This was suppose to be the happiest day of their lives. Jay Rhone and Amy, his new wife left the brokers office holding hands, happy and excited. They walked across the yard until the Inter-coastal waterway stopped them. Sitting quietly and waiting on her new owners the forty five foot ketch was what the couple had just purchased. A ketch is recognized by it’s twin masts, plus a head sail or genoa..

“Here she is, your wedding present.”

“Oh Jay, it’s beautiful. The photos you showed me didn’t do it justice.”

“Come on, I’ll show you what it looks like below deck.”

They started this grand tour in the aft berth. About an hour later, they emerged to continue the tour. Amy took special interest in the galley, since she loves to cook.

“This is called a V berth for obvious reasons. It’s OK to sleep up here when we are tied to a dock or at anchor, but may not be where you will want to sleep while we are underway.”

“Why is that? It looks comfortable enough. It’s plenty big for the two of us.”

“Sure, until a big wave dumps you onto the floor. Just take my word for it. While we are sailing, sleep in the back.”

Having no experience with boats, Amy knew better than argue with her new husband.

“The bow of a boat isn’t even a proper place to store anything heavy like all the food I’ll bring aboard. If she is nose heavy, the boat will try to plow through waves instead of riding over them.”

Jay continued to teach his inexperienced wife the fundamentals of life on a sailboat. He started her education at what he thought were the most important lessons first. After the tour was concluded, they migrated to the aft head. Otherwise known as a bathroom. Amy pointed at a plaque hanging on the wall. It read, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.”

“Yeah, that’s just a reminder to be conservative. There is only a thirty five gallon holding tank and when it fills up we will need to move the boat out to sea to empty it or pay for it to be emptied while docked. Don’t worry about using pure water. She has a water maker that is suppose to deliver five hundred gallons of pure water per day. Just don’t put it in the holding tank.”

Amy, being an apt pupil paid attention to her teacher. she quickly realized there was more to life on a boat than choosing which end of the boat to spend the night.

A week after they took procession, a big truck backed up to the dock.

“I got an order for Jay Rhone.” Is that you?”

“Yes, I’m Jay.”

The driver didn’t waste any time unloading about a ton of food. It was neatly packaged in plastic buckets.

“There you go. Sign here.”

Amy asked, “What are we going to do with all that stuff.”

Jay went below deck and drew an imaginary line across the half way point of the boat.

“We will store everything from this point back. Don’t put anything in front of this line.”

“Are you out of your mind? If we bring all that food down here, we won’t have room to wiggle.”

“That’s right! You won’t be able to run away when I attack you again.”

“Did I run away the first time?”

“No, but I did have you cornered in the back berth.”

Amy just smiled at the thought of that encounter. They spent the entire afternoon moving that food below deck. Every nook and cubby-hole was filled to the bream. The aft berth was packed and didn’t even leave room to get to the bed. Over the next few days many other items were purchased; things like snorkels, masks, and fins. Two walkie talkies were purchased. The most significant items were purchased at a local gun show.

“Sweetheart, now that we are fully loaded, I want to make a test run for about two days. That will reveal anything we have missed and give us the opportunity to buy it when we get back here. We’ll shove off tomorrow morning early. Think you’re ready?”

“I guess the only way for you to know is test me out there.” She pointed a finger toward the East. Jay tossed her a length of rope.

“I can test you to some degree now. Tie me a bow line knot.”

He had drilled that knot into her to a point where she was doing it in her sleep.

“Now show me how to tie a line to that cleat.”

He pointed to the nearest one to her. Amy performed this little test without any hesitation. Jay was proud of his new wife. She learned these simple things and showed no arrogance that she knew more than what Jay had taught her.

“I guess you passed the test here at a dock. When we cast off and hit the open water, no matter what happens, I want you to stay calm and listen to my orders.”

" I know; after all, you have told me often enough. Just give me an order and I will try my best to obey.”

Jay gave her an order.

“Come here and give me a kiss.”

“Aye, aye captain.”

When they cast off all lines and started out of the marina, there was no wind to push the boat around. Not until they hit open water did a east wind find the boat and her crew. This was not good for sailing because they were headed directly into the wind. Jay showed his wife the wind direction and speed on the boat’s navigation system.

“How would you solved this problem?”

She hesitated much to long.

" We need to change course so the sails will catch some wind, then zig-zag to stay close to our intended course. It’s called tacking.”

Jay turned the wheel to the right until the wind filled the sails. About thirty minutes later he instructed Amy to move the boom to the other side of the boat and he moved the wheel to the left until the sails once again were full of wind. During that first day at sea they only made just over fifty miles.

With the sun sitting low in the western sky, Jay ordered Amy to lower all sails. Radar revealed no land mass was within the units forty five mile range and no ships either.

“Hon, I going to shut down for the night. Will you go down and start dinner. I need to tidy up, then I come down and help you.”

Amy gave him a questioning look, so Jay answered her unspoken question.

“I need to bag the sails and program the computer for night patrol. Do you want to watch?”

“Maybe I should. Night patrol?”

“I’ll set the collision alarm for twenty miles. That will give me plenty time to wake up and see what’s going on. Don’t worry about it. I can teach how to do that in five minutes.”

After dinner, they settled down for the night. Jay got up once. He went topside and checked, just to make sure. The GPS showed they had moved about a mile north because of the Gulf Stream. No big deal. All was clear and calm, so he went back to bed.

When Amy went topside the next morning, she got sprayed. Jay was washing down everything with fresh water.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to spray you. I just need to rinse the salt off everything.”

They set sails again and headed on a north easterly course. After a couple hours, Jay turned southwest and got Amy’s attention.

“Hon come up and watch this. I going to use the chart plotter and let the autopilot guide us back to port.”

Amy wasted no time coming up. This is something new to her and she showed great interest. The thought of cruise control on a boat was fascinating to her.

Docking the boat was going to be challenging. The wind was blowing down the length of the marina. A forty five foot boat gets pushed around from such a wind.

“Sweety, this is going to be tricky, but if you follow orders, I’ll put her in there and not run over anything. Now, the first thing is to get out five fenders and hang four of them over like I’ve showed you. The fifth will be tied to the rail in a horizontal position. That fender must be lined up with that piling.”

Jay pointed to a post at the end of their berth.

“Get two dock lines ready. You’ll need to tie a bow line knot. When the boat makes contact with that piling, I want you to toss a line over it and use the front cleat to secure the boat to it; understand?”

“Yes, but we will be sideways to the dock.”

She wrinkled her forehead showing a puzzled expression.

“I know. Just follow my orders and you will learn something very valuable.”

“OK, now.”

Amy captured the piling with no difficulty. After all, the boat was stationary against that piling.

“Pull it tight and tie to the front cleat.”

Jay reversed the engine with right rudder. The boat slowly began to pivot around and line up with the dock.

“Now, get a line ready to secure the stern. Amy, use two cleats. one on the boat’s stern and the other on the dock.”

They were back to their temporary home, safe and sound. Jay used the phenomena of prop walk. With a right handed prop rotation, the engine pulled them to the right. With the bow secured to the piling, the stern slowly moved to the right, thus lining up with the dock.

The short excursion didn’t reveal any needed items., but a trip to a local grocery store allowed to them purchase lots of snacks and candy.

Two days later, they cast off all lines and started their long awaited journey.

“Honey, take over the helm. Just set your course due east. I got to go below and consult our charts.”

“What’s in the Bermuda Triangle that we would want to see?”

“I went into the Triangle about five years ago and some strange things happened. I want to see if that area will do it again.”

Amy’s curiosity boiled over.

“What happened?”

Well, we saw a blue light. When we tried to get closer, it moved away from us. Never did catch up with it. When we got back to port, one other strange thing had occurred. It caused me to miss a business meeting. My watch had stopped for an hour and thirteen minutes, then it started running again.”

“Are you sure you want back? Sounds weird to me.”

“Why not? We didn’t hurt. Besides the meeting wasn’t that important to me.”

Jay went below deck and pulled out their charts. He consulted one of the area he wanted to go and got a latitude and longitude from it.

Back at the helm, he programmed the computer and hit the enter key.

“OK, first mate, you can turn loose that wheel. She’ll drive herself now.”

The autopilot changed their direction to more north-east. The wind had shifted to south-east, which gave them hands free sailing.

Amy go below and find that grey box. The one with medication in it. I want you to take some Dramamine. It’s for sea-sickness.”

“I don’t feel sick. Why do I need to take it?”

“Because I don’t want you to get sick. It’s to late to take any once you start tossing your cookies.”

Once again, she followed orders. She new better than argue.

When she returned to her husband, they did what newly married couples usually do and since no one was around watching them, they did it on a couch beside the helm. It was a nice relaxing day. The boat knew where she was going. The sea gulls disappeared. Their were no car horns, sirens, or any sounds other than the waves lapping against the hull and the rustling of the wind in the sails.

Late that afternoon, the radar gave a warning. Jay quickly went to the helm and checked. A storm was approaching from the south and it looked like a bad one.

“Amy, break out two life vests and two safety lines. A storm is heading towards us and I’m not going to be able to outrun it.”

Amy handed Jay a vest and he put it on. He also buckled a safety line around his waist and clipped it to a stanchion. She watched him and repeated the procedure on herself.

“Let’s ere on the side of caution and drop the main sail. Then shorten the head sail. Move that line to the starboard side.”

While Amy went to the bow carrying out his order. Jay was reefing the mizzen on the stern. If the storm was worse than radar indicated, he didn’t want to take a chance of ripping out a mast. He also moved the boom of the mizzen to the right side of the boat. Jay turned their boat south to meet the storm head-on.

Amy shouted, “Jay look!”

She unclipped her safety line and started running toward the stern. Amy panicked. The boat started climbing a giant rouge wave, which threw her to the deck. While sliding toward the stern, she managed to grab the guard rail.

Jay shouted, “Clip that safety line to something. What do you think you’re doing?”

The boat continued to climb and it was all Jay could do to hold on to the wheel. They were almost vertical. When the boat reached the top of that wave Jay shouted again.

“Grab something; we are going to hit hard.”

A wall of water washed over the boat when they hit bottom. Amy found Jay’s leg and used it as a support, thus pulling him back away from the button which started the engine. To late, they started to climb another giant wave. Amy held on tight and Jay didn’t have the heart to scold her. Besides, her was busy holding on to the wheel once again. The boat bobbed like a cork when she hit bottom the second time. Jay started the engine, but before he could put it in gear, they started up the third wave. When they reached the top of that third wave, Jay’s heart sunk. At the bottom was a giant whirlpool. Large enough to pull under a cargo vessel. He hesitated about putting the engine in gear because by then it was to late.

November 17, 2020 22:06

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Hello there Stan! Now, to be quite honest with you, before you even continue to read on this comment, I want to say that I didn't accidentally find my self reading this story, but Jenn from the 'Wednesday Critique Circle' sent me some stories, and fortunately your story was on there and I am so lucky to have read such an amazing story!😊 The first thing I really loved about this story is that I am stunned by the way you used such nice vocabulary words in throughout the entire story! I mean honestly, I really loved it, and as a reader, I en...


Stan Allen
14:01 Nov 26, 2020

ℍ𝕒𝕣𝕚𝕡𝕣𝕚𝕪𝕒, thank you for such detailed feedback. Being somewhat new at writing, I welcome such comments about my writing or an individual story. I look back and see how I have progressed from my first stories. These short stories are a great way to polish my writing. I am older and have many life experiences from which to draw upon. Would you be interested in reading a full length novel I wrote. It's not published yet, but it's getting close to being offered to an agent. Working on a small budget prevents me from hiring professionals, so...


Hello, thank you for your kind words! Also, about your novel, could you send me the link to it? I will gladly read it! :)


Stan Allen
18:17 Nov 26, 2020

The only way I have of sending you the story is by an attachment to an email. There is no link to the story. I can send it as a PDF file, which is typeset by Reedsy.


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