Fifteen minutes before sailing time arrived. It was time for the safety drill. As we were going through this, I wondered if anyone, besides Sherron and myself that is, knew that such drills are a direct result of the Titanic sinking?
There were no mandatory safety drills on sailing ships in the early 1900s. Those that went to sea either accepted the danger as inevitable or were ignorant of the potential for disaster. The oceans, especially the North Atlantic, are dangerous places. Today ships receive accurate weather predictions, employ reliable navigation systems, and have access to worldwide communication 24 hours a day. Not so in 1912. Couple this with the general “stiff upper lip” attitude toward bravery, and a disaster like the Titanic was inevitable.
So we all gathered at our muster stations. There was a head count to be sure everyone was present. Safety procedures were explained, and then we all headed back up to the top for the farewell party (they have parties for everything.) By the way, they are really serious about these safety drills. If you choose to not attend, you are taken off the ship and it sails without you, ouch! At least one person did not show up in our group, I never did find out what happened.
And so we sailed out into the Atlantic, turned southwest into the Gulf of Mexico on our way to our first stop, Key West. Unfortunately, the weather turned bad. There was a rare winter tropical storm in the western Caribbean (right where we were headed) and the sea became quite rough, six to nine foot swells. (Did I mention that Sherron and I have a knack for traveling in bad weather)? Things got a little rocky, not too bad, but those prone to motion sickness did not fare well. Thankfully, neither Sherron nor I are bothered by it, but we saw a lot of green looking people with seasickness patches, not at all fun. The remedy is to drink lots of ginger ale.
Well, by the time we got to Key West the following morning the conditions were so bad, they couldn’t dock the ship. They made the announcement at 7 AM. We weren’t up yet, so after we heard the news, we just stayed in bed late. We had an extra day at sea which was fine with us, gave us more time to play our favorite travel game, Scrabble. We’ve been playing together for 25 years and have our own mini tournament each time we travel. Normally, we end up almost even after a week of playing, with Sherron usually a little ahead of me. But this time, I guess that the letter Gods were with me, I ended up the champion. Hey, I had to win someday.
Bill Blowers – Author of Dangerous Betrayal – The Vendetta That Sank Titanic. www.billblowers.com Hear Bill speak at the following locations. Admission is free, public is invited:
February 16, Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi, Simi Valley, CA. 1:30 PM
February 18, Ventura City Hall Auditorium, 510 Poli St. #109, Ventura, CA. 6:00 PM
February 20, Base Camp Cafe, 16311 Askin Dr. Pine Mountain Club, CA. 1:00 PM