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Bloviating Zeppelin: Your Worst Movie Nightmare

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Your Worst Movie Nightmare

Of course, something even remotely nightmarish like this only occurs in film; "The Poseidon Adventure," "Poseidon," "A Night To Remember," "Titanic," "Open Water" and "Open Water 2," et al.

The last passenger ship to actually sink due to an iceberg strike was the RMS Titanic on April 14th of 1912 with a loss of 1,595 souls. Other than that sole event, things like that simply don't occur. Right?

Wrong. A ship sank Friday in frigid Antarctic waters after striking a submerged iceberg, though all 154 passengers and crew were sucessfully evacuated prior to the sinking:

The ship took on water quickly," (passenger Paola Palavecino) was quoted by the Argentine news agency Diarios y Noticias as saying in a call from the (rescue ship) NordNorge (a Norwegian liner).

The 75-metre-long Explorer was carrying 91 passengers, nine expedition staff members and a crew of 54. It was completing an ecological tour of Antarctica when the accident took place around midnight Eastern time Friday, about 850 kilometres southeast of Ushuaia, the southernmost Argentine city.

"The ship ran into some ice. It was submerged ice and the result was a hole about the size of a fist in the side of the hull so it began taking on water. . .but quite slowly," Hayes said.

Hours after the incident, the Chilean navy confirmed that the cruise ship had sunk.

G.A.P. Adventures, a Toronto-based company (and owner of the Explorer, a Liberian-registered ship) offered tourists a unique 10-day trip which departed November 11th from Ushuaia, Argentina, then wound through the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands. The cost was $4,895 per passenger. Frankly, it sounds like a trip I'd love to have taken myself, assuming I'd stay dry and the ship completely vertical throughout its voyage.

“Experience a voyage of a lifetime to a land where penguins rub shoulders with seals and orcas and whales are often seen plying the icy waters,” G.A.P. says on its Web site. The newest G.A.P. company update is here, regarding Explorer. Inquiries for American passengers are to be made via

So imagine this scenario:

You're on the M/S Explorer, a 246-foot passenger ship (built in 1969, and possessing, you are told, a reinforced hull to protect against ice penetration) engaged in a summer cruise of Antarctica, near Bransfield Strait off King George Island.

During nighttime hours, your small ship encounters pack ice and then very dense ice, 60 miles off the Antarctic coast. Your fellow passengers consist of 12 Canadians, 17 Dutch, 10 Australians, 24 Britons and 13 Americans (excluding yourself). You are awakened from your sleep, told to gather a minimal amount of belongings (if any) and report immediately to your lifeboat station with your vest. The call to abandon ship is given 90 minutes after the first call.

You dress quickly, your mind racing: what to bring? Will my (wife/husband) be okay? How much time do I have? Will my clothes be warm enough? If I wear heavy clothes and I fall in the ocean, will I sink? Is the ocean actually freezing? Will I watch the ship sink? Will I even survive? How fast is fast? How much time do I really have?

Twelve lifeboats hit the frigid water. Every passenger and crew member leaves the ship alive. The seas were calm and ambient temperatures at freezing. The waters grew choppy and the skies overcast. The occupants spend up to six hours in their lifeboats whilst awaiting rescue. Not unlike the RMS Titanic sinking, those persons had that amount of time in which to ponder their fates. And immersed in freezing water, the average human has 90 seconds to exist prior to hypothermia. In two minutes the body has completely abandoned its extremities in order for the core to survive. One's ability to kick legs, move arms, is gone. The only relatively-warm portion remaining is the chest; if the head and/or neck are immersed, rational thinking is halted. Finally, a minute or two later, autonomic reflexes are impacted. It is said that death in freezing water is almost euphoric. I'd rather not find out, thank you.

Unaware of my readers' proclivities, I readily admit that I swim poorly; I suggest that I sink much better -- moreso in freezing waters. In my youth I spent much more time in watery conditions, at lakes, in the ocean, snorkeling off Hawaii. These days, if fish swim in it, I avoid it. It's that simple. At my advanced age I've already been corrupted by "Jaws," "Titanic," and the submarine death scene from the beginning of the movie "Abyss," which I find to be horrendously frightening -- but that's just me.

Are icebergs still a threat? The quick answer: yes. But due to advanced technology, maritime and otherwise, the chances of abrupt loss of life are minimal.

But still, as cavalier as we were in 1912 about "unsinkable ships" -- are we finding ourselves likewise as cavalier about technology in 2007?

You tell me.

These waters are still as frigid.



Blogger TexasFred said...

Ya gotta wonder, did the extreme cold have anything to do with it?? Steel does get brittle in extreme cold, I have heard of steel drill pipe breaking when dropped in the northern parts of Alaska, ya gotta wonder...

Fri Nov 23, 09:22:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Funny you should mention that; some theorists indicate that, with regard to the Titanic (whilst I was a member of the Titanic Historical Society), the Irish workers in the Harland & Wolff shipyards underperformed due to concomitant strikes, poor riveting, thinner sheeting, which resulted in the easier popping of said rivets when assaulted with both remarkably cold temperatures and under impact stress.

You bring up a very valid point.


Fri Nov 23, 10:07:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bushwack said...

BZ, Obviously you haven't read Al Gores book, the waters aren't frigid anymore, they are like a sauna.. And there is enough food to last for a long time due to all the dead polar bears laying around.

Yeah I wonder about the structural integrity of ship, and as long as humans are involved there will be mistakes...

Fri Nov 23, 11:41:00 PM PST  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

Sharks! We need lots of sharks for this... and giant squid! Can't have enough of them for a maritime disaster...

Killer penguins! Now there is a thought. 'So cute, so cuddly, but at 50' long *you* are the prey'. Now *that* is a nightmare.

But the Titanic taught one lesson: take the direct approach. We still haven't learned that

Sat Nov 24, 04:54:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I suggest that I sink much better"

Didn't think I'd laugh while reading this post!

Sat Nov 24, 07:14:00 AM PST  
Blogger shoprat said...

Thank God that no lives were lost.

Not like a century ago when, forgotten in the shadow of the Titanic disaster, the Empress of Ireland sank within sight of land on the St. Lawrence River and over a thousand people died (3rd largest maritime disaster in history.)

Sat Nov 24, 08:26:00 AM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Shop: wow, yes, you are absolutely correct!!


Sat Nov 24, 06:45:00 PM PST  
Blogger Gayle said...

Excellent writing here, BZ!

I can tell you that when they say dying of freezing is almost euphoric, they're wrong. It is completely euphoric. At first you feel the cold, but it isn't long before the cold feels warm. It feels as though you are floating in nothing but pure, comforting warmth. I know this because I almost froze to death in Fort Belvoir, VA many years ago in the snow. Fortunately I was found unconscious by MP's and an ambulance was called. My toes still hurt if they get too cold because of frostbite, but no digits were lost.

Sun Nov 25, 03:38:00 PM PST  
Blogger benning said...

It seems ecologists don't know about icebergs. Explains so much about the Climate Warming hoax, huh?

Mon Nov 26, 05:00:00 PM PST  

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