We were up at the crack of dawn, all wearing cutoffs and light T-shirts, each of us doing our agreed upon jobs. I started the engines and put them on idle and then signaled Yvonne to throw off the bow lines. I signaled Cappy to throw off the stern lines and I put us into forward gear going almost north and bore hard left until we were on a course of 195°, aiming just west of Powel Point at the tip of Eleuthera.
Cappy stowed the lines and then joined me on the bridge. Yvonne brought us coffee and we settled into our routine.
I flipped the switch that automatically hoisted the sails, main first, then stay, then mizzen. Cappy did a walk-around to check that the sails were deployed properly and came back to bridge. Yvonne kept an eye out for other boats. The number of collisions in open water is startling… it happens because no one is looking out for other traffic.
“So you know, we will hold our present course until we’ve passed Powel Point and then swing east to 175° until we reach Dead Man’s Cay on Long Island, about 190 miles.
“Now, how about I show you two how to use your weapons if, God forbid, you need to?” I reached under the dashboard and took out the pistol.
“Yvonne, here is your pistol. Keep it pointed at the deck. Cappy would you go and get the rifle from the salon?” I waited until he had the rifle in his hand, pointing down.
“Cappy, to use the pump action rifle, you hold it up so you can look just over the barrel. Line up the two sights and point that line where you want to shoot. This button is the safety lock.
Yvonne, just point the pistol where you want it to shoot as if you were pointing at someone with your index finger. This button is the safety lock.
Now, I’d like both of you to go out on the fantail, stand on the starboard side, facing west and fire a few rounds each to get the feel of the gun and how much effort it takes to pull the trigger. Better you find out now then if you are in a bad situation and are not sure. Before you fire, make sure you cannot see any boats to starboard.”
If they only knew what I had done with a pistol, long ago, another lifetime back in college. In my junior year, during a frat party, two policemen showed up. Springer and Studenbarger. They came to say hello. They wanted a beer. They wanted to talk privately. They wanted a place to hang out when they got bored during their beat. Who were we to say no to them? They became regulars at our parties and just hung around during the day as well. They kept an extra set of clothes in the frat house so they could take off their uniforms and relax. They became friends of a sort. I did the most insane, stupid, dangerous, moronic thing I have ever done in my life, before or since. I was studying in ,my room, Springer asked if could take a shower. He had left his holstered 38 in my room with his uniform. I took the gun out, removed the bullets, cocked the hammer and put a pencil, eraser first into the barrel. When he came back into the room, I pointed the gun at him, said, “Bang. Bang.” and pulled the trigger. The pencil flew out and Springer turned white as a sheet. Breathing fast, he sat down, almost collapsed, and asked me in a very controlled voice how I could think that was an ok thing to do. I apologized profusely, not realizing then how truly stupid it was. I think anyone else would have beaten me up and charged me with God knows what crime. “Bang Bang, indeed.” I shook my head in self-disbelief.
Cappy went out, took a few shots, then went forward to put the rifle back under the settee and returned.
Yvonne also went and took a few shots, then came back up to the bridge and handed me the pistol which I took down and put in its clip under the dash in the pilot house.”
“I could never shoot someone, Boots. No fucking way.” said, Cappy.
“Yeah, me the same,” said Yvonne who did not swear.
I hope you never have to but, if you do have to take out the guns, you need to be able to pull the trigger.
“Boots, listen.,” said, Yvonne.
“Motorsailor, Lost & Found, Coast Guard requests response. Come in, motorsailor, Lost & Found, come in please.”
“Shit.” I thumbed the switch to turn on the mike at full duplex. “This is Boots Beaumont aboard the motorsailor Lost & Found.”
“Boots, this is Red. The Coast Guard was kind enough to patch me in. Can you talk?”
“Sure, what’s up?”
“We’ve got another couple missing, Boots., the thing is…” and he hesitated.
“They started as a threesome.”
“Started? A threesome?”
“Yes, Boots, one guy and two girls.”
“Red, what are you not saying?”
“Well, they found the body of a young woman… she got snagged in a fishing net before sunrise this morning, probably not dead for more than a few minutes, literally. We think she jumped overboard and right into the net of the passing trawler as it was being hauled in. And, Boots, she was missing an arm.”
“Yes, it looked like it had been sawed off.”
“Sawed off? S A W E D?”