|nonoctave.com / Rebel Yell / Part I|
|Rebel Yell||by Jason Scott|
All sails were doused and the yacht moved downwind by just the force on a bare pole itself. For 360° nothing could be seen but gray. The rain seemed to mix sky and sea making it difficult to discern between the two. A single figure stood at the wheel of the sloop trying to keep the prow in line with the surge of a demanding sea. As the 20+ foot breaking swells came in towards the stern of the puny craft, there was a frantic turn of the wheel to the starboard. When it passed, just at the right moment, another frantic turn to the left. This to keep the stern square to the break and prevent a disastrous broach. After each successive hit the helmsman furtively glanced astern to see just how big the following roller would be and if the next one would break over the boat. Terror was in his eyes and it was cold. Damned cold!
The sound offered by the raging sea made it apparent that Neptune was angry. His minions were bent on tossing this one insignificant intruder into his kingdom up the crest of one foam encrusted wave and then on to another. He held this interloper in utter contempt as his mother, and ours, the sea mercylessly slapped the yacht around from side to side until, seeming tired of the game momentarily, dropped her puny charge with disdain some 20 feet into the next abyss. The action brought fear to even the bravest of men on board. This was not the place for the inexperienced but, inexperienced they were. Since men have gone to sea they have challenged it in trifling craft knowing well that there would be times that only God himself and the seaworthiness of the craft stood between them and final disaster. It was not a time for praying...too late for that! The die had been cast! It was not a time for better seamanship or even bravado. All that could be done to prepare for the onslaught had been done.
The time had arrived for the boat to prove herself. The workmanship on the ways...the material...the finesse of the designer. All would be tested to the ultimate to determine if this craft ever belonged at sea challenging the rawest of elements. The ultimate test of her seaworthiness. When man has done his all to take care of his boat, there comes a time for the boat to take care of the man.
If a yacht could survive the onslaught of the most demonic of natures caprice...so too will the men survive. Mariners knew that, in the final count, the only chance to beat the elements of wind and water when riding out such a storm was to stay with the boat. To leave her meant certain death. As long as she floats...even if the decks are awash...you had to stay with her! It was time to think of these things for it was that kind of a circumstance we found ourselves in some 80 miles off the Washington coast. A further circumstance clouded the issue at hand and increased the trauma:
The others were below...hanging on for dear life. All together, four against the sea. Three amateur sailors and a captain. A captain who happened to be at that moment, dying. There was a special part for me in this drama for...I was that skipper!
|Part I||Part II|
|Part I: Chapter 1|