Thursday, April 16, 2020

Bitterness and Beer

(This is an excerpt from a Rich Larsen adventure series novel currently being edited.)

Eighteen days from Plymouth in choppy seas, Newfoundland appeared starboard. He passed within hailing distance of a fishing boat with a four-man crew bundled in heavy clothing. They exchanged waves and shouts.

“I need some land beneath me,” Rich thought, “but I don’t want to be facing another five to seven days more after resting a while.”

He obtained a reading and decided to go on for another four days and find a port on the southwest tip of Nova Scotia. “From there Rockland is a day or two away.”

“I can almost feel it,” Rich said and danced a jig but for only a moment. “This is insanity.”

The weather warmed only a few degrees over the next four days. The temperatures ranged in the twenties to thirties. Rich bundled heavily while on deck; most in the confines of a closed pilothouse.

Rich scanned a map of Nova Scotia and decided on a small port named Clark’s Harbor. It sat on the southern tip of Nova Scotia and appeared easy to navigate.

Rich dropped the sails about a mile from land. Beyond the starboard bow, a small harbor basked in a warm early winter sun. He piloted The Odyssey along a row of lobster boats until finding several empty slips.

He tossed the lines and secured The Odyssey. He walked from the dock onto the shore. He lifted himself up and down from toe to heel a couple of times. “North America,” Rich smiled.

The Odyssey remained stocked and Rich saw little need to buy more food. He had two propane tanks filled at a small gas station not far from the docks.
A bar sat within sight of The Odyssey. It was only about fifty yards away. Rich walked there. He sat at a table and ordered a beer and lobster tail with a baked potato.

Seeing Rich was done eating the waitress walked past the table and stopped. “How was your meal?” she said.

“It was very good, thank you,” Rich said.

“Are you planning dessert?” she said.

“Can you wrap a piece of cherry pie to go,” Rich said, “and bring a coffee with the check.”

“Right back,” she said.

A couple of minutes later she returned with coffee, pie wrapped in cellophane on a paper plate, and the check. “Where’d you drive from?” She said.

“I sailed in,” Rich said. “My boat is in the harbor.”

“Where did you sail from?” she said.

“England,” Rich said.

“It must have been bone-chilling,” a man sitting at the bar said.

“Indeed,” Rich said. “My boat has an unusual feature; it has a small canvass pilothouse. It was still cold but I didn’t freeze to death.”

“You must have really wanted to get back to Canada,” the man said. “The North Atlantic this time of year is no easy thing.”

“Actually,” Rich said, “Maine is the end of my journey.”
“Where did you start?” the man said.

“Maine,” Rich said.

“So back and forth?” the man said.

“No,” Rich smiled. “I sailed around.”

“How long did it take you?” the man said.

“Just over four years,” Rich said.

“Well if you ask me,” the man said, “that’s a wasted four years.”

Rich stood and placed his money on the table. “And what did you do for the last four years?” He grabbed his pie. “Fine meal, ma’am,” he said to the waitress.”

“Sounds like you’re a bit of a smart ass,” the man said.

“No, sir,” Rich said, “I’m not that. What I’ve done, what I’ve seen, what I’ve learned, those I’ve met, and most importantly the one I love can not be taken from me. It was worth it all. It is better than bitterness and beer.”

Rich turned toward the door. The man said something however it was muffled and was certain it was not meant to be heard.

Rich returned to The Odyssey.

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