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by Mac1
Rated: E · Novel · Action/Adventure · #2180832
Story of 3 boys escaping an orphanage and their adventures
C H A P T E R 15

Once again I was at sea , my heart was content by my own accord as I danced with the rocking of the ship. No plans except my duties, no distractions barring my own thoughts. With the exception of what I was carrying in my cabin , I felt as I did on my first voyage at sea, like Columbus or Marco Polo seeking adventure. We chartered a course crossing the Atlantic , first stop would be Porto, Portugal, then Bilbao, Spain and then Le Havre, France for off loading predominantly coffee beans and sugar. Afterwards we would be stopping at Ostend, Belgium and then the final leg to Bremen.

That evening after my shift in the Navigation room, I went back to my cabin . I decided to relax and ponder my thoughts for a while before going for dinner. First I was thinking about Rose , how could she be so phony , I was so confused. Then I looked at my bag , I took a deep breath and exhaled. Inside were the tickets to freedom for former Nazi officers seeking refuge in Brazil. I didn't really know the people that these documents were going to be gifted to , nor the reasons they did what they did. I remember not long ago being a child and hearing the adults speaking of the Germans and the bombings, and I also remember the destruction of families due to this war. So many people died and suffered. Why ?

It seemed to me the problem lies when people take sides against each other, for whatever reasons. Life is full of hardships that many people cannot endure or accept, and ultimately we find something or someone to blame. And then we start fighting, like children, or worst , like mobs of evil spirits seeking our own justice. And we move from one war to another war, only changing it's name. But the reason stays the same , the inability to treat others as you would like them to treat you in return. Being human is a flawed existance. The universe is perfect , we are not. We are here to make our mistakes and accept our imperfections. Our salvation is only found by helping others before ourselves. Once the cycle of evil starts, the only thing that will stop it is forgiveness and kindness. Too many of us forget until the damage has already been done. It is important for all of us to maintain integrity within ourselves and respect for others. Once a person looses the ability to do so, then problems and disputes arise. Clearly, the war was evil , however, can we blame only a select few ? Can one truly state what induced the Lords children to create and establish the atrocities this blessed earth confronted during WWII. Is it right when a child steals another's toy ? If it is not corrected the child will continue to behave unjustly. And ultimately friction and bad behavior will arise and develop. The saying " Two wrongs don't make a right " is correct. Turning one's cheek may be considered just by some. However, turning one's cheek is too easy and not enough, one must teach and communicate by one's actions in order to prove their personal valor. My opinion is that initially the cause of the War was initially instigated by economic hardships and personal frustrations. This brought an opportunity to bring out the forces of evil, and specifically the perspective of being superior. The only superior beings are the ones that are willing to sacrifice themselves for others. There were also some good people amongst the German soldiers, I remember Patrik very well. He was following orders from his superiors and he was just as much a prisoner of evil as I was a prisoner, and he chose to risk his safety in order to save the lives of 3 young boys. We are all different and unique and we are here to help and learn from and with one another. There is good and evil in all of us . It is up to us to choose which to follow, and at that moment in time, the combined forces of evil overtook that of the forces of good. So we should all learn and remember to not allow that again. Finding Domenico and Elisetta in my life has taught me that their goodness will stay with me forever, and I intend to keep it with me and share it. And most importantly, when a person is in need, teach them to stand on their own feet. God helps those who help themselves.

I felt appeased during my first days on this new voyage , I spent my days plotting and changing course as per the Captains requests. I was really enjoying following the Captains orders and assisting with Navigation, I felt like a real seaman. However, I was having difficulty sleeping at night. I had the constant thought of the passports on my conscience and as a result I was keeping mostly to myself. That night at 3 AM I was wide awake so that I could not sleep. I was confused and trying to listen to my conscience , was it right to carry these passports ? Was Rose truly in my life only to assist with my taking this mission ? what would Domenico and Elisetta say to advise me. So I decided to write in order to explore my mind.

The Angry Young Man

He opens his eyes ,
the sun is high in the sky.
He is burdened with thoughts from last eve
that have kept him from dreaming.

Why is it we are captivated,
when classmates are wicked.
Do you like what you see,
are you inclined to the powers that be.

Your heart is Good,
but your friends are all deceivers,
and your eyes see nothing but cheaters.

Feel who you are !
hold on to your heart,
grab hold and be Bold !

The seeds you plant today
will take you far away.
Be true to yourself and find your own destiny.
For once you have arrived, you will realize ,
the greatest gift is the one you create and appreciate..

I was content with it and added it to my box of poems , went to bed and this time I fell asleep.

The following morning at breakfast I decided to sit close to the crew master. He was speaking of the new cargo container technology where cargo would first be loaded into steel containers and then loaded and stacked onto the cargo ships by crane. The idea did seem fascinating. I asked him " How will we keep track of what is going in each container " He answered me " well, that is a good question. From what I understand there will be some containers that are actually loaded at the manufacturing plant and transported to the terminal by truck. Then the crane loads it into the vessel". then I asked, " what about for smaller shipments where the client would not need to use a whole container". He answered " In those cases the containers would be loaded at our terminals according to the ultimate destinations". I was fascinated by the idea as it seemed that it would make cargo transport much more organized and efficient. The Captain walked in " Good Morning men ". We all stood up and greeted him " Good morning Sir ". The Captain said with a concerned look " I'm sorry to cut short your breakfast, however, we have a weather front coming in and we need to prepare. Emmanuel, Hans and Marco, please report to the bridge. My first mate is not feeling well this morning and I should like to have some breakfast before the seas start getting choppy. Crew master, please appoint your men to batten down the ship as we are going to have gale winds from the northeast starting around 1400 hours. Make sure the cargo is secured".

Emmanuel, Hans and I reported to the bridge as instructed. The communication officer Victor was at the helm , he looked at us " I hope you boys have strong stomachs, have a look at the weather chart. I sat at the navigation table and noticed the concern, the Low pressure was very strong and the pressure gradient lines were very close together, I had not seen them this close before. Victor said, "Marco, plot a westerly course so we can try and go around the back of this storm". I immediately got to work. Then Victor continued " Hans, I've already set our course to west, await Marco's coordinates and adjust accordingly. I need to go to the radio room and send our position and course back to Hamburg Sud headquarters". Victor started towards the door and said " Emmanuel, come with me I will need your assistance updating the weather charts".

My preliminary calculations had us traveling pretty much directly west as fast as we could make possible. I said to Hans " Hans, set us at 285 degrees and full speed while we can. We need to try and get away from the strength of this Low Pressure. I see winds of 65 knots and upwards possible, that would make for some pretty big waves, the likes I've never seen". We all worked swiftly the next few hours, the waves intensified and the howling wind was making it's appearance as the Captain came back to the bridge around 13:00 hours. " Good Afternoon gentlemen " as he entered. Hans and I replied " Good afternoon Sir ". He walked over to the helm " I see we are still heading west" , then looking at me " has the storm made any significant shifts since this morning ?". I replied , it's moving in the same south easterly direction, however, it seems to have gained strength, currently winds at the center are around 75 knots". The Captain said " let me see the latest weather chart Marco ". So I brought it to his desk and he placed it down looking at it intensly. Looking at me he said " you plotted correctly Marco, this is an intense Storm and could gain even more strength. We are going to loose a lot of time, however, this vessel would not be able to handle the 50 foot waves close to the center of this low pressure". Looking at Hans " So Hans, maintain course , however, you will need to slow us down once the waves get stronger, actually, I think that is already upon us so bring us down to 12 knots". Looking at me again " Marco, let Victor know we are slowing to 12 knots and maintaining course". Then he continued " Looking at this chart, the storm will continue south and I intend to get out of it's way".

It was 16:00 hours and the ship was climbing massive waves as we appeared to fly over the crest, only to fall back down with our bow submerging into the immense existence of blue. Even during it's tempestuous state , the sea continued to allure me. As if I were there to tame it's enraged wrath. Unexpectedly, updated weather data was received and I quickly proceeded to plot a new chart. It appeared the Low had now shifted course to the west. I suddenly felt a knot in my stomach , I knew our vessel could not outrun the storm. I alerted the Captain " Captain, I have the updated weather charts ready". " Bring them over " he said. He looked over the chart and pouted his lips " Men , we are going to be in for a rough 12 hours. Hans , change course to west south west and maintain 12 knots ". Hans followed the Captains orders and we were all getting quite tense as the ship was being turned around in the intensly agitated sea. The waves started slamming into our starboard side and the ship shuddered at each blow. We maintained course until the ships bow was being submerged with each wave. We ccould no longer attempt to out run this storm and the Captain shouted " Hans, move us around towards east quickly as possible ". Our hope was to be as far south of the eye of this storm as possible. Soon the waves were crashing portside right over the bow. With each blow the ship seemed to list portside, and then lean into the next wave starboard. The ship was being thrusted in all directions, we were no longer able to receive any communications. The Captain was standing right up to the glass trying to look into the oncoming waves. Visibility was very poor with the constant spray making the wipers useless. Up and then quickly dropping towards portside , back and forth, side to side, the ship was clearly now governed by the sea". A large wave overwhelmed us on starboard , it seemed to go right over the ship, and the subsequent swell quickly shifted the ship and nearly lied us on our portside. We all fell over and a lot of water had entered the bridge. This time the ship did not seem to snap quickly back into place". The Captain pulled himself over to the controls " we need to turn into the storm, another wave like that and we will turn over". Quickly he turned the rudder and did his best to point the ship east into the oncoming waves. Then he shouted " Marco , get a hold of the engine room, I need to know how much water we have taken on. Tell them to pump out the portside chambers first ! ". I attempted to make my way down to lower deck, the ship was swaying and jolting in all directions. An unexpected jolt caught me off guard and I fell and hit my head on a stairway railing. I sat their holding my head in pain , looked at my hand and I realized I cut myself. I got up and continued , I had not seen anyone and it was quite eerie. Once I got close to lower deck I could see the water , it was very high. I yelled out, " anyone down there ! ". I heard couple shouts back " Yes, who is there ?". I continued into the cold water and found myself waist deep. I noticed the portside chamber doors were locked and closed. I shouted to the crewman, " the Captain said to put all pumps on the portside Chamber". The crewman shouted " we locked all chambers once we saw the water coming in". He waved me on " Come with me, we need to close some valves in order to redirect the pump flow". Down below the ship did not seem to rock as violently, so we were able to move around. We diverted all the pumps to portside. I said to the crewman "stay on post and alert us if there are any changes in the water level". He replied " okay, but will you let us know if we are going to abandon ship ?". That caught me by surprise as I was not thinking of such a thing happening, however, after seeing all the water down here, that could actually be distinct possibility. I looked to him and the others " keep pumping, we are going to make it. The eye of the storm is passing well south of us , the wind will be abating soon, but we need to get the water out of the portside chamber" . He replied " there are another two pumps in the engine room, we can shift them to portside chamber, but then we risk flooding the engine room". I thought about it " switch them over to portside, we need to do get this water out quickly, we will have to take the chance". He nodded and ran off to the engine room. I yelled out " I'm going up to notify the Captain " I will be back soon ".

Once up at the bridge, the Captain could see I was out of breath and my clothes all wet, as well as bleeding on my forehead. He looked to me " what are the conditions down there ?". I took a deep breath " Captain, portside is completely flooded and all doors are locked and sealed. We have diverted all pumps including engine room pumps to portside ". The Captain looked to me " we will need to monitor the engine room, we can't afford to flood the engines. But that was a good call, if we don't pump out the portside we won't be able to sustain this much longer".
I replied to the Captain " shall I go back down below and monitor it ?". The Captain looked at my forehead " go get the first aid kit on the wall and put a bandage on your cut first " pointing to the first aid kit . We seemed to have a good approach on the turbulent sea, either the storm shifted or the Captain suceeded in turning the ship. I think the Captain may have underestimated those last swells as they nearly turned us over. The Captain asked me " how deep was the water when you arrived ". I replied as I was placing a bandage on my forehead " They had already sealed off the portside forward chambers and we were about waist deep. The engine room had about a foot of water". The Captain was worried " Marco, there are a few portable pumps down in the cargo hold, we need to get them to the engine room". Then he looked over to Hans " Hans, you go with Marco, I will man the helm". We both leaped into action and quickly sprinted for the cargo hold. I said to Hans " Do you know where these pumps are ?". He replied " Yes, there are three of them and they are quite heavy, we are going to need to find some kind of dolly or cart". I sighed " okay, well, let's go have a look around down there ".

The cargo hold was fairly dry due to all the entrances being sealed, however, the cargo was thrown about and there was damage incurred. We didn't spend time surveying the damages and focused on locating the pumps. I followed Hans as he seemed to know where they were located. Hans pointed " there behind these crates, do you see the door ?". I looked and I could see some steel doors , however, the crates were placed in front of them. We both tried to push and they were not moving. Hans looked at the crates " How are we going to move these things". We both looked around for some kind of tool. Hans found a winch with a cable, we tied one end onto the first crate and secured the winch with a steel cable to a post. And we started to crank on it, it was slow moving but the crate was moving. One by one we continued as the ship swayed. Finally we reached the doors and opened them up. Inside were the pumps, and as Hans had said, they were heavy. We looked around and found a wooden pole that was used as a leverage bar and also a couple of dollies. As I lifted one end of the pump with the leverage bar, Hans slid the dolly underneath. First one side, then the other, now we could wheel the pump around. We got as close as we could to the engine room with the pump and ran the hoses. One into the water and the other out of the ship, The crew saw us in action and quickly we told them to take the dollies from us and to go get the other pumps. Once we got the first pump pumping the engine room, I said to Hans " Hans, you continue with the crew, I'm going upstairs to update the Captain ". He nodded yes and I went off.

As I climbed the stairs I could feel the ship was listing severely , perhaps more than previously noticed. I arrived to the helm and the Captain was still at the wheel. He turned his head to me " Marco, are all the pumps working ?". I responded " One of the portable pumps are on in the engine room and the crew is placing the others in there as we speak Sir". The captain turned back to the sea view " The ship is listing quite severely, I am trying to maintain the ship portside into the waves. Otherwise, if we catch a big swell it could flip us over entirely. The only good thing is that the center of the storm is passing south of us". He paused " Go to the communications room , Emmanuel and Victor were in contact with a cargo ship to the north of us , I asked them to signal for help. Ask them if they have any update from them". I replied to the Captain " Yes, Sir".

It became clear to me that we were in danger, yet somehow I kept myself under control. I arrived to the communication room, Victor & Emmanuel were looking quite intensely into the radio. " Victor asked " What's going on down below , are the pumps on ?". I responded, the pumps are on, however, there is lot's of water portside we are pumping. I'm not sure presently. The Captain asked me if there is an update from the ship you had contacted". Victor responded " Tell him that the last communication I sent they responded that they were diverting their course to come and meet us, I gave them our position and our course. However, they have not responded since". I responded " seems we are in a predicament ". Emmanuel looked at me with a smirk. Victor responded " tell the Captain I am continuing to send out our position and course". I responded " Very well , am on my way ". I could hear the wind howling as I approached the helm , I was under the realization that if this ship did not find us, we might find ourselves using the lifeboats as this vessel could very well sink. The passports entered my mind, this would be the second time that I know of that these documents are threatened by a vicious sea. What are the chances of that happening ?". I arrived to the helm and the Captain was still in same position, turning towards me " What did you find out ?". I responded " Captain, Victor has had a reply from the vessel that they were changing their course towards our position, however, Victor has not been able to hear from them since. He has been sending out our position and course over the radio repeatedly". The Captain looked to me " the storm is passing to the south and the seas have abated somewhat , I need you to take the helm ". My eyes opened wide " very well Captain " and I walked over to him. The Captain grabbed my left arm and brought my hand to the wheel " pay attention to the angle I am approaching the waves, it's important you keep the ship pointing into the oncoming waves at this angle so we don't flip over". I put both hands on the wheel and looked out to the oncoming waves. The Captain put his hand on my shoulder and pointed out to sea " That is good, keep us in this position, I won't be long. I need to go assess the damages". I replied " very well Captain , I understand". The Captain jolted out the door and I was alone at the helm , the ship was listing into the oncoming waves and the forward section of the ship seemed very low in the water. I wondered if the pumps were strong enough to pump all this water out. And then I wondered, how did all the water enter the hull. Deep down within myself I felt everything would be alright, however, the reality that this ship would likely falter emerged quite vividly as I stood at the helm.

I held the wheel intensely as each wave collided with our bow, sometimes submerging the forward deck. The silence of the bridge was more ominous than the howling of the wind. Every minute intensifying the angst of our fate. Those passports kept dominating my thoughts, I remember placing them on the top bunk. Would I have enough time to go and get them if I needed to ...abandon this vessel. Should I attempt to save them as the previous ... couriers had. I thought about it holding the wheel into the on going waves like the Captain ordered. It was in my instinct to never give up on your commitments , I think I was just born that way. Suddenly, the door blasted open , it was Hans. I looked towards him while holding the wheel and he looked to me , we both had questions in our eyes. " Where is the Captain " Hans exclaimed. I quickly replied with a dumbfounded glance " He went down below to assess the damages , you must have missed each other". Hans looked at me " this ship is sinking, the water below is still rising with all the pumps working". I looked to Hans " you need to go find the Captain ". He looked to me " Marco, there is not much time, we should alert the crew to abandon ship ". I replied, That is the Captain's call , go find him now, I will hold the wheel".

The wind continued to howl and my time became evanescent , I wanted to leave this helm and at the same time I wanted to hear from the Captain, and he was nowhere to be seen. I stayed and contemplated my course with each wave, the darkness had masked the face of this vicious sea. My preoccupation of our missing Captain and now Hans expressing what my subconscious already knew had deluded me into overlooking the darkness was now fading. Unexpectedly I could see out to the horizon as the light of dawn gave it's first glimpse. And almost instantaneously, the engines lost power and quickly the ships lights flickered and all went dark. I could now clearly see the new dawn as the sky went from black to deep blue , and consequently, also the ships bow on the verge of submerging. Then I looked out and I observed in the distance what appeared to be a small boat, I looked more intensely , and then I saw another. I ran out to have a better look and I could see our life boats were all off the ship. In a state of panic, I ran and abandoned the helm. First I ran to see if Victor or Emmanuel were in the communications room. The room was empty. My next thought was to get to a life boat, and then the passports came into my head. I had to go below to my cabin and try to get them and also my box of poems. I found a flash light in one of the drawers and then ran aft as not only was the ship above water level there, but my cabin also was located aft in lower deck. As I made my way towards aft I could not find any available life boats left on board. My instinct was to attend to that issue after I retrieved my bag. I entered the ship by starboard aft entrance and made my way down to the cabins , it was very eerie as I ran down each level as I could not see or hear anyone , then I could hear the sound of water as I approached my cabin level. There was at least three feet of water, and it was cold. luckily my cabin was aft and I did not need to wade through the water very far. My door was open and the bag with my belongings was where I left it, on the top bunk, luckily the safety net held it from falling to the floor.. Quickly I grabbed it and put it on my back. With the flash light in one hand and holding the bag in the other, I waded through the hallway as fast as I could. Suddenly, there was a loud blast. The floor beneath me shook and I fell to one knee. As I continued towards the stairs I could see the water starting to move, the ship was shifting. As I climbed the stairs and got out of the water, I heard a deep sound, it was the stress on the ships metal bending. I knew I had to get myself off this ship quickly. Once I arrived to the Aft deck, my instincts were to see if there were any life boats left, first portside and then starboard. I noticed the bow was now underwater , and now saw for myself the ship was indeed sinking. I grabbed a life ring that was strapped to the ship railing and I ran to the rear of the ship. I looked out to sea and I could not see anyone. As far as I could see, all life boats were gone. I had never felt so helpless in all of my life. Suddenly I remembered the storage bin on the top deck marked " inflatable raft " , I always passed by there without thinking about it. I grabbed my bag and made my up the stairs to top deck and there was the cabinet, it was still closed and locked. Where was the key ? probably back at the bridge I had thought. There was no time and I remember the axe mounted on the wall near the air well. Quickly I went to get it and came back to the storage bin, gave a solid look to the pad lock and took the back side of the axe and slammed the lock bracket with all my might. It did bend , so I took a deep breath and gave it another blow, and then another, finally it broke open and I was able to open the cabinet. Inside was a green bag zippered up marked " life raft" and another bag marked " survival pack " and also an air tank with a hose. I brought everything down to the main deck and I proceeded to inflate the raft with the air tank. It only took a short time to inflate the raft and I gave it a quick look over , it wasn't large but it would have to do. I took a rope ladder and tied it to the side of the railing , then I grabbed a rope and tied it onto the raft. I lowered the raft into to the ocean, hand over hand until the raft was floating and rocking in the waves. Well, this was it, I needed to leave the ship before the sinking would accelerate , so I grabbed everything and strapped it on my back. Tied the rope holding the raft around my waist and over the railing I went climbing down the ladder, very carefully I made my way down. Once I got close to sea level I put my arm around the rope ladder so I could pull the raft as close as I could. The sea was moving the raft and I waited for the right moment to make the transfer when the raft would be at its closest point. It was not an easy task as my instincts were telling me not to leave the large ship which was keeping me out of the rough seas. It seemed as a long moment in time, however, my subconscious grabbed a hold of me as the raft approached again , I let go of my instincts and I jumped. I landed and actually made it into the life raft with all my belongings. I sat up and gathered all my things and secured them as best as I could, the raft started moving quickly away and down the ship line. I was mesmerized by the site of the large vessel with its nose submerged, one does not fathom the possibility of sinking such a large object when it is floating on water. It appears to float as naturally as the birds that fly over the sea. However, apparently I could now see there is a little more involved in making steel float on water.

I sat up in the raft for a while pondering my current situation , I looked around , there was nothing but turbulent water around me. It was difficult to lookout as the waves would lift the raft and then drop us down blocking my view . All I could see were waves of water as I held onto the raft. Each time I looked toward the vessel it appeared smaller , and finally it disappeared over the horizon as I drifted with the swift waves and current. Soon I was alone at sea with my best new friend, raft. I lied down and was looking up to the sky as I had given up on seeing anything at sea. From the last calculations , we were a little over 600 miles west-south-west of the Canary Islands. I pondered if that cargo vessel would appear in my view, I did have some flares in the emergency survival kit. I looked up at the Clouds and wondered how I got into this position, my life in danger, but I was not afraid. I closed my eyes and I prayed. I must have fallen asleep as suddenly I felt the warmth of the sun on my face, I opened my eyes and I could see the sky appearing from the through the dissipating clouds. The waves finally abated and the raft and I were now drifting a bit more peacefully. The perilous storm had passed, and now I could concentrate on my troubles. I had enough drinking water for maybe 3 or 4 days, there was a life raft food ration can in the emergency survival kit as well, I had no idea what was in there and I hoped I would not need to know. The sky was now clear and I could see far into the horizon , it was hard to believe that a storm of such magnitude to sink a vessel had passed by here not long ago, and now the sea was calm and serene. I looked and I looked, there must be a vessel out there somewhere. I remember all the ships I would see while working on the vessels, I remembered the time I spotted the..refugees. And now I truly understand how they had felt. It was becoming a possibility that I may not survive this ordeal, and my very short life could end abruptly. My only consolation was that I followed my own desire, to travel the oceans and see the world.

Dusk was approaching and the face of the ocean was changing as the sky darkened, Luckily the moon was out and it provided some light, but it was really dark. I hoped to see some lights in the distance, but there was not. At this time I was becoming a little thirsty and I thought to take some water, I looked at the bottle, and then I held off. I decided to wait till morning. I was becoming tired but I did not want to sleep, I kept on looking out for any glimpse of a light over the horizon. I laid back a little and leaned my head on the raft, still looking out. My eyes wanted to close and I sat up again, I peered and squinted looking for a reflection, nothing, just pitch black. My only consolation was to see the trail on the sea of the moons reflection, and then I thought of the night I had spent with Rose when we were on the lifeguard chair.

My next moment of consciousness occured as the sun was showing it's morning glow approaching the new day. At first I was relaxed and then as I became alert I realized I had slept the night, here in this raft all night long without looking out to sea for my survival ship. I hoped I did not miss my chance, but I would never know.. I could not let that happen again. I sat up and started looking into the survival kit, there was canned water, a knife, a whistle, some flares, couple blankets, hats, a compass, a fishing kit, a bucket, a hand pump, a mirror, a small tarp, a first aid kit and, a battery operated signal beacon. That was a good find I thought to myself , and then I looked at the food rations in the cans. Well, I was indeed hungry now, so I opened one. There was some dried food bars of some kind and I took a bite out of one and started to chew. Well, it was better than nothing. Soon the sun was rising overhead and it became quite strong, I had to cover myself up to avoid burning and dehydration. I looked out towards the horizon and saw nothing but open sea. I looked at the compass and decided to see if it worked, I could now see which direction was north. It did not do me any good as I had no power to move this raft in any direction. I knew I was drifting with the current, and likely heading back towards south America where I came from , which was a long way. My only hope was to find another vessel to rescue me. I wrapped myself with my blanket and squinted my eyes out to sea.

The day moved slowly, I had lot's of time to my own thoughts and found myself back at the orphanage. I remember pretending with my friends and believing we were pirates. I remembered one time I fell in the mud while playing and ruined my clothes, the sisters were so angry with me when I returned to the dormitory. They made me take my clothes off and told me to wash them outdoors at the drinking fountain that was used for the farming animals. My friends all went inside and I was left alone in my underwear, I felt so alone. But I did what I had to do and hung my clothes out to dry. Now, looking back, I wondered what it would have been like if I had had a mother. She probably would have scolded me and sent me to my room, and then she would have washed my clothes and given me some new clean clothes and maybe something good for dinner too. Perhaps that night she would have tucked me into bed. Oh well, for me, I quickly learned that life on this planet was hard and that I had to take care of myself in order to survive. And here I was now, alone on this raft in the middle of the ocean, going who knows where. Hopefully not the bottom of the sea. They say the Lord loves all his children, and I had faith that I was here for a reason, so I was determined to do what I had to do in order to survive.

Dusk was approaching again, I decided I would try out the beacon light tonight and tested it, it was working. I continued looking out to the vast sea, soon to be darkness. That night I found a chocolate bar in one of the survival food cans, and that was my treat. I sat in the darkness, listening to the water as it caressed my raft. The beacon light flashing slowly , I looked up to the stars, and there were so many. I looked at the big dipper and then the north star. I thought of how many people would see the north star tonight, if only they could find me in it's reflection. I rubbed my eyes with my fingers as I tired through the dark night, there were no lights over the sea and I was starting to loose hope and go to sleep. Then I thought of writing to keep awake.

Look at your hands,
what do you see.
Ten fingers free,
as creative as thee.

I touch and I feel,
my eyes fathom.
All fed by blood,
produced by my entity.

Reach into your heart,
go deep inside,
goose bumps appear,
embracing perseverance.

I feel I’m alive,
in this world I can see.
Perceiving here and now,
this soul reaching presence.

My thoughts create,
the world I envision.
The Creator provides,
my self comprehends.

Lord I am grateful,
for I can perceive.
Your love is accomplished,
and I will deliver.

C H A P T E R 16

The night passed and again I was alone at sea with my good friend raft. I was becoming complacent with my morning food bar and afternoon blanket wrap. The salt of the sea was drying my skin and I could feel my beard growing in well. Now I was a real sailor I thought to myself, If only I had a sail. The clouds were different today with very high tops and the wind started to blow a few white caps. I wondered where I was and determined that I had no idea, and frankly, I had no control over the direction of this raft. The winds calmed that night and again I lit my beacon of hope. I was loosing count of my time at sea and to be honest I'm not sure I cared, I only wanted to see something besides this endless blue sea.

Morning arrived and I looked at the usual food bar, my body was craving some meat. I thought about the fishing kit, however, how could I cook a fish if I actually caught one. I suppose I should eat it raw , what a thought. Rather than sit and watch another day of myself lost at sea, I decided to play fisherman. I was very careful with the hook and lure and gently placed them in the water and let out the line. I wrapped the line around my hand and sat back under my blanket. I really was not expecting to catch anything and I continued squinting out to sea, no signs of anything. Suddenly, I saw a gull. Swiftly I sat up and removed my blanket , the gull was circling the boat. I lost attention of the line that was drifting maybe 50 feet away until the gull dove into the water, and forthwith came out of the water with a fish in his beak. So much was going on in my mind and with much excitement I started to bring in my line, much to my surprise, I felt a tug. And then a pull, and so I pulled back and started to reel in the line, hand over hand. I lost track of the gull in the excitement as I pulled the fish into the raft, it bounced around vigorously and I decided to put him into the bucket that came with the survival kit. I held the fish by it's gills and gently removed the hook with pliers from the kit, then placed him in the bucket. There was a small cutting board that came with the fishing kit and I placed it over the bucket. I carefully put the hook away into it's holder. The fish continued to bounce in the bucket a little while and then went limp. The gull was no longer in sight. I looked as far as I could see and nothing in sight. Either there was a vessel around or I was near land, my hunch was another vessel had to be in the area. My only hope is they were moving closer to me.

I sat back the rest of the day and contemplated my water rations, I was so thirsty and had to have a little more than I should have. Dusk was soon to arrive and I had no sight of any vessel, I had hoped to see my friend the gull, and neither occurred. I was quite hungry after all the excitement and my thoughts were on the fish I had caught. I uncovered the bucket and there he was, I carefully took him out and washed him with sea water. Placed him on the cutting board and carefully handled the knife that came with the kit, slicing his belly and removing the inners. Removing his head and tail and fins, and finally his skin. The flesh was white and fresh, I separated the flesh from his spine and then washed it. I looked at it and it actually was appetizing to my stomach. Without even thinking about it I sliced it and put it in my mouth and chewed. It actually was good and I swallowed without thinking anything of it. I was hungry and followed my instinct. And I slept well that night with my beacon light on and one eye open. I dreamed of the gull and thanked him for the fish I ate , I hoped to share another fish with my new friend soon. I completed the night with a new poem thinking of my new friend. Yearning to see him soon.

Steadfasting forward,
wind thrusting aft.
I've pondered this vast sea,
an old man I've come to be.

I've learned many things,
on my course of destined fate.
Our best friends have wings,
once realized, its too late.

This voyage without meaning,
each day holding course.
A gull streaming starboard,
catching breezes , without remorse.

So far from land,
the gull followed in flight.
This sea so grand,
diving swiftly , catching delight.

Day after day the gull followed,
jointly providing companionship.
Creating time as sun and clouds melded.
gliding starboard , as one with my ship.

The following day there was light rain , I was concerned that water was getting in the raft, until my lips tasted the fresh water. There was a small tarp in the survival kit and now I understood what it was for. I stretched it out and funneled the water from the tarp into the bucket, and that was a great sight to see. I sat there smiling with my arm stretched and catching as much water as I could. As long as the clouds would provide rain, there would be drinking water, and as long as I could catch fish, I would have food. It was a promising feeling, however, I really wanted to have a vessel of any kind find my path. The rain stopped and so I carefully took the empty water jugs and filled them with the water I was able to recover.

The days and nights passed, I'm not sure how many days or weeks I was drifting at sea. My original rations were gone and I was surviving on rain water and fish from the sea. I was happy to be alive and determined to survive. Every morning I prayed, and every evening as well. I knew the Lord was with me this was part of what he needed from me. My spirit was strong, however, my body was growing week. Each day that passed I felt older and feeble. One morning, I lied back with my fishing line in hand and my eyes closed, listening to the waves rifle along the raft. I heard something and squinted my eyes open, something standing on the rafts edge, it was a Gull ! at first I thought I was hallucinating so I opened my eyes wider and covered my eyes against the sun's glare. I stayed still for as long as I could and the bird just stayed there, turning it's head occasionally.
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