Monday, October 19, 2015

Countdown to Halloween Blog Post #19

Let's give a big round of applause to Shyboy Tim everybody. While I was away on vacation he stepped in to keep the Countdown to Halloween spirit alive, and I can't thank him enough. So
please............ let's give it up one more time for Shyboy Tim!!

For today's post I'd like to pass along a story that the Captain of our Royal Caribbean Cruise ship shared with us during his "meet the Captain" talk. Now, spoiler for the grey, this is a true story. It happened to him a few years ago, and it is basically your worst nightmare come to life on a cruise ship. So this isn't a story that a friend heard from a friend, or a myth propagated on the internet. This is a true story.

These are photos of the Caribbean Ocean taken from my deck room balcony. The sea is bluer than blue, and mesmerizing. I brought along three books and my Nook thinking that I would have a lot of down time where I could read. But every time I sat down in a deck chair to read, I just found myself staring out at the sea. It was wonderful.  

But when the sun goes down, the ocean is darker than dark. You can see lights from other ships or islands that are many many miles away, but if something isn't lit, you would be hard pressed to see it. As the Captain's story goes, one night a number of guests told the ship's staff that one of their party had fallen overboard. Now this is bad news from the get go, but to add insult to injury, the people he was with when he fell off did not report it for over an hour! By the time the Cruise staff had a chance to access video footage confirming that he had indeed fallen overboard, the man had been in the water for almost an hour and a half. Now I don't want to get into technical sailing jargon here, but the Captain immediately turned the ship around and started the necessary calculations (based on the currents of the sea and the ship's speed) to determine their best bet at where to find him. In situations where a "man is overboard", all of the available crew members are told to line every deck that is open to the ocean. They are armed with life preservers, and their job is to find the person in the water. On the ship we were on, there was over 3,000 tourists and 1,500 crew members. With over one thousand crew members lining the decks, it is difficult to keep something like this a secret, Once the word got out amongst the passengers, they too began to line every available open deck in hopes of finding the lost passenger. The sky that night was dark, and there was little to no moon light to help with the search, so once they got into the area where they thought they could find him, everybody started calling out "I see him!" and throwing over their life preservers. The noise from all this was deafening, and the Captain made an executive decision to shut off all the ship's engines. He then ordered a ship wide command of "Silence!" He asked that nobody speak or yell or make a noise of any kind. This was their last hope at finding the man, who had now been in the ocean without and kind of flotation devices whatsoever for almost three hours. Once the command of silence was issued and the ship came to a stop, simply floating where the waves took it, the Captain said they could hear a man screaming for help off in the distance. They moved towards the sound and were able to get him back on the ship, safe and sound. By the Captain's own admission, he said the chances of finding him after so much time had passed was a million to one. If I ever go on another cruise ship, I sure hope our same Captain is behind the wheel!


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