Above the shrill of the gale force wind came a louder, much heavier booming crash. Huge white capped waves smashed against the platform’s steel legs before receding downwards into a deep trough, only to rise again with unrequited violence.
The Daphne, an ocean going Alberg 30 , yawed back up a wall of gray water, a stern light swinging lose from its fitting. The mast, it’s rigging, and most of the main sail hung over one side of the hull, causing a dangerous list to port.
Grant Bishop lay on his stomach clinging to a lanyard with one frozen hand. In his other he gripped a knife. He gasped heavily, waiting to crest the wave. As the yacht started its downward plunge into the next trough he cut through the other lanyard that secured the starboard shroud. The response was immediate. Rigging, canvas, lengths of rope, and what was left of the mast, slid into the sea. Bishop pulled himself back into the cockpit as the Daphne started up the next wall. It was at that moment he saw the rig, looming out of the darkness about a mile away, ablaze with halogen lights.
The steering responded as Bishop pulled on the wheel. Despite no sail, the strong wind was pushing him in the right direction. Allowing for both the current and position of the Daphne, he bore away from the wind and started the small outboard on the stern. The outboard would at least help keep the yacht in its present position as it was driven, crablike, toward the rig.
Within thirty minutes Bishop looked desperately at the rig towering above him. With no more than a hundred feet to go it looked as though the yacht would miss by a rope’s length. A towering sheet of water crashed across the yacht as a giant wave lifted her skywards. All he could do was hang on. He felt himself sliding across the cockpit. Looking up he was shocked to find himself looking at a barnacle encrusted iron stanchion. The yacht hit it with tremendous force and dropped downward into a boiling trough. Bishop saw an iron ladder above him and crawled to the edge of the cockpit, hanging on as the yacht started to rise on the next wave. Propelled upwards at tremendous speed, the Daphne rolled sideways.
Bishop jumped at the last moment before the yacht struck the leg. With both feet on a rung, he looked down just in time to see the splintered remains of the Daphne disappear beneath the violence below. Clawing hand over hand and battling to reach the top of the ladder, he hauled himself up onto the lower deck and lay exhausted for several minutes; surprised no-one had come to meet him.
Oilskins lay on the floor in the crews’ quarters. Bishop had done a tour after drying out. Something was frighteningly wrong. There were creaks and groans but none that passed a man’s lips.
Raymond Stone (MT)
Running Order for writers.
1 Dan - 2 Priyas - 3 Ken - 4 Cindi - 5 Ray - 6 Joe - 7 Iliena - 8 Heather - 9 Nettj - 10 Greg