Home' Greymouth Star : May 13th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Saturday, May 13, 2017
t is the question every cruise
passenger wonders about, and
one that was articulated in the
opening credits of ITV’s recent
fly-on-the-wall docudrama, The
Arriving at the quayside to start her
holiday aboard Royal Princess, one
woman gazed up at her home for the
next week, and proclaimed: “Beautiful!
Makes you wonder how they keep afloat.”
The vessel might have the Duchess of
Cambridge as a godmother — she was
heavily pregnant with Prince George
when she cut the ribbon in 2013
— but to most eyes she is no beauty.
At 330m long, she is longer than
the Manchester United, Arsenal and
Liverpool football pitches laid end-to-
end. The vessel’s 17 passenger decks, with
their serried ranks of balconies, reach a
height of 66m — taller than Nelson’s
Column with a couple of Routemaster
buses piled on top.
At Promenade Deck level, she is 38.4m
````````````````````````````````````her up, the
Lido Deck overhangs the side of the ship
and a Sea Walk projects outwards for a
Below the waterline there’s only 8.5m to
the keel. That ’s just over 10% of the ship’s
So how does it stay afloat? How does
it resist being blown over in a gale, or
toppled by rough seas? What stops it from
capsizing if the ship is forced to make a
Let ’s remember that it is also burdened
with the weight of 3500 passengers
and all their luggage. Not to mention
the food required to keep them sated,
the thousands of tables and chairs in
restaurants, bars and theatres, beds,
bathrooms, the swimming pools, the
marble-clad atrium, the lifts, and
everything else required to ser vice a
But, despite all of those things and
more, the vessel is full of air. Imagine a
bowling ball and a beach ball side by side.
Drop them in the sea and the beach ball
will float, high in the water.
Let us dispel another myth before
starting to look at the physics.
Although the size of a ship is calculated
on its tonnage, this is a measure of volume
rather than weight. It is defined by the
ship’s enclosed internal space.
A ship’s weight is measured by the
amount of water it displaces. Royal
Princess, for example, is 142,714 gross
tonnes, and while sister ship Majestic
Princess is almost the same size it
measures 143,000 gross tons for the
simple reason that there is a glass roof
covering one of its swimming pools.
Despite the seemingly unfeasible
height relative to the volume below the
waterline, its centre of gravity is kept low
because the heaviest equipment — its
engines — are below decks, along with
the tanks containing fuel, waste, and
drinking water. There are also ballast
tanks, containing water that can be
pumped from one end of the ship to
the other, and from port to starboard, to
Now, the physics. A cruise ship displaces
an amount of water equivalent to its own
mass. The pressure of the sea pushes up
against the vessel’s hull to counter the
downward force of the ship’s mass. Unlike
air, water cannot be compressed, so the
combined forces create buoyancy.
It is basically the principle discovered
when Archimedes took a bath 2300 years
ago and ran naked through the streets of
Syracuse in celebration.
The water a cruise ship displaces
becomes the waves and wash it creates
as it moves along. A rounded U-shaped
hull is preferable for creating buoyancy;
some ships are flat-bottomed and while
they still float, they are likely to move
uncomfortably in heavy seas.
Staying afloat is the abiding principle
of a cruise ship, but the hull must also
be designed to resist obstacles such as
concrete piers, rocks, sandbars, and even
Inside, a series of separate compartments
with automatic watertight doors prevent
the hull filling completely with water. On
the Titanic, those compartments did not
reach high enough and water overflowed
from one to another.
On the ill-fated Costa Concordia, the
captain’s action in sailing too close to
rocks breached several compartments at
once and his subsequent actions in trying
to turn the ship caused the ship to tilt, or
list, with fatal consequences.
International regulations have now
changed to ensure that no captain could
single-handedly take the wilful decisions
that cost 33 lives on Concordia.
As an aside, the same watertight
compartments also prevent the spread of
fire — a maritime catastrophe feared even
more than sinking.
It is one of life’s great ironies that the
popularity of cruising today is based on
the glamorous image projected in a film
about the sinking of an ocean liner 105
years ago. The 25 million passengers who
cruise each year now do so safe in the
How do cruise ships float?
The Royal Princess
“I am no Mussolini,”
Nicolas Maduro on
television early this
month, but if things go
on this way he could
end up like Mussolini.
That would be very
unfortunate for him,
and also for Venezuela.
The daily street protests against
Maduro’s rule are now in their second
month, and about 40 people have already
been killed, most of them by the police.
“Molotov cocktails” (fire bombs) are old
hat; the new fashion is for “poopootovs”
— containers of human or animal
excrement that are thrown at the security
forces. Nobody knows when it will all end,
but most people fear that it will end badly.
It did not begin all that badly. Hugo
Chavez, a radical former army officer
who had led a failed coup attempt in
1992, was elected to the presidency quite
legitimately in 1998. Venezuela was the
richest country in South America because
of its oil wealth, but most of the 31
million Venezuelans were very poor, and
Chavez proposed to change that.
He had strong popular support —
majorities of about 60% in the 2002 and
2006 elections, and still 55% even in 2012
— and he had lots of money to give to
the poor. He died of cancer in 2013, and
his successor, a former bus driver called
Nicolas Maduro, got barely 50% of the
vote in a special election later that year.
He has not had a quiet moment since.
The problem is money. Chavez ran up
massive deficits to finance his spending
on health, education and housing, which
really did transform the lives of many of
Venezuela’s poor, but the bills came in
only after he died. The world price of oil
collapsed, Venezuela’s income did too, and
everything went sour.
Now Venezuela has the highest inflation
in the world (700% this year), and the
economy has shrunk by almost one-fifth.
There are chronic shortages of food and
medicines: three-quarters of Venezuelans
say they are eating less than two meals a
day, and the child death rate is up by 30%.
A lot of people, including former Maduro
supporters, are very angry.
Maduro’s response has been to blame
all the problems on the local business
elite, who he claims are hoarding goods
to cause shortages, and on the United
States, which he says is plotting with the
local opposition parties to overthrow the
elected government. But plots are hardly
necessary; he barely scraped into office
in the 2012 election, and he would lose
massively in an election held today.
To stay in power, Maduro must avoid
an election, and the next presidential
election is due next year. The opposition
had already won a two-thirds majority
in the National Assembly in 2015, so
Maduro’s first move, in late March, was
to have the Supreme Court (packed with
his supporters) simply declare that the
National Assembly was “in contempt ” of
the country ’s laws and shut it down.
That was what brought the protesters
out on the streets in such numbers that
three days later Maduro lost his ner ve and
the Supreme Court revoked its decree.
But the protests, fuelled by the growing
shortages of practically everything, just
kept going, and now
that the next
be brought forward
from 2018 to this
could not win a
this year, or in 2018
either. It is not even
certain that the
the security forces
can be relied on to
defend him forever.
So he has played
his last card: A new
written by Chavez
himself and adopted
in 1999. At the
time, he said it
was the best in the
world and promised
it would last for
centuries, but on
May 1 Maduro
said the country
needs a new one.
He is going to
call a “constituent
assembly” to write
it, although he was vague on how its
members would be chosen. Some might
be elected, and others would be chosen
from “social organisations” (i.e. his
The Chavez constitution does not give
Maduro the authority to do this, but the
man is desperate. He needs an excuse to
postpone elections he knows he would
lose, and this is the best he can come
up with. It will not work, because the
opposition understands his game and
will not accept it. The country is drifting
towards civil war.
“I don’t want a civil war,” Maduro
said while announcing his constituent
assembly, but he is laying the foundations
for one. He might even win it, in the short
term, if the army and police stay loyal to
him. But in the longer run he really does
risk ending up like Mussolini: executed
without trial and hanging upside-down in
a public square.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
Venezuela: drifting towards civil war
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
A woman throws a rock during protests against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
We appreciate the value of the Letters to the Editor
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uLetters to the editor
1787 - The First Fleet sails to the new penal
colony of Australia from Portsmouth, England,
under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip.
They arrive the following January.
1930 - Death of Fridtjof Nansen, Nor wegian
Arctic explorer and diplomat who headed
Nor way ’s team at the League of
Nations and won the Nobel Peace
Prize in 1922.
1940 - In his first speech as
prime minister of Britain, Winston
Churchill tells the House of
Commons, “I have nothing to offer
but blood, toil, tears and sweat ”.
1961 - Death aged 60 of US film actor Gary
Cooper, who won Oscars for his roles in the
films Sergeant York and High Noon.
1968 - Eleven Australians are killed and
25 wounded when North Vietnamese attack
Australian fire support base.
1999 - Gene Sarazen, one of only a handful
of players to win each of golf ’s four major
professional tournaments, dies aged 97.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Sir Arthur Sullivan, English composer (1842-
1900); Daphne du Maurier, British novelist
(1907-1989); William R Tolbert Jr, Liberian
president (1913-1980); Joe L ouis, US former
heavyweight boxing champion
(1914-1981); Jim Jones, US-born
cult leader (1931-1978); Harvey
Keitel, US actor (1939-); Ritchie
Valens, US pop singer (1941-1959);
Stevie Wonder US pop singer
(1950-); Dennis Rodman, US
basketball player 1961-); Lena
Dunham, American actress, writer, and director
“A nation is a society united by a delusion
about its ancestry and by a common hatred of
its neighbours.” — William Ralph Inge, English
religious leader and author (1860-1954).
“ Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on
one another, but resolve instead never to put
a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of
another. ” — (Romans 14:13).
£1 million a week
lost some of its
effectiveness on the West Coast today as
drivers in Canterbury ‘rebelled’ and decided
to carry goods normally consigned by rail,
transport operators agreed to provide them
with the opportunity, and the strike committee
in Greymouth raised no objections. While
Greymouth transport operators have made no
move yet to pick up strike-bound goods, they
predicted this morning a truck invasion of the
Coast from Canterbury today.
But despite earnest appeals from political
leaders when the strikers marched on
Parliament yesterday afternoon, the Railway
Tradesmen’s Association last night voted
against breaking the deadlock and took a
decision to carry on, a verdict that seems likely
to take the costly and disruptive stoppage to its
“ He’s the best wing we have had since Nippy
Forrest,” muttered an old-timer at Wingham
Park last Sunday. High praise indeed for a
20-year-old who is in but his second season of
rugby league. And should he receive good ball
while playing for Southern against Queensland
at Christchurch tomorrow, Maurice (Mocky)
Brereton might well earn his Kiwi jersey.
He was a rugged young rugby for ward
when Marist junior coach Bill Hamilton
experimented with Brereton as a wing. The
result was that in his first game he scored five
tries. On switching to the league code last year,
he thrilled the crowds with some magnificent
tries, and in the four games he has played this
year he has already tallied six tries.
uFood for thought
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03 769 7913
03 755 8422
It is the price foodies are paying for
their love affair with the avocado.
Even the great Meryl Streep has fallen
foul of this most deadly of kitchen
They call it... avocado hand.
If you are not smashing it on your rye
toast on a Saturday morning, you are
not fully committing to brunch. But if
(God forbid) you have an unripe avocado
on your hands, slicing through the hard
skin and getting the stone out can be a
Ludicrously, surgeons say growing
numbers of amateur chefs are reporting
to accident and emergency departments
with what they are calling “avocado
hand ”; serious stab and slash injuries that
are not the result of some awful attack
from a wild animal, but rather failed
attempts to penetrate the hard shell of an
avocado, or a slippery encounter with the
pit in the centre.
Though hard figures have not yet been
collated, the British Association of
Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic
Surgeons is now calling for safety
labels on the fruit to staunch the
flow of injured patients to A and E
Many cases apparently involve serious
ner ve and tendon injuries, which require
intricate surgery — and even then some
patients never recover the full use of their
I think we can all agree if you’re forced
to make a trip to casualty thanks to an
avocado related injury, you need to take
a good hard look at yourself and your life
Then again, it’s not just avocados which
are potential culinary weapons.
Presenting, the definitive list of fancy
folks’ kitchen injuries...
1. Camembert burns
A classic Christmas injury, this one.
You’re at a Christmas Eve drinks
party and someone passes round a
fresh-from-the-oven baked camembert,
oozing and bubbling. You scoop a big
glob of melted cheese with a celery
stick and shovel it in, only to wince
as the skin on the roof of your mouth
wrinkles from the molten dairy product
which turns out to be hotter than the
2. Sourdough gum
Anyone who spends their weekends
brunching will be familiar with that
moment when your doorstop slice of ultra
crusty artisan bread has been toasted to
such a perfect crisp that its jagged corner
slices your gum as you take a bite.
3. Oyster thumb
You spend vast amounts of money at
the local fishmongers on oysters for your
Friday night dinner party, but are a few
roses in by the time you get round to
Even if you’re not three sheets to the
wind, it is nigh on impossible to shuck
an oyster without ending up with a stab
4. Mortar and pestle wrist
Much like tennis elbow, this particular
injury comes from over use, perhaps while
grinding large amounts of spices for a
homemade curry paste.
5. Mandolin shave
If you are making dauphinoise potatoes,
there is nothing better for achieving that
fine cut than a mandolin.
But get distracted for a second while
slicing and you’ ll take off a large
proportion of your palm with it too.
— New Zealand Herald
Rise in avocado-related injuries prompts call for warning labels
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