“Reef! 12o’clock! 100meters!”

Lars Alfredson
Wed 6 May 2020 12:37
Malene post, translated by google
Blood is pulling out from my feet and legs. Thighs, hands and nails have cracks and marks, like the scars on an old caskelot whale. Behind me at the anchor chain, dried blood on deck. Not mine. We are a bleeding, exhausted crew. Tongue about the hearts after the destruction, relieved to finally be free and on the way out.
9 hours before I wake up with a set. The sound of screaming anchor chain. I'm holding my breath. The threatening sound of chain against reef reefs reproduces into the ship hull, cuts through metal and mattresses and makes the bones in the body squeeze and crack.
I'm up in a full jump and crash with the others into the kitchen, up the stairs and out on deck. The storm beats the faces awake and the wind is tearing us around. Crew and ship. I'm edging around along the railing with the storm light and light into the water beneath us. We are dangerously close to it is big reef. Another meter and the keel on the ship can get some irreparable wooden. And we still have nine days with open sea for civilization and repairs. I keep an eye on the reef, Ivan gives more anchor chain and Lars is standing at the helm. All communication takes place in shouting and hand signs, in an attempt to get something through the deafening crash of storm and throwing aluminum hulls. The rain whips cold into the face, while the waves injected several meters over the ship from aft.
After an hour of fight, the storm has settled down a bit. They are really no more we can do until it gets light, and exhausted we go to bunk again. There will be a night of light sleep and with one ear constantly on watch.
The next morning, the damage is inspected. During the storm we have been pulled across the bay, where we were anchor at the untouched paradise: Chagos. The island where a maximum of 20 ships are allowed to visit each year.
It is quickly clear that the destruction will be huge if we simply pull in the anchor. On corals as well as ship. Instead, we lower ourselves in the water and start on the slow mission of releasing reef and anchor chain from each other.
We're lifting the heavy chain centimeters by centimeters across the reef. Each move is a strong effort and a reflection on which corals should survive for the benefit of others. If the chain is lifted up one place, it lands tongue another and we keep trying to assess which corals are strongest. Lars and I are communicating under the surface. He's stronger than me. I can dive and hold my breath better than he. Together we get many meters chain carried across large areas of reef. Sometimes we have to knock off coral source with the heavy chain to carry it across other areas. Further ahead is a beautiful coral with hundreds of small fish. I keep it in the corner of my eye all the time.
The chain is so free now that we need the boat to help. Lars at the helm, Ivan at the anchor chain, me in the water signaling to the guys. A little forward, to starboard. Too far, a little back again. More and less chain. At the same time as we fight the current and the wind that wants the opposite of us. But slowly, the chain is getting more and more free. As we approach the big coral with the small fish, I signal that they must sail slowly and slowly pull the chain up. Meanwhile, I'm diving. Drop the snorkel, feet vote against a nearby solid coral, and lifts from all my power chain. The body is excited like a bow, oxygen runs out quickly and eyes flatter between coral and ship, ship and coral. Just a little longer...
It works according to regard. The chain is being pulled up, over and around the coral, and although it's actually only a drop in the ocean of destruction, it is a great relief that this coral survived too.
Ten minutes later, the last remaining chain has been pulled in. A few hours have passed. The anchor has abandoned its roof at the bottom and the storm's destruction has finally ended. I swim a round and watch with bleeding heart and feet the cemetery how long white threads from the bleeding corals still make the water unclear.
I'm pulling up on deck. With salt in my wounds and a growing lump in the throat, from the sight of the tragedies underneath the surface. I'm putting away my swim feet and snorkel, and I walk up to my place in the bow, where I sink down at the same time as my heart, and feel the tears get free running and swim along with the salt water that has not yet dried from my body. Crying over broken corals - I didn't know that would be part of the journey.
I give myself thirty seconds.
Then I take a deep breath and get up. The court is made to sit in, but now I'm climbing up on the little tree plateau. This exit requires a greater overview than usual. Demanding with scattered legs and a hand in the side for balance. Rank back and look stiff towards the horizon. For a moment I see myself from the outside. What kind of a position is it supposed to be? A dumb Peter Pan.
But there's no bold glimpse in the eye or resourceful smile around the mouth. The face is in serious folds and the look heavy and saturated by destruction.
While the ship starts, I raise my right hand and rest it against the forebone to shield against the sun. Lars is at the helm. Ivan at the GPS. The waves are standing around the bow, I miss my eyes to the light and try to get us safely out of the atoll.
“Reef! 12o’clock! 100meters!”