It’s my pleasure to publish this humorous piece by my Guest Blogger Mr Rod Zatyko, with whom I had the enormous pleasure of sharing a cabin for more than 6000 nautical miles from New Zealand round Cape Horn to the Falkland Island/Malvinas.
Ship of Intrigue
By Rod Zatyko
At the time of writing [December 2013], the Bark Europa has raced and manoeuvred hundreds of miles away from our fellow sailing comrades, the Tecla and the Oosterschelde. Is this simply a result of the natural competitive instincts of sailors, or is there something more serious, more sensitive involved? Let us explore.
We have aboard Europa a very interesting cast of characters. Among the permanent crew, there is an ex-submarine officer of the Dutch Royal Navy. As a communications specialist, he was privy to highly technical, highly classified information and equipment. I am not at liberty to name him, but let me say he is big and hairy.
Also on board is a highly trained ex-intelligence operative of the United States Army. I have actually seen him drink a martini, shaken, not stirred. As we all know about this breed, once in, never out. Why is he here? What is his mission?
A suave, sophisticated multi-lingual Dutch diplomat is a member of the voyage crew as well. These talented Foreign Service personnel were often recruited into national secret service organisations. When asked, he denies it. But of course, he would. What kind of dangers has this man seen over his decades of service? What would he not do for his country?
An elderly yet fit ex-officer of the French Navy constantly prowls the ship – observing, filing information, quiet in his ways, often with sextant in hand. His two lovely French compatriots may or may not be a medieval archaeology scholar and a budding merchant sea[wo]man respectively. It would make a wonderful Dan Brown-like cover story, wouldn’t it?
If this isn’t enough to ponder, then consider the quiet American nuclear engineer who is potentially a player in this same operation. Naturally reticent (secretive?), he is involved in the design and production of experimental nuclear reactors. He has been forthcoming about his profession; to a point.
During the evenings, a strange Geiger-counter-like device is seen near the wheelhouse, always being swung by officers on watch, taking atmospheric readings of some sort. Careful observations are recorded regarding ocean life, water temperatures, and atmospheric conditions. Radiation levels, as well perhaps?
Furtive radio contact occurs during the wee hours of the morning. As information is passed, or received, from headquarters, the rudder indicator fluctuates wildly, so those of us on the helm knew when contacts are being made.
Do the Dutch have designs on the formation of a South Pacific or Atlantic base? Is the light house at Cape Horn safe in Chilean hands? In this the spearhead of a combined allied force meant to counteract North Korean aggression with southern hemisphere?
There are many questions, yet there are few answers.