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Open Features: MTS Nacella - Part One

Alfred Mielacher begins a most inriguing tale concerning a lad who is determined to go to sea.

In regards to mechanical objects many things exist that most people understand. Like how a car engine works for instance! Not that everyone is familiar with the necessary knowledge to know all the mechanics behind it, however if one asks people, most can give a plausible enough answer. Or why do jumbos fly? How is it possible that a 10,000 ton metal bird gets off the ground? Or why 500,000 ton ships don’t sink? Personally of course I do know why, but still...

More difficult to understand, however, is a concept that involves something one can’t see – like electricity. Volumes have been written about electrical energy. When people are posed a question regarding this subject, most wouldn’t know what to answer. However we are all aware it does exist! As small children we learn about its existence by being told – that under no circumstances should we ever put our tiny fingers into a wall socket. Why on earth not? Every kid would want to ask!

We make use of that invisible entity countless times a day. These days virtually everything is electricity driven, from our kitchen appliances to hairdryers, shavers and lawn mowers. We tend to take electricity for granted though, only become aware of its absolute necessity once this essential power supply has been cut off; due to whatever circumstance!
Hardly anyone spends time speculating about the magnificence of electrical energy!

Collins Paperback English Dictionary states:
Electricity: a form of energy associated with stationary or moving electrons, ions, or other charged particles -
Energy: the capacity to do work and overcome resistance -
Electron: an elementary particle in all atoms that has a negative electrical charge -
Ion: an electrically charged atom or group of atoms formed by the loss or gain of one or more electrons -
Proton: a stable, positively charged elementary particle found in atomic nuclei in numbers equal to the atomic number of the element -
Particle: a minute piece of matter, such as an electron or proton -
Elementary particle: any of several entities, such as electrons, neurons or protons that are less complex than atoms -
Entity: something having real or distinct existence -
Nucleus: the positively charged centre of an atom
, made of protons and neutron, about which electrons orbit –

No wonder that most people wouldn’t know what to say!


Towards the end of my exam year, having studied mechanical engineering for seven long years, our head teacher asked us individually what our plans were for the future. Since I had no intention of spending the rest of my life standing at a drawing board in the company my father had worked for as shift electrician, I had heard myself announce candidly that I would find myself a ship to travel the oceans for a while; being fascinated by the fact that these huge metal monsters don’t sink!

On the day of my departure my mother wasn’t a happy lady. Nor was my old man too pleased seeing his son leaving home to pursue his dream of becoming a seaman. What a ludicrous idea! An Austrian becoming a seaman? he often had said when we had discussions about my future. My argument during such debates was always the same, namely: the world is a very big place and my home town a very small one in comparison!

Nonetheless one early morning beginning of September, he gave me a lift to the nearest entry to the highway that would take me to Hamburg in search of a vessel.

He said: “Listen son, it is hard for me to except your wish to become a sailor. I wanted you to become an engineer and have a better life than I did. I really don’t get it. Are you doing it to spite me?”

“No dad! Of course not!” I answered. “But I have to do this. As I explained to you, I told my teacher that I would do that before I settle down somewhere. I won’t get involved with the wrong people, I promise. It’s going to be an experience nobody can ever take away from me and it’s only going to be for a few months anyway. Okay?”

“Please look after yourself. And if you should find time, please write a diary of your travels and post it to us as Christmas present. Mother would love that. Will you?”

“Sure! Once I am on the ship I will have lots of time to write. For now don’t worry dad, it will be a great adventure!”

Then we hugged each other and off he drove!


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