Swimming to Algeria
From somewhere in the Mediterranean…
That’s a line from one of my all-time favorite movies, The Crimson Tide. Around 22:00 yesterday (that’s military time), I leaned against the railing of deck 8 of our ship, the World Odyssey, awestruck, as we passed by a coastal city in Algeria, lit up in the clear night sky.
I am staring at freaking Algeria, I thought.
That was on the starboard side. The night previous we had strolled by the coast of Spain on the port side. If only I would have stayed up a wee bit later, I would have been able to see both Morocco and Spain, simultaneously, as we passed through the Strait of Gibraltar.
It’s so interesting to see different parts of the world by ship. It’s much slower than a plane, so you have several hours to just take in the coast and landscapes of other countries.
I was by myself, staring off at the coastline, when I had this thought:
I wonder if I could swim to Algeria.
I was seriously considering it when some other shipmates joined me in the smoker’s area. I bummed a cigarette and shared the beginnings of my plan. We all agreed that it–Algeria–was probably around 3-5 kilometers away from the ship.
They all doubted my ability to execute my plan.
But then it got real.
You’d have to jump far enough off the ship to avoid getting sucked back under and into the path of the giant propellers, they told me. Otherwise, you’ll turn into small bits.
So, jump from the back of the ship or far enough off the side to avoid that.
No problem. I got this.
We’re now going to pretend that sharks wouldn’t be an issue.
Pretend with me.
I’ve always been a pretty strong swimmer, so I guesstimated it would take me between six to eight hours to arrive on the beach of Algeria. My plan was to get there before sunrise so as to avoid detection.
But before we get to me arriving, we have to address another important factor–the strong currents of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s not like you can just swim in a straight line to the coast. Three to five kilometers, as the crow flies, would probably be twice as far in reality.
Would I even survive? What about the cool ocean temperature? What about getting run over by another ship?
I have this feeling that I’d be in the water, swimming swimming and swimming some more, and then I’d look up and it would appear as if I wasn’t any closer to shore.
Would I just give up and start yelling as a passing ship went by, hoping someone would hear me and stop and pick me up?
But what if I did get to shore? Half-naked, penniless, not able to speak the language other than an Asalam-alechem. What would happen to me?
Would someone feel bad and take me into their home to feed me? Or, would they take me to the police station, where they would interrogate and possibly imprison me? The romantic vision in my head was starting to look more and more bleak.
In the end, I settled for the view from deck nine, remaining dry and free, and contemplating whether or not to get a drink at the bar.
Sometimes, you can have a pretty cool adventure without going anywhere.