EXCERPT 1 GALE WARNINGS

As I got up to use the head, the front of the gale hit us. We took the first blow like a punch-drunk boxer. The sheer force of a massive wave breaking over our bow accompanied by the now fifty-knot winds pushed the Frisky II backward. It knocked Ethan loose from his death grip on the galley table and left him sprawled on the floor. The little ones screamed and clung to Mom. Monica shouted at Daddy, “This is a nightmare! What are you doing, Father?”

Seconds later, an even bigger wave hit us broadside and took out the galley window, flooding the cabin with seawater and nearly rolling us over. Panic swept the cabin. We were all soaking wet and scared silly. Mom stopped trying to calm us and shifted into survival mode as the little ones screamed hysterically. She hugged them tightly, kissed their brows and screamed at Father to turn away from the storm and get us out of there. She told us to sit on the floor, hang on to something, and pray.

The icy bath of seawater, that had flooded the cabin, snapped our skipper out of his drunken stupor and shorted out the radio. I was plenty concerned about Daddy’s state of mind. I knew he was a competent and experienced sailor when he had his wits about him, but that wasn’t the case this afternoon. We had just lost our radio and I understood the significance of that. It meant we were on our own. From that moment on, nobody, I mean nobody, would know we were out in these forbidden waters. If we went down, there would be no one here to rescue us or witness our demise. I hoped that if we did drown, everything would just quickly go black and we wouldn’t suffer. I felt a little better when Daddy gunned the engines, turned sharply away from the oncoming seas and ordered the family into life jackets.

Daddy then instructed me to make sure all the bilge pumps were working properly. They were all fine except the one in the engine-room. I cleared the intake of debris and was about to re-enter the cabin, when a deafening roar came out of nowhere, drowning out the wind. When I spun around to see what it was, I was confronted with a towering twenty-foot wall of green water, half a football field length off our stern. It was coming at us fast and loud, like an out-of-control, freight train. My mouth dropped open, and my eyes got as big as saucers. I had never seen a wave that menacing. I dove into the cabin and screamed, “Look out, take cover!”

I dropped to the deck and waited for the monster wave to smash us to smithereens.