It was around three in the afternoon when Rich made another reading. He stepped on the roof of the cabin and stood on his toes. “That should be Cape May.”
“I’d like to get some beer and whiskey,” Salty said. “Just enough to keep the bug away and wash down the grub once a day. My system has become use to it. Not sayin’ it’s good or bad, just makes the day better.”
“Shouldn’t be too hard to find something,” Rich said.
“What about you,” Salty said, “what do you have a hankerin’ for?”
“Nothing in particular,” Rich said, “just think I’ll restock. We don’t need much. But I’d sure like to get some doughnuts or a cream stick.”
“You can double that, mate,” Salty said. “I got a sweet tooth too.”
“How ‘bout if I give you the money,” Rich said, “and I’ll stay with the boat. I got stuff on here I don’t want anybody to find out about.”
“Sounds like you’ve not told me everything,” Salty said.
“Not intentionally,” Rich said. “This is the first I thought about it. Open the bench you’re sitting on.”
Salty stood and opened the bench. His face flashed with a comedic surprise at the cache of weapons and ammunition. “What are you expecting, a war?”
“That was some of the stuff that was kept in the basement of The Beacon,” Rich said. “I have no idea what it was going to be used for. I told you those guys were radical. And if necessary take things by force.”
“It would take more than a handful of rifles,” Salty said.
“I think the weapons were going to be used to commit other crimes,” Rich said. “I think they were going to arm others who would be stupid enough to create chaos. I’ve read some of their literature. At the top are intellectuals; judges, writers, lawyers, law enforcement, entertainers, ministers, elected officials, and wealthy and influential community leaders and businessmen. They are structured, but not well-organized. They didn’t know what to do with me at first. In fact, the entire effort they used to try and recruit me was slipshod. I’m no expert, but giving me a few books to read and being nice to me seems very weak.”
“Some people are meant to be bamboozled,” Salty said. “Guys like me there’s not enough to work with, but you, smart guys like you…”
“You’re selling yourself short, Salty,” Rich said.
“Well there’s one or two things I’m smart on,” Salty said, “the rest is bilge.”
“Sam saw me as easy prey,” Rich said. “I left home at an early age and looking for some sort of structure, like a family and thought he was filling a father or older brother figure. Guys like me are easy.”
“Apparently that was not the case,” Salty said.
“Nevertheless, I trusted him,” Rich said.
Salty said, “but the minute you found what he was up to…”
“It was almost too late,” Rich said.
They sailed for another 15 minutes and Rich started the engine to make sure he had power before entering the waterway that led to Cape May Harbor. The engine responded soundly and was shut off.
Rich turned on the radio to listen to the harbor traffic.
“This is an announcement from the Cape May Harbor Police. Stay clear of a 38 foot sloop named The Odyssey. It is armed and considered dangerous.”
Rich and Salty looked startled at each other.
“Now to where?” Salty said.
“I’ll look at the charts,” Rich said and hurried below.
Rich scanned the charts.
“We are around 700 miles from Bermuda and over 800 from the Bahamas,” Rich called out to Salty.
“I think we may be going to Cape May after all,” Salty said and lowering the binoculars from his eyes. “A boat in the distance is moving toward us now.”
Rich started up the companionway.
“Stay below,” Salty said. “They’re looking for a young man not an old sea dog like me.”
“Odyssey is on the transom!” Rich said.
Salty scratched his stubbled cheek. “You got black electrical tape?”
“Yeah,” Rich said.
“You got a first aid kit with some white tape?” Salty said.
“Yeah,” Rich said puzzled.
“Get it now!” Salty said.
From a cabinet above the chart table Rich grabbed a role of white tape from the first aid kit. He handed it to Salty.
“Stay in the cabin,” Salty said, “just tell me where the electrical tape is.”
“In the bench across from you is a tool box,” Rich said. “There’s a roll of black tape in the top.”
Salty grabbed the black electrical tape. He scurried to the stern and looked over the transom at the boat’s name, Odyssey. He pulled at his lips and hesitated. Then he began ripping strips of tape; at first the white and then the black. He applied them to the transom. A pocket knife was pulled from his pocket and used it to round the edges of the tape plastered against the transom. He returned the back tape to the tool box and the white tape to the first aid kit.
“Stay out of sight,” Salty said.
“What have you got planned?” Rich said.
“I’m taking over as captain for a couple of minutes,” Salty said and returned to the helm.
The boat advanced quickly and slowed about 25 yards from The Odyssey, starboard. Three uniformed officers on board braced themselves with the roll of the sea. “Police” appeared in large black letters on the side of the boat. It motored to the port side maintaining the same distance.
Rich remained huddled below in his bunk. His heart pounded; his mouth dry. He had no idea what was taking place on deck.
“Ahoy!” an officer shouted. “Harbor Police, Cape May
“Ahoy!” Salty said and with an Irish accent he continued. “I sailed all the way from Ireland to visit me sister and she sends the police to fetch me. That’s a bit overdone, wouldn’t you agree?”
“If you see a boat named The Odyssey, she is armed and dangerous.” the officer said. “Stay clear of her and notify the Coast Guard or police as soon as possible.”
“You say Cape May,” Salty said. “How far off course am I to Ocean City?”
“About 40 miles south along the shore,” the officer said.
“I must have taken a bad reading this morning,” Salty said.
“Safe sailing, sir, and welcome to America,” the officer said.
“Thanks,” Salty said and waved.
The police boat sped away.
Salty steered port 180 degrees.
“Stay below until we loose visual contact,” Salty called into the cabin.
After 10 minutes Salty ducked his head in the cabin, “Hey, mate, it’s all clear.”
Rich popped up on deck and scanned aft. Nothing was in sight.
“Good job, Salty,” Rich said, “You’re good under pressure. What did you do about Odyssey on the transom.”
“It was easy,” Salty said, “I took the black tape and put a C in front of ODYSSEY. I took the white tape and covered the first S, that gave me CODY SEY. I can’t think of any words that begin with SEY, so I had to come up with something. I connected two lines with black tape and did a little trim work with the white tape to make the second S a B. I made the E into an O. It took a strip of black tape and covering the middle line of the E. I trimmed the letters best I could with the knife. When I was done Odyssey became CODY BOY. It’s not pretty, but at a distance on a bobbing sea, who would notice?”
“Did I say you are really really good under pressure?”
“Take the helm, mate,” Salty said with the Irish accent. “and I’ll strip off the old moniker. ‘tis a good name, but ‘tis for another vessel, another day.”
Rich smiled and looked at the compass. He thought, “Trust will never be an issue with Salty.