Caribbean sea - The destiny of shipwrecks

Caribbean sea - The destiny of shipwrecks

Like all human endeavors (1974)

We are in the Caribbean Sea near Silver Bank, where so many ships have been broken apart by storms and reefs. In a Zodiac, I am heading for a recent shipwreck—a large cargo ship. The sea caught this vessel by surprise, as it did the galleons of the Spanish Armada in the 16th and 17th centuries. But this wreck didn’t really sink to the bottom; she ran into the shallows and was stranded. At high tide, a good part of her is still visible. At low tide (as in this photograph), she is almost entirely out of the water and resembles a pathetic castle of rusty metal plates, eaten away and full of holes like fine lace.

Each shipwreck has a story—that of an owner, a captain, a crew… One day, or one night, the drama took shape for the men on board. They felt safe on their ship. They had confidence in human technology. They told themselves that our intelligent species had created a ship that could withstand the great Nature. At the bottom of their heart perhaps they had a small bit of doubt but they could never admit to fear lest they be thought cowardly.

The image of shipwrecks comes irresistibly to mind whenever I find myself in the presence of other human works in which our species flaunts its arrogance. Then I dream of the dozens of vessels I have seen crushed by the sea. I tell myself that humans rarely hear the warnings that the elements give them. That we forget too fast. That we are not modest enough to deserve the term “sapiens” (wise) that we award ourselves.