Ormand watched the inky darkness as it moved in from the horizon. It seemed to swallow everything in its path. The moon itself was extinguished by the overwhelming nothingness. The stars which had been rendered invisible by the moon’s brilliance suddenly flashed into prominence and twinkled majestically. Then they too were snuffed out one by one until only the blackness remained.
The darkness, having won the battle in the sky, descended toward the earth and seemed to anger the waters. The waves grew in their rage and lashed out at the boat with malicious intent. The wind joined in the protest and whipped the sails unmercifully. The elements were possessed of a malevolence Omand had never imagined possible.Had there ever before been such complete darkness in the world? Never in his life had he felt so afraid, so helpless,so alone.
Ormand’s sense of dread grew stronger as he watched the compass spin meaninglessly. There was no signal for the mobile phone. The GPS was unable to acquire satellites. The radio emitted nothing save a strangely menacing static. The blackness that enveloped him made navigating by landmarks an impossibility. He had only the direction of the waves and wind as a guide and he was acutely aware of their evil duplicity. He could be sailing in circles or headed straight for the rocks. The all-consuming sense of aloneness seemed the only tangible thing left.
Ormand sat in the cockpit grasping the tiller for what seemed an eternity. The waves and the wind were relentless and a great weariness took hold of him. In the depths of his hopelessness he became aware of a presence. There was something with him. It was trying to lull him to sleep. It told him to have faith, to trust, to not be afraid. It promised him hope and serenity. It told him there was a light in the darkness that would surely lead him to salvation. Ormand was not fooled. He knew his only chance of survival was to remain alert and in control. He was master of his own destiny. Whatever was trying to influence him was bent on his destruction. Still the weariness permeated every fibre of his being.
A wave broke over the bow of the boat and the bilge pump whined into action. Ormand felt a chill run down his spine. The forward hatch was not sealed. It meant leaving the tiller locked and unattended in rough seas as he went below. Once in the cabin he made his way forward and sealed the hatch. Just as he did this he heard the companionway slam shut of its own accord. There was an enormous crash and the bow of the boat lifted out of the water. Ormand was thrown against the rear porthole and was terrified by what he saw. A rogue wave had engulfed the stern and flooded the cockpit. It felt as though the Kenosis was standing on end. Then ,as the wave made its way forward, the bow was slammed back into the sea. He looked out the side porthole and realized with sickening fear that the boat was submerged. A face suddenly appeared on the other side of the glass. It looked like a dolphin. Ormand collapsed on the bunk and mercifully passed out.
In his slumber of mercy Ormand dreamt. He was back at the tiller and steering toward the brightest star he had ever seen. The dolphin had become three and they had a comforting luminescence about them as they swam ahead of the boat.This aquarian trinity were separate yet were also one in purpose, spirit, and intent. The angry waves seemed to become respectful as they approached and in this way a calm path was created in the troubled waters. The glow from the star and the dolphins created an oasis of light and warmth. The evil had been displaced by an all pervading sense of goodness and peace. The wind became a friend and the waves prostrated themselves in reverence. Ormand felt himself walking into the light and was unafraid. Indeed he was greatly comforted. The dolphins began to sing. It was a song he knew he should recognize. But, what was it?
The melodic chiming of the proximity alarm finally roused Ormand from his slumber. As the crusts fell from his eyes he saw the lights of the harbour all around the Kenosis. The auto-helm had brought him home safely. The GPS was working again…or had it ever really been off-line? Had it all been a dream? Ormand hurried up to the deck, rolled up the sails and engaged the small motor. As he approached his mooring buoy he saw Angus was already coming to meet him with the small runabout.
“Well, you’ve had a beautiful night for a sail, Sir and a wonderful escort” Angus managed to enunciate around the pipe protruding from his bearded face.
Ormand felt a twinge of unease as he questioned, “Escort”? He hoped the answer was not what he suspected it would be.
“Yes, Sir, I saw two or three dolphins ahead of your yacht as you entered the loch. Fascinating fish they are.”
He wanted to point out that dolphins were not fish but feared the greater truth of that was something he did not want to believe. He chose instead to hide his lack of certainty under a bushel of logic. Omand spoke without conviction,”Yes, much better than sharks,but a sailor’s best friend is a good GPS”.
The journey may still be the destination but just where that lay was no longer clear in Ormand’s mind. The ship that set sail so long ago had struggled with its cargo of wisdom and slipped beneath the waves of reason. .