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"Boating - An Ocean Discovery"

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Part 20

Luke awoke startled. His eyes opened immediately and he felt his heartbeat quicken. Something had awoken his fight or flight response and adrenalin was beginning to course through his body. His head snapped from side to side to look for the cause of his alarm, then he heard a faint yelling from outside, but it sounded wrong. It was not on board. Luke realised they must be very close to another vessel. ‘Why the fuck didn’t the proximity alarm go off? Shit, are we on a collision course with something big?’

Luke leapt from his bunk and in three huge steps he was on the bridge and looking out the window. Nothing. He looked at the surface radar, nothing.

“What the fuck? Guys! Check out what they hell’s going on! I can’t see anything, but we’re close to something! Move it shitheads!”

Jason and Dean were up in seconds and scrambling for the hatch to the deck. They ran out on to the deck and looked carefully around the Nova. All they could see around them was dark blue ocean in the early dawn light. Jase and Dean returned to the aft deck and looked at each other shaking their heads. Dean jumped in the hatch and yelled up to the bridge.

“Absolutely nothing out there. Anything you guys can see out the front?”

Luke’s heart felt like it stopped for several beats and he felt sick.

“What do you mean? Who, who’s back there with you right now?”

“Me and Jase. We checked out the port, starboard and aft.”

“Where the fuck is Scott then? He’s not up here! Scott! SCOTT!”

Luke jumped down from the bridge in one leap and slammed open the door to the head. Nothing.

“Fuck!”

He was back in the bridge in two leaps this time and slammed his hand on the emergency stop. The prop disengaged from the engine and the Nova began a slow reduction in speed. Thinking purely on gut instinct and feeling somewhat amazed at how clear the process was to him, Luke took note of their heading and immediately initiated a 180 degree turn on the spot. He then re-engaged the prop and the Nova began retracing it’s wake at 3/4 speed.

“You two! On the fore deck now! I want eyes on the water in front of us, and 20 degrees to each side. I heard a yell just before I went to the bridge, I pissed about looking at instruments for maybe 30 seconds before sending you out. I think total time was like 2 minutes. If he’s in the water, we should find him in the next three.”

Luke opened the sliding glass window of the bridge so he could get a clearer view of the water in front of them as well as yell to his crew.

“Guys, as soon as you see anything at all, yell your guts out. Jase, get up on the roof of the bridge, Height will help in spotting. Dean, don’t take your eyes off that water.”

Luke grabbed his binoculars from the hook on the wall and began scanning the quickly disappearing traces of their wake, which now slowly dispersed in front of them. He focussed on the mostly straight centre line. The sun was now glinting treacherously off the small waves and made his eyes burn with the brightness. It also made it agonisingly difficult to even pick out a wave trench let alone a drowning kid.

Jason jumped from the top of the ladder onto the roof of the bridge, managing to trip over the last rung and thumping heavily to the roof deck. He felt the immediate sting of injury bite him in his left arm but the pain fled to the back of his mind as he righted himself and grabbed the rail to help him steady his gaze. ‘How the fuck did he fall overboard? He did fall right? Of course he did! What the fuck are you thinking!’

Jason squinted and blinked as the combination of events filled his eyes with tears. He cleared his vision and concentrated on his only job right now – save the life of his best friend in this world.

Dean cried too. He wiped the tears from his eyes furious with himself that he was doing something so stupid that could easily jeopardize the life of his friend for so many years. He took several deep breaths and forced himself to open his eyes wide despite the agonising sunlight reflections hitting his face.

Luke glanced at the GPS and calculated that they were about to come to somewhere near the spot he had heard what he was convincing himself was yelling. It HAD to be yelling, it had to be Scott’s yelling to them to wake them up.

“Fuck, what if it wasn’t?” he muttered to himself. He could have been gone for hours!

Shaking his head to shake away that thought Luke pulled back on the throttle to reduce running speed to one eighth.

“Now’s the time to really look hard guys!” he yelled.

Nothing.

The nova continued on slowly in the early morning swell. Luke kept glancing at the GPS. He was convinced they were now in the right place. He scanned the water all around with the glasses and saw nothing but water.

For another two minutes they carried on, Luke brought the engine to dead slow and they looked and looked.

Nothing.

Luke felt his breathing getting faster and faster as panic gripped him.

His mind returned to that meeting that now felt so long ago and far away with the parents of his three crewmen. Especially the parting words of Scott’s dad, Grant: ‘Don't let Scott kill himself will you? And more importantly, don't hurt my boat!’

Luke clenched his eyes shut, squeezing the tears from them and took several deep breaths. When he opened his eyes the sea looked different. He immediately realized that the sun had been obscured briefly by a cloud on the eastern horizon. Within seconds Luke heard a gurgling shout from above him.

“There.” Jase coughed, “There! I see him! To the right and about a hundred metres away! Turn!”

Luke looked to the right of course and saw nothing, he scanned an arc from dead ahead to the far right of the boat with his glasses and then he saw it too. It looked almost like seaweed floating in the current, then Luke saw a glimpse of pale skin and with the binoculars he made out a face. The seaweed was in fact Scott’s hair floating on the surface.

Luke swung the boat around until it was heading right for the body floating in the ocean. A quick burst of prop closed the gap fast and then Luke went full reverse to bring the Nova to a stop only ten metres from Scott. Dean was already in the water and Jason was leaping from the railing as Luke made it on to the deck.

Luke grabbed the starboard side life preserver and with flung it towards the mass of floating hair. He couldn’t see Scott’s face and it appeared as if he might be floating just below the water. The life preserver landed right beside Scott just as Dean arrived. Dean shot below the water and popped back up holding what looked like a lifeless body. Jason arrived and helped Dean to lift the flopping body on top of the floating ring. They waved at Luke and he began pulling the three of them towards the aft of the Nova as fast as he could pull.

Dean kept kicking hard with his feet to lift his own body from the ocean so that he could breath into Scott’s mouth and nose while Luke pulled. When they reached the aft of the boat Jason clambered aboard and together Luke and Jason dragged the lifeless body aboard and lay him on the aft deck. Luke started checking for life signs as Jason helped an exhausted Dean back onto the boat.

Pushing Jason’s helping hands aside, Dean crashed to the deck beside Luke and continued mouth to mouth as Luke checked his carotid artery for a pulse.

“There’s a weak pulse! Slow, but still there.”

Dean sat back reeling and gasping for his own breath, so Luke took over as Jason held Dean’s heaving body. Luke continued breathing for Scott for about half a minute until convulsions coming from the unconscious youth made him back away. Luke watched as a large volume of water gushed from Scott’s mouth and nose followed by a weak cough. Luke stopped and waited to see if Scott would resume breathing on his own. After a few seconds he resumed breathing for Scott. This time it seemed much more effective though. There was a lot more air getting into his lungs and it was only five more breaths before Scott began coughing properly and breathing on his own.

Together Luke and Dean rolled Scott into the recovery position. More water emerged with the coughing, and then Scott vomited a huge amount of sea water onto the deck. His breathing had returned to normal strength and when Luke checked his pulse again he nodded and smiled to the others.

All three sat back exhausted and breathing heavily themselves. Their adrenalin was still pumping, but they were all beginning to shake. Scott’s eyes fluttered open and he tried to get up, but flopped back to the deck and coughed weakly.

Luke gently pressed his hand onto Scott’s shoulder.

“Don’t move Scotty. You need to relax and just breath deeply for a while my friend. Watch him closely guys.”

Luke then got to his feet and shakily walked to the aft railing where he leaned out and vomited into the ocean. It was nervous exhaustion, although the pitching of the drifting Nova on the growing swell didn’t help much either. Luke wiped his mouth and went up to the bridge where he reset the controls and soon had them moving back on course at full speed. Luke knew that Scott should be checked out by a doctor as soon as practical. He checked over the charts and decided the nearest reasonable medical clinic was on the Atoll of Kiritimati just north of the equator. At full speed they could make landfall in 22 hours.

Continue to Part 21


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