What do swashbuckling adventures and dill pickles have in common? More than you think!

by Marsha Canham    

When an author starts thinking about the next book, the first few things that pop into mind is:  where should I set the story, what era, was there any well known event happening that can be used as a backdrop like, oh, a little war or something. As it happens, seven out of my sixteen historical romances either take place on the high seas or have some element of water involved. 

95% of The Wind and The Sea takes place on board a ship which is a little odd considering I get sea sick if I stay in the bathtub too long.  I put it down to frigate-envy.  I wish I could tolerate being on board a boat of any kind without hanging my head over the rails, but since I can't in the physical sense, I take full advantage of it in the mental sense.  

When I'm writing, *I* am the one climbing the rigging lines of a ship under full sail in Across A Moonlit Sea. *I* am the one asleep on a hammock under the stars on board the Iron Rose.  It was fun and satisfied some of that high seas swashbuckling wanderlust feeling...but it just wasn't the same as taking a cruise or hopping on board one of the bazillion Jolly Roger excursions they have in the Caribbean. It's not that I didn't *want* to join the rum-soaked vacationers while they watched pirates do battle. I had tried it once, loaded up with Dramamine, and...well...it wasn't pretty.   

One fine sunny day in Florida, however, a friend invited my (now ex)husband and I on a little cruise down the inland waterway. No waves, he promised. Smooth sail. And he had a big jar of dill pickles at the ready.   Dill pickles, you say?   I said the same thing.  But apparently, something in the dill pickles prevents sea sickness. My friend's girlfriend was like me. She used to get deathly ill on boats of any kind, and she was told about the dill pickles by a friend of hers. So, with much scepticism, I snorfed down a couple of big fat dill pickles and bravely ventured forth. 

It was a nifty old boat, almost what I would call a yacht, straight out of the 1940s, when I think it was built. Lots of brass and wood trim. Two fair sized bedrooms, a bathroom with a shower, and a galley.  The latter was loaded with all kinds of lunch goodies, wine, beer, and margaritas. Normally just the sight of food when my stomach is in water-lurch mode would be enough to send me over the side. But guess what? Noooo rumblings.  No head-spinning.  No sensation of knees buckling and tummy flying upward into the throat.   

The dill pickles worked.  

I managed to not only enjoy the cruise down the waterway, but we sailed over to a little island and rummaged for shells. On the way back, after a huge lunch shrimp and crab and jugs of margaritas, the captain of the boat even let me drive it back up the waterway.  Apparently he had trouble with night vision and turned practically blind after dusk.  Since the other three on board had enjoyed the margaritas way more than me, I was nominated to do the steering and docking. I'm not sure when dill pickles were invented, but I'm sure they've been around for a while. The next time I'm putting a landlubber on board a tall ship, I may just have to haul out the pickle barrel 


  1. Marsha - what a fun post! And I had no idea about the dill pickles! I wonder if there is a connection as to why pregnant women crave them? hmm...

    I know that if you press on your wrist it does help sea sickness - i learned that from the Xena TV series. heh ;D

    And how much fun you must have writing about swashbuckling adventures!

    Happy Independence Day!


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