A Surprise for Salty
Rich stayed below as they sailed past the old fort, St. Catherine.
“Rich,” Salty called below, “on the wall of the fort somebody has their binoculars on us.”
Rich did not risk a look through the porthole. “Let’s give them something to work on,” he said, “adjust our course to 75 degrees. It will look like we’re heading for Europe.”
Salty made a slight port adjustment until the needle on the compass fell in place. “75 degrees she is, captain.”
Bermuda faded into the horizon and the old fort dipped from sight.
“I think the coast is clear,” Salty said.
Rich came out on deck. “How ya holdin’, Salty?”
“I’m good,” Salty said. “How ‘bout if we hold this for another hour or so?”
“That sounds good to me,” Rich said. “Then go 90 for two hours and than head 160. I’ll get some sleep. If anything comes along let me know.”
“Sure thing,” Salty said, “Now get some sleep.”
Rich awoke in the mid afternoon and passed though the cabin. The sun came through the port portholes. He grabbed the sextant from a shelf over the chart table and climbed up the companionway.
“Mornin’, mate,” Salty said. “We’re holdin’ a good 160; been doin’ so for hours.”
“I’m going to take a reading and see where we are,” Rich said and began looking through the sextant. He got the reading and headed back to the chart table. After a few minutes he came on deck we’re roughly 32 minus 64. That puts us around thirty five miles southeast of Bermuda.”
“While we was heading 75 a plane went over like it was going someplace. It was one of those Piper’s, not big. Who are they trying to fool? Going in that direction they’d run out of gas long before they get to land. My eyes are old but I can follow a mosquito on the horizon. When they thought they was out of the site of normal eyes they looped around and headed back to Bermuda.”
“Who’s paranoid now?” Rich said.
“Just cautiously observant,” Salty said.
“With heightened interest,” Rich added.
“I read the barometer a while ago,” Salty said. “It looks like rain in the future. You want to put up the pilothouse?”
“Let’s enjoy the sun while we can,” Rich said falling back into the bench in the cockpit across from Salty.
“If it hasn’t rained by the time I hit the bunk I’ll help you with it,” Salty said.
Rich smiled. “It’s about time you earned your keep.”
“Did ya check what’s in the galley, mate?” Salty said.
“No,” Rich said.
“Turtle,” Salty said, “all cleaned and ready to do what ever you want to do with it.”
“I don’t know how to fix turtle,” Rich said.
“Anything you do to chicken you can do to turtle,” Salty said.
“Sounds like southern fried turtle tonight,” Rich said.
“I was hopin’ for turtle cordon bleu,” Salty said.
Rich found a recipe for chicken cordon bleu and with a pinch of imagination and a few modifications turtle cordon bleu was served as an entree for their evening meal.
“You have a future as a chef,” Salty said.
“The sea has gotten to you,” Rich said.
“No,” Salty said, “that was truly good.”
“The rent remains the same,” Rich quipped.
“Just as a hint,” Salty said. “I bought some syrup back in Bermuda.”
“You got it, Salty,” Rich said. “I’m gonna fatten you up and use every bit of you for bait.”
They sat the empty plates in the sink of the galley and cleaned up from the meal. They sat at the table. Rich sipped on a can of Coke and Salty a beer.
“We haven’t discussed much about how we are going to get down the coast and to the Strait,” Salty said. “I just assume you have it all charted.”
“My first plan was to just hop scotch down the eastern seaboard,” Rich said, “but we had to adjust the coarse. I figure everything will be pretty much like that the rest of the way. It wouldn’t be much of a trip without a diversion here and there; you know, little side trips. I originally thought about spending a month in the Caribbean. What do you think?”
“You’re the captain,” Salty said.
“No,” Rich said, “really, we’re partners.”
“There is one place I’d like to go,” Salty said. “I’d like to go where my voyage ended nearly 45 years ago, Barbuda.”
Rich grabbed a map from the chart table. He laid it in front of Salty and ran his finger along a straight course doted by a pencil until he stopped at Barbuda with a circle around it.
“That’s the course you charted, mate?” Salty said solemnly.
“Yeah,” Salty. “I wanted it to be a surprise.”
“You’re a good mate,” Salty said, “the best.”