CAE Reading and Use of English Part 7
You are going to read a newspaper article about a ship carrying goods across the Atlantic ocean. Six paragraphs have been removed from the article. Choose from the paragraphsA – G the one which fits each gap (41-46). There is one extra paragraph which you do not need to use.
The wind-lashed workers who battle the Atlantic in winter
Even at this stormy time of year in Britain there are thousands of oil workers and fishermen offshore, as well as a scattering of seafarers manning the container ships and tankers that bring us almost everything we need. So it was that in the depths of bitter winter, hoping to learn what modern sailors’ lives are like, I joined the Maersk Pembroke, a container freighter, on her regular run from Europe to Montreal. She looked so dreadful when I found her in Antwerp that I hoped I had the wrong ship.
Trade between Europe and North America is a footnote to the great west-east and north-south runs: companies leave it to older vessels. Pembroke is battered and rusty, reeking of diesel and fishy chemicals. She is noisy, her bridge and stairwells patrolled by whistling drafts which rise to howls at sea. Her paintwork is wretched. The Atlantic has stripped her bow back to a rusted steel snarl.
It felt like a desperate enterprise on a winter night, as the tide raced us down the Scheldt estuary and spat us out into the North Sea. According to the weather satellites, the Atlantic was storms from coast to coast, two systems meeting in the middle of our course. On the far side, ice awaited. We were behind schedule, the captain desperate for speed. “Six-metre waves are OK; any bigger you have to slow down or you kill your ship” he said. “Maybe we’ll be lucky!”
Soon enough, we were in the midst of those feared storms. A nightmare in darkness, a north Atlantic storm is like a wild dream by day, a region of racing elements and livid colour, bursting turquoise foam, violent sunlight, and darkening magenta waves. There is little you can do once committed except lash everything down and enjoy what sleep you can before it becomes impossible. Pembroke is more than 200 m long and weighs more than 38,000 tons, but the swells threw her about like a tin toy.
When they hit us squarely, the whole ship reared, groaning and staggering, shuddered by shocking force. We plunged and tottered for three days before there was a lull. But even then, an ordinary day involved unpleasant jobs in extreme conditions. I joined a welding party that descended to the hold: a dripping, tilting cathedral composed of vast tanks of toxins and organophosphates, where a rusted hatch cover defied a cheap grinder blade in a fountain of sparks. As we continued west, the wind thickened with sleet, then snow as the next storm arrived.
All was well in that regard and, after the storms, we were relieved to enter the St Lawrence River. The ice was not thick enough to hinder us; we passed Quebec City in a glittering blue dawn and made Montreal after sunset, its downtown towers rising out of the tundra night. Huge trucks came for our containers.
But without them and their combined defiance of the elements there could be nothing like what we call ‘life’ at all. Seafarers are not sentimental, but some are quite romantic. They would like to think we thought of them, particularly when the forecast says storms at sea.
A Others felt the same. We were ‘the only idiots out here’, as several men remarked. We felt our isolation like vulnerability; proof that we had chosen obscure, quixotic lives.
В Going out on deck in such conditions tempted death. Nevertheless, the ship’s electrician climbed a ladder out there every four hours to check that the milk, cheese and well-travelled Argentine beef we carried were still frozen in refrigerated containers.
C But it does not take long to develop affection for a ship, even the Pembroke — the time it takes her to carry you beyond swimming distance from land, in fact. When I learnt what was waiting for us mid-ocean I became her ardent fan, despite all those deficiencies.
D There were Dutch bulbs, seaweed fertilizer from Tanzania, Iranian dates for Colombia, Sri Lankan tea bags, Polish glue, Hungarian tyres, Indian seeds, and much besides. The sailors are not told what they carry. They just keep the ships going.
E Hoping so, we slipped down the Channel in darkness, with the Dover coastguard wishing us, “Good watch, and a safe passage to your destination.” The following evening we left the light of Bishop Rock on the Scilly Isles behind. “When we see that again we know we’re home” said the second mate.
F Huge black monsters marched at us out of the north-west, striped with white streaks of foam running out of the wind’s mouth. The ocean moved in all directions at once and the waves became enormous, charging giants of liquid emerald, each demanding its own reckoning.
G That feeling must have been obvious to the Captain. “She’s been all over the world”, proud Captain Koop, a grey-bristled Dutchman, as quick and confident as a Master Mariner must be, told me. “She was designed for the South Pacific” he said, wistfully.