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At the End of the World: Chapter Ten

       Last updated: Monday, May 25, 2020 19:15 EDT



August 5

    We had following seas and the wind a-stern all the way to South Georgia Island. That was a good, but not great, combo. The wind coming from directly behind meant we had to tack a bit, which, all told, probably cost us an extra day. But the seas became calmer as we edged a bit north, and the grey line of clouds to the south receded. From the Galapagos onward, the captain had warned us that this could be the roughest part of the voyage. But once we were hugging Tierra del Fuego, he added the caveat that the weather and seas had remained mild this year. Which made all of us pretty glad that we weren’t going through in typical weather, because it was still plenty rough and the water was cold enough to kill you in a few minutes if you went overboard.

    South Georgia Island’s glacial peaks popped over the horizon just as the light was starting to dim. I eyeballed the distance, added the time it would take to hook around the south end of the island and swing up along the eastern coast. “We could just make it.”

    The captain locked off the wheel, stepped down from the helmsman’s platform and opened the pilot house’s starboard door. “Reef the main.” By the time the door was swinging closed, Chloe had gone forward, Rod had started securing the boom, and Willow had gone below to get two of the others on deck to secure the canvas with bungee cords.

    Our speed began dropping, and the Voyager heeled a little less. We were obviously not trying for King Edward Point by nightfall. “Risky navigating Cumberland Bay at dusk?” I guessed.

    “Daylight is better,” is all he said.

    He didn’t speak for the rest of the night. Which, at the outset of our journey, wouldn’t have been too unusual. But ever since we had pulled beyond Tierra del Fuego, the captain had become slightly more talkative, even if he hadn’t become more personally communicative. Instead, he reviewed our seamanship in greater detail and started drilling us on all the features of the Voyager — and I mean all of them.

    But this night, as soon as dinner was done, he simply set the watches and went aft to his cabin without another word. That excited some speculation among the others, which kept them busy until midnight.

    I just went to my bunk, wrote this, and wondered if we’ll learn tomorrow why he became so quiet tonight.

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