Awoken by a sudden jolt I felt I like I was being smeared against the wall like a helpless insect. Cupboard doors sprang open, articles in the cabin slammed into the wall. I shielded my head with my arms as protection from scattering debris. Pressed against my bunk and wall, I wonder what the hell is going on. Did we hit an iceberg, another boat? The roar of breaking surf was deafening as it subsided into the groans of twisting steel. Loud screams and moans come from within the darkness of the cabin.
“Stay below! Brace yourselves! The wrath of Neptune is upon us!” bellows Captain Wiggins.
I lay there attempting to shake the cobwebs out. Suddenly there was a tremendous roar that penetrated any thought, swallowing the screams and moans of the others. I tried to sit up but was catapulted to the starboard side and tossed to the floor. Again I shielded myself from the oncoming debris. Anything not battened down was now flung across the cabin. I felt a trickle of water at my feet. Every sense I knew was being challenged in this situation of chaos.
“She’s taking on water!” Snippets of conversation could be heard coming from the upper deck, “For God’s sake’s man, turn on the bilge pumps, Lenny boy!”
I could feel the wind vibrating the side of our boat like a stretched canvas. With a sudden jolt the boat, which had been listing heavily starboard, shifted back into a prone position. It was like it had been dropped from a great height, plunking heavily into the ocean waters. Usually taking pride in remaining calm under pressure I suddenly was unsure of myself and my very existence. I wanted to hide from this dance with the Devil and wake up miraculously in my mother’s arms, protecting me from harm. Struggling to my feet I stagger to the cabin door. In the hall I find Virginia taking an inventory on her own condition.
“You okay?” I say reaching out to steady her.
“Yes, and you?’’ she asks. I nod to her, reassuring my well being
“My God what’s happening to us?” Virginia asks with panicked concern.
Before I can respond, we hear a muffled voice from an adjacent cabin. “Anyone there? Help me!”
Using the walls for balance, Virginia and I follow the sound of Jitters voice. We find him pinned to the floor by a mattress and his suitcase.
“We’re going down, I feel water for Christ sake.” Jitters’ panicked voice echoes in my head, saying aloud the very thoughts in my mind. “Where’s the Captain? Christ almighty – what’s happening!”
“I’m getting some lifejackets.” Virginia says and leaves to find some.
“What are we going to do?” Jitters’ insistent tone was verging on panic.
Suddenly the boat tossed forward, rolling nose heavy on a breaking wave. A bang, like a sledge hammer on steel pierced the air. Another bang and then another.
“Hail!” hollers Captain Wiggins. ”The size of golf balls.”