Before the party ended, Dave (everybody called him Shark Boy) asked his Dad, “Hey, Pop! Can I borrow the “Flying Circus” and take Aura for a night sail?”
“Of course,” said the captain, “A servant supplicates, but a son appropriates.” Anyway, I’m staying ashore tonight because I have an early flight scheduled tomorrow, and don’t forget about our annual deer hunt.”
Every November 2, it’s his dad’s birthday and he returns to the place of his birth (Fort Wayne, IN) to hunt deer. Dave follows two weeks later to minimize the days of school he must miss.
A full moon lighted Aura and Dave’s path to where his dad’s dinghy was docked. The party was in full swing, but they wanted to be alone. Aura operated the dinghy as they approached the Flying Circus. The Columbia Fifty’s graceful lines, slender transom and upswept teakwood deck were an impressive sight in the moonlight. In one swift move, Enzo was over the stern pulpit securing the painter to an aft cleat. Aura hit the kill switch on the outboard motor and Dave offered his hand, but before he could speak she was standing next to him. The evening breeze freshened so they went below and commandeered two warm jackets from a hanging locker. Before they turned out the cabin light, Dave fixed them a beverage, secured the lose items in the cabin and closed the forward hatch while Aura stood ready at the helm. He removed the mooring line from its cleat, fastened a float to it, tossed it over the side and the Flying Circus was free from her mooring. The breeze caught the starboard side of the bow and swung it to Port, just as Dave had planned, so he hoisted the mainsail, unrolled the headsail and they were under way.
Aura confessed to Dave that she had never before skippered a fifty-foot sailboat, but Dave assured her that she was doing great. They made one long tack out into the sea-lane before she brought the Circus around and pointed her towards a distant passage. Dave trimmed the sails and the Circus’ rail went down on a beam reach, the stays and shrouds began to hum and Aura’s eyes widened. The “Flying Circus” had a bone in her teeth as she rode proud over the waves with her high bow–she seldom met a wave that she didn’t like. They were fast approaching Sandy Spit that overlooked the passage where earlier in the day Dave had given her a gold chain with a jeweled cross and kissed the top of her head.
They entered the narrow passage under full sail and when the wind suddenly vanished, she had enough speed and momentum to carry her safely through. Their sails soon refilled and they set their course towards Yost Van Dyke. Aura had already called home and told security that she was staying with Jini aboard the Dream Weaver and would not be home until after the funeral–she was in no hurry to get back to the reality of her mother’s funeral services.
Dave suggested they should head for an anchorage on the east end of Yost. When they reached it, he dropped the main, rolled in the headsail, dropped the hook and they went below. Dave fixed sandwiches and poured two large glasses of apple cider while he called his mother and told her where they were and gave her an ETA for getting home the next day. They talked about Aura’s plans. Then she asked Dave if he would please do one last favor for her before they parted company—would he sail with her to Isla De Culebra at Ensenada Malena, a place where her mother wished to have her ashes spread. Ensenada Malena was her mother’s favorite place in the Caribbean. Afterwards, Aura said she would have to take a flight to Burlington, NJ and begin her long delayed fall semester at St. Mary’s Prep School. Dave, without hesitation, agreed to the favor and said, “I, too, will have to leave except I’m headed for Indiana.”
They fell asleep in each other’s arms, the first time ever, but they were soon awakened by a wind shift that caused the anchor to drag—a sound Dave’s ear was keenly attuned to hear. He hoisted and secured the anchor, raided the main and unrolled the headsail and they were underway again in time to see another magnificent sunrise. The wind speed increased and salt spray was flying over them–it made their hair shine and their skin glisten in the morning sun. Another magic moment engulfed them and they seemed frozen together in time that keeps on passing—passing into the future. Their souls, without their knowledge or consent, had bonded—their hearts filled with passion, joy, happiness, silliness and wild dreams—they were engulfed in love. That they would soon be separated by a great geological difference mattered little now, because they were in each other’s arms. No words were spoken until they returned to the mooring.
It was a beautiful sight seeing them working together, each seemed to automatically know what the other was doing—as if one spirit controlled their every move. Aura brought the Circus about while Dave dropped the main and rolled in the headsail and as the Circus lost her last bit of momentum Dave was close enough to the mooring ball to snag the line and pass it through a bow chock and secure it to a cleat.
His dad’s airplane had already departed for Indiana, but Dave had other matters to attend to before he could join him. Jini picked them up in her dinghy, and after breakfast they drove to the funeral home where Aura’s sad ordeal was nearing its end. After the services ended her mother’s ashes were given to her in an urn that she carried with her to the Flying Circus. She safely stowed the urn while Dave prepared a line of position on a chart for their voyage to Isla De Culebra located about halfway between Cruz Bay and Puerto Rica.
When they arrived at Culebra; Ensenada Malena, Dave sailed a circular path around the Bay under the watchful statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary while Aura stood at the stern pulpit with tears in her eyes, pouring her mother’s ashes into the Bay. Dave resumed his course back to Cruz Bay and after he trimmed the sails Aura snuggled up next to him. When they returned to Cruz Bay, they began to prepare for their next days early flights. Early in the morning they took the first ferryboat to Red Hook and a cab from there to the St. Thomas Airport–his flight was scheduled to depart before hers. After four beautiful days together they would be soon separated. They waited together, locked in each other’s arms; hungrily kissing until they heard Dave’s boarding call. Aura watched her sweet prince walk across the tarmac to his plane, but he never looked back—he did not want her to see his tears.
Dave’s plane landed at Baer Field International Airport that afternoon and although he was happy to see his dad he already sorely missed Aura—she was all he could think about. Their first stop after the airport was Lindi’s restaurant on Calhoun Street. Dave suspected they were better friends than his dad let on, especially after his dad shared, “Oh, she’s as beautiful as ever.” According to what his dad said, they met at Chappel’s Restaurant on Broadway where the Captain went to the kitchen and showed her the finer points of filleting fish. After Chappel’s, Lindi worked at Paula’s Seafood Restaurant on Main Street and eventually opened her own restaurant on Calhoun Street. Lindi and Paula had on occasion sailed in the Caribbean with his dad where he showed them how to harvest fish with a spear gun. He speared the fish then gave them the spear and the fish to take back to the dinghy. The two extraordinary Seafood Chef’s later referred to their harvesting expedition as “walking the grouper.” But truth be known, they much preferred the safety of the dinghy to the perils of having a bloody fish on a spear while a bigger predator fish circled them. The Captain’s mind was on Lindi; but Dave’s mind was on Aura–he had an Aura-sized hole in his soul that only she could fill.