A good day passed and a strange feel enveloped the atoll. A different feel in the atmosphere. Something did not appear right, yet no empirical evidence suggested otherwise. Call it instincts, only. Rich checked the barometer. It was dropping.
“That’s it,” Rich said, “batten down the hatches.”
“The lagoon will be safe, but a severe storm could leave me beached somewhere in those trees.”
Rich spotted two rocks protruding from the lagoon. He estimated them to be 60 feet apart.
“I can tie the bow and stern to each rock. That may hold me steady until the storm passes.”
Rich motored the dinghy between the two rocks and checked the depth. He returned to The Odyssey satisfied the depth was more than adequate.
Rich maneuvered The Odyssey easily between the rocks. He attached two bow lines and two stern lines to the rocks. The Odyssey held fast with little slack in the lines. He threaded the lines through the cleats and tied them off on the winches. He battened the deck and watched the western skies turn gray and then black like the cloak of death’s angel.
Rich stood on the foredeck and watched the skies churn. The surf on the other side of the atoll’s reef splashed high and exploded like fireworks. Bullets of rain-streaked from south to north. Soon the strength of the wind became too intense to bear. Rich climbed below and battened the companionway hatch.
“All that remains is to wait and watch.”
It was like the sound of a mammoth diesel locomotive. The joints of The Odyssey strained and moaned. She twisted and bobbed. The strain on the lines sounded like tight strings on a piano. Rich laid his hand on the mast in the cabin as if taking The Odyssey’s pulse. He felt the strain.
“Either she holds or she doesn’t,” Rich said.
One thing stood in Rich’s advantage, the wind hit The Odyssey head on as if sailing into the storm. A broadside wind either starboard or port would put additional strain on the lines.
Rich had little idea of the wind’s velocity. The wind gauge only registered up to 100 miles per hour. Every time it was checked the needle was buried beyond the 100.
The Odyssey continued a frenzied wiggle and whipping as if no more than an ensign on a staff.
Rich watched from the porthole. Winds picked up the water and rushed it past the porthole-like busy shoppers rushing to catch a bus. He heard trees resist the wind and a couple of them snap. The wind knew no master and attacked with unabated fury.
At times Rich displayed a fear expected from such violence. Yet, realized he might be in the safest place in the entire region. “The Odyssey was constructed sturdy. She was meant to withstand tons of force.”
Twelve hours passed. The storm abated with the same suddenness that it had struck and Rich lifted himself from the cabin onto the deck. The atoll appeared to be conquered by an invading army. The hardiest of palms could not withstand nature’s fury, while the younger of the species withstood its wrath.
Rich inspected for damage. The Odyssey held true, as Rich had expected. He cleared the deck of debris.
The next morning he set out on an inspection of the atoll. He walked along the lagoon’s beach and discovered that a fallen palm now blocked the exit from the atoll.
“Fine!” Rich said. “I’ll just stay here.”
Rich tried to move it, but it was far too heavy for one or even two men to handle.
Rich returned to The Odyssey for an ax. He used it to remove as many limbs as possible. He then chopped it in two. He backed The Odyssey close to the tree. He attached a line and with the use of the engine and sails moved the severed tree as if it was a gate.
Soon he anchored just off the seaside shore of the atoll where he remained for two more days.
And it was time to go. Not that Rich particularly wanted to leave, practicality suggested he should. After all, the food supply would eventually be depleted.
He hoisted the sails and watched them fill with the most luxurious air that had ever filled his lungs. The course set to the northwest.
“Where will you take me, fair maiden,” Rich muttered as he stood sturdy at the helm. “We shall just sail the good sea, my darling. We’ll look for a destination in the evening, but for now, I want you to run free and untamed.”