The Caribe was underway again. Her main mast standing rigging had been repaired, and some jury rigged forestays were erected from the stump of the bowsprit, and some deadeyes bolted through the deck, up to the main mast. The Caribes bent their spare jib sails to these stays, to aid in tacking the ship if nothing else. She loped along now, making six knots with her reduced sail, steering toward Saint Martin. Another day, maybe a day and a half away yet. There was nothing on the horizon to be seen, which was both a blessing and a curse to Jack.
He saw to the squaring away of the ship; their course set, sails trimmed, main engine shut down and secured to save what fuel remained… Jack scurried from aft to forward and back again, not settled in his mind until he surveyed everything twice. This heavy responsibility he’d never had before, and it was beginning to weigh on him something fierce. A big ship, a crew, no matter how small…
“Jack, you look tense” Linda said, studying him as she met him near the wheelhouse.
“This is a lot more than I’ve ever been charged with” he said, casting an anxious eye around once again. “It’s something very heavy, having so many look to me for leadership. I’m no leader.”
“I beg to differ” Linda cooed. “You’re a lot more than what you give yourself credit for.”
“What have I done?” Jack asked. “Willie was the one I looked to for guidance, once we all came together.”
“Yes, but Willie looked to you for backup. And for ideas. You can do this, Jack. I know you can.”
They walked into the wheelhouse. Jack looked at the compass, then went over to the chart which was spread out at the table. They were on course. “Helmsman” he hailed.
“Oui mon capitaine” the helmsman replied.
“How long have you been aboard?”
“S’ree years, mon capitaine.”
“And you’ve been helmsman in that time?”
“Oui monsieur. I ‘ave been wis’ ze deck crew seense I come aboard. Ze steering, ze raising an’ treeming of sails, ze mooring an’ anchoring… I ‘ave ze skeels at ze ‘elm, monsieur.”
“And what is your name, sir?” Jack inquired.
“Sebastiene, mon capitaine.”
“Very well, Sebastiene” Jack said. “Steady as she goes, and let me know if anything changes.”
“Oui mon capitaine.”
Jack led Linda below, to the captain’s cabin just below the wheelhouse. They sat for a moment on the wide berth, holding each other. Just a minute later, Jack’s head went slack on her shoulder and he began to snore quietly. She let him down gently onto the bunk, then carefully lifted his feet into it as well, and covered him with the blanket which was neatly folded at the foot. She stroked his hair gently for a moment, then took her ease on the wide settee next to the berth, and soon drifted off herself.