Windhaven 11 – click here for the full page

Windhaven 11

I usually write about supernatural stuff or mystery/thrillers. Windhaven might have some thrills but no mystery and no vampires or trips to hell (see my other books.) It’s a survival adventure that could happen any day now. I’m not doing official chapters every post, just whenever. The numbers are to keep it all in order, for you and me. Comments and suggestions are always welcome as long as you know that I may or may not follow them.
To start Windhaven from the beginning go HERE.

What If?s

What If when a particular person was killed her soul would jump to the nearest person, the person who killed her. She wouldn’t have outright control of the new body, just varying levels of influence. Just enough make the killer step in front of a bus or jump off a roof. She’s been doing it for a long time, met some nasty people and some good people. She now picked the way the bad ones died, so she’d be close to a good person, who she might influence for good. But there’s one very bad killer, maybe he murdered a friend, and she searches for him, so he will kill her, and then she can punish him.  What If there was a detective on is trail, too? Or, on her trail?

What If a woman reports that her boyfriend is missing. An officer is sent to get information. It turns out that the boyfriend is a ghost. She says he comes and goes through a closet. The officer likes the woman, though he thinks she’s a bit nuts. He looks in the closet, nothing weird. He steps in – and finds himself in a netherworld of ghosts and spirits.

He’s freaked out, but intrigued. The officer’s brother died a year ago, but he always felt that the brother was still around, wanting to tell him something. So, on his own he does some research and reenters the closet, searching for the boyfriend, who in life had his own secrets, and his brother. The woman goes in with him and turns out not to be so nuts during their netherworld adventure.

 

Windhaven  11

Tons of cold water smashed him against the wheel then the roiling water plucked him up and tumbled him about like inside a salty, freezing clothes washer. His safety harness bit into his shoulders, yanking him back. Water buffeted him about, attempting to knock the air out of his lungs and drown him.

Somehow he held in the air. He wasn’t going to drown. He wasn’t going to die. He had something, someone to live for. As the water attempted one more time to yank him away from the boat, squeezing his last breath out, the water let him go.

He crashed down on the helm. A flash of pain bit his left wrist. His head smacked the edge of the cockpit. The full cockpit sloshed him about as he gasped for air.

“Ahhh,” he cried out, grasping for a solid handhold.

Windhaven slid out of control down the back of the freak wave. The reefed mainsail had split in half. The boom traveler had been ripped from the deck and swung widely, crashing into the two aft shrouds.

Noah struggled through dizziness to gain his feet. He held on with his one good hand as the next wave picked up the stern and threw it aside. With no guidance Windhaven broached, turning broadside to the wave. She rolled ninety degrees, the masthead touching the water as the wave broke over her. The cockpit filled as The cold, dark water flowed from the cockpit through the hole left by the torn loose traveler.

She righted herself in the trough between waves. Noah, knowing another broach would sink the boat, forced himself to take control of the helm. Wind caught the mast and torn sails. The boat made some headway. Noah threw the wheel over as the new wave tried to broach her. His actions reversed the broach though allowing the wave to break over the stern. Wheezing, coughing, freezing, in pain, Noah wrestled Windhaven from disaster.

Half filled with water Windhaven wallowed in the seaway, yet fought with Noah to maintain a steady course. Breathing easier, expecting help from below any second, Noah surveyed the damage.

The mast still stood, though the aft lower shrouds were loose due to the constant beat by the swinging boom. The whole traveler apparatus slammed into the deck with each swing, gouging the deck and cabin top. The stainless steel array over the stern that sprouted with all the radar, radio and satellite communications antennas had bent almost double, shattering much of the equipment.wrecked boat1

The mainsail was ripped horizontally from mast to leech. The headsail clew was ripped off, the rest tatters blowing forward by the forty, fifty knot winds.

Noah searched for Ricky and Ivan. There were no signs of them, they must have made it down below. Then why hadn’t he heard from any of the crew?

Windhaven shuddered as the boom swung against the rigging again. Once he had the helm in hand, to secure the boom was a top priority, not only for the rigging, but each time it whipped the traveler over the deck it opened the hole bigger and if anybody was incautious enough to exit the companionway without looking could easily have their head taken off.

Fighting through the dizziness and deep chill, he determined that the only way to secure the boom would be to get a line around the end and use a winch to hold it in place. Tangled lines were strewn about the cockpit. He picked out a suitable line, timed the waves then locked the wheel and staggered to a winch and quickly, with one hand, unwound the line and returned to the wheel in time to navigate another wave.

His left hand had no strength to it and hurt like hell, but after several tries he fashioned a fixed loop large enough to throw over the boom end.

“Hey. Anybody. Hey!”

The sun had set. All lights were out. Thirty to forty foot waves still crashed around him. Occasional thin breaks in the streaming clouds offered an occasional glimpse of moonlight. Noah attempted to get his breathing under control. “Hey!” No answer. He had never felt so alone.

Using his innate feel of the boat’s motion Noah attempted to loop the line around the end of the boom. On his fourth try he succeeded. Quickly he took the line he’d already run through a fixed block and whipped it around a winch. The effort took him away from the helm too long. Windhaven skipped sideways, knocking him down, but the boom was minimally secured.

Noah crawled back to the helm and spent five minutes planning his next move.

“Hello! Anyone?” Surely, someone must be conscious.

With another line Noah secured the boom with a second line to the opposite side of the boat. A few minutes later of shivering and pain he pushed through the water still filling the cockpit faster than it could drain and knelt by the open companion way hatch. Inside, no light, no movement except for three or four feet of water sloshing side to side with each roll of the boat.

“Hello!” Noah shouted, though his voice came out as a dry croak. “Is anybody there? Please, is anybody in there? Tommy, Ivan, Larry? Answer me.”

He heard no sounds from below except water splashing and the sound of debris knocking on the bulkheads. Tears formed in his eyes as fear and loss and loneliness settled over him like a black cloak.

Beside the helmsman’s seat there was a flip up plastic cover. Underneath was a socket for an eighteen inch handle that worked a manual bilge pump. He found the handle still secured. With his bad, probably broken, left hand he almost unconsciously kept Windhaven stern to the seas. With his right hand he worked the bilge pump. One full movement of the handle pumped out one gallon of water.

He kept asking himself why he continued to pump. One gallon out of hundreds or thousands of gallons. What difference would one, two, three… gallons make? No solid water was flowing in, but the spray from breaking waves and gusting winds and probably a leak or two or three from inside were replacing the gallon he removed. Why bother? Why put off the inevitable?

Because that would mean giving up, and years ago Noah had learned to never give up. He was one of the smartest in his high school class. Algebra baffled him. His father told him that if he wanted a car when graduated he had to get a B or better on his final exam. He wanted to give up, but he wanted the car. It was up to him. He studied, to little effect. He finally checked his pride and asked a girl in his class to tutor him. She made algebra make sense. He got a B+ on the exam, the car, and the girl. His writing career was built on hundreds of rejections. Jobs he wanted, the wife he wanted, the boat he wanted – persistence pays.

He wanted to live, he wanted that girl. So he pumped.

At first Noah thought about how to rig some sort of self steering. There were ways to use the wind direction on the sails to turn the wheel. He thought about Linda. He thought about books he wanted to write. He thought about his crewmates. Between, he thought about thirst, cold, hunger, exhaustion.

While he thought the night marched on. Imperceptibly, the clouds thinned, the wind slacked, the waves calmed, Windhaven wallowed less. Throughout, Noah pumped and steered.

The sun had not rising above the horizon when a the playful slap of an errant wave jolted Noah awake. His head hung under cover of his rain gear hood. His right hand, frozen and still, gripped, the pump handle. His left hand rested unmoving on a spoke of the wheel. His only movement the partial lifting of his eyelids and the slow roving of his eyes, his first real look at the destruction.

eyes 1

Then, his eyes opened slowly opened, fixing on movement in the damaged companionway. A face there, unidentifiable, pale, ragged.

Someone.

Alive.

Loneliness slipped off his shoulders like a heavy cloak.

 

Comment and suggestions are welcome – dcburtonjr@gmail.com

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Windhaven 10

I usually write about supernatural stuff or mystery/thrillers. Windhaven might have some thrills but no mystery and no vampires or trips to hell (see my other books.) It’s a survival adventure that could happen any day now.  I’m not doing official chapters every post, just whenever.  The numbers are to keep it all in order, for you and me.  Comments and suggestions are always welcome as long as you know that I may or may not follow them.

To start Windhaven from the beginning go HERE.

 

 

WHAT IFs?

What If? you were a Demon Hunter (like Sam and Dean, say) and were taking a cruise to relax from the rigors of keeping all things supernatural in check? What If? the Devil (or one of his minions) was on board (first class of course) planning to make the ship a Shipships3 of the Dead? So when you start seeing the Dead walking (groan) you have to find the Devil (or his minion who might be making a play to upstage his boss) and stop his, or her, shenanigans so your whole vacation isn’t ruined! Bummer.

 

I had a dream the other night sort of about rounding up all the stray dogs and putting them down. What If? we had, say, a well meaning leader who gave a damn about dogs and people and he/she started a program that each neighborhood, block, cul-de-sac and the like would adopt a dog or two or three and train them to watch over their area. dogs2Great, but over time, What If? the dogs took on too much power. Soon they ran their areas. When there were puppies each family had to raise one to add to the Dog Security Force. Certain Dog Leaders might become more interested in gaining doggy wealth and power and want to take over other areas, Dictator Dogs. dogs 1Soon the humans might be forced to fight the Dog’s wars. Until, a Dog leader, slightly different from the others, smart and compassionate, finally brings peace between Dogs and Humans.

 

 Windhaven 10

After a month and seven thousand miles Windhaven has passed New Zealand’s South Cape and cut off about seven hundred fifty miles of the 4700 miles between the South Cape and cape Horn. Only four thousand more miles and they can turn north to warmer weather.

They were third only three hundred miles behind second place Newsboy who was behind Global by less than a day. One boat had had damage to its rudders and returned to South Africa. The other three were days behind with their own race.

Windhaven had a few problems as they pushed Eastward while dropping into the Furious Fifties Latitudes. A lower shroud broke. An inspection of the others found two more also needed replacement. The hydraulic steering began to leak in one of the most inaccessible areas. Repairs took almost a day. The 120% Genoa foresail ripped in half. They had to use a smaller sail which slowed them down three knots of speed for a day.

The scariest moment came at dusk with Ricky at the helm and they were doing a steady twelve knots through a choppy gray sea. Leigh shared the watch with him, her hard gray eyes constantly assessing wind and sea. Looking forward, for a half second she thought she saw something dead ahead. She jumped up, ran twenty feet forward. There a large shape. Shit! “Ricky! Hard to port! Hard to port! Now!”

Ricky had known Leigh for almost twenty years. He trusted her experience and intelligence completely. If she said, “Hard to port, now!” he wasn’t going to second guess her for one second. He spun the wheel hard to port, ignoring the shouts of alarm from below.

Leigh walked back, pointing at the huge, flat iceberg racing past. The abrupt turn sent the aft end slipping to starboard where it bumped against the ice and rose up as if to jump on the iceberg and possibly damage the twin rudders. Taking advantage of his own experience he spun the wheel to starboard. The rudders bit in and sent the stern skittering to port to clear the ice by inches.

Red popped up out of the companionway. “What the Hell’s going on?”

Leigh and Ricky pointed at the receding iceberg. A last burst of light reflected off the hundred meter by fifty meter block of ice.

Alain and Noah rose up in time to catch a glimpse. “Mon Deux. Did we hit it?”

Ricky said, “I think we bumped it. If it hadn’t been for Leigh’s sea eyes we’d be on top of that sucker with a big ass hole in the bow.”

“Good job, both of you.”

Leigh stood beside Red, both looking aft at the now invisible ice.

“That’s too close for comfort, Red.”

“Yeah. Larry, what’s our latitude, right now?”

Fifteen seconds later Larry said, “Fifty-one degrees, forty-six minutes South, Skipper. Icebergs have been reported farther north than this.”

“Get us up North of fifty degrees. Three man watches at night.”

 

One of the continuous storms that circle the Southern Sea unimpeded had caught up with Windhaven. Sixty knot winds and twenty-five foot plus seas lashed the boat and Noah at the helm. Bigger winds and seas were a definite possibility according to Larry’s weather data. Oppressive dark clouds blotted out the sky. The sun had set, its last vestige of light fading fast.

At the moment, Noah was not thinking about icebergs or weather or water. He’d been on the helm for almost two hours, his safety harness clipped on to a U-shaped stainless steel tube over the compass, was beginning to get uncomfortable. He’d found the rhythm of boat and wave. The rise as a wave lifted the aft end, the brief surfing down the face of the wave, the balancing act as the wave passed underneath, the drop of the stern as the boat slid down the wave’s back side; The increase of the wind at the top of the wave, the slight reduction in the trough, waiting a few seconds for the next wave, and the next and the next. His hands moved the wheel almost automatically. He kept an unconscious eye on Ricky and Ivan on the forward deck discussing a sail change.

Noah wasn’t thinking of that, he was thinking about Linda. The last scheduled streaming had been cut short by technical difficulties. But, he’d got a good look at her smiling at him. She’s the one had flitted in and out of his thoughts. A ridiculous thought after a one night stand, though a memorable one. They had fit. Whether the first kisses in his boat, lying side by side in his bunk, on the top or on the bottom, they fit. She was smart and well read, liked sailing, and they had many common interests. And her smile just lit him up.

That’s what he was thinking of when the rhythm changed.

The rise of the wave seemed stunted, the wind suddenly shifty. The slide down the backside less steep. The constant roar of breaking waves muted. The trough wider. Noah felt the wave before he saw it rise and rise and rise like a grim specter in his peripheral vision.

wave3

For a moment he froze. This couldn’t be happening to him, now.

“Ricky, Ivan get off the deck,” Noah screamed. Then, like a high speed elevator, Windhaven rose up, stern first.

In an instant Windhaven tilted bow down forty-five degrees. Over the hiss of a massive volume of water building behind him, Noah heard the crash and cries from below decks.

Though taking only seconds, for Noah time slowed. Instead of pounding out of his chest he felt his heart rate slow as he was thrown against the steering wheel; as he watched Ricky and Ivan scramble on deck for the companionway; as the boom slammed to port sending a shudder throughout the boat.

Windhaven rose to almost vertical. Noah stared down into the bottom of the trough maybe twenty feet past the bow. They were going to pitch pole, he knew it. If he stayed tethered to the helm as Windhaven pitched over he’d fall almost a hundred feet and be driven under with the stern. When, if, the boat resurfaced, he’d probably be dead.

If he unclipped his life line he’d be separated from the boat. If it resurfaced, he’d be separated from it, unlikely to reconnect. In the forty degree water he’d also die, just a little slower.

Lying flat on the now horizontal wheel he twisted back and forth as the gigantic wave tossed him about. Maybe that’s what did it, but as he looked up at the huge breaking wave about to throw the boat over, the stern broke through. Its weight sliced through the top of the wave. For a second Noah thought, we’re going to survive!

Then the wall of solid water on either side crashed down on him.

 

Comments and suggestions are welcome – dcburtonjr@gmail.com

Please check out my other books at — https://davidburtonwriting.com

Windhaven 9

I usually write about supernatural stuff or mystery/thrillers. Windhaven might have some thrills but no mystery and no vampires or trips to hell (see my other books.) It’s a survival adventure that could happen any day now.  I’m not doing official chapters every post, just whenever.  The numbers are to keep it all in order, for you and me.  Comments and suggestions are always welcome as long as you know that I may or may not follow them.

To start Windhaven from the beginning go HERE.

 

 

A couple WhatIf?s first –

WHAT IF?

 What if there were vampires in the crew of a spaceship on a years long migration voyage with the humans in stasis. Part of the deal was for the humans to donate blood for the vamps in exchange for them to maintain the ship and the migrants as well as navigate and handle problems. But What If? something went  wrong and all the humans died. Vamps may be immortal, but they still need blood. What happens when they don’t have any and they are years away from any human contact? If there was only one left what would his or her last message be to Earth or their destination?

What if a man (man1) doesn’t know he’s immortal until he dies. During the short time he’s dead he loses his chance with the woman he loves. For years he searches for her only to learn that she has died. But then he sees her and realizes that she is immortal, too. But, thinking the immortal man is dead, she is with another man. What would man1 and the woman do? Murder, affair, wait? They do, after all, have forever to be together.

 

 

Windhaven 9

Windhaven was into the Southern Sea under a grey overcast sky. Those on deck,  Noah and Thomas, wore full raingear with plenty of warm clothing underneath. A forty knot wind held steady behind Windhaven, driving the sailboat through dark, foam streaked ten to twelve foot seas at the boat’s maximum of twenty-two knots. Spray continually soaked the deck.

Thomas fought the helm as the waves seemed to come from different direction. Noah hunched on a cockpit seat nearby trying to avoid the spray each time the boat slammed into a wave.

Below, the rest of the crew huddled around a computer on the settee table for a streaming session with kids, including Everheart Middle School.

“You picked a nasty day to call us,” Ivan, his long face bristly with a thin brown beard, told the children. “It’s cold, it’s wet, it’s blowing forty plus knots, it’s rough, and it’s gonna be pitch dark soon. But,” his whole face grinned, “we’re making twenty-two freaking knots of speed and I’m loving it.”

A particularly large wave slapped the boat sideways, the spray sounded like a bucket of thumbtacks thrown on the deck. Propped against a support post Larry held a video camera recording the live stream the kids saw. The wave knocked him to his knees.

Before he could recover his stance he heard a few screams form the computer and a small voice asking, “Are they sinking?”

Alain, one hand gripping a coffee mug, one gripping the table, smiled and shook his head. All the men had beards, his was the only nicely trimmed, said, “Non, do not worry, we are not sinking, mes amies. It will take a much larger wave than that to sink this petite bateau.”

A student asked, “You look comfortable there, what about the others on deck?”

Red tells Larry to go see.

Larry already has his rain pants on. He hands the camera to Ivan. “Ivan tell the kids how you keep us from getting scurvy.” While Ivan makes up a story while making himself the hero Larry donned his rain jacket and toque. Ready to go on deck he takes the camera from Ivan. Holding it out to video a selfy, he says, “Hey kids, don’t listen to a thing he says. Just eat your fruits and veggies and you’ll be all right. Let’s go topside.”

Larry climbed the companionway ladder and bracing himself in the middle of the cockpit did a three-sixty turn, ending focused on Thomas behind the wheel and Noah sitting beside him. Ricky stood in the companionway with the laptop facing out so the two men could see the kids.

Whoever was videoing at the school did a slow, closeup sweep of the kids ending on their teacher, Linda Sopia.

Noah leaned forward as she gave a little wave to the crew, meaning Noah. Noah’s gaze locks onto her. “Hi, you must be the teacher.”

“Yes, I am.” She smiled warmly. “Nice to see you, without the seaweed.”

“Ha. It’s much nicer to be an Old Salt rather than a Pollywog.” He turns away to avoid a slap in the face by spray. “Though the weather was better then.”

“It looks that way. Steering a sailboat is different from steering a car. Can you explain to my students?”

“I’ll try.” Thomas, barely recognizable under a heavy layer of raingear, stepped away from the helm and bowed to Noah.

Noah took a moment to connect with the speeding boat’s motion. Larry sat on a cockpit seat to focus on him.

Noah had to shout over the noise of wind and waves and the susurrus of the boat slicing through water at twenty-two knots plus. “It’s mostly a matter of feel. You have to feel the motion of the boat with your feet on the deck or the seat of your pants on the helmsman’s seat. As it rises up on a wave the water and the wind on the sails want to push the boat around. Your job is to anticipate where the boat is going to be pushed, and then to turn the wheel enough to push it back before it goes off course.”

As he talks he does as he says. Sometimes a little movement, sometimes bigger, but all smooth. The bumpy ride becomes a bit less bumpy under his hand.

“Like most things it’s about anticipation, practice,” he sticks his rear out and points to it, “and driving by the seat of your pants.”

Larry laughs. “And there you go, kids, a lesson in life and steering by our master helmsman, Noah.”

Noah waves. “Okay guys, good to talk with you.” He points directly at Linda. “Good to see you again.”

“And you,” she says. “Maybe when you return you will come and visit us.”

“Count on it.”

Standing in the companionway, Red says to the camera, “Okay kids, time’s up. If we keep up this speed Noah will be in your classroom in no time at all. We’ll be heading deep into the Roaring Forties where the weather and seas can get pretty rough. But, we have a good crew and a good boat so no worries.”

 

Windhaven 8

I usually write about supernatural stuff or mystery/thrillers. Windhaven might have some thrills but no mystery and no vampires or trips to hell (see my other books.) It’s a survival adventure that could happen any day now.  I’m not doing official chapters every post, just whenever.  The numbers are to keep it all in order, for you and me.  Comments and suggestions are always welcome as long as you know that I may or may not follow them.

To start Windhaven from the beginning go HERE.

 

What Ifs

 What If?, in a far future, a space ship leaves Earth headed for a colonized world near to Alpha Centauri, our closest star neighbor. They have a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious star drive of some sort, but it can’t be used until they pass out of the Solar System. Like crossing the Equator in a boat, crossing the orbit of Pluto, (fully returned to planet status) was a big deal and Polliwogs (from sailing days) had to be initiated. Then they became Old Stars (as opposed to Old Salts.)space ship1

The usual initiation is to take the Pollywog unawares, stuff him in a suit and throw them out an airlock – with a tether. But, What If the tether broke? Now they have to rescue the guy, or gal. Maybe a comedy of errors ensues? Maybe the pollywog hits a cloaked alien ship that has been spying on us. Manned or unmanned, what to do? Are they friendly or not? If we take it over what are the possibilities? Hmmm.

What if? a polliwog (newbie) Soul Retriever (see Soul Retrievers and Warn the Devil is taken on his/her first trip into Hell to retrieve a soul sent to Hell by mistake. Like sailing across the equator, first trip into Hell calls for an initiation, sometimes solemn, usually a prank. The Old Hands might take the newbie and tell him to go into a tunnel. But the tunnel is a maze that changes. Instead of getting out, the newbie might find a hidden tunnel that takes him to an abandoned (?) gold mine once used by the Devil him/herself. What to do with the piles of gold ready to ship to greedy humans? Mines take miners. What if? the original miners still live there?

Windhaven 8

Noah gritted his teeth as the rain pummeled his head and back like an out-of-control masseuse with brass knuckles. He could barely see the rest of the boat through the driving curtain of rain. Yet the thrill as the long burst of wind drove the boat to almost twenty knots made his heart sing.

Larry, not needed for the short lived emergency, continued to video the on deck scramble to dowse the light weight spinnaker. Once secured, though pummeled by giant raindrops, the crew whooped with glee as the boat raced over the flat calm sea.

The squall passed as fast as it came. Some clouds trailed behind, blocking the sun. Noah shivered as his drenched body cooled. He appreciated the rain jacket Larry passed to him. Grinning wide, he shook his head and gave a thumbs up to the camera. “Hi Teach,” he called out, wishing the video stream ran both ways.

Red said into the camera, “And that’s what training and practice will do for you, kids. If you want to be good, or survive, something, that’s what you need to do. This was a small exercise, but when we get to the Southern Ocean, the waves and the wind are bigger, and the storms make this little squall look like a soft summer breeze. And nobody knows that better than our second mate, Leigh Tag.”

Larry switched the focus to Leigh. Still drying her hair with a pink towel, she said, “Hi guys. That was fun. The Captain is right. The farther south we go the bigger and badder the ocean gets. But don’t worry, I’ll keep these guys safe.” She answered questions for awhile, pulling in others to help with answers.

Red finally stepped into the picture. “Well, times up, kids. Hope you enjoyed our visit. It was exciting for us; hope it was exciting for you, too. It will be about a month before we visit again and by then we’ll be in southern ocean waters. See you then.”

Each crew member had a chance to say a short word to family. Noah, with no family except a brother he hadn’t talked to for ten years, said, “Bye, kids. I’m glad to not be a Pollywog any more. And you third grade kids at Everheart Elementary be nice to your teacher.”

 

Out of the doldrums Windhaven hit the Southern trades blowing East to West. The crew trimmed the sail for a close reach then slowly, as the prevailing wind turned southerly, changing to full downwind trim. The wind often picked up to twenty, twenty five knots. Most days they averaged twelve to fifteen knots over the ground with help from the current.

Closing the Eastern bulge of South America they hit Easterly winds which made for days of rough going. Passing Recife, Brazil they found more favorable winds and steered southeast skirting the low winds in the center of the South Atlantic and set course for Africa’s Cape Agulas, the real southern tip of Africa.

Well into the second month since they crossed the start line Windhaven passed a hundred miles south of the point while riding the northern edge of the westerly wind that would take them around the bottom of the world before they turned north after rounding Cape Horn. From there they steered a course East South East, heading deep into the high latitudes, the Roaring Forties.

The plan was to sail close to Antarctica, the shortest way around before turning north into the Atlantic and home before the other six boats. It would be a cold, wild ride with thirty to forty knot winds common and the occasional storms much more than that. Icebergs, more common with Global warming, were another hazard.

Global and Windhaven traded the lead with Gold Plate, a seventy foot Ketch, less than a day behind and gaining.

NewsBoy had had some trouble around the tip of the Brazilian bulge had fallen back.

 

Newsboy was in a particularly lumpy sea with converging currents, a falling tide, and opposing winds, the mast whipping around like a swizzle stick when an upper shroud fitting broke at the top of the mast.

The crew immediately doused the head sail and reefed the main. One man had to go up the mast and attach a spare shroud. The crew winched him up in a Bosun’s chair. They found a tack that minimized the whipping about at the top. All went well until a large misplaced wave smacked the boat from the side rolling it forty-five degrees to port. As the boat rolled back, sliding down the back of the wave, a powerful, errant gust of wind hit from the port side.

The boat whipped back from forty-five degrees to port to almost ninety to starboard. The man on top lost his grip as the mast attempted to fling the crewman on top hundreds of feet into the sea. Only the bosun’s chair saved him, though a wave did slap his feet. Yanked up, he managed to grab the mast with both arms and legs. Eyes closed, head pressed to the mast he rode out a minutes worth of violent swinging until the boat found a more or less even keel. Even then he was reluctant to loosen his grip. A few deep breaths and he finished the repair. “Get me the fuck down from here!” were his only words.

 

On a large world map pinned to the wall of her small apartment Linda marked Windhaven’s position just south and east of Point Agulhas, South Africa. She checked the race website, they’d given it an official name – The Magnificent Seven World Cruise – everyday for news. She knew the boats were headed into the Roaring Forties, the high latitudes of the Southern Sea – 40 to 50 degrees South latitude. There were no restrictions to how far south the boats could go to lessen the distance, while increasing the danger and lowering the possibility of rescue if it all went wrong.

The crossing of the Indian Ocean would be about seven thousand miles of hard sailing to pass the South Cape of New Zealand. From there, another almost five thousand miles to Cape Horn. A minimum of a month and a half of high winds and high waves and 40° water. She knew about the ferocious storms that circled west to east and had claimed many boats and ships and the sailors with them.

Surely a seventy foot long, sturdy, well-equipped sailboat crewed by eight experienced sailors should be safe in those unforgiving waters, she thought. She had become invested it that vessel and that man.

Maybe when he returned he wouldn’t want to see her anymore. She always tried to shut down that thought. She needed something, someone, to look forward to. She hadn’t been in that jazz club only because of a bad day.

Fluffy was the polite description of her body. Not much, maybe twenty pounds, but it was noticeable. Men noticed. At least the ones she wanted to notice Her. Sure, she had a few girlfriends, but when they went home to their husbands or boyfriends, she went home alone. Since one of her best friends married a terrific guy she hadn’t felt good about herself and had started to drink a bit more than she should.

Noah had changed that. He gave her hope.

Windhaven 7

I usually write about supernatural stuff or mystery/thrillers. Windhaven might have some thrills but no mystery and no vampires or trips to hell (see my other books.) It’s a survival adventure that could happen any day now.  I’m not doing official chapters every post, just whenever.  The numbers are to keep it all in order, for you and me.  Comments and suggestions are always welcome as long as you know that I may or may not follow them.

To start Windhaven from the beginning go HERE.

 

What If? Poseidon was hungover after partying too much in the Equatorial party zone? To find some quiet to recover he rises to the surface where he spies a sailboat single handed by a young woman. He introduces himself, as a shipwrecked hunky man, and they get along very well. But eventually his bitchy consorts find him and persuade him to return to the Party. Brokenhearted the woman sails on into a storm she cannot survive until the Man himself saves her and they live happily ever after, under?

What If? there were vampires in space. (see Down Home as an example) What If? they were accepted for their gifts (strength and emergency space walks without a suit)and all the crew donated blood for them. But them some unknown aliens attack. In the fight a lot of blood is spilled. Some vamps taste the alien blood, and love it. They want more, lots more, they’re addicted. The vamps and humans win the fight, but now the vamps want to find the home planet. The humans have doubts about that idea, but can they go against the stronger, quicker, addicted vampires? What do you think?

 

Windhaven 7

Linda’s third grade students felt her excitement at the upcoming streaming session. Most just thought it was because of the adventure part. A few thought she had a personal reason. They hadn’t missed the spark in her eyes whenever she mentioned the man who told her about the race.

This would be the second session. The first had been from Newsboy, a sixty-five footer in fourth place at the time. There’d been some glitches, but she was sure this one would be perfect. Fourth grade kids had joined them, forty-eight kids and several teachers packed into her classroom.

Gary Duckworth, the man in charge of the race, spoke from his headquarters in Newport, Rhode Island.

“Hi kids. I’m Gary and I’m sort of in charge of this wild race. Today we’re going to visit Windhaven, a seventy foot long sailboat that is in either first or second place at the moment. Windhaven is in the Doldrums right now. That’s an area around the Equator of very light and fickle winds. Even a sailboat as big and advanced as Windhaven, which is capable of going twenty-five knots, may only be moving at a slow walk pace. And just to make it interesting the area has many squalls, small, fast moving storms that can quickly go from no wind to twenty-five or thirty knots.”

Gary glanced to the side and nodded.

“Okay, we are live with Captain Red Smathers of Windhaven.”

The scene switched to a live shot of Red standing in the cockpit.

“Hello kids, welcome to Windhaven. We were planning to just have a little meet and greet with the crew today. But, according to our master navigator and all around electronics guy, Larry…” Larry reached around the video camera he held and waved. “… we have within the last twenty minutes crossed the Equator.”

The camera’s view moved to show Ricky at the helm and the boat’s quiet wake.

“That’s Ricky, our first mate at the helm and the Equator is just back there a little bit.” Red moved to the rear of the cockpit. “Now we have eight crew on this boat. Six of us have crossed the equator before. Two haven’t. So you are just in time to witness an ancient initiation, a solemn ritual of the sea.

“Usually this ritual is performed by Poseidon, the God of the sea. But, he could not attend today so he sent Princess Leighatude, of unknown family connection, in his place. Come Princess Leighatude and preside over the festivities.”

Larry focuses on the companionway as Leigh, a hasty paper crown holding down her sun bleached hair, wearing a bikini top and a sarong, and holding a boat hook as a scepter, emerges and stands in the middle of the cockpit. The kids laugh and hoot.

“Thank you Captain Red for that questionable introduction. The old bum would have been here, but he drank a bit too much last night and hasn’t quite dried out yet.” She faced the companionway. “Bring up the Pollywogs,” she ordered.

Thomas and Noah climbed out. They wore large towels around their waists and seaweed draped over their heads and shoulders. The students and teachers laughed, mingled with a few “Ewwws.”

Linda laughed, covering her mouth with her hands. She had been giddy with anticipation to see Noah at the helm wearing shorts, and a tight T-shirt and sunglasses and a proper floppy hat and looking like a roguish adventurer. But she was delighted, too, to see him in that bit of whimsy far from home. Maybe a little bit jealous, but delighted.

“Kneel, Pollywogs,” Leighatude ordered, striking the deck with her scepter. The two men knelt while the rest of the crew tried to look serious despite their smiles. “You have braved the seas on this perilous journey and crossed the great divide.” Tapping each of them with her scepter, she said, “So, by the authority invested in me by a drunken God with a massive hangover, I dub you Old Salts and cleanse you with the polluted waters of the southern seas.”

Alain and Ivan doused them with buckets of water.

“You may now remove that stinky seaweed and return to your duties, forever Old Salts.”

Smiling big, Noah sat back on his heels and flipped off the seaweed. He looked up, and his eyes opened wide. “Oh shit!”

The camera spun around, facing aft, showing a black squall, a wall of rain a hundred feet behind and coming fast.

“On deck!” Red shouted. Initiation forgotten, the crew leaped into action. “Ricky and Alain, the spinnaker. Noah on the helm.” Noah jumped up. He brushed past Leigh, knocking off his towel. A super gust blew it out of grasp. The kids gasped and giggled as a solid deluge obscured his untouched by sun ass.

Windhaven 6

I usually write about supernatural stuff or mystery/thrillers. Windhaven might have some thrills but no mystery and no vampires or trips to hell (see my other books.) It’s a survival adventure that could happen any day now.  I’m not doing official chapters every post, just whenever.  The numbers are to keep it all in order, for you and me.  Comments and suggestions are always welcome as long as you know that I may or may not follow them.

To start Windhaven from the beginning go HERE.

What Ifs?

I had bees in my kitchen the other day. They came in through a vent, but appeared in midair as if from another dimension. I’m not that wild about multidimensional stories, but, What If? they were from another dimension? How would you know? They might be little robot reconnaissance insects. We have tiny mechanical flying insects, why couldn’t THEY? What would they be looking for? Are they friend or foe? If they were friends they should send butterflies instead of bees. Either way, not in our kitchen, thank you very much.

What If? Windhaven, or another boat, Windhaven has enough troubles, in the middle of the ocean sails through a dimensional rift with out knowing it? The sea is the same, it’s when they get to land that things get strange. Maybe they’re arrested as spies, their boat confiscated. How do they get it back? Maybe the people think they are heroes of some sort, but the perks of heroism are not what they seem. In either case, how do they get back to their home dimension? And do they want to? 

Windhaven 6


WNoah waved at the follow boat and turned to the task at hand, leading their closest rival, Global. The sixty-eight foot boat was fast with a well experienced crew, but Windhaven had Larry Brockard. Larry stood beside Noah his gaze intent on every wind ripple, every wave, every wisp of cloud, how the other boat’s sails were trimmed. Though only twenty-six, both his parents had degrees, mother a PhD in weather science and father a masters degree in weather science and oceanography. They’d been sailing and teaching Larry since he was three. Larry could read every nuance of wind and water and make sure Windhaven took advantage of them.

Over the next hours the racers spread out as they headed in what they believed was the best course for them. As evening enclosed them Larry looked up from his charts and computers and declared that Windhaven led Global by almost a nautical mile. Insignificant in light of the thirty thousand plus miles ahead, but good for moral anyway.

After almost five hours on the helm, Noah sat at the settee table scarfing down one of Ivan’s pasta dishes. Ivan, Leigh and Red, all sun burnt and tired, sat with him.

“You did good today, New Guy,” Leigh said.

“Thanks. You guys make a good crew. It’s easy to work with you.”

Red said, “I told ya.”

“He’s got the magic seat of the pants,” Ivan added. “His ass is one with the water.”

“Thanks for that lovely endorsement of the New Guy, Ivan.”

Tired, and a bit cranky, Noah said, “Ordinarily, I’d ask how long it takes for the new guy to get a real name. But I’m pretty beat today so I won’t.”

All eyes on him, there was a long silence. Noah managed a smile and a shrug and kept eating.

Finally, Leigh said, “You did good today, Noah.”

“Thanks, Leigh. I appreciate that.”

Noah got up soon after and headed forward to a narrow corridor on the starboard side. His narrow bunk was the second fold down in a line of three. The port side had a similar set up with the head in between. He used the head and slumped onto his bunk. He’d barely slept since that phone call. The tension and excitement of five hours on the helm had been the limit. He spared a minute to think of Linda and was out. He was on watch again in a few hours.

And so it went. He quickly joined the rhythm and routine of the boat. Red assigned the watches – two crew on each watch, two hours on, six off, though if there were changes to be made it was all hands on deck.

They crossed the Gulfstream and worked their way south. Larry seemed to divine favorable winds with a glance at the sky and several screens on his wall of electronics.

Noah and Thomas stood watches together.

“I’m just a basic flunky deckhand,” Thomas told Noah one fine clear night with a Cheshire Cat moon grinning down from the East. “I used to work building or repairing fishing boats. Worked with my father mostly.” A sentimental grin softened his face as he gazed straight up at the stars. He chuckled. “I know it’s a cliché but he did teach me everything he knew. Which, except about boats, isn’t much. He made it to tenth grade then went to work. Not much real education, but he had common sense and lots of boatyard smarts.”

“What about you?”

“Huh. If I had any common sense I wouldn’t be on this big ass sailboat racing around the world.”

“Well, I guess we have that in common,” Noah allowed.

“You, me, and every freaking long-distance sailor I ever met.”

“So how’d you make the transition from leaky fishing boats to a million dollar sailboat?”

“A friend of the yard owner had a forty footer with engine problems. I fixed him up and while we were testing the engine he put up his sails and shut down the engine, which ran perfectly, by the way. I’d never been on a sailboat before. It was a beautiful day, sunny, nice breeze, quiet. He gave me a beer and I was hooked. Every captain wants a crew who does what’s he told, doesn’t get seasick, doesn’t whine when the weather turns shitty, and can fix an engine. You?”

“I was sixteen on a family friend’s boat, had the same day you did. Started asking around. I was the same crew you were, except I can’t fix an engine. And here I am.”

Quiet for a while, they took in the easy roll of the boat, the susurrus of the passing water and the ever warming breeze. What sailing is all about.

Thomas asked you writing anything I might have read?”

“What kind of books do you like to read?”

“None.”

“Then no.”

And so it went. Crossing the equator was slow going. It was also their first scheduled live streaming to school kids.

Comments and suggestions welcome – dcburtonjr@gmail.com

Windhaven 5

I usually write about supernatural stuff or mystery/thrillers. Windhaven might have some thrills but no mystery and no vampires or trips to hell (see my other books.) It’s a survival adventure that could happen any day now.  I’m not doing official chapters every post, just whenever.  The numbers are to keep it all in order, for you and me.  Comments and suggestions are always welcome as long as you know that I may or may not follow them.

To start Windhaven from the beginning go HERE.

What Ifs?

What If someone had something against one, or two, of the crew of a sailboat going offshore and they planted a bomb of some sort set to explode at some particular time? Maybe five minutes before the big bang he, or she, contacts them somehow, and tells them what’s going to happen. Boom. All are lost, except one guy survives who had nothing to do with the bomber, and he’s pissed!

Or, What If in the middle of the ocean the crew rescues a mermaid running away from a mean merman. The merman has connections. Maybe the mermaid is Poseidon’s favorite niece so merman has to keep under the Big Guy’s radar. They can’t just sink the boat, but the merhenchmen can reduce the crew, quietly, one at a time. But then Poseidon finds out what’s happening, and he’s pissed!

 What If the above happened in space? You figure it out.

Don’t forget to check out Fear Killer  —————————————–>

Windhaven 5

Chapter?

 At five o’clock on Sunday morning Linda, gripping her coffee with both hands, had hunched over her home computer as an interviewer and camera worked their way down the dock, interviewing crew members of the seven boats. She knew enough about boats to recognize the engineering, ingenuity, ruggedness, and the money involved in the sailboats getting ready to race around the world.

woman_using_laptop

Interspersed with the interviews were short video clips of each boat at speed under full sail. The thrill of those boats powering through the water made her heart beat a little quicker each time, not only with excitement but a bit of fear as the vessels crashed through rough seas. In the night as they lay together in his bunk Noah had admitted he was excited to join the race, but nervous, too.

Windhaven was the fifth boat. Without thinking about it Linda leaned in close to her screen searching for a glimpse of a man she only knew for twelve hours, but had been on her mind for the two days since. Crazy. She’d probably never see him again, he’d forgotten all about her. A one night stand before going off the sea. But, the way he had treated her with respect, cared about what she felt, kissed her, maybe he wouldn’t forget her. She’d stick with that thought.

There he was, coiling a line behind the Captain. All business, she thought. Taking it seriously. Keeping himself safe. The thrill in her chest had nothing to do with sailing.

The interviewer asked, “I hear you had to replace one of your crew only two days ago. Is that a liability? Most of the crews have sailed together for months or years. What if he doesn’t fit in?”

Red shrugged. “That is possible, but I’ve sailed with Noah before. He knows how to fit in. We did a short sail yesterday. He caught our rhythm quickly and worked well with the crew.” He motioned to Noah to join him. “And the crew agrees. They welcomed him in true Windhaven fashion.”

Noah laughed and shook his head. “I just hope I don’t get pneumonia from being so ceremoniously thrown in the water. But I guess I can live with them.”

Thomas came into the picture and clapped a beefy hand on his shoulder. “Always good to know the new guy can swim and swear properly.”

“I hope I don’t have to swim again for awhile and if I have to swear it’ll probably be at you.”

Thomas busted a laugh. “Damn effing right.”

A woman, pretty, short hair, no nonsense, called from the companionway, “Thomas, come and help us. You’re not on a Disney cruise, you know.”

Holding his hands out in a what-can-you-do gesture, Thomas said, “She calls,” and went to help with last minute stores.

“Noah,” the interviewer asked, “You were called up on very short notice. It must have been hard to leave your family and home so quickly.”

“I did have to scramble a bit to get stuff in order. But there’s not much of family left so that wasn’t a problem.” He let out a deep breath. “Though I did meet someone… ah, recently. Maybe she’ll remember me when I return.”

“I’m sure she will.”

Linda sat back with a wide grin on her face. “I’m sure she will, too.”

–:–

She watched for hours as the boats threw off their dock lines and headed out to the imaginary start line. The wind had picked up and at noon Eastern time the seven sailboats with all sail up charged over the line in a beautiful display of grace and power.

Powerboats followed them for a half hour, cameras taking a last look at the crews working for that extra half a knot of speed.

Noah stood at the helm of Windhaven. He waved to the camera boat. Linda caught herself waving back. I’m such a fool she thought, wiping a tear off her cheek, her lips tight against any more.

 

 

Comments and suggestions to: dcburtonjr@gmail.com

Website – https://davidburtonwriting.com