If there’s one lesson Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ (The original 1994 version not the remake) taught me, it is that Life goes on. Mostly in a circle. Hence, ‘The Circle of Life’. You get the picture. We are born, we live (at least we try to) the best way we know how and alas, inevitably we die.
Except for a few species. The Immortal Jellyfish – aptly named for being biologically immortal, the infamous Cnidarian Hydras and well technically to a degree Lobsters too. All these creatures can totally die, but just not of senescence as they do not biologically age the same way we do. Some would call them lucky. Others lean towards the idea that death is what actually makes life meaningful and beautiful.
With opinion & perspective, we have a choice. With death & immortality, not so much. At least not yet. This concept seems to apply not just to us but to non living things as well.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine invited me to go check out this place which is essentially a graveyard for old ships and boats. A large enough vessel will sail the vast expanse of oceans during it’s prime. It will face stormy weather and batter ferocious waves that are capable of reaching a staggering 30 M in height at their max intensity.
After all their voyages eventually due to wear & tear, the ships lose their sea worthiness and are forced to retire on shore. That is assuming said ships haven’t already sunk or been shipwrecked elsewhere. I thought it would be a cool place to check out as I’d never seen it before and also would also make for nice pictures.
And so we commenced on our expedition to see the cemetery for ships. We would have to drive to a place called ‘Doha’, which lies at the outskirts away from the general city area. For people currently in the country of Kuwait, here is the location if you’d like to visit it : http://tinyurl.com/1b2c6u4h. I’d advise you guys to go there while the tide is low. If you’re lucky, on the way there you might even get to see wild flamingoes chilling in the water if you visit the beaches.
Upon reaching the venue, we straddled across the rocky, shell infested sand along the shoreline. There she was. A vessel called ‘AZZAUR’. A real ominous beauty standing firm against the test of time. Resilient and steadfast. Like a flame refusing to go out. I was curious to know if along with her other sisters there on the shoreline, was she too simply abandoned & left for all dat AZZ (pun intended) to rust away? Or were they simply docked there temporarily?
Later on I learned that some vessels were abandoned a very long time ago, while the rest belonged to a dredging/salvaging company and were still sort of in use. Just not for sailing.
You can tell them apart from the recently used ones because of how dilapidated the ravages of time had made them. The ‘AZZAUR’ used to be a Passenger/Ro-Ro(Roll on-Roll Off) Cargo Ship. She was built way back in 1979. Today she stands 37.44 M long and 11.28M tall but only as rust coated scrap encrusted with barnacles beneath her hull.. Gone are the days when she would venture across the perilous seas.
My friend and myself wanted to climb aboard these master vessels but most of them were inaccessible. The ships were either far too tall beyond our reach or barricaded with barbed wire.
There were alot of families who usually frequent the area for camping or just chilling out and having picnics by the beach. Some of them even let their kids get on to some of the smaller boats. Personally, I’d never let them play there.
These ships are old and full of rusty, sharp hazardous objects. The area surrounding the ships is dotted with scrap metal pieces, screws, nails etc. And although most of the ships have been fenced off to avoid mishaps and accidents from taking place, danger is always lurking right around the corner.
So my short and sweet message to the campers and picnicers who visit is: ‘Don’t let your kids climb aboard the ships’ & ‘Don’t litter’. The place is already a scrapyard. It doesn’t need more of your trash.
Dismayed we were, but determined we remained. The place did offer some spectacular views which could make way for some nice shots. After a little exploring we came across two small grungy boats moored side by side. I assume they’ve been parked there for a while as someone had even made a tiny walkway using old bricks and tiles across the ocean floor.
The bricks were strategically placed and engulfed with seaweed bits and a layer of algal growth. I looked at the pathway and pondered as to where it might lead. It was totally like a ‘Say no more’ or ‘Hold my drink’ kinda moment for me. I made my way towards them and cautiously attempted to walk like an intoxicated pirate over them. Yo Ho Ho !
The path led to the aft (rear end) of the boat and continued onward for a bit. Eventually, it slowly appeared to disappear into the sea bed. Just then I heard footsteps behind me. The trail was a narrow and so only one person could walk across it at a time. I looked behind while trying to maintain my balance on one rather slippery tile. I guess we weren’t alone after all. It was a caretaker for the slightly bigger vessel docked right behind the two ones we saw earlier.
This guy was carrying a tall ladder and he didn’t seem to care to walk on the brick and tile path. The mushy ground seemed like was something he was accustomed to. It was like quicksand for me, but he traversed it with ease. He slammed the ladder on to the side of the taller vessel and scaled it like he was Spiderman himself. I was just shocked because the ladder wasn’t firmly placed over the muddy ground which by it self was already slippery. The entire set up was not in the least bit stable. Still, the guy looked like he knew what he was doing.
My friend and myself looked at each other briefly. In our minds, we both knew this was going to be our only chance. So we tried to get the man’s attention by banging on the hull of the ship from below. A minute or two later, a head emerged over the side from on top. He gestured to us and asked what we wanted.
We informed him that we wanted to take pictures and requested permission to come aboard. He hesitated ever so briefly but then kind of said screw it. “These guys don’t look like the kind to cause trouble (Pirates) nor do they appear stupid enough to jump off the damn ship and hurt themselves. Meh, why the hell not.” – is what I imagine he probably thought to himself.
So this part, I found super sketchy. He ties the rickety ladder with a small rope to the side of the ship and the bottom of the ladder wasn’t even touching the ground! He was all like “Yeah yeah, don’t worry. Y’all good.” Before I could ask my friend if he thought this was actually a good idea, he was already halfway up. Son of a gun!
In the end I too said screw it. And attempted to make my way upwards. With every step I could feel the entire ladder move and tilt to the side. Going up was easy. Coming down, that’s when my nerves kicked in and I froze for a good second or two. And I’m somebody who had ran down a mountain, jumped off and then paraglided over a lake during my trip to Nepal (You can browse through the post here:https://tinyurl.com/z9udhq76). So I found it strange that I was so close to sea level and still so much in fear.
Anyway, once we were on board, the caretaker of the vessel told us to be quick and then scram. We nodded in agreement and then made our way to the different decks, one rust-covered ladder at a time.
I managed to enter the desolated captain’s cabin that still had it’s helm intact. All in all the views were totally spectacular. But I couldn’t leave without going to the absolute top. So that’s exactly what I did. It sure was a surreal feeling.
I remember mentioning to my friend that wandering around the ship was a little tough in spite of it being docked and stationary. Imagine doing the same if a storm would take place over rough seas. I’d fall overboard for sure!
Wouldn’t mind taking the plunge so long as someone was around to yell out Oscar Oscar Oscar, man overboard and throw me one of those life saving buoys. I remember them as ‘Life Donuts’ as a kid. Luckily enough, I did find one on board still in pretty salvageable condition. I mean it was in tatters for sure but probably could get the job done.
We bid adieu to the ship and headed back towards the beach as the sun was beginning to set. It was one of those partly cloudy days. So you would occasionally see the suns rays peering through the hazy clouds.
We made the best of what we could and all in all it was quite an eventful and adventurous day. Making our way through the treacherous iron laden sand I stumbled upon a really ancient looking keyboard, the kind people would use for computers back when Windows 98 was the latest operating system.
I guess this place was a graveyard for old ships and keyboards alike.
It was a very cool place to visit. Aside from the litter everywhere, it felt almost like taking a stroll back in time. The kind of feeling you get when you visit a museum of sorts.
The best part? Zero maintenance required. In fact the venue would age like a fine wine and look more amazing the more everything there got degraded. Some might argue that the entire place is a safety hazard on steroids but I think as long as you implore some caution and just be observant of your surroundings, you should be fine. Definitely a must see for anyone visiting or currently in Kuwait.
Until our next encounter, Rest in Rust !