A cruise in the Atlantic

Cruising, cruising, over the bounding Main! Nothing could ever be like it, in steaming ocean liner, or under a gleaming white sail: the bright, blue Caribbean! Havana! Panama! Next stop, gay Trinidad! You simply have to do it yourself.

But the best part, for me, and for my sister, too, was the bounding we experienced, together, on the late, great, SS Nieuw Amsterdam, the finest ship that ever cruised, in my humble opinion. For twenty-two days, including Christmas and New Year’s, we island-hopped. You name it, we visited it. Natives swam naked to our side, and we, far, far, above them, tossed well-appreciated pennies over the rail to them, laughing and waving like crazy.

The bounding occurred late, on the way back, just as we approached the notorious Cape Hatteras. Notorious, that is, for precisely the one thing we encountered: a raging, ferocious hurricane!

Afterwards, the captain said it was the worst he had ever experienced, and the crew agreed. So did they all.

But it’s during the hurricane that I want to talk about, for as it got serious, as the passengers took to their cabins, the crew to their hammocks, the captain to his quarters, everybody, but everybody, started to get seasick! We thought it was funny, my sister and I.

We rushed to the stern, where the heaving was greatest. The SS Nieuw Amsterdam was not the biggest, but a very big ship. They steered it directly into the wind, directly into the Main, bounding in waves a hundred feet tall. The winds were 200 MPH. That was the official estimate.

When that great ship’s stern plunged down heavily and deeply, deep down into the angry sea, we simply got heavier, she and I, but that was no fun. The fun was to come: at one fabulous point in its wild, massive, oscillatory tossing, the deck fell beneath our feet so very fast that it left us, actually left us flying. Really: truly flying! Like a pair of birds in the air, my sister and I.

Effortlessly, we soared like eagles, needless of wings, as the SS Nieuw Amsterdam treated us two, and only us two, to the wildest ride we ever could, ever did, ever will, experience in our whole lives long. And, after we got heavy, it did it again, that ship. And again and again and again!

In our excitement, we decided to see what else was happening, and it was I who discovered a hatch, a tall, glass, sliding one, open to the fury of the elements! We both went out at first, but then she went back in, and I, I alone (of all the people in the world!) got to know what it was like to stand, stock still, at a forty-five degree angle, for just as long as I pleased.

Because, you see, a hurricane at sea is much, much more than a storm on land. It’s a tempest. And in a tempest, you’re not surrounded by trees and houses: your only protection, such as it is, is your small, tiny, when you consider it, oceanic vessel. All alone and helpless, utterly victim to fate, among the incomprehensible energy of the winds and the mighty Atlantic Ocean.

And there I stood.

The wind wasn’t like the wind everybody else in the world experiences. People don’t hold their hands out the window at 200 MPH, it doesn’t ever happen. I was probably understating it when I said forty-five degrees. I cannot describe what it is, not to wrestle, but to push, forcefully, very, very forcefully, against something so mighty, so insistent, so irresistible, as a wind rarely encountered outside a wind tunnel. The deck was perfect for the experience, for it was of aged, weathered, nappy teakwood. My soles were of good leather. I would not slip. I alone did it. I conquered the element of the air.

In ecstasy, perfect ecstasy, for many, many long minutes: in strong, but raging, stillness, inconceivable to mankind, I confronted this whole wide world!  The 200-MPH power of the air, of the very Earth itself.

And I stood right through the very thick of it, through all that air, in my leather shoes, on that good, teakwood deck, and am here, alive, now, to tell you the story. Of how I did that! Marshall Price of Miami!

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2 Responses

  1. Of course there are no comments on this post. I just wrote it! 🙂

  2. Kent Nelson ought to thank me for this. He *sells* cruises!

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