Don’t Ask Me About Being Lost at Sea, by Kathryn Doyle

Yeah, I survived adrift on the ocean for six months, and no, I don’t want to talk about it.

It’s really not a big deal, you guys.

It was the South Pacific, which is maybe the best ocean, or certainly up there. The weather was pretty mild most of the time.

Can you just let it go? What is your fascination with this ocean thing?

God. If we must talk about it, then fine.

I’m out there by myself for six months, really starting to appreciate some peace and quiet, working my way through a book of sudoku that happened to be on the dinghy, then bam! Picked up by a tanker, airlifted back to land, barraged by reporters. “What was it like in the boat?” “What did you use to catch rainwater?” “Is the sunburn peeling?” “On a scale of 1 to 10, how harrowing was it?”


I ate fish. The rainwater collected in my shoes. I had a good base tan, so sunburn wasn’t an issue. I’d give it maybe a 5 out of 10 in terms of harrowing.

Statistically, you’re more likely to die driving to work than lost at sea. Look it up.

What do you want me to say? The media glamorizes these things. You have your Tom Hankses and your Anne Heches and your Old Men and the Sea, all sexed up, battling the elements, sheer will to live pitted against the vast, uncaring ocean, but that’s not the reality. It’s a lot of sitting around. And looking at water.

I didn’t even lose that much weight since I was already doing fish-heavy paleo.

Was I menaced by sharks? Yes. Did benevolent whales chase the sharks away? Sure. Did I look into the eye of a certain whale and feel like I’d never known love before? Of course. But it was not. A. Big. Deal. Seriously, I bet more exciting stuff happened here while I was gone. Did Jenny ask for that raise yet? Women have to assert themselves in the workplace or they’ll never get anywhere.

Okay, yes, I admit it, I drank my own pee. There. There it is. That’s what you wanted to hear, right? I tried it. It was gross. Are you happy? I didn’t even have a bucket or anything, so I had to try to pee up into my own mouth, or while doing a handstand. A pantsless man in the middle of the ocean doing a handstand in a dighy. Embarrassing enough for you? That’s what you wanted to hear, so can we move on now? I really didn’t want to get into the pee thing.

If you don’t stop pestering me with these questions I might just set myself adrift again.


Kathryn Doyle is a writer from the town in upstate New York where Mark Twain wrote A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. The surrounding region produces some top-notch Rieslings and other aromatic whites, bold, dry, with a steely focus and natural acidity. Follow her on Twitter.

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Don’t Ask Me About Being Lost at Sea, by Kathryn Doyle