Chapter Nine Part Two - Crew

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The tide was high but on its way out, which meant that the single engine the four boats were running did not have to work quite as hard as it might otherwise have had to.

At the helm of the lead boat, Joan stood and kept them on as even a course as she could whilst the wind played at her hair.

"You know, I've played cricket out here before," said Jack, conversationally.

"You know we're out at sea, Jack?" she replied without turning. "You can't play cricket at sea."

"Well we're not at sea yet, are we? We're in the Solent."

"OK I'll give you that, but it does share certain sea-like characteristics, don't you think?"

Jack chuckled, nodding. "Aye but at the lowest tide of the year, Bramble Bank is accessible."

"I saw that on the map," Joan replied. "Looks like it causes some pretty interesting tidal conditions."

"Well you want to steer well clear of it. I don't think we need to worry with these little cruisers but the last thing we want to do is run aground."

"That's pretty much a given," she replied with a nod. "So you were saying something about cricket?"

"Aye, I have, or had most likely, an uncle who was a member of some yacht club or other. Every year they played a game of cricket against another yacht club from the Isle of Wight on Bramble Bank."

"Sounds like fun," she said with a roll of her eyes.

"It was a good crack, to be honest. Thing is, that year low tide wasn't as low as normal. We were playing cricket under six inches of Solent with two foot waves crashing over the pitch every time a cruise ship went by."

"Well I guess that's what you get for playing a ridiculous game like cricket in the bloody ocean!"

"No arguments from me," he replied with a chuckle. "Hey, are you all right up here? I'm gonna' do the rounds, make sure everyone's OK."

"Aye, fine," she replied.

With a nod Jack turned and walked the few feet to the rear of the boat. None were very large but their cabins were plenty large enough for the seventeen passengers they carried, providing they did not have to call them home for an extended period of time at any rate.

He hopped over the rail at the back, taking care not to slip down the foot or so's gap between the boats to the Solent below.

There was no one up on deck of either of the two boats in the middle, as Jen had the 'crew,' of both boats counting out rations, separating them so that everyone had an equal share.

"Keeping them busy, Jen?" he asked with a chuckle as he poked his head into the cabin.

"Aye, I thought it best," she replied with a grin. "The last thing we want is everyone ambling around on deck like a herd of Zeds and someone slipping overboard."

"Agreed but don't work them too hard, eh? It's only a hundred miles or so. Joan reckons that once we're out of the Solent and into the Channel, all being well we'll only be twelve hours out if we take it easy."

"Not calling me a slave-driver are you, Jack?" she asked with a wink, at which he felt a shiver go down his spine.

"Nothing like that but it might be worth us all getting as much sleep as we can. It'll be all hands on deck when we land on Sark. We need to be ready to fight for the island.

"I'm teasing," she replied with a smile. "Go on, we're good here. You carry on with your rounds."

"Yes Ma'am." He flipped a mock-salute and removed himself from the cabin with a friendly, "see you soon," on his way out.

Making his way to the two boats at the rear, again he had to be careful not to slip between the vessels.

There were two people on each deck. Jack hated to admit it but although he recognised all four, he found he was unable to recall their names. There would be time for that though, when they reached their destination.

"She's keeping pretty straight at the moment, following the coast," said one, a middle-aged man. "Joan wanted us back here to make turning easier, putting less strain on the rudder of the lead boat so when she turns, we turn."

"Looks like Joan thought of everything," Jack replied with a chuckle. "She's even got two of you on each boat so one can check the angle of a turn whilst the other does the actual turning."

"Aye," said a voice from the other boat, a woman in her late twenties. Her Welsh accent was diluted, but most definitely audible. "She's got a good head on her shoulders, has Joan."

"She has at that," Jack agreed. "Speaking of Joan, I'm gonna' go make sure she stays awake. Need to make sure she's fully alert, the last thing we want is to run aground."

"Aye."

"Well hey, give a shout if you need anything and I'll come running."


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