STORMS AND STORIES: Post-Hurricane, a Story from Mexico

Waves crashing on rock
Waves crashing on rock

One of my WIPs begins with a scene taken from my first storm on board Sea Venture. We’d moved the boat from the CA Delta to Marina Bay in Richmond, CA. The wind and waves had direct access through the Golden Gate to our slip. Michael was late returning from work that night when a whopper of a storm raised its furious head. As I lay in my bunk, shuddering along with Sea Venture, I imagined what it might be like for a novice sailor (because if I were scared, how much more would she be?), alone on a boat in a strange country. So I moved my character to La Paz, MX (one of our favorite cruising grounds in the Sea of Cortez), named their boat Mystic, and gave the area a new marina.

Here’s the opening to On a Night Like This:

Chapter One

Waves crested Marina Algare’s finger piers, dousing the dock and anything—or anyone—still roaming abroad that night. The slaps echoed like the beat of bass drum on the uninsulated fiberglass of Mystic’s transom, and Kyra snuggled deeper under the summer-weight blankets. She longed for brick and mortar, for solid ground and the strong foundation she’d left stateside. Instead, mere inches separated her from the banshee’s fury.

Halyards flogged the mast. She should have lashed the lines before the storm hit, but how could she have known they’d be a problem? Preparing the boat had always been Stephen’s job. She winced as something thudded into the hull, once, twice. The wind howled, screeching through the rigging. Kyra flattened a pillow against her ear.

She’d been through plenty of storms in the California Delta where the inland heat sucked wind off the ocean and sent it surging up the rivers. There, tucked behind thick walls and curtained windows, she’d felt safe, immune from violence. When the weatherman warned of high winds, she had only to check the flashlight batteries, make sure Stephen had filled the generator with gas, and then slip into something comfortable before turning on a movie. Or curling up to read. Or going to sleep. Being alone wasn’t a problem in Rio Vista.

But she wasn’t in her California house, was she? Thanks to Stephen, she was on a boat in Mexico, their new home, he’d called it when he’d enticed her here—before abandoning her to face what sounded like a hurricane.

A sob clogged her throat. If he were lying next to her, he’d laugh and rub a hand up her back, his long fingers tickling her slightly before they inched toward her tense muscles. He’d remind her, in his low and soothing voice, that even if the wind piped to sixty, Mystic was a good old girl, well able to handle a storm. Kyra could imagine his chuckle. “Poor Kyra, so nervous. What is there to worry about?” He tell her that they’d head to sea if the wind got to near-hurricane force and heave to. Mystic wouldtake care of them. “And besides,” he’d insist, “The Lord watches over us.”

She leveled a curse at his missing form, though after that last thought, the curse felt dangerous, as if she’d spooked herself and her circumstances. Too bad she didn’t have Stephen’s faith—in either the boat or his God.

Lying in the dark, she had no idea how hard the wind blew, but it was loud and bad and nothing she wanted to be in the middle of, thank you very much. Everything Stephen said made sense when he was here and in charge. But he wasn’t, and she had no idea why not.

When another gust rocked the boat, Kyra started, thinking it might be Stephen’s weight causing the lurch. She listened, but no footfalls moved aft.

What good were promises if he were off gallivanting around Mexico instead of here to keep them? She couldn’t take a forty-five foot boat to sea on her own. She had to stay tethered to the dock and hope that the lines held and the pilings were strong and no other boat got loose to crash into them.

If he’d decided not to drive back from Cabo because of the storm, why hadn’t he called? He had a cell phone, and, surely, Cabo San Lucas had decent service.

She flipped on a light to check the signal strength bars on her phone’s screen. Five. So, it wasn’t a fault in La Paz. It didn’t make sense. Stephen was always so careful with her. Knowing how nervous she got when he didn’t call to say he’d be late, he always phoned. Hitting speed dial for his cell, she waited, then left her second panicky voice mail. “Where are you?!”

For his sake, she tried praying, but it felt as if the noises outside drowned her words—even though she didn’t speak them aloud. The heavens seemed too busy pouring down rain to bother with one lone woman in a dark and very foreign marina. Fine, she and God weren’t on the best of terms, but Stephen kept saying God listened.

It didn’t look like it from here.

Finally, sometime in the night, the storm quieted. But she still lay alone with a phone that didn’t ring.

Alligator River to Little Washington

Heading from Coinjock across the Albemarle Sound and then down the Alligator River took us out of cell phone and Internet range. How foreign that felt when we’d been able to talk or interact from the middle of the Chesapeake Bay and from several miles offshore.  We left the frigid mornings behind and discovered windless days, the sound and rivers a mirror, reflecting a perfect sky. Look at what we experienced at anchor in the Alligator River:

Anchoring on the Alligator River

 

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Mama's enthralled

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After a night in Belhaven, NC, we headed to Little Washington. Once in the channel, we joined the fleet. I’ve never seen so many boats, all with the same idea: Go South. We had 17 boats surrounding us–until we turned to starboard and they continued on to Oriental.

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Pictures from Sea Venture’s Trip North to NYC

As seen on my Facebook Author Page, including Chesapeake City Book Signing:

The New Bern Sun Journal writes about Becalmed’s Boat Party!

My, oh, my, but a lovely article about Becalmed‘s launch party on board Sea Venture showed up on the front page of the New Bern News Journal  today.  (Click on the link to read the online version.)

The picture in the paper.
The picture in the paper.

You can see what fun we had. The Rocking Chair Bookstore almost sold out of the fifty copies they had on hand, and a friend from New Bern said he thought about 100 people came through (many were families or couples).

The news photographer was very kind to me. Poor Mr. Chuck Beckley must have been miserable as he searched for the boat at the dock in all that sweltering heat. He took hundreds of pictures and very kindly picked one (or someone at the paper did) that showed me with a hiked shoulder–effectively lobbing off a few years from my profile. I should send him a thank-you note.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prelude to Virtual Launch 8

Prelude to VIRTUAL LAUNCH: Day 8

As we move toward Becalmed’s Facebook Launch Party on July 1, I invite you to meet Tadie Longworth.

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For every unique share of this blog post on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or other media outlets, I’ll enter your name into the weekly drawing for a combination paperback and e-book of Becalmed.

Sailing PUff
Sailing a sharpie

BECALMED’S CHARACTERS

Eighth up: Sara Longworth 

The town of Beaufort has been calling Sara “Tadie” ever since her little brother first lisped it years ago. It must be a Southern thing, because it sure doesn’t make much sense otherwise. I mean, Tadie doesn’t exactly sound like a shortened Sara, does it? Now that her mama’s gone, the only one left who uses her real name is James Whitlock. “Miss Sara,” he said when she first asked about it, “your mama wants to call you what she named you, well, I’m gonna do the same.”

Tadie doesn’t know what she’d do without James, Elvie Mae, or their daughter, Rita. Those three are family, even if not blood kin. Of course, one fine thing about small-town life is that friends can fill in a lot of gaps.

Take her best friend, Hannah Morgan. Tadie and Hannah go all the way back to kindergarten, and they’ve been tight ever since. About six years ago, they started up Down East Creations to showcase Tadie’s jewelry and Hannah’s pottery, and then they hired Isa to help run the shop.

Just across the street from the house Tadie’s great-grandaddy built, Tadie’s little sharpie, Luna, bobs off the dock, just waiting for a sail out Talyor Creek to Cape Lookout. You outta see Luna skip along on a good breeze. Sometimes, though, when the wind sits for a spell, she’ll find herself becalmed. You know what I mean. We’ve all been there, boat or no boat.

And lookee out in the anchorage. See what the wind blew in among all those pretty cruising boats? How can a sailor of a small boat not yearn just a little for life on a bigger one. One that sails places.

 

Share this on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or wherever.

For each unique link to this post, I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a paperback copy of Becalmed along with an e-version! I have ten characters to introduce. After each five, I’ll pull a winner’s name from the hat.

Read more about BECALMED on the PRESS KIT

Beaufort, NC
Beaufort, NC

BUY Becalmed on Amazon

Save the Date: July 1

LINK TO LAUNCH PARTY

Watch for the virtual launch on Facebook, July 1

Giving away books at Becalmed’s Facebook Launch Party from authors Lorrie Thomson, Roseanna White, C Hope Clark, Kathryn Craft, Barbara Claypole White, and Robin Patchen.

 

(PS. In case the Internet thingies that are supposed to tell me of shares decides to fail us, will you also leave a comment and tell me where you shared this so you don’t get left out of the drawing?)

 

Prelude to Virtual Launch 5

Prelude to VIRTUAL LAUNCH: Day 5

Here we are at Day 5 of the prelude for the Becalmed’s Facebook launch Party on July 1. We’ve met James, Elvie Mae, and Rita Whitlock, along with Isa Wellington. Today we meet the Morgans.

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FIRST WINNER CHOSEN TOMORROW!

For every unique share of this blog post on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or other media outlets, I’ll enter your name into the weekly drawing for a combination paperback and e-book of Becalmed.

A boat liked Luna, only still gaff rigged
A boat liked Luna, still gaff rigged

BECALMED‘S CHARACTERS

Fifth up: Matt and Hannah Morgan

Matthew Morgan works too hard at the family lumber company because he wants things done his way. That, coupled with careless eating habits and exercise limited to climbing in and out of a golf cart, makes him a prime candidate for another heart attack. Sure, his younger brother has come home to help, but it doesn’t seem to be slowing Matt down enough to keep Hannah’s worry at bay.

Hannah Morgan adores her big, normally jovial husband. They’ve been together since high school, and, yes, they’ve had their share of heartache, but they’ve survived. If only that man would take better care of himself, Hannah’d have more time for her pedicures and manicures, and all the other important things in life.

Manicures especially. After all, she messes around with clay, creating wonderful pottery to grace the shelves in Down East Creations, and clay wreaks havoc on the hands. Her best friend since kindergarten, Tadie Longworth, co-owns the shop, which serves as a showplace for their art.

Hannah’s stuck on rewind with Matt’s medical issues. Which doesn’t leave her as much time as she’d like to focus on the other messes in town.

Hannah loves camelias
Hannah loves camelias

 

Share this on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or wherever.

For each unique link to this post, I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a paperback copy of Becalmed along with an e-version! I have ten characters to introduce. After each five, I’ll pull a winner’s name from the hat.

Read more about BECALMED on the PRESS KIT

 

BUY Becalmed on Amazon

Save the Date: July 1

LINK TO LAUNCH PARTY

Watch for the virtual launch on Facebook, July 1

Giving away books at Becalmed’s Facebook Launch Party from authors Lorrie Thomson, Roseanna White, C Hope Clark, Kathryn Craft, Barbara Claypole White, and Robin Patchen.

 

(PS. In case the Internet thingies that are supposed to tell me of shares decides to fail us, will you also leave a comment and tell me where you shared this so you don’t get left out of the drawing?)

 

Prelude to Virtual Launch 4

Prelude to VIRTUAL LAUNCH: Day 4

Here we are at Day 4 of the prelude for the Becalmed’s Facebook launch Party on July 1. We’ve met James, Elvie Mae, and Rita Whitlock. Today we meet the ethereal Isa.

 Share This Blog Post to Win

For every unique share of this blog post on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or other media outlets, I’ll enter your name into the weekly drawing for a combination paperback and e-book of Becalmed.

Open Book

BECALMED‘S CHARACTERS

Fourth up: Isa Wellington

After a disastrous marriage in Wilmington, DE, Isa (Isadora) Wellington moved to Beaufort, where she now works for Tadie and Hannah at Down East Creations, a boutique for the arty and unusual. Here, she flits around, her long silver hair flowing behind her, dangly earrings swaying from her lobes, fluttering like a brightly colored butterfly. Who’d guess that she was once a math teacher?

Isa hates to part with the goodies at Down East Creations. But she’s good at it, as she is at making friends with everyone who comes in the shop, including—and especially—a little cruiser named Jilly.

Isa has secrets of her own and things from her past that inform her choices. But then, don’t we all?

Share this on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or wherever.

For each unique link to this post, I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a paperback copy of Becalmed along with an e-version! I have ten characters to introduce. After each five, I’ll pull a winner’s name from the hat.

Read more about BECALMED on the PRESS KIT

Hosting bookstore for book signing off our boat at the Beaufort Docks, July 3, 2-5
Hosting bookstore for book signing off our boat at the Beaufort Docks, July 3, 2-5

 

BUY Becalmed on Amazon

Save the Date: July 1

LINK TO LAUNCH PARTY

Watch for the virtual launch on Facebook, July 1

Giving away books at Becalmed’s Facebook Launch Party from authors Roseanna White, C Hope Clark, Kathryn Craft, Barbara Claypole White, Lorrie Thomson, and Robin Patchen.

 

(PS. In case the Internet thingies that are supposed to tell me of shares decides to fail us, will you also leave a comment and tell me where you shared this so you don’t get left out of the drawing?)

 

Prelude to Virtual Launch 2

Prelude to VIRTUAL LAUNCH: Day 2

Here we are at Day 2 of the prelude for the Becalmed’s Facebook launch Party on July 1. Yesterday we learned a little about James. Today, we meet his wife, Elvie Mae.

 Share This Blog Post to Win

For every unique share of this blog post on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or other media outlets, I’ll enter your name into the weekly drawing for a combination paperback and e-book of Becalmed.

 

Front, Back, and Middle
Front, Back, and Middle

BECALMED‘S CHARACTERS

Second up: Elvie Mae Whitlock

Elvie Mae Whitlock reminds me of a beautiful woman from my childhood. Her name was Rose, and a lovelier, kinder, more intelligent woman would have been hard to find. Rose “did” for my grandmother when I was a lonely young girl. I’d spend summers in that big house in New Bern, NC, and I’d read or wander the outdoors because, as sweet as my grandaddy was, he was too old and often too ill to spend any time with me. Green Acres was a wonderful place on acres and acres of woods, but none of the folk who inhabited it talked much to children. My grandmother may have taught me to curtsey to her friends, but she’d had help raising her own children, so what to do with me except whisper “Hush” puzzled her. Sometimes I needed a friend. And there was Rose, who’d let me sit in the huge country kitchen while she ironed or cooked. And she’d listen.

Maybe if Elvie Mae had been younger when her own Miss Caroline died, and maybe if she hadn’t been a married woman going through a heap of trouble, she might have gone off like Rose to complete her education. The last time I saw Rose, she’d moved to DC, gotten a masters degree, and landed a good job. Her daughter, Darlene, was thriving.

Elvie Mae, a tiny thing who came to work for the Longworths to help her granny, stayed on because Miss Caroline—and Miss Caroline’s two children, Tadie and Bucky—needed her. She raised them right along with her own daughter, Rita, and they became family.

To Tadie, Elvie and James and Rita are true kin.

Share this on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or wherever.

For each unique link to this post, I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a paperback copy of Becalmed along with an e-version! I have ten characters to introduce. After each five, I’ll pull a winner’s name from the hat.

Read more about BECALMED on the PRESS KIT

abstract sparkler background

BUY Becalmed on Amazon

Save the Date: July 1

LINK TO LAUNCH PARTY

Watch for the virtual launch on Facebook, July 1

Giving away books at Becalmed’s Facebook Launch Party from authors Kathryn Craft, Barbara Claypole White, C Hope Clark, Roseanna White, Lorrie Thomson, and Robin Patchen.

 

(PS. In case the Internet thingies that are supposed to tell me of shares decides to fail us, will you also leave a comment and tell me where you shared this so you don’t get left out of the drawing?)

 

A Boat Named Luna

Becalmed’s heroine, Tadie Longworth, owns a small sailboat named Luna. Now, her little boat is a sharpie, about 18′ on deck, but my husband found this cute little sailboat lurking in the Beaufort waters near our big lady, Sea Venture.  He sent me these to put a “real” visual to the name! I don’t know who owns this little gal, but isn’t she pretty?

Luna 01

 

Luna 02

If you look closely, you can see Sea Venture’s stern with the green bimini, sail covers, and lee cloths.

Fun!