Chapter 19005784

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Chapter NumberII
Chapter TitleTHE YACHT-RACE.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article19005784
Full Date1892-01-23
Page Number5
Corrections0
Word Count3112
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleThe Boys' Yacht
article text

MERCÜRY^JÜNIOR.

THE BOYS' YACHT.

[In Seven Chapters.]

CHAPTER II.

T1IK TACHT-RACE.

Phinoas Scrod was a patient sailing-master Every day for two weeks the KxllxewmX sailed out to pnt the boys in practice , every night she returned to Marblehead Harboui. Every day the postal card, " All safe and awfully jolly," went to Sweet

Fern

This was veiy uneventful yachting Tho monot- ony of that fortnight wae broken by only one inciting incident Hal and Non furled up Trot in the main-sail ono evening and hunted for for him until midnight Trot, as if thinking this was the way people go to bed on board a ya^ht, preserved a heroic silence while his master was searching the harbour and town for the half-stifled dog. *

The boys had begun to tire of all this when matters took a sudden turn, and something hap-

pened. In fact, a good deal more happened than I

they bargained for.

Gopher Gresham, otherwise known as Go Gres- ham, whose father owned the fast forty-footer Chimpanzee was a member of the Neptune Yacht Club of Marblehead, and had come down for the season Naturally he had hunted out our two young tars, and m a moment of extreme conde- scension had proposed their names for member-

ship in his club

To the ecstasy of the boys, who, by this time, knew the difference between the main-sheet and a dish-towel, they were elected. Their fathers felt no such elation when there was duly fowarded to «ach a pink bill for fifteen dollars, including initia- tion fees and annual dues ; but the pink bill was counted in as part of the unavoidable luxury of running a boat, and was paid with suppressed murmurs. Mr. Maynot and the Doctor reflected that yachting is the most expensive kind of enjoy-

ment in the world.

It was without Phin's knowledge that Hal and Non joined the Neptune Yacht Club, and one fine morning hoisted at the masthead the signal of the club designed to represent a red trident vainly trying to fly from a blue to a white background.

On Friday, when Hal and Non were sitting _ in the cockpit, while the skipper was busy washing the morning's dishes with salt water forward of the mast, Hal whispered to Non, pointing toward -the skipper.

" How shaH we tell him ?" he said.

" He'll have to do it, if we toll him to," replied Non, his breast swelling wih a nautical importance never felt when Phin gave an order.

" I've seen plenty of races. I could manage her. It's easy enough," urged Hal. As he had witnessed only two races off the Neck, which the Kittiewinh had followed at a respectful distance, Non regarded him doubtfully.

There was a .silence. The boys racked their brains. How should they tell the skipper that they had entered the Kittiewinh ia the yacht-race to be sailed the next day, and how persuade him to look favourably upon the plan ?

Phin was happy that morning, and sang as he

worked :

Oh. Jack, me b'y, is a sailor free,

Atf his ship ploughs through the white capped sea. Ob,Molly, his wife, is a pink checked lass,

An' she stays ter hum and makes apple-saeB.

It was a favourable moment, and Non blurted out, point-blank :

" Pin, we've entered the Kittiewinh in the race to-morrow at three, and you'll help us, won't you ?"

Phin made no answer. In fact, he acted as if he did not hear. He hummed a while softly to him- self. Neither of the boys dared to interrupt his

meditations.

The skipper's voice broke out again boisterously.

This time :

One day, in a voice that bis shipmates froze,

" Seave her to." eaya Jack, " fur thar she blows I" But the whale that blew made an end of'Jack,

for with the fluke o' Its tall it fotched him a crack.

This verse was not so encouraging, but Hal persisted :

" Say, Phin, didn't you hear ? We are going to

race to-morrow at three."

The skipper smiled scornfully, and without deigning a reply, finished his ballad :

Oh Jack me b'y was gobbled at sea

By the fish he was going to stlokeree

Oh, Molly, his wife, grew pale at the gills, And was carried away by fever an' chills.

There was a moment of -suspense appropriated to the tragedy. Then the-ekipper said :

" Do you fellers think that you can out-foot the Choctaw, or out-p'int the Gadfly, or beat the Spook ? Can a vessel built to fish in run with one of them racin'-maohines, all wings and no hull ?

" But can't we start with the-n and try ?" asked NTon, faintly.

" I'll send Trot after him," suggested Hal, in a whisper. " He's fond of Trot."

Hal pushed the terrier -forward. Trot ran up to -the sailing-master, and kissed him persuasively on his left ear. Fhineas patted the dog. His face

relaxed.

" I dunno but you can. There aint no law agin it, if your boat is really entered for the monkey ahines. But which of ye two is cap'n ? Don't a member have to handle her in the Neptune races ?"

This was a poser. Thus, indeed, ran the rule of the Neptune Club : " The wheel or tiller of each yacht shall be held only by members of the club throughout the race." How could a boy who had only been at Bea two weeks expect to handle a boat

in a race ?

Besides who w,as the captain of the Kittiewinh ? Phin was sailing-master-the paid man. The boat was without a " captain."

"Let's draw Btraws and let the longest be captain."

Non waa always ready to solve every problem in life by the easiest chances.

" Draw oilskins !" snorted Phineas. " The feller that kin pick out the top'n-liffc is cap'n."

The boys looked at each other in consternation, and retreated from the subject. What new thing waB this ? Where did it belong ? they glanced around and aloft in bewilderment. Non examined

each halyard and sheet, each spar and sail lazily,

but Hal went below.

Phin chuckled. He believed he had outwitted ?the boys. He-felt sure there would be no race for

"the Kittiewinh.

After a few minutes Hal came up the companion way, and with an unconcerned air approached the rope that holds the end of the long boom to the main-mast and prevents the main-boom from ¿Topping on deck. He said, quietly j

" I'll guess I'll be captain then. Here it h !"

" Wal, I'll be split and salted '!" said Phineas. It was not until after the race that Captain Harry «ould be induced to tell thit he had pored studi- ously over the " Yachtsman's Guide" until he had found Phin's test of seamanship, and ¿ad com-

mitted its position to memory.

So it was decided that the Kittiewinh should start in the Neptune race. She was to enter the lists against the flyers of the coast, with their pot leaded bottoms, their smooth sides, their sharp prows, their spinnakers and balloon-jibs and club topsail, and many other sails not useful except for this kind of play.

Marblehead laughed at the two mad boys and

their uncouth boat.

Next morning Phin Scrod appeared with two

rough old sea dogs-friends of his, fishermen off a j vessel just in. One of them was an old dory-mate of Phin's in his fishing days. This man's name

wag Black Tarr. Phineas said he "wa'n't a-goîn' | to race without no talent aboard." Phin, after all,

now he was " in for it," had taken quite an interest '

in this maiden race of the KvUiewink.

The fishermen make themselves much at home on the little craft, and drank up the lemonade composedly. " What's the oddo ?" said Hal. He was greatly excited, and would have offered them anything on the boat without a murmur.

The first gun had been fired from the bluff-on Marble Neck. In five minutes the first class were to crOBS the imaginary line. Half-Way Eock waa the turning-point.

Captain Harry was at the helm. He had prac- tised all the morning, and Phin, sitting next him, put his brawny hand from time to time over Hal's thin fingers to steer a finer eourse.

Tne yachts of the first class zigzagged here and there picturesquely. As far as sails went, all the contending boats were evenly matched. Some had started out with huge club-topBails, but a pre- liminary "spin" ontside decided their roasters W8 ' sky-scrapers" should come down.

The wind was pretty high. It had freshened since noon. The yachts now carried only what are called the working sails, the main-sail and head sails. The breeze was unsteady.

" It mought back an' blow a snorter," said Black

Tair.

Clouds scudded in different directions overhead. The white yachts careened far over as puffs of wind

struck their sails.

What a manoeuvring there was for a good position, in order to cross the line between the stake-boats promptly at the second fire ! What a

calculation of seconds !

The Kittiewinl; was awkward but stanch, and it was decided she should be content to cross the line last. Phin had studied the circular, and knew every inch of the course.

The Kittieiainh had another advantage, besides being stiff and not oversparred ; she was manned

| by three practical sailors, ready foi an emergency.

Our two very young heroes did not account. But

no one told them so.

A hundred glasses were levelled from the shore at the audacious fishing-boat that dared to compete with the Spook, the Chodaw, the Gadfly and the Griffin, the noted flyers of the coast.

" If it freshens up and holds, she may do them up yet," said one expert to another, pointing out the uncouth Kilticwinh from thp balcony of the Neptune Club.

Boom.

" Whew ! We're off ! There's the gun ! Oh, what shall I do ?" Harry gasped, as ho heard the report and saw the while Spooh bear away first over tho

line.

" Noiv keep cool, sonny !" Phin spoke cheeringly. " Follow them stiddy ! That's good. Keep her over. Stand ready to haul on those sheets there, when we pass the line. See ; that's good. Make fast ! Don't cramp her ! Let her go easy. There

we are. Now after them ! " She'll do !"

The Kilticwinh crossed the line gallantly, the last of ¡the fleet of five ; but the knowing ones noticed that she stood up to the wind, shipped no water over her lee rail, and scrudJed along aB well

as the rest. , " ,, ,

The wind was blowing fiercely from the west- ward, and was heading them off continually with increasing violence. The four white-winged yachts were ahead, tcssing badly and making straight for

the first mark.

The three sailors on the .Kttiicwine held a con- sultation. It was decided to haul in the sheets, and run to the westward as close into the teeth of the wind as possible, so that as it shifted, they could make their course with it, and so possibly gat to the first gaol without tacking.

Hal knew as little about steering by the wind as by the compass. What was to be done ? For the

owner must steer.

" Make for Baker's Island," said Phmeas Scrod, " keen her steady and you'll manage."

At this moment a tremendous gust struck the Kittiewinh. The fishing-boat careened far over on her side, and might have shipped some water in her cockpit had not Phin given the wheel a quick turn that sent her into the wind. There was a smash of crockery below, and a squeaking for which only Trot could have bepn responsible.

A sheet of spray struck Hal in the face, and made him gasp for breath. He turned away while Phin grasped the wheel with both handB. Non clung to the main-sheet, expecting to be washed by the board any minute.

" Look!" cried Hal, as soon as he he could open his eyes. " Look there!"

The guest had passed on, and the leading white yacht, which had been staggering under the burden of the increasing wind on her enormous sails, was smitten suddenly. Over Bhe went !

It was only the lead on her keel that saved her, The mast of the famous yacht snapped at the deck. Her spotless canvas, her rigging^ and bowsprit crashed together, and were carried into the sea.

" She's dismantled, but she's safe !" cried Phin. "Here, get into the cockpit, my little Cap'n you too. Non. There's got to be a man at the wheel, now. I'll carry the Kittiewinh, through. This is the first an' the last race, an' we'll give it to her. The rest of 'em that are after the Spook '11 bear a hand. Ease the sheets, a bit ! She'll be Btiddier. . That's good !"

Skipper Scrod, elad in his yellow oilskins, Bat at the wheel looking grimly, now at the coming storm, and now at the sails and rigging.

The boys glanced at their sailing-master and felt safe ; and the race was not lost yet.

It was as the knowing fishermen had predicted. " I knowed it ud' fotch 'round," said Black Tarr, triumphantly. As the wind freshened it headed them off. They were now steering a straight course for the first mark; but the other three yachts had not calculated upon so sudden a turn, and were forced to make a tack to fetch the Bock on their starboard.

How the Kittiewinh flaw ! Two boats were now nearing the Bock together-the Choctaw and the Kittiewinh. The Choctaw led the other two flyers by some hundreds of yards. The injured Spoofc had dropped an anchor, and would allow no assistance.

The Choctaw, a stiff boat of the racing kind, was a few hundred feet ahead of the Kittiewinh to lee- ward, and bearing down upon the rocky island. Half her keel showed gray as she bent far over to

the blast.

Phineas eyed his antagonist darkly. This waa his day for victory, or it would never come again, with the wind only in the luff of the sail, the sword-fishermen plowed solidly after the high spirited racer.

" She's gaining !" yelled Hal, in a wild excite-

ment of distress.

" Keep Btill !" growled Phin, as another blast flattened the Choctaw over until her boom swished in the waves.

" Down with the stayB'l !" roared the skipper. Believed by shortened canvas, the Kittiewinh began to crawl upon her white rival.

Yachtsmen often make the mistake of keeping too much sail spread too long. It was evident that the C/iociait» was staggering under her load of sail and thereby losing ground.

i She dared not stop to reef ; ehe could not, in

that blow. She was cramped, and almost dead. If she gave way, she must make another " hitch," while the Kittiewinh, with small main-sail, and her diminutive " jumbo," was riding the waves freely,

and still forging ahead without shipping a drop

over her lee.

But now the two were abreast of the Bock. The Kittiewinh bad closed upon her rival, and in order to do so had come up under her lee.

The high waves dashed angrily up the gray cliff, and washed back again in white spray. The wind had grown to a gale. Nearest to the Bock rode the Kittiewinh. The Choctaw had an outside position, a few feet ahead.

The two boats rose and fell together with the same^ swell ; but th» Choctaw staggered and rose heavily. Her mainsail almost a half too large,

handicapped her.

When she turned on the next "leg" of the triangular course, she could easily beat her clumsy rival running before the wind. Ah ! there was a chance for her full main-sail !

Baser to Beize every opportunity and to " blanket" the Kittiewinh, that is to say, to cut off the wind from her Bails-the Choctaw steered near the Bock. She loft too little space for the Kittiewinh to pass

without running ashore.

" Avast there !" bellowed Scrod. " Keep away there, or I'll tack, an' cut ye in two !"

A boat under pressure of wind and sail cannot come to a sudden(balt, and turn about like a horse and_buggy. The'situation had suddenly become

critical and then dangerous.

The Bock was not fifty feet away, and abreast of the Kittiewinh. The Choctaw, the waves, and the gale were forcing her upon it. But Phineas Scrod had not lost himself. Even his quid' had not

changed his cheek.

The boyB were scared dumb, but not Trot-he, poor dog, was shut up in the cabin, and barked and wailed madly.

The eyes of the two fishermen blazed, but they preserved the Btolidity of their race, and trusted

the man at the helm.

" Hard-a-lee !" roared Phineas

He turned his wheel in the nick of time. The Kittiewinh spun about like a troubled top. By the usage of the sea, whose laws the Choctaw had violated by forcing their rival into this predica- ment, she had to tack also, or be run down.

There was hardly room enough for the Kittiewinh to pass astern. There was an instant of confusion on board the white cutter. But the boat, cramped under too much sail, and with little headway,

refused to come about.

" Out with that main-sheet ! Ease the jib ! Way off!" shrieked Skipper Scrod, when he saw the Choctaw was unmanageable.

The Kittiewinh turned square about, and retraced her course, barely passing behind her tossing

rival.

" She's in irons," said Black larr. ** I wouldn't

like to be thar."

" She's a goner on them rocks. She'll bo mactch wood in two jiffies," said the other fisherman.

" She won't nuther," shouted Phin, through the bellowing wind, " we'll save her !"

At this moment there came a terrible cry from the Choctaw : " Man overboard !"

Demoralization had taken possession. of the crew of the Choctaw. A frantic object was seen strug- gling in the water. Could that be a man's head-a drowning man ? How small it looked !

Hal shivered with terror. For an instant he I turned away his eyes. The white yacht mean- while, was drifting rapidly on the breakers.

(To be conitnucd.)