A Sailing Planet

I was slightly upset when I received a sms from the editor of the "Russian Pioneer" asking me to write about ships. Well, I do not like vessels sailing the seas and oceans. I will be honest – I get sea sick. Seafaring is not my best option. I was born in a place where the steppe touches the sky – in Kalmykia.

And then I thought, do they want me to write about ships? No problem. I will write about the ship, which is dearer to me than anything in the world. Read, please.

First, a little bit of history. For many thousands of years, mankind has come a long way from primitive reed rafts to caravels and gracefully flying along the waves brigantines to powerful and astounding nuclear-powered icebreakers.

However, the brightest intellectuals striving forward to new horizons could not make us to see that our planet is the very same ship drifting in a far from safe space of the Universe. What's so surprising about this? Do you remember the famous chords of the Beatles song about the yellow submarine? “We all live in a yellow submarine.”

That's how we all live – in one yellow submarine. Or on the same ship. And we sail the ocean called Life. And so what? We live and we do not complain.

Probably, there is not a single boy who did not dream of becoming a sailor. We also dreamed about this in Kalmykia. It may seem strange but only at first sight. What seems to be unattainable is always the most attractive. To anyone, who has not seen anything larger than the city pond, the ocean seems something incredibly majestic and those who conquer elements are fabulous giants.

Childhood love often grows into the passion of all life and then the history of fleet is replenished with new and high-sounding names. A native of Vladimir Mikhail Lazarev and Pavel Nakhimov from Smolensk were born and grew up far away from sea. But this did not prevent them from becoming famous sailors and naval commanders.

However, for us, the guys from Kalmykia, it was easy to imagine ourselves conquerors of the seas. The steppe is as boundless as the ocean. And does its grass carpet not rise and fall like waves of the sea? All you have to do is to mark the ship’s side with whatever's at your disposal, put a highest pole in the middle and there you are pursuing Flint’s pirates on a winged brigantine. It takes only one step to get to the uninhabited Treasure Island...

However, for the first time, I saw the sea and sea vessels in Artek. I remember that I was struck by the inconsistency of dimensions of schooners and caravels, about which I had read in books, with the real sizes of cruise ships and warships. They were huge, the size of a three- to four- story house!

In the 70s of the last century, the head of the international team Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl crossed the Atlantic on the straw boat "Ra-2" and it silenced the sceptics. Our compatriot, traveller Yuri Sienkiewicz was a member of Heyerdahl’s team. By the way, he was born in Bayan-Tumen in Mongolia. But I say it just to mention the craving for the seas and oceans of the inhabitants of the steppe.

Over the past centuries, best minds have put a lot of effort into making our sea voyages more comfortable and safe. We learned, as the sailors say, not only to walk on the water. Now we go to places, which we would not have dared to look at before: into the depths of the sea and the realm of eternal ice.

I have to travel a lot around the world. And, although I prefer planes, I've seen a lot of modern ships, each of which is truly a miracle. Each of them is a hymn to the human mind, skill, energy and enterprise and to the team spirit.

A ship without a crew is dead. Even if it is fully staffed the ship is doomed if sailors could hardly get along with each other. Many still remember the catastrophe of Costa Concordia – one of the largest European cruise liners that sunk literally two steps from the Italian shore.

As it turned out later, the tragedy happened because the helmsman did not understand the captain’s orders. And it was good that the shore was close, otherwise the tragedy of Titanic would have seemed like a Christmas fairy tale.

Yes, the laws of the sea are written with blood and sorrow. But people, who are drawn to the sea because they are curious or ambitious or for any other reasons, are ready for any sacrifices.

The elements that are generally alien to us have such a strong influence on our society that the political scientists and sociologists divide the population of the Earth into "peoples of the sea" and "peoples of the land". The latter are more conservative and thorough but on the other hand, according to scientists, the former are more enterprising and democratic.

I do not know how appropriate this division is. It is natural to all of us in some way to dream of uncharted shores and sea romanticism. And there are not so few people who are ready to give life for a dream. Now we began to conquer another dream of mankind – the cosmos.

However, we often do not notice the obvious. Our whole Earth is, in fact, a fragile boat that rushes through the raging universe. Do you remember the episode from the film "People in black", when a head of the secret agency explains to the young employee: "There is a persistent danger for earthlings. But why should we disturb people?"

It's true. Asteroids and comets capable of destroying life on our planet are not so rare. We have just only learned to trace them, but we have no idea how to prevent a collision. There are also supernova outbursts that fill the cosmos with deadly radiation and wandering stars capable of destroying the solar system…

And I do not understand how we humans, having spent so much time and effort on improving ships, do not want to make the same effort to improve our common ship.

Why do we thoughtlessly pump out and dig up non-renewable resources? For the sake of what do we poison water and air? How do we, knowing that the main condition of survival is the cooperation of all with everyone, allow ourselves to spend more money on armament than on medicine? Why are we still acting like a rebel team? And how far will such a ship sail away?

And that is why I would very much like FIDE's motto "Gens una sumus" – "We are one family" to become the motto of all mankind. After all, our main ship is the planet Earth. And it's up to us not to get sick.