Saturday, June 28, 2008

The River Princess

The River Princess sank eight years ago, and has become something of a permanent fixture off Siquerim Beach in Goa, India, as it holds a few mysteries.

My arrival in tropical Goa was refreshing after the chilly weather near Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan. Something about wearing shorts and a T-shirt in December has a certain allure, even for a guy from "Sunny California."

A 20-minute taxi ride (much safer than this one) brought my friend Deon and I to our hotel across from the beach. As soon as we'd finished the check-in process, we headed to the sand and were met with our first sight of the River Princess.

I was initially under the impression that she was at anchor, but realized she was way, way too close to shore for that. She was clearly sitting on the bottom, and repair crews were all over the superstructure working under floodlights in the setting sun. I shrugged, figuring it was nothing more than the result of a helmsman asleep at the wheel.

Eating prawns at one of the ubiquitous beach restaurants the next day, I asked a few British expats about the massive container ship sitting in 20 feet of water.

"Oh, the River Princess? Yeah, she's been there since 2000, when she hit some rocks near Panjim. They towed her over here to sink."

I was astonished. Though not in the market for a container ship, I could imagine they are fairly expensive. "Why haven't the owners done anything about it?" I asked.

"No one knows who owns it."

"How is that? It must be registered somewhere." To that, the Brits just shrugged and told me an Indian company was working on taking her away, but they weren't holding their collective breath, as that was an old rumor
circulating for years.

I took a closer look at the vessel and decided she may have been smuggling arms or drugs - hence the reason no one has claimed it. Whatever the case may be, her presence is definitely altering the currents around the beach, and a small sandbar is forming.

"You know, that would make an awesome night club and hotel," I said.

"Yeah, a lot of people say that," a woman replied. So much for originality.

Whether the River Princess will continue to rust away in the sea or will finally be cleaned up is still up in the air. I hope someone had the foresight to remove the fuel and oil and somehow minimize the environmental damage, since a spill would be rather unfortunate. However long the she does sit there, she will be lamentable to the locals as an eyesore, and of passing interest to tourists who naturally wonder at her mysteries.

Or, perhaps, the Brits were having a joke at my expense, and there is no mystery at all.


NorCal Cazadora said...

I felt this way all the time when I lived in Richmond, Va. There were all these amazing abandoned buildings that, had they been in California, would've been converted to trendy restaurants and nightclubs. But Richmond operated at a different speed, so instead, there were small trees growing out of the decaying mortar instead. And somehow, that's even more intriguing.

Dana Cheryl said...

Hiya Brandon,

Love the blog! We'll have to compare notes on France sometime. There's this little place close to the Louvre that makes THE BEST hot chocolate...

Speaking of European favs I'd pay mucho bucks for some good gelato. :)

You'll have to tell me about your upcoming trips... In the next few months I'll be in Seattle, New Orleans, Death Valley, & on the outskirts of Area 51 checking out one of the Red Flag operations. :)

Keep the stories coming! Happy traveling

Dana Cheryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dana Cheryl said...

Dang those double posts! It's been happening a lot lately... :)