Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Listing Heavily

A bunch of people got hurt when a cruise ship did a hard list yesterday. I worked on cruise ships for a few years, and had my share of unexpected lisitng incidents. Bouncing around during a storm is something you just get used to. In fact, for the crew, it can be kind of fun watching the people in evening gowns and tuxes puking in the potted plants on formal night. However, the sudden list in calm water will get your attention.

One early morning, on a crappy Carnival Bucket of Bolts called the Mardi Gras, we were turning into Nassau Harbor for a full day of hair braiding, trinket buying and duty-free liquor shopping. I was sound asleep in my bunk, when I was awakened by the TV I had on the table at the foot of my bed landing on top of me. I was up against the wall, and we were still tipping. It felt like we were going to tip over. We finally stopped and tipped back the other way, rolling from side to side for about 20 minutes. The account I heard later from one of the officers was a simple miscommunication. The ship has to take on a pilot from the country it is docking in, who takes over the controls. So in this case, that pilot would be Bahamian. The officers on that particular ship were Italian. When the Italian said "six degrees starboard, pilot heard "sixty degrees starboard."

And then the fun began.

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