Hi, Welcome to Windhaven 25 and a couple story prompts for writers or the curious.
If you want to know what school custodians do while you’re all snuggy at home with your pet or spouse check out The Custodian Stories.
Speaking of surviving I’ve had my 2nd Covid vaccine shot. Like before, a sore arm and a day of feeling a bit wonky. Get it. You’ll be glad you did.
Windhaven is a survival adventure that could happen any day now. I was surprised by how many Around the world sailing races there are. 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, and preferred.
WhatIf your partner stole all the company money and you were blamed for it, your wife left you, your kids hated you and your friends shunned you? You decided to kill yourself by jumping off a bridge. You do and you die. Your body drifts to shore and you wake up. Disorientated, you wander into a bad part of town. For no particular reason some locals beat the crap out of you and you die with a knife in your gut. You wake up. What the hell is happening? You have no money so you rob a store. The cops shoot you. You wake up in the morgue. Now you’re getting it. Escaping, you find a quiet place to sit and think, about revenge for all the wrongs, perceived or real, on your mind.
WhatIf you and a couple friends steal millions of dollars from a drug cartel. You keep 2-3 million for yourselves and want to donate the rest to charities. But you can’t walk in a hand them 100K in cash. That sort of thing raises questions. You think you’re clever and try to clean the money. But you’re not. Now the cartel killers, the police and the FBI are after you. What do you do? Where do you go? What do you become?
“Okay, first let’s get the sail out from under the mast,” Noah said the next day.
For half an hour he and Leigh struggled with the mast and sail. They had to pry up the mast then drag the heavy sail out from under. They unhooked the halyard from the top and spread the massive sail out so it could slide along the mast track.
The wind had kicked up a bit, but they were sweating at the end.
They set up and inspected the rigging hardware and lines they needed for new fore and back stays, and halyards. Noah took his time because when they were done he had to go up the mast. His hands shook and his heart was warming up ready to jump into his throat.
Leigh stood beside him. “Noah, it’s time. We have to get this done now. I think the wind’s going to really pick up tonight.”
Noah stood up straight and took a breath.
“I can bring you down anytime.”
“Right, let’s do it.”
Once Noah was secure in the bosun’s chair, Leigh winched him up with the mast winch. Noah wasn’t sure where to look, up, down or just closed. He held tight with arms and legs. If he swung loose the boat’s rolling would swing him out and then hard back to the mast.
Once at the top he pressed his forehead against the cold metal and visualized what he had to do. Then he did it, focusing on the job and holding on. Once he had installed the wires for the forestay and backstay he attached the necessary hardware and blocks and ran the new halyard lines. All the time he kept his eyes unfocused to anything more than two feet away.
Once the rigging was secured, Leigh called up. “Noah, do you want to come down and take a break?”
Without looking down he called back. “No. Let’s finish this.”
The mainsail track had not broken with the mast. It remained intact so they could slide the sail up the broken section and down the remaining section.
The sail was heavy. Leigh had to winch him up as far she could for Noah to get any leverage. With parts of sail ripped, Leigh had to move back and forth from pulling down at the mast to working the sail up along the fallen mast, to attending the helm.
As they worked the wind picked up ten knots. Noah had to focus on holding on more and more. Over an hour since he went up Leigh pulled the last of the mainsail down the track. Relieved, cold and tired Noah’s attention strayed as Leigh slowly lowered him.
A wave slammed the boat broadside. The boat rolled. Halfway down Noah lost his grip. He swung out ten feet away from the mast. He looked down. His chest constricted his heart, his lungs, he wanted to scream, but his lungs had no air, leaving his face a rictus of terror.
It seemed to him that he hung motionless in the air that all other motion stopped. Unable to move he glanced down at the water. What if the line snapped or he slid out of the bosun’s chair and fell in the water. If Leigh didn’t throw him a life line before the boat left him behind, he would die. The water was cold and there was no way Leigh could stop Windhaven and certainly no way to come back. He would die and leave Leigh on her own and he’d never see Linda again and that scared him more than hanging ten feet in the air.
Windhaven rolled back dragging Noah with it. The mast came at him fast. He reached out to grab it, but the boat lurched and he couldn’t hold on. Instead he swung past, though not as far. Again he seemed to hang motionless. Able to breath again, he glanced down. Below, folds on folds of the ragged main covered the deck, a soft cushion to fall on from not such a great height. Not so scary.
On the next pass he managed to grab the mast. Immediately Leigh lowered him to the deck, to his great relief. He stepped out of the bosun’s chair leaned against the mast to steady himself.
Leigh stood in front of him. “You okay?”
Noah, chuffed. “I’m still breathing, my heart is still beating after a hard workout. I’m okay.”
They stood together taking in everything.
Noah said, “If someone needs to go up again, I’ll do it.”
Eyebrows up, she said, “Good to know. I guess I can go in there if I need to.” She placed a hand on his chest. “We’re partners, right? Share the load and all that crap.”
“Yeah. It’d be bitch to run this operation alone. Speaking of which, we need to get our man overboard shit together. No engine, not much in the way of sails, freezing water.”
“I get it. Put it on the list.”
A wave washed over the transom. Leigh said, “Storm’s here. Better clean up the mess.”
Moving quickly they secured all the lines, stowed the tools and hardware, and bound the old sail. Leigh took the helm while Noah went below and prepared for his watch.
Bundled up in his foul weather gear Noah took the helm as the light noticeably dimmed. The storm built as did the waves. Hunched behind the helm he glanced at one of the few surviving instruments, showing a steady fifty knot wind with gusts up to sixty. Wave heights quickly rose to fifteen feet plus. Noah tensed every time a wave lifted the stern of the boat. For a few seconds his imagination felt the wave rise and rise until it threw the boat out, pitch poling it so it landed upside down then crashing on it, driving it suddenly from the surface to 50 feet, 100 feet down, 1000 feet down, dragging him with it to the bottom. Or the wave would lift the boat up until it was vertical and let it slide bow first down the face, piercing the surface and heading straight to the bottom, dragging Noah down so he could experience his guilt for killing his crew.
While thinking of possible disasters he found the rhythm necessary to keep the boat stern on to the waves. He was as good a helmsman as he said he was. Feeling the boats movement by the seat of his pants he subtly altered rhythm as the waves and wind rose. While rising up under a wave Windhaven might want to broach, turn broadside to the wave which wanted nothing more than roll the boat and drown it. Noah had to anticipate that tendency and steer to port if the boat wanted to go to starboard then steer straight ahead before the boat turned too far. A never ending rhythm.
An hour and a half passed then Leigh emerged in her gear and sat next to Noah. They said nothing for a few minutes until Leigh took the helm.
“Hang on,” Noah shouted, leaning close for her to hear over the roar of breaking waves shriek of wind. “This wind will pick you up and make you fly.”
“There’s hot chocolate on the stove. Get some rest.”
They traded thumbs up and Noah disappeared thorough the companion way hatch.
He stood by the ladder for a moment making the transition fro the outside cacophony to the warmth and relative quiet of the cabin.
Thomas eyed him from his bunk. “Sounds like a bitch of a storm out there.”
“That’s because it is.”
“No extra big waves?”
Noah tensed, jerked his head back as he flashed back to the rogue wave that almost killed them all.
“Sorry. You probably can’t unsee that thing.”
“No. I see it all the time.” He gripped Thomas’s shoulder and went for hot chocolate.
Once he lay down he could let his mind wander. That was not a good idea. Every time a wave lifted the stern he couldn’t help but hold his breath until the wave passed under and Windhaven slid down the backside and he knew that wave was not the ‘Big” one. He then had a few moments to breathe and let his heart calm down before the next and next and next wave. Eventually pure exhaustion took him into a fitful sleep.
Thanks for reading Windhaven 25. Comments and suggestions are always welcome. firstname.lastname@example.org
To check out another sailing tale, Girl at Sea, Click HERE.
My other books can be seen to the right or HERE.