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Rated: E · Fiction · Contest Entry · #2088331
Writer's Cramp 6/24, prompt specifics below, Word count: 900, Winner
The clouds started rolling in from the south and stacking up over Georgetown, Great Exuma, Bahamas. The bottom layer looked like a shelf for the rest of the clouds to accumulate upon. The darkened morning sky told a sailor like me to beware.

The wind started picking up and snatched my boat forty-five degrees to the left and in a matter of seconds, pointed her to the south. The seven mile long and one mile wide harbor is sheltered by Georgetown to the west and Stocking Island to the east. The length of the harbor and the wind coming from the south allowed the fetch to create significant waves.

The storm the night before kept me awake and on alert, so all I wanted to do was take a nap as the boat bobbed and weaved over the increasing waves. There would be no sleeping until the storm passed as I had to protect my floating home, Dutchess, a forty foot long and twenty foot wide sailing catamaran.

I turned on the instruments to measure the wind speed and let the GPS keep up with my position as anchors did not always hold a boat firmly in the sand and grass. Twenty-five knots with gusts over thirty. The waves were over a foot tall and growing.

At the south entrance to the harbor, I spotted three waterspouts kicking water up into the atmosphere. I called on the VHF radio to let everyone know the mini tornadoes were close by and to keep an eye out for further formations. Several bolts of lightning shot from the clouds with sizzling cracks, followed by earth shattering thunder. Dutchess' metal mast reached sixty-three feet into the lightning filled sky and each bolt rattled my nerves as I feared we would be struck like so many of our friends causing tens of thousands in damage.

The wind was over forty with gusts to forty-eight. The waves were around two feet causing the boat to pitch about as they crashed into her. Clouds of sand whiten the water as the boat pulled on and straightened the hundred feet of chain that tethered Dutchess to the ocean floor, a mere ten feet below the surface.

The rain started falling heavily, beating down on the boat and stinging my skin as it found its way past the bimini that covered the cockpit. The winds increased to over fifty so I started the two diesel engines and put the boat in forward to take the tension off the anchor.

The chaos in the harbor was communicated on the radio. Boats were dragging their anchors, crashing into each other, being pushed on to the beach and sadly into the rocks. One boat gathered up four others as it's anchor skipped across the sand looking for purchase but only finding other anchor chains. I had been there before and I could hear the sickening crunch. It made me want to throw up as I sat in the rain at the helm, hoping I stayed put and that no one hit me.

The wind howled through the lines and rigging on Dutchess and the wind generator sounded like a airplane about to take flight. I needed to go turn the wind generator off, but the switch was in the most inconvenient place; at the back of the boat in an engine compartment. I closed my eyes, gathered my resolve and slipped into my life jacket. I put the autopilot on to hold my position while I opened the heavy engine compartment door and secured it so it doesn't kill me while I'm on my stomach wiggling to reach the switch as the waves try to dislodge me overboard, which is only a mere foot away.

I got back up on my feet just in time to see a huge bolt of lightning hit the water. A deafening clap of thunder quickly followed and made me squeeze my eyes shut and raise my shoulders up near my ears. It also sent the two dogs skittering back inside the boat, which is where they needed to stay, so I closed the cockpit door behind them. All of the electronics were still functional, I saw as I returned to the helm to watch for boats.

I tried to zip the windshield up but there was too much wind. Why didn't I do this earlier? The rain drops stung so I held my arm up before my face to block the assault. I felt the boat jerk against the anchor chain so I increased the power of the engines to hold the boat steady in the wind of over 60 knots. I'm thankful this storm occurred during the day, instead of a black moonless night where everything is much more frightening.

I recognized the blurry backend of a friend's boat moving through the anchorage to my left. "Sophia, Sophia, Dutchess. Are you okay?" I called out on the radio.

"Dutchess, we can't get the engine started and we're dragging," Diana's frantic voice told the story of their peril.

Powerless, I watched them drift backwards afraid of what may befall my friends and of what may be lurking ahead of me.

Soaking wet and chilled, I held on to the helm seat and surveyed my surroundings. This was how we responded to Mother Nature's fury. This was my life on Dutchess.


New Prompt: After an awful night sleep, caused by thunderstorms, an overload of water and more nature violence, you'll prepare yourself for work.

Choose one of the video's from the following news websites

Roll clouds chosen (link messes up formatting of item)
and write from your perspective, what happens and what is going on in your mind at that moment.
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