Saturday, November 24, 2007

It Went To Davey Jones' Locker

The m/v Explorer, what you might call a small cruise ship, hit some ice on Friday and sank near the South Shetland Islands, not far from Antarctica. It was designed for rough going, but not many ships can survive a good whack with thick ice.

It’s now in Davey Jones’ Locker, as the sailors of old called it. Where the name comes from is anyone’s guess and anyone’s explanation. St. David and the Bible’s Jonah who was not supposed to be on a ship that nearly sank and was tossed off? Maybe the Welsh sea god Dewi, plus the British sea deity Shoney?

It matters little where it came from; when you have gone to Davey Jones’ Locker, it’s all over. Luckily, the passengers and crew all survived hours in open lifeboats (cold open lifeboats) before being rescued; the ship was not so fortunate and went down on her beam end like, if you remember the pictures, the Andrea Doria.

There you are, pretty near the end of the world, just above the Antarctic Circle, in an area where there is no land to break up the ocean’s swells at 60 degrees south latitude (the opposite of Anchorage and halfway through Hudson Bay and the lower part of Greenland). You’re in an open boat and have been for four hours.

Then you see salvation. It’s going to be a long trip home and you won’t get there for a while, but at least you’re alive and will be in a warm ship in half an hour or less. Life could be worse – in fact, it just was. You have put a lot of things in perspective.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That cruise was an adventure of a lifetime and turned out (I would imagine) a life changing adventure

November 26, 2007 12:23 PM  
Anonymous ColdJoshVail said...

That must have been one huge hit!

These ships are built with double bottoms, which if the hull is fractured, the water will not rise above the tank tops. Ice breakers have 2 1/2" steel plates up forward. There is a water tight bulkhead betweeen the fore peak and the no.1 hatch. Each succeeding hatch has also a WTB and finally another one between the after pump room and the last hatch, and also between the pump room and the engine room.

This ship went tidal, so the hit must've been ferocious.

November 27, 2007 7:08 AM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

I think it tore out the bottom. It was not a double-hulled ship, just double-bottom and you know what ice can do to steel: can opener.

November 27, 2007 3:16 PM  
Anonymous ColdJoshVail said...

Which means that it hit above the bilge keel, and higher than the tank tops.

Those things will really spoil or at least taint a cruise.

November 28, 2007 4:31 PM  

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