Sail, Ho!

“Sail, Ho!” the Bowman cried. Captain Boner turned to his right and spoke softly, “Mister McConnell, please ask the crew to beat to quarters.”  First Lieutenant McConnell rang out the call that was echoed by Second Lieutenant Cantor, “Beat to quarters!” Training his spyglass upon the horizon, Boner swept it from beam to bow and there just two points off the starboard bow was the dread carrack Obama. As Boner studied his adversary, he could only wonder how it was possible that this ship could have wrought so much destruction. The three-master Obama had long since slipped into obsolescence from modern naval architecture. Studying its through his scope, he almost gasped aloud at its sloppy and un-naval like handling. He almost chuckled, but held himself in check. He consciously steeled his heart, by reminding himself of the bullion of dollars that this pirate had already stolen. These thoughts caused a cascade of emotions that he only barely managed to hold in check with an almost sub-audible heartfelt sob.

“Sail, Ho!” the Bowman cried. Captain Obama visibly sagged in relief; he had been manning the tiller single-handed for the last three days. Plague had been contracted at the last African port and most of the crew had been laid low. No surgeon would be available until after the next port of call. Obama and Lieutenant Biden cared for the stricken crew the best that they could. Reading from the medical texts onboard, they alternately bathed and bled their fallen crewmen. Call it success if you may, but so far they had managed to save all but 9% of the crew. A full third of the crew was still in sick bay, but by all appearances, the plague had been contained. Further studying the other vessel, Obama became wary of rescue. He called to Biden to run out the guns. While the remnants of his crew scrambled to action, Captain Obama studied the other ship. Could this be the dread privateer Reagan that he had heard of? With a crown charter, the Reagan had been looting free trade for decades.

As the two ships closed, they also began to spar. The sparring began first with maneuver, tacking this way and that, but soon it turned to gun play. Bow chasers at half a mile brought only the occasional hit. While these two ships closed, so did a storm from the east. “Storm, Ho!”, both ship’s lookouts called out. The wind rose and the waves soon followed. By the time that the two ships were within broadside range, most gun ports had to be closed, because of the rising sea. In the remaining minutes of combat, neither ship could inflict mortal damage on the other. The rising sea swamped combat and made survival of the ship of state paramount.

Postscript – The photo with this post was taken from the passenger seat, as Anne and I drove south across the Mackinac Bridge. This shot just shows what magic a little bit of telephoto can do, a forty-footer in Lake Huron.

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