This is an extract from When the Ship Hits the Fan by Captain Rob Anderson (Affirm Press), out now.

WARNING: If strong language offends you, read no further

The ship was a cargo liner – much like a standard cargo ship but with a lot more accommodation for fare-paying passengers. It was a lovely ship in every respect, and I loved my job as Second Mate. As it was not a full-blown passenger ship, with all the services and distractions these ships carry, it was up to all onboard to help out with the guests wherever possible – especially when it came to entertainment.

There were many children on this Christmas voyage, so the officers decided it would be a bit of fun to have Santa drop into the children’s play area via a zip-line. No problem. Any competent seafarer should be able to rig up a wire and a Bosun’s chair. As for Santa, one engineer officer was substantial in both beard and girth, so that was easy. He may not have been the most pleasant of characters – he was a typical world traveller, and one who hadn’t had much exposure to children – but at least he fit the physical requirements.

A long wire was rigged up by the crew, which went from the funnel deck four decks down to the railing just above the children’s play area. As it was a pretty steep angle, the Chief Mate decided to leave a bit of slack in the wire to slow the rate of descent. The corpulent engineer officer was fitted out with a pretty flash Santa suit, and his beard was recoloured to match. As there was no time for a test flight, it was left up to the Chief Mate and his worldly experience to get the numbers right.

The afternoon arrived, and all hands were summoned to the funnel deck to help prepare the missile. There was a problem getting the engineer’s arse into the Bosun’s chair, and the zip-line drooped alarmingly as it took his considerable weight. A large sack of presents was passed to him, some final adjustments made to beard and gear, and a mighty push sent him on his way.

In hindsight, perhaps the mighty push was a bit overdone …

As Santa dropped down a deck at a fantastic speed, he let out a mighty ‘FUUUUUCK!!!!’ Still accelerating past the next two decks, much to the alarm of passengers enjoying a drink there, he screamed as the Bosun’s chair, and Santa’s arse, hit the railing, sending him into a spin.

With another mighty ‘FUUUCK!!’ Santa jettisoned the sack of toys, which struck two passengers asleep in deckchairs, then hit the deck with a ferocious screech as the zip-line, it was now clear, was far too slack to get him to his target.

Santa left a large, 2-metre-long red skid mark on the deck as he smashed through the waiting parents and children. He took out all the chairs and tables – not to mention the Christmas tree – shedding his boots, pants and jacket as he went, and then ended up in a screaming heap against the railing.

As the parents rescued their distressed and injured children to assess the damage (both physical and psychological), our Santa, now down to his boxer shorts, limped off to the stairway screaming, ‘You can all go and get fucked!’

Not quite the result expected.

Buy the Book:

Affirm Press Book When the Ship Hits the Fan

Captain Rob Anderson
Captain Rob Anderson