Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ship ahoy!

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!


MumbaiiteAnu said...

That's interesting detail about the sunken ship. Its strange that the mast can still be seen. The weather in Chennai seems so pleasant in the photo.
My blog Mumbai Daily Snapshot is back and active after 3 years now. Do take out time to visit.

Shantaram said...

@Anu: Yes, the weather gods were kind to us that day - otherwise, Chennai is going through the 'hotter' part of its seasons!

Guruji said...

It was during the cyclone in 1966 that the S.S.Stomatis a Greek ship ran aground opposite the Madras University shoreline.
My dad was a documentary film maker and I accompanied him during the raging cyclone towards Napiers Bridge. The ship was sailing towards the backwaters and threatened to strike the bridge. It careened off cource and struck the shore. I remember seeing sailors abandonding the ship and many lives were lost.
The ship was finally dismantled almost a decade and half later.
The film documentary will be available at the Films Division archives in Bombay.

Shantaram said...

@Guruji: Wow! That's quite a story. I managed to see a picture of that ship from The Hindu's archives; you wouldn't know about 'S.S. Seven Seas', would you? ;)