Prince Rainier III stared out the palace window and into the new millennium. Down below was his harbor, the splendid Port Hercule, and beyond that were the hills of Monaco with the little roads and the hairpin curves. In the distance was the future, a dark future. As usual an easterly was blowing into the harbor and foreign boats were everywhere. The Royal Yacht was rocking around in a logjam.
He remembered his wedding day in ‘56 when he sailed out of Port Hercules with his new bride. At first, his parents had not been pleased with his choice of a girl from Pennsylvania, but even the great aunts had come around to liking the movie star Grace Kelly. The Paparazzi were everywhere so he amused the newly minted princess by driving past their little boats full speed. Nobody sank, but it wouldn’t have bothered him if they had. The prince disapproved of Paparazzi almost as much as Spaniards, but they both had uses.
When he was a child, his parents entertained the Aristocrats of Europe who decided the fate of the continent around the dinner table. It did not always go according to plan and one ended up swinging form a lamppost. Royalty gets overthrown by angry subjects, but as luck would have it, he had none of those: His people adored him.
As the years passed Port Hercule began a slow decline. … His daughter’s picture appeared in the supermarket tabloids, scantily clad, and then Princess Grace, the love of his life, missed the hairpin corner and died in a smoking wreck. He should have fixed those hairpins.
Trying to make his life even worse was the mess in Port Hercule.
The Russians superyachts were barging into the entrance along with a fleet of little boats. The usual solution to overcrowding had been to make Port Hercule extremely expensive, but those Oligarchs! They anchored too close to the royal yacht, shamelessly drinking their vodka, and even sky high prices could not deter them. Port Hercule had always been too small. Perched as it was beside the deep water and as he stared out the window the choice was clear: Fix the harbor or jump.
The Prince had a few things going for him that Homer lacks. No one dared to tell the ruler of Monaco how to spend his money. No need for study groups, committees, RFPs, Corps of Engineers, pauses, environmental impact statements, or any of that nonsense. He could make decisions that a democracy could never arrive at. Fortunately for everyone, he was a smart prince and thrifty as it turned out.
He woke up one morning with a grand vision of a floating breakwater that would shield his harbor from the waves of the Mediterranean. Massive enough so he could use it as a parking garage for all of his Ferraris and as a side benefit it would allow safe harbor for the superyachts, who would pay for it all. He was dead sure it was his idea, although some say it was suggested by a dinner guest.
Many said it was too expensive, some said it would blow away, others were sure it would sink and some lunatic said that he would be hung from a lamppost! But he was the Prince.
It came to pass that his vision of the world’s largest floating breakwater was built and it has been working without incident for 20 years. Check out “Monaco Breakwater” or “Quai Ranier” if you care to see the Google maps bird’s-eye view.
The Port of Homer could build a floating breakwater. The current five harbor designs being considered are too small and cost estimates are too high, primarily due to immense amount of fill that would need be dumped into deep water.
Homer should consider a floating breakwater.
Bill Wiebe came to the country after not making a success of himself by going to college. This shortcoming resulted in a career on the water and he has owned the fishing vessel Namorada for 35 years.