Our harbor has shrunk. A massive object has dwarfed everything in sight instantly making one think about the works of man. The sight of it deeply effected me and has occupied my mind daily. To say I have mixed feelings is an understatement.
The Polar Pioneer, an offshore oil platform arrived on Friday on it’s way to drill a hole in the sea floor off the coast of Alaska. It sits on a heavy lift ship, MV Blue Marlin, itself a marvel of the modern age. The whole improbably impressive thing measures 355 feet from the waterline to the top. The load looks like it would be a very scary deal in a storm at sea. I’m sure they will be studying the weather forecasts closely.
It’s entry to the Port Angeles, Washington harbor was met by a small flotilla of kayaks and inflatables piloted by members of Greenpeace. They were here to protest it’s very existence as one more damned thing that may potentially turn a large portion of the ocean into petroleum soup. The Blue Marlin was in turn accompanied by the Coast Guard with an assist from the Clallam County Sheriff, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and the legal strength of an in junction against Greenpeace resulting from a boarding action that took place during the Pacific ocean crossing from Malaysia. The affair has a distinctly David and Goliath flavor. Nobody seemed to have the modern equivalent of a slingshot in hand and the enormous vessel came to anchor without incident.
The oil rig itself will be offloaded from the Blue Marlin sometime in the next several weeks. It will be outfitted for being towed to Seattle were it will be readied for it’s final trip to the Chukchi Sea 125 miles north of Barrow, Alaska.
Giant technology seems almost out of place here where the mountains feet are washed by salt water and grow thick with the descendant’s of mighty trees that built a nation. Nature is not infected by ego. It has no need to compete with those who so often stoop to conquer. Polar Pioneer stands on the back of it’s transport vessel with it’s central tower pointing at the sky. It sits on massive feet which will some day stand on the buoyant force of the sea like a latter day messiah waiting to surprise the unfaithful.
Few of us will venture to the barren waste that Polar Pioneer is destined for. How long will it stand? Does the future hold a day when the thirst for it’s product is replaced by other means. Might it be that time will move in a stream that races past this Goliath of the frozen sea and leave it forgotten and silent through long centuries of obsolescence. When I look out on our fair harbor I can’t help but root for the young David’s who stand with slingshots at the ready. I remember the words of Percy Bysshe Shelley and think about the passing of power and the works of man.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”