Ben Oostdam story # 219



The hotel manager told her new guest, a retired Oceanography professor, that he should meet "the Captain", a semi-permanent guest of the resort, "because his name appeared in an Oceanography book."

The two met that very evening for a "Cuba libre" followed by an extended dinner.
"I once ran a shipyard and built a research vessel for the Marine Biology Institute in Dubrovnik," he started when asked why his name was mentioned in "an Oceanography book." "But she got bombed in the war", he continued, "and I also operated two passenger boats, "Big Red" and "Big Blue," which could take more than 100 passengers each. Then I built a special boat for underwater ..." - "A submarine?" asked the professor eagerly. - "No, it was a surface vessel, but it had a deep central section which was like a hallway with large windows on the side." - "How large and how many?" - "About one square meter each and seven on each side." "That must have been thick glass and expensive!?" - "Yes, they were specially ordered from Germany and 25 mm thick and some three thousand dollars each. Add to that the expenses to transport them because at that time customs did not allow passage through one of the countries, so we had to truck them around." -"Did they leak at all?" - "Yes, but only at the beginning, till we tightened the bolts and nuts and compressed the what you call it..." - "Rubber?" - "No. I think it was some neoprene." - "Did the people sit in this -let's call it a keel? - "No, above the keel which had some thirty tons of lead and concrete poured into it for stability."

"Wow, that's quite some weight! Where did you operate the boat and what did you see?" - "We ran it around the peninsula from Portoroz past Piron and then over the submerged Roman Road. That road we discovered after I built the boat. It was now two meters below the surface. You could clearly see the exposed large boulders after some two thousand years. There also was one steep cliff going down into much deeper water."
"Yes, I have been diving along such cliff edges myself in California, the Red Sea and Indonesia, but, of course, you cannot see much else but dark blue waters if you are less than two meters below the surface." "No, you're right, but it was a nice attraction, and we had it arranged so that one group would go ashore and we'd go back with another group that we had dropped of a few hours earlier. So we could run two or more trips a day."
"That sounds good," said the professor, "I ran some marine stations for about seven years where we took "landlocked" college and high school students on three day fieldwork including a cruise on a small boat. We started with an old lobster boat..." "I did that, too, in the States," the Captain interjected, "I bought a lobster boat in Maine after I served as captain on an oil supply vessel in the Gulf of Mexico, making eight thousand dollars a month for six months."
"Well, that sounds interesting..." - And I won a law case once when they arrested me for catching lobsters in state waters ...I drew a map for the judge showing him that the sport where they had arrested me was actually in federal waters, so he let me go. I did send him a couple of lobsters afterwards..."
"Good for you, but what happened to your boats in the Adriatic?" - "Well, after my divorce I gave all my Slovenian business to my son, who is 28 years old. Not quite, I first sold all the yachts I had and bought the two largest dredgers in the Mediterranean and won a $ 33million dollar contract for port work in the Bay of Bosnia-Hercegowina..." - " Was that the small enclave where you cross a border, drive around a bay and cross another border? I did that a couple of years ago!"
"Yes", there's a small town there and they were going to do a port but then the war came and one of the dredgers was bombed and I had to sell the other because I could not pay the mooring and maintenance. So I lost everything!" "But I am sure you thought of something else," the professor said and the captain shrugged and then walked away when his cell-phone rang.
When he came back, he took the initiative again and launched into another tale about how he had set up a franchise in the southern United States to import Slovenian beer and wine. "Why then are you not there?" "My partner runs this business and we keep in touch by phone and E-mail. By the way, I also have a share in a large freighter registered in Australia, but I don't have too much to do with that since we chartered it out for long term."

This appeared a good time to break up for the night, the more so since the professor said he had to record all of this in his journal before he could go to sleep.

Panoramaboot "Subaquatic" - Aquamarine A - B - BLO fecit 20061220 - stories