Uneventful Sailing Is Good Sailing
About 2:00 AM the rains came along with lightening. Salty had been in bed for about four hours.
Rich loved the rain at sea. The soft patter on the roof of the cabin harmonized with the wind, the sea, and the other intermittent sounds of the contents of The Odyssey’s cabin; a feeling of comfort and safety amid the chaos beyond. It was as if alone with nothing to worry.
Rich climbed to the pilothouse and rested near the helm and listened to the rain against the canvas.
“Whether White and Smithson find me depends on how motivated they are,” Rich thought. “If they do, it will be by some misstep on my part or complete luck on theirs.”
The rain continued.
At 5:00 AM Rich made a batch of pancake batter. He started the coffee and waited for Salty to awaken.
At 6:15 AM Salty came out of the forward-quarters. He breathed deep and smiled. “Coffee.”
“Have a seat, Salty,” Rich said. “Pancakes and bacon will be up in 15 minutes.”
Salty sat behind the table. “How was the night?”
“Started raining about two and has never let up,” Rich said.
“I woke up once during the night,” Salty said. “It must have been before it rained, because I didn’t hear a thing.”
“We’re probably another 50 or 60 miles from Bermuda,” Rich said. “I’ll take a reading before I turn in.”
Rich prepared the breakfast and they ate together.
Salty savored the syrup and pancakes. “You are really good to me, mate,” Salty said.
“You’re experience has been invaluable,” Rich said. “In just a short time you’ve shown me a lot about sailing. Anybody can point a boat, but it takes skill to actually navigate.”
“You would do fine by yourself,” Salty said. “There may come the time when I’m a burden.”
“That won’t happen,” Rich said.
“But if it does,” Salty said.
“If it does so what,” Rich said, “we will find a way to make the voyage. Let’s not worry about what ifs.”
“How long do you figure to Barbuda?” Salty said.
“Seven to ten days,” Rich said, “of course that’s if the wind and weather is favorable.”
“This has been a good trip,” Salty said. “We’ve had our share of excitement.”
“If it wasn’t for you back in Bermuda somebody might have spotted me and turned me in,” Rich said.
They finished the meal the meal and climbed into the pilothouse where they sipped what remained of the coffee. The rain reduced to sprinkles. They talked of sailing and stories old and new. They spoke of old friends and lost loves.
“It’s 11:AM, “Salty said. “You should get some sleep.”
“Do you want me to fix you something before I turn in?” Rich said.
“No, mate,” Salty said. “I’ll have some of that salted cod and some bread. That is all I’ll need. You get some sleep.”
Rich went to bed.
During the day Salty removed the pilothouse and enjoyed the warmth of the sun. Rich slept until 4:30 PM. The evening meal was simple; canned spaghetti. It’s hard to have any substantive conversation over canned spaghetti.
“Anything happen today,” Rich said as he wiped his bowl with bread and stuffed it into his mouth.
Salty sucked on a tooth. “No mate, she was a good day, nothing happened. But I thought a lot about my dad. He died while I was sailing to Barbuda the last time. And I wondered if I was at the same location when my dad died, because something strange came over me. It seemed like I was in a vacuum. I did not dare look at the compass for fear it might be spinning. There was this deep sorrow. I can’t explain how it happened or where it came from. I don’t suppose you’ve lived long enough to have regrets like I have.”
“I’ve got a good start,” Rich said.
“Even though dad and I parted on the best of terms; he wished me well and I did likewise, it wasn’t over,” Salty said. “There were things left unsaid. I don’t think you can ever talk enough with a son or daughter. Not that everything is pearls of wisdom, but a tone. Do you know what I mean, mate.”
“I think so,” Rich said. ‘Do you know how your dad died?”
“Yeah,” Salty said. “Dad built boats. He loved working with wood. I watched him shape and sand until it was beyond perfection. Before sailing away on my great adventure we were working on a boat together. He was building it specifically to haul rum from Canada to the U.S. It was Prohibition times He called it his rum runner. Boat building fluctuates and dad wanted to have a backup. He took it out for the first rum run. Loaded up with rum someplace in Nova Scotia. They say he was heading for Port Clyde. A storm came up and he was probably too heavy. I can see my dad tossing cases of rum from the boat to lighten the load. He probably took a couple of swigs before going under. He was a good man. I should have told him that. I told him I loved him. There’s more than love. I never told him he was a good man.”
They talked little after that and read much until Salty’s eyes hung heavy. He grabbed a tin cup from a hook in the galley and poured a shot of rum. “To keep the bug away and for dad.” He heaved it into his mouth and staggered to the forward quarters.
For six more days Rich and Salty sailed their course to Barbuda. The seas were good and the winds were abundant. It rained three days and fog was with them for only a few hours. When monotony loomed books were read, cards played, and stories told.