Throughout that first night, Jack kept vigil over his vessel, and himself. Each passing speck of light was thoroughly scrutinized with a wary eye, and the workings of his boat he tended with diligent hands. Though sleep would have been welcome, he couldn’t have slept if he tried, as the events of the preceding days and weeks weighed heavily on his mind. Jack relived the scenario over and over again as the night wore on, trying to make sense of it all, and failing every time.
Eventually he gave in to the placid progression of the stars overhead, the rhythm of the boat as it rode the sea, and the inescapable calming effect those things provided. The hum of the rigging in the breeze, the creaking voice of the hull, and the thump of the halyards against the wooden mast cast a feeling of peace and tranquility over Jack that no past adversity could possibly overcome.
Dawn broke in all it’s pink and red splendor over the Gulf. Island Time lay silhouetted by the first rays of light, about a half mile distant, First Watch having made some ground over her during the breezy evening. Jack stood up and stretched, invigorated by daybreak, and made a round on deck to check the rigging. That being done, he ducked down below to put on a pot of coffee, and fry up some bacon and eggs.
As the light grew stronger, the sense of isolation grew with it. All around him Jack saw nothing but the wrinkled surface of the ocean, the dots of occasional whitecaps barely discernable in the early morning light. He poured himself a mug of coffee and nibbled on the bacon he’d cooked as he cracked two eggs to fry in the grease. Looking forward, he noticed Island Time’s salon lights on, and assumed a similar routine was happening in her galley as well. When the eggs were done, Jack ate them greedily, and washed it all down with his coffee. Having washed the pan and utensils, he returned to the cockpit to face the new day refreshed.
The sun rose in the eastern sky, illuminating the scattered clouds in brilliant colors. Jack reached for his radio microphone and hailed Island Time. Her skipper responded, and Jack inquired as to how things were going aboard.
“A long night, but good.” Jack replied.
“How about we come alongside and pass you a mate?”
“I’d sure appreciate that” Jack responded.
“I figured you might appreciate that.”
Island Time’s skipper slowed to allow First Watch to catch up. As the boats neared each other, Jack fired up his little diesel to aid in the maneuvering about to take place. Island Time’s crew launched the inflatable dinghy which rested on her aft cabin roof, and a man climbed over the rail, descending into the dink. A long line was attached to the dink, and the crew paid it out as First Watch approached to windward. Slowly the two vessels neared each other, and the dinghy came alongside First Watch’s lee.
As the dink reached his midship, Jack tossed the dinghy’s occupant a line, which he hauled in and made fast to a cleat. The man threw his belongings on deck, hauled himself aboard, and the dink was cast off, hauled in, and retrieved by Island Time’s crew.
“Welcome aboard!” cried Jack.
“Glad to be here, the name’s Seth” said the man. “We figured you might appreciate a helping hand, and an extra set of eyes”.
“You bet’cha. I appreciate it. Jack's the name. There‘s a berth aft on the starboard side where you can stow your gear.”
Seth collected his bag and went below. Placing his bag on the berth Jack assigned to him, Seth looked around the cabin, noting the galley just ahead of his berth, the navigation station to port, the dinette table forward of that, and the couch across from the dinette. Moving toward the bow, he located the shower stall ahead of the dinette, the head to starboard, and the V-berth in the bow. He was struck by the beauty and simplicity of the vessel’s layout, and quality of workmanship.
Seth lingered a moment, admiring his surroundings, the warm varnished teak, and the clean white paint. Then he headed aft, and up to the cockpit.
“You must be wore out” Seth said to Jack.
“Just a bit. You got any experience sailing?” Jack inquired.
“Just sailing a Sunfish on the lake” Seth replied. “But I’ve run powerboats since I was ten years old, and I know how to read a compass, and a GPS”.
“Good enough” Jack answered. “I expect the wind to stay out of the south for quite a while, and we’re going in a straight line. All you gotta do is keep our bow pointed at Island Time’s rear end. Wake me up if anything changes, I’m gonna catch me a few winks.”
“I’ll do that” Seth said. With that, Jack went below, and collapsed on his bunk, exhausted….
Do or Die - Slowly the boat weaved its way through tight packed bay, and finally they came alongside *Tropic Star*. Happy greetings were exchanged between the crews, ...
2 years ago