The Distraction, Episode 78, Odysseys in Paradise

Rich and Ramona each grabbed a bundle from the car. They turned sideways to fit through a small gap between a fence post and a storage building. Tim drove slowly away.

Moored boats straddled the calm waters that made up the marina and created the distance between Rich and Ramona and the policeman.

“Stay low,” Rich whispered, “below the boats.”

They stooped low and walked behind rows of moored boats to hide from the view of the policeman. As they stealthily crept along Rich looked intently at each docked boat.

“What are you looking for?” Ramona whispered.

“My boat is on the other side of the channel,” Rich said. “I’m looking for a boat with a raft or dinghy. We can float it to the other my boat.”

“You mean like that one?” Ramona said pointing to a rubber life raft laying on the ground next to them.

Rich smiled. “Exactly.”

They lifted the raft and quietly set it in the water. They placed the bundles in the raft. Then they both cautiously stepped in.

“Is this safe?” Ramona said as the raft tipped and she struggled to keep her balance.

“It’s a life raft,” Rich said.

Rich pushed away from the dock and slowly paddled away from the policeman and toward The Odyssey. He carefully placed the oar in the water aware of not to make a noise loud enough to disturb the policeman. Each time Rich dipped the paddle into the water he looked over his shoulder down the channel to see if the policeman was in view and looking at them. What only lasted less than five minutes seemed as if an hour.

The raft butted up against the transom of The Odyssey. They lifted the bundles onto the aft deck and climbed aboard. Rich looked across the street from the marina. Rich waved. The lights to Tim’s car came on and he drove away.

“Ramona,” Rich said. “I’m not trying to get you out of the way, but for right now, it would be better if you just go below until I tell you to come up on deck.”

Rich untied the lines and waited for the distraction from Tim. A half hour went by and like a volcano, a huge column of fire along with thick rolling black smoke arose from near the restaurant. Moments later flashing lights and a siren split the silence of the night.

“Tim knows how to distract,” Rich said to Ramona. He started the motor and eased from the dock. In the middle of the channel, he slowly pushed the throttle forward and steered toward the narrows.

“There is little room to maneuver,” Rich said.

Ramona climbed up the companionway.

“Stay below,” Rich said.

“I’m not a jellyfish,” Ramona said and walked along the side of the cabin towards the bow. “I found this flashlight below. I can tell you if you are too close to the banks.”

“Yeah,” Rich said, “I was about to tell you to do that.”

Ramona hung over the pulpit and gave hand signals to Rich in order for him to navigate the narrow stream that led away from the marina. There was a sharp starboard bend halfway downstream producing some anxious moments. However, Rich sprung to the bow with two poles, one for Ramona and the other for him. They used them to push away from the rocky shoreline of the creek.

They were in open water within 10 minutes. Rich motored a couple hundred yards offshore. Then he adjusted coarse 10 degrees to follow the shoreline. He saw the headlights of Tim’s car flash from shore and Rich flashed his searchlight three times. He steered to 30 degrees and the open sea.

“When will we be safe from the police?” Ramona asked.

“It’s 12 nautical miles to international waters,” Rich said. “That’s about 22 kilometers.”

“How long will that take?” Ramona said.

“Normally less than two hours,” Rich said. “International waters gets a little fuzzy when you have islands all around. It won’t be likely until morning we will be safely beyond the reaches of New Zealand.”

“Let me show you something,” Rich said. “The compass is marked in degrees.”

Ramona looked at the lighted compass.

“Take the helm and hold us at 30 degrees,” Rich said. “I’m going to hoist our sails. She’ll want to pull starboard—to your right, but turn her back port—to your left and hold it as close to 30 as you can. You don’t have to be perfect.”

Rich hoisted the sails and stood for a moment on the bow holding tight to the mainstay gazing at the darkness to the northeast. “This is going to be a heck of a journey.”

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