calm winds

August awoke, his head pounding, confused, like an aged amateur boxer struggling to figure out what day it was. He struggled to sit upright, fighting against the snarled cordage ensnaring him, and then, he paused for a moment, laying still as his senses came back online slowly, one after the other until the events from the night before became clearer.

He shed the tangles of double braid lines restricting his movement and rose to his knees, fighting to maintain his balance even though the sloop was fairly stable in the calm seas. It was late in the morning he figured, probably sometime in the 10th hour. There was the slightest wisp of a breeze, barely sufficient to lift a feather, and the seas were as close to glass calm as could be expected. His eyes squinted from the full force of the sun nearly blinding him as he surveyed his situation. As his pupils adjusted, his stomach turned and he dry heaved, unable to further empty his already empty stomach.

As he surveyed the boat, his heart sank, and a feeling of helpless despair engulfed him. His jib and mainsail were both shredded, the radio antenna had been snapped and was nowhere to be found, and the wind-powered generator was dangling by a wire from its perch atop its stern mount and was missing two of its three blades.

The night before, he was somewhere about 500 miles west-southwest of the Canary Islands according to his chart plotter and on course for St. Maarten. A 22-knot tailwind was pushing his 50-foot yacht along at a steady 9 1/2 knots, and there were squalls forecasted for the next day. So, he set the autopilot and went below to catch a few hours of sleep before rising early to set the storm sails and prepare for tomorrow’s weather. He set his alarm clock to wake him in 6 hours and crawled into his rack.

He awoke before his alarm to murderous thunder and lightning slashing the sky almost constantly. Jumping out of his bed, he grabbed his rain jacket as he stumbled and fell toward the hatch, struggling to get topside and lower the sails before being capsized. Furiously pulling on lines and turning winches as waves crashed into the dangerously listing boat, August slipped on the lines piled like spaghetti under foot.

What happened between then and where he found himself when he came to was unknown. Only mangled evidence remained to tell the story, but what happened wasn’t important. With no radio, no sails, no way to charge the batteries, and no idea where he was, his focus shifted to “What, now…?”

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