Beyond Boundaries - Excerpts.

Eight bells. Midnight. Stumble on deck. Black, black night. Wind and rushing water. Flying fish flapping in the scuppers. Drowsiness suddenly disappears. Seamen’s instincts suddenly come to light. A missed footing or handhold could mean going overboard. Six luminous dials. The red glow of the compass. The sheets are cracked and the ship flies into the night. Hands grip the wheel. You gauge the heft of the wind and the run of the ship. Hmmm. This is the life. Maybe I will stay at sea a little longer.***
Tahiti. The night we invited some rather upper-class girls on board for sunset drinks. They were visiting for one night only on a P&O passenger liner. We had no money so we mixed a rum punch in a bucket. Cheap rum, vanilla beans to improve the taste, and various fruit juices. Ice from a street vendor. One girl asked, “Where is the toilet?” to which we answered, “You’re drinking out of it.” And so ended the party.
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Saigon. Far reaching tentacles of American influence. A neon sign proclaims Hollywood East and illuminates a girl in a tight white dress in contrast with riot of color of Bougainvillea, feeding a three- legged dog a piece of chicken she bought from a nearby roadside stall. Inside the girls all wear numbers, a cash and carry rent a wife for the night system. A tout with an American flag draped around his shoulders hails, “What’s that I smell in the air? Aha, the American Dream, Hollywood.” The tout looks in my direction, “What’s your dream, boy?”
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Jakarta. Adrenalin pumping taxi ride towards the airport fleeing firebombing, weaving through cars ablaze during riots in Indonesia.
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Rangoon. Terrified taxi driver outside Aung San Suu Kyi’s house on University Avenue on the Royal Lakes, a soldier, barely a teenager, rams a machine gun under my chin, signaling to move on.
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Shanghai, Peace Hotel. Breakfast in the fantastic Dragon Phoenix Restaurant overlooking the Bund. Outside China recovering from the Cultural Revolution, its people shedding their drab Mao suits.
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India. A night taxi ride from Pondicherry to Madras hidden under a blanket in the back seat of an old Ambassador car on the day Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi was assassinated.
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Irian Jaya. Dodging a spear that was thrown over the oil compound fence while our meeting was in progress.
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High Arctic. Smell of raw jet fuel from a Sikorsky S61 helicopter with doors open in -41 degrees, searching for hazardous ice that could impede the drill ships exploring for oil under the polar ice cap.***
China. Li Shan reads my palm. “Eeyoh,” she says examining the creases, “I see you get big salary. Gimme money.” The girls drink steaming lemon juice. Thirty-year old Li Shan has missed the Chinese marriage bus. I ask her where I can buy my wife a 30-year anniversary present. She looks at me in utter amazement. “You never give presents to the wife, only your girlfriend.”
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In the marine office of Noble Denton’s Singapore headquarters captains Dawson, Janse, Murphy and Kearns jointly study Shell Oil’s application for transport approval for the newbuild $400 million Galaxy III from Singapore to the North Sea via the Cape of Good Hope in winter, as deck cargo on Mighty Servant 3. We captains are faced with a dilemma. Galaxy III is the world’s largest jack up drilling rig and we consider it too big for the world’s largest heavy lift carrier vessel Mighty Servant 3. We are caught between a rock and a hard place. This meant the size and capability of heavy lift transport ships had not kept pace with the size of ‘cargoes’ for which they were destined to carry.