Someone has raised an interesting discussion about how one might experience these waves closer to the merging BHs. (Let's assume we're in a heavily-shielded spaceship that will protect us from all EM radiation and other effects except gravity.) First, how big? My back of napkin calculations suggest that, at a distance of one light year, a strategically-placed LIGO Mark II might detect a distortion of as much as 10cm. (We on Earth are detecting a distortion of 10-19m. LIGO Mark II, at one billionth the distance, the distortion should be a billion billion (1018) times as powerful. So LMII should detect 10-1m distortion?) Second. If that passed through you, would you simply feel a pull of 10cm, or would the shift happen at the speed of light, and turn you into a cloud of atoms? By the equivalence principle, would you experience high acceleration? Well, I guess, yes, but one every atom simultaneously.