Mauling of the Australis
(The Anarchic Summer of 2010)
I sat in a chair, as if I was made of iron, as I looked onto the other faces, those in peril, —lest I join them, I lightly smiled to my wife feeling safer that way; my wife was to my side, arm tight against mine, as a thousand tons of Drake water surged across the bow; that being the front of the ship. Looking straight ahead, at the heavy iron door now locked tight, on the port side of the ship, or larboard side, the ship's left side, knowing right outside that door, the nearness of the Drake Passage was 19,000-feet deep; in essence, miles deep. The starboard side, or right side, had life-lines rigged, I would imagined for the sailors that may have to deal with what is considered the gustiest headland, or cape in the world; a better phrase might be: the inhospitable tip of the continent. This being the end of the Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire; an ancient name for back thousands of years, the natives of this region had once sought sight of it from a distance, would have seen campfires everywhere dotted throughout the terrain of the mountains areas, and so the name stuck).
I was no Midshipmen, but I knew enough, not to tread outside the inner part of the ship, that being the open aired decks, I would have gotten a prime soaking. Although I did venture to the bow of the ship, on other occasions when the sea was rough, but not too rough, to feel the force of the wind and waves, but not this time. I suppose for the crew it was merely a day's work, as it was for the ship. Actually now that I think of it, I never really know where the crew were housed, there didn't seem to be any forecastle, on the upper deck, towards the bow where it usually would be. So I never got to see them coming or going, fore or aft of me, for the most part. Or perhaps I missed it; the ship was rather new and what is customary today on ships, perhaps is quite different from the old but huge clippers and windjammers, and galleys of yesteryear, and this was my second cruise, my first being on still waters in the Galapagos, in which an Olympic swimming pool had coarser waters: this was some eight-years prior, on a similar ship of this type: a small cruise ship that is, with a rather flat bottom.
I was in a way, praying for more weather like this, I knew if I said what I was thinking someone would wring my neck. But now four years later I got the gumption to say it. Just the same, the sea settled down, and I went to get a bite to eat. And my wife, well, that's another story, she was nearly seasick the whole voyage, and when not in bed, she was with me with a woozy head, and this did not help, except for when she went to some remote island with a few crew members, and investigated the beaver environment, that day I took a five hour siesta, and she had commented, "What a relief getting off that ship, to get my head back in balance, and my body into a more stable equilibrium."