Y/n puts the vehicle in gear carefully making a U turn and starts down the road in a westerly direction. Her original plan was find refuge in one of the larger towns along North Florida’s citrus belt such as Lake City or Gainesville- still seems viable despite the fact that the engine continues to ping and complain- something has come loose during the plunge to the woods and she doesn't like the sound of it. They need to find a place to stop soon look under the hood, get their wounds looked at- rest maybe, maybe find some provisions and fuel.
“Hey look!” Nick speaks up from the shadows of the rear seats pointing off to the Southwest at the end of the lot.
Y/n drives another 100 yards or so and then brings the Escalade to a stop at the gravel shoulder. She kills the engine and silence crashes down on the car’s interior, it’s almost deafening. Nobody says anything at first- they just stare at the road sign in the middle of the distance. It's one of those cheap translucent white fiberglass ones, set on wheels with the big removal plastic letters still bearing the words “Calvary Baptist Church all welcome Sunday 9 -&- 11.”
Through the spindly Cypress trees and columns of pine that line the road, she can see the luminous white gravel of a deserted parking lot. The long narrow lot leads to the front of a building, it's broken stained glass windows partially boarded up. Its steeple caved in on one side and scorched as if its seen a bombing raid. She stares at the huge steel cross at the top of the steeple- which is covered with a patina of rust- has come loose from its moorings.
It now lays upside down dangling by the remains of its rotted hardware. She can't help but get very still while gazing up at the ruin upended cross, the symbolism isn't lost on her but it may only be the beginning. She never been one for religion but realizes that this may very well be a sign that they've been left behind and this is the rapture and the world is a purgatory now. They’ll have to deal with what remains like junkyard dogs or vermin stuck in a sinking ship.
“Remind me”she says almost under her breath not taking her eyes off the building in the distance one of the windows in the rear has a dull yellow incandescent glow, behind it the chimney is spewing a thin wisp of smoke into the lightning sky.
“how much ammunition did y'all manage to scavenge before we left Calhoun?” the two young men give each other a quick look
Nick speaks up “I have one of the 33 round mags for the Glock and a box of two dozen .380s for the other pistol and that's it..”
“That's more than I managed.” George grimaces “all I managed to grab ammunition wise is what was in the office which I think it's like 6 rounds, maybe 8?”She picks up her Glock from the seat counting the number of times she's fired since they left Calhoun she's got six rounds left.
“All right gentlemen ... I want you to bring all of it, all the hardware locked and loaded.” she opens the door “and look alive…”
The two men get out of the vehicle and join her in the Golden light of the dawn. Something is wrong, Nick notices His hand are shaking as he injects a fresh magazine into the hilt of his pistol
“Y/n, I don't understand” he says finally.
“what are we loading up for? I doubt there's anything in there but scared church people. What are we doing?”
But she's already started down towards the church- her Glock is gripped tightly in her hands, arms dangling at her side like a calling card.
“It's the end of the world boys there's no such thing as church anymore it's all up for grabs…”
The two young men glanced at each other for a moment before hurrying up to catch up with her. They approached the property from the rear, through the grove of sickly eucalyptus trees that mark the outer edges of the churches lot. She can smell the stench of menthol and ammonia in the air as she creeps across the weed whiskered gravel, careful not to make too much noise when her boots crunch under the stones. The light in the chapel's rear window has dwindled with the morning sun and the roaring of crickets fade now, the silence returns over making her heart throb in her ears.
She pauses behind a tree about 20 feet away from the lighted window ... With a few quick hand signals she rouses the two who are hiding behind a nearby oak. Nick moves out from behind cover carrying the pistol against his solar plexus like a vestigial appendage. George moves behind his friend wide eyed and jumpy flinching at the twinges of pain. These two are not exactly the crème de la crème in the world's new survivor class she realizes but perhaps she should see these young men as they truly are. Loyal partners, and friends- surviving all the same.
She issues another signal stabbing a finger at the rear of the building. One by one the three of them move toward the small woodside annex off the rear of the Chapel- she’s in the lead her pistol now gripped in both hands, now pointed downward. The closer they get the more the sun rises over the horizon the more they realize something isn't right. The windows of the building and rectory of the deacons quarters are lined with aluminum foil. The screen door has been ripped off its hinge and the inner door is nailed shut and crisscrossed with lumber. The stench of the dead permeates the air and gets stronger as they approach. She reaches the building first and she gently stands with her back against the boarded door signaling the others with a the tip of her finger to her lips.
They approach as quietly as possible, stepping lightly over the trash and dead leaves that are skidding across the back of the deck in the morning breeze. George stands just behind her, while Nick keeps to her side, both keeping weapons at the ready. She reaches down to her scuffed boot and pulls out a 12 inch Randall knife from the interlining. She carefully wedges the point under one of the boards near the door latch and Yanks.
The door probes stubborn. She pries at it repeatedly with the knife making more racket than she cares to but she has no choice they would make even more noise if they had tried to break through one of the windows. The nails give slightly the creaking sound amplified and the hushed daylight. She has no idea of what they're about to find inside this building but she fairly certain now that both humans as well as the dead inhabit this place.
Zombies don't build fires and the average survivor with the access to soap and water doesn't usually smell like death. The door finally gives and the two men moving closer to her, guns up now as they enter at the same time. They find themselves in an empty room illuminated by dim yellow light and the smell of stale smoke and Bo smacks them in the face. She crosses the floor, her boots making the floorboards creak. She makes note of the small potbelly stove still radiating the heat of the dying embers, the braided rug stained with blood, a desk littered with teabags, dishes, candy wrappers gossip magazines, a few empty 44 bottles and crumpled cigarette packs…
She goes over to the desk and looks down at the display of playing cards arranged in the classic poker pattern it looks like somebody, likely a hand full of people, were here only a moments ago and left in a hurry. A noise from behind the inner doors suddenly takes her attention. she whips her head around to the source, both men stand across the room gazing sheepishly back at their leader.
Again she puts a four finger to her lips giving them the signal to hush. The two mens eyes are aglow with nervous tension, on the other side of the door shuffling noises build, the telltale sound of dragging feet. There's also the reek of mortified flesh almost as pungent as the methane and it's getting stronger. She recognizes that a number of undead are trapped in an enclosed space. She turns and points to George’s shotgun.
Nick understands that he's supposed to blow the lock off the door and George is supposed to back them both up. Neither young man is very happy about this plan. Nick looks pale and George is drenched in sweat both of them nursing wounds and perhaps even internal bleeding. Neither seem gung ho about fighting off and undetermined number of biters. But she is an irresistible leader and the mere look in her eyes is enough to kill any dissension in the ranks. She holds three fingers up. She begins to countdown. 3, 2-
A loud crack sounds as a rotten hand covered with mold burst through the weak spot in the lumber.
Nothing in reality ever seems to play out the way George imagines it should. He trips on his backward shuffling feet and falls on to the floor. The pain in his ribs explode the injury jostled by the impact and at the same time another pair of hands thrust their way through the busted slats of the door. Looking up he sees she has pulled something from her boot. He watches as a dull gleam of a Buck knife strikes through the air. She drives the blade through the tissue and cartilage sawing through the bone it’s hands flopping to the floor as neatly as tree limbs being pruned.
George watches as he tries to sit up, the back of his throat burns and his body threatens to upchuck the paltry contents of a stomach. Things are moving quickly now, hands are flopping around him like fish on a boat’s deck, slowly growing still as the electrical impulses from the reanimated central nervous system drains out. George’s vision blurs his mind swimming dizziness gripping him as his wounded lungs labor to get air.
She's already scooped the fallen shotgun from the floor pumping shells into its breach with a single jerk of her arms as she turns back to the door George manage to get himself back up into a standing position kicking the ghastly hands out of the way . She slims a boot into the door and it implodes revealing the interior of a dark Chapel. Nick gets a fleeting glimpse of the sanctuary before the 1st blast shatters the tableau.
What was once a quaint little church with stain glass and pine pews now resembles an arbiter from the 9th circle of hell. The dead number in dozens maybe as many as 40 or 50 most of them chained to the pews with heavy chains. They react to the light of the outer room as if she had just turned over her oktan exposed a colony of vermin.
Insensate faces jerk towards the noise, some are decorated with spiked collars and others have large makeshift cage like muzzles. The scene gives a a sense of some sort of demented zoo or kennel for these reanimated cadavers. Stranger still, in that terrible instant before the first flash of the 12 gauge, it seems like somebody apparently tried to administer these beings after they were reanimated.
In front of each are dead birds morsels, pieces of roadkill or unidentified human remains are scattered in the pews next to each being. The candles still burn in the same sanctuary on the advert stands in the front room on the modest little altar. Somewhere the buzz of a live microphone drones. The air smells of modified sewage perfumed with rancid flesh and disinfected.
Nick gets one final glance at her before the air lights up- the look on her face is a mixture of sorrow, rage, loss and regret. It's the look of someone confronting the merciless abyss. Then the shooting starts.
The first blast flashes and takes the closest cadaver down in a puff of carnal tissue, the shell ripping through the skull and taking a chunk out of the wood above the door. Three subsequent shots happen, making their ears ring. Already covered with blowback her anguished face stippled and splattered, she now moves deeper into the Chapel and starts in on the others.
It only takes a few minutes, the air flashing like a fireworks display as she goes from pew to pew, either vaporizing skulls or thrusting her Randall knife through petrified nasal cavities before the things even get a chance to bite at the air. George staggers towards the open door to get a better view and he notices Nick just in the side Chapel entrance.
She has the strangest look on her face now as she finished off the last of the monsters with a hard quick slashes of the knife the gun has been emptied, 8 shells peppering the wall behind the heaps of moldering flesh. Completely slick with blood, her eyes burning with inscrutable emotions, she almost looks beatific as she dispatches with the last re animated corpse .
For one terrible moment watching this all from the doorway Nick thinks of a woman having an orgasm. She lets out a voluptuous sigh of relief as she impales the skull of what seems to be an elderly woman. The Crone sacks against the back of her Pew, she was once somebody's mother, somebody's neighbor. She may have once baked cookies for her grandchildren search for famous bread pudding add ice cream socials and laid to rest her beloved husbands of 47 years in the Cemetery out behind the rectory .
Y/n pauses to catch her breath staring down at the woman, head bowed for a moment, when all at once she abruptly stops and looks up narrowing her eyes. She cocks her head to one side and listens closely to something in another part of the building at last she fixes her gaze on George and so softly whispers
Particle board is another choice, it's durable, looks good and really cheap. It's basically designed with wood chips, sawdust and resin turning it into solid and strong and grueling.Particle boards can be painted as well but preferably primed by having an oil-based primer 1st to seal the glue. https://vanepcopphaphuphim.com/ will be relevant because moisture can possess a greater result on this product so it must be sealed aloof from any fluids.
Contrary to first impressions, a stitch and glue boat, if properly designed and built, is just strong and capable as its framed counterpart. They're simply different philosophies in system. Just as cars and aircraft have changed from framed and covered construction to more modern, unibody in the case of cars, and monocoque in the situation of aircraft, construction, so naval architects have been transitioning from framed to stitch and glue construction for light, strong, easy to build warships.
One exterior painting question frequently asked is how you can properly treat areas where checking is happening. That usually depends exactly how to bad the checking definitely is. It's possible you may need to replace the plywood if the cracking is not good enough and in case that area is obtaining a lot of sunlight, temperature and moisture exposure. However, I would try the next process first before settling on replace the plywood.
They both have good and bad points about the entire group. When done properly they both produce excellent positive aspects. So how do you make choosing? This will be determined on how experienced and skilled an individual might be. Along with how much bit of you have, and finally what appeals to you more. Make certain hints that might help you regarding your decision which makes.
After the stitching, the chine seam is glued with epoxy thickened with wood floor or another suitable filler. After the gluing, it's normal to submit an application some fiberglass tape the particular seam to bolster the joint between one side and lows.
I had decided to create a house with three friends of mine. I am happy to report that the foundation was built before we even got there and we finished the frame quickly. It wasn't challenging when there was the proper guidance. Now we were in the "nail Plywood to the frame" grade. It is a fun stage while skeleton gains flesh.
First you will have to decide what one of the two most modern techniques are you going unit. There is the most up to date technique in the stitch and glue, or there is the old fashioned ply on frame.
Sport Fishing Boats - How To Pick Your Choice From The Leaders
All avid anglers will find the need for the perfect sport fishing boat a difficult to pass up idea and so we are here to help you narrow down this search for you by guiding you through the deal of where to find it and what factors to consider.
Do not hurry over making the final decision as you should invest time into the hunt for the ideal sports fishing boat into which, you will also be sinking in good money; thus, look closely at the different categories of fishing boats, the facilities that come aboard it and the various sleek and practical designs for your needs. There are a few basic types of sport fishing boats in the market and depending on the kind of fish you are aiming to catch, you can decide on the vessel that will best meet your sailor?s needs for those particular waters!
Some popular categories of Sport Fishing Boats include:-
1. Boats for Freshwater Fishing
2. Boats for Offshore saltwater fishing
3. Boats for Inshore saltwater fishing
4. Bass Fishing boats
5. and Float tubes
From the above mentioned category of sport fishing boats, the most practical and versatile range of boats are the Freshwater kinds; these can be used in all kinds of fresh waterways and help you avoid the cost and manageability of owning a large boat. Typically made of Aluminum or fiberglass, these boats weigh less and are easy to operate for shorter fishing trips while the offshore saltwater sport fishing boat is heavier, with stronger motor force backing it. This variety has many models, including an electric and a convertible one; the inshore saltwater vessel, on the other hand, is great for fishing Bonefish, Snook, redfish, Tarpin and others and consist of one outboard motor with a an option for a deck.
Coming to the category of Bass fishing boats: these are best suited for more experienced anglers and reserved for contests as such, riding low on waterways and moving with a speed that requires experts to cast lines that win them tournaments with a timely catch! These come with dual platforms to make quick work of casting a line! Float tubes are simple floating devices with space for a fisherman?s seating and that allows for partial submersion into the waters, so the angler can steer around a limited area easily and also have access to an air chamber.
What amenities to look out for in Best Sport Fishing Boats
While there are many types of sport fishing boats, from basic to budget to luxury models that can be designed according to buyer specifications, the wide range of boating accessories (fishing chairs, deck stackable gear, easy store motors and Digi- depth finders etc.) increase the value of the particular model! Other features in best sport fishing boats may include latest music playing and swimming platforms, stowage areas under seats and the floor, built-in insulated coolers and covered patios and decks on the boat!
Read Full Article Here: Sport Fishing Boats - How To Pick Your Choice From The Leaders
Tonight a sadness has settled into me. I know it’s because I spent hours out in the shop today.
To be honest, I avoid the shop. It hurts to be there, the ache of all that is lost impossible to ignore.
After Pop died it was incredibly painful to be in there, and then the disasters happened. In the space of a year every single appliance, heater/aor conditioner and vehicle failed. We went from no dogs to six in just a couple months. Most the woods got logged. And then the floor of this house collapsed and there was the frenzy to move things out of it...
All through this Mom was unable to help. She’s admitted that for years, in fact until just before her stroke, she didn’t really care about anything anymore. She and Pop had been best friends even before they fell in love, and to say they were close was an understatement. They had been married for over 50 years and worn through their wedding rings long ago through hard work, but once Pop died Mom started wearing her grandmother’s ring so no one would think she was unattached. She always said one of her college professors said that true love always ends up a tragedy because someone dies, and if ever there was a real life example of true love it was my parents. She didn’t cry but went through the motions of living.
So, the shop was neglected. The roof leaked badly. Tools were ruined. Now and again I’d venture in to try to salvage things, but soon enough things would come up that were more urgent. Down deep I was glad to be called away from the place because the grief it stirred hurt so much.
The shop was the centerpiece of my life. As a child I played there, amid the fiberglassing oblivious to all safety rules. As an adult I spent every day out there working with Pop, and once Mom retired she joined us full time. And yet since Pop died, once Mom and I had finished the job he’s been working on when he got sick, I’ve barely ventured in there.
One of the long room length metal tables Pop had stacked high with boxes of...things. Things he meant to finish or sort through or read or fix, broken things, plans for things, samples, half finished things, simple unread mail. Here an underwater video camera for the boat, there an antique chair in need of a new seat, rock samples, animal skulls, funnels, technical manuals....countless things. He’d covered it all to a canvas, and tied it on one side to a long metal beam set along the edge of the table.
And so today I discovered boxes of stuff had tumbled off one side (probably the cats’ doing) , knocking the beam off the table and dragging the canvas off. There was a tangle of things on the floor, or rather ground as the shop always had a dirt and resin “floor”. The roof had then leaked down on parts of that tangle, ruining some things completely.
So I went to the shop, hoping to find hose, fittings and the like to repair the leaking water line. Instead I was trying to hoist that metal beam that always took two people to lift back onto the table (I figured a way) , re-covering with canvas what was dry, and trying salvage what I could of what was wet. And the lights didn’t even work, so I was fumbling and clambering about by flashlight.
What’s weird is I didn’t realize how upset I was until I was leaving the shop with an arm load of things I was rescuing. I was crying. I hadn’t even noticed I was. Grief and despair seemed to have swallowed me whole.
I never got around to looking for what I went in there for. I’ll have to go back. I dread it.
That’s the drawback of having had a close family and being loved as a child. When they are all gone but for one voice over a phone, and there is no one new to fill the space of all those lost, you know exactly what you are missing. Love, friends, and family are the past, and you can find yourself aching for the belonging and warmth you will never have again.
I should be used to being alone by now, but oh to have someone that cares, to face things with, to figure out things together, to share meals and laughs with. I miss “us” and “we”.
In a way I knew it was inevitable I’d end up alone, but I kept hoping I’d still end up gaining friends through friendliness, love through loving. How hard can it be, in a world in which even monsterous folks have friends and lovers? But whether bad luck or some failing in myself I’ve been unable to figure out, it seems to be impossible.
I miss Pop, now dead. I miss Mom, unable to be visited at my brother’s for over a year. I miss my brother, sibling rivalry curdled into a hatred of me for my imagined popularity. I miss my friends, all long moved on and away. I miss grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins....
Most the time I do well being alone. I distract myself with stories from without and dreams from within, my head crowded with people so the loneliness is kept at bay....
But some days I cry, the shame at every tear making it all the worse.
I am new to this whole blog thing, hopefully this will get better with time.
It all began about a year ago, we were sitting on our center console boat at the marina daydreaming about being able to sleep on our boat. We were fantasizing about taking week long trips and being able to go on multi day fishing adventures. Most of all we wanted to be able to comfortably take our fur babies along for the adventure. In casual conversation, I made a joke about building a boat. Unfortunately, Cassie is just as crazy as I am and here we are today.
I knew from the start that this would be a long journey. We spent about 6 months doing extensive research on different boats, designs, and various features that we wanted to include in our vessel. We purchased a few different study prints, and 2 sets of full prints, only to realize they weren’t a great fit for us. Although we wasted money on prints, we will probably never use, we finally figured out what we wanted.
Spirited Designs, from Australia, had a boat that we could see ourselves building. It is a 23′ power catamaran with a sleek design. Catamarans are, by nature, stable in the water and fuel efficient. Being trailer-able was also a big feature for us. We reached out to Craig Schionning and asked if there was a way to extend his design. We agreed on two feet overall length and more interior headroom. He was quite happy to work with us on the alterations of the plans. We made payment for the prints, it took a couple of months for the alterations, and to actually receive our plans from across the globe. During this time we did even more research. We came to the conclusion that we had no idea what we were doing.
During all the research, we decided we should document everything involved. We would do a video log of all aspects of the build process, including what we have learned, and share it with friends and family. This would not only help keep everyone up to date on our build, but will also help explain everything that is involved in doing a project of this scale. It will also be a memoir of sorts for us to look back on in the future. (I may be biased, but I think Cassie does an amazing job sorting through hours of video, multiple takes, different camera angles, as well as various bloopers. She also adds voice-overs and music to the videos to give them a finished feel. We are currently posting videos on YouTube for everyone to see. Please go over there and give us a thumbs up. She works extremely hard and does an amazing job.)
Gazing out of a frosty window dreaming about the start of the build there was still a lot of work to be done. First we had nowhere to build this boat. During our research of different boat build projects I came across a video of “Six Points Wood Works” out of upstate New York. He had built a plastic wrapped, Gothic arch structure. We decided to go this route because it was cost effective and it was a fairly easy design. I submitted my prints to the local building inspector, and after a little bit of back and forth we were issued a permit. On some of the coldest nights of the winter, we persevered in digging holes for footings and cutting and assembling the arches. After standing everything up, we were finally able wrap it all in a heavy duty plastic. Ultimately we have built a 32′ long by 14′ wide Gothic arch structure. A feat by itself, we now have a place to build our vessel.
The next challenge would would have to overcome would be the work benches. If you should order this kit through Spirited, the panels you will receive are fiber glassed with the proper amount of glass for the associated piece. Unfortunately, we will have to do this process ourselves. We decided to build a bench long enough to accommodate the longest panels of the boat. After the panels are glassed, we will cut the legs off and reuse as a platform to set up the forms to wrap all of the flat panels around. This essentially shapes the hull.
Aside from watching YouTube videos, neither of us had ever done fiber glassing before. This is where “the box” comes in. On our current boat there is an awkward step in front of the console. Last year we built a box to level off the floor, allowing us to make cushions and give us a place to relax while at anchor. Unfortunately, we didn't have access to marine grade plywood so I had to use what was available. The plywood de-laminated after about a year of salt and sun, and needed to be replaced. This would be the perfect little project to learn on.
We were able to source some materials equivalent to what the boat would be made of, and started there. The first attempt wasn't a complete disaster but there were more than “some” air bubbles in our fiberglass work. We tried again on the reverse side of the panel with a different resin and had much better results. After some time testing materials and processes, we decided to use the cheap insulation foam from our local box store. I know some of you are thinking, why cheap out on materials? Ultimately this box will be given with the boat when it is sold. If it lasts a few years until the new boat is done, it will have done its job. The money saved on this learning curve will be reallocated to the new boat. This is also why we didn't paint the box. Realistically the box is under cushions 90% of the time and the small area that does show doesn't bother us. If in the future we feel differently, we can remedy it.
During this small project, we entered into March 2020. As the world knows Covid-19 started to circulate. This has wreaked havoc on our order for boat materials. With foam core construction, you basically take a specialized sheet of foam and layer fiberglass and resin on both sides. With the right combination of materials and densities this becomes an extremely durable, lightweight panel. Unfortunately, our foam has been delayed overseas.
This brings us to present day. we have decided to start laying out the forms that will shape the boat. We know that we are creating more work for ourselves, but at least we are progressing on the build. Neither of us have ever taken on a personal project of this scale, and one of the biggest concerns is loosing motivation or momentum. We will layout, cut, and dry fit all of the forms, before breaking everything down and putting into storage until we are ready for them again.
My final thought of the day: we are doing all of this documenting to share this experience with friends and family. Cassie is diligently working on videos, and I have started this blog to give everyone an insight of the thought process behind those videos. We have chosen to post on public domains in hope that someone out there may be able to use our experience for their own future project. Please feel free to follow us on
You Tube: Building MV dauntless
and here on Tumblr: Building MV Dauntless.
We are trying to give updates weekly. Hope you enjoy!!!
[Part 9 of A Very Valtorian Christmas ] (Masterlist)
TRH gang are still opening christmas presents...
Warnings: A little angst, mostly fluff.
Drake admires the amber color of the whiskey in the bottle that Nicholas gave him, wishing he could pour himself some but it's too early in the day.
Leaning against the sofa is a fishing rod that Drake received from Hana. Next to Drake, Kate is wearing a silver locket that he gifted to her. On her lap is a gift box containing red and black silky lingerie.
Kate had blushed when she opened it, while Maxwell had wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.
“Ooh, now you both have sexy jammies.”
Drake grumbles, “Next year I think we’ll open our gifts privately, after the guests leave.”
Hana smiles, “Oh but next year there will be baby presents to open too.”
Nicholas turns the pages on the leather-bound journal that Hana had given him. “I suppose in the Spring we’ll be throwing a baby shower.”
Maxwell gathers up the last few gifts and hands them out. Drake gets two envelopes, Kate gets an envelope and a large jar with a ribbon tied around the lid. She notices that both gifts are from Hana. In the jar are layers of ingredients, including marshmallows.
Kate smiles, “Let me guess, your famous hot chocolate recipe.”
Hana nods, “Of course, I know how much you like it.”
Kate lifts the tab on the envelope with a grin, “This is a pretty large set of instructions on how to prepare hot chocolate. What could this possibly be?”
Hana and Nicholas exchange a knowing glance, while Maxwell plays tug of war with one of the corgis on the floor. Drake sets his two envelopes aside, assuming they're Christmas cards, and watches Kate pull a folded document out of hers.
“What are these?” Kate asks as she flips through the pages.
Hana smiles, when realization dawns on Kate’s face.
“It's a copy of my Cordonian citizenship papers. Nicholas helped me make them official. Remember how my parents were pushing me to move back home when they came to visit during the lantern festival? Now I can live here permanently.”
Kate hugs her, “Oh Hana this is so wonderful. Now you can move in.”
Drake’s mouth drops open, “Wait what?”
Nicholas tries to explain as he can see the growing look of panic on Drake’s face.
“With the social season over, and where I’m no longer actively searching for a Queen to supply my heir, it would not be right for Hana to remain living at the Palace.”
Drake’s expression goes from panic to a frown, “So you’re just kicking her out? She’s your friend, and a Guardian of the Realm. Would it really be that scandalous to allow her to stay as your guest?”
Nicholas is surprised by Drake’s reaction, suddenly finding himself on the defensive. “Well...no, that's not what I meant. Kate invited her to live here, and once Hana finished her cultural studies to earn her citizenship, she told me she was eager to make her move. We weren’t quite sure how you’d feel about her moving in, considering your family is already growing.”
Everyone turns to look at Drake expectantly for his answer. He zeros in on Kate and her guilty expression as her eyes shift away, and then move back to him. The way Hana is holding Kate’s hand, and how they're leaning on each other causes an ache in the pit of Drake’s stomach. No dammit, I’m not giving in to selfish jealousy. I need to handle this like a mature adult.
Drake shrugs, giving Kate and Hana an uneasy smile. “Of course Hana can live here, she’s our friend, practically family.”
Kate breathes a sigh of relief, reaching out to touch his hand. “Thanks so much honey.”
Hana looks between Kate and Drake, trying to dispel the sudden awkwardness, “I don’t need to move in right away. I can wait until after the baby is born.”
Maxwell smiles, “Just in time to help out if you need it. I’m jealous of Auntie Hana already.”
Nicholas looks to his friend, and notices Drake’s jaw working, the clenching of his teeth setting his lips into a grim line. His hand keeps bunching and releasing the blanket on the couch next to him. When Drake catches the sympathetic look on the King’s face, he relaxes a little.
“So are we finished opening gifts now?” Drake asks hopefully.
Maxwell sees the two envelopes next to Drake on the sofa, “You haven't opened your christmas cards yet, might be something special in there.”
Hana opens up a package from Kate, revealing a silk scarf with an elegant jungle and tiger pattern, “Oh wow Kate, this is beautiful.”
Kate smiles, “I wanted to give you a scarf with a phoenix on it, as a welcome to Valtoria, but couldn't find one that was quite right.”
“No worries Kate, I love tigers. And the fiery colors are so pretty.”
Kate gives her a hug around the shoulders, grinning “I’m so glad you like it dear, plus now I can borrow it.”
Hana laughs as she holds the gift box out of Kate’s reach. “We’ll see.”
Drake tears into the first envelope, a photo of a green rowboat falls out of the Christmas card as he opens it, he turns it over to read the details written on the back, “What’s this?”
“Surprise!” Maxwell says, “Bertrand and I got you a boat. Hey you’ve finally got your own house on a lake, so we figured you could use a boat too.”
Drake smiles, “Thanks Max, I appreciate it.”
Maxwell looks off in the distance, holding his hands out to frame the view of the lake outside the window. “Picture it, rowing out onto the water with Kate and your little one, catching fish or just enjoying the quiet sounds of nature.”
Looking over at Kate, Drake could imagine it. He thought back to that night in Portavira when Kate had agreed to go fishing with him. He wondered how long it would be before they had the chance to do such a thing again. Maybe next summer Auntie Hana could babysit? Having her around might be a good thing after all.
Maxwell is still talking, “...I wanted to get you a bigger boat with a motor, but Bertrand insisted it wasn't in the budget. Then we haggled back and forth over wood or fiberglass, and the colour..”
Drake snaps out of his daydream of being on the lake with Kate on a sunny day, imagining her in a bathing suit.
“It's ok Max, this boat will do just fine. I see that it comes with it's own trailer, but I don't think the Manor’s SUV has a trailer hitch.” He shrugs, “But we’ll find a way to get the boat to the water.”
Maxwell and Kate share a knowing glance, and Kate encourages Drake to open the other envelope. “That Christmas card might help.”
Drake raises his eyebrow, mumbling as he opens the envelope, “I don’t see how, but ok…”
He pulls out a card that has a Papa bear sitting in an overstuffed chair with his bear cub in his lap, the juvenile text on the outside says “Have a Beary Merry Christmas Papa.”
Drake’s vision goes blurry as he tears up, and his breath catches in his throat. My first daddy Christmas card.
Maxwell covers his mouth with his hands, gasping with surprise, “Oh my God, Kate. We made Drake cry.”
Drake wipes his eye with the heel of his hand, trying to hide his embarrassment with a sniff and chuckle, “No..no you didn't. Besides, what do you mean we? I'm not your Daddy.”
“Open it, open it, open it!” Maxwell insists, bouncing with excitement.
Inside the Christmas card is a folded up vehicle listing from a local car dealership. When Drake unfolds the paper he sees that it has a picture of a blue pickup truck on it.
“You can't be serious?!” He exclaims, choking on the words, “You got me a truck?”
Kate nods, smiling and pointing out the truck's special features on the paper, “Yes, yes we did. Max helped me pick it out for you. It's a 2019 GMC Sierra, blue, with four doors, four wheel drive, heated seats, backup camera, V8 engine, trailer package, all the bells and whistles, everything a new Daddy could ever want in a vehicle, with plenty of room in the backseat for a child safety seat.”
Drake just stares at Kate, dumbstruck, his mouth hanging open. He'd never owned anything larger than a television in his life. And now he had his own truck.
As Kate goes on to describe the other vehicles that she and Max had looked at, and her conversation with the salesman, Drake tunes her out and just gazes at her with an expression of love and wonder. He was thinking about road trips with her sitting on the seat beside him and them both singing along to the music on the radio. He could already feel the excitement of having so much horsepower under his control and hear the hum of the tires on the pavement.
“…and he agreed to wave his commission and other fees if we do a promotional photo when we go in to sign the papers.”
Drake leans in to kiss her mouth to stop her from talking. When she giggles, he mumbles against her lips, punctuating each word with another kiss. “You're the best..wife..ever.”
Kate cups his face in her hands, loving his happy expression and his goofy grin, “So you don't mind posing for photos?”
Drake shakes his head, focusing on her lips, “..photos? What photos?”
“The guy at the dealership said that it would be a great way to boost sales if he could say that the Duke and Duchess bought one of his vehicles.”
“Ok sure, I’ll pose for photos. When do we go pick up the truck?”
“Oh can I come along?” Max asks.
“No,” Drake answers.
Maxwell pouts, “But I helped pick it out. Kate wanted to get an SUV, but I convinced her that you'd rather have a big manly bruiser of a truck instead of a soccer Mom family car.”
Kate shrugs, “He’s not lying. I really had my heart set on the red Terrain instead.”
Drake sighs, “Ok fine, but you travel home with Preston in the SUV.”
I’m sitting on deck, watching a catamaran’s slow progress across the protected bay where we are anchored and out into the sea. It turns left and continue gliding, silently, wakelessly, almost imperceptibly. A sound of rattling comes up from the galley as someone pokes through the clean dishes, then the clatter of silverware and the thud of its drawer, which must be lifted heavily by its pull hole before drawing it out— a locking mechanism like all the drawers and cabinets on board. Now there is the steady, deliberate sound of chopping. The wind whistles through the rigging and over the canvas top of the cockpit, and the bilge gurgles once. The waves make a swishing noise as the wind ruffles them, in addition to the occasional slapping they make against the hull. I had intended to swim before coffee but woke up hungry and was put off by the sound of the wind. The water looks wet and chilly, and I am dry, warmed by the early rays of the sun. I hear the rustling and tearing of an onion being peeled. With any luck those were potatoes being sliced earlier. I look across the cockpit to check if any shade has developed. The heat of the sun is beginning to build to a prickle in my hands and forearms. I smell the faint edge of the onion wafting up through the open hatch over the galley, just behind my head. A soft grind and then chop of a knife blade moving through a dense, fibrous matter— distinct from the staccato chops of earlier. That must have been bell pepper, and this is the potato. The blade of the knife rings along its flat edge as it is laid on the counter. We are at an anchorage in Eleuthera, an island in the eastern part of the Bahamas, waiting for the wind to slow down and swing around so we can sail north to Abaco.
This has been our rhythm for the week or so since we sailed over from Florida: Anchor someplace for a night or two, and then sail or motor to the next island, the next anchorage. We cleared into the Bahamas at a marina in Grand Bahama, and then, after anchoring for two nights in a little waterway, sailed all day down to the Berry Islands. The crossing took us out in the middle of the water with no land visible on either side. The sea was dead calm and reflected the blue of the sky perfectly, so that it almost melted at the horizon line instead of making a clean line. The captain stopped the engine in the afternoon and we leapt off the side of the boat into the silky water. When you are cruising you are always headed somewhere and yet overall, in the larger sense, you are not going anywhere. It is the purity of voyage without destination. Only passage. Everything is blue and white— the sea, the sky with a few fluffy clouds lying down low, the white fiberglass of the boat, and the blue vinyl cushions in the cockpit, the canvas sail cover and bimini over the cockpit. It makes the yellow life ring on the aft stand out, and the red stripes on the flag flying off the back of the mainsail rigging, and the dishrags, red, hanging on the side rail on wooden clothespins. Two of us are on deck and the third is in the kitchen tidying. She appears with an old sponge to show us how cutting off the corner once designates it for the counters, and as it gets dirtier and more corners are cut off, it will be for the floor and then finally for the head. Some tinny, cheerful rock blares on a little speaker over the hum of the diesel engine.
I put on my suit when I woke up the next morning and jumped into the clear, shallow water off the boat, seeing our anchorage in daylight for the first time. A current ran through the little bay where we anchored, rippling the water. It was saltier than the day before, when we swam off the boat in the open ocean and it was calm, still and dark. Even though I could see the bottom from the edge of the boat this time, I felt the residual fear of the unknown that rises up when I look into the sea. Annie said yesterday, if you see any sharks, get out. Here it’s so shallow it seems unlikely there would be any. But I stay close to the boat all the same because of the unfamiliar currents, doing laps back and forth. I swim until the salt begins to burn my mouth. There are islands all around— pieces of Great Stirrup and Little Stirrup Cays. They are pleasure islands for cruise ship lines, and an enormous red tower rises up off Little Stirrup, a water slide, and nearby a large red orb— a planetarium? The water slide dwarfs the white column of a lighthouse on the other island. Otherwise the land is empty and scrubby. As we lift anchor and get underway, the line of sandy beach runs along under green shrubs and stands of low trees. Large houses with columned porches are dotted along the coastline. It feels more domestic than Grand Bahama, with its abandoned buildings and the unlikely architecture of vacation destinations— hotels in various stages of decrepitude and showy grandiosity: Ziggurat stairs of balconies, rounded swoops of white stucco, and hulking blocks of rooms with running balconies, each door marked by a glowing light fixture. The faded grandeur, the dingy pompousness of it still has more dignity than the sinister cruise ship pleasure island, which glows at night with rows of bright white lights like an industrial installation.
After Grand Bahama and the Berrys, things have felt less touristy. We don’t see anymore cruise ships or big hotels. Plenty of charter boats, but also fishing trawlers. Beach bars, with rickety wooden superstructures and brown cans of Barritt’s Ginger Beer, are populated by locals as much as boaters and vacationers— not that there are many of those this year. Regular life, whatever that is, already felt quite distant— we all left it last March with the first lockdown of the pandemic. Out here, though, it’s just a memory. Time feels suspended. The bustle of West Palm Beach feels insurmountably distant, as though the Gulf Stream were a vortex to a new dimension. Coming back to it will feel like tumbling out of the wardrobe from Narnia.
The European Union announced the immediate imposition of a 25% tariff on many categories of American-built boats. The EU said this was in retaliation for the 10% and 25% American tariff on European aluminum and steel. The previous week Canada announced a 10% tariff on American-built boats starting July 1, in retaliation for America’s recently imposed tariffs on its metal exports to the U.S. Canada is the #1 importer of U.S.-made boats.
Boating-industry sources say that American boat sales to Canada, Mexico and the EU account for 70% of all U.S. boat exports. The retaliatory tariffs are expected to have a dramatic effect on the U.S. boating industry, causing the layoffs of thousands of American workers.
In the overall scheme of international trade, American boat exports rank pretty low, amounting to about $1.7 billion – 70% of which is to Canada, Mexico and the EU. Total U.S. exports in 2017 for all products were, reported by Statista, slightly over $1.5 trillion, which means U.S. boat exports accounted for about one-tenth of one percent. That’s less than a rounding error for these kinds of trade statistics.
EU. According to U.S. boating industry statistics, the U.S. boat exports to EU countries amounts to $338.5 million, or 22% of U.S. boat exports. “A 25-percent import tax makes our products unmarketable,” said an NMMA (National Marine Manufacturers Association) spokesman.
Canada. All U.S.-built boats sold in Canada will face a 10% tariff. 100,000 new and used boats were sold in Canada last year, and 65% of them came from the U.S., according to Soundings Trade Only, a U.S. boating trade publication. Canada is the largest importer of U.S.-made boats, accounting for about $700 million in annual sales.
Mexico, which represents $147.4 million or nearly 10 percent of U.S. boat exports, has announced a 15-percent tariff on all U.S. boats effective immediately.
The Targeted Boats
The new EU import duties effectively stop all U.S. boat exports from canoes and kayaks to PWCs to sterndrives and inboard cruisers to megayachts. The only boats that seem to be excluded are outboard-powered boats and inflatables to the EU nations.
Currently, about 111,000 aluminum boats are made in the U.S., including aluminum fishing boats and pontoon boats. Aluminum boats account for about 43% of all boat sales in the U.S. According to an NMMA spokesman, the price of domestic aluminum has already jumped 20%.
The $39 billion U.S. boating industry supports 650,000 American jobs, said NMMA president Thom Dammrich in a statement.
This is an NMMA graphic showing how the current worldwide trade war is beginning to affect the marine industry in the U.S. To this drawing can be added last week’s 10% and 25% tariffs.
It’s a World Economy
We live in a truly global economy and U.S.-built boats are highly regarded overseas. U.S. exports to Europe and Canada can range from 10% to 35% of a boatbuilder’s overall sales. For example, Rob Parmentier, the President of the Larson Boat Group, made up of Larson, Striper, LarsonFX, Escape, and Triumph brands, 20% of its sales are in Canada.
Exports Have Saved U.S. Boat Builders in the Past
During the dark days of the 10% luxury tax on boats over $100,000 in the early 1990s, European sales kept more than a few U.S. boat builders in business. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, when U.S. interest rates were 20%, sales to Europe and Canada saved the industry. And when the financial crisis of 2008-10 hit the boating industry harder than any other, sales to the robust Canadian economy, and other pockets of resilience in the world, enabled many builders to stay on life support.
Echos of Past Disasters
These high tariffs by America’s major trading partners echo the 10% luxury tax imposed on all new boat sales in the U.S. in 1991 by the U.S. Congress. This law was designed to have the political optics that Congress was the friend of the working man, and it was “soaking the rich.” But the rich, the near rich, and those working on becoming rich, simply stopped buying boats – and spent their money on other things or invested in securities. It was the workers at export boats usa, boat companies, both white and blue collar, who lost their jobs – in the tens of thousands.
Many U.S. Boat builders have their own sophisticated upholstery shops that employ hundreds of people industry-wide.
Tariffs Target Workers. These new tariffs will hit shop floor personnel at boatbuilding plants all over the U.S. Blue-collar workers will be the hardest hit by layoffs, because white-collar staffs in the boating industry were taken down to bare bones in 2009 and have remained extremely lean ever since. Fewer unit sales mean less work and fewer workers will be needed.
The Ultimate Discretionary Item
Because boats are at the very pinnacle of discretionary purchases, every ripple in the U.S. or world economy drastically affects sales to a degree far worse than those felt in non-discretionary products or services. For example, the oil embargos of the early 1970s slowed American powerboat sales at a far higher percent than truck or luxury car sales.
20% interest rates of the late ’70s and early ’80s virtually stopped all boat sales, sail and power, even though general commerce (except housing) still continued at only a small decreased rate.
The 10% luxury tax in 1991 devastated the industry precisely because no one needsa boat except a drowning man. General business was doing fine, but builders of boats costing more than $100,000, were shut down, and virtually all of their workers put on the street. Boat builders were forced to make fiberglass hot tubs, windmill blades and the like to keep a small workforce together and have a trickle of income. In this category, the boating industry largely never recovered.
The financial crisis of 2008 brought the boating business to its knees once again, and it has only recently recovered to about 70% of its pre-crisis sales.
The lesson learned here is that the 25% European tariff will result in virtually no sales of American boats in Europe — and that will have significant consequences for the builders involved and their work force. Read more..
You guys!!! It’s here! It’s our @csrolereversal drop date and I’m so excited for you all to see the amazing art @clockadile created for this event. Everyone, please go to her page, check out this amazeball painting, and send her all of the love that she deserves because this fic would never have existed without her! She is just such a wonderful person and I feel so honored that I got to make words in an effort to bring her art to life in a different way. I hope that I’ve done it, and her, justice and that you guys enjoy this. Shout out to @darkcolinodonorgasm for pulling this event together and to everyone in the rolereversal discord chat. It truly has been such a wonderful event and everyone has been so amazingly supportive of one another, so thank you all for being so awesome! Also tagging @cshalloweek even though my theme doesn’t completely match the day.
Killian Jones may have just had the worst year of his life. The loss of his hand, of his career, and of his pride were almost more than he could take. In a bid to reclaim his life, Killian decided it was time to face his fears, and get back on the metaphorical horse, or in his case, back on the water. Only, the purchase of a haunted second-hand boat may just come at the cost of his sanity.
“The sea is like a cruel mistress. You can love her, you can hate her, but you can never trust her.” - author unknown
Rating: M (foul language sprinkled in and some adult themes)
Also on AO3
“Please, is anyone out there?” The faint words were met with radio silence. The only noise a high pitched whining from what was likely a busted eardrum. Weak and dizzy, blood continued to drip into the water filling the cabin. The once brown floor now covered in pink.
Searing pain, a sinking boat, and all hope lost. There was little to do but wait. Wait for the inevitable. There was nowhere to go, no reason to have hope. Climbing to higher ground had been a struggle, and pointless as the vessel continued to dip lower and lower into the icy water.
That night, prayers went unanswered. The heavens laughed as they flashed their pearly white teeth and the crackle of a thousand laughs filled the air. The rain continued to fall all around.
There was nothing to do but wait until the water finally claimed her prize. Until the sea took it’s claim. Until the world went black.
It was unseasonably hot in Boston. Granted, summertime was hardly a perfect oasis in the northeast on a usual year, but that July had seen it’s hottest temperatures in over sixty years, and the city had been a sweltering mess. The usually pristine buildings along Freedom Trail were littered with blinding metal as each window had suddenly become occupied with ac units overnight. There had even been rolling blackouts as the power company struggled to keep up with the city’s demands.
Why Ariel’s Antiquities had insisted on holding their event outdoors was a mystery to Killian. Women and men dressed in their best, hoping that fancy clothes would somehow insinuate that they had money and could easily out bid their competitors. Unfortunately for them, their power suits became far less intimidating by the minute as sweat lines began to appear sometime just before ten. As the hours drifted on, people became puddles, their shoes sticking to the sidewalks.
Killian found himself near constantly tugging on the collar of his shirt, peeling it away from his sticky skin. Unlike him, his brother had refused to undo the top two buttons on his shirt and seemed even more miserable, if that were somehow possible.
The two men had been sniping at each other for the better part of the morning, and now with the sun at full intensity above them, they’d resorted to silence as they milled their way through lot after lot. The auction advertisement Killian had seen online seemed to have mostly a mishmash of memorabilia and collectables, with a few actual antiquities mixed in.
But unlike the other bidders, the two men weren’t there for random knick knacks. There was one specific item that had caught his eye on the online inventory. A tiny thumbnail the only indication of its existence and he could only hope that it hadn’t been from a previous auction.
For over an hour, Killian traipsed through the old fair grounds, Liam in tow behind him, searching with no luck.
“Killian, I hate to be the one to say this, but it’s not here. We’ve been to every lot and it’s just garbage.” He turned to see his brother giving him a look of pity, infuriating his very being. “Perhaps this is a sign.”
“A sign of what? False advertising?”
“That’s not what I meant and you know it. I just-” Liam took a deep breath, pushing the air out on an audible huff. “I just worry about you.”
With that, all of the anger and frustration from the day left Killian’s body. He couldn’t be mad at Liam any more, not when he knew it was true. When he still had memories of waking in the hospital, of seeing Liam’s eyes red and puffy from tears. It was the first time he’d seen his brother cry since their mother had passed years before.
“Liam, this is something I need to do. I need to prove to myself that I can get back out there. I can’t let this cripple me for the rest of my life.”
His choice of words hadn’t meant to convey the irony, but as his brother glanced down at the metal and leather covering his wrist, Killian couldn’t help but notice the cruelty of the universe. That even the most benign of words could cause such pain, even a year later. How even thinking about that day caused his missing hand to throb in pain.
“Killian, you are one of the strongest people I know. You don’t have anything to prove. Not to me or anyone else.”
Gone were the days where Liam teased him and called him little brother. Now, he was lucky if Liam said anything cheeky around him at all. And while he didn’t have anything to prove to anyone else, the truth was that he needed to show his brother that he wasn’t broken. Not anymore. That he didn’t need to be coddled like a wounded duck.
Before he could respond though, a glimmer caught his eye from a passing bidder’s reflective earrings, causing him to whip his head to the left. And there, tucked behind an old telephone booth, 2 huge entertainment centers, and a large canopy bed, there it was. There she was.
He didn’t wait for his brother, his jogging nearly breaking into a full stride. She was hard to see, tucked away behind items too heavy to move, but even in his limited view he could see that she was battered and bruised. Still, Killian knew that with a little sweat equity, she could be a marvel. He let his hand run down the fiberglass, feeling the strength of the hull, despite the hole in her port side. A gaping wound about the size of a bowling ball.
She was damaged, just as he was, but together they’d mend each other. He was sure of it.
“That’s it? That’s the boat you brought us all the way out here for?” Killian could only smile to himself. “Brother, she’s a mess. Where’s the mainmast? And did you see that hole? There’s no telling what kind of dry rot is on the inside.”
“Yes. I know she’s not much to look at right now, but-”
“No. You can’t be serious. She’s better off torn apart for scraps.”
Killian couldn’t explain to his brother the draw that he felt. He’d been searching auction houses for months. All of the boats he’d seen were either grossly overpriced, or faced the Goldilocks conundrum. Too small. Too big. But this one, it was just right. From the instant he’d seen that tiny thumbnail picture on his laptop screen, he’d felt it deep within his gut. He was meant for that boat, just as she was meant for him.
“And what kind of name is Jewel of the Real?”
“It’s Jewel of the Realm.”
Killian’s hand brushed over the faded wood, tracing the faintest outline of where an ‘M’ used to reside.
The rest of their time there was a bit of a blur for Killian. Liam trying his best to talk him out of buying The Jewel as people threw their paddles up in the air, capturing the trinkets on the stage. Killian fighting with a man two rows ahead of him for the winning bid, going over the maximum price he’d set in his head. Giving the auction house the delivery address, ignoring the way his brother huffed as Killian wrote them a check.
But none of that mattered, because in the end, she was his. The auction house delivered her a few days after his check cleared. The address he’d given them was for a warehouse another expat had told him about. Cheap monthly rates and all of that. What Will Scarlet had neglected to mention was that the warehouse was actually an abandoned building in a rather questionable part of town. Killian never should have trusted the man with a deposit sight unseen. The building lacked windows or doors, and Killian immediately knew he’d been had by the huxter.
He’d scrambled to find another place to fix up the Jewel. The drydocks at the marina were expensive and lacked space for him to spread out with tools, not to mention the absence of privacy while he worked. It was bad enough that people stared at his hook while he was picking up food from the local pub or out with Liam and his wife. He’d be damned if he was going to have people watch him work on a boat one handed. He even considered trying to work out of his friend, Robin’s, garage but the thirty two foot boat simply wouldn’t fit. No matter how imaginative he got with his sketches.
In the end, it was the most unlikely of allies that came to his rescue. The last man he ever expected to aid him with the Jewel. Liam owned a shipping company, specializing in European imports, with English ales and German lagers making up the bulk of his business. The main office was based in downtown Boston, but there was also a small warehouse down by the port where items were stored as they awaited inspection. His brother, still not happy with his decision made him an offer anyway. Come to work at Jones Shipping Monday through Friday, and he’d have the warehouse all to himself in the evenings and on weekends to work on the “abomination.”
Killian accepted begrudgingly. He wasn’t necessarily in need of a salary. He had the monthly stipends from the Navy to live on, the only benefit of losing his left hand, and the idea of becoming a corporate stooge maddened him to no end. He’d already sold his soul once, and they spit him back out once they deemed him of no further use. He wasn’t quite ready to lose the rest of himself to a full time day job pushing paperwork, schmoozing potential clients, and taking orders from Liam. But the perk of Liam’s harbor warehouse was too great to pass up.
So he took the job. He started on a Monday and the boat was delivered on the following Tuesday. Liam had neglected to mention his need for a key, so after driving across town, Killian ended up having to turn around without seeing her. The next day he’d nearly ripped into Liam when he saw him, but seeing three other men in suits sitting in front of Liam’s desk made him rethink his anger. Or at least rethink giving his brother a piece of his mind at work in front of people he’d only ever met at staff parties. He’d already had to deal with stares and questions from a rather bold intern. The stress from his own self-consciousness only amplified his frustration with Liam.
He finally got the key from Liam later that afternoon, along with another gift that he wasn’t particularly fond off. One that actually left him offended. One that he threw back in his brother’s face as he stormed out of his office, not caring one bit what anyone thought of him. Not when his brother obviously thought so little.
He was too upset to even go check on The Jewel at that point, choosing to head to a pub near the harbor instead. The Rusty Anchor was a fan favorite for expats. It’s where he’d met Scarlet, which unfortunately didn’t actually say much about the place. He’d met a few good blokes there as well though, like the bartender Robin. They’d become friends in a grief counseling group. It was mandated for Killian, but optional for the other man who was grieving his wife. Listening to Robin talk at their monthly meetings had helped put Killian’s loss into perspective. Suddenly his missing hand didn’t seem so catastrophic.
Robin had invited him to the pub knowing Killian was new in town with few friends, and the two men had formed a bond in the months since. In a way, he felt closer to the man than he did to Liam. Like he could tell him anything without the brotherly judgment that always radiated from the elder Jones.
After a few pints and a good talk with Robin, Killian had calmed. Liam was still a moron, but that wasn’t on him. And as Robin said, he just had to continue to remind himself that the only reason he was even working for his brother was so that he could fix up the Jewel. As soon as she was sea worthy, he could leave his job without breaking his word to Liam.
In a slightly better mood, he headed a few streets over to the warehouse, ready to take a full inventory of all of the repairs she’d need. The hole in the hull was obvious, as well as new paint all over, and she needed a new mast and sails, but there was always the concern of dry rot. That was the biggest worry. Having to replace every plank of wood and all of the fiberglass on the boat would defeat the entire purpose of restoring her.
Not to mention the difficulties he’d face using his hook. He was more than proficient with it for everyday use after eight months of practice, but some things still tested his limits. As he walked up to the warehouse, thinking about how he’d hoist the sails on without tearing them, he was completely lost in thought, oblivious to the man standing next to his boat. He was more than a little embarrassed by the shriek that escaped from his lips, but upon realizing that it was Liam there waiting for him, his distress turned to anger again. Especially when he saw the box from earlier on a nearby table.
“Killian, before you say anything, it’s not what you think. I never meant to imply-”
“What? That I’m a freak. That I’ll scare away all of the clients?”
“Actually, it was quite the opposite. I got it for you.” Killian looked down, unable to meet his brother’s gaze. “What? You don’t think I see you? The way you shrink in on yourself when you’re out with Elsa and me?”
Liam had him there.
“Look, Killian. I just thought that maybe it would help you to feel more comfortable. I never meant to insinuate anything by it.”
Perhaps he had overreacted. In his mind’s eye, it was just the cherry on top of a horrible year. The whole world judged him. Wasn’t it only a matter of time before his brother saw him as a disfigured beast as well? Except, that wasn’t what happened. He’d made a snap judgement, and thought the worst of Liam in the process.
“You’re right. I... it’s harder than I expected it to be sometimes. I thought,” he had to fight to keep his emotions in check as he remembered those first few weeks in the hospital. How he’d lost more than just his hand. “I thought it would be easier than this.”
“And I’m sorry that I didn’t handle it in a more sensitive way. I think I was just so excited to show it to you that I assumed you’d be just as enthusiastic. Obviously, it’s not all that functional, but it’s remarkably realistic and Elsa and I just thought it would make you more comfortable dealing with clients.”
Killian laughed to himself. A sad little thing. It was very realistic in a way that nauseated him when he first opened the box. Even now, as he walked over to it and lifted the top, he couldn’t help the catch in his throat. The prosthetic hand looked incredibly realistic, right down to the synthetic hair on the back of the silicone. There was a metal clip that popped into place in his arm sleeve and a metal wire that hooked into his shoulder strap, just like with his hook that allowed some slight mobility in the hand. It opened and closed, allowing him to grab objects if he needed to, but it wasn’t nearly as advanced as the mechanical hands he’d seen in the clinic. Although this one probably didn’t cost the same as Liam’s house either like the mechanical ones, which was a plus.
He lifted it from the box, testing the weight of it. It was slightly heavier than his hook, something that would take some getting used to. It was also probably going to end up being longer when all was said and done. Wearing suits might be a problem. He’d have to wait until he got home to check.
Liam, for his part, didn’t seem to want to make it any bigger of a deal than he already had. Instead, he changed the subject back towards The Jewel.
“Do you want the good news or the bad first?”
He’d already had a hard enough day. He didn’t need the bad news at all, much less first.
“Well, she’s not a total loss. I’ve been checking her over, and the bulk of the damage seems to be located here, in the hull where this hole is. The fiberglass is badly splintered around it. I’ve been trying to work out what exactly could have caused it, but aside from an act of Poseidon himself, it makes no sense. Whatever made the hole, it came from the inside of the boat. The furniture inside the cabin is also ruined. Smashed to pieces or rotted away. But the rudder and keel are still in perfect shape.”
Killian leaned in closer, allowing his hand to move along the edges of the hole. Liam was right. The edges was splintered towards the outside of the boat, and the fiberglass around it was all badly cracked. The auction house had sent him home with documents explaining that the ship had been docked at the marina and it had been hit by some object during a storm. They’d clearly been mistaken.
“And the rest of her? What shape does she seem to be in?”
“Well, the wood planks on the deck could use a good sanding, but if you’re just talking about integrity, I think she’ll hold up just fine.” Killian and Liam both climbed the ladder Liam had set up, allowing him his first good look at her. “You know about the mast and roping already. A full redo on both of those. But come look at this!”
Killian followed, letting his hand glide upon the metal railing. For the first time, it felt real. Look at this! It’s the original certificate showing the builder. You realize what this means don’t you?”
“That you’re excited she’s older than you are?”
“No! She’s vintage Killian! Once we fix her up, you can sell her for twice what you paid for her! Well done little brother.”
Killian took a deep breath, already out of patience with his brother for the day.
“Liam, I see three things wrong with what you’ve just said. First, it’s younger brother. Second, when exactly did this become a joint endeavor? Just a week ago you thought the very idea of my purchasing her was the single greatest mistake of my life. Thirdly, and listen closely Liam because I’m not going to say this again, I am not selling this boat.”
“Well you are my little brother. And I’m just trying to protect you. Why do you think I worry and watch after you so much?”
“You don’t need to worry about me!”
“Well apparently I do!” There was something about the way Liam’s voice, the way it broke as he screamed the words that tugged at Killian’s heart. “You almost died! I waited and waited while they searched for your body, sure that there was no way you’d survived that storm. And then I waited and waited again at your bedside in the hospital, praying to God that he didn’t take you away from me like he had mother. So don’t you dare tell me that I can’t or shouldn’t worry about you!”
Killian had to will back the tears threatening to fall from his eyes. He knew that Liam had been at his bedside in the hospital, but he had never thought of what it must have been like for him getting the call that his brother was lost at sea in a storm. He spent a great deal of time clinging to some wreckage, just trying to stay afloat as the waves crashed over his head, and his body plummeted over and over for what felt like years. Once the storm had passed, he found a piece of the destroyed ship large enough for him to crawl on top of and he let the exhaustion take over. When he woke again it was to intense agony in the hospital ICU.
“Liam, I’m not out there anymore. I’m not adrift at sea anymore. I’m here, and I’m fine.”
“But you aren’t. You aren’t here. You say you are, but I think a part of you died out there that day, and I-” Liam gave up all pretense of hiding, letting the tears flow free, “I think part of you wants to get lost again. Why else are you so intent of fixing up this boat?”
“That’s what you think? That I want to put in all of this work just to go out and vanish into the ocean? Liam, I’m doing this to prove to myself that I can. Because the idea of going back out there sends a bolt of terror through my spine right to my very core. I need to show myself that it was just a freak accident. To get back up on that proverbial horse.”
Liam said nothing, just walked back down to the stern of the boat and down the ladder, walking straight out of the warehouse, leaving Killian alone with the guilt of everything he’d put his brother through. Even as children he was always managing to get into trouble, and poor Liam had always been the one to pick up after him. As he heard Liam’s car start up from the open warehouse door, he couldn’t help but wonder how much more Liam had left in him.
If it weren’t for the fact that he had work at eight in the morning, he very likely would have found himself back at Robin’s, downing a full bottle of rum all on his own. As it stood, he had a debt to Liam, far more than for the agreement he’d made for the warehouse space. He owed his brother everything, and though he couldn’t give Liam the one thing he wanted most, he could give him everything else. He could be the prodigal son in a way. Arrive to work everyday in nice clothes, rubbing elbows with Boston’s elite.
So instead of heading back to Robin’s he went down into the ship’s cabin. The space was small, not that he expected much. The boat was only thirty two feet long, and not that tall. There was enough space for a small kitchenette with a tiny sink and grill top. Across from that stood what should have been a small dinette area. Where a table and bench seat should have been was nothing but wood scraps and moldy torn fabric.
He nearly gagged when he opened the door to the tiny lavatory. The toilet was covered in black mold, or what he hoped was mold as nothing else seemed like an attractive option. And then he went to the bedroom area up at the front of the boat. He wasn’t quite sure what to expect, knowing that the hole was in that area. What he found was nothing though. The bed and mattress had been removed, as well as the padding in the seat next to it. The wood forming the cabinets and closet had been torn out as well, leaving behind only the impressions of where they once fit in.
It was evident that the Jewel needed work when he bought her. And he knew that had he known at the time just how much work she needed at the auction house, he likely still would have bought her. But as he stood there, in the torn apart interior, he couldn’t help but feel scammed by Ariel’s Antiquities. They’d purposefully positioned her in a way that no one could see just what shape she was truly in.
Repairing her would take longer than anticipated, which only meant more time working for Liam. Exhausted, Killia headed back to his one bedroom apartment, crashing nearly the moment his head hit the pillow. The next morning, he rose well before the sun, even without the use of an alarm. Apparently you could take the man out of the navy, but not the navy out of the man.
After a nice run, Killian readied himself for the day by showering. Once dry, Killian placed his sleeve over his stump, followed by the hook he’d become so used to. He then picked out one of his better suits, not that he had all that many to choose from, dressed, combed his hair, and stepped back to take stock of himself in the mirror. It wasn’t a look he was used to. In fact, the last time he’d been dressed in such a way had been his mother’s funeral. He was still a teenager, Liam barely an adult himself, wearing suits they hadn’t yet grown in to.
Not wishing to dwell on that thought any longer, he headed for the door, grabbing his keys from the bowl on the side table.
And that’s when he saw it. The gift that Liam had given him the day before. His brother had left it in the warehouse in his haste to escape, and Killian had grabbed it on his way out, still not sure how he felt about it. He’d never really intended to wear it, not for everyday office use at least, but as he stood there in his suit, feeling completely uncomfortable and out of place, he decided to, just for once, do something for Liam.
It took him a few minutes to undress, removing his suit jacket and dress shirt so that he could disconnect his hook from the shoulder strap. The hand felt clunky on his arm, and it was difficult to get it through his sleeves, but in time he managed.
The drive to Liam’s, and now his office, wasn’t a long one, but at seven in the morning, it may as well have been a full county away. The traffic was horrible, not something he’d become accustomed to driving in. He’d always avoided rush hour like the plague, and now it would be a part of his daily routine. He also found that the hand was difficult to use. Because of his sitting position, it wouldn’t quite clamp shut around the steering wheel the way his hook would have.
By the time he arrived, he was over ten minutes late, and the morning staff meeting had already started. He did his best to sneak in, sitting at the back of the room, hoping to go unnoticed by Liam, but because the world was already against him that day, he failed.
Liam called him up to the front of the room, officially introducing him to everyone as the new head of client relations. Killian gave an awkward wave and that was it. He’d been inducted into the company, and day after day, week after week, he sat at a desk, working up contracts, researching possible leads. His nights were often spent at dinners, flirting with wives and schmoozing husbands into signing with Liam’s company. He hated it, and more still, he hated how little time he had for repairs on the Jewel.
Repairing the hull had been easy. He sent off for a patch kit, a misleading name considering the size of the hole to be touched up. After carefully cutting away the excess damaged fiberglass and setting the patch in place, he waited for the epoxy to harden, sanding down the excess so it was smooth. Aside from the lack of paint, she looked good as new. The hardest part had been placing everything where it needed to go with just one hand.
He soon realized just how difficult repairing the rest of the boat would be. The entryway to the Jewel was narrow, hardly wide enough for one person to enter at a time. He’d never be able to get fully assembled furniture and cabinets in. So slowly, he brought in all of the material, piece by piece. It took time, considering he’d had to carry all of the materials from the parking lot down the dock, and onto the ship. It was exhausting work, and there was still the matter of assembly. It took him weeks to get everything cut just to size, and assembly space had become a real issue after the new bench and table had been installed. Finding a place to store the cabinetry wood had almost broken him. The boat had almost broken him.
But he persevered. Slowly the cabinets came together. The bedroom in the bow of the boat found itself with a bed and a small closet, and the bathroom got a shiny new toilet. After two months, he’d finally finished the interior of the boat. All that stood in his way from land and sea was a new mast, the part Killian had been dreading most.
It was the very first thing Killian had ordered after he’d purchased The Jewel, but as with any special order, it had taken over a month to arrive, and then when it did, it wasn’t even the right size. He and Robin had spent the better part of a day trying to make it work, to somehow force the new mast into place, huffing and puffing at the weight. Hours later, Killian finally admitted defeat, and with shaky arms sent the company a firmly worded email chastising them for their incompetence.
Two full months and one paint job later, a new one arrived. Robin was unable to help him again though. Setting his pride aside, Killian was forced to ask for help. He and his brother’s relationship had soured. It wasn’t that there was ill will between the brothers, but there was a small bit of resentment on Killian’s part. Sometimes it seemed as if Liam was giving him extra work and setting extra meetings for the sole purpose of stalling his repairs. Some of the clients that Liam set him up with were too small to even have shipping needs.
We just want to make sure that they keep us in mind incase the expand Killian. You have to always be selling Killian. It’s called networking Killian.
He’d had enough. Eventually he’d declined enough of Liam’s offers to spend time together on the weekends that Liam had stopped inviting him over. The brothers discussed business needs, but outside of the office, they may aswell have not even have been related. Killian did feel bad. His brother was the only family he had left after all, but there was just the matter of his pride. He’d had so many arguments with Liam in his mind that he couldn’t remember which conversations were real, and which were made up. He just knew that he was right in all of them.
Which is why it was so hard for him to turn to Liam for his help. Unfortunately, the mast weighed a few hundred pounds and while the dock, where the boat finally resided, had a crane to help them move it in place, someone still needed to help him slide it into place and hold it steady as he secured it to the boat. The dock had a firm policy on not helping with certain repairs. They didn’t want to be held liable for any damages or injuries that occurred as a result of human error.
Asking Liam for help had been hard. It took him full two days of building up the courage. He’d nearly walked into Liam’s office three times before turning around at the last minute. Finally, he just had to man up. To his surprise, Liam agreed without much opinion on the matter, and that weekend the two brothers finally made up as they struggled together to install the mast. They tried seating it in place, but despite their best efforts, it was slightly off, leaning just a degree or two. While most people might have shrugged it off, both of the Jones boys were determined to get it in straight.
To the chagrin of the crane worker, they demanded he raise it back up so they could check to make sure the surface was level. Nothing seemed off to the naked eye, but again, the mast wouldn’t sit straight. After one final raising, Killian stuck his hand in the seat, trying to feel if there was bubbling or warping in the wood, and to his surprise, he felt something cold and smoothe, not at all like the wood plank he’d expected. After some fiddling, he was able to loosen the object enough to pull it from its hiding place. It was small, so small he wasn’t surprised that anyone at the auction house had missed it.
Liam, for his part hadn’t said much, but Killian could tell by the way Liam was breathing that his brother was annoyed, not with him but with the delay, and ready to finish working. Killian threw the gold piece in his pocket and together, he and Liam finished installing the mast and all of the rigging lines. Afterwards they went for drinks at Robin’s bar, a place Liam had never been before. They shared a few beers, caught up on all of the things they’d missed in the past few months, and each departed like it was no big deal, both ready for a good night’s sleep.
Killian had hoped to crawl into bed and fall straight asleep, but for some reason, as he laid there, his brain seemed to kick into overdrive. It started with thoughts of how he’d have to map out the currents and winds in the boston area before he could ship out. Before long though, all he could think about was work. He’d planned on leaving Liam’s company as soon as he was done, and while he hated some aspects of the job, he did like the structure it provided him with. It forced him to get back into the world again, something he hadn’t realized that he needed to do until Liam tricked him into it.
Unable to sleep, Killian got up to clean, something that usually relaxed him. He started with the dishes, washing and drying them all by hand before moving on to tend to his laundry. Most of his suit items were dry clean only, but his weekend clothes were soaked with sweat and best washed sooner rather than later. Checking all of the pockets and making sure everything was right-side out, he threw items in the washer one by one until he got to the jeans he’d been wearing that day. He’d managed to completely forget about the trinket he’d found on the boat, until just then.
He finished sorting his clothes and started the machine up before heading back into his bedroom, turning on the nightstand table lamp as he crawled back under the sheets. He let the metal turn in his fingers, inspecting the perfectly polished gold. It was a small locket with a bird etched onto one side. There wasn’t an engraving to go with it and told him nothing about the person who’d lost it. The chain that it was attached to was short and the links where tiny, meaning it likely belonged to a woman, but that was all he was able to gather. He continued to turn the locket, just feeling the weight of it in his hand, the surprising warmth of it, when his finger caught on a hidden clasp and the locket snapped open.
It wasn’t what he’d expected. Most women’s lockets contained tiny photographs, but the inside of this one held a small compass. The opposite side featured an engraving, but it didn’t have any names. It simple read: So you always find your way.
He should have wanted to search for the owner, to return what was probably a meaningful gift. There were plenty of news stories all the time about people helping to reunite lost items and owners. The soldier who had his purple heart stolen. The bride that lost her wedding ring on a beach vacation. They were always happy endings, and he knew that the locket didn’t belong to him, but for some reason, he just felt a call to it. Like he also needed it to help him find his way. So he kept it, slipping it on over his own head, having to pull it past his ears. He fell fast asleep soon after.
The next week at work had been grueling. Liam had lined up three dinners for him, one of them with a very sexually aggressive woman that ran a dog breeding company. Apparently there was a high demand for designer dogs and people were willing to pay high prices to have them shipped over the water during the summer and winter seasons when airlines restricted their pet travel policies. He’d had to pry her off of him at the end of the evening, promising he’d call her soon. A complete lie.
The whole encounter had left him feeling dirty. He hadn’t even so much as looked at a woman since his accident, not really, and he just wasn’t ready to move forward in a romantic capacity, even just a physical one. Not after having his heart shattered before. The woman in question wasn’t even interested in him. Not as anything more than a gigalo.
The weekend couldn’t have arrived fast enough. He just needed to get out of town. To get away from everyone, from his responsibilities. He was ready to hit the water and shed the ghosts he carried around with him. He’d planned meticulously. There were charts filling half of his closet and he’d popped by the Tuesday before to fill the kitchenette with snacks for his inaugural trip. He didn’t have a refrigerator yet so he’d done his best to stick with ready to assemble meals. Nothing big, just some bread and jams. A few tea bags and bottled water in case it got cold out on the water.
The plan had been to set sail just as the sun was rising that Saturday. To greet the new day on the water, but for some reason his alarm hadn’t sounded that morning, and for the first time since he’d joined the navy, he overslept. By the time he made it down to the docks it was just after ten, and the area was filled with people. Families going out on day trips. Tour groups trying to enjoy the last few weeks before the winter season. Before everyone would have to winterize their boats and leave them stored away until spring.
He was lost in his thoughts as he walked along the wood planks at the docks, past other ships, nearly tripping on a rope that someone has carelessly left out. Cursing under his breath, collecting himself from the slight embarrassment of it all, he glanced back at The Jewel. It was hard to see with the sun reflecting back on the water, but for just a few seconds, he could have sworn that he saw a shadow moving along her port side. There was a person on his boat.
It wasn’t unheard of, finding a vagrant living on an unused boat, or some random person lost and on the wrong ship. The Jewel had a very specific and unique paint job though. Mistaking her for any other vessel on the harbor would have been impossible. And he’d been there only a few nights before. He would have seen signs of a stowaway using her for shelter.
That could only mean that whoever was aboard his boat was looking for trouble, and after the morning he’d had, he was more than willing to give it to them. Swearing to himself, he picked up his pace, ready to give the trespasser a piece of his mind, but when he finally made it to The Jewel, she was empty. Thinking perhaps they’d gone below deck, he crept down the narrow stairs, doing his best to avoid making noise. There was no one though. She was empty. Just a trick of the mind.
Feeling foolish, Killian reemerged, on the deck, ready to give all of the lines one final check before setting sail when he heard a noise, a creaky wooden plank from down below. This time he ran, not giving a damn if the person knew he was coming or not. He was ready to find whoever was hiding.
Once again though, he came up empty. Even after searching in all of the cupboards and storage spaces under the kitchen bench and his bed. He checked all of the closets, but there was no one. He was all alone.
It was just in his head. Not surprising considering what a huge step he was about to take. The idea of going back on the water leaving him with an uneasy queasy feeling in his gut. Which was also the exact reason that he needed to do it. Why he’d tried to stress to Liam the importance of buying The Jewel.
He needed to conquer his fear. Even if his brain tried to scare him out of it. Because that’s all it was. A shadow from a person on a boat near his. An old creaky boat groaning from the change in humidity. It was all in his head, and it needed to stay there.
More determined than ever, Killian went back upstairs, ready to set sail, distraction free, but when he emerged from the cabin, he was met once again with an odd sensation. A feeling of being watched.
“Permission to come aboard?”
“Bloody hell, Liam? How long have you been here?”
And there it was. His older brother, his protector, playing games with his head to place doubt. Liam had done more than his fair share of things to delay the boat becoming ready, but to actually try to scare him away was just too much.
“What the hell’s wrong with you?”
“Come again now?”
“I’m talking about you playing games with my head, trying to frighten me away from taking my boat out. You’ve made it very clear that this wasn’t something you wanted me to do, but this is a new form of low, Laim.”
He was furious.
“Killian, I assure you, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’ve only just arrived.”
He watched the elder Jones, the way his brow furrowed. Liam may have been a great many things to Killian, but he’d never known his brother as a liar.
“Then what are you doing here?”
“I’ve actually come bearing a gift.”
It was only then that Killian noticed the neatly wrapped bundle in Liam’s left hand. Liam didn’t ask permission again, choosing to come aboard The Jewel to hand the gift to Killian. He felt more than a little guilty for accepting it, especially after having just yelled at his brother, but Liam was insistent.
Carefully he peeled back the wrapping paper, careful not to tear it, lest he find paper scraps for weeks to come blown into every nook and cranky. Inside, he found a book, an old one by the look of it.
“It’s a first edition. Took some time to track down or I would have had it to you sooner.”
The significance of Liam’s thoughtfulness was evident. It was a first edition of Peter Pan. The book their mother used to read to them nightly. Each time she finished, Killian would beg her to start again from the beginning. It was the thing that first ignited his love for the sea.
“Thank you, Liam. This means more than you know.”
Liam just gave him a nod, understanding the emotional weight they both held in that moment.
“I, uh, guess you haven’t checked the stern of the boat just yet?”
It was on his list. First the ropes, then a walk around above deck to ensure everything was properly secured, before walking around the dock to check that everything was good on the exterior.
Intrigued, Killian climbed down from the boat and walked around to the back side of The Jewel. But what he found was that she’d been renamed.
“The Jolly Roger?”
“I very specifically remember you telling mum and me that when you grew up, you were going to own a huge ship, and you were going to name her The Jolly Roger-”
“Just like Captain Hook.”
He’d completely forgotten. As a small eight year old, he was determined that one day he’d own a pirate ship. That he’d sail the seven seas taking whatever he wanted from whoever he wanted. Probably in part because he was sick of getting Liam’s hand me downs.
“I hope you don’t mind. I know she’s not exactly what child Killian had in mind, but you’ve done exactly what you said you were going to do. And I know I’ve been a prick about this entire thing, so I wanted to do something to make up for it. To show you that I really am in your corner.”
Killian was touched. It was possibly the first time his brother had apologized to him since before their mother died. Even then, it was probably the first time he’d ever done it without being scolded into it.
“Thank you, brother.”
There’s one final thing. Last night, Robin and I came out here and installed a motor on the back.” Killian was about to say something, but Liam barreled on. “I know. But I just want to keep you safe. If you should find yourself without wind, you’ll still have a way to get back to shore.”
“Marvelous.” His annoyance only slightly tempered by Liam’s attempt at a kind gesture.
From his inside coat pocket, Liam produced a manual for the motor. ‘A guide to your new Stern Mounted Electronic Engine.’ He had to give it to Liam. He’d thought of everything. Even a Mr. SMEE.
Together, he and Liam set about getting The Jolly ready. After checking everything over twice, they finally set out, both men trying not to hold their breath as the docks become smaller and smaller. After about thirty minutes, they were able to relax, realizing that the ship hadn’t yet sunk, and likely wouldn’t anytime soon.
The trip was relaxing for the most part. The brothers argued still, as Killian realized that Liam had completely rearranged all of the food in the kitchenette. It wasn’t surprising and he’d seen Liam do it at his house, whenever Elsa would just quickly throw things back in the pantry. But what did shock him was how Liam adamantly denied it, even though Killian knew he’d left the tea bags in the cupboard above the tiny stove top, not under the sink. And the chips had been moved as well as other items. Still though, Liam swore he hadn’t touched them.
Killian eventually let it go, finding it not worth bickering over anymore than they already had. The real fist-to-cuffs came at the end of the day, as the two men had already redocked and were setting the boat back to rights. Liam had grabbed the trash and told Killian that he was going to take it all to the dumpster in the parking lot while Killian secured all of the sails.
Liam couldn’t have been gone for more than a minute when Killian stood to turn and move on to the other sail when he slipped and fell flat on his back. It hurt more than he wanted to admit, and in his haste to stop himself from falling, he’d somehow managed to catch his hook in the jib sail, tearing it as he fell.
Killian took a moment to compose himself, waiting for the sting of hitting his back on the rail to subside. He must have taken longer than he realized, because by the time he sat back up he heard Liam call his name and scramble across the boat to check on him.
Killian assured him that he was fine, or that he would be as Liam helped him back up. Careful of his steps, he turned to see just what exactly he’d slipped on when he caught sight of small water puddles in the shape of shoe prints. Absolutely sure that Liam had made them somehow, the two brothers had it out, causing Liam to storm away in a huff once more.
Killian stayed long enough to dry all of the water and to watch the sunset over the horizon before heading back to his place to grab a much needed ice pack. His back was still sore two hours later, so he opted for a shower instead hoping that the warm water might help soothe the muscles.
Slowly he undressed, trying not to twist or bend too much. Catching just a glimpse of himself in the mirror are he removed the small gold locket he’d found, he caught sight of his red cheeks, realising that even in October, he’d still managed to get a bit too much sun.
Getting to sleep had been tough. It was only after a glass or two, or three of rum that he was able to find a comfortable position. He drifted off, dreaming of being a child again. Of Neverland and Captain Hook.
The next morning he was still quite sore, so he’d opted not to take a second trip out on the water. Instead, he’d spend the day shopping for groceries and flicking through television programs until he settled on Wicked Tuna. Before he knew it, it was time to ready himself for bed and another dreaded week at work.
It ended up not being as bad of a week as he expected it to be. Liam hadn’t scheduled any meetings for him outside of normal office hours, and the clients that came into the office to settle contracts all seemed relatively normal for once. The brothers had quazied made up, but both felt it was best if Liam didn’t go out with Killian again for a while.
By the time the next weekend came, Killian was eager to set sail again, alone. No distractions. No mind games. Just him and The Jolly. Unable to hide the gold chain under his work shirt, Killian had chosen to leave the compass at home all week, but slid it back over his head before getting in his car to drive down to the water.
For a few moments he worried that his plans would be dashed as his car had refused to turn on. The starter trying to turn over and failing. Finally though, he got her started and headed straight for the docks.
He went through his usual routine, checking everything over, checking the weather once more. It was a little windier than he would have preferred, but the local station said that the wind would die down a bit by mid day. With everything ready, he set out, heading up the coast line just a bit.
The wind stayed stead for nearly four hours, despite the weather stations promise, and at one point, his life preserver ring had managed to come loose and blow straight off the ship. Not wanting to waste sixty dollars on a new one, he turned into the wind, stalling the boat, and dove dove in after it. A foolish endeavour on his part, considering he was alone if anything had gone wrong, but he figured if he could just get to the ring, he’d be fine.
The water was colder than he’d expected. In the navy he’d done cold water drills, letting his body adapt to it. But it had been a year, and his body simply wasn’t used to it yet. The moment he hit the water, his leg cramped up, and for just a second, he sunk under the surface of the water as he grabbed at his leg. When he resurfaced, it was with a mouth full of salt water. His nose burned and his eyes stung.
Once he managed to make it to the preserver, he tried wiping his eyes, but it only made things worse. Looking around to see just how far he was from The Jolly, his eyes had difficulty focusing. Everything became blurry as it felt like he’d had sandpaper rubbed against his cornea. At one point, it looked as if there was a figure standing at the bow of the boat. An impossibility given how far out he was and the lack of other boats.
He closed his eyes, giving them a few minutes to calm down, and when he reopened them, the figure was gone, and The Jolly was more in focus. Killian managed to swim back to the boat, a freezing mess in his wet clothes. He hadn’t actually thought about bringing a change of clothes with him for such a short journey. He stood there on the deck a shivering mess, ready to give up on the day.
As he tried to turn the wheel he began to feel slightly warmer. The wind had finally died down just as local weather woman Alfina Merryweather had promised, except that Merriweather had neglected to mention that her version of a slight breeze was actually a dead stop.
There was nothing, not even the slightest hint of movement. He waited and waited, at one point removing his clothes and doing his best to squeeze as much water out as he could. He thought of Liam, of how his brother would probably be worried if he didn’t hear from him soon. Thoughts that eventually reminded him of the motor his brother had installed for just such an occasion. The motor that Killian never wanted, and certainly wasn’t going to admit to using.
It took him forty two minutes to read the manuel enough to understand what he was doing, the whole thing one long novel of gibberish. Unfortunately, no matter how hard he tried, and how many times he went through the manuel again, twenty minutes later he was just as stuck as before.
After another thirty minutes of attempting to start it and pretending that hyperthermia wasn’t a real threat, he finally caved, ready to call for help over the radio to a towing company. But the radio was just as dead as SMEE, and all of his calls for help were met with static. He began to worry, checking his phone to see the time only to realize that his phone was dead as well. He continued to plea for assistance, the static only becoming louder, eventually there was a spark as he felt a strange nasty shock from the microphone
He jumped back, yelling every curse word he could think of until he was nearly hoarse. Just as he’d quieted, shaking out his hand, he’d heard it. A creaky noise coming from above deck, The same sound he’d heard on his first day out. The sound of boards buckling under the weight of a person. He was sure of it this time, unless the jolt had managed to shock his brain too.
Slowly he crept back up the stairs, feeling every hair raise along his arm as he went. Something felt off. Something just felt very very wrong. But he persisted still, opening the door as quietly as possible. He crept along the deck, treading lightly as not to make any noise. As he moved high enough to see the front of the boat, he noticed a figure. An eerie ethereal blur of a woman.
But before he could say anything she turned and looked right at him. He watched her for a moment, as she seemed to float above the bow of the boat, somehow both there and not quite real. And then her mouth opened, and with the anguished scream of a hundred voices at once, she yelled at him to get out.
He nearly fell as he scrambled backwards, feeling his heart in his throat, trying to leap clear from his body. And just as quickly as she appeared, she was gone. He was paralyzed in fear, completely unable to move when he heard the boat’s engine spring to life, snapping him out of his trance.
I watched through the porthole of my cabin as the bright lights of Tokyo faded into the distance. The other rooms had descended into silence. I was exhausted, but felt strongly that someone should keep watch tonight.
I tucked my baby daughter into the small clothes bureau, leaving it cracked open for ventilation. Once I was sure she would stay asleep, I took Spider Fang and Tongzi and walked out.
I opened the door to a darkened hallway and looked right and left. There was no sound. I made my way down the corridor, following the route I had memorized, until I reached the metal stairs leading up to the deck. It was so nice, smelling the sea air as it washed away the stench of garbage and rust.
Empty shipping containers were stacked on one side of the ship. It was a tight squeeze between them, but my body was small and I pushed my way in as far as I could manage while still having a good view of the outside. Then I settled in for the night. I saw two men come up from below deck and walk around the captain’s bridge towards the front of the vessel, but otherwise no one moved.
I yawned and rested my head against the container. I heard the sound of buoy bells clanging in the distance but other than that there was only the rumble of the engine and the sound of the ocean lapping against the hull. The wind was picking up and the waves were getting increasingly rough. The rush of water and the rock of the boat made my eyes heavy.
I startled awake and rubbed my eyes. I fell asleep so quickly! I wanted to stay up and watch but I wasn’t the best at it. A dense fog had settled over the ocean and I could no longer see the ocean waves around us.
I blinked. Someone was coming up from below deck?
The man stopped and looked around briefly, then checked his watch. He looked up.
I lifted my head at this suspicious behavior and grabbed my swords. He strolled toward the back of the ship, closer to me, but hadn’t noticed me. I carefully slid closer to the mouth of the gap I’d squeezed myself in to watch him.
He was heading to one of the life boats. There were six orange fiberglass vessels hung on pylons on the side of the ship. I saw him pull out the manual and began to read.
I slipped out of the hiding spot and moved silently to intercept. As he reached over to operate the wench that would lower the boat into the sea, I drew Tongzi and pressed it against his back.
He tensed up and reached for a weapon.
I pressed the blade harder, piercing his clothes. “Don’t even think about it. Who are you? Where do you think you’re going?”
Mingfei turned and looked at me. His eyes wide.
“What are you doing here?!” We both asked at once.
“I’m keeping watch! Why are you taking a life boat?” I asked, my voice shrill with confusion.
“Shhh..” He said, looking nervously towards the bridge.
“Don’t shush me!” I said in a harsh whisper. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“I...” I watched his eyes shift as he tried to think of some way to explain.
“Are you leaving us?! Why? Does Nono know about this?!” I asked him.
“No. She doesn’t. Look. I need to find out what I am. I have to go alone.”
I squinted in growing confusion. “What?! Why? Mingfei, I understand you have questions but that doesn’t explain...”
“I got in contact with my father. At the bookstore.” He said.
The pain in his eyes only confused me further. “Your father? How do you know he was really your father?”
“Because he knew things only my father would know. The silly things we used to say when I was really young. My first childhood friend. The kids in our neighborhood. He knew it all.” He cleared his throat and swallowed. “It’s really him.”
I shook my head in denial. “No... No, Mingfei this is a trap. Why would your father call you at a bookstore, now of all times...? Mingfei, he abandoned you to Cassell. All this time has passed and he never called you once. Never!”
Mingfei lowered his head and sighed. “Look, I’ve gotta go...”
I grabbed his arm and yanked as hard as I could to get him away from the life boat, snarling through my teeth. “No, you do NOT. You listen! Listen!” I fought to keep eye contact with him. “That man... doesn’t care about you. He’s made that clear. He works for Cassell. Just like he has every day since you were a child!”
“I know... but...”
“Mingfei, you’re not this stupid. You’re not this stupid!” I raised my hands up and grabbed his face, forcing him to look at me. “They’re going to lock you up. Bare. Minimum. And all of this is going to be for nothing!”
Tears ran down my cheeks as I looked into his eyes and just saw sad resignation. Did he know it was a trap and wanted to go anyway?
His hands circled my wrists, bringing my arms back to my side.
“You.. can’t...” I whimpered.
“This doesn’t concern you.”
“This doesn’t concern me?” I laughed a little between quiet sobs. “What? Mingfei you’ve all I’ve got! You’re all I’ve got...”
I steeled myself, forcing the tears away. “I’m not going to let you go. You’re not being rational. Is this a death wish? Like Chisei? Are you okay with dying?”
“I could be a dragon king, Carli.” He whispered.
“So what?!” I hissed. “The idea that Dragon Kings are inherently anti-humanity is what Cassell tells us!” I licked my lips leaning closer to him. “Here’s what I believe... I believe you have the Dark King in you. You’re higher than every other Dragon King. Could that make you more dangerous? Sure! But it also means you have ultimate control over what happens in the dragon war!”
I looked into his eyes, willing him to understand. “Mingfei... you can change it... but you have to live.”
Mingfei’s head suddenly lifted and he looked around.
Sure enough, the ship engines were completely silent. I looked left and right, but no one was on deck. I got butterflies in my stomach. Mingfei walked around to the front of the ship. I looked into the windows of the bridge. There was no one inside.
“Do you smell that?”
I took a sniff. “Gasoline?”
Mingfei walked over to the edge of the ship and looked down over the side. I stood and waited, keeping an eye out for anything else that might happen. He returned, his expression grim. “The water is full of fuel. And the anchor has dropped.”
“Oh god...” I whispered. “Are those the only life boats?”
Mingfei nodded over my shoulder and I turned to look. On the other side of the deck there were similar pylons to the ones the other boats were attached to, only these pylons had no boats attached. “I think Mr. Aliyev doesn’t care about his family as much as Crow thinks he does.”
I stomped my foot in frustration. “I knew it! I knew this would happen! And it still happened!”
“You can get us out of here right?” Lu Mingfei asked.
“Yes! I just have to wake Nono and Zihang!” I turned and ran back around towards the staircase.
As I came around the building of the bridge, I skidded to a halt. Someone was climbing up the stairs! He looked like a man in a rubber diving suit!
“Enemy!” I shouted summoning a spear of light into my hand.
The intruder dove to the ground and the spear over shot him. He crawled on his hands, low like a crocodile, his golden eyes staring into mine. He transformed into a massive snake before my eyes.
“Look out!” Mingfei pushed me aside and I felt a sharp pain in my ear. I squeezed my eyes shut, feeling hot blood on the side of my face. When I opened them again, Mingfei was wrestling with the serpent who was now a man again. He locked him into a strangle hold, cutting off circulation to his brain. In seconds, the man was out cold.
I stood stunned as Mingfei let the man drop. “Are you alright?” He walked up to me. “Let me see it.”
He pulled my hand away. “It’s alright. It’s not deep and doesn’t seem to be poisoned.” He turned to look at our attacker.
“An assassin?” I asked.
“Probably. The way he moves is weird.”
“He turned into a snake.” I said.
Mingfei shook his head. “No, it’s a soul skill, Snare of Affliction. It causes you to see visions when you look into his eyes.”
“I’ve never heard of it.” I continued to put pressure on the side of my head.
“It’s a high level skill of the Light King descendants.” Mingfei walked back over to the fallen diver and kicked him over. “It’s been only recently discovered.”
“He’s from Hydra?”
Mingfei picked the man up. “Let’s go.”
We made our way back downstairs.
The hall was now filled with a strange blue mist. It seemed like the place should have been a sauna, but the mist was cold! As I approached the cabins, I could hear Ru’Yi crying!
I whimpered deep in my throat and opened the door, rushing to the chest of drawers where I had hidden her. “Shhh... shsh sh...” I wrapped her in her fleece blanket and put a hat on her head for extra warmth.
I settled her on my back, wrapping her tight to me. I couldn’t dare leave her in the room alone. Not with assassins about.
“Zihang? Nono!” Mingfei called.
I stepped out of the room.
Mingfei came out of Nono’s room, still dragging the body of the man in the divers suit. “They’re not here and there’s signs of a struggle. We have to find them!”
I followed him down the foggy hall. As soon as he was any distance away, he disappeared in the cold mist. I only knew where he was by the sound of his breath and his footsteps on the metal floor.
“Where is this mist coming from!” My clothes were wet and stuck to me. Ru’Yi started mewling again.
The sound of gun shots rang out from below us!
Mingfei broke into a run.
As we descended lower in the bowels of the ship, the hall became more and more cluttered. I had to be careful not to trip over boxes and crates full of random items like food, clothing, and a bootleg dvds.
I nearly ran into Mingfei’s back. Ahead of us, a heavy door was shut. He glanced back at me and I nodded, backing away further into the hall and drawing Tongzi.
Behind the door, I heard a strange chanting, like a chorus of voices all saying the same words, but slightly out of sync with each other, like a resounding prayer. It was a singing so beautiful that my heart lifted and instinctively, I looked to Mingfei with admiring eyes as he lowered the unconscious diver to the ground.
It was the Soul Skill Imperium, the Royal Speech of the Dark King. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard. Tears sprang to my eyes. I wanted to sing along but my throat closed. I was carried away by the magnificence of this ancient voice in my mind.
But who was singing? I opened my eyes again expecting somehow to see Mingfei singing to me, but it wasn’t Mingfei. “Nono! Zihang!” He was pulling open the heavy freezer door.
He stopped, silent. Then he pulled a pistol from behind his back. He was immediately surrounded by more of these men in diving suits. They were all chanting the Dark King’s song!
Outraged at their sacrilege, I pulled out a light spear from my hand.
Mingfei raised the gun and fired, point blank, at one of the divers. I startled my light spear vanishing. Even with a Frigga bullet, a point blank shot in the face would cause devastating injury! But this was no Frigga bullet. The man’s skull seemed to explode, his neck rocking back at an impossible angle, like his spine had snapped in two.
But Mingfei wasn’t done. He fired again and again, following the man as he stumbled backwards, yet somehow remained upright. He lowered the pistol and shot him in the chest. Lower still, again, in the kidneys.
The man bent all the way back as though suspended by invisible wires.
Mingfei pulled the trigger again. All I heard was an empty click.
He pocketed the gun and drew his curved knife.
The body of the man snapped back up and Mingfei’s knife collided with claws over a foot long.
These people weren’t human.
The claws swiped at Mingfei, -- once, twice, thrice -- missing by a mere centimeters each time. The other men took on an offensive posture.
I knew that Mingfei had had vigorous training in South Korea, but I’d never truly seen it until now. He took on all of them, even as they surrounded him. Dodging and attacking in a single motion, striking at enemies he could see, and defending blows from behind that he could only anticipate in his own mind.
But these enemies were going to overwhelm him any second.
Before I could even think of rushing into the freezer, Mingfei roared. “Get Nono out of here!”
Mingfei pulled an anti-tank grenade from the pockets of his trench coat! The power of this weapon is greater than a C4 explosive. At the same time, his attacks became more persistent and he started to push his opponents further into freezer.
“Are you crazy!” I heard Nono shout.
Chu Zihang emerged from the walk in freezer, dragging a barely conscious Nono, pursued by two of the divers who had peeled away from Mingfei to stop them from escaping. I rushed forward and grabbed onto the door to close it pulling with all my weight, but a blade managed to get through the gap and pierce Chu Zihang in the back about an inch deep.
More of the monster divers slammed behind the door, but they weren’t really smart. The door needed to be pulled, not pushed.
Their mindlessness stunned me for a moment and I was able to see through the gap as I backed away. Mingfei was completely surrounded and bleeding.
“Idiot!” Nono cried.
I looked at her. She was trailing a long stream of blood. I suddenly understood Lu Mingfei’s murderous reaction to what he saw in the freezer. When I looked back through the gap in the door, I saw him pull the pin on the grenade.
“Get down!” I threw myself to the floor and turned my back to the wall to protect Ru’Yi.
The blast somersaulted the thick reinforced metal door off its hinges and over my head. It slammed into Chu Zihang and Nono.
Cruising the open seas on a warm sunny day is a great way to spend your afternoon, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Whether you’re a first-time boat buyer or looking to buy your second or third, you will want to make sure the proper research is done. Often times, the processing of buying a boat is so exciting that we make simple mistakes. With such a big investment, we want to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. Below are tips to help you avoid a major boat-buying mistake.
Top Boat Purchasing Tips
1. Purchase The Right Boat
There are several different types of boats to choose from, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding one that meets your needs. Conversely, with so many choices, you can end up purchasing a boat that might not be exactly what you wanted. To help navigate you in the right direction, you will want to decide what body of water you will be spending most of your time on. For instance, will you be spending your time on the ocean, lake, or river? This will heavily influence the type of boat you should buy. Below are some things to consider in regards to bodies of water.
Rivers tend to be shallower. Thus, you will want to steer clear of motors that can’t be lifted out of the water. Motors that can be lifted out of the water are fine to use. Stick to boats that have flat bottoms. Other considerations include bass boats or bay boats. These work perfectly at navigating the shallow waters.
Boats become a bit easier to choose from when using them for lakes. You can choose from a houseboat for leisure or fishing boats. If you’re looking for a boat that offers a bit of everything from fishing, high-speed thrills, and water sports such as waterskiing, then you will want to stick to a performance boat, jet boat, or even a deck boat. Purchasing these types of boats will give you endless possibilities!
Ocean boating is a completely different prospect. Due to the harsher conditions, your boat may experience, we recommend purchasing a larger boat for the ocean. If you experience large waves, or you get caught out in a storm, it’s safest in a bigger boat. You will also have to consider fuel capacity, especially if you’re looking for longer trips. Large cruisers are a wise choice for ocean waters. We advise installing a communication device on your boat, since cell phones are less reliable the further out from land you travel. This will ensure you still have communication capabilities on your long trips.
2. Dimensions Of Your Boat
Knowing what you plan on using your boat for is essential for deciding how big or small of a boat you will want. If you plan on using your boat for leisure or fishing with friends and family, you will want a boat that has adequate space for your equipment and lounging. Conversely, if you plan on going out on the water by yourself or with one other person, then a smaller boat would adequately meet your needs.
3. Buying New Or Used
Once you have decided on the size and type of boat you desire, you will want to decide if you’re going to buy new or used. This decision comes with pros and cons that you will want to pay close attention to. Depreciation affects boats just like any other vehicle. Therefore, you will want to take this into consideration when you’re buying a new boat. As soon as you purchase your boat and drive it off the lot, it depreciates in value. However, purchasing a new boat does come with an upside. New boats come with a warranty which might give you the peace of mind you’re looking for. Buying used can be a much cheaper alternative. It does pose some risks you will want to be aware of when you’re doing your inspection. Below is a list of issues you will want to check for upon your inspection.
The engine is probably the most important part to check to ensure it is in great shape. Otherwise, you could be looking at investing in a money pit. Listen to the engine and make sure there aren’t any hiccups. Make sure to check the liquid elements, such as the oil. If the liquid is milky white colored, this indicates water is getting in. Thus, you have a leak somewhere or a blown seal. If you’re not familiar with mechanics on a boat, it might be best to bring a friend who does or even better, a mechanic. Hiring a qualified mechanic to inspect a boat prior to purchase is money well spent.
Inspect the belts. A responsible boat owner maintains a boat’s belts. However, if simple maintenance problems haven’t been taken care of, it can cause major issues in the future.
Check for cracks and flexing in the fiberglass and wooden areas. Common areas to check are the hull, handles, and windshield. If the area has significant damage where moisture could have set in, the boat could have started to rot. Cracks larger than 2 to 3 inches may suggest an underlying problem. This should throw up a red warning flag.
Inspect the seating areas. If the seats are loose or wobbly, you will want to check if it is just loose bolts, or if rot has set into the floor. If it’s just the bolts, that’s an easy fix. Typically, this is just a sign that the bolts have been stripped due to normal wear and tear.
Do a close inspection for mildew. Common areas to check are the upholstery, seats, and carpet. Mold can spread quite easily so make sure you examine every inch. Rot can also impact boats that have mold and mildew issues. Rot isn’t quite as common now that the majority of builders have stopped using untreated wood, which was the leading cause of this issue. However, if you’re looking at older boats, this will be an issue you will want to check for.
Make sure you’re testing all electrical systems. Rewiring a boat can be a very difficult job. Closely inspect each electronic, turning on each light and electrical device one at a time. Inspecting wiring areas for rats’ nests can be a smart idea as well. Pay attention to the fuse box and check to make sure everything is in order. If you see a mismatched item that looks like they were replaced, ask why. This could be a sign of more underlying issues.
There are several parts on a boat you will want to inspect, such as worn or broken stringers, cabin leaks, hull joint separation, leaking, and a multitude of other areas. It’s best to have a mechanic or a serious boater with you when buying used. This will increase your odds of finding any issues before you make a big investment.
4. Sea Trial
Before you purchase a boat, you will want to take the boat out on a sea trial. This is different from a joy ride. With a sea trial, you will want to check the boat’s maneuverability and speed. Pay close attention to the sound of the boat and other devices and systems that can only be tested in the water. Make sure there are no extreme vibrations or rattling within the boat, which may lead to more underlying issues. If you’re purchasing a casual boat then you may just want a simple boat ride for your testing purposes. If you’re inspecting a docked boat, request to have the boat taken out of the water. There can be several issues besides what you can see while the boat is on the water.
Most people need financing to help them purchase a boat. Picking the right financial partner is a critical step in your buying journey. At Launch CU, we finance fun! We can help you finance your next adventure on the open seas today! We offer excellent new & used boat loan rates, flexible loan terms up to 240 months, and monthly payments you can afford.
This is about fishing
And has no excuse to be
In “verse” form – but I swear
No Hemingway, no Melville,
And you won’t need
A bigger boat.
The legal size limit here
For summer flounder, or
“Fluke”, is nineteen inches.
“Limit” here means
Any that are shorter
Go back in the water.
This number, nineteen,
Is carefully chosen so as
To make keeping and
Eating a summer flounder
Impossible by, oh say,
This is necessary since
Summer flounder are
Foolish, gullible beasts.
They swarm the bottom
Of the Coney Island flats
Like tourists in Times Square
(When there’s no pandemic),
Dining mightily on the rich
Mussel beds of NY harbor
Which is pretty clean lately.
This location is accessible to
“party boats” from next door,
Namely Sheepshead Bay,
In about fifteen minutes, or
A negligible drink of diesel.
Bring the whole family, hand
Out free ready-rigged rods
And spend half a day. With
Fifty people there will only be
Three or four “keepers”,
Because of the nineteen inches,
So the stink and smell is small.
How do they get any at all?
First, this boat guy puts
A heavy sashweight on the end
Of a rope, and where they stop
He pounds the bottom (which is
About eight feet down) with it.
This shall we say gives the fish
Improved access to the actual
Bodies of their favorite bivalves.
Always attracts a crowd.
Then on the hooks, which have
A generous “bend” or “gap,”
You hang first a strip of squid,
And then on the point a glob
Comprising the shelled bodies
Of two or three mussels.
The mussels are the real bait;
The squid (which is hard to tear)
Is for when the fish vacuums
The bait off with its lips within
Three seconds of your putting
Your line in the water, which
Happens to most people – so
At least there’s still something
Left on the hook, you see.
It’s a delicate skill, learning to
Feel the little bugger tasting your
Offering and, during the split
Second when its fishy upper lip
Is near the point of the hook,
Giving it just the right wrist jerk –
Not too much, not too little –
To actually catch and land one.
With a little practice, it’s doable.
You start hearing these slapping
Sounds against the deck (the floor);
These fish are flat, as in flatfish,
And if they land right they might
Slap loudly, as if they were big.
Soon you hear guys going,
(a sort of voodoo chant).
However, this is how to
Catch a summer flounder,
Not how to “keep” one.
Almost every one of those
Big slaps come from fish
In the narrow range of fiteen
To eighteen inches in length;
On the rail of the boat,
Measuring guides – nineteen
Inches in length – are marked off
For your chagrined comparison.
Back they go, right back in the sea,
With a tiny nick to the lips,
And immediately resume
Stealing bait from the kids.
If your question is, how
Do you get a “keeper” fluke” –
And they do get them, a few
Each trip, and it’s always the
Same two or three guys –
I do not have the answer.
The secret to success may be
Fairly simple, and jealously guarded,
Or it may be incommunicable.
If this sounds unlikely, let me
Assure you – the “secret” to
Hooking the little mothers at all
Is incommunicable, and I Have Done It.
Verbal explanation was irrelevant;
Me and the fish learned to interact,
In a tactile way, along a
Fiberglass rod and nylon string.
Usually the fish wins, not always.
I’m like Lancelot – his glory,
His tragedy; I’ve seen the Grail,
But in the end I was denied.
Another obvious metaphor
Occurs to me at the end of
This endless fish story.
In the game of love – real,
Lifelong love, I mean –
There are keepers, and
There’s the rest of us, the ones
Who top out at eighteen inches
(get your mind out of the gutter.)
Maybe you imagine yourself,
Ruefully, as one of the
Great swarm of throwbacks,
Destined to end their days
Stuck on the Coney Island flats.
I think of these as the
“Y” chromosome flukes.
Think they have it tough?
Just think of the fisherpersons,
The “X” chromosome people
(I know, total stereotype; we’re
On a fishing boat pal.)
Day after day, baiting up,
Letting out, reeling in,
Again and again –
Throwback. Throwback. Throwback.
The sea the same, the beach the same,
The salt spoiling your nails, the same.
Who made this law about “nineteen”?
After the arduous task of laying out and cutting the forms, it is finally time to start assembly. The overall beam of the finished vessel is approximately 8’3” this means that each form had to be cut out of multiple pieces of plywood.
First we had to line everything up and fit the pieces together to make each form. Soon after starting we realized that because the forms were standing on edge on the stone floor of our tent they managed to absorb some moisture. Without fail this was the edge needed to join the forms together. After addressing this issue with a hand plane we were able to fit everything together.
We then we glued and screwed scrap pieces of plywood over the joints, making sure to leave room above and below the half lap joints. Luckily we realized this after the first form, and were able to trim the piece out before the glue dried.
The center line frame spans bow to stern of the boat. Thinking ahead, we decided to only glue and screw one half of these. This way we will be able to assemble and disassemble as needed.
Finally we are starting to see some progress. The forms were stacked sequentially on our workbench, begging to be assembled. It had already been a long hot morning of fitting, gluing and screwing. But the prospect of seeing the actual size of our vessel kept us motivated through the mid summer heat.
The forms are assembled using half lap joints (A slot half way down one panel and half way up the other). This makes assembly straightforward. Aside from putting the forms in the right positions, the whole thing only fits one way. Dragging everything into the driveway we assembled all of the forms in under an hour. What a feeling of accomplishment, seeing the actual size of what we are building started to put things into perspective. We did have to do some minor trimming to make everything fit correctly. This in no way took away from the glory.
After basking in our triumph, we now had to disassemble everything and put it into storage. Unfortunately this is where it will sit until the flat hull panels are fiberglassed. This was the plan from the beginning due to the lack of supplies. COVID-19 has really messed things up.
Mom told me this morning, with a mix of annoyance and amusement at the absurdity of it, that my brother honestly believes that Mom and I sit around all day! He won’t be convinced out of it. “What do you do just sitting there?”
Neither Mom nor I sit around all day! I actually envy people that talk about being bored, just ‘cause in their place I might have time to ....um.... do more things. I constantly try to do three things at once because there just isn’t time. Mom even nags at me to stop because I’m wearing myself out. Just this morning, in the same call , Mom told me to not worry about all I don’t get done. She said I’m going to be busy until the day I die, and will never get it all done anyway...
Yeah. We just sit around. Sure.
But I guess shouldn’t be suprised. To this day my brother dismisses the family business as not “real” work because Pop was his own boss.
We worked seven days a week, on holidays, into the wee hours of the morning...but still he considered us doing nothing. Once he and my mother got to go on a trip to Alaska, but Pop and I (the two that planned the trip) had to stay to get a job done. We worked around the clock for a couple of week that hot summer, sleep and meals dictated by how long a layup would take to gel. (It was a fiberglassing business, to explain the terminology there). Years later as Pop was in chemo he was still working in the shop whenever he could walk. As he lay dying I was finishing that last job alone.
Yeah, we were sooo lazy. Gah!
Maybe if my brother would have helped out he would have understood better, but he never had patience with us. If you needed him you best wait until the last second, because if he had to wait five minutes while you adjusted something he would go into a rant. He’d screech about us taking too long and that we were wasting his time. He’d start in with “just” statements, because despite being clueless, he clearly knew better than us how to do thing. He also was quite vocal about anything dirty, messy, or smelly...which kinda sums up a lot ofour work. He made it so miserable to work with him that we tried to avoid needing to ever ask him. So to be generous, maybe he was too absorbed in his gaming to notice how hard we worked.
But to be honest, people generally tend not to see how hard others work. Mom’s neighbors notice after Mom’s stroke that the lawn was going “too long” between being mowed, and call us lazy behind out back. The tree on the side of the house I’m trying to do something about, the ramp I had to deal with at my house, the ramp I need to put in at Mom’s, the floors I have to shore somehow, the hole that tree poked in Mom’s roof, the hand rails I have to install in a bathroom with rotten walls, the tons of stuff I have to move, the animals that need tending..... All that and dozens of other things I am trying to do single handedly don’t “count” because they don’t see me doing them. But the grass being a quarter inch longer than the lawn next door proves I do “nothing”.
I suppose the trick is to make a show of obvious things, to be seen right in front of them to be laboring past the line of sanity in this heat. It doesn’t matter if it is the least important task on your list or it’s the easiest of chores. If someone sees you doing it, then and only the. you have done something. Meanwhile you can work until your hands literally bleed and you are still thought of as lazy if no one is watching.
People say “If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Well, obviously, hell yeah! Just because something is unobserved doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen!
Right now though I totally relate to a fallen tree. I’m down. I know I’m never gonna get back up again (bit I keep trying). And folks are debating whether my fall is real because they weren’t around to hear me scream.
Bad enough to have people that don’t really know me at all assume I’m lazy. But my brother? Every time I think his opinion of me couldn’t be lower, it turns out it’s somuch worse.
Oh well, my brother still thinks our father worthless and lazy for not finishing that house extension for him. The fact he failed to finish it because of pancreatic cancer and death doesn’t gain Pop any forgiveness from my brother. Apparently he constantly lists to Mom my father’s faults (which can be summed up as too much to do, too little time, and a tendency to seem “chaotic” to an order obsessive) as if they were slights against my brother. He grumbles that he “hated but loved” Pop for being a disappointment**.
Pop and I were alike enough it’s hardly shocking he “hates” me too, just without the “love” part. He always made that clear. he’d say to Pop “I love and hate you” then turn to me and say “I just hate you.”
Still, I may be worthless but I work very hard damn it!!!!! I’d like at least a bit of credit for that.
Sorry. I’m just really, really tired today. Among other things I worked on, I spent two hours filing down pins for the door hinges only to find I’d gotten end of the ramp 1/4″ too high to put the door back on. I’m sore and frustrated amd dodn’t get “lunch” until 8:30pm. Being thought of as lazy and sitting around all day REALLY ticked me off.....
**The disappointment thing seems tied to his expectations of us. If Pop had ever gotten to take the “Big Boat” on the round the world trip and I had gotten a PhD in astrophysics would that have been enough? Probably not. I expect whatever we achieved his expectations would have notched higher...