A bad storm is just that

Hurricane Sandy made brought memories of storms back to mind for old sailor.

To the Editor,

Like millions of others, I was glued to CNN last week as Hurricane Sandy slowly made her fateful journey up the Eastern Seaboard.

Even climate change deniers must have been startled out of their cosy little caves when the monstrous storm eventually slammed into the Jersey Shore, New York City and other states.

My mind kept flashing back to a weekend in August 1969 when I was chief mate on a bulk carrier fully laden with grain en route from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Cristobal, Panama. Hurricane Camille was in the Gulf of Mexico as we were coming down the Mississippi; we cleared the river-mouth, and anchored along with a whole fleet of other vessels.

There was simply no place to run and no place to hide.

All possible preparations were made to secure the vessel, and by the time the Category Five Camille blew over us to make landfall just a few miles to the east, we had both anchor cables paid out to the bitter end, clinging onto the thick delta mud.

Even with engines going full ahead at the height of the storm those anchors dragged, and we actually bounced along the side of a larger American freighter also at anchor.

I really believed at that time that it was game over, but quite amazingly we cleared the Lykes Lines vessel without any really significant  damage, and our anchors held.

Watching Sandy last week I thought about the recent protests against tankers that we have seen in B.C.

Do the protesters, the professional media pundits and amateur scribblers who fill columns and letters pages with hyperbolic doom and gloom about the inevitability of a disaster, have any idea what ships’ crews routinely go through to protect the environment?

A seaman might say that many of those who make the most noise couldn’t pour saltwater out of a sea boot, even with instructions printed on the heel.

Bernie Smith,


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