Water becomes a deadly enemy and ends a mellow day of fishing and sunbathing
Water found the tiny lesion in the seam. Excited, it pushed a minuscule stream through the hole while feathery fingers tore at the weakness and particles of poorly mixed epoxy drifted away in the dark sea. The area of the broken seam widened and the stream grew and gathered force. Water always looks for a way to enter; it had found one.
Christopher Nash looked across the deck at his wife's supine form. Her skin glistened with a light painting of perspiration; long legs spread apart to accept the rays of the sun led his eye to his favorite part of her body, barely covered by the tiny green and yellow bikini.
Unable to determine if her eyes were open or closed behind the dark glasses, he smiled and nodded, and was rewarded with a smile and the wriggling fingers of a lazy wave.
Life is good, he thought, turning back in his fishing chair to watch the undulating blue water and focus once more on the line leading deep below; he felt the tug and wriggle of the attached baitfish.
A shark passed below the boat. His poor eyesight saw nothing of the tiny bubbles escaping as water methodically worked, but he sensed the slight agitation.
Swimming on, he passed the little fish struggling alone. Not worth an effort, his senses recorded, a school maybe, but a single fish - of no interest. He made a slow circle to traverse once again through his territory.
It had been a Friday afternoon, 4:45 p.m., when the construction of the boat was completed, and the man responsible for the final seal on the keel seam was thinking about his weekend plans when his epoxy gun flashed an indication it was near empty. Damn, I'm not going to reload this gun to finish two inches. He opened the casing of the gun and added a couple ounces of water, clicked the mix button, and finished the seam.
"Dale, this one's ready for final," he yelled at the inspector who was sorting inspection sheets in anticipation of quitting time.
The inspector too, was thinking about his weekend plans. His mother-in-law was visiting; he needed to think of an excuse to be out of the house. He looked up, nodded, and marked the final inspection box for hull 1765. The twenty-eight foot boat would ship.
Water's strength was building. From inside the hull, its weight pushed at the weak seam; outside it doggedly continued prying away the bad epoxy. The gap opened and the escaping air created a stronger stream of bubbles agitating the dark water.
The disturbance traveled through the water catching the shark's attention; he turned toward the source. Behind him, a school of barracuda also turned.
Chris felt a fish hit his bait and his heart leapt. It was always the same thrill, that first feeling traveling up the line to his hands. He clicked the tension button on the reel and snapped hard on the pole, pleased to feel the fight indicating the catch was snagged solid. Snapper for supper. His friend Angus had told Chris he always caught nice reds in this spot.
Betty's squeal made him turn his attention from the fishing pole and he caught sight of her chaise sliding across the deck, crashing into the port bulkhead rudely dumping her onto the deck. He quickly locked his rod into the clamp and rose to help her.
Only then he realized the deck was slanted at least fifteen degrees. The counter balances of his fishing chair had prevented his realization that the boat was canting dangerously.
Betty struggled to rise to her feet. "Chris, what's happening to the boat?"
Fear was apparent in her voice; Chris forced his own fear down. "I'm not sure, Bet. Don't try to walk, just stay down. Open that storage locker behind you. The life jackets are in there."
He staggered across the deck to the hatch, opened it, and looked down the steps to the sala. Water sloshing across the floor, already nearly a foot deep, covered the carpet. My God, we're going down!
Chris dragged himself up the ladder to the control deck and switched on the automatic distress signal then slid back down to the deck. The cant had increased to nearly thirty degrees. Too fast.
He dropped to his knees and crawled across the deck to where Betty huddled struggling to fasten unfamiliar clasps of her life jacket.
"Let me," he said, grasping the straps, clamping the connections together then pulling the straps tight.
"Chris, I'm scared," Betty moaned.
He took her chin in his hand and looked into terrified eyes. "Listen to me. You can't panic. The boat is sinking, and we need to get off before she goes down." He reached into the locker, pulled out another life jacket, and slipped his arms into it.
He spoke as he secured his jacket. "The life jackets will keep us afloat, and I've started the distress signal. We'll be okay. We're going overboard now. I won't let go of your hand. Once we hit the water we have to kick away from the boat as fast as possible."
"Can't we stay on board, I'm afraid of the ocean."
"Betty, when the boat goes down it will suck us under. We have to get as far away as possible to be safe."
He pulled himself up at the rail and helped Betty to stand, then opened the rail gate and holding tight to her hand, jumped.
The shark was near. He recognized the agitation of the air escaping from the sinking boat. He recognized other movement nearby. He didn't understand the motion of four legs urgently kicking in the water and turned to investigate.