The Nautical Nightmare


Like a watery siren call, Ibiza beckoned under the glittering Mediterranean sun – famed refuge for the weary pleasure-seekers, the tragically hip, and an occasional floating asylum for famous couples attempting to outrun the piercing clicks of the paparazzi. It was there, bobbing like a high-priced cork, where I found myself aboard the SS Grandiose; the Titanic equivalent of a paranoid millionaire’s wet dream.

The vessel in question was a monstrosity—a Ziggy Stardust-Bentley-Bikini hybrid of a ship. The captain, a brooding man-mountain known only as Skip, flexed his viperous tendrils of authority with a ruthless fervor that could set Attila the Hun back on his heels. The blood in his veins ran as cold as the martinis served at sunset, and he was as dangerously obsessed with balancing the books as a crack-addicted accountant.

My role, as it were, was that of deckhand-cum-skivvy-cum-underpaid-errand-runner. My tasks were as varied as they were plentiful: polishing chrome railings until they sparkled like a Vegas showgirl’s bustier, scrubbing every exposed deck until it gleamed like a newly coined nickel, and keeping the onboard celebrities – a tabloid darling, Holly What’s-Her-Name, and her flavor-of-the-month, Jaxx Something-or-Other – happily sedated with a never-ending supply of artisanal cocktails and designer opiates.

In the quiet moments (which were few and far between when dealing with Skip’s draconian rule and the celebrities’ all-consuming taste for giddy hedonism), I contemplated the nature of power, the cost of fame, and the casual lunacy of willingly navigating the seven seas under the watchful, and often baleful, eye of Skip.

Of course, in the middle of such musings, reality often intruded in the shape of the ship’s klaxon. As I dashed up the teak-paneled staircase in response to one such alarm, I found Skip wrestling with the ship’s wheel like a man possessed – his veins bulging, eyes wide and wild, screaming his fearful mantra: “Profits over safety, profit over safety!”

All at once, the deck seemed to sway and heave beneath my feet. I glanced starboard, catching sight of a looming water vortex, the kind of aquatic beast that gobbles galleons for breakfast and still has room for a fleet of fishing trawlers. We were in the swirling heart of a bona-fide whirlpool, and Skip, in his gold-rush fever for profits, had steered us right into the labyrinthine maw of watery oblivion.

The air crackled with an energy so palpable that even our celebrity mascots paused their carousing long enough to question their predicament. Wide-eyed, pale (paler than usual, at least) and shaking like a newly sober alcoholic, they emerged onto the deck with champagne glasses gripped tight in their manicured hands. Their usual blithe disregard for lowly ship protocol was replaced by genuine fear. But not so much that Jaxx abandoned his cocktail.

From afar, the scene must have looked like an absurdist magical-realist painting sprung to life. The hulking Skip wrestling with Poseidon’s wrath. The celebrities clinging to each other like dazed flamingos on a mirror-glass dance floor. And I, the deckhand-cum-peasant revolt, poised at the brink of a new and exciting challenge.

So, pausing to tug my life vest over my head (man can’t contemplate rebellion without proper flotation gear, after all), I took a deep breath. The madness was too delicious to resist, the stakes too high to waver. It was high time to take action or go down with the ship in the most ludicrous maritime disaster since the Titanic struck that ill-fated iceberg.

Buckle up, Bon Voyage, it’s going to be one hell of a ride.


What happens next?

Mild to Wild

1 = Keep it simple10 = Let's get wild

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