Raven’s Run 16

The hatch was canvas covered plywood, framed with oak. Something had punched a fist sized hole in the plywood near the back and the whole thing was jammed. I forced it open. The wind, fierce as it was, seemed to have abated slightly. We were once more on an even keel, riding to the sea anchor, but at a sharp angle to the waves. The Wahini’s main boom had torn loose from the harness that supported it’s outboard end at the mizzen, and was dragging in the sea along our port side. The mainsail was still furled between gaff and boom.

It actually seemed to be improving the way the Wahini met the waves, but I couldn’t leave it in the water. I did not have a spare mainsail; if we lost this one, we were dead in the water. Maybe literally. The sheet seemed to still be intact, so I tried hauling it in. The great mass of wood and canvas bent double, and I knew that the sound which awakened me had been the boom breaking. I released the sheet and threw the bitter end of it around the base of the mizzen. With that new angle I could drag the furled sail back toward the boat with less damage. To the sail; not to me. I had to brace one foot against the mizzen and put my back into it. Near the end, I had both feet on the mast and was lying on the deck with the sheet around my shoulders, heaving with my thighs, then taking up slack. Like doing deep knee bends to lift a Buick out of a well. When the sail finally came back aboard, I lay panting and sweating before I could get up to lash it to the deck.

Raven was standing with her head out of the hatch, looking scared and helpless. I moved to the pump, a hefty, old-fashioned type set amidships with a pair of short handles like an old pump handcar. I went to work. The pump dredged up gallons of seawater, smelling of gasoline and colored with ketchup and coffee grounds, and dumped them on deck. Passing waves quickly swept it clean again. Raven said something, but I lost it in the screaming wind and just shook my head. I put my hand on top of her head and pushed gently. She gave way and I stuck my head through the hatch where she could hear me.

“Forward, through that door, in a cardboard box marked canvas. Bring me a piece of scrap, at least a foot square. Then look under the ladder, beside the engine, high up on the left. You’ll find a tool box. Bring me a claw hammer and a dozen roofing nails. Those are rough gray nails with big flat heads.  OK?”

She nodded and I let her go while I shifted my harness line and worked forward. I scrunched along with my feet in the scuppers and my hands on the edge of the cabin house while the wind tried to pick me up like Dorothy and carry me away. Definitely, this wasn’t Kansas. more tomorrow


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