September 18th, 2021


Getting Somewhere

   Yikes no comments at all on the last post. Everyone loathes me! ::wails::

   I may have to redo my research on best times to post. I'd done a substantial amount of number crunching a few years ago and I deeply regert having lost my spreadsheet in the ensuing computer crashes. Friday mornings (US) were supposed to be good like all weekday mornings. Weekends are generally bad but there's a window in the US Saturday morning that's good that I hope this will land in.

   Anyway, this is the last piece of the first chapter. What I post here will overlap by one line with the previous.

   At sea at night the sky is an endless canopy of twinkling stars, the broad brighter streak of the milky way clearly visible. As the hours go by the four of us on watch take turns at the wheel or stand quietly beside it gazing out into the darkness. Our watch is led by Pony, the bosun, a stolid fellow with his straw-blonde hair held back in a bun and his cheeks ruddy in the cold. The fourth member of our watch has stayed up all night helping the previous watch and is now all but useless. An amber glow ahead marking San Francisco slowly grows and the sky gradually lightens until they merge in the grey pre-dawn as the Golden Gate comes into sight.
   Captain Larsen is standing behind us again, Pony looks small beside him. On a stormy passage the captain never truly sleeps, appearing silently as a ghost at your shoulder, eyeing the sails, sniffing the wind, perhaps quietly ordering a subtle course change, and vanishing again just as mysteriously.
“Can you brace the sails around to run in under the bridge please?” he tells us, blowing on his hands in the cold.
   We haul on the lines to rotate the squares and keep them in line with the southerly wind as the captain, who has taken the wheel, turns the ship in towards the Gate. As we approach, across the bay the horizon smoulders with the pinks and oranges of sunrise and above us the sails glow a rosy hue. The first sliver of the effulgent gold of the sun peaks above the Berkeley hills across the bay as we cross under the lofty bridge. To our right the skyscrapers of San Francisco sparkle like diamonds in the reflected sunrise. The small and distinct silhouette of Alcatraz lays just ahead enwrapped in wisps of morning mist, we turn away to head north into Sausalito bay.
   The 8-12 watch has been roused an hour early to assist with putting the boat to bed.
   “Hands aloft to furl” the Captain instructs us conversationally. I shed my peacoat as I bound toward the rigging and scurry to the top of the mast at a running pace. My heart pounds from the climb but I rejoice in the feeling of swinging through 20 degrees of arc in the fresh morning sky with the rocking of the ship. It’s like the freedom of flying, I can move freely up here in every dimension. They say the top of the mast is “the closest to heaven a sailor will ever get.” To our left the Marin Headlands glow orange in the morning light and to our right the broad hump of Angel Island, famous immigration station, still sleeps in shadow. Crewmates down below on the foredeck, looking small like mice, release the windlass break and the anchor plunges into the sea with a splash.
   Back on deck, the Eos riding happily at anchor and the lines all coiled down, I take out my phone and see I have a new email.
   “Hi Kris, the project is to go ahead, we have a flight for you tomorrow morning at 8:45 from LAX, are you able to make that?”
I excitedly do some quick searching on my phone, yes I can catch a morning train back south and easily make it.
   Soon I’m climbing down fair Eos’s side into the ship’s small dinghy with my seabag. I carefully seat myself in front of Pony in the precarious little craft, just level with the green water lapping against the ship’s waterline “devil seam.” I look up at the entryport as Pony casts us off. Tarragon is standing there with the wind blowing her long tresses, looking like an island princess. She grins, and her large brown eyes sparkle, she saltily says
      “Now don’t you get killed in Nigeria”
   As Pony guns the outboard motor and we speed toward the empty Sausalito dock a sea shanty plays in my head:

      I’m off on the morning train,
      And won’t be back again,
      For I’m taking a trip on a government ship,
      Ten thousand miles away…

   So there you go. Do you think it's an alright first chapter? Does it adequately make you interested in what will happen to the protagonist and inclined to keep reading?

   I was thinking of titling the whole first chapter "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea," which is why there's that reference to the devil seam which seems unnecessary without that being the chapter title. As with many things I attempt, it might all be too obscure a reference -- it's an established sailorly phrase meaning basically "between a rock and a hard place" but I'm not sure it would mean anything to most people.

   I renamed the ship from it's actual "
Hawaiian Chieftain" to Eos which seemed kind of short of a ship name but I couldn't think of an adjective I liked paired with it. I chose Eos specifically because she's the Greek goddess of the dawn which I really felt worked with how I intended to use the ship in the story. I'm actually trying _not_ to be too dedicated to recounting things exactly as they happened, for example in real life we arrived in the San Francisco Bay at around 2am. Things are still going to be generally how they happened but some tinkering will be done for narrative purposes.

   Monday I'll start with Chapter II (: