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|Chapter 35: The Art of the Deal|
Two hours after sunrise, Trevor was the first to wake up. Feeling a little hung over, he pulled on a pair of shorts and padded out. He started the coffeemaker, and then did his usual morning survey of Atlantis; checking the bilges, the electrical system, and then the weather report.
Trevor stared at the weather screen for a few moments, his fuzzy mind taking time to comprehend what he was seeing in the updated forecast: a return of the Meltemi winds, starting late that day. Looking at the chart and seeing the confined waters around Kusadasi, Trevor’s decision was an easy one; sail immediately. Kusadasi was only fifteen miles away, so Trevor was confident that Atlantis could get there well before the Meltemi began.
Half an hour later, Joel woke up to find coffee in the galley, and Atlantis already underway. Joining Trevor in the cockpit, Joel yawned, glanced at the sea, and mumbled, “You sailed.”
“Got it in one, you’re so observant,” Trevor quipped, and then added, “We’ll be in Kusadasi inside of an hour.”
Joel nodded, looking at the sea, and then asked, “Why did you sail early?”
Trevor explained about the weather forecast and Meltemi winds, and then added, “We can stay in Kusadasi for a couple of days if you want, but if we’re done there I’d like to get underway before dawn tomorrow, before the winds ramp up too much. We’re okay in the open sea, but in confined waters it can be dangerous.”
Half an hour later, Atlantis approached Kusadasi’s Setur Marina, a yacht basin a hundred yards north of the cruise ship dock. To the south, past the empty cruise dock, Trevor and Joel could see a small island fort, linked to the land by a causeway.
To the east lay Kusadasi, a bustling, modern Turkish town. They could tell at a glance that they were no longer in Greece; the architecture and layout were different.
After clearing customs and receiving some directions, Trevor and Joel set off down the sea front, heading for the shopping district that began inland from the cruise port.
“Are you okay?” Trevor asked, having noticed that Joel was unusually quiet and subdued.
Joel shrugged. “Sorta... I’m nervous. Plus, don’t forget what I’m carrying,” Joel said, referring to the fifteen hundred euros in cash – part of his share of the charter – that he had in his pocket. He’d put it in a Velcro-closed pocket, the safest place he could think of, but he was worried about pickpockets.
“I’ll keep an eye out,” Trevor said, being vague in case they were overheard. “Don’t stress about the other stuff, everything will be great. Lisa will flip... in a good way. She’ll be thrilled.”
Joel nodded at the reassurance, but he still had butterflies in his stomach. Glancing ahead, he saw a small cafe and pointed at it. “Let’s stop there... I’ve never tried Turkish coffee, and they probably have it here.”
Trevor nodded somberly. “Yeah, you might be right; they just might have Turkish coffee, seeing as this is, you know, Turkey.”
“Shut up,” Joel grumbled, and then cracked his first smile of the day.
The cafe was long and narrow, running through a building, with doors at both ends. To Trevor and Joel, it seemed much like other cafes they had been in, at least until they looked at the menu over the coffee bar. It was in Turkish, but Turkey used a derivative of the Latin based alphabet, having done away with the original Turkish script in the 1920s. Trevor and Joel could recognize the letters, but had no idea what they said.
“Do you speak English?” Trevor asked the barista.
“Yes, how can I help you?” The barista said, in perfect English.
“Two Turkish coffees, please,” Trevor replied.
“Two Türk kahvesi,” the barista confirmed, and then asked, “Large?”
Trevor and Joel answered with a nod.
“Seven Turkish Lira,” the barista said, as he began making the coffee.
It was at that point that Trevor and Joel realized they’d forgotten something: local currency. “Will you take a debit card?” Joel asked.
“No, but I take dollars or euros, too. Most stores in tourist areas here do. It would be five euros.”
Trevor pulled out a five-euro note and handed it over. At the barista’s direction, they took a table to wait for their coffee.
From their table, they watched with interest as the barista finely ground the beans to a course powder, and then boiled it in water in a small pot. He then poured it into two large ceramic cups, where the grounds settled to the bottom.
The barista arrived at the table with the coffee, cream, a tray of sugar packets, and two small cubes of lokum on a tiny silver dish. Lokum, sometimes called Turkish delight in the West, is a jelly-like confection made from dates and honey, often served in sugar-cube sized lumps and covered with a dusting of powdered sugar.
The coffee looked, except for the dark brown foam, to be similar to what they were used to, so Trevor and Joel added sugar and began stirring. Trevor was the first to notice a difference. “This stuff is thick, and kinda grainy.”
Joel nodded, and then took a sip. “Yeah, it’s real strong... and sorta chewy, like eating coffee grounds.”
The barista, who had been observing from behind his bar, chuckled. “You’re not supposed to stir it, and if you do, let it settle. The dregs are supposed to remain in the cup when you’re done.”
Trevor and Joel took the advice, and found themselves enjoying the strong coffee and the sweet lokum.
When they left the cafe, they turned inland, walking along a street lined with small shops on the ground floors of the buildings.
Spotting a cruise line logo in one of the jewelry store windows, Trevor said, “If you see a cruise line sign in the window or in the store, keep walking.”
“Why?” Joel asked, arching both brows.
“I go into Nassau a lot on charters, and I’ve had more than one customer mention the cruise line scam; the cruise ships give their passengers a list of ‘approved’ jewelry stores in a port, and tell the passengers that they’re guaranteed a discount. But, it’s the opposite; they charge you a lot more and split the take with the cruise line. Maybe we’d be okay because there’s no cruise ship in port today, but why chance it?”
“What a deal,” Joel said, in a sarcastic tone, wondering how many other unknown pitfalls lay in wait.
After half a mile, and having passed many jewelry stores, they came to a smaller, covered street, which was lined with stands selling just about everything; the bazaar.
It was crowded, and Joel kept close guard on his pocket. The smell of aromatic tobacco wafted through the bazaar, coming from several hookah pipes at one of the stands. They pressed on, seeing all manner of souvenirs, plus several jewelry displays. They each bought a few souvenirs and gifts, but Joel showed no inclination to enter a jewelry store.
Spotting an internet cafe just off the bazaar, Joel led Trevor inside. They hadn’t had internet access since arriving in Greece, so they rented a computer and tended to their e-mail. One of Trevor’s was from Julie, and he smiled as she told him about Tahiti. Trevor began to grin as he made a decision, and after discussing it with Joel, sent a reply to let Julie know he planned to stop by on his way across the Pacific. Trevor missed Julie, and the thought of seeing her again, plus the idea of seeing someone he knew while crossing the vast Pacific, made the long solo journey seem just a little less daunting.
They composed an e-mail to Steve, the captain of their high school swim team, letting him know to pick up Trevor’s satellite phone at the chandlery and deliver it to Joel’s father.
Trevor didn’t let it show, but writing the e-mail to Steve was poignant. Trevor had loved being on the swim team, and the letter reminded him that he’d be missing that opportunity, along with the rest of his senior year.
The computers had webcams, so Joel put his arm around Trevor, pulling him close. “We’ve got to send Steve a pic,” Joel said, triggering camera to take a still shot.
Joel attached the picture to the email, and Trevor saw it as Joel hit ‘Send’; a picture of them together, the bazaar in the background, and two of Joel’s fingers forming rabbit ears over Trevor’s head.
Trevor laughed, and together, they wrote an e-mail to Lisa, and attached the picture for her as well.
Trevor surfed the ‘net, looking for information on Rhodes, their next port of call. After browsing a few pages, Trevor spotted something. Lowering his voice, he told Joel, “I was worried about going into Rhodes Town, because we don’t have permits for Greece and we need to avoid the harbor police and customs, but this says that the customs office is at the ferry terminal, about a mile from the marina. We can anchor in a bay down the coast and take the Zodiac to the marina. I don’t think they’ll bother us. If we sail in the morning and make good time, we can have the next day in Rhodes, and then two days in Cyprus.”
Joel stared at the screen for a few moments. “Sounds good... and hey, they’ve got a big castle there, plus a walled city. Sounds awesome.”
“Good or awesome? Make up your mind!” Trevor said with a laugh, as he closed the web browser and stood up, heading for the desk to pay.
As they left the internet cafe and continued through the teeming bazaar, Joel became nervous again, and in response to Trevor’s concerned look, said, “Maybe having super-strong coffee when I was already on edge wasn’t such a great idea.”
Trevor nodded. “Probably... so, want some food? I’ve been seeing gyros stands, and they smell good.”
“Food is always good,” Joel declared, and after glancing askance at a passing stand, added, “Maybe not in the bazaar though. I think some of the ones we passed on the way looked cleaner.”
They found a sidewalk restaurant a block from the bazaar, and the food calmed Joel down a little. As they finished their gyros, Joel said, “I’m not as jittery, but I’m still stressed. What if I don’t find the right ring?”
Trevor studied Joel for a few moments before replying, “You won’t, if you don’t actually go into a jewelry store. We’ve passed like a dozen. Lisa would probably love a plastic ring if it’s from you. Relax, man.”
Joel glanced down the street, and nodded at a corner store. “Okay, I’m ready. I’ll need your help; I’ve never done anything like this before.”
“And I have?” Trevor replied, with a soft smile. “I’ll be right there with you. Just remember; they bargain here, so lowball the price and be ready to walk out.”
“You know how to bargain?” Joel asked, with a hopeful look on his face.
Trevor shrugged. “I’ve been on the receiving end a lot, with charters, and I’ve seen my dad haggle for stuff for the store.”
“Cool... so, what do I offer? I don’t know crap about jewelry prices.”
Trevor shook his head. “Me neither, but as a guess, offer half and see what they come back at, then try to split the difference. Oh, watch out on diamonds. I saw a TV show about them once, and they aren’t all the same. If they have flaws, they’re not worth as much. Check ‘em out with a jeweler’s loupe. Look for flaws, yellowness, anything like that.”
“Maybe I could get a bigger diamond if it’s not perfect?” Joel asked.
Trevor replied with an open-handed shrug. “I have no idea... just remember, you don’t need to get it right away. We can go outside and talk about it.”
Joel nodded, and then, swallowing once and rubbing his sweaty palms together, said, “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”
The corner jewelry store was a high-end one, its windows set with polished granite slabs, and the window display cases lined with silk and lit with halogen lights.
Entering from the street, they descended the single step into the plush store. The owner and his daughter appeared from the back room, dressed in western business suits. Though a little nonplussed over the ages of his visitors, the owner smiled, waiting for Trevor or Joel to speak, so he’d know which language to use.
Joel stood straight, and forced the words out, “I’m looking for an engagement ring.”
The owner could see that Joel was nervous, and gave him a reassuring smile as he ushered Trevor and Joel to a large display case. “We have a large selection to choose from. Do you have a style or a price range in mind?”
Joel shook his head, pausing before saying, in an uneasy voice, “Yes, Lisa likes modern styles and thick bands.” As soon as he’d said the words, he began to relax a little.
The owner’s daughter appeared, carrying a silver tray with two silver and glass samovars. “Hot spiced apple juice,” she said in broken English, before handing them the samovars with a smile and retreating to the back room.
Joel sipped at the steaming apple juice while studying the rings. Noticing that none of them had price tags, he pointed to one with a large diamond and asked, “How much is that one?”
The shopkeeper knew his prices by heart, and replied, “How will you be paying?”
“Euros, if you take them,” Joel replied.
“We do, and we offer a ten percent discount for cash,” the owner said, his calculator already in hand. He always offered a discount for cash, because of the money it saved him on taxes. In an offhand way, but watching carefully to gauge Joel’s reaction, he added, “In euros, that ring would be nine thousand. It is an almost flawless two-point-one carat diamond.”
Joel blinked in shock. “That’s way out of my range. I like the ring style though... the thick band and the diamond in the diagonal gap. Do you have anything like that, with a smaller stone?”
The storeowner showed Joel several other rings, and based on his reactions, had a rough guess as to his price range by the third one. “This is a one-point-two-seven carat flawless round-cut diamond, set with two quarter-carat diamonds and an agate inlay,” he said, handing Joel the ring. “Two-thousand-four-hundred euros.” It wasn’t flawless and the owner knew it – None of his stones were; flawless gem-sized diamonds are extremely rare.
“Agate is Lisa’s birthstone,” Joel said softly, studying the ring. He tried to judge its weight, and asked, “What kind of gold is it?”
“Twenty-two carat,” the storeowner replied, inserting a touch of pride into his voice. Unlike the stones, he was truthful about the gold’s grade; he purchased the settings in bulk from a dealer in India. “If you look closely, you can see the jeweler’s mark, ‘22/22k’, and it comes with a certificate of authenticity. I buy the settings bare and set the stones myself.”
Joel, his eyes silently pleading for advice, turned to Trevor. Their eyes met, and Trevor could tell that Joel liked the ring. Trevor turned to the storeowner and asked, as casually as he could manage, “Can I use your loupe?”
The store owner’s smile tightened slightly as he withdrew the loupe – a small tube with magnifying lenses – from his pocket, flicked open the lens cover, and handed the loupe to Trevor. He hadn’t expected to be asked for a loupe by someone Trevor’s age. It was rare enough for any customer, and never a welcome development.
Trevor had no idea what to look for, but he held the loupe to the largest diamond on the ring and looked. It took him a few seconds to learn that the focus was dependent on distance, and then he could see the stone clearly. He turned it slowly under the light, and noticed a few small black specks within the diamond. Handing the loupe and ring to Joel, Trevor said quietly, “I see some flaws, take a look.”
Joel studied the stone for a few seconds, and spotted the two tiny black specks. He didn’t know the terminology of the diamond business, but he did know what he’d heard. “I thought you said this was flawless,” he said, glancing up at the owner.
The storeowner had a look for himself, purely for appearances, before saying, “Sometimes my suppliers make a slight error in grading. I check them myself, but I must have missed this one. The inclusions are very tiny; you could never detect them without a lens. Still, it does lower the value slightly. I would sell it for one-thousand-five-hundred, cash.” The stone was actually an SI-2 grade, which means ‘slightly included’: inclusions invisible to the naked eye, but visible under magnification.
Trevor crossed his arms and made use of the opening they’d been given to argue with the storekeeper, trying to help Joel drive the price down.
After a few minutes, Trevor and Joel shared a glance at each other. Trevor could see that Joel liked the ring, but was unsure. Trevor eyed the door and said, “Let’s go get some lunch and think about it.”
The store’s owner did not want to see his customers leave; he well knew that they rarely returned. If he was going to close the deal, he knew he had to do so before they left. As Trevor and Joel got up, he said, “You are foreigners, and as such do not have to pay VAT. I’ll discount that now, plus some extra. One-thousand-two-hundred.” He had paid eight hundred for the ring and stone; at the price he’d quoted, he’d still make four hundred, tax-free.
Joel hesitated at the door. He did like the ring, and knew he’d pay far more than that for a similar one at home. The dishonesty had him concerned, but then he pictured that ring on Lisa’s finger. “One thousand, cash,” he said, surprising himself.
The owner shook his head. “I would lose money on it,” he said, still holding the ring where Joel could see it.
Joel was unsure, and the thought of taking some time to think it over was appealing. Knowing that he could always come back in a few minutes and accept the prior offer, he shook his head and turned for the door.
“One thousand,” the storeowner said, thinking that two hundred in profit was better than nothing.
Joel took a deep breath, glanced at Trevor, and then turned to face the owner. “Okay, if you’ll size it,” he said.
The owner nodded. Sizing a ring was easy with the tools he had. “What size?”
Joel held up his left hand. “I don’t know, but her ring finger is the same size as my little finger. I was thinking of getting her a ring for her last birthday, so I tried on one of hers for fit when she was out of the room.”
The owner sized Joel’s finger, and then heated the band, stretching it slightly before cooling it in water. Joel tried it on, and then beamed. “I think this’ll fit.”
On the way back to Atlantis, Joel said, “Thanks for helping me out back there... do you think we got a good deal, or did we get taken?”
“He came down a lot, and those two specks are super tiny; I could barely see ‘em with the loupe. I think we got a deal,” Trevor said.
“Me too, and I love the way it looks,” Joel said, beaming.
They had done well. They had come within a hundred euros of the shopkeeper’s true bottom line, for a ring that would have cost over three times as much in Florida. However, it was the image of that ring on Lisa’s finger that made Joel feel on top of the world.
Back aboard Atlantis, they put the ring in Trevor’s stash spot and set out to spend the afternoon in Kusadasi.
The Meltemi winds are often calmest around dawn, so Trevor and Joel set sail three hours before sunup.
As Atlantis glided through the calm, black waters, Trevor and Joel looked back at the lights of Kusadasi, and then, to their south, past the cruise terminal, they saw the tiny fortified island, linked to the mainland by a short causeway, its medieval walls lit by colored floodlights.
The forecast called for continual strengthening throughout the day. Needing to keep in open waters, they chose a route to avoid the shorter passage south of Samos; Trevor didn’t like the narrow, shoal-littered strait, not with a strong Meltemi brewing. Instead, they sailed west, passing north of Samos and rounding its west cape. From there, they sailed south, running before the rising winds.
Their course to Rhodes would take them across two hundred miles of island-strewn Aegean. Atlantis’s first leg would be south, between the islands of Patmos and Leipsoi, until reaching the westernmost cape of the island of Kos. From there, the route angled southeast, past the volcanic island of Nisyros, and then east, to Rhodes Town, on the northeast tip of Rhodes.
The sail around Samos was largely uneventful, with Trevor and Joel enjoying the view of the passing shore.
As Atlantis ran south, pushed along by the rising north wind, the seas became progressively rougher, though nothing Atlantis couldn’t handle. She surged ahead, riding the swells at eighteen knots, and entered the narrow strait between Patmos and Leipsoi.
Joel, conning from the port helm, glanced at the navigation display, and then at the island passing to starboard. “What’s Patmos known for? I’ve heard its name before, but I can’t remember where.”
It took Trevor a few moments to remember. “Maybe you’re thinking of John of Patmos, who wrote the Book of Revelation – sometimes called the Book of the Apocalypse – in the Bible.”
Joel stared at the bleak, rocky island as he replied, “The Apocalypse... that’s cheerful.” Joel glanced around at the roughening seas, which were now sprinkled with rolling whitecaps. “Speaking of doom, are you sure it’s safe to be sailing?”
Trevor nodded. “Yeah, this is fine. That blast that caught us during the charter came from the side. We’re running before the wind, so it’s less dangerous. According to the forecast, we might run into some bad conditions near Kos, but that’s not for a few hours yet.”
“It’s looking pretty rough to me,” Joel said, wondering just how bad it would become.
The conversation turned to thoughts of home. There was one topic that both Trevor and Joel avoided; Joel’s coming departure. They were both, for their own reasons, dreading it, though in Joel’s case he had seeing Lisa again to look forward to.
The winds grew stronger as they neared the island of Kos, driving the seas and kicking up a rough, heavy swell. Trevor took over, keeping Atlantis on a course that took her close to the island’s western promontories. He needed to come near to shore, in order to be within range of the cellular phone towers there. “We should be close enough,” he told Joel.
Joel flipped open the phone and found that he had a signal. Smiling, he dialed his home number and talked to his father for a while, letting him know that Steve would be picking up Trevor’s satellite phone from Dirk and dropping it off.
Joel’s next call was to Lisa, and he spent a while roaming Atlantis’s deck while chatting with her, letting her know what they’d arranged for the phone, and telling her how much he was looking forward to seeing her again. Then, he joined Trevor at the wheel so they could share the phone.
Lisa got right to the point. “Trev, are you going to be okay after Joel comes home?”
Trevor sighed. “Yeah, I’ll be fine. I’ve loved having Joel here, but I’ll be okay on my own. I crossed the Atlantic, didn’t I?” Trevor asked, only to notice Joel cringe.
“Joel told me about you falling overboard, Trev, so that’s not much of an answer.” Lisa replied icily.
“Joel,” Trevor hissed, trying to elbow him. Returning his attention to the phone, Trevor said, “I’ve learned my lesson. I keep the harness on when alone on deck and underway. Just ask Joel; I got on his case over it too.”
“Yeah, he said so, but we’re both worried about you. I want you to swear you’ll always wear it when you’re alone at sea,” Lisa said, in a tone that made clear she meant it.
“I swear I’ll keep the harness on when I’m alone at sea, if I’m on deck and underway. No exceptions,” Trevor replied, in a solemn tone.
“That means in the cockpit too, right?” Lisa demanded.
“Yeah, anytime I’m outside. I promise.”
“You better,” Lisa said, and then, in a calmer tone, added, “I heard you met some yachters in Santorini. Bridget said you should meet more along the way, like in Suez where you’ll have to wait for the transit convoy. Oh, she told me to tell you that she’s been through the Suez Canal before, and it can be pretty crazy if you don’t know what you’re doing. She wants to talk to you so she can give you some advice, so give her a call.”
Trevor bristled at the implication that he didn’t know what he was doing, but knew better than to try arguing that point with Lisa. “Okay, I’ll call tomorrow from our next stop; I have her number.”
After the call, the wind began to rise. Struggling in the roughening seas, Trevor furled the foresail entirely, and then partially furled the mainsail, leaving only a small part of it flying. With a sudden blast, the wind reached fifty miles an hour – a force 9 gale on the Beaufort scale – as they prepared to turn east. “I’m delaying the turn until we’re further south of Kos, or we could get slammed even harder,” Trevor yelled, over the rising noise from the wind and sea, cringing as the hard-driven spray lashed at the bare skin of his back.
“This is getting pretty bad,” Joel said, looking around, stunned by how fast the conditions had degraded, and wondering darkly what Trevor would face on the long open-ocean passages ahead.
The wind continued to rise, shrieking in the rigging, whipping the sea into a heavy, chaotic swell.
A sudden heavy slap shook Atlantis, making Joel jump. “What the hell was that?” he asked, glancing around in search of its source.
Trevor smiled and replied, “The sea.”
Blinking in incomprehension, Joel turned to look at Trevor. “The sea?’ he asked, in a puzzled tone.
Trevor nodded, and in his most condescending voice, replied, “Yeah, you know, the sea... it’s that big wet thing that Atlantis floats on.”
“I know what the sea is, you ass. I meant what was that noise?” Joel replied, only to cringe as another hard slap shook Atlantis. “That!”
Trevor, who was trying to make a point about Atlantis’s seaworthiness, chuckled. “Like I said, that’s the sea. When a big wave peaks between Atlantis’s hulls, it slams up against the underside of the salon area. You should hear it from inside; it’s like being inside a drum.”
Joel jogged into the salon, only to emerge a minute later after another slap. “Okay, that’s loud. You’re sure it’s not dangerous?”
Trevor shook his head. “Nope, no danger. It’d have to be a lot worse than this, and for a lot longer, to start doing damage. I had worse than this in the Atlantic. It’s always better to avoid it if possible, but Atlantis can handle rough weather if she has to, no problem.”
Joel looked around, and nodded. “Okay, but it’s getting worse fast; the wind’s so bad it’s driving spray into the cockpit, I’ve never seen that before.”
“We’ve just passed the southwest cape of Kos. I’m just about to turn east, which will put us in the lee of Kos in a few minutes, Trevor said, while checking the navigation and weather plots. “ We’re not carrying much sail, but just in case, raise the starboard daggerboard.”
Joel hauled back on a control line in the cockpit, raising the starboard daggerboard into the hull. “Okay, done, but why just the one?”
“That’ll be the downwind side; the wind and swells will be hitting us on our port beam. If we get hit hard, Atlantis could start to move sideways down the front of a wave. If that happens with the downwind daggerboard deployed, she can do something called tripping over herself; the hull on the downwind side could dig in, causing her to heel over. If it was bad enough, she could flip and capsize. So, we raise the lee daggerboard, which makes us a lot safer. Just a precaution, but at sea, it’s always best to be safe,” Trevor said, and then glanced pointedly at Joel’s bare chest. “I’ve only got one safety harness, so I’ll put it on and you head inside. One of the big risks in wild seas is getting swept overboard, and in bad visibility,” Trevor glanced out at the high waves, dense streaks of foam along the direction of the wind, the crests of waves beginning to break, and thick streamers of windblown spray, “I couldn’t find you, so I want you inside before I turn, okay?”
Joel nodded, and walked forward to stand just inside the salon’s open sliding door. “Okay, is this good enough?”
“Yeah, just stay in there after I turn,” Trevor replied, as he put on his harness, clipped the tether ends to two different jackstays, and began the turn to port.
The wind howled through the cockpit as Atlantis turned sideways to the gale and the heavy seas. Within seconds, a twenty-five foot wave bore down on Atlantis, its crest a white maelstrom. Joel and Trevor saw it at the same time, and Joel yelled, “Look out!”
Trevor angled into it, taking it at a shallow angle instead of abeam. “Hang on,” he said, forcing himself to smile.
Atlantis began heeling over as she entered the upslope of the oncoming wave. Trevor clutched the wheel tightly, feeling the deck rising and sloping beneath his feet.
The wave hit first on Atlantis’s port forward quarter, sweeping across the foredeck. Trevor ducked as a massive wall of spray blasted into the cockpit from the side, soaking him. “See? No big deal. The bulk of the wave passed under us. Only the breaking part – the top few feet – actually impacted the hull. That wave was nearly thirty feet, too.”
“It looked like a damn building,” Joel said, still clutching at the frame of the salon’s door. Then his eyes narrowed. “Trev, you’re acting way too damn happy about this, so I know what you’re doing; you’re trying to show me how safe Atlantis is in a storm, so I won’t worry about you, right?”
Trevor hesitated, his eyes scanning the horizon, looking for the next breaking wave. “Guilty as charged, but it’s the truth; Atlantis can handle storms.”
With a loud crump, a wave slammed into the underside of the salon, making Joel cringe. “Okay, but this still looks pretty damn bad. What if it gets worse?”
“Then I’d reduce the sails even more, and if it got a lot worse, I’d turn and run with the waves, downwind. If it got really bad, I’d completely furl the sails, fire up the engines, and then con Atlantis from the control station in the salon. Worst case, I have a drogue – a sea anchor. I’d turn into the waves and deploy the sea anchor, which would keep Atlantis pointed into the seas, and then hunker down and ride it out.”
Joel glanced around uneasily, and then replied, “What about a knockdown... I’ve heard about them happening in monohull boats, but they usually right themselves due to the weights in the keel. What would happen to Atlantis?”
Trevor sighed. He had been hoping Joel wouldn’t ask that. “She’d capsize, and there’s no way to right an overturned catamaran at sea. That’s the one big disadvantage of catamarans compared to monohulls. But, capsizing is super rare for a boat Atlantis’s size, and I don’t think it’s possible without some big mistakes on my part and a massive storm.”
Joel decided to leave that issue until later, and turned around to glance out the forward windows. “This storm was really sudden, almost like it was when we got hit on the way to drop the charter off at Mykonos. Wouldn’t it be worse in the middle of an ocean?”
Trevor shook his head, and as he angled to take the next breaking wave, replied, “Not really. Land is the biggest danger to boats in a lot of ways, and weather is one of ‘em. This wind is being channeled by the mountains on the islands; that makes it worse in places, and sudden. Far out at sea it’s less complicated, and more likely to be a predicted storm, which I can avoid. Hang on.” The wave hit, shaking Atlantis and sending solid water over the foredeck, but not as much as before. Trevor studied the seas ahead and to port, before grinning and announcing, “We’re coming out of the worst of it; we’re entering the lee of Kos, and we’re too far south of it to get blasted hard by any gusts coming over it and down its lee slopes.”
“I saw solid water out of the forward windows,” Joel said, just as another hard slap resounded under his feet.
“Yeah, it’s rough, but just try seas like this in a monohull yacht of similar size. Atlantis is way more stable, which makes her easier to maneuver in rough waters. I can change heading to avoid taking a wave square-on from the side,” Trevor replied, as the seas and wind began to abate.
As the seas continued to calm and the wind dropped to twenty knots, Joel laughed and joined Trevor in the cockpit. “Okay, cut the commercials; you made your point, sort of. I get it, you know what you’re doing and Atlantis is a safe boat, if you’re careful and don’t fucking fall overboard again.”
Trevor fingered his harness. “I’ve learned my lesson, I swear.”
“You’d better,” Joel said, giving Trevor a punch in the arm.
Trevor replied by pointing forward. “Now get your ass back in the salon; we could still get hit by a wave. I’d hate to have to tell Lisa that her stupid boyfriend fell overboard because he wasn’t wearing a harness.”
Joel darted back into the salon doorway, and then turned to reply, “Yeah, only really stupid people fall overboard like that, right, oh crosser of oceans?”
Trevor laughed, and replied with his middle finger.
The Meltemi continued to abate, as Atlantis churned onwards through the calming seas, heading for Rhodes.
© 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.