Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Day I Drowned

The SS Heraklion capsized and sank on 8 December 1966
in the Aegean Sea, resulting in the death of over 200 people.

   My lifejacket was found
                          [among floating broken wood and oil spills, ​
     on the eighth of December, 

                          [one thousand nine hundred and sixty-six.

     The reason why I drowned that date fifty years ago,
     is that
I had tried to evacuate passengers
                        [instead of heading to the lifeboat to go.

A week before I signed on
                       [as a Third Mate in this former ocean liner​ 
with dozens of labyrinthine alleyways where someone 
                                     [could feel as trapped as a miner.​

If the lights go out as it did that night
            [when the impetuous waves filled the boat
while I and passengers trapped deep below 
                                                         [oh so remote. ​

Reception of passengers boarding

It was impossible for this new crew
                              [to learn the grids of alleyways.​

One of the most common of the dangerous plays, 
is for economic reasons, to recruit crews 
                                [a few days before departure.

My voice is too weak, and here we need
                             [some big shot's voice sharper.

   Every man for himself was the way it went, 
                    [forgotten were altruism and comradeship​
     as the sea water had flooded almost the entire ship.

    The last thing I remember was the little Dipper,
    which was visible from a porthole,

                    [and it seemed to say to the skipper:​

    ''My son Polaris and I for centuries

                       [we have steered and advised sailors, ​
     but we do not have the power to prevent failures
    due to wrong choices

                     [with only a view for money and profit.
    To see this you don't need to be a magician,

                                                           [or a prophet....

*Extract from "The Broken Mooring Line", an experiential
poetic work
 // page c56// e-mail: //
Texts and Narration: Odysseus Heavilayias - ROTTERDAM //
Language adjustments and text adaptation: Kellene G Safis - CHICAGO//
Digital adaptation and text editing: Cathy Rapakoulia Mataraga - PIRAEUS//

Sinking The SOS signal was repeated twice
36°52′N 24°8′E / 36.867°N 24.133°E / 36.867; 24.133.
At 8.00 pm on the evening of 7 December 1966, and under extreme weather conditions, with winds blowing at Force 9 on the Beaufort scale, the Heraklion sailed from Souda Bay, Crete for Piraeus, after a two-hour delay, allegedly in order to embark a refrigerator truck that according to most accounts contributed to the sinking. Nowadays, passenger ships operating in Greek waters are prohibited from sailing in winds at or greater than Force 9 on the Beaufort scale, but at that time it was up to the captain to decide whether to sail or not, sometimes under pressure from the ship owners.
Halfway through the voyage, while sailing south of the small rocky island of Falkonera, the aforementioned refrigerator truck which was carrying oranges and was either left unsecured or was loosely strapped, started banging on the midship loading door which eventually gave in and opened with the result that the truck plummeted into the sea where it was found floating the next morning. With the doors opened, the sea flowed in and after 15 or 20 minutes the ship capsized, sometime after 2:00am on 8 December 1966.

*Little Dipper Polaris is the last star in the handle of the Little Dipper.
The Little Dipper is an asterism – a star pattern that is not a constellation. The Little Dipper really belongs to the constellation Ursa Minor the Little Bear.

*A Third Mate (3/M) or Third Officer is a licensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship. The third mate is a watchstander and customarily the ship's safety officer and fourth-in-command (fifth in some ocean liners). Other duties vary depending on the type of ship, its crewing, and other factors.
Duties related to the role of safety officer focus on responsibility for items such as firefighting equipment, lifeboats, and various other emergency systems.

The SS Heraklion capsized and sank on 8 December 1966 in the Aegean Sea, resulting in the death of over 200 people.

Once she was refitted as a passenger/car ferry. The ship had an overall length of 498 ft (152 m), a beam of 60 ft (18 m), gross tonnage of 8.922 tons, single prop reaching a speed of 17 knots. Winter capacity was 35 trucks with an average weight of 10 tons. S/S Heraklion had her last survey on 29 June 1966.                                                                                      

At 02:06am, an SOS signal from Heraklion was received by various shore stations and ships around the Aegean Sea.

*A porthole is a generally circular window used on the hull of ships to admit light and air.

Though the term is of obvious maritime origin, it is also used to describe round windows on armored vehicles, aircraft, automobiles (the Ford Thunderbird a notable example) and even spacecraft.



  the tales of a greek sailor  

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