As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up on a tiny island in the middle of the South Atlantic. The sea was our constant companion: I could lie in bed at night listening to the whales blowing as they fed on the kelp, and in the morning I could watch the only motorboat towing a long line of fishing boats off to the fishing grounds for the day.
In those days we went everywhere by ship: from UK to Cape Town, then a wait until a ship was going to call at the island: then a trip on all sorts of ships, including one with a flat bottom (I don’t recommend it – it rolls hideously and my Mum was even more seasick than usual!)
One thing we did absorb as kids: that you have to respect the sea. It is a mighty and unpredictable force. We were on it in all weathers, very conscious that it needed huge skill, accurate knowledge and experience, and great respect at all times. There is no way you can tame the sea. You can only try and co-operate with such a titanic natural element.
I find this is influencing me as we all watch the news of the sinking of the Costa Concordia.
What a terrible thing to happen – that goes without saying. Praise God so many were saved. Thank goodness the captain is under house arrest – what was he thinking? And how sad for the families who lost people.
But I dunno. 4,000 people on board? That has to be a massive ship, trumpeted as a floating hotel with every sort of convenience and leisure pursuit on deck. Much bigger than any normal hotel on land.
And it makes me wonder. Have we got so over-confident, even blase, that we think our technology and our expertise is able to tame even the raw power of the ocean? Has it made us lose our respect for it? It is not wise to pit oneself against the elements and assume that we are so clever we are bound to win. I am afraid we are going to find ourselves in trouble.
In deep trouble, if you’ll pardon the pun.