_ Setting sail is very old. In the time of the ancient Greeks they feared Poseidon more than any of the other gods. He was on the level of the Sister Fates. Somehow the sea, I think, is a particularly treacherous thing to deal with. You might make modern innovations, but the sea will always have its way in the end and surprise you. You should have respect for it, and you should be prepared. The danger will always be there.

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_ I’ve seen this sort of statistical analysis before. But somehow I don’t think it would mean much if you were one of the Costa Concordia passeners who survived to tell tales. What especially bothers me is that a representative of the Cunard Line stood on the Cunard pier in New YOrk on May 1, 1915 addressing the passengers who were about to board the Lusitania. He told them that they could outrun a torpedo. And they had more lifeboats than the Titanic. Nowadays they talk aobut how they’ve made improvements and can handle anything, too. I think people have to realize that sailing presents unique risks. Somehow they have to accept it. And these risks won’t go away.


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_ Before last week I’d thought that the cruising world really had made things safer. I hadn’t heard of a serious accident since I’d been paying attention to things. That’s been about twenty years now. In addition I did research for a novel project of mine about the time period from 1915-1945. I looked for cruising accidents. I found the Lusitania in 1915 and the Morro Castle in 1934. But after World War II all I could find was the Andrea Doria in the 1950’s. After that it seemed like a wide open slate of not very spectacular disasters.

Had they really gotten smarter? Improved things? Gotten more technology? I was becoming convinced of it. One week ago today the Costa Concordia floundered on the sandy shoal of Giglio and erased all those decades of what had seemed to be real progress. Time stood still. We seemed to be back in the first half of the twentieth century again.

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_ The thriller novel King Abdullah’s Tomb is about the second mysterious explosion aboard the Lusitania, too. But the “terrorist” is an Arab of the sect that didn’t follow Lawrence of Arabia and was pro-German and pro-Turk in the Great War. He was one of the Wahabbi sect, a follower of Ib’n Saud. This novel concludes with the Arab Revolt led by Lawrence that toppled the Ottoman Turkish Empire.





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_ Ballard was the diver I was talking about who investigated the Lusitania wreck. But it’s only a theory, not a fact. People like to postulate all sorts of reasons. For instance, did you know that several Germans were locked up in the brig at the time? They were arrested trying to plant explosives. If one of them had gotten loose, or if someone else was concealed aboard, he could have caused the second explosion. This sounds like a thriller novel!


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_ I can make it 1915 in my imagination. When I wrote Those Who Dream By Day I was on the decks of the Lusitania on May 7, 1915 when it sank in 18 minutes. My heroine survived by swimming to a lifeboat and coming ashore in Queenstown. My entire interest in sailing is to get more background for novels like this one.

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_ Small lifeboats are better than no lifeboats. Why do they have life preservers? When the Lusitania sank in the Irish Sea and many passengers didn’t know how to put on their life jackets, they would have been glad to have personal lifeboats. The water was warmer than usual. Many were in the water for hours holding onto bric-a-brac and planking. Boats from Queenstown came out to round them up. Obviously my interest in sailing is academic. I’d like to sail just to get more details for my novels.

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_ I’m not an engineer, but what about lifeboats that inflate and are small and portable?

Passengers could keep them in their cabins and launch them on the spot wherever seems best.

They would have to be made seaworthy and have paddles. At least they could be better than mere life jackets and could perhaps be a supplement to the other kind of lifeboats.

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_ My biggest question is why the cruise lines don’t figure out how to launch a lifeboat while listing to port or starboard.

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Whether I will cruise again after the Costa Concordia, who knows?

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