Everything seemed intact. The line to the sea anchor was becoming chafed where it passed through the anchor bits. I should have pulled it in somewhat, but that was out of the question. All I could do was let it out three feet to keep it from chafing further.
Up forward, the motion was severe. When the Wahini crested a wave, the deck fell away beneath my feet like a high speed elevator dropping from penthouse to basement. The line to the sea anchor was as hard as a steel rod; droplets of seawater danced on its vibrating length. I felt like Ishmael on a Nantucket sleigh ride. No amount of reason could convince my senses that we were moving backward more slowly than the waves. My eyes knew that we were surging forward.
I returned to the main hatch. Raven was there, her hair a black bramble in the wind. I took the canvas, hammer and nails, and dragged the hatch closed. The frame was shattered, but there was nothing I could do about that now. I simply nailed canvas over the hole, and trimmed it with my knife. Then I slid the hatch half open and clenched the nails over inside, took a last look around, and went below.
Raven was waiting. She looked so melodramatically woeful and bedraggled that I had to smile. I said, “Where were we?”
It took her a moment to shift mental gears; then she smiled too. “We were in each others arms,” she said. “Were! Now, you are going to tell me whether or not we are going to sink.”
I motioned her to the transom seat and sat opposite her, bracing my feet against the ship’s motion. “No, I don’t think so, but we’ll never come that close again and live to tell about it. The wind seems to be dying down just a bit, and the Wahini is riding properly again.”
“So we’re all right?”
“No guarantees, but probably.” I decided not to tell her about the Wahini’s inherent instability. “How do you feel?”
“Scared. Fine other than that, I guess. Tired. I haven’t gotten much sleep.”
“So who was doing all that snoring?”
I smiled. I had to admire her for trying so hard. From a cruise ship, to near drowning, to this – she appeared to be holding up well. I wondered what it was costing her.
“What is happening to us?” she asked.
I explained about the rogue wave and the broken boom.
“Does that mean we are stranded?”
“No. It means we may have some heavy repairs ahead of us when the storm lets up, and that we may take longer to get to Marseille.”
She bit her lower lip and asked, “Will we have enough food?”
Another point for her, for intelligence this time. Not many people would have thought of that. I said, “Don’t worry.”
“I have to worry. I’m the one that got you into this mess. Because I’m here, you have two mouths to feed.”
I shook my head. “No, Raven. I’m not putting you off. Don’t worry because there is plenty of food aboard. We stocked the the Wahini for two before Will had to fly on ahead. If we are much delayed, we may run out of luxuries like coffee, but we won’t go hungry.”
“I don’t want to be a burden.”
She laughed bitterly. “So who went out to repair the damage and who stayed inside safe and warm.”
“This conversation could get tiresome. No, I didn’t invite you aboard; but you didn’t choose to be here either. There is no blame involved, and nothing to apologize about. You are welcome aboard, Raven.
Very softly, she said, “Thank you.”
“I think I could get to like you very quickly.”
Her face lit up. She couldn’t have looked happier if Ed McMahon had knocked on her door with ten million dollars. I wanted to say more, but I sensed a reserve in her, and the last months had left me emotionally drained. Perhaps that was part of the reason I was falling for her so hard and so fast. Not that I needed a reason beyond the fact that she was beautiful and we were alone in mid-ocean. If you rescue a mermaid, you’re expected to fall for her. more tomorrow