I hadn’t been fair and I hadn’t been entirely honest. As the hours passed and my anger cooled, I was able to admit that to myself. There was more to the story than I had said. I wanted her so badly that it made me weak in the knees. Her smile captivated me. I loved the sound of her voice, accent and all. Visions of the movements of her body were with me all the time and memories of how she had looked, naked and vulnerable when I first found her, tortured me. It was not schoolboy, romantic love and it was not just raw lust – but it was more lust than romance. I could not analyze and categorize my feelings, but they had me by the throat.
Maybe her “striptease” had really been a compliment, a way of saying that she felt safe with me. Or maybe she was just giving me a show for the fun of exhibiting her remarkable body.
Or maybe she had just wanted a sun tan.
Eventually, evening came. The winds were weak and fitful, but I followed my normal routine, furled the damaged mainsail, set full jib and mizzen and lashed the wheel. There was barely enough wind to keep steerageway and Wahini searched the horizon with her bowsprit as she wallowed from wave to wave. I went below.
When I pushed the hatch back, the smell of biscuits hit me in the face and my stomach did a happy handstand.
Traitor, don’t you know we’re mad at her?
Stomach replies, Eat first, fight later.
I slid the hatch closed, shutting out the night, the cold, and the darkness. Within the cabin, the oil lights cast their gentle golden glow against the varnished bulkheads. Wahini was a boat of the old style. She had no radar, no loran, and no electricity. But she had class.
I had built the cabin furnishings myself. I had put aside any clear planks that came through when we were finishing the hull and let them dry naturally in a shed near the building site. When it came time to do the interior, I spent three months crawling around inside Wahini with handsaw, jackplane and tape measure. It was like putting together a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle.
By the time I started the Wahini’s interior, the dream of sailing around the world had become almost an obsession. I was not just building a boat; I was building a home. Wahini’s interior was my masterpiece. I would never again have the time, the materials, the right project, and the sheer love that it takes to reach that level of excellence.
It had had everything. Except a beautiful woman.
Raven had put her hair up. I liked it long and flowing around her shoulders. Now I found that I also liked it up, revealing the slender column of her neck. With her warm coloring, heavy black hair, and slightly arched nose, she looked like a painting of Nefertiti. She was stirring something on the stove that didn’t smell like anything I had put aboard.
I gestured toward the stove and said, “May I?”
I took the spoon, stirred, looked, smelled, and tasted. My eyes recognized canned stew; I had packed six cases aboard. My nose and mouth said, “No way.” Raven had been into Will’s spices and had transformed it completely. I knew that she had turned it into a sort of mole, but that was as far as my culinary imagination could take me.
Raven had found the table top that was tucked under the cushions of one of the transoms and had deciphered the locking system that allowed it to hang from one of the lockers. It was set for two. She had found the drawer of emergency candles and had set one in an empty ketchup bottle. The cabin was rich varnished wood, the candle was ’60’s chic, the dishes were cheap plastic, and Raven wore a wardrobe by Salvation Army. Somehow, she made it work. more tomorrow