takes about 45 minutes and costs around $150/ticket.
  • One is by car. It takes a lot of hours, goes through Russia, requires a Russian visa, and a car. Cost – the Russian Visa alone (for Americans) is $250.
  • The third way to get to Tallinn is by boat. There are three boats available – two slow, big cruisers, which cost more money, and one fast person-only ferry. We opted for the smaller and faster person-only ferry (which I would guess seats about 250 people).

Warning – this post shares an experience of vomiting while traveling. If you are averse to such things, click here to read about visiting the Equator in Ecuador (which we did in 2010).

Helsinki Finland, Linda Line Ferry to Tallin Estonia

The Linda Line boat is very nice. Even the coach seats are nice and comfy, and they have lots of options for food and alcohol on board.

When we got on the Linda Line and got underway, the captain came over the speaker and let us know (with an announcement that was only in English) that we would arrive late into Tallinn due to the bad weather. He let us know that he would do his best, but that it was going to be a rough sea.

Not thinking too much of it (since there was nothing we could do about it anyway), Carrie pulled out her laptop. We had a lot of pictures to look through and categorize, so we started doing that.

At some point, we had to stop looking at the pictures. The boat was rocking side-to-side as well as front to back, and my stomach was doing flips as we went up the side of one wave, and down the next.

It was 10:00 PM and dark, so I wasn’t seeing, but rather feeling, the rocking and side-to-side effect of the boat being tossed about in the ocean.

Some of the waves crashed hard against the boat, causing people who were standing to be jolted side-to-side, and tossing items off the shelf in the nearby duty-free shop.

I assume this is normal for the north sea. It is, after all, the ocean.

I closed my eyes, took some deep breaths, and drifted into a sleep. I don’t know how long I was asleep, but I woke up to a startled sound from Carrie. I looked across the seats to see my bag falling out of the seat across from me, where I had stored it for the trip.

I reached out and caught it as it was falling to the floor.

Maybe I had made some sound when she first made her startled sound, but for whatever reason, Carrie then asked me, “Did I scare you?”

“No,” I said. “I was asleep.”

But I think I had gotten startled out of my sleep with a little jolt of adrenaline.

And then it happened.

That mouth-watering feeling and churning in your gut that you don’t want to believe, but also know that (unless conditions change dramatically,) the next event is almost inevitable.

I was going to be sick – and soon.

It’s been a long time since I’ve thrown up. So long that the last time I remember throwing up was actually on my 21st birthday (which was sometime around 5 years ago… for those keeping track).

“Where’s the bathroom?” I absent-mindedly asked Carrie (as if she would know any better than me, this being her first time on the boat too).

“I don’t know.”

On my way to find the bathroom, I noticed that several people were already sitting in their seats, looking green and throwing up into plastic bags they were holding. (I later discovered that I had almost gotten to the bathroom, but then had decided I’d gone the wrong way and turned around.) Seeing or smelling others being sick is never a good sight when you’re working to keep your own stomach calm.

I knew at that point that I wasn’t going to be able to find the bathroom before throwing up.

But there was a trash can nearby, which I knelt down next to. I grabbed on to a hand rail for support so that I would be able to stay in one place as I threw up into the trash can.

A couple of moment later, Carrie, who normally really enjoys being in a rocking and bouncing boat (she actually does enjoy it – it’s strange to me), stumbled her way up the aisle and knelt beside the trash can. Because of experiences we’ve had together, I know and expect that Carrie has an iron stomach, so I assumed that Carrie was coming to see if I was okay.

Rather, she was coming to be sea-sick herself.

In my super in-depth reflections on this experience (an hour later, after we were in Tallinn and on a bus headed for our hotel), I felt a bit bad and apologized to Carrie.

The optimally placed trash can we used was one of those foot-pedal types; the kind of trash cans where you step on a foot pedal and the top pops open. I had held the top open for myself, but just as Carrie was using it, a wave hit the boat and caused me to lose hold of the lid (which I had been holding for her).

This meant that while Carrie was throwing up, she got smacked in the back of the head with the lid of the trash can.

We had a good laugh about that… later.

Knowing what I know now, I would get from Helsinki to Tallinn exactly the same way – just maybe we’d pay more attention to the water conditions and travel at a different time (if possible).
Perhaps we would also travel during the day, when we could see more. Supposedly, it’s a quite beautiful trip.

Thank-you to the captain and crew of the Linda Line, who took care of us and made sure we arrived at our destination safely, even on very rough seas.

Carrie and I have shared a lot of unique experiences in the past two years, but now I’m fairly certain that we’re close to having shared everything, including the same trash can for sea-sickness on a boat from Helsinki, Finland to Tallinn, Estonia.

2 thoughts on “A Very Rough Ride

  1. Brian

    Wow… that’s a crazy story and quite the post! Gheez I wish I was there! NO WAY! Sorry you had to go through that. Very interesting to read though.

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