The night before Christmas (at Sea)

I spent Christmas at sea with my mother… inasmuch as being in the Straits of Malacca is “out at sea”, bounded by Peninsula Malaysia and Sumatra as we were, the entire time.

I haven’t been on the water for years, and these 2 days brought back old lives: shooting the Svitzer tug crews in Perth, Australia, where I lived for well over a decade. The many week-long game fishing excursions in the South China sea with my father through primary and secondary school.

I’ve seen wonders at sea. The magical things poets, dreamers and David Attenborough bring to our lives. I’ve spent much of my life dreaming about running away to sea. Managed the running away part, though not quite the “to sea” part…yet?

We woke to a grey, drizzly Christmas Eve in the Straits of Malacca, somewhere between the island of Sumatra (Indonesia) and peninsula Malaysia.

It was a cruise to nowhere, that Mum and I took this Christmas. It was the socially distanced version, so the ship was at maybe a third of capacity, , which this hermit thanks all hermit gods out there for. Mostly gambling, which is the main draw for old people, food, and activities for kiddies because of school holidays.

It wasn’t anything like being out in a small wooden fishing boat, or the muscled industry of a tug. But there’s no escaping that distinct combination of brine and diesel (or in this case, marine sludge) that hits the nose and makes you think I AM AT SEA.

Another cruise ship sails in the distance.

Especially when deep night stilled the world, save the shattered moon on water.

“The sea can save you or destroy you,” was something my father said a lot.

The wisdom in our bones teaches us to revere the sea as we do our gods.

And yet, here we are, losing our religion.

The Straits of Malacca, Christmas Eve 2020