The darkness was barely gray, not yet really changing from black. Why was I even aware of it? It must have been early, just about daybreak when the sunlight is struggling to push out the shadows. Didn’t I just go to bed? All I wanted to do was roll over and go back to sleep. Just a little while longer and then I might get up.
Instantly I was awake as I realized we were moving!
When a boat is tied to the dock, it will rock back and forth rhythmically with the waves. The feel of a boat in motion is different.
Everything was silent. The engine wasn’t running. If dad had decided to set off early, he would have started the engines to move out of the waterway. But that didn’t make sense. He wanted us to test handling the boat as crew. He would have wanted us on deck as we cast off.
Why were we moving? Were we drifting? Had we somehow broken loose from the dock during the night?
I thought about that for a minute, but that didn’t make sense either. If we were adrift, there would be no pattern to our movements, but we were definitely moving in one direction. There was purpose in our going forward.
I don’t know what urged me to do so, but I slowly, silently eased out of bed. My bare feet hit the cool floor and I cautiously edged to the door feeling for the handle. It turned easily and I slowly cracked the door open only about an inch.
Through the skylight in the pilothouse, I could make out the mast above outlined against the gray background. There was no sail unfurled. How could we be moving ahead and in one direction with no sail and no engine running?
Something was very wrong here.
I could make out the shadowy form of a human figure behind the wheel. Who is that? I strained to make out some kind of detail. Is that dad? I didn’t think so. Dad is taller, I think.
There was movement to the right. There was the figure of someone moving from the bow past the pilothouse windows and into the cockpit. Now it looked like there were two people I didn’t know aboard.
I closed the door and sat on the edge of my bunk with my mind racing. How could the boat be moving? Who was behind the wheel? What was going on? Where was dad?
I decided to take another look out my door. They were still there in the cockpit. I had to know what was going on and where dad was.
I opened the door just enough so that I could get through and without a sound closed it behind me. I stood motionless for a few seconds to make sure that I was hidden in the darkness of the cabin and couldn’t be seen from the outside. Once I was sure, I crouched as low as I could and began to work my way forward through the salon. My eyes were adjusting to the dark and I could make out some shapes, but I didn’t make a move without first feeling my way.
I didn’t dare lift my head. I didn’t want whoever it was out there to see me. The door slowly swung open and someone came out. It was still too dark to see who it was, but I had to do something.