I went out for a run at daylight on Sunday morning Sept. 8, 2019, but I never made it to the first mile.
A man running the other way on Postell Drive asked, “Why aren’t you down there at the pier with the ship?”
Ship? Has a ship hit the pier?
A ship had capsized in the sound, he said, rolled onto its side. A Coast Guard helicopter had hoisted up dozens of crewmen aboard in the dark, he told me, but there were still some aboard.
“Yeah, right,” I thought. Well, yeah. He was right. I got there and saw the top deck facing the lighthouse like the side of a building.
The saga of the Golden Ray had begun, and a short time later in the solemn venue of U.S. District Court we were led to believe the wreckage would be gone before the worst of the 2020 hurricane season.
See above where it says, “Yeah, right.”
But half of the Golden Ray is gone. The unkindest cut, the engine section, left Saturday morning for Louisiana, and some of the cars aboard are mangled and litter the grounds of the Port of Brunswick having never been taken on a test drive.
So a lot has happened since the Golden Ray lost stability and exposed its red keel to the Jekyll Island beach. As long as it’s been there, you have to figure it would have served as a location for “The Walking Dead,’’ but not yet.
So let’s do a review of some things that have occurred while the Golden Ray has been a passive national monument as its stubborn steel frustrated the operators of the world’s largest chainsaw. Forgive me if some of this is personal.
Vonette and I celebrated 43 years of marriage and our granddaughter Isabelle’s first and second birthdays and grandson Benjamin’s fifth. Barring a miracle, we’ll celebrate Benjamin’s sixth with perhaps a fourth of Golden Ray still in the sound.
We endured the most bruising presidential election in history in which both sides lied worse than a teenager making excuses for not having his homework.
The U.S. Capitol was stormed for the first time in history by as zany a cast of characters as you’ll ever see. It was like the Marx Brothers trying to protect us from the Marxists.
In that riot, people who go apoplectic if a protester burns an American flag used them for weapons against the Capitol police. I figure both are desecrations, but that’s just me.
SpaceX has sent more than 40 launches out over the Atlantic and into space since the G. Ray failed to make it to open water.
We have also logged some awfully grim statistics that leave you sitting with your disbelieving head in your hands.
Chicago, the city with among the toughest gun laws in the country, had more than 1,000 homicides as the good ship Golden Ray lay in a fixed position. Some of those were children. I’m sure there were protest demonstrations over the senseless killings, but they didn’t make the network news.
Atlanta has had more than 200 killed in the same period with the 179 in 2020 being its worst year for homicides in decades. Most died of gunshots. Newscasters keep using the phase gun violence. It’s not gun violence. It’s violent people with guns.
And while the salvors worked on the ship, 32 million have been stricken with the coronavirus in the United States. Although some barely showed symptoms, 579,634 have died in the U.S., more than 19,700 of them in Georgia.
But here’s a happy stat. More than 4.5 million babies were born in the U.S. while the tides ebbed and flowed around the Golden Ray.
The price of replacing the Golden Ray has increased dramatically. After bottoming out at $460 a ton in 2020 during the worst of the pandemic, the price of steel is now at $1,500 a ton, triple that 20-year average.
On the flip side, the price of scrap metal, which is the current state of the Golden Ray, continues to soar. I can’t tell you how much because I couldn’t understand what I was reading. Some of it was in dollars per ton, but I found some British prices in pounds per tonne. I gave up.
Speaking of metal prices, gold was selling for $1,509 an ounce the day the ship capsized. It was at $1,813 a couple of days ago, but that’s down from a high of $2,048 an ounce on Aug. 5, 2020.
The loss of 4,200 vehicles aboard the Golden Ray has not created a shortage. In 2020 alone, producers worldwide turned out 77.6 million vehicles. Thousands of thousands of those sailed safely past the Golden Ray, some incoming to Colonels Island and some outgoing.
Humor me with a few more personal statistics:
I ate more than 88 pounds of unsalted, roasted peanuts, drank 619 cups of coffee I made at home and helped some friends grow and donate 175 pounds of tomatoes. And collards? I lost count just as I can’t tell you how many mornings I sat at the round table at Sweet Mama’s.
I also wrote 87 columns. I can’t tell you how many people liked them and how many despised them, but I go back to what the late Jack Parker told me one Sunday morning.
“I enjoy your columns,’’ he said. After a pause he added, “But you know? Some are better than others.”
Indeed they are just as some ships are loaded better than others.