I am sitting here surrounded by the papers, blueprints and associated documents that one consults when writing a docking specification. The specification is gone now, contract is signed and I have a breathing space before the ship actually comes out of the water. Of course I could clean my desk so I can actually lay my hands on any required paper without moving 200 other pieces of paper, but there is always tomorrow....
In the middle of February, I came down with the flu. Not the type that leaves you huddled with various parts of anatomy over the toilet, but the one that flattens you like a truck has hit you, you hurt everywhere and have no desire to crawl out of bed. So I watched TV, and movies.
I started off with War of The Worlds with Tom Cruise. I was actually getting into it, until the Hudson River ferry is tipped over on it’s side by one of the alien machines and Tom and family are sent hurtling into the waters. When they surface, they are at the stern of the ferry and the prop is spinning madly in the air over their heads. Instantly I am diverted from the storyline by the prop ( alright I could have been feverish) and watch it spellbound, waiting for it to wind down, as I debated about the propulsion equipment. I decided that it was a diesel driven gearbox, probably reversing as the propeller was not CP. Then I found that I was trying to figure out what safety shutdown had not activated to stop the engine, then I pictured the engine chugging away on it’s side and where was that lube oil going to? By the time I focussed back on the movie, the heroes were ashore.
In the same movie a train belching flame out of all the windows had gone by them at a crossing and my only thought was ‘Gee, that’s sort of neat”.
However, the ship scene made me want to call Steven Spielberg and tell him to get on the ball, being a Director didn’t give him the licence to get it wrong.
That was only the start. I then watched a story about a bunch of terrorist taking over the QE2. The Head of Security on the ship is a blonde in a long dress and heels. There is a Captain that is attending a gathering in a banquet room and sole function as far as I could tell was to look manly and regal in his dress uniform ( sorta like real life) and one mate on the bridge and no ship engineers. The Head of Security manages to get away from the terrorists, meets a SEAL (of course there is one onboard) in a little wee closet that happened to have a Ship to Shore radio in it, and tells the SEAL that there is a device in the engineroom that will allow them to take control of the shafts. ( Uh ha, here we go, I think to myself. ) They go to the engineroom and the top secret device is the local propulsion control. The movie makers were close, but did they have to make the console look like something designed by my Grandson? The levers were 2 feet long and the pitch gauges were hand drawn. I lost interest after that!!
The last movie I seen shot on the QE2 had Omar Sharriff as Captain. I watched it for awhile trying to think what was wrong with the picture. After awhile I realized that everyone was moving WITH the ship’s roll instead of against it and that I was sub-consciously waiting for them to fall over. I guess that the Director decided it was easier to move the camera to simulate the roll, then it was to film on a rolling ship.
The absolute best of the worst scenes I have seen on a movie is the sinking sailing vessel. A man is trapped inside, frantically trying to beat his way out of a locked hatch and breathing through a vent as the cockroaches stream out of it. They cut away to an exterior shot and the boat is fully afloat with water pouring out of all of the hull openings. Not awash, but at it’s waterline! A real groaner!!
( Needless to say, I don’t pay to watch ship movies at a theatre because I end up noticing the technical details. Even when I take a ferry I wander around and check out the safety equipment and condition of the ship where I can see it. Since my Co-worker does the same I know I am “normal” )
As for the best movie, it has to be Das Boot. The engine scenes where they are scrapping and fitting main bearings are excellent. I’ve watched this movie several times, subtitled at that, and am always in awe at the background work that went into it.
Another excellent show is “Super Ships”. It is a 1 hour weekly show that features different ships, such as Mighty Servant, going about their business and interviews with the crews. It is nicely presented to appeal to the non-marine watchers as well as ashore mariners such as myself.
I'm sure there are scenes in so-called ship movies that have irked you, because they are wrong. Drop us a line and tell us about the worse ones. Heck, tell us about the good ones too.
We can all use a laugh and maybe Steven Spielberg will drop by and see where he went wrong.