We Shipped Ourselves

Barbados now has two Covid-19 cases. No news of a lockdown yet. We saw a container ship making its way to port. Yippee! Like a Pavlovian trigger, Jack and I are off to do some food shopping tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, after the container ship passed, we watched as a long line of cruise ships crept across the horizon towards Bridgetown. Are these cruise ships sitting empty, or offloading passengers so they can go home, or even operating at an increased capacity? We saw eight ships at the cruise ship dock on Marine Traffic. At least twice as many ships as normal. Perhaps Barbados is one of the only large ports they can use at the moment. Hmm. Think we might avoid Bridgetown.

Jack and I went diving by the concrete factory this afternoon. About half a kilometre north of our anchorage, it has a large pier for vessels to come alongside. Diving the pier legs is awesome – full of critters, but it isn’t usually allowed when a ship comes in. It was dicey this time. We suited up as another ship loomed on the horizon.

‘Are you sure we should still go?’ I asked, staring at the slowly-moving ship from the dinghy.

‘I don’t think it’s a concrete ship,’ Jack said, ‘it’s too good-looking.’ He had a point. The ship which usually parks there looks about a hundred years old. This one is probably heading north.’ He looked upward. ‘Plus, the men on the pier wouldn’t let us go down.’

That was true too. The men on the pier had just given us a thumbs-up. ‘Enjoy your dive,’ one guy in a hard hat had even said.

We went down. First thing we saw at 8m was an enormous moray, half sheltering under a concrete slab. It had a distended area in the middle of its body. Either it was pregnant or it just swallowed a large morsel. This moray didn’t move but opened and closed its mouth at us. We carried on. Worked our way through the pier legs.

It started getting noisy. Not a noise that just hits your ears either. This was noise which vibrated into our bones. Underwater noise I was discovering, was about as intense as it got. Still, everything looked the same. Jack was swimming just ahead. He’s done this dive lots of times, I thought. Didn’t seem concerned. Maybe this was concrete mixing or something similar?

I breathed through it. I’m learning how to do this. I still have moments of panic while diving, but I’m learning to stop and just breathe until my mind clears. All was ok too – until Jack quickly turned around and took my hand. He motioned to swim the way we came. With the noise pelting though us, I looked back. Oh crap. A huge underwater dust cloud was coming toward us. Suddenly it got darker – but not dark enough to make out a huge dark line near the seabed. Now I really had to breathe, the teeth rattling in my head. It was the bottom of a ship. The ship had come in. 

We swam back to the moray, and then back up to Edna. The surface was like a quiet zone. The air no longer carried and reverberated the sound of the ship’s engines.

We stared at each other. Had to laugh. That was a nice, relaxing dive.


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