Thursday, February 3, 2022

Microstory 1814: Walking on Water

My parents owned a ship-building company—specifically, barges—so I’ve been around the ocean my entire life. I know how to row, sail, tie knots; everything that’s associated with ships and boats. It pretty much consumed my being. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I started to get into hiking. I was kind of sick of the water, so I wanted to do something land-based, and that was the best I could come up with. I loved it, so I started doing it more and more. Meanwhile, my parents were trying to put themselves on the map by constructing the longest barge in the world. At 500 meters, it surpassed all others by a great deal, and they were proud of themselves for it, even if there weren’t many uses for the darn things. They were also faster than most ships of the day. With no cargo, they could reach a cruising speed of nine knots, which was pretty impressive. Oh, and they could move on their own, so that was cool. The company spent most of its money on these three giants, and they weren’t shaping up to give us much return on the investment. They needed to show the world what they were capable of. They needed to market themselves. They needed a big show. So I came up with a plan. It was ridiculous and silly, but if I could just get people to hear about the company, it would have been worth it. I decided to try to walk from my home country of Russia to the Nation of Alaska. Crazy, I know, but with these barges under my feet, I figured that there was no reason I couldn’t get this done. It’s good that there were three of them, because I don’t know if it would have worked with just two. They could be attached to one another back to front, allowing travel between them. They weren’t meant to move across the water like this, but they could stay together just fine for long enough to allow me to step from one to the next. Again, we were all well aware of how crazy the plan was, but it worked.

After I stepped onto the second barge, the first one would be detached, and propelled past the next two. By the time I reached the end of the third barge, the first one was attached in front of it, and the second one was already on its way to getting in front of that one. It took a lot of fuel to make this happen. The idea was for me to walk all the way from the Easternmost tip of Russia to the Westernmost tip of Alaska by foot. If the barges moved  significantly forwards, it would have defeated the purpose. The drivers had to be really good at not letting them drift too much, and keeping the undertaking as authentic as possible. In total, I walked over 83 kilometers. I probably walked farther than that actually, because the rule was for the drivers to err on the side of Russia, meaning that if the ships drifted at all, they would have to compensate, and usually that meant they were overcompensating. The distance itself was obviously not that big of a deal. Fifty miles is a relatively easy trek for even an only moderately experienced hiker. Still, the barges weren’t the most comfortable surfaces to walk on, and it was pretty boring most of the time. Even so, I’m proud of myself for having accomplished it. The barges themselves didn’t get much use after that, since they were still so absurd, but the publicity stunt worked. I mean, just hearing about it put my parents’ ship-building company in people’s minds, and when they were in need of a ship, they thought of us before all others. The company thrived after that, and they were able to sell it off for a pretty penny. They knew that I didn’t want to inherit it from them, but I still got a decent cut of the sale, because they considered me so instrumental in its value.

No comments :

Post a Comment