|Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any similarities to persons living, dead, space aliens, goats, forum posters, editors, beta readers, musicians, or writers are purely coincidental. There may be sexual content so if this, in any form, offends you, please cease reading this lest it send you screaming from the room. If you are not of legal age to read this, please don't.|
|Chapter 11: First Leg|
First, for a moment, there was thrill, the rush of adrenalin as he envisioned his great adventure. Then came the pang of sadness over leaving the life he’d known behind. In so many ways, there could be no turning back. The events of the prior days, and his decision to circumnavigate, would change everything – forever.
The fear was there; the cloying lure of familiarity, so safe, so certain. But, it was not real, he understood that, on a deep and visceral level; there could be no turning back. Everything had changed.
Trevor, with the wind in his face, watched a lonely seagull, high above, wheeling on the winds. Looking out at the vast, endless sea, Trevor smiled faintly, his heart filling with resolve. That left but one way, one course.
Standing proud at the helm of Atlantis, Trevor made peace with his decision. No turning back.
And so began a desperate journey, born of need, begun in flight. A journey of far more than distance, though the distances involved were both daunting and perilous.
‘I can do this. I can circumnavigate the world,’ Trevor thought, in the paired hopes that he would survive to return, and that he would leave his present troubles behind.
There was a great deal he did not have and would have liked; Atlantis was equipped for pleasure cruises in warm coastal waters, not for crossing oceans. However, Trevor knew that the Atlantic had been crossed single-handed in boats far smaller than Atlantis. A satellite phone, like the one left behind at the chandlery, topped Trevor’s list, but his funds did not allow correcting that particular lack. A refit to harden Atlantis against heavy seas was another thing that Trevor would have liked but could not afford.
Sailing north in the Gulf Stream, Trevor thought and planned, going over his onboard stores in his head, checking wind and weather forecasts, and plotting a tentative course. He had food aboard; enough for the planned charter; four days for eight people, which worked out to thirty-two days for one person. Trevor always carried a week’s worth of emergency rations for ten people, which meant ten weeks for him alone. Fresh water was no problem; he had hundreds of gallons.
‘I can cross the Atlantic,’ he thought.
With a little more than fifteen thousand dollars to last him a year, Trevor knew he needed to make every penny count. Atlantis was an expensive boat to run, and though some maintenance could be deferred, some could not. There would be equipment failures and services that would have to be dealt with, and Trevor was well aware that his funds were inadequate for his goals.
After setting the autopilot, Trevor went to his cabin and stuffed all the clothes he had aboard into a gym bag, followed by his toiletries. He’d decided to move into the portside forward passenger cabin, because going forward on the open deck, alone at sea in rough conditions, could be dangerous. The passenger cabins, with their direct access to the salon, just made a lot more sense.
Trevor carried the gym bag into the passenger cabin and began unpacking, beginning to realize just how ill equipped he was in some ways. Most of his clothes were still at home; all he had on Atlantis were a few things for charters and school. His entire stock of clothing onboard consisted of seven pairs of shorts, the same number of polo shirts, five T-shirts, three tank-tops, two pairs of running shoes, two speedos, ten boxers, and a dozen pairs of socks. Great for the warm seas around Florida but not so great for crossing the North Atlantic Ocean, which could get chilly, even in June. Trevor did have blankets aboard, but no jackets or long pants. He shrugged, deciding to see what he could find in the Azores, where he planned to buy at least a couple of jackets and Levis. In the meantime, he knew he could wrap up in a blanket in the cockpit, and wear multiple shorts and shirts for warmth. He wasn’t overly concerned; it’s hard to focus on the cold when you’re sweating in ninety-degree heat, and Trevor had very little experience with cold weather.
Over the next three days, Trevor stayed in the Gulf Steam, planning his route to Europe and beyond. The winds were the deciding factor; the Bermuda High, a huge mass of dry air rotating clockwise, was a frequent and often long-lasting weather phenomenon. What it did for Trevor was open up a weather window to Europe; by angling east by northeast from Cape Hatteras, he could ride the Bermuda High’s outer winds toward the Azores. It would mean crossing two and a half thousand miles of open ocean, over ten times more than Trevor had ever done before, but he felt confident that Atlantis could make the passage with relative ease.
Given the predicted winds and currents, Trevor estimated an average speed of ten knots, but he knew that could vary. ‘Probably ten to eleven days to the Azores. That’s not bad.’
Trevor would have liked to phone Joel and Lisa, or at least send them a message via radio, but he knew it would be unwise to try. The cell phone would not work more than ten miles from a cell tower so it was useless at sea, and approaching the American coast unannounced ran the risk of drawing the attention of the Coast Guard, an unwelcome development for a fugitive. The radio was another option; he could contact a shore station and ask that they relay a message, but that ran the risk of making his intentions known.
Fifty miles east of Cape Hatteras, the Atlantis changed course to east by northeast, following the wind and the great circle route towards the Azores.
The shipping lanes along America’s East Coast are among the busiest in the world, and Trevor found himself on constant watch, with one or more ships within five miles more often than not. By dawn, he was across the main sea-lanes and churning eastward, and after setting his radar alarms, he grabbed a nap in his beanbag.
When Trevor awoke to the sound of his radar alarm, he glanced at the screen, seeing that his active radar was painting a target eight miles out. He watched for a while, seeing that it was passing astern, and as the range began to open, Trevor went below in search of breakfast.
After making a couple of sandwiches, Trevor sat down with his breakfast and a notebook, having decided to create a log of his voyage.
June 23, Florida to the Azores.
I’m counting the beginning of my voyage as the moment I sailed from Fort Pierce inlet, four days and forever ago. I’m one hundred and twenty miles east by northeast of Cape Hatteras, heading for the Azores. I’m on my way, on the first leg of my circumnavigation of the Earth! So far, I haven’t worked out my course in detail beyond entering the Mediterranean; so much depends on weather windows. My best guess is I’ll have to head south, reaching close-hauled across the Southeast Trades until I get to about thirty degrees south and pick up the westerlies, riding them all the way to Perth. If that’s my route, I’ll get to see the Seychelles and Mauritius on my way to Australia.
I have a lot of work to do researching seasonal wind patterns and using them to choose my route around the world. This is an adventure, a way to see the world as well as pass most of the time until I turn eighteen. I think I’ll learn a lot.
It’s a little scary; I’ve never been out this far and nobody knows where I am. I’m excited too, thinking of all the places I’ll see. I wish I wasn’t alone but it’ll be great anyway, I hope.
I’m keeping to my at-sea routine. There’s always so much to do. Checking the bilges, keeping up with maintenance, tending the rigging. It keeps me too busy to think a lot of the time, which helps.
Thoughts of Dad keep haunting me. Did he have something to do with Mom’s death? I keep arguing that with myself. I don’t want to believe it. Those divorce papers and his refusal to talk about them, plus his trying to take Atlantis off me, even sabotaging my engines... I can’t explain that away. I’m going to try calling him from Europe. In spite of everything, I miss him. The problem is that no matter what he says, I don’t see any way that I can trust him now. I’ve got to keep Atlantis away from him until I’m eighteen, no matter what.
Trevor settled into a routine; sleeping in the salon or his beanbag so that he could hear the radar alarms.
He awoke with the dawn, first checking his radars and visually scanning the horizon, and then checking the sails.
If everything was clear, Trevor’s next step was usually to grab a quick shower, brush his teeth, and pull on a clean pair of boardies.
After another check of his radars and the horizon – something he would do several times in every waking hour – he headed for the galley. Breakfast would most often be a microwaved frozen omelet and coffee, and then it was time to check Atlantis and her systems.
There were always jobs to be done; maintenance, cleaning, updating his course based on revised weather forecasts, and the countless other small details running a boat the size of Atlantis across an ocean entailed. Managing the electrical system was amongst the most essential. Atlantis was equipped with solar panels on the cockpit roof and a small wind turbine, but Atlantis’s systems had been designed for charter operations; spending a lot of time anchored, coupled with frequent uses of the engines. Atlantis could generate electrical power with her two main engines or a small generator, and this was the only way to run some of the systems aboard, such as the air conditioning or the washer/dryer. The wind and solar could usually keep the batteries topped up against the draws from the electronic autopilot, the navigational system – a modern one, using efficient LCD screens – the running lights, and a single refrigerator. That however was in ideal conditions; any additional draw, such as the stereo or lighting, would usually require a short run of the generator to help the wind and solar systems recharge the batteries. The system was governed by a voltage regulator, but required constant oversight.
Trevor’s daily exercise period was right before lunch. Fifty each of pushups and crunches, followed by ten pull-ups, was his usual routine. Lunch was usually sandwiches, as Trevor concentrated on consuming his perishable food first. In the afternoons, time permitting, he would nap or read for an hour or two, while listening to his iPod. When he could, Trevor took the helm and disengaged the autopilot, preferring to steer his ship himself. It was at those times that he felt truly at peace. Dinner was sandwiches again, and would be for the first two weeks as Trevor made his way though his supply of bread, cheese, and cold cuts, originally intended for eight charter fare’s lunches over several days. After the perishables were gone, he had frozen dinners, which after several days of mostly sandwiches, he was looking forward to.
Alone on the sea, Trevor filled his days with checking weather reports, adjusting his course, and doing maintenance and odd jobs. Several times a day he checked the sails and rigging, always on the lookout for early signs of trouble, such as a frayed line or sail.
June 26th, Florida to the Azores.
Another day at sea. Today I saw my first ship in three days; a westbound freighter. I hailed her on VHF and talked to her navigator for a few minutes. It was good to hear a human voice other than my own.
The days passed, and Trevor watched as the distance to the Azores steadily dwindled. A check of his navigational plot showed Trevor that he was a couple of days behind schedule due to the lighter than forecast winds.
With routine sometimes comes carelessness, and Trevor had been neglecting one vital element of cruising alone; his safety harness. He often wore it on deck, but in the cockpit, he felt safe without it.
On day twelve of his passage, Trevor was sitting in his beanbag, watching the horizon, when he noticed that his spare halyard line had wrapped itself around the mast, putting the line at risk of fraying. Acting automatically, Trevor climbed onto the salon roof, boathook in hand, intending to work the line free.
Concentrating on his task, standing next to the boom on the upwind side, he struggled to free the halyard, sweating hard in the warm sun, hoping that he would not need to ascend the mast at sea; a task he loathed.
Trevor smiled as the halyard finally unsnarled, grinning as he lowered his boathook while staring up at the mast. ‘That was easier than I thought.’
Trevor was focused on his rigging, causing him to neglect paying attention to the wind. Atlantis lurched sideways into a trough, causing the deck to tilt to starboard. Acting again on reflex, Trevor glanced down at his feet as he leaned into the list. A sound of flapping fabric warned him, just a few moments too late, and Trevor only had time to raise his arm in defense as a sudden erratic gust of wind from behind the sail caused the boom to swing a few feet to starboard, striking Trevor and knocking him over.
Dropping the pole with a clatter and driven by the list to starboard, Trevor tumbled over the edge of the salon roof, finding himself in mid-air before he realized what was happening.
With a splash, he slammed sideways into the water, as Atlantis sailed on alone. It was in that moment that Trevor became keenly aware that he was not wearing his safety harness. The cool water suddenly took on the icy, cloying feel of a tomb, as Trevor realized that his mistake was likely fatal. Adrift at sea, with no way to catch his boat, Trevor faced the near certainty of a slow and lingering death.
In near panic, Trevor kicked hard, swimming for the side of his passing boat. It was just a few feet away but moving at nine knots, far faster than Trevor could swim.
Reaching the starboard stern just as it passed within his reach, and snatched for a handhold on the swimming ladder, barely gaining a purchase with just two fingers.
Feeling his fingers slipping as the drag of his weight transferred to them, Trevor lashed out with his other hand, barely managing to grab the stairs’ inboard handrail as Atlantis dragged him through the sea.
With his heart in his mouth, Trevor heaved himself onto the stairs and made his way to the cockpit, trembling.
Being left adrift at sea was one of the worst deaths Trevor could imagine; swimming to keep afloat, slowly tiring, growing thirsty and weak, and faced with the brutal choice of hanging on and struggling, extending the ordeal to a day or more, or giving up and diving under to inhale water and speed the end. Drowning was painful, but drowning after days of futile struggle was, to Trevor, even more horrific, and he lay in the deck, clutching the cockpit awning’s support pillar, shaking as he envisioned what such a death would be like, and how close he had come. ‘If I’d missed that handhold, right about now I’d be watching Atlantis disappear into the distance,’ he thought, clutching harder at the pillar.
After calming down, Trevor put his safety harness on and sat down to write a log entry about his narrow escape. That night, he relived his close call in his nightmares, the only difference being that he missed his handhold and was left behind, watching Atlantis sail away, leaving him to die, slowly and alone.
The next day, a few hours after sunset and cued in by his navigation screen, Trevor saw lights in the distance, above the horizon: the islands of Faial and Pico, ten miles to his northeast. Grinning, Trevor watched the lights of the mountainous islands, knowing that he’d reached the Azores and his destination was just eighty more miles away.
Trevor grabbed his pencil and notebook and returned to the cockpit
June 30th, Florida to the Azores.
I can see them: the Azores. I really made it. I’ve made good time and had a smooth passage. It’s strange; I’ve been alone for two weeks. Sometimes, I enjoy it; just being alone on the sea, at peace. Other times, I feel so lonely.
For the first time, I feel like I’m really on my way. Before, it was just an image on my nav display, but seeing the lights of the Azores, that makes it real; I’m on my way around the world.
Trevor sailed into the small port, flying his ‘Q’ flag, which meant quarantine, the international signal for a vessel not yet cleared by customs. After anchoring on the harbor’s west side, he paddled his Zodiac to the dock.
Trevor stepped ashore with relief; feeling solid ground under his feet for the first time in two weeks. His first stop was the customs office, and he headed in its direction.
Trevor’s walking was a somewhat unsteady at first; he felt as if the concrete pavement was rolling a little, like the deck of a ship at sea. He knew the cause; landsickness. He’d had it before, though never as severe. Two weeks at sea is more than enough to acclimatize the human inner ear to the motion of a boat, and the sudden cessation of motion caused the earth to feel as if it was moving. To Trevor, it seemed a little like being drunk or giddy, and he had to concentrate to avoid weaving as he walked. He found it amusing, in large part because he knew it would be over within an hour as his inner ear and coordination adapted.
After a few questions regarding how long he planned to stay, the customs officer cleared Trevor and Atlantis, but mentioned the fact that Trevor should fly two courtesy flags, Portuguese and the Azores.
As his landsickness abated, Trevor set off at an unsteady jog for his next stop, a currency exchange booth where he traded some Dollars for Euros.
A courtesy flag is a small national flag of the nation being visited, and is a legal requirement in most European countries; it is at a minimum considered bad etiquette not to have one. Trevor only had two: one each for the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos. Due to his dicey legal status as a minor, he knew he would need to take care not to arouse undue interest, and made acquiring a set of courtesy flags a priority.
Trevor spent an hour walking around the waterfront, checking out the Old-World architecture and just marveling at being in such a strange and remote place. Then, he sat down on a park bench, surrounded by the riotous display of blooming flowers, and flipped open Joel’s phone. To his surprise, it indicated that it was in service. It took him a few attempts to get the dialing codes right, but soon he heard it ringing, and then Lisa picked up. “Hello,” she said, a little testily.
“Hi Lisa, it’s me. Did I catch you at a bad time?”
“It’s Trevor!” Lisa said to Joel, pulling his naked body close. “Trevor, where the hell are you? We were worried sick!”
“Tell him not to worry about the phone, I got it set up,” Joel said.
Trevor chuckled. “I heard Joel. Did I catch you guys in bed again?”
Lisa laughed. “Yes, you do have a knack for that. So where are you?”
“Angra do Heroísmo.”
“Where the fuck is that?” Lisa asked.
“Terceira Island, in the Azores,” Trevor replied.
“Same question; where the fuck is that?” Lisa demanded.
Joel, leaning in close, had heard Trevor, and he told Lisa, “Middle of the Atlantic, a couple of thousand miles out past Bermuda, halfway to Europe.”
“That’s not funny, Trevor. Where are you?” Lisa asked.
Trevor took a deep breath. “In the Azores, for real. I just docked. I’m only here for the day and then I’m heading back out.”
“How long will it take you to get back, Trev? That’s a long way,” Lisa asked, shuddering at the thought of the vast distances involved.
“Lisa, I decided to head east... and I’ll keep going east from here. I needed somewhere to be for a while and this sounded like a good idea.”
Lisa gasped. “Trev, you can’t be serious; you’re sailing all the way to Europe?”
Trevor chuckled again. “And from there east, until I get home. I’m doing a circumnavigation; an around-the-world sail.”
“You’re out of your tiny fucking mind!” Lisa yelled.
Trevor laughed. “I have no doubt you’re right but I’m going to do it. Lisa, I couldn’t stay in the Bahamas; Dad could have had me sent back. He’d take Atlantis. I’m going to write him a letter and hope he backs off. If he does, I’ll turn around, provided I’m still west of Suez. Once I transit, I might as well keep going. I think I’ll be back sometime in spring, which puts me close to my eighteenth birthday. Look, I’ll be back in time for our birthdays and I swear, we’re going out for a whole month, just you, me and Joel, anywhere you guys want. You’ll be eighteen; your dad can’t stop you.”
“I’ll hold you to that, Trev. So help me, you do the craziest things... Searching off Bimini alone was bad enough, but going around the planet by yourself? That’s just insane!”
“I know, Lisa, but I needed to go, and this sounded like a good way to spend most of a year. I miss you guys so much it hurts.”
Joel, who knew a little more about sailing and geography than Lisa, took the phone. “I’ve been keeping your phone off in case it’s being tracked, so call Lisa on this number if you need me. Trev, what’s your route? You need somebody to know where you are, man, in case you get into trouble.”
“Hi Joel... Yeah, thanks. Okay, from here, I’m heading pretty much due east. The forecast is for favorable winds and my tentative destination is Lisbon, Portugal. It’s about a thousand miles. From there, I’ll head down the coast and through the straits of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean. Due to the seasonal winds in the Indian Ocean, I’ll need to kill some time in the Med, maybe a month. I don’t know my route from Gibraltar yet.
“How many days to Lisbon?” Joel asked.
“My weather plot indicates I’ll average ten knots until I get near the coast, but then the winds are forecast to fade a bit for the final couple hundred miles, so about five days.”
After the call ended, Trevor stopped by a store, intending to purchase a pair of Levis and a jacket. A fast glance at the prices changed his mind. ‘I’ll wait; it’ll be warm in the Med and stuff is bound to be cheaper there than here anyway.’
Trevor spent a few hours walking around the small port city, set between volcanic hills. The smell of flowers was the thing he noticed most; Florida had many flowers too, but having not known differently, Trevor had never noticed that the ones in Florida were not as aromatic.
He hadn’t really known what to expect of the Azores, though he’d assumed barren, mountainous islands. He found the reality very different; the mountains were draped in a thick coat of green, and the city was green with trees and other plants, to a degree that made Florida’s cities seem desolate by comparison.
After his walking tour, Trevor returned to the marina, where he purchased a set of courtesy flags at the yacht club office. By sunset, he was again at sea, bound for Lisbon.
The wind, now out of the north, made for fast sailing. The temperature had grown cooler; cool enough that in the cockpit at night Trevor took to wearing multiple shirts.
Alone again, he settled into his routine, watching Europe draw ever nearer on his plot.
July 4th, Azores to Lisbon.
I want to keep going, but today, I felt homesick, wondering what my friends are doing. I was thinking of my dad, too. He’s alone now, like me. I try not to think about the reasons; they just hurt too damn much.
The following day, Lisa and Joel were sitting at Lisa’s kitchen counter. “Trev is nuts. Almost a year alone? He’s crazy already; this’ll make him foaming-at-the-mouth insane. I’m thinking that maybe I should do something...” Lisa said.
“Like what? You’re grounded for another month. If your dad didn’t have to work, I’d hardly ever see you,” Joel said, nervously glancing at the clock.
Lisa shrugged. “Dad calls it restriction; dawn to dusk, and if I go out anywhere during the day, I have to clear it with him in advance. Might as well be grounded though, the way he has the neighbor watching the house.”
“Yeah, good thing I can get in through the back yard,” Joel replied, and then added, “I do see your point... I think what Trev is doing is risky as hell, but what can he do? Don’t forget it’s not just about his boat; those divorce papers are suspicious as hell, and that’s made worse by the fact his dad won’t discuss ‘em.”
“Yeah, about that... I’ve known Trev’s dad a long time. If he was hiding something really bad, like murder, wouldn’t he just lie instead of refusing to discuss it? I’m thinking of going over there and trying to talk to him. He’s tried to call me enough times... What harm could it do?” Lisa said, getting a thoughtful look on her face.
Joel arched an eyebrow. “If he’s a murderer, I can think of at least one real good reason why going to see him is a bad idea.”
“So go with me,” Lisa said. “He knows you too.”
Joel nodded slowly. “What about your dad? He probably won’t okay this and he calls you just about every hour on the house phone to make sure you’re home.”
“Ever heard of call forwarding?” Lisa asked, smiling sweetly as she held up her cell phone.
Nodding slowly and narrowing his eyes, Joel replied, “Okay, that’ll work. It’s too late today; your dad will be home in an hour. How about tomorrow?”
“It’s a date,” Lisa replied, already planning her strategy. After a few moments, her smile faded. “If Trev comes home, how can he be sure his father won’t try to sell Atlantis? He’s already tried that once, and even sabotaged Trev’s engines. Even if he promises, what’s to stop him from doing it? If it wasn’t for those divorce papers... Maybe what we should do first is find out what’s really going on?”
Joel nodded. “No matter what, I know Trev would want to find out what’s behind that. So, how do we do that?”
“Trev got some info from that friend of Julie’s... The way he made it sound, she can find stuff out. Julie left for Tahiti already but I’ve got her e-mail. If I wrote her and told her about the divorce papers and the timing, and let her know why we’re worried and what Trev is doing, maybe she can get her friend to look into it. It’s a long shot but it can’t hurt to try. I’ll do it tonight.”
“Speaking of parent problems, any chance of your dad easing off? You said he’s taking a few weeks of vacation time soon and if he’s home, he’s not going to want me around,” Joel asked.
Lisa shook her head. “I’ve tried talking to him. I managed to set him off again by pointing out that he and my mom were my age when they had me.”
Joel rolled his eyes. “Yeah, not the best choice of words.”
Lisa shrugged. “I know. I say stuff without thinking when I’m angry. He’s stressed out that I’ll get pregnant. I tried to fix it by telling him we always use protection, but that didn’t help; it just made him madder. He’s doing this because he cares so I can’t hate him for it, but damn, this sucks. Those weeks he’s home are going to be hell. He’s off for a month, and he’s going to try to keep us apart the whole damn time, I know he will.”
Joel smiled, and then his face became blank as a vague idea took form.
Three days later, approaching the entrance to Lisbon Harbor, Trevor flipped open the cell phone and dialed. Lisa picked up on the first ring.
“How about a phone call from Europe?” Trevor asked with a chuckle.
“Overseas call so this must be the idiot! Hi Trev, where the hell are you, exactly?” Lisa asked.
“Pulling into Lisbon,” Trevor replied.
“Joel is here but you didn’t catch us having sex this time. We’re at the mall; Joel wanted to do some shopping.”
Trevor could hear the voices in the background, and replied, “Shopping sucks but have fun.”
“Trev, I’ll make this quick in case we lose the line. Joel wants to come see you. He’s got that part for your outboard, too. He wants to meet you in Gibraltar and hang out with you for a few weeks. I want to go too but my dad vetoed it, of course. Joel’s got flight reservations; he can be in Gibraltar five days from now. Can he come?”
Trevor grinned, thrilled by the news. “I wish you could come too, but... hell yes! Sailing alone gets kinda... lonely. Oh man, we’ll have a blast. We can see all kinds of stuff around the Mediterranean.”
Trevor heard Lisa’s voice, slightly distorted as she told Joel, loudly, “He said hell yes; a hot guy like you is welcome anytime, but he’ll only let you onboard his yacht if you wear that sexy red Speedo.”
Trevor could almost hear Joel blush.
Joel looked at Lisa, and then around the crowded food court, “Thanks for being so loud, Lisa,” he said, then shook his head, smiling, and asked, “Give me the damn phone.”
As soon as he heard Joel take the phone, Trevor, still laughing, blurted out, “Just so you know, I said no such thing, except for the ‘hell yes’ part.”
“Yeah, I know, Lisa just wanted to say that loudly. We’re in the middle of the food court.”
“And I’ll bet you’re blushing,” Trevor said.
“Damn right,” Joel replied with a laugh. “About as bad as when you got me at the beach.”
“So how long can you stay for, and where would you fly back from?” Trevor asked.
“Believe it or not Dad is letting me use his frequent flyer miles. He’s got a gazillion of ‘em from his work so the airfare is no problem. I can fly back from wherever, as long as it’s in Europe and somewhere one of the OneWorld shared booking airlines flies from. British Airways is one of ‘em and they fly a lot of places there, so do some others so that should be okay. The only limit is time; my parents want me back a week before school starts so I’ll have time to get ready. The schedule into Gibraltar is tight; if I don’t go in five days, it’s a week and a half until I can get another seat there. If I get there before you do, I’ll just find a hotel and wait. Anyway, the way I see it, I’m good for about a month in the Med.” Joel was excited; the trip was beginning to feel real to him, instead of just a dream. The only thing that would make it perfect, in Joel’s mind, was if Lisa could go too, but he knew that wasn’t happening. He would miss her, and she’d miss him, but it was only for a few weeks. ‘Holy fuck, it’s coming together, I’m really going to go...’ Joel thought, and then said, “Trev, I’ve already got the reservations. All I have to do is confirm them. Right now, I’m thinking of coming back from Cyprus, would that fit? You are stopping in Gibraltar, right?”
“No problem at all. This is gonna be awesome!” Trevor replied. Cyprus wasn’t on his route; he’d planned to cross the Aegean and then head southwest direct to Suez, but heading for Cyprus would cost him a day or two at most. Trevor wouldn’t have cared if it were a week; he was thrilled by the idea of having Joel on board; someone to sightsee and have fun with, someone to talk to, and a good friend besides. Trevor felt sad for Lisa, wishing that she could come too, but his excitement over Joel’s surprise trip was just too great to dim.
Trevor looked up as his course down the channel took him beneath the Ponte 25 de Abril, the massive suspension bridge that spanned the harbor channel. Trevor looked up at the bridge, seeing the road deck from beneath. His jaw dropped at the sight of six lanes of traffic, perfectly visible from below through the steel grating that was the road surface, hundreds of feet above the water.
Looking to his left at the north shore of the channel, Trevor could see Lisbon, sprawling out amongst its many hills. Thrilling at the sight, Trevor continued on his way, just a few hundred yards past the bridge, passing several enormous cruise ships before turning to port and entering the yacht basin.
After docking and a fast visit to the customs shack, Trevor set out on a walk. First, he crossed the massive boulevard that paralleled the shore, and walked inland into Lisbon’s streets, marveling at how different it was from anything he’d ever seen before. In some ways, it reminded him of Nassau in the Bahamas; the pastel color scheme on many of the buildings was similar. But in Nassau, most of the buildings were two stories at most, while here they averaged five.
As Trevor walked, he found himself in a shopping district, full of small shops and sidewalk restaurants. He watched the first streetcar he’d ever seen rumble by, and walked on through the busy maze of narrow streets.
After a couple of hours enjoying the sights, the sun began to set and Trevor retraced his steps back to the Atlantis. On the way, he stopped at a small supermarket, intent on restocking his galley, but found that it sold mainly fresh produce. Hindered by his inability to speak Portuguese, Trevor returned to his boat, deciding to wait until Gibraltar to restock.
The next day, Trevor went sightseeing, using his skateboard to cover the ground faster. Visiting a vast market half a mile from the docks, and then just walking, and skating, through the hilly streets of Lisbon, going wherever looked interesting, Trevor was enjoying himself, but he found himself looking forward more and more to the companionship Joel would bring. ‘I wish he was with me now to see all this,’ he thought, staring at Portugal’s massive legislative assembly building
That night, he phoned Joel and Lisa, to make sure everything was still set and to tell Joel to bring a skateboard.
Trevor sailed from Lisbon on the following dawn, heading south down the Portuguese coast, bound for the Strait of Gibraltar, intent on getting there in time to meet Joel’s plane.
At dawn the following day, one hundred and twenty miles south of Lisbon, Trevor rounded Cape Sagres, Portugal’s southwestern tip, and set a course of east by southeast, paralleling the coast along the Algarve.
Sitting in his beanbag, Trevor wrote in his logbook,
July 14th, Lisbon to Gibraltar.
I’m on my way to meet Joel! I want to keep calm, but I can’t. Having a friend aboard will be so awesome; somebody to see stuff with, and somebody to talk to. I need that right now, there’s so much going on in my head over what happened back home with Dad.
I still can’t believe Joel is really coming. He’s such a great friend, fun and supportive, and smart too, plus he’s great eye candy. Lisa is so lucky.
I wish Lisa could come too, but Joel and I are going to have the best time ever, I just know it. I keep looking at my watch, counting off the hours.
At Miami International airport, Lisa glanced up at the departure board, seeing that Joel’s British Airways flight to London-Gatwick was due to begin boarding in thirty minutes. She could see the excited look on his face, and she was happy for him, though she wished she could be going too.
They stood together in the security line, and as Joel neared the metal detector, he hugged Lisa, saying, “I love you and I’m going to miss you so much. Thanks for letting me go; I wouldn’t have if you weren’t okay with it.”
Lisa chuckled. “I know, because you asked me like a dozen times if it was okay. I just wish I could go too, but I want you to have fun and take care of Trev too. He needs a friend with him right now. I’m going to miss you so much... be careful over there, okay?”
In the middle of the crowded terminal, Joel pulled Lisa in for a deep kiss. When their lips parted, he said, “I’ll be fine and I’ll make sure Trev is too. I love you Lisa.”
When it was his turn to go through security, Joel reluctantly pulled away, his hand lingering in Lisa’s for a long moment.
“I love you Joel,” Lisa said, fighting back tears as he turned away.
With Lisa’s words still in his ears, Joel walked through the metal detector, glancing back to wave goodbye again.
Half an hour later, Lisa watched his plane taxi out, and then, feeling very alone, returned to her car and began the drive north to Fort Pierce, wishing that she could have been by Joel’s side on the plane, and would have been, had her father not steadfastly refused her permission to go. ‘I’d have gone anyway, damn it, except Joel’s dad wouldn’t get me a ticket without my dad’s okay. I’m surprised Dad even let me see Joel off. I guess he’s just happy Joel is going away.’
As Lisa drove north in the darkness, Joel’s plane began its overnight flight to England, where it was scheduled to land at ten the next morning, too late for Joel to have been able to make the once-daily flight to Gibraltar.
© 2010 C James
Please give me feedback, and please don’t be shy if you want to criticize! The feedback thread for this story is in my Forum. Please stop by and say "Hi!"
Many thanks to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions.
Special thanks to Graeme, for beta-reading and advice.
Thanks also to Talonrider and MikeL for beta reading.
A big Thank You to RedA for Beta reading and advice, and to Bondwriter for final Zeta-reading and advice.
Any remaining errors are mine alone.