Sunday, August 28, 2011

The sea is a harsh mistress

Not my words, many others have said them before. This morning I witnessed a shipwreck.
I took a trip into the local town Duong Dong, to explore, find a bottle of Gin, find some new accommodation and planned to have lunch. Also high on the priority list was a cheap plastic raincoat. I might have mentioned that it is wet.
The town is built around a river which exits into the ocean, actually it is the Gulf of Thailand here. Fishing boats line every inch of the river bank. The town itself is quite small, and being Sunday many businesses were shut. So I wandered the town and took pictures of boats and a small temple perched high on a rocky outcrop, overlooking the river entrance. As I wandered I noticed some men on a wall looking out to see. I thought that they may be waiting for a boat to return. When I reached them I could see that they were looking at a boat not far off the shoreline and within the breakers. It was a reasonable sized boat, maybe 150 metres long possibly longer. It was immediately obvious that the boat was in trouble, as no skipper would deliberately sail such a boat that close to shore.
The boat must have lost most of it's power as it exited the river and entered the ocean. The boat was still pointed seaward to present it's bows to the waves. It thus still had steerage and some forward propulsion. The helmsman did a magnificent job keeping the bows pointed into the waves but it was a losing battle as the boat was slowly drifting backwards towards the beach. This continued for some minutes until there was a sudden roar from the engine. I suspect the propellor had struck the sand and sheared off or the engine had been kicked out of gear maybe to prevent damage to the propellor. But it was the final straw as the next wave swung the bows to starboard and the following waves completed the effort of turning the boat broadside and then pounding it into the beach.
Fortunately the hull was flat and the waters shallow the boat remained upright and the crew could be seen still walking the decks although the waves were now breaking over the side and sending up huge sheets of water. Not a total disaster, if the weather eases up this boat should be able to be refloated.
The Bludger is reclining on his balcony, keeping dry on the outside but wet on the inside.
Nick Smith
Sent from my Acer Iconia A500 Tab

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