Saturday, 26 October 2013

Underneath the surface

There are some sights you never get tired of, watching the ocean's eternal movement is certainly one of them. On a day like today, however, the eyes get an unforgettable treat - Deep Blue.
In capital letters. 
Alright, it is just an optical effect, so they say, light getting filtered, some wavelengths eliminated, others prevailing. What a cold way of describing - well, this! The color is so stunningly intense like nothing you have ever seen before. It is alive, you want to catch it and weave a fabric out of it, it is just - Blue.
The thrilling thought: Only some meters below the surface, the Blue becomes blue (no more capitals), then blueish, then grey, then dark like the blackest night.
This is the realm of many beings, of which we see not even a fraction. There are creatures under the surface we cannot imagine, living in the total darkness, remoteness, and still finding food, still fulfilling the cycles of their strange lives.
But all we see is the surface. 
Well, the same holds true when you are going on a cruise ship - normally. You encounter the people who work in the open, you get to know the public areas, the restaurants, bars, corridors.
But that is only the surface as well, shiny and well functioning. And as we can't explore the depth of the seas from here, we might as well go for the depths of FRAM.
Chief engineer Frank is more than willing to lead a small group down to the engine room, where heat and a muffled humming welcome us in the Engine Control Room, the "bridge" for the ships moving systems. All the information ends up here, everything can be controlled from here.
After jamming some foam plugs into our ears we follow Frank through the heavy door to the beating heart of FRAM, the generator room. Four of these big machines are available, most of the time we are running on two for the sake of fuel economy.
The noise suggests moving parts, but you don't see much of it. Diesel-electric is the keyword, basically we run with electricity that is fed into a gearbox which in turn transmits the power to the two pods underneath the ship. All highly modern, no huge pistons revolving, no shaft, no rudder. That comes as a surprise for many, but explains very well why FRAM is so utterly quiet.
Emerging back to the surface, to the sunshine, it feels good to have seen the hidden side. But somehow it feels better to be out here in the fresh air and enjoy - the Deep Blue.