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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 - 9. Tough Chapter 9

“Ok, can you tell me a bit about the other yacht you have been on?” Sam asked me, “Well, she is called Anders Way, and she is a 46-metre catamaran yacht, and it has room for eight crew and has five guest cabins,” I replied, “Ok, sounds like it is a Sunreef Sailing yacht,” Sam replied, “Yes, it is, and it is awesome when all the sails are out,” I replied smiling.

“Sounds like you have only just discovered sailing recently and that you enjoy it a lot. So, what made you leave there?” Sam asked, and I was starting to get a bit worried with this question and started to fidget a bit. “Well, when I was kicked out of home, I was living in a caravan for a while, and there was an incident at the caravan park which resulted in me starting to get panic attacks.

Being around strangers all the time, just wasn’t helping me get over the panic attacks, so I told my friends that I would be leaving and heading off somewhere to live and work, and I have been on the road ever since, doing a little bit of work here and there, which hasn’t been that long,” I replied nervously.

“Ok, so once you get used to regular people around you, you are, ok?” Sam asked me in a concerned voice, and I nodded my head yes, “Ok good, let me show you around my fishing vessel and you can decide after that if you want to join,” Sam said to me, as he led the way towards his boat.

“As you can see, it has three cabins, mine near the wheelhouse, the senior crew twin bunk cabin, and the main crew forward quad bunk cabin, where my Engineer and Senior Deckhand are,” Sam replied. “I would have thought they would have had the other twin cabin,” I replied, and Sam chuckled.

“Well, they did for a while, but then things got serious, and they decided that they wanted the extra space, since…” Sam said stopping before the end of his sentence, “Since they become a couple?” I asked smiling, and again Sam chuckled and nodded his head yes.

“That is not an issue with me, as I have a couple of friends who are gay,” I replied, deciding to keep my sexuality to myself for now. “That is wonderful to hear, and I too have no issues with them, and I am glad that you do too. The boys are just doing some shopping for supplies at the moment, so they will be back in about an hour, so how about we get your luggage from the motel and get you settled into the other twin cabin, where you can live onboard full time,” Sam said to me.

“That would be great thanks Sam, but what about my vehicle?” I asked, “That’s, not a problem, we can leave it in the back yard at my place, where it will be safe,” Sam said to me. Twenty minutes later, I had parked my car in Sam’s back yard, after be took me to the motel, arranged for me to check out, while I packed up everything of mine, and I followed him to his place.

“Josie, this is my new deck hand / galley hand, Devlin Alpike. Devlin, this is my wife Josephine, and we have a little one - Lily, who I presume is sleeping, and she is two years old,” Sam said to me as he introduced me to his wife. After a brief chat, we headed off in Sam’s Ute, back to the harbour, where two young men were busy loading supplies onto the boat.

“Hey boys, we have a new crew member, Devlin,” Sam called out to the lads, who looked to be around their mid-20’s in age, “Hey boss, can he cook?” one of them asked and I chuckled at this question, “Just the basics, but I do not burn food, so you may be safe,” I replied, which had both lads smiling.

“Your hired,” they said in unison, and Sam laughed at this, “you guys are always good for a laugh, and you’re too late, I have already employed him,” Sam said to them. “Hey, I am Jedd, and this is my partner in crime Liam,” one of the lads said to me, and I shook their hands.

“Devlin has the twin cabin, so you can keep your love nest, and he will be staying onboard when we are in port,” Sam announced to the other two crew members, “We have a small apartment in town that we rent, so we can have some on land time, when not working,” Jedd explained.

Once all of the supplies were on board and stored away, we set off out of the harbour just before sunset, where we would be spending the next few days out at sea, and I was a little bit nervous about been out in the open oceans for the first time. Four days later, we returned to the Bandy Creek Harbour in Esperance, with a full catch of fish, and even thou it was long days and nights, the seas were not too wild, and I managed to be able to learn a bit about commercial fishing.

As well as helping to keep the fishing boat running smoothly, with a few short stints in the wheelhouse, but only when the seas were calm, and the skipper needed to spend some time on the aft deck with the other lads, I also kept everyone well fed, with the help of a couple of cook books, I was able to produce some reasonable meals.

Once the catch had been offloaded, and sent for processing, the lads and I spent some time washing down the decks, and cleaning all of the living areas, before the lads headed off home, and the boss and I went to his place for dinner, where I enjoyed a very nice home cooked roast dinner.

I drove my jeep back to the fishing boat after dinner, and with the spare set of keys, I disarmed the alarm and let myself in, and after a quick shower, I headed to bed, waking up the following morning to the sound of a thump as someone stepped onboard.

“Devlin, are you awake mate?” came the voice of one of the lads, and I climbed out of bed and quickly dressed, and made my way to the main saloon area of the boat. “Hey guys, what time is it, and why are you here, I thought we have two days off?” I asked the lads, who were seated in the lounge area drinking coffee.

“We thought you better have a look at that,” Liam said to me, as he pointed to the copy of the State newspaper in front of them. “Article on page three that may catch your attention,” Jedd added, as I picked up the paper and did as was suggested, and there I saw two pictures, one of me taken fairly recently when on the Charter yacht, and one of my mangled-up car.

“WA Police are asking the general public to look out for Mr Devlin Alpike, aged twenty-one years, last seen a few weeks ago in Fremantle. His badly damaged Ute was found in bushland, just off the main road leading into the town of Mullewa, in the Mid-West of the state, but it is uncertain when his vehicle was involved in an accident. Please contact the police if you know of the whereabouts of Mr Alpike.”

“I guess I better go to the police station and let them know that I am alive and well,” I said to the lads, and after having a bit of breakfast, I drove into the middle of town to the nearest police station, only to find that it was closed, which I wasn’t too pleased about.

A note on the door stated that all enquiries were to be made by contacting the Police Communications Centre in Perth, so I headed to the nearest phone box to make the call. “Hello, my name is Devlin Alpike, I just saw the newspaper article that was asking for my whereabouts. I am currently living and working in the Great Southern, and I am fit and well,” I stated when the call was answered, and I gave them my full name and date of birth, and the town where I was born for identification purposes.

When asked to go and report to the nearest police station, I told them that I had, and that it was closed so this was why I was making the telephone call, sounding frustrated with how this was panning out. I was then asked what town I am located in, and I just staid that I am in a Great Southern Coastal town, and that I will be away for a week due to work, so I will try the police station again when I return, before hanging up.

I sat down for a few moments to calm down a little, before returning to the phone box and dialling a new number, and waited for it to be answered, but all I got was a recorded message, “Hey this is Brady Anderson, leave a message after the beep and I will get back to you…” and I groaned, as the beep sounded in my ear.

“Hey Brady and Kyle, this is Devlin. I am fine, I am currently in Esperance doing a bit of work as a deckhand on a fishing boat of all things. Spent a short while doing some gardening on a cattle station just east of Boulder but had some issues with one of the station workers, so I moved on.

I still haven’t got a replacement mobile phone, and I am heading out to sea again for a few days, so I will try and remember to get one when the boat gets back into harbour. Don’t worry about me, I am doing good at the moment, and I have had no more panic attacks since leaving Mullewa, where I had the rollover, and spent a few days in hospital.

I have left a message with Police Communications to let them know that I am alive and well, as the local Police Station was not open, when I called in just now. Talk to you soon mates, bye,” I said leaving the message for Brady and Kyle.

Once I had finished the second call, I jumped back into my Jeep and headed back to the Boat Harbour, where I found the lads still there. “How did it go? What did the Cops have to say?” Liam asked me, “It didn’t, no one was there, so I left a message with Police communications, and when they suggested that I report to the nearest police station, I hung up on them, stupid idiots,” I replied, which made both lad's chuckle.

“I will have to agree with you on that one mate,” Jedd said to me, “By the way, the boss called, we are going out again tomorrow, as the weather has been very kind to us at the moment, so we only get today off. We will be back a bit later with more supplies, so we will see you then,” Liam said to me, before they left the boat, leaving me on my own again.

I decided to head to the wheelhouse and to spend some time studying the coastal charts for the area, to get a bit of an idea, what the ocean are like in the area, and also to check out the many islands of the Recherche Archipelago, that are part of the region, including over 100 islands, and 1200 rocky outcrops, that can make navigating very tricky in the area.

“There you are, oh that is good to see, doing some navigation studies, a good way to advance in the business,” Sam said to me when he arrived, “Just seeing what I am letting myself into with this new line of work,” I replied smiling, “I must admit, it can be very challenging, especially when the seas pick up, but for now we have some good weather ahead of us, but even then, it can change very quickly,” Sam said.

I followed Sam out to the main deck, and watched him for the next hour, as he did a series of checks with the main engine, generator and pumps, and I assisted him when he asked for it. Just as we finished, the lads arrived with another heap of supplies, and we got to work to pack it all away.

I was informed that we would be out for six days this time, as we would be going out deeper in the ocean, and a lot further south too, and an hour before leaving, Sam ran through all the safety protocols that he has in place, to keep everyone safe and out of harm.

Once again, we set off just before sunset, and once clear of the Archipelago Islands, I spent a few hours at the helm, so Sam could get some sleep, and one of the lads would check on me every hour and keep me supplied with drinks and snacks to keep me going.

Once I was in my bed, I slept for a good six hours, and it was mid-morning, before I appeared on deck, freshly showered, and ready to work. “Good morning, did you get enough sleep?” Sam asked me, when I arrived in the wheelhouse.

“Yes skipper, six hours, and I am ready for work,” I replied. “Good, we are still a fair way of from our first drop off point, so get started on some meal prep, as it will be soon after lunch when we start work,” Sam responded, and I nodded my head and headed for the very small kitchen area just behind the skipper's cabin.

When we had a very full load of fish onboard, after five days at sea, we were all happy to be heading home, and that was still a good eight hours sail away, with me at the help, Sam and the lads were busy cleaning up, and making sure all the equipment is properly secured, as we had some rough weather approaching us.

When the rough weather did arrive, with still five hours of sailing till we get to home port, Sam took over at the helm, while I made sure everything inside was fully secured, including the galley, dry food stores, refrigerated stores, and also all the furniture. With everyone now indoors, and all external windows closed and locked, we did our best to stay focused on looking forward to getting home, but has the hours passed, the weather worsened, and we found ourselves in the worst storm that Sam has ever experienced.

We were tossed around for a total of six hours, and in that time, Sam just concentrated on staying afloat, and staying well away from any known rocks and islands, which meant sailing further east than usual, and as the sun raised, the seas calmed dramatically, and I was asked to take over at the helm, so the skipper could get some rest.

“We are just two kilometres east of Cooper Island, which is 17 nautical miles south of Cape Arid, and 102 nautical miles east of Esperance, so we still have a distance to go, and it will take us another seven hours to get back to Esperance. Keep a close eye on the radar, and keep clear of all rocks and islands,” Sam instructed me, as he left the wheelhouse.

On the journey home, Sam and I took it in turns to be at the helm, and Sam did the last shift as we cruised past Mondrian Island, just 11 nautical miles south of Cape Le Grand, where a lot of the islands are located, and we were now just over two hours away from port.

We were all very happy when we approached the Bandy Creek Harbour entrance, but my happiness soon ended up being confused and mixed emotions, when we rounded the corner and moored at the main wharf was the motor yacht Blue Seal. “Holy Cow, look at the size of that monster yacht,” Jedd said out loud, which caught everyone’s attention, and I groaned on hearing that.

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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