Dave, (everybody called him Shark Boy), helped Lillie aboard Dream Weaver while his mom scurried about the main cabin putting things in order. After Lillie descended into the cabin Dave put the hatch boards in place and slid the hatch cover closed so they could have some privacy. Tomorrow was Saturday, and if things went as planned he would be underway for British Tortola before the women awoke. It was obvious that Lillie and Jini were going to be famous friends because there was a smothered outburst of feminine snickers wafting up from the cabin. The newfound friends steeped their kindred spirits in the reviving wine of girl talk while they planned the next day’s adventures. Their conversation dragged up past episodes about old boy friends and, of course, current episodes, pranks and shenanigans that Dave’s Dad and Big Jesse had pulled.
Dave ignored their giggling, but nevertheless wished he could hear what his Dad and Big Jessie were saying over in the Flying Circus—the lights were on in the other boat’s cabin, and he knew that a secret plot to excavate the cave was in progress. Dave got a few hours sleep, and then early the next morning woke up to see, in the dawn’s first weak light, that the cabin lights were still burning aboard the Flying Circus. Big Jesse was climbing down a boarding ladder to his powerboat, and to whatever he and Dave’s dad had planned. It had apparently taken them all night to work everything out.
His mother and Lillie below deck were now asleep, so he splashed water on his face, rubbed the sleep from his eyes, jumped into the dinghy and headed for the fresh fruit stand. Jesse, of course, beat him to the dock and was rigging a spring line by the time Dave got there.
“Ahoy, Shark Boy,” said Jesse. “I hear Darlene stayed aboard Dream Weaver last night.”
“Yes,” nodded Dave, “Darlene told Mom you dragged her down here and then abandoned her to go treasure hunting.”
“Well, crap happens,” Jesse huffed, “How was I to know what you guys found down here while I was gone? The least you could’ve done was phoned, or sent me an email.”
“No way,” said Dave, “You know Pop’s stipulation about things this sensitive. It’s only shared toe-to-toe, knee-to-knee, chest-to-chest, and lips-to-ear with one hand over the lips in case there’s some shiftless, lip-reading skunk watching. What did you and Pop decide last night?”
“Well,” said Jesse, “You’ll have to ask your Dad how much more he thinks you ought to be told, but I think it’s safe to tell you this much. After I get some sleep, I’ll get us a court order to search for human remains on Lovango, locate a GPR—a Ground Penetrating Radar—on wheels, and then we’ll need you to show us that cave.”
“First things first,” said Dave, “Mom and I are taking Lillie, I mean Darlene, to the West End Yacht Club for lunch today, and we won’t be back until tonight.”
Jessie bristled at the thought of Jini gossiping about him to Darlene, and was curious how Dave knew Darlene’s middle name when he didn’t, but he let it slide because he was tired and glad to have her out if his hair.
“If I were you, Shark Boy, I wouldn’t be expecting a gratuity from Darlene, because she’s as tight with her money as she is with her lovin’—I thought if I could get her down here away from her mother, I might get lucky, but oh boy, was I ever wrong. Darlene has already cost me a small fortune for her extra luggage and steamer trunk—they made me pay $2,000 extra for her airline ticket—and now I’ll have to pay your mom for an all day sail. And now she’s hinting around that I should buy her a new hat for this year’s Kentucky Derby.”
Dave wanted out of any further discussions along that line, so he excused himself and hurried on to the fresh fruit stand just as the vendor was putting out the contents of a big bag of freshly picked fruit that he had just brought in. Then he stopped by the bakery and bought fresh baked bread and rolls.
His next stop was the back door of Boss Penny’s bar where Chef Pierre was busy fixing today’s special.
“Bonjour, Shark Boy!” said Pierre, “Comment allez-vous? What eez up?”
“We’re on our way to Tortola,” said Dave, “Mom needs her usual supply of vodka, two gallons of orange juice, and two magnums of Champagne.”
“D’accord, pas de problème,” said Pierre, “Fine, no problem. You know where it eez, help yourself.”
Dave had both arms full as he hurried back to the dock, loaded the supplies into the dinghy, and raced back to the Dream Weaver just in time for the sunrise. Dave tied the painter to an aft-cleat on Dream Weaver, stowed the supplies, and made ready the sails and sheet lines. He unhooked from the mooring ball and let the outgoing tide turn him around. He raised the main and unfurled the headsail, and as the wind caught them, they were underway—headed for Tortola! He noticed his dad’s cabin lights were out and imagined that his dad was by now fast asleep.
The further offshore they got, the stronger the breeze blew. By the time they were approaching the east-west passage between Henley Cay and Rata Cay, Dave saw a nasty surface chop in the passage caused by the current running against the wind. At that same instant the hatch cover slid back and Lillie started coming topside. Dave, in a stern but firm voice, ordered her to stay below until they were through the passage. Lillie was shocked, but obeyed his order, especially after she saw the look on his face.
Dave held a sheet line in each hand, steering with his knee, and ready to cut everything loose and start the motor if necessary. He closely observed their ground speed to ensure they had enough momentum to carry them safely through the passage. Many less experienced sailors ended up on the rocks in this passage. Although he lost some of his hull speed as he fell off the wind to stay centered in the channel, he still had enough momentum to carry them through it. Once through the passage, Dave reset his compass course, trimmed the sails, and heaved a sigh of relief.
Jini had known what was going on the minute she peeked over the top of the hatch and saw the rocks on Henley Cay, but she said nothing because she trusted her son’s boat handling skills. She quietly asked Lillie if she would like some orange juice, and then gave her a glass of Champagne with a little orange juice in it. As Lillie sipped at it, it began to take the edge off of her nervousness. Before long the new best friends were laughing and chatting again about everything under the sun.
Lillie said her Daddy warned her that Jesse was a rascal with a roving eye, but that’s what everybody had said about her Daddy too. “I guess it takes one to know one,” she said. “Mama said Daddy was a rounder, and before I left for down here she said that she wished Daddy would have another affair because the last time she caught him he felt so guilty that he bought her all new furniture. Jini remarked, “That’s more than I got for catching Dave’s Daddy,” and the giggling started again …