We hurry up the narrow staircase to the upper deck steering room. “Captain Wiggins! Captain, where are you?” we all call out in unison. The ocean, although still a bit choppy, had lost most of most of its violence over the night.
“Where’s the Captain?” Virginia looks around, stating the obvious, “There is no sign of him or crewman Waites.” The helm is deserted, the floor still slick from the ocean waves that had at the height of the storm driven sheets of saltwater through the small quarters. That the boat is listing to the starboard side is very evident from this vantage point. We have to get off.
A small dinghy is strapped mid ship and secured by cables. Quickly we cast off the boathooks and with minimal confusion and a concerted effort we lower it into the thrashing ocean waves. Herb boards first and helps us all on. A few minutes later we release the cables tying her to the Angelica and find ourselves afloat in the North Atlantic. Slowly we are distanced from the Angelica; time has no parameters at this point. As we drift into the horizon we watch in horror as a wave swallows the Angelica leaving no trace of her existence. We are motionless; having succumbed to a trancelike existence as we try to digest this twist of fate.
Herb finally breaks the silence “What do you think happened to the Captain and crewman?”
“They’re dead, and so are we!” blurts out Jitters, looking frantically over the ocean, almost rising to his feet.
“Get a hold of yourself man, we are not done yet.” I reply trying to convince myself and everyone else that all is not lost.
“We’ve got no food or water, I’m freezing and we’re adrift in the North Atlantic.” Jitters, his voice on the verge of panic, ruthlessly sums up our situation.
“Hell, the brochure said it would be an adventure you’d remember for the rest of you life. I’ll tell you I won’t forget this.” Herb spoke trying to add a little levity to this remarkably grave situation.
Surprisingly, Virginia appears to be holding up rather well. “How are you doing?” I ask her.
“As well as can be expected coming out of that terrible storm. I hope the Captain and crewman are being taken care of, God bless their souls,” Virginia makes the sign of the cross on her chest.
“You are doing remarkably well.” Herb directs his comment to me.
“Christ what is wrong with you people, we are all going to die in this miserable hell hole!” Jitters, upset by the mundane conversation, predicts again.
I look around at the endless distance of sky and water, while we sit in a small boat bobbing in the North Atlantic like a bottle in the ocean. Suddenly I am aware of the cold wind ripping through me to my bones. We are not dressed appropriately and we are all soaked to the skin. Virginia instructs us to wrap up together under a canvas tarp she found in the boat. At first we were all shivering and holding hands for warmth, but we all realize that we are slowly succumbing to the cold.