Merchant Ship Isabella

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I was on the merchant ship Isabella and the cargo was a dangerous load of bombs destined for the war in Europe. The day started out in the Portland,Maine dockside loading all day with the stevedore’s, the dock workers who load the ship. It was a warm day with the wind blowing slightly from the north. My coworker and I had the day to explore so we took off into the city of Portland. We walked down Congress Street and was noticing that all the streets were cobblestone. I had never seen streets like this anywhere in the States. The boys and I decided to get a bite to eat and have some mugs of beer. We was talking with this one man inside the bar and asked where he came from. My name is George Thurman, I was a sea captain years ago and I’m retired from working. I spent my entire life working at sea and now I am enjoying staying grounded. How about you boy’s? He replied. I told him that I started a year ago working on the Isabella and I was nineteen years old. We told the old sea captain we had to leave and said our goodbye. Til we meet again boys, bon voyage, and tipped his beer at us.untitled

We loaded ourselves onto the ship and within twenty minutes we were off. It was a sunny day and my buddy and I were on the deck taking in all the scenery around the Portland waterfront. The Isabella was off and we sailed all through the night. The swells were starting to get bigger and the ship was rocking back and fourth. I decided to go check the cargo hold where the bombs were being stored. They were loaded in the front of the ship and stacked like cord wood. I was starting to hear some clanking, like metal to metal, but really couldn’t see anything loose. I went back up topside and reported this to the captain. The captain told me to make regular checks and to keep reporting back to the bridge of the findings.

The sea was getting worse by the moment and now the ship was rolling and moving up and down. My buddy Ricardo and I decided to take another check of the cargo hold. What we found was very concerning. The bombs that were stacked like wood had now tumbled and were all loose. The bombs were being tossed around every time the ship rolled. They would clank against the ships hull. We ran up topside to tell the ships captain when we felt and heard an explosion. I looked up and the whole front of the ship was flying through the air. The bombs had detonated and I was thrown backward and hit my head on the edge of a railing but was still conscious. Ricardo was knocked into the water, I awoke in my daze to realize that I had to try and save Ricardo. MAN OVERBOARD! I hollered this three times and no one came to help. I took a life preserver and tossed it overboard to try and help Ricardo but he was long gone.

The ship stopped moving and I could see the front of the ship starting to go nose down. We were sinking real fast and I had to find something that would float. There was some foam sheets along edge of the railings that I could use. I ripped them off the railing and prepared myself to go overboard in a last attempt to save myself. I couldn’t see if anyone else was trying to get off the ship. I looked up at the bridge and I could see the Captain calling on the radio. I’m sure the communication lieutenant was tapping out Morse Code, SOS-SOS-SOS. Save Our Ship was being repeated. The ship was now listing to port and I could tell that this ship was going down real fast. I had my foam sheet and was prepared to jump into the sea. The captain came out of the bridge and hollered. Abandon Ship! That is all I needed to jump into the cold and salty waters. One-two-three and I jumped.

The coldness of the water took my breath away at first and the salt in my eyes made it hard for me to see anything. I was able to see others jumping off the ship but I had no energy to swim over to help them out. I laid on my sheet of foam and floated away from this area. I took one last look when the ship finally made its last plunge to the depths of the ocean. I floated for hours and with the day being sunny I was able to warm my body. I looked out over the ocean and could not see land anywhere. I had no water or food and I was starting to worry that I would die on this floating device.. I dozed off to the sounds of seagulls.

I woke up and looked out to the horizon and could see land. I was coming up to a beach of some sort and I could see people laying on the sand. I was wondering if maybe they were survivors of another ship wreak. I could see men and woman and children playing in the water. I could see many woman in bikini’s, with their bodies all tanned up from basking in the sun. I could see a Ferris wheel  and could hear music playing in the distance. What is this place I had floated too? Some kind of Utopia, and Circus? I came to rest on the shore, this one young lad comes up to me and kicks sand in my face. Hey Mister? What kind of stupid surfboard is that? I opened my eyes to see this little brat smirking at me. I raised myself and starting looking for other shipmates. I cannot see anyone. I see this very attractive lady in the distance. I walk up to her and ask her where is this place? Her reply is Portland Head Light, Maine.  I had left from Portland, Maine. untitled

I thought about what had happened. The bombs were stacked like wood and with the rolling of the ship there was friction on the surface of the bombs. It only took a jolt up and down and this is what discharged the bombs. There was no other survivors- I wondered now if I was even on a ship or if I was dreaming.

©Bilodeau,D.H. 2014

 

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