The Flying Circus surged forward, the wind was steady and it seemed she never met a wave she didn't like. They were far enough offshore to avoid the reefs, but not far enough to be effected by the north flowing gulfstream. Dave was searching for updated satellite images on his laptop because although it was a bit early for tropical storms they should not be ignored. The captain commented quietly that he didn't like the looks of this sun set and some of its cloud patterns.
Christopher Columbus's logbook had a story in it about a Spanish fleet of treasure ships that were about to depart Havana, Cuba. Columbus warned the captains that they would be well advised to wait for a week or so because the local Indians had cautioned him that a tropical storm was approaching. The Spanish captains ignored the warning and not one of those ships were ever seen again.
"Son," suggested the Captain, "Give Jesse a call and ask him if he will fly to Key West Airport the day after tomorrow and tell him that we will meet him at the airport."
"OK," hesitated Dave, "But I'd rather have a tooth pulled than tell him about the necklace."
"He already knows about the necklace," assured the Captain, "He'll be glad to have it for his museum's collection and truth be known he probably slipped some escudos in his pocket while you weren't looking, so offer to swap him the necklace for the loot he took—even Steven."
Suddenly a dreaded chore turned into an opportunity to bust Big Jesse's hump. Dave dialed Jesse's cell number and when he answered Dave, told him that he had a confession to make. "When we were excavating the treasure and you were refueling the generator," explained Dave, "I pocketed a necklace for a finders fee."
"Well Dave, my boy, I knew that when I saw your girlfriend wearing it at our last cookout, but I let it slide because you had already given it to her and your Dad reminded me that there's a little larceny in every human heart," exclaimed Jesse.
"I'll say there is," exclaimed Dave, you pocketed some of the loot too, so let's say we do a trade, the necklace for the loot you took?" "Of all the nerve," blustered Jesse, "How dare you accuse me of such a thing!" But they both knew he was as guilty as Dave and so, he reluctantly agreed to the swap. "Dad asked me to tell you that we should be in Key West the day after tomorrow and, he wanted to know if you would fly down there and meet us?"
"I'll give you a heads-up tomorrow," said Jesse and Dave ended the call.
The Captain turned to starboard into the Straits of Florida. The current coming out of the Gulf of Mexico slowed their speed over the bottom to a crawl. To make matters worse the wind shifted too and they were bucking both wind and current. The Captain mentioned again that he didn't like the looks of the clouds up ahead. Although nothing ominous showed up on the satellite pictures, he started the engine, rolled up the headsail and asked Dave to drop the mainsail. Dave hustled to the mast and released the main halyard's spool brake, but it only dropped about a foot before it jammed. Try as Dave might the sail would not come down; evidently the sheave had split and jammed the halyard's cable. This prompted a string of profanity from the Captain and while they pondered the problem a sudden blast of wind hit them and drove them crossways to the waves.
"Whoa," exclaimed the Captain, as he muscled the bow back to its original heading.
Aura, who had until then, stayed in the V-berth scrambled topside to see what was the problem? The Captain suggested she should take the helm while he put Dave in the bosons chair and winched him aloft. Aura instead suggested the Captain stay at the helm while she got into the boson's chair and had Dave winch her aloft--she could fix the problem. There was no time for debate and since Aura weighed much less than Dave he liked her idea better—but could she do it?
Before the Captain could comment further, Aura was in the boson's chair and Dave was cranking her up the mast. In no time she was at the masthead where she fastened herself off. She used a pry bar to pop the halyard loose and that allowed Dave to lower the mainsail. It was obvious that this was not her first trip up the mast and she knew exactly what needed to be done. After the main was secured Dave lowered Aura safely down to the deck where she suggested the Captain and Dave should take a break and let her take a turn at the helm.
The Captain gave her their heading and without further comment she took the helm. Not long after Arua took over the wind stopped completely and the foul current coming thru the Straits was moving faster than their diesel could propel them forward. The current was about to start moving them backwards so she dropped anchor and shut off the engine.
The Captain heard the anchor chain running through the chocks and the engine stop and he came out of his cabin and asked Dave to go topside and find out what the devil was going on up there? Dave soon returned and, he was laughing. When the Captain asked him what was so funny, he said that she had tricked the two boats behind her. While we were messing with the main, two other sailboats almost caught us, but now they're ¾ mile or more behind us. They were tacking back and forth and the smoke from their exhaust was self-evident—they were at full throttle and wondering why we were sailing faster then them? When Aura stuck us to the bottom the other boats started moving backwards—they're sailing backwards and don't know it chuckled Enzo.
"Son," exclaimed the Captain, "I'm beginning to believe Aura knows more about boat handling than we do-she's a remarkable young woman."
Dave could hardly believe his ears, but Aura's fearless trip up the mast in the boson's chair during the blow must have made a believer out of him? Aura soon came below and asked the Captain if his stove worked? Dave shuddered because the last person that commented on the galley's condition provoked a rude remark from the Captain, but this time, he remained silent.
Aura passed around some homemade jerky and fixed a pot of hot tea. They enjoyed the snack and then she pulled out some homebaked cookies that nicely finished it all off—it was a welcome treat. After their snack was finished Aura went topside to stargaze and meditate and Dave, of course, went with her. Dave was hoping for a chance at romance, but she remained aloof and wasn't interested in his advances. She reminded him that they were not even engaged yet and he should keep his snoopy hands to himself. To be continued....