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    quokka
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Tough Times - 13. Tough Chapter 13

“Marc, do you have extra crew?” I asked, “Yes, I have a 2nd Engineer, a Galley Cook, a Steward and a Deckhand added recently,” Marc replied. “How do you fit in with this crowd, Devlin?” Rebecca asked me, “Well… Um, it is a little complicated…” I started to say, and Marc laughed.

“He is my special guest, we met some time back, and I would like to get to know him a bit better than a friend, but he has a few personal problems he is trying to cope with, and Brady, who is an old school friend of his is helping him with that process, and I only met them through our cousin Craig and his husband, who had invited me to join them on a cruise, which happened to be on Brady’s sailing yacht,” Marc replied.

After we set sail, we spent the next five and a half days sailing south, and very slowly, Marc and I got to know one another, as I continued to let Marc know that I wanted to take things slowly, and although frustrated, he agreed to abide by my request. I was still a little uncomfortable about staying in such a luxurious VIP cabin, which is located on the Bridge deck.

Just a day before we arrived in Invercargill, we stopped at Mason Bay, on the central west coast of Stewart Island, where Marc had arranged for the short-term lease of the Kilbride Homestead for a period of three days. To keep Rebecca and her boys safe, Marc had arranged for them plus the 2nd Officer, the galley cook, and myself to stay there, while the yacht and the crew, along with Brady, head to Invercargill to check in with NZ Customs and Border Control, and to get restocked with supplies.

This would keep them out of any official paper trail that could be traced by those trying to hunt them down, and it was just before we arrived at Mason Bay on Stewart Island, that Marc called for a meeting between Rebecca and her boys, Brody and myself.

“Ok, now is the time that I let you know what my plans are from now on, to keep Rebecca and the boys safe. Once the yacht has passed through customs and restocked at Invercargill, we will return to pick you up from the homestead, and from there we will be heading east.

Originally, we were going to hide out in the Fjords of Campbell Island, which is 350 nautical miles south east of our current location, which is the Southern-most Territory of New Zealand, but I have also been working on a better option, which has come through, and after a short stay at Campbell Island, we will be travelling to a remote tropical island, which is part of the Pitcairn Islands, which is 6,500 nautical miles from here.

Dulcie Island is the most eastern island of the Pitcairn group, and is uninhabited, but it does have a lagoon, that provides a safe anchorage for the yacht. I have arranged for us to be a research base for a research team of four, who will be spending five weeks with us, doing research on the islands.

We will be collecting the researchers from the main Pitcairn Island, which is 285 nautical miles west of Dulcie Island, and along with a restock of supplies, we will go straight to our destination. Now because of the remoteness of the island, I feel that Rebecca and the boys should be very safe, so Brady, if you would like to disembark at Inverness and return home, that will be fine with me, I will make all the arrangements for your travels and accommodation,” Marc announced.

“I would like to stay on the yacht while visiting Campbell Island, but I think I would like to miss the extended trip to the Pacific,” I commented, which I saw caught Marc totally by surprise. “Err, ok. Well in that case if you like you can go at the same time as Brady back to Western Australia, if you wish,” Marc responded, sounding a little annoyed, which surprised me.

“Ok, lets discuss this a bit more once we have dropped off Rebecca and family, and maybe you, Dev had better come with us to Inverness, so as to show your presence while we go through customs,” Brady suggested, and agreeing with that, I stood up and left the saloon.

Instead of retreating to my VIP cabin, I headed downstairs, as far as the lower deck and from the boarding foyer, I went through the crew door into the Engine Corridor, and the garage Corridor, until I reached the Breach Club Lounge, which I knew is rarely used when at sea, and where I knew that it had everything that I needed to hide out for a while.

It as about fifteen minutes after I felt the yacht moving again, that there was a yacht wide announcement over the PA system, “Attention all hands, this is the Captain, Mr Alpike, please report to the bridge, that is all,” and I waited for a few minutes, before going to the bar area and picking up the phone.

“Captain, this is Devlin here, I am fine, I just want some time to myself, and I do not want to be disturbed. That is all.” I said before ending the call. After spending four hours by myself in the Beach Club lounge area, I headed back to the main areas of the yacht, and I was about to enter the lift from the boarding foyer, when the 2nd Officer saw me.

“Mr Alpike, there you are, we have a very worried owner and best mate who are concerned about your whereabouts, even after the crew have failed to locate you,” the officer said to me, and I glanced at the door where I had just come from.

“Ah, of course, why didn’t I think of that… I will remember that location next time, but I will also keep it too myself where you were hiding,” the 2nd Officer said to me, and I just smiled before he joined me in the elevator, and we went up to the bridge on the upper deck.

“Look who I found in the elevator,” 2nd Officer said as we entered the bridge, with me following him inside. “There you are, I have been worried about you mate. Are you ok?” Brady asked me sounding concerned, “Yes, I am fine. How close are we to Inverness?” I responded. “Another two hours to go, Mr Alpike,” the Captain replied, “Ok, I will be in the Sky Lounge, care to join me Brady,” I said. “Yes mate. I will speak to you later Captain,” Brady replied, before following me out of the bridge, and down the passage to the Sky Lounge in the Aft of this deck.

“So, where were you hiding so well, that not even the crew could find you?” Brady asked me once we sat down, “that is my secret to keep, lets just relax until we get to port shall we,” I replied, and Brady sighed and nodded his head yes. After the steward had left after taking our drinks and snack orders, Brady turned to face me again.

“Are you going to come back to Fremantle with me?” he asked, “I’m not sure, I like Marc very much but all of this luxury is just a bit too much for me, I just don’t like… well you know how I feel,” I responded. “Yes, I do, and you are most welcome to come back with me and live onboard the Anders Way, that cabin will be there for you any time that you need it,” Brady replied.

During an overnight stop in Inverness to clear customs, I said farewell to Brady as he left the yacht to return home, while I would remain onboard for the trip to Campbell Island, and after we had restocked with supplies, we headed back out to sea, to make the six-hour journey back to Stewart Island, arriving just before sunset, and our guests and crew members reboarded the yacht.

At dawn the next morning, we set sail once again, continuing south towards Campbell Island, which would take us 26 hours to reach, and that was with good weather, but unfortunately that was not the case for us, as we battled rough seas for the whole journey, which made it quite uncomfortable for all, especially for Rebecca and her boys who suffered a lot of sea sickness on the journey.

When we arrived at the southern most point of the island, the yacht turned northwards, and entered Monument Harbour, and right away the yacht settled as the seas calmed down, much to the relief of all onboard, and eventually we slowed right down. “All crew to Port and Starboard watch on the main deck,” an announcement by the Captain over the PA was announced, and I knew that this meant one thing, as I dashed out of my suite, and headed for the bridge.

“Captain, are we doing a close quarters manoeuvre?” I asked as I burst into the bridge unannounced, “Yes Mr Alpike we are, we have a very narrow passage, that I think we can get through at high tide, and if we succeed, then we will be very well hidden from the outside world,” the Captain replied, as I headed outside and stood next to the 1st Officer, who was at the side station.

For a distance of just ninety metres, we passed through a very narrow passage, with just centimetres on each side to spare, but we made it through and we were now safely inside what is known as Six Foot Lake, which is just 940 metres long and 500 metres wide, and at usual sea level, the entry passage that we passed through is usually just 4 metres wide.

With an unusually high tide, we were able to get through the passage with a squeeze, considering that the yacht is 13.5 metres wide, over three times the usual width of the passage. “So how are we going to get back out again?” I asked once we re-entered the Bridge, after we stopped and drifted a little.

“A bit of patience and a lot of luck,” Marc replied having just entered the Bridge. “What about our draft, will we have enough room underneath?” I asked, “Probably not, we will just have to wait and see once the sea levels drop, if need be, we may have to put prop in place to keep the yacht upright,” the Captain replied.

“Oh, I don’t like the sounds of that, sounds very unsafe,” I commented, “I must admit, it will be a new experience for me too, but since Rebecca and the boys safety is at hand, I decided that it was worth taking the risk,” Marc stated. Why don’t we just find a small cove somewhere, that is easier to get in and out of just in case we are discovered, since there is no means of escape if they do find us?” I commented.

“On better reflection, you may be correct there, but we may be a bit too late now,” Marc commented, as he turned to face the Captain, who quickly did some checks on the computer, and on the navigation screen. “It will be damn close, but I think we could possibly do it,” the Captain said, as he walked up to the helm, “All hands, prepare for emergency return back out to harbour,” he announced over the PA, before slamming he engines into action and quickly turned the yacht around.

Once again, we approached the passage very slowly, but this time it looked like that we had no room left to get through, and I wondered if we would be jammed stuck in the passage. I watched from outside the bridge, alongside the 1st Officer, and when we were just fifteen metres from entering the harbour, the loud scrapping sound, had the 1st Officer put the yacht into complete stop, and the Captain stepped outside.

“How does it look? Have we sustained any major damage?” the Captain asked, “Not sure sir, we will have to go down and inspect it, once the water level has dropped some more,” the 1st Officer replied. “So close, but still so far,” the Captain commented, as we all headed back inside, and together we headed down to the main deck and headed aft and down the stairs to the swim platform, which was now open.

After taking a quick look, the Captain turned and headed back up to the main deck, with the 1st Officer, Marc and I close behind, and from the Entry foyer, the entry platform was lowered, which comes out two metres from the side of the yacht, and we all stepped on to have a look down the side of the yacht.

It was now quite clear that we are well and truly stuck in place, with the water level well clear of the bottom of the yacht. “I think we will be here for some time, I am afraid Mr Stalder, the Captain said to Marc, “Yes, it does appear so, but now we don’t have to worry about the yacht tipping over do we,” Marc replied.

I sat down on the deck and carefully swivelled my legs over and turned over onto my belly, before slowly lowering myself off the platform, until I felt the rocks under my feet. “What on earth are you doing?” Marc said to me, “Relax, I will be fine, I am just going to do a bit of a scout around to see if there is any damage,” I responded, “I think I will join you Mr Alpike,” the 1st Officer said, as he did the same as me.

After we did a thorough look around the yacht paying close attention to where the yacht is in contact with the rocks that it sits on, and much to our relief, there appeared to be no damage whatsoever, and returning to the boarding platform, with the assistance of a ladder that had been retrieved for us to get back onboard, we reported to Mar and the Captain on what we had seen on our inspection.

“Ok, that is good news, now lets get some ropes over the side and secure the yacht into place, just in case we get some wild weather and it brings in some heavy swells. If it does, then we can cut the lines when the water level is high enough and try and get out of this predicament,” the Captain ordered to his 1st Officer.

For the first few days, we all stayed fairly close to the yacht, with the officers daily checking the ropes, to make sure that the yacht would not move from its current place. Marc and I went and explored a little further out, and were climbed some of the surrounding hills, to get a better view of the island.

It was two and a half weeks later that we retreated to the yacht, with an approaching storm. Thankfully with the yacht not using fuel for travelling, we still have plenty of fuel to run the generators to keep everything running smoothly, which included the radar system, which alerted us to the approaching storm.

We had a briefing on what to expect with the storm, and we made sure that everything was secured ready for the rough weather ahead. For the first few hours of the storm, we stayed put onboard the yacht, but when the yacht started to move and scrape against the rocks, the crew got to work to prepare to launch the yacht if the water level gets high enough to get free.

When the water level started to get high, the Captain started up the yacht’s engines, as the crew watched anxiously for the water to be high enough, and suddenly we felt the yacht move, and I held my breath as we started to drift forward, and slowly we cleared the passage, and soon we were clear and in the harbour.

Copyright September 2022 All Rights are Reserved, Preston Wigglesworth
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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That was one crazy journey.

Devlin wants to leave because he doesn't like all the luxury,no mention of how he feels for Marc.

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Devlin did say “I like Marc very much but all of this luxury is just a bit too much for me, I just don’t like… well you know how I feel,”

So it is possible that there is a relationship possibly, but he has to get used to the wealth.  Back to the parents estate which his siblings may be hiding from him. That could change his net worth and maybe make it easier.  Seems like he wants to make his own way in the world.

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Devlin says that he intends to leave the ship (but then doesn't--grrr); and while Marc may be annoyed at his actions, he doesn't try to force Devlin to stay. (In fact, what has Marc done over all these weeks to forward a relationship with Devlin?  That said, it's not at all clear that Devlin even likes him:  when Devlin says, "I'm not sure, I like Marc very much," the comma is likely standing in for the word that. Otherwise, the phrase "I'm not sure" doesn't even make sense in this context.)

I agree with @weinerdog and @drsawzall that the Captain should have refused to risk the yacht and its passengers by entering a dangerous channel (the job isn't worth it).  He doesn't even try to change his employer's mind, and it takes Devlin to point out their jeopardy. (However, I have to admit that the scene is exciting!)

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