Beyond Beyond; Episode 14
The Odyssey sailed on with Rich and Salty not saying a word all afternoon. As the sun dropped in the west Rich made the uneaten cod from dinner into a sandwich and that was their supper.
Rich read a book about sailing illuminated by a small cabin light. Salty remained at the helm. It was near 10:00 when Salty came below.
“Everything is fine above,” Salty said. “I’m going to hit my bunk.”
“I got it from here,” Rich said glancing up from the book.
Rich read for another half hour. He checked the barometer reading and climbed on deck.
Rich erected the pilothouse with the canvass top and wrapped in a blanket. He remained near the helm.
Listening to the sea on a dark night is a strange experience. In some ways it’s like walking into a large room with no lights and trying to find the exit hoping that nothing is in the way. You push on into darkness that never seems to end and recall old stories about how old mariners of lore were driven mad by such things.
“I think madness will escape me,” Rich thought. “My family shows no signs of it, only dysfunctional behavior. I think dad could handle this. Perhaps this is what was meant for him. Maybe he was driving me to this either consciously or unconsciously. If he were here we’d have shoved one of us overboard by now.” Rich looked up at the darkness overhead. “Or come to an accord.” A tear trickled from his eye. “Perhaps madness is setting in after all.”
It seemed to be a night of dread, but it was quickly washed away by the advent of a the sun’s glow from beneath the horizon. An hour later Rich took a reading and saw no need to adjust their course.
Salty stumbled through the cabin and onto deck having a hard time shaking off the night.
“Take it easy, Salty,” Rich said. “Fill your lungs with the sea while I put some coffee on.”
“You do that,” Salty said.
Shortly they were in the cabin talking and sipping the hot coffee.
Rich crawled in the bunk mid morning and slept five hours. The day being uneventful they played hearts for a while.
Salty laid the cards down. “I think I’m going to read one of your books. I haven’t read since – first trip this way. What do you recommend.”
“Books should take you to someplace you are not,” Rich said. “I recommend nothing about the sea.” Rich stood and grabbed a book from a shelf above where Salty sat. He handed it to him. “Of Mice and Men. You’ll like it.”
They both read long into the night alternating trips to the helm, checking the heading, and making adjustments.
Salty earmarked the book and placed it back in the bookshelf.
“Have a good night, mate,” Salty said.
“Sleep well,” Rich said. “Oh, it might be interesting to know; we’re about 350 miles from Bermuda and about 350 miles of the coast of North Carolina.”
“Interesting,” Salty said.
Salty disappeared into the forward-quarters and Rich heated water for tea. As he waited for the water to warm he leaned across the cabin to check the barometer. “Pressure is dropping,” he whispered. “When was the last time I checked it?” he thought.
Rich stepped on deck. The night was too far along for him to make any sort of assessment. Out of habit he checked the heading. “Good,” he whispered. “It should be cooler this time of night. Something is brewing.”