“EPIROTIKI LINES mts JUPITER”
I took this shot in a thrift store during my (failed?) quest to find good art in the coastal hamlet of Waldport earlier this month. The tile was on the bottom shelf of the china section, tucked near the back. Its depiction of an ancient Roman boat and that thunderous name, Jupiter, pulled me in for a second.
The picture lay forgotten until today, when I was flipping through art photos and started puzzling over the tile. Who left it here? Where is the Jupiter‘s home port? A Google search brought me to the Wikipedia page of the MS Oceanos, an Epirotiki cruise ship that sank in 1991 after an explosion in the engine room blasted a hole in the ship. Intriguing.
The drama started at dinner time in the incredibly rough waters off South Africa, which happen to be SOME OF THE MOST SHARK-INFESTED WATERS IN THE WORLD. Are you preparing yourself for a gruesome shark attack story? The denouement is a little less exciting, but a bit more despicable. The captain started packing to leave and didn’t clue in any of the passengers, who were busy dropping their dishes and getting seasick in the mess hall. They didn’t notice anything was wrong until the sinks and showers started shooting water and the lower levels of the ship flooded.
A couple hundred helicopter flights later (there were 16 helicopters and 571 passengers), everyone was saved, mostly with the help of the entertainment crew. Unlike the captain, the singers stayed with the ship until the last helicopter load departed moments before the ship sank.
So, what about the Jupiter? At the very end of the article it says:
“Although perhaps only a coincidence, Epirotiki Lines had within three years preceding the sinking, lost two other ships: the company’s flagship Pegasus only two months before, and the MTS Jupiter, three years before.”
Oh, that was NO coincidence. This cruise line be cursed, mateys! A further search lead me to cruisebruise.com, which chronicles the even more dramatic demise of the Jupiter. The ship was filled with schoolchildren and teachers when it was rammed by a tanker ship in the Mediterranean. Four people died, one of whom was a young child. Chilling.
Lessons learned about cruise ships:
1. Don’t trust your captain.
2. Make sure to occasionally check whether your room is flooding.
3. If your ship is sinking, the same annoying cheerful man who sang “Puttin’ on the Ritz” at the show last night will be the one trusted to save you.
4. Watch out for approaching tanker ships, and alert your captain just to make sure he’s not napping.
5. Don’t EVER actually go on a cruise, and DEFINITELY don’t work for one.
As for the tile, it remains a mystery. How did it end up in Waldport, Oregon? Was it bought in the ship’s gift shop before it sank? If so, are the blue symbols completely surrounding the ship an omen of its eventual watery demise?
Ugh, art-thropology makes my brain hurt. I need a vacation… maybe Carnival is safer?