THE BEST LAID PLANS
“This is the worst trip I’ve ever been on.”
Standing on the promenade deck with storm litter everywhere, it was hard to argue with her. Piles of deck chairs, cables hanging from the ceiling, various big hunks of what used to be ship fixtures laying everywhere. Water was still running down from higher decks and across the floor, out the scuppers. At least it was flowing out. She kept trying to scratch under the cast on her arm, I had trouble turning my head due to the neck brace. But I was getting better with the crutch.
The calm ocean surface was a vivid contrast to the memory of the raging sea during the storm. Our ship was now moving steadily, if slowly, toward our destination port of Southampton, the lighthouse shining through the dense fog. All in stark contrast to the 60 foot waves and Force 10 winds of our recent experience with nature’s power off Land’s End. The storm had struck with little warning during a large party in the main ballroom for the first class passengers. She was still wearing her stylish flapper dress, while I somehow had kept my bowler hat intact, although my coat and shirt were gone. The tables and chairs in the ballroom had been sliding first to one side, then back as the ship rolled in the turbulence. The grand piano slid one way, then back through the entryway and apparently over the side. We had managed to escape the melee through a corridor, walking on the walls as much as the flooded floor, to a smaller deck area where we clung to handrails for several hours.
Our ship, the twenty year old RMS Campania, had not sunk, surely a tribute to the ship builders. The ship’s doctor had patched up the many injured passengers, although the crew seemed to have avoided such damage.
One officer, standing near a group of passengers and looking at the broad English coastline, said “You’d think an island this big would be on the charts.” He smiled at the wide eyes of some passengers.
She was reading the ship’s brochure given to all passengers. “Six hundred twenty feet long, sixty-five foot beam. You’d think a ship like that would handle a storm with no passengers injured!”
A nearby officer said, “No, madam, but THAT ship will.” We turned to look where he pointed, a huge four stack ship was steaming slowly out to sea, with only one stack smoking. He continued, “The RMS Olympic, nearly nine hundred feet long and ninety three foot beam. Unsinkable, they say. She’s moving slow in here close to land, but she’ll hit twenty three knots in mid-Atlantic. Fast and safe. And she has a new Marconi wireless rig, so weather warnings let her avoid storms.”
She looked stunned. “No storms! We will take that ship back to America.”
The officer said, “You’ll have to wait a good while, she’s on a long cruise. But you might consider her sister ship, about to launch. Just as fast and safe.”
“Where do we book passage?” she asked.
He pointed at the brochure’s ad for the Cunard Line. “You want the Titanic”.Word Count: 596