Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel)
(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)
Book Three, Chapter Four, Part Six
The storm wouldn’t let up, as the towering waves, gale force winds, and ice-rain continued to endlessly pummel their longboat, leaving Maestyg, Jonathan and Sammy no choice but to hold on to anything that could keep them from being washed overboard. Sammy had wedged himself underneath one of the boat’s benches in the front, while Jonathan clung to the bench above his faithful friend as tightly as he could. Maestyg had been clinging to the edge of the hull midship, which served him poorly as the hull was being tossed back and forth, and to and fro in the fray – finally switching to the middle bench as the only stable platform to grasp hold of.
The longboat pitched fore and aft, and rocked from side to side in the fury that the storm front had suddenly brought upon them. All Jonathan could do was to hold on and try to ride the storm out, all the while, hoping the longboat would hold up to the pounding without succumbing to the onslaught. It was then that Maestyg realized the ship’s broken spar and sails were acting like a boat anchor, having fallen partially into the sea over the starboard gunwale. The water-laden sails and heavy timber of the half-mast were pulling the starboard side of the longboat down towards the waterline, while the waves and winds pounded the now exposed port side, setting up an imminent capsizing if not somehow immediately corrected.
Maestyg cried out to Jonathan over the howling winds to help him cut the mast and sails loose from the ship, because otherwise the longboat would certainly overturn in the rough seas. He knew that cutting the ropes and lines that still connected the sails and half-mast to the boat was the only way to proceed, but doing it in these driving winds and tumultuous seas was another thing entirely. Maestyg had Jonathan hold tightly with one hand to the lines he needed to cut, while he grasped firmly to the ship’s hull with his left hand, and attempted to cut through the line with the knife in his right hand. It was slow going, but the only way to approach the task without getting washed overboard.
Once the final line was cut, Maestyg went to give the broken mast and sails a shove to clear its weight from the hull and allow it to cast off separately into the turbulent waters – preventing it from rolling the ship and flipping it over towards its starboard side. As he gave the sail structure a final heave ho, Maestyg realized that the quickness with which the sea had pulled the waterlogged fabric into its depths, had also taken Jonathan by complete surprise and knocked him over in the process. As Jonathan began to be dragged over the edge of the hull by the loose sails and rigging, Maestyg reached out at the last possible moment with his right arm to grasp Jonathan’s hand in his own, dropping his knife in the process to the bottom of the hull. It was too close a call, as he narrowly saved Jonathan by pulling him back from nearly plunging overboard into the angry waters.
Saved from certain doom, Jonathan was relieved to be back within the perceived safety of the ship’s hull, realizing that its safety was only an illusion during this terrible storm. They were all soaked to the bone from the frothing seas spilling over the hull, and from the relentless wind-driven, ice-rain that was giving them no-quarter. At this point, all they could do was to lay as low in the hull as they possibly could, and hang onto the cross benches as tightly as possible, hoping that the initial aspect of the storm would soon pass, and bring calmer winds and seas behind it. Only then, was Jonathan aware of the depth of his shivering and the numbness his body felt, knowing he couldn’t hold out much longer in these conditions. Maestyg found and secured his knife back into its sheath, while Sammy remained securely wedged under a bench with his head down between his front paws, not wanting anything to do with the storm or chaos of what was happening around them.
As the longboat tossed and turned in the fury of the storm, it came around to port facing the waves perpendicularly, riding to the crest of the first approaching wave. As it slid down the back side of the huge wave into the resulting trough, the tip of the longboat’s bow dug deeply into the next approaching wave, resulting in its complete submersion underwater. Instead of surfacing again to ride up the next wave, the front of the bow remained immersed within it – causing the aft end of the ship to break completely off in a loud crack, that could be heard over the driving winds as the wave passed through it – throwing splintering boards and the aft end of the ship to the blustering winds and monstrous waves – along with anything else that wasn’t nailed down or otherwise secured…