Another day. Another ship anchored off Port Louis. Another impulse to the imagination.
As this ship approached from the horizon, I noticed the different silhouette and tried to figure out what kind of vessel it might be. My first thought was an exploration ship, because it came from the direction of the South Pole. Perhaps, it was seeking warmth, fresh water, supplies, and shore life.
Upon closer inspection with my handy binoculars, I discovered that it was a container ship. The difference was the cranes, which large ships do not have. The giants of the sea rely on modern container ports to load and unload. This ship must visit smaller port and offload the containers onto shallow-draft vessels for the trip to land. Not every harbour is Hong Kong or Rotterdam, with 24-hours port operations to load containers onto trucks or railroad cars.
With nothing to do, one lets the imagination wonder to ports of call, container contents, and crew activities. Surely, life on ship is not as nice as life in a luxury resort...
The photo below could be considered boring, but it is packed with fact and has the potential for fiction. That's what happens when you're on vacation with a camera, fertile imagination, and time to waste.
I watched this container ship arrive and anchor off the capital of Mauritius, Port Louis, which lies some miles to the south. A peninsula blocks the view of the city, but halo of its lights is visible at night.
I guessed that the ship would remain at anchor until port facilities permuted unloading. The cost of docking is high, so ships send as little time as possible in port. The name on the side--Hyundai--suggested a load of cars from Korea, but I doubted that the market was new cars was large. I guessed that this was advertising or that the company has a shipping division.
After the ship remained a few days, I began to wonder why. Ships usually kept moving as much as possible to maximise profit. Perhaps, the captain has a girlfriend in Mauritius and cooked up an excuse to remain. Or, a crew member landed in jail and had to be rescued from the judicial grip. All the time, the ship twisted at anchor at the mercy of the wind and currents. Bright lights at night informed one and all that it had not slipped away.
The second interesting aspect of this photo is the weather. The sky looks overcast, and it is in that direction. All other directions have blue sky. One must merely wait a short time for the weather to change in Mauritius. If one looks closely, it is obvious that rain is falling above the ship, but none reaches its deck. The water evaporates before falling too far from the clouds.
The side of the ship appears to be illuminated. It is. The sun is setting. The time is the same as that of the yesterday's sunset of the day. I had to turn my attention--and the camera--only slightly to have two very different impressions: grey and rain or blue sky and sunshine. Typical Mauritius.
From novels and movies, I had a vision of time standing still on a cruise ship, which did more than touch upon Caribbean Islands or artificial Latin American ports. Deck chairs, shuffle board, and hours of reading were what I expected. Boredom has never been a problem for me, so I looked forward to lack of distractions.
Of course, other people are different, so cruise ships offer multifarious activities to placate the unimaginative or easily bored. Our cruise ship was no different. We ignored most.
The photo below should give you an idea of the kind of activity offered on a cruise ship on a day at sea. Someone felt that a class on mixing martinis would benefit the kind of customer on this ship. Four showed up...plus me to keep an eye on my wife.
Unlike on other cruise lines, drinks are endless (except in cases of death), and no fee is charged. Cocktails tend to be too strong, rather than too weak. The smiling bartender explained that his job was to make customers happy, not to scrimp on alcohol. I learned early to ask for a "weak one", which still never was.
NB. Not being a martini drinker, I only took photos!
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.