Friday, January 26, 2018

Oil Upon Troubled Waters

Fish dressed in airline pilot hat with luggage. The Pilot by Eric Fan
He took to flying
like a fish out of water
who was burning the midnight oil.
The Pilot  by Eric Fan 
Having been known to mix metaphors, oil (olive and otherwise), fire (figurative and literal), and water (both calm and troubled) feature in a litany of sayings and make some unlikely combinations.
The Children of Israel Crossing the Red Sea by Frederic Schopin, 1804–1880. Oil Upon Troubled Waters. marchmatron.com
The Children of Israel Crossing the Red Sea 
by Frederic Schopin, 1804–1880 
Oil Upon Trouble Waters seems to be missing a component and it also sounds slightly biblical. 
Edmund Dulac The ship struck upon a rock. French, 1882-1953. Oil Upon Troubled Waters. marchmatron.com
The Ship Struck Upon A Rock by Edmund Dulac, 1882-1953 
"His presence and advice, like oil upon troubled waters, have composed the contending waves of faction."- Benjamin Rush, 1798
Failing to locate a biblical or Shakespearean source, most phrases claim a nautical or military origin . . . 
The Garthsnaid at sea. Photo of Sailors in the rigging. 1920's.  Oil Upon Troubled Waters. marchmatron.com
The Garthsnaid at Sea, 1920's. 
and pouring oil on choppy water turns out to be both nautical and literal.

layer of oil, only a few millimeters thick, will create enough surface tension over water to prevent waves.
Currier and Ives illustration of whalers in New York. Oil Upon Troubled Waters. marchmatron.com
Currier and Ives Illustration of Whalers 
Sailors have been aware that where sea animals are feeding on oily fish, the ocean is unusually calm. Whalers reported similar calm after harpooned whales spilled blood and oil into the surrounding water . . . aside from the thrashing of enormous mammals while being slaughtered.
Sousse mosaic fishing scene detail. Oil Upon Troubled Waters. marchmatron.com
 Sousse Mosaic
Aristotle, Pliny, and Benjamin Franklin described experiments of oil and bodies of water. Franklin was so enamoured, he carried oil with him in a hollow walking stick ready to amaze others should the opportunity present itself.  
BP oil spill. A bathtub ring of oil the size of Rhode Island. Oil Upon Troubled Waters
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill 
in the Gulf of Mexico 
on the BP-operated Macondo Prospect.
The reaction is also the reason oil spills become slicks and spread so efficiently over bodies of water . . .
PTTEP Australasia's Montara rig explosion in Australia's offshore petroleum field. Oil Upon Troubled Waters. marchmatron.com
PTTEP Australasia's Montara rig explosion 
in Australia's offshore petroleum field.  
which is good for nobody, although a few big oil proponents have actually suggested intellentionally creating oil slicks in the hope of mitigating sever weather. The new EPA may be going with that theory.
Titanic Lifeboats. Oil Upon Troubled Waters. marchmatron.com
Titanic Lifeboats
Before 1998, lifeboats were required to stock an oil bag and current federal regulations continue to require oil on other vessels: 
One gallon of vegetable, fish, or animal oil must be provided in a suitable metal container so constructed as to permit a controlled distribution of oil on the water.
Vintage photo surfer taken from tip of board. Oil Upon Troubled Waters. marchmatron.com
Long Board Surfing c. 1970's
Fortunately for surfers, directors of ocean disaster movies, and shipwreck divers, waves with enough energy will obviously overcome poured oil. 
Surfer Buzzy Trent holding a Hawaiian "gun" surfboard. A mans' man. Oil Upon Troubled Waters
Surfer Buzzy Trent
"Big waves aren't measured in feet, but in increments of fear. You may master and conquer your fear of surfing big waves, but the ocean will always be the victor. There's no such thing as man conquering the sea. The ocean simply tolerates you." - Buzzy Trent (1929 – 2006), pioneer of big wave surfing

#Sea #Beach #History #Sail

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