I’ve been writing even more new material than I expected in this revision of the story’s middle act. Even scenes that I recycled from before have had their context considerably changed.
The portion for today will also feature some an all-new work. Here is the description I wrote for it in my earlier outline.
- They reach a point where the water becomes much deeper, and they are now at the center of the storm. Huge sidewinds suddenly pick up, buffeting them on the port side
- Try to hold the line, eventually give up and decide to turn around
- Fighting against the sideways push Oscar’s boat gets its rudder arm bent
- Oscar’s boat tilts into a wave. Completely swamped, Oscar holds to the line for dear life
I’m excited to see what I’m able to develop this time. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
The Rising Wind)
It wasn’t just the rising power of the storm that was making things difficult either. They were now quite far from shore, and they had just reached the point where the seafloor suddenly dropped down, doubling the volume of water below them. Now the waves stretched out, remaining just as high as ever, but extending out for twice the distance. It gave the sailors more time in the trough to build up their speed, but also a much more drawn-out crawl up the longer rises.
And what was more, this stretched out, highly exposed landscape gave the wind unbroken access to the boats. It was no longer diluted by numerous bumps and channels in the seascape, and now it buffeted them with its full power. Like a charging herd of bulls in slammed into the broadside of their boats and pushed them before its horns. The tops of their boats tilted sideways and stayed in that precariously askew position.
“Turn your rudder!” Oscar instructed. “Turn it to port.” He cranked his own wheel and flexed the underside of his boat to counter the pushing of the wind. Between the two askew forces he found something of a balance, though one that unpredictably trembled in and out of equilibrium. A woeful groan rumbled up from the depths of his vessel.
“Hold on, girl, hold on,” Oscar encouraged. His boat was a good and reliable craft, but also well past her prime. He knew it wasn’t wise to put her through strain like this, but he also had no choice.
“We’re still sliding to starboard,” Harry pointed out. “Sliding towards the eddies.”
“Just keep screwing the boat against it.”
Oscar’s wheel pushed back against his hands, but he forced one spoke down and then another, contorting it against its will. Still, he felt his boat trying to roll off to starboard.
“We must be clear of the eddies now, Oscar,” Harry reasoned. We can cut in front of the cape now!”
“The eddies don’t disperse until the drop-off, and the drop-off follows the shape of the coastline farther out.”
“We’ve got to turn back then.”
“We’ve got to get over this wave is what we’ve got to do!” Oscar surveyed the remaining slope they still had yet to clear. “Just keep turning the wheel and keep going straight.”
Oscar put his shoulder into it and pushed the wheel still further to port. And then, all at once, a loud whine burst from the back of the boat and the wheel suddenly became loose in his hands.
“No!” Oscar cried, relaxing his hold on the wheel for fear of causing more damage. The wind pushed his boat at its pleasure, turning it nearly all the way to starboard, making him carve up the wave at an angle.
“Oscar, everything alright?” Harry called over the radio.
But Oscar didn’t reply. He needed both of his hands as he twitched the wheel back and forth, trying to feel out what had happened to his steering.
Well, it seemed that the rudder arm had not snapped, that was a relief! The boat still responded to Oscar’s commands, though sluggishly, and not all the way to its usual range. Probably the bolt connecting the hydraulic cylinder shaft to the rudder arm had bent.
“My–my steering’s limited,” Oscar called into the mic. “I put too much strain on it…. I–“
Oscar heard the thundering of water breaking across the prow and looked up to see the port side of his prow pierce into the water and a torrent of water come running across the deck! Oscar quickly twisted his hands around the wheel spokes. In horror he watched as the wall of water slammed against the windows of the wheelhouse. This time two of the panes of glass did shatter, and suddenly a deluge slammed into his body and swept his feet out from underneath! All he could do was hold fast to the wheel and hope to come through the other end! He was engulfed for an eternity, and he was just starting to give up hope of ever breaking through to the surface, when his boat finally cleared the top of the wave and the flood abated, leaving Oscar’s boots slipping on the water-slicked floor.
I have to be honest, this bit about the sideways buffeting of the wind and the bending of the rudder didn’t come onto the page as smoothly as some of my other work. Part of that has to do not feeling like I’m in the best mental space for writing this particular evening. Still, I’m glad that I put in the effort for today, and I’ll leave it here for later evaluation. The beauty of writing is that you don’t have to get it all down perfectly in a single pass. A great story can be crafted simply by combining the highest points of all the flawed drafts that came before!
This will do for today, and we’ll pick it up again next week. See you then.