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?, 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.)
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?
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.