Tuesday, September 4, 2012
That's what the lookout should be shouting from his perch high above the waterline. But what would the poor chap do when the mast is barely above sea level, with the rest of his ship settled on the ocean's floor? The 'Madras Roads' had always been notoriously tricky to navigate, but surely not so treacherous as to sink ships?
I had thought there were only two ships that had floundered on the ChennaiMadras coast in recent times. The one at the mouth of the Cooum is a hazy memory of stories heard. It ran aground sometime in the late 1960s, but I have not been able to find much evidence of that disaster. The other one I know of is more recent, when a ship ran into the Tiruvottiyur shore in 1994. It remained there, stuck to the shore and I would see it everyday on my way to work. I remember that the locals treated it as a picnic spot; the evenings would see sharbath and cotton-candy sellers do brisk business with the crowds that would turn up to see the big ship up close. (I had had a picture taken there as well. Wonder where that is, now!)
But this was a new one. It was only last week that I learnt that there was a sunken ship just outside the Madras Harbour. All that I have got to know about it is that it was called 'Seven Seas' - or it belonged to a company so named - and that it sank sometime in the mid-1980s. Its mast still shows above the waters, forming a nice perch for the brown-headed gulls (or were they the bridled terns?) to rest between their sorties!