Spooky things sometimes happen at sea. You are sailing along
peacefully minding your own business, and you sail into a situation that
gives you the heebee jeebees.
While sailing south of the Balearic Islands in the western Mediterranean
Sea, a situation evolved that gave us plenty to think about. Off to
starboard we saw a peculiar package drifting in the sea. We had
never seen a object like this in the past, and we wondered if we should pick
it up, open it, and check out its contents. After all,
it could be a seagoing Pandora's box. We motored up to the package and
debated the merits of satisfying our curiosity. We knew that drug smugglers sometimes set packages adrift and pass the GPS coordinates on to
who come out to pick it up. In this day of terrorism, it's
easy to imagine anarchists leaving packets of explosives and other dastardly
components for collaborators to pick up after they drop it off.
We spent the next five minutes motoring around the package examining it from
all sides. It had a coconut palm frond attached to it acting like a
sail to push the package in the wind. That was a clever touch.
We motored around the package in ever smaller circles tightening the noose
around the parcel, and possibly around our necks if the package was trouble.
Polypropylene lines trailed in the water beside it, and we were careful to
not get the lines tangled in our props.
After ten minutes of debate among the crew, we decided in favor of risk and
adventure, and all voted to retrieve the package and open it. David
went down on the sugar scoop on the stern, and I carefully backed up to the
floating parcel. David used a boat hook to pull the package up to our
stern. Nothing bad happened. So far, so good.
The package was wrapped in dark plastic held together by a network of
polypropylene lines. I gave David a knife to cut the lines and slice
through the plastic covering. He did the dastardly deed, and again
nothing bad happened.
There was a rough wooden plaque fixed to the top of the package with a
boat's name written on it. It also had a time and date written beneath
the name - another unsolved mystery. The boat name and date
really stimulated our curiosity. Who was Tenassa I, and what happened
at 3pm on January 6, 2000? It was now the summer of 2005. Had
this package been floating out there for more than four years? We
wondered if the package contained a message from a boat that sunk, or if
there was a message from someone stranded on a deserted island. There
aren't any deserted islands in the Mediterranean, and so that theory seemed
unlikely. We were now committed to opening the package, do or die.
We peeked inside to discover if there was a message calling for help, or
drugs, or other type of contraband. To our surprise, we found the
remnants of a cut up surfboard. Someone had sawn it into equal size
chunks of foam and fiberglass, stacked the pieces in an
orderly fashion, wrapped them in plastic, attached a sprouting coconut
frond, tied everything together with rope, and set the package adrift.
There were no drugs, weapons, or contraband. We suspect
that a yachtie had damaged his surfboard beyond repair, and so he wrapped it
up and gave it a burial at sea. Still, that's a lot of trouble to go
through to create a mystery package that you release on the high seas.
Who was the mystery yacht? Had the package been floating in the Med
for all those years? Was a yacht lost at sea? Was this some type
of weird surfing ritual - a Viking funeral for a favorite surfboard damaged
beyond repair. Alas, we will never know.
But one thing we know. We looked fear in the eye,
satisfied our curiosity, and now we have an excellent mystery to share with