Smell on the Water
With a report straight from the dog's mouth 🐶
The swashbuckling sea travel of storybooks is as different from sailing by ferry as dancing is from falling down a flight of stairs.
Fresh, salty air is not allowed inside a ferry. Although it envelops and caresses and courses over and around the behemoth boat, it can’t infiltrate the 200,000 square-foot cabin — the lounges and bathrooms, “brasseries” and “cafés” and long fakewood hallways are sealed tightly against diffusion. Earth’s wild and nourishing atmosphere can’t get in, and the vaporous bilge inside can’t escape.
A former naval officer commenting on Reddit says that a submarine at sea smells of “diesel, cabbage water and sweaty socks” — remarkably, the ferry, a non-submerged vessel rarely inhabited for longer than three hours at a stretch, smells much worse, a blend of cheap, heavily-perfumed cleaning products, human waste, and fried matter that varies in its specific proportions as one stumbles around the floors, sometimes breaching a particularly cruel pocket and gasping.
The irony of being trapped — of trapping oneself — inside a hard little bubble of foul gas rumbling across a vast plane of loamy, pristine air would be funny if it didn’t feel like a sharp-edged metaphor for mankind’s deranged relationship with the planet.
At least it’s quiet, way out there on the blank wet desert. Probably there are times of the day or week when ferries are crowded, and when that happens they must feel like damned arks of the future careening toward the sun. But we never seem to ride during those times, and truly they can be sonic oases.
Unless there is a bad dog.
Today there was a bad dog, or, if he wasn’t “bad,” he was pissed off to be there and didn't feel like keeping his complaint discreet. Trapped in his carrier, huffing fume-air that must have told his canine senses he was crossing the river Styx, he yelped endlessly, imploring his gods to reverse their decision to cast him into Hell. This dude was shrill, and his bark carried unnaturally — hundreds of yards — in that dreadful ozone (who knows what strange acoustics are facilitated by the baroque molecular combinations floating around in there?).
Dog did not want to go roast in Hell, could not believe he had really earned a place in it, and was begging his quisling humans to do the honorable thing and release him, or at least be brave enough to murder him before the ship reached its apocalyptic port.
That’s my (Chris’s) read on what he was yelling. Keith thinks I’m wrong. He makes an interesting case, and has taken the step of transcribing a word-for-bark translation in order to persuade you. I guess keep an open mind, and let us know in the comments what you think the dog who yelped 5,900 times today between Belfast and Cairnryan was saying. Here’s Keith’s reconstruction of a good chunk of the monologue, along with what I admit is a very successful visual rendering:
With lungs still stained,
Hi, yes, this is exactly the content we crave, well done. ❤️
I felt like Keith might’ve completely captured the essence of dog until I got to the bit about art house cinema - and then I got a bit scared 😂 I hope this dog just wanted to impart knowledge rather than contemplating a fiery end but I can see how the constant yelping might’ve conjured up the idea of a trip to hell.
Honestly, I’ve always quite liked a ferry but most of my memories are of standing on the (admittedly somewhat unromantic) deck watching the spray. In what usually feels like sub zero temperatures - at least travelling to Isle of Wight or from Plymouth to Roscoff - a tropical cruise it ain’t, but there is at least sea breeze.
For me, ferries feel quintessentially British and a throwback to my childhood, conjuring up memories of family holidays and school trips from a time when I was maybe less discerning when it comes to travel and excited about what lay ahead. On the bright side, at least you only had a dog and not 30 secondary school children without seat reservations marauding a 6 hour night crossing! I don’t know what our teacher was thinking but I pity the other passengers. Anyway, I hope you successfully recovered with the 50 or 60 promised beers last night and look forward to reading the next instalment.