What could go awry? We were merely sailing from the dock in Finnegan’s Harbor to Lovelost Island. A picnic, kite flying running along the sandy shore, if we stayed late, a bonfire.
Zero clouds in the sky; sun off the water like diamond dust and crystal powder. Our little boat was overshadowed by the big cruisers and yachts. We raised the sails, did all kinds of nautical things, and The Waif sailed gracefully out past the seawall and into open water.
The breakers and white caps increased as wind out of the east became stronger. The sky was bright; no frown on its face. Like something from the Discovery channel, a huge wave smashed into us. Then it was blackness shot through with light, kicking, fighting to break the iron seal dividing water and air.
Falling into the cold water was percussive; all my strength flowed from me into the dark waters. I would need an anodyne. The darkness of the water magnified as I thought of the odds of getting out of this alive. I swam and treaded water, calling, hoping to hear voices that never called back.
The boat had flipped over, and I found shelter and air under a flimsy piece of the hull. Feeling my way along the “walls,” I found a small cavity and swung my self up.
To pass the time til help arrived, I chanted sea-themed poems and stories. I started with the Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea/ In a beautiful pea green boat . . .
I chanted for a very long time; I was just starting “I’m Popeye, the sailor man” when I heard thumping of the “roof” of my niche. With all the strength I had left, I managed to return the message.