My mother screamed as a jet of blood erupted from her hand. I stumbled over to her, slipping on the wet deck. I was drenched. “Get back to your father” bellowed my mum above the storm. My mother has a voice far greater than her five foot four frame would suggest and disobeying her was never an option. She could be stern but with a shock of orange hair and a quick smile she had never failed to make me laugh. No one was laughing now. The sky was dark, rain lashed my face and in the distance I could see more and more waves preparing for an assault upon our diminutive craft. It had seemed a good idea at the time, to rent a boat for a week and sail it along the coast. Unknown to us we had foolishly entered the legendary Seven Capes region; the breaker of ships and drowner of souls. Worse still; we were out of teabags. Things looked bleak indeed.
Our radio wasn’t working, the mountains were interfering with our signal and we hadn’t seen any sign of life for hours. We were desperately looking for somewhere safe to anchor for the night. Another huge wave smashed into the side of our boat, my father grunted and turned the wheel with all his might. As a small boy I had considered his strength to be unmatched; he could carry me on his head and still have the energy to peel me an apple and pass chunks up to me. He could swing be by my arms for weeks without tiring. Once, he had thrown me up and down for what seemed like a year. Now however, it was clear he was exhausted. He had been at the helm for hours and had been holding the wheel as herd after herd of white tipped horses smashed into us. “Will, get over here boy”. I hurried over. “Find the chart; see if you can work out where we are”. “Mum says we sailed off the chart about three hours ago” I informed him helpfully. At thirteen years old I was always delighted to help. “Oh” replied my father with a pants-shittingly scary smile masking his true emotions.
“This is..Nay…ship….foxtro…alf…zulu” Our radio crackled into life. “Get down there Will, find out what’s going on”. I hurried down into the cabin. It looked like a murder scene. Blood was smeared all over the windows and curtains. My limited edition Star Wars monopoly set was on the floor, five hundred pound notes glued themselves to my wet feet as I stumbled towards our pathetic radio. My mum was already there, her hand bandaged, hunched over the radio “Mayday, Mayday, we have children on board and our boat is damaged, I repea… Oh, hello darling! Do you want something to eat?” my mother said cheerfully. “I think there are some biscuits in the cupboard, why don’t you go and find some biscuits” I drifted about four feet away to the cupboard. Satisfied that I could no longer hear the terror in her voice, my mother began again “Mayday, Mayday! We need emergency evacuation!” A crisp British voice answered, “This is Nato Warship Foxtrot Alpha Zulu, we can see you on the horizon. State the nature of your emergency and advise us of the position on your GPS”. “We don’t have a GPS” my mother shouted into the radio. “Oh” replied the radio operator encouragingly.
Over the next hour I ate packet after packet of soggy biscuits whilst my mother shouted into the radio. Slowly but surely we crawled along the coast until, just as the final rays of sunlight melted away, we saw the bright lights of a small town. With a sigh of relief and a shrug of his ox-like shoulder my father turned the wheel and aimed for the light. The British voice was still with us “You’ve done remarkably Ma’am, is there anything else we can assist you with”. My mother paused from her never ending cries of thanks to our guardian angel. “Actually yes, I am a bit concerned about how to park my boat”. The communication officer on the other end of the radio erupted into a bout of giggles. “Trust me ma’am, after what you’ve been through, you’ll do just fine!” About one minute later we forced our boat into the port and happily crashed into the jetty. We had made it. Dry land. It was time to play some Star Wars monopoly.