February 14th, 2021

Beyond the Ocean's Edge

More of the Story

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A quick, rough sketch of a brig.  Basically a doodle. Original isn't much larger than a quarter.  Numbers, etc are from whatever else I was doin on that page/sheet of paper.
So here's a little bit, in fact the opening portion of Chapter Fifiteen, "Witness to Mutiny" from Sailing Dangerous Waters: Another Stone Island Sea Story. Hope you enjoy it.

             “Back the topsails!  Helm aweather!” shouted Pierce.  “Turn into her!”  He prayed the sudden move would diminish their time under the frigate’s guns.  Backing topsails would allow the larger vessel to forge ahead, and the turn into her would further alter their relative positions and lessen the chances of receiving a full broadside.  With judicious and quick handling, the schooner could continue her turn, fall off on a port tack and momentarily have the frigate’s port quarter under her guns.
            Yet Pierce would not fire unless fired upon.  As much as he disliked Jackson, he would not fire on a ship that was not a declared enemy.  Would Furious’ captain show the same restraint?  He tended to think the man would not, and that if any guns could be brought to bear on the schooner, a hail of deadly shot would sweep the deck.  After all, the Kentish man-of-war had run out her guns when they could only hear each other in the fog.  As visibility had increased she had edged purposely and ominously closer.
            Jackson was sharp.  No sooner had the schooner begun to slow and turn, when the frigate ceased her turn to starboard and came about to port.  “Damn!” he said.  Furious’ countermove placed the British vessel in the line of fire again.  With a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, Pierce watched Lowell Jackson wave his sword and issue the commands that would unleash death and devastation upon his schooner.
            The two vessels were close enough that he could hear Jackson shout, “As your guns bear!  Fire!”  Pierce braced himself for the onslaught that would follow.
            Still, he had the handling of his own ship to be concerned with.  Turning into the wind and backing topsails had brought the schooner near dead in the water.  She did not have the impetuous to continue the turn and fall off on the other tack.  If he did not act decisively and quickly, they would be caught in stays and truly at the mercy of the larger ship.  “Starboard your helm!  Brace topsails around!”  Hopefully the Island Expedition still had enough way on her that she could reverse the direction of her turn and with the wind once again aft of the large square sails, resume something akin to her previous course.  It might place them under the frigate’s guns for a slightly longer period of time, but now Pierce wanted steerageway and speed.  Then, depending upon Jackson’s next move, he could attempt a proper tack.
            The schooner answered her helm’s new position and sluggishly turned back to port. Wind filled the topsails, caught behind the jib, and exerted a push on the double reefed mainsail.  It had been some moments since he had seen and heard Jackson give the order to fire.
            As he watched, Jackson shouted again and brandished his sword at his first lieutenant.  Clearly his words reached the schooner’s deck.  “Fire I say!  Fire!  Damn you!”  Jackson jumped about in a rage, and Pierce watched his face growing redder.  “Damn you to hell, Rollins!  I’ll have the lot of you in irons!  You’ll hang, damn your eyes!  All of you filthy bastards will hang!  Now fire and sink that damn schooner!”
            Pierce looked on in amazement.  Distraught and enraged, the frigate captain cavorted angrily about the deck.  Three Tritonish marines, bayonets fixed, surrounded him, but kept a respectful distance from his flailing sword.  Rollins, the ship’s first lieutenant stood resolute, repeating the words, “do not fire!  On your life, men, do not fire!”
            “I’ll see every man-jack of you hanged or flogged around the fleet!”  Jackson shouted hysterically.  “Sink that fucking schooner, now!  Kill that bastard Pierce!  Make me a fucking cuckold will he!”
            Rollins shook his head, almost in sympathy for his captain.  Then he nodded briskly.  The marines stepped nearer Jackson.  He raised his sword threateningly, but the center of the three thrust his musket forward and with a twist caught Jackson’s blade and sent it flying.  Rollins joined the marines, and soon they had Jackson bound and defenseless, still standing on what had been his quarterdeck.
            “Fire a gun to leeward, Mr. Nelson!  And haul down the colors!” Pierce heard the frigate’s lieutenant say.  “Secure the guns and stand down!”
            “Secure our guns as well, Mr. Hotchkiss!” said Pierce.