A Perfect Storm

August 23rd, 2012 → 2:44 pm @ // No Comments

Storms are an unavoidable part of every mariner’s life and we experienced our fair share of them. One of the severest storms that we encountered was in the Atlantic. Dabaibe was fully loaded with coal and headed south towards Gibraltar. We had not quite passed the Bay of Biscay when the wind grew to gale force from the west and the swells began to grow. Before nightfall, thirty to forty foot waves were breaking over our decks, threatening to tear our hatch covers off. 

As the storm grew even more intense, we had to abandon our southerly course because it became too dangerous to take on the ravaging sea from our starboard side. The Captain ordered the ship to be turned west into the wind and its speed reduced. We would simply try to ride out the storm and worry about going in the right direction after the seas calmed down.

Dabaibe looked so insignificantly small among the towering white capped mountains of water around us. As she would reach the crest of a wave, almost pointing directly up in the air, she would then suddenly plunge her bow straight down and bury it in the base of the next oncoming wave. During the course of these gargantuan up and down motions the ship would shudder from stem to stern as the propeller would momentarily leave the water. Also the vessel’s bottom plates would creak ominously as she was caught between two waves which were trying to break her in two.

Even the most experienced and hardiest members of our crew were extremely concerned.  We all hoped that the forty-eight-year-old freighter would somehow stay in one piece and keep us alive at least during the remaining hours of darkness.  She continued to quiver and groan throughout the night but remained intact.  At daybreak the sea’s furor began to subside enabling us to change course and resume our original heading towards Gibraltar.

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