I’m coming into the real meat of the story now, the long journey back to shore. As always, here is a link to the second draft of this story, and now let’s continue with the third!
Sailing Into Trouble)
“I can’t do this,” he said to himself. “I just don’t have it in me anymore.”
Then another side of him replied. “I don’t think you have any choice in the matter. You’re already committed.”
I revised the above so that it was clear Oscar was talking to himself right away.
If at all possible, his weathered face grew even more wrinkly and his eyes shone with unshed saltwater.
“I should have quit after I lost James.”
“No,” his other side returned. “You should have quit before you lost your son.”
“I’m sorry,” his chest quivered and the tears finally dribbled down his cheeks. “I should never have trusted him to Harry.”
The next wave slammed against the side of Oscar’s boat like a slap across the face. His feet jerked out from under him and he had to catch hold of a shelf to keep from tumbling across the floor.
“Keep it together!” he commanded, clambering back to his feet and spinning the wheel to correct his drift.
Trying to cut across the waves at an angle was proving extremely difficult. It meant that the port side of their boats were constantly slammed by the onslaught of water, which pushed them back to starboard. As they came down the crest of each wave Oscar had to crank his wheel back to port to compensate for the diversion, but his boat was becoming sluggish, weighed down by the weight of more and more water in its hold. It taking too long for his boat to turn back into its line, he wasn’t even able to get back to the proper slant before the next wave was already upon them and pushing them further off-course.
“Whoa there!–” Harry’s voice cautioned over the radio as the next wave nearly turned Oscar’s boat completely broadside.
I reduced this sequence a great deal. I find that I try to spell out a lot of the locations and rotations of the boats in this story, and while I want to keep some of that, it pretty quickly becomes overwhelming and confusing. Probably better to only put enough that the reader knows things are a problem, and then trust their imagination to supply a fitting visual.
Oscar snatched the mic to his mouth. “Alright Harry, we’ve got to go head-on into those waves. Hitting them at an angle just isn’t working.”
“I don’t think there’s enough time between waves to turn at them head-on!”
“Well there’s going to be some tricky maneuvers coming up…but you leave them to me, just do everything you can to keep up!”
Oscar locked the mic button down and set it on the panel. He would need both hands on the wheel for this next part, but would also need to call it out instructions as they went.
Of course, not cutting across the waves at a slant would mean giving up the shortest path around the cape. Now they would have to turn fully into the waves, push for as much distance as they could from the Broken Horn, then turn around and come back again. Then, as they then thundered back towards the cape, they would slice to port, hopefully pulling enough in that direction to skim past the dangerous shoals on their right.
How far out would they need to be able to make that turn? Oscar wasn’t sure. Did they have enough fuel for it? It didn’t matter. They just had to deal with the situation at hand and worry about the rest as it came up.
As before, greatly reduced the above description to hopefully make a cleaner and clearer experience for the reader. Obviously I am at a disadvantage when trying to gauge how difficult my work is to understand, because I already know exactly what I’m trying to communicate. I will be submitting this story to a writing group for feedback later on, and in the meantime feel free to sound off below whether these segments are making sense to you or not.
Oscar tapped his fingers in anticipation on the helm as the next wave roared up to them. The boat creaked as it was pulled upwards, bow pointed towards the sky. As before, the wave was slowly turning his boat to starboard, but Oscar still kept his wheel locked as far to port as possible.
The foam burst high into the air as the boat crested the wave at an angle, then Oscar swung his head around, watching until Harry’s boat burst through the top of the wave also. As soon as it did he sprang into action.
“Harry, hold that angle, but give me a little slack!” Oscar called down towards the mic. Then he thrust his wheel hard to starboard, opposite the way he needed to go. All the water in the hold rushed over, making the boat careen onto its side. Oscar splayed his toes wide, feeling the movements of the vessel through his boots. He could tell the shift when the water down in the hold collided with the hull wall and started to slosh back the other way. Now he spun the wheel back to port as quickly as possible, encouraging the water’s momentum, flowing it back across the hold until it slammed into the opposite side of the hull. The port side. The rudder and the rushing water combined to give Oscar that needed extra push, just enough to finally pull his boat out of its angle and pointed head-on towards the next wave.
Well, I’m making a lot more changes in this new material than in the old. I’m not too surprised. This new stuff has one less coat of polish than my original work. Hopefully with repeated passes I’ll be able to have them all smoothed out until it all blends together nicely. In any case, come back next week when I get to it again!