A Fictional Series by J Quisumbing
Chapter 5 continued
The sun was still very low on the horizon. The shadow of the trees was still fairly heavy on the compacted trail that encircled the inner ring. A figure was hiding in the shade of the older mangrove trees waiting for a pair of joggers to disappear around the bend. Hoping that the coast was clear, the figure sped across the pathway into the tall cogon grass. Crawling on wet grass, the figure reached several protruding ‘H’ Bitt about 4 feet tall from the base. The ‘H’ Bitt was a pair metal posts and a welded vertical bar which formed a letter ‘H’. These things were used for mooring and towing purposes which at this moment the thick towing lines of the Tugboat Mathilda were snugly secured. The tugboat was about a mile out. The figure inspected closely the line which went taut and then went slack. Then the figure pulled out a stainless steel cannister of fast acting acid then proceeded to pour it on the thick rope. By the reaction, the figure reckoned that the acid will eat through in about half an hour. Then the figure crawled back to the trail, peeled off the black outfit, buried it, then went jogging.
Theodore ‘Bear’ Steer was an Aussie expat who thought he could retire in the Philippines but hated the idea of sitting on his butt in a beach hut. When Jona Quimby came to him with a chance to captain a deep sea tug, he chugged down the brew he had in one gulp and then signed on even before he knew how much he was going to get paid. Bear was at the captain’s chair enjoying his coffee when the tug suddenly surged forward. He didn’t have to ask what happened. He knew that the tow line got cut.
He put the engine on idle and left the wheel house to the rear open deck which overlooked the stern. His crew was already reeling in the mile long tow cable. He opened up a compartment that had a parallel wheel and throttle control. He took the tug out of idle and brought the throttle up a notch so that props don’t get entangled with the slack cable.
He heard a shrill whistle from his tow captain who held up a extremely frayed rope end. This tow cable was without a doubt sabotaged.
Admiral Reese was standing before the navigation console when he noticed that the course drifted to the port by an alarming five degrees in less than 20 seconds. Looking out the bridge’s windows, the island of Caringo was already filling out a third of the view.
Then, the radio squawked that Matthilda’s tow cable was cut. In his mind’s eye, the admiral assessed the entire situation. First, number 2 propulsion was down. This was not a problem as long as number 1 was putting out three quarter speed, number 3 at half speed including the two tugs towing. It was slow going but they only needed to stay on their current course for another 30 minutes until the tide shifts. But then the Matthilda which was towing the starboard side ring was suddenly cut. With the tide still pushing on their forward port quarter, they were sure to hit the reef to their left. If he pushed his 2 remaining thrusters, they could end up stressing where the starboard ring connects to the bow to the point of stressing. Then it hit him. He didn’t have to fight the tide. Instead, he’ll let the tide steer them clear.
“Stand by to deploy the sea sails on the port side.”
For a moment, they all looked at him questioningly. But then one of them turned on a panel and another monitor came on with the heading Sea Sail Control. The screen displayed the top view of Oceanus. Along the rings were the ten vertical pontoons each assigned a designation number 1 to 10 like the face of a clock.
“Deploy 1 to 5”
The crewman highlighted pontoon’s 1 to 5. Then, another window appeared depicting 5 elevation views of the vertical pontoons. On each pontoon on both flanks a compartment opened. Two forty foot long booms swung up and from them sails began to unfurl downward until they formed two upside down triangles.
When each image showed 100%, the crewman said, “Sea sails 1 to 5 deloyed, sir.”
“Very well. Helm, all stop on number 3.”
“Number 3, all stopped, sir.”
“Manoeuvring thrusters to port one third speed.”
“Aye sir. Manoeuvring to port one third speed, sir.”
At first, there was no sign of change, but then, as the admiral looked forward through the bridge window, he saw that the island was assuredly moving left which meant the bow was swinging to port. The sails provided enough drag to point the bow the right way. They definately didn’t progress forward. In fact, the whole action kept them safely stationary long enough for the Matthilda to reattach its tow line and the engineer to complete repair on number 2 thruster.
Crisis diverted but for Jona, a dangerous situation still worries him. They have one or more saboteurs amongst them.
To be continued…
Note from the author:
Oceanus Adventure is a fun effort on my part to enter the wonderful world of creative writing. It’s a story of a group of people who launched themselves into the Pacific Ocean on an artificial island to solve the Great Pacific garbage patch. My hopes is that this will end up into a TV series.
Comments and idea suggestions will be most welcomed. I hope you enjoy.