High sea drama
So we are on a cruise(7 day cruise) and everything is going how it should, I enjoyed my 18th birthday a few days ago, we were seeing some of the most beautiful places in the world(Rome, Santorini etc) and our first cruise experience was nothing like we would have guessed, perfect. Until that night, which despite ending up as an anticlimax was one I will never forget.
It was a normal night on the cruise, the parties ended at about 12 since we were to arrive in Turkey at 7am and dock at 9. only the night owls and cleaners were to be seen. By incredible coincidence I couldn’t sleep that night, no matter what I did. I walked around the ship, ran to tire myself out, played mini golf, basketball, even put on my swimming trunks but the pool was closed. All while my sister was snoring on the next bed. I started watching television, the Olympics, but it was on a loop so ended up watching the same thing thrice.
Suddenly I hear “OSCAR, OSCAR, OSCAR” on the speakers in the room. I knew this meant a lifeboat was needed. I got intrigued as this was an emergency protocol and usually done if someone falls of the ship. I left one walkie talkie with my sister(still sleeping) and headed to the top floor to see if anyone else was up and heard the signal. I saw no one new, only those night owls, we conversed and I asked if they knew what was going on, the cleaning staff didn’t even know.
So I went back to my room and turned the t.v. to the ship tracking channel since we were slowing down, and eventually stopped. I looked out of my balcony to see that a big cargo ship had also stopped in the distance. I raced up to the open deck again, this time to see a few more people. We thought that the ship needed help or something asking those lines. But slowly we started to see lights of other ships in the distance, this is when we realised that something was seriously wrong because all ships within a certain radius were stopped mid course. We started thinking hard but couldn’t come up with any explanation.
Now a lot of people were up and out to see what has happened. walking around I found my parents also out, I walked up to them and they were surprised to see me, just as much as I was, but not as much as when I told them the whole story from the first signal I heard. By now is was 3am. We only knew that there was a small boat involved.
I had even imagined that this was a pirate ship which wanted to take over ours as hostage. I wouldn’t normally think that but it clicked when I remembered a conversion I had with my friend. I told him that I was going for a cruise when he asked for my birthday plans. Considering the military coupe at that time in Turkey, he voiced a chance of a military or pirate takeover of our ship, little did he know that this joke would scare me, even if it was in a funny way.
But soon the captain made an announcement regarding the situation. A civilian yatch had run out of fuel on high sea and were contacting nearby ships for help. This was nothing for me to fear my life over but it still increased tension for everyone(and me) around since a yatch isn’t meant for high seas, especially at night.
We then saw the standard life boat being deployed(once in a lifetime view) and once it got near the yatch we realised it was very close to us, but the lights were off. Seeing the small yatch with respect to ours was very scary, it was bobbing up and down very violently on those unforgiving waves. That gave stress to us purely by witnessing it. We were mentally putting ourselves in their shoes, and it wasn’t helping that we could hear screams once the yatch got close enough. Imagining their condition made one of our fellow passengers panic and they almost fainted. Luckily they didn’t but everyone that was present was on the verge of eating their nails out of anticipation.
Meanwhile I took my walkie and started talking to my sister, but as it turns out she was still sleeping. I went to get my camera from the room and even took the walkie to give to my parents instead, considering that she wouldn’t be getting up any time soon.
I made my way up to the deck once again, and my parents tell me there is another update coming in a few minutes. The entire built up suspense turned up into an anticlimax when the captain announced that they were refugees. Instantly everyone stopped empathising, we all see the news, we knew that they were from Turkey trying to get to Greece.
Despite knowing that, the drama increased from a sailing point of view, since we now had to wait for the coast guard to come and deal with them. By the time the coast guard(big armoured ship) came, my parents had come into my room for comfort and a balcony view, luckily it was on the same side as the action, in fact after a while the yatch had floated up right next to our ship, beneath our balcony.
To think, an hour ago we were terrified thinking about the fate of those on board that yatch, and now were enjoying having witnessed a coast guard in action, something we would have never guessed or wished for in our lives.
But soon the coast guard officers/police had boarded the yatch and were talking to the people inside, making sure to keep them away from our ship. They then linked the yatch with the guard boat as started unloading the people from the yatch to their boat. I hadn’t had much exposure refugee situations so was surprised to see that there were more than 60 people aboard that small yatch, which looked like it could only carry about 10-15 people. Among those were males females, elderly, teenagers, children, and even infants. As they came out some of them were screaming to us in joy, since they had gotten out of Turkey and into EU, since the coast guard was Greek.
As they were made to sit atop the boat for a count my dad was explaining to me my mum and my now awake sister how this worked for them. How they pay thousands of euros per person to get on that yatch, and the yatch is instructed to switch off on the high seas, the fuel finishes by then. The Greek would then take them and make them refugees, granting them assess to the EU.
As the last of them was accounted for a group of people from our ship were cheering them on from their balconies, as wrong as they were to cheer them on they probably didn’t know the whole story, and thought it a genuine rescue mission. I don’t blame them but was disappointed in them for what they were doing.
The next day completely back to normality, we were lucky to arrive in turkey at 9am and instantly dock. Turkey waited for us. During that day we got the news that the refugees were sent back to Turkey thanks to an agreement between Greece and Turkey. That incidence wasn’t talked about again by anyone on the ship for the rest of the cruise simply because people forget it given its nature. Life continued.
That night I learnt 2 things:
1. Before putting yourself in one’s place, consider all possibilities, for all that you think might be wrong. Understand the entire situation before taking it upon yourself to feel what they are feeling.
2. We should value our lifestyles, because there are plenty of those who would risk even their lives, let alone money, to be where we are. Never look down on anyone who wants to make a change in life, no matter the means they take to get there.
That night is one I won’t forget for a long time.