I would not like to be under the sea
Is it un-Australian to be scared of the ocean? If so, I’m a traitor of the worst kind.
As New Year’s Eve countdowns by carefree, salt-encrusted water rats echoed around our beach resorts, I was thinking of the Poseidon Adventure: “... five, four, three, two, one, Happy New… Oh, Christ, a tidal wave!”... and the passengers who are having the most sex, drinking the most, laughing the loudest and having all the fun die horribly.
Aussie surf champ Stephanie Gilmore considers the sea a refuge from nutcases with iron bars - but really it is a cold and forbidding place.
It’s not only deep, averaging nearly four kilometres down, it’s even called THE DEEP.
I’m not just scared of dying in it but petrified of entering that deep dark void. In the scenes from the Poseidon Adventure (both of them) I don’t fear for the people hanging from the chandeliers or falling 50 metres from the top of a Christmas tree into a glass fixture, but the people who will be swamped by the dark (oh shudder) ocean.
And not so dark that you don’t find yourself wondering if that’s a piece of seaweed there or an unblinking black eye. And what’s that white bit: a fin, a set of serrated teeth? And if you survive the carnivores of the sea there is the slow descent to the dark depths; to lie on the ocean floor never to be found. It’s an ironic bastard too: where else can you die of thirst in 1.3 billion cubic kilometres of water?
I nearly drowned once (in the days before Bondi Rescue) off Bondi Beach. Noticing eventually that no other swimmer had ventured out I began to swim towards those frollicking in the shallows.
After several vigorous strokes I realised I was slowly being drawn away from the shore. The small blue gap between me and the other swimmers began to look like a fatal one, as did the brown one over by the sewerage outlet. Eventually some laconic bloke dragged me out of the rip.
On the beach afterwards he asked me if I was alright, but I could feel his contempt dripping on me like his 30+. And how come ironmen and women never get stuck in rips while swimming for the buoy a kilometre offshore?
And for crying out loud who was responsible for making the film Titanic a love story (and boy-man DiCaprio as a serious love interest)? Throughout the film I was thinking only of the people who would soon be dropping into the frozen North Atlantic and the sunken staircase covered in silt and molluscs.
The largest cruise ship in the world, The Allure Of The Seas, is 360 metres long, weighs 225,000 gross tonnes, and can carry 8,565 passengers and crew with a total area of 25 hectares. It has 24 restaurants, a boardwalk, nightclub, jazz and comedy clubs, a shopping promenade and a theatre with the Broadway production of Chicago. And while sitting in 361 million sq km of water it still insists on having 21 swimming pools, a floating park, 2 wave surfing machines and an ice rink.
Now while I’m tempted to take a cruise in one of these things I cannot help thinking they’re an abomination.
“Hey ocean, you’re not going to stop us doing whatever we want whenever we want,” they seem to taunt. But someone should remind them that on average at least two rather large ships disappear somewhere in the world’s oceans every week.
It is assumed that massive seas are to blame. There have been eyewitness accounts of huge waves rising from perfectly still waters, completely vertical like enormous slabs of black marble, and waveless at their top. The sea contains powerful forces and all sorts of fluid dynamics that scientists can’t fully explain.
Rupert Forsyth-Jenkins calls out to his wife waxing herself in the Allure’s deluxe bathroom: “Portia, did you hear the delightful news that we’ve retained the Ashes? Just popping out on to the balcony to take in the beautiful view”, seconds before taking in a monster tidal wave. Portia would have drowned too if she hadn’t first been impaled on the (complimentary) baby grand piano.
For anyone contemplating a trip on the Allure Of The Seas I offer this from a review: “There will be little to celebrate in Turku, Finland. The shipyard has no more work after Allure and half of its 3300 employees have already been laid off”.
So there were blokes working on the ship, hammering and welding, knowing they would soon be sacked? I suggest you take a room well above the waterline and if you hear anything that sounds like rushing water - do the Australian thing: abandon ship and jump into the ocean.
I’ll be on the balcony, cowering.
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