Adventure at Lewes, Part 1
The next morning Rich awoke just as an amber sun crested halfway above the horizon. He quietly made a pot of fresh coffee and scrambled eggs with bacon and toast.
He cleaned the galley after eating and placed the tracking device on the table. He opened it using the screw driver. He wrote a note.
To Sam White and Dave Smithson,
How does it feel to be lead astray? Wish I was here to see your faces.
Rich placed the note in the box and screwed it shut.
Rich tapped on the forward-quarter door. “Salty,” he said in a loud hush. “I’m shoving off.”
“I’m gettin’ up now,” Salty said. “I’ll help ya launch the dinghy.”
In a quiet morning mist they eased the dinghy in the water. The sun rose to near full view above the horizon. Gulls squawked and fluttered along the beach for early morning feedings.
Salty handed the tracker to Rich. “I oughta toss this thing in the bay and be done with it, but you’re the captain.”
Rich shoved off with his foot. “Have a hearty breakfast, my friend. There’s plenty of fresh coffee.”
Salty waved and Rich returned the wave.
Rich rowed the dinghy to shore and hauled it among the high grass in a marsh. He walked to the main road that led to the ferry landing. It was a three mile walk. His pace quickened becoming anxious and thinking he might miss the early ferry. He had little idea of the scheduled, but imagined as in the case of the Vinalhaven ferry, two ferries would depart from each terminal at the same time. He estimated the route at 17 miles; that would be about a 90 minute cruise according to Rich’s mental calculations.
Rich sighted the docked ferry. A hub of activity stirred around the road leading to the landing, mainly a variety of cars cars and trucks. The ferry was much larger than expected; at least 300 feet. Rich entered a small terminal building where two women ticket agents behind a counter sold boarding passes. About a half dozen people stood in each line.
Rich purchased his ticket from a short woman with no personality and cigarette dangling from her mouth.
“How long does the ferry remain docked in Cape May before returning?” Rich asked.
“You’ll have to ask somebody over there,” she said with the cigarette bouncing like a conductors wand.
“Can you look that up for me?” Rich said. “It’s important.”
“Do I look like a travel agent?” she said.
“Yes, you do,” Rich said, “but a not so profitable one.”
“Next,” she said curtly.
“Ma’am…” Rich said.
“Next!” she said.
“The ferry is at the dock for about an hour and a half,” a man behind Rich said.
“Thanks,” Rich said moving away from the counter and to the passenger loading area.
Rich handed his ticket to a crewman. “What time does the ferry leave?”
“Half hour,” the crewman said.
Rich stepped on board and climbed the steps to the passenger area. He held the tacking device tightly against his hip. Rich stood at a window and looked out to the open sea. Little else occupied his mind except to find a place in Cape May to stash the box where it could not be detected by sight or easily discovered. He mused at the idea of White and Smithson finding it; the surprise, disappointment, and realization they had been duped.
“Cranky ole gal, ain’t she?” The man from the ticket line said.
“Probably having a bad day,” Rich said. “She probably gets all kinds of questions so she handles them all the same way.”
The did not look at each other; only out the window at the bay.
“So you’re not planning to be long in Cape May?” the man said.
“No,” Rich said, “just have to drop off this box to a friend.”
“You’re not from around here are you?” the man said.
“No,” Rich said. “My grandpa and I sailed up the coast.”
“Why didn’t you just sail over to Cape May yourself?” the man said.
“We had some trouble with the engine and grandpa is going to work on it while I deliver this,” Rich said.
“Your grandpa will be getting some company this morning,” the man said.
“How’s that?” Rich said.
“I was having a beer with my brother-in-law last night,” the man said. “He’s a boat safety officer for the state. They’ve been asked to conduct a safety inspection on all occupied boats. This time of year they look for anything to keep those guys busy. Lazy S O B, his uncle got him the job.”
“Will they be inspecting at Lewes?” Rich said.
“He said they would be starting about 15 miles inland and work their way to the coast,” the man said. “It won’t take long; they will only be inspecting occupied boats and there aren’t many of them this time of year. He complained like they was asking for a leg.”
“What kind of authority do those guys have?” Rich said.
“To hear my brother-in-law the entire security of Delaware Bay rest on his shoulder,” the man said. “The truth is they only hand out citations. If there’s a problem they call for the police.”
Rich feigned interest; only passing the time of day. He asked the man about the weather and jobs in the area. However, his mind was occupied with what might happen if the safety inspection officers snoop around the boat and find the guns and ammunition.
“Where’s the restroom on this boat,” Rich asked.
“Down that way,” the man said pointing.
“Maybe I’ll catch ya later,” Rich said and walked toward the restrooms.
“Yeah,” the man said, “If I don’t see ya have a nice visit in Cape May.”
“Thanks,” Rich said.
Rich walked past the restrooms. “Salty must be warned,” he thought.
“This is your captain, Captain Brooks,” came over a loud speaker, “we will be departing in five minutes.”