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? 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 Ship 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. Great, 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. Soon 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.
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.
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.
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