To quote Virgil, experto credite: I believe one who has had the experience.
to do the same in most matters; only listen to those that had gone
before, or only offer others advice based on my own trial and
errors. I didn't think you should recommend anything you hadn't
tried. I still don't, but when it comes to weathering storms I don't
think it can be applied. You have to be your own Captain, whether
it's of an unseaworthy ship or of one that will withstand whipping
winds and thrashing waves. One that will either end up at the bottom
of the sea or in far sunnier climes.
been in a rickety ship, leaving Singapore en route to Australia, that
took water on board; the resident rats scampering like a chained
prison gang in the opposite direction to the encroaching sea, the
travellers hastily following their scurried passage. Luckily, the
ship did not sink. That time. It arrived a little behind schedule and
was indeed more than a little waterlogged as were its soggy
passengers. Anchored in port however, it was not detained long; just
a few days until a further patch job was complete, when it was
considered fit to once again ride the high seas. I watched its
leave-taking, conscious still of its creaks and groans as harmless
waves licked its unsound structure. Health and safety as we know it
today was not in force then, but perhaps in risk there's adventure.
At least for the hardened crew, I'm not sure the new influx of
on-board passengers would have agreed. Those who are more used to dry
land should never mess with tumultuous Nature.
mini-cruises have, by comparison, been tedious. You reach your
destination cantankerous, only to realise that in a few hours you
have the return voyage to make. You feel the swell all right in your
stifling cabin with its smaller-than-average-sized bunks, whilst
without this haven fellow travellers mill about, attempting to find
their sea legs or stuffing their mouths. Each with their own bored
expression, that same face mirrored everywhere, even when the
entertainment falsely tries to jolly you along.
are a more riotous affair. Short-lived with amusing (sometimes
drunken) antics. A good knees-up can be had, particularly if you're
on your way to Ireland. Clapping, foot-stamping and fiddles, and a
few Guinness cans tossed around; the musicians' behaviour only
slightly tempered by hyperactive children racing from one end of the
ferry to the other as their parents abscond their normal parental
duties; and you always get two trying to imitate Jack and Rose from
the Oscar winning film 'Titanic'. Arms outstretched at the prow of
the boat caterwauling the Celine Dion love theme.
none of these sailing arrangements can compete with traversing the
Bay of Biscay, as then your fate doesn't lie in your conveyance but
in that body of water, where its moods are renowned for their
erratic-ism and the skies are pulled down to meet them. Tempests when
they strike in this region can be vicious, as venomous as a deadly
viper's bite when death seems more in sight than an antidote to its
venom. The calmness that follows such a day and a night comes
suddenly as if the atmosphere had never been poisoned. The boat that
violently lurched now gently sways, perfectly in rhythm with the
placated current, though reminders are given that the same agitation
could easily be stirred. Its repose broken to unleash more
to cower in such storms, hide from the elements whether I be on land
or at sea. I abhorred thunder and was scared as well as in awe of the
electrical charge that split the skies in front and above me. Those
streaks of light could destroy or animate life as thunder booms and
rumbles overhead, but when rain begins to fall in heavy sheets its
concentrated energy dissipates. Disperses this otherworldly
phenomenon to other corners of the globe, moving away until it's
barely heard and there's only the sight and sound of rain.
Afterwards, everything is washed and green, refreshed, including the
sea which turns glassy after such forcible conditions.
issued by nature and in life will come and should be indulged: met,
yet not fought.
Picture Credit: Nelson's Ship in a Bottle, 2010, Yinka Shonibare. Photo taken by Stephen White.