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Storms Change Lives

Some thoughts while gazing out to sea from the 24th floor of an Orange Beach, Alabama, condo in which I could not afford to buy a parking space.


They found the El Faro’s black box, according to recent newspaper reports. This freighter sank in 15,000 feet of water near the Bahamas during last year’s Hurricane Joaquin. Caught in the hurricane between Jacksonville, Florida, and Puerto Rico, all 33 crew members perished. Hopefully, the ship’s voyage data recorder will reveal the facts of its demise, but I don’t need a black box to tell me what happened: Taking on water through the holds, the ship’s engine room flooded; it lost power, including all auxiliaries. Consequently, it lost steering; the helmsman was unable to keep the bow into the wind, and it was broached by a succession of huge waves. Thinking of the individual crewmen, one would hope that “an angel whispered in their ear and held them close, and took away their fear in those long last moments.” Metaphorically, the ship might have helped in its own discovery, as “el faro” in Spanish means beacon or lighthouse. You can’t help but wonder what the ship’s master was thinking when he chose to sail directly into the eye of the storm. 

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