UNDER A RENEGADE FLAG (Part Two)
We worked through the night...and most of the next morning,
bringing the whales alongside, hauling them aboard, cutting
them up...and boiling the blubber to make oil!!! A thoroughly
unpleasant business!!! I had great trouble working the
flensing knife on it's long handle...however, after a few
hours, with help from other flensmen, I managed to make a
passable impression in the whale carcasses!! The knives were
razor sharp, and only slight pressure was needed (with a
backward flick of the wrist) to slice feet of hide and flesh
from the required blubber!!
It was in the early hours that the "accident" happened!!!
We had a following sea...two more whale carcasses were tied
alongside, waiting to be landed aboard...the fires under the
rendering vats had been going full pelt for 10 hours, the ship
not only stank to high heaven, but was also awash with fatty
run-off, intestinal surplus offal, blood and a mixture of all
of that!...The deck was slippery, the heavy sea making it
treacherous...we would lift our stern as the sea came up
behind Pelican, surf forward on the crest...then the stern
would drop into the trough...I heard Jez Stone berating a
deckhand for his work..it turned into a heated exchange of
vitriol and cursing...I could not hear what was being said,
but I knew from the tone of Stone's voice that something
drastic was about to happen to the young sailor!...There was
nothing I could do...so I turned back to my job of waiting for
the next whale (Cut into quarters) to be swung inboard, prior
to me setting about it with my knife! The carcass had just
hauled clear of the gunwhale by about 6ft....the Jib creaking
under the strain...two guidesmen (one each side of it) were
taking in the ropes that guided the whale into place for the
flensing to begin!....The Pelican lifted her stern, her nose
dipped, I leaned back into the movement, overreached, and had
to use my knife with it's long pole handle to steady
myself....others of the crew had similar balance problems at
that moment....Suddenly.....The whale carcass was loose, and
crashed to the deck.....upon impact it's whole 7 or 8 tons of
dead weight started to slide....A rope had parted!!!!.....It
moved with greased ease, at speed straight for one of the
boiling blubber vats....straight also for the unfortunate
deckhand and Jez Stone....We all shouted in chorus.."Look
out!!!!"....The next second seemed to pass in front of my eyes
in slow motion!....the carcass slid across the deck as if on
ice...crashed into the boiler (which was lashed to the deck
with iron chains)....there was no way the chains were going to
stand the pressure of 8tons of deadweight meat hitting it at
speed.....the chains ripped out of the deck rings...the
boiling vat toppled, spilling it's boiling fat contents across
the deck and around the legs of the Captain and crewman!!
Their screams rent the air! In a split second, both men were
off their feet and immersed to the waist in the scalding
liquid!! I shut my ears and eyes to the screams of pain!!!
God!!! What agony they must be in!!! Some hands were running
with buckets of sea water...but being a hunting man, I knew
this was no use!...I ran (along with others) to the two
screaming men, the boiled fat was now congealing around
them!...Placing our flensing knife handles within their
reach...we attempted to rescue them by pulling them
clear....Their terrible screams echoed in my ears....the
deckhand grabbed my pole handle...and with Scaggs, another
flenser, I hauled him from the burning fat, onto the clear
deck...then ran for a canvas ventilator shaft cover, immersed
it in seawater running through the scuppers, and poured it
over his waist and legs....He screamed! And then collapsed
back against the deck unconscious!! We quickly cut his lower
garments away...revealing flesh adhering to the cloth, peeling
away from the bones of his feet and legs...mercifully he
remained unconscious! I looked across to where the others were
tending to Jez Stone.....He too was unconscious!!! We had to
get them both below to the surgeon's quarters and sick bay!!!
Because of their injuries, we could not carry them below
between 2 men...but Moses stepped forward and, picking the
deckhand gently from the deck, cradled him in his huge arms,
and carried him below....a few moments later he returned and
did the same with the Captain!! Stone had come around...and
was screaming at the top of his lungs!!! I had despised the
man...but nobody deserved this kind of fate!!
Once they had been take care of and carried below..it was time
to clean up the mess...seamen set about scraping, shovelling
and brushing the fat from the decks.....As I set to with a
will, gagging against the stench of the liquid blubber, I
suddenly heard a seaman called Curtis turn to his mate and
say...."That were no accident!!! That were a'done on purpose!"
Surely not!!!! No sane person would want to injure another in
this horrific manner!!! Surely!! I had disliked Stone from the
start!...but in no way wished this upon him!!!
Moses returned from his mercy mission below..."They give dem
da laud'nun medicine Mr Ballsy! Now they will sleep!"
"Have you ever seen the likes Moses? Ever before in your days
"Nosirree! Moses don't see anyt'ing like dat!..Da damm rope
"I really don't know Moses! I looked up when I heard the
"crack" and the next thing the carcass was spilling across the
"It be bad Mr Ballsy! It be bad luck now!!! I gonna check da
ropes on da other Jibs!"
I said I would help him...we checked every hoist on the
vessel...all were in working fettle and in no need of
changing....I slowly, thoughtfull returned to the hoist that
had broken....I climbed onto the gunwhale, and bade Moses
untie the, now belayed, rope that had parted.....As the rope
was lowered from the Jib block...I grabbed the swinging end
and hauled it close.....Moses came to look as I beckoned him
"Moses! I am afraid to say....I think this rope was cut....It
is not frayed enough to have broken!!!"
I saw Moses cross himself in the Catholic manner!!! His
bulging eyes told their own tale....we could not believe what
we were seeing!!! The rope had been cleanly cut...perhaps with
a flensing knife!!!! Who would do such a thing???
As we stood there staring at the rope's end....the rest of the
crew began to assemble at the foot of where I was standing!!!!
Eyes looked at me with deep suspicion!!! HELL!!! I had nothing
to do with it!!! They didn't think I had done this did
they???? They stood in silence....eyes asking the question of
me!!! I stood astounded!!!! Someone had tried to murder the
Captain and a crewman!!!! BUT WHO????NOT ME!!!!!!!!!
The faces staring at me were a blur....I felt the hairs on the
back of my neck prickle...I had done nothing, but I felt
guilty!!! Why!.....Suddenly.....the voices at the back of the
crowd fell silent....I saw men parting to let someone
through...It was the Mate- Jan Van Eike.....I saw a look of
amusement on his face!! What...???
"Well Mr!! Could you tell me please...why are you inspecting
"I...We..thought it had parted...and wanted to check the
others...make sure they were fit to carry on doing the job
with!!! This one looks as if it has been cut, rather than
Silence fell over the whole crew...then there was a
groundswell of low murmurings....
"Silence on deck!"....."Go on Mr! So what have you found?"
"As I have said Mr Mate...we think this rope was cut and has
not frayed from wear!!"
"And you're an expert are you Mister? And expert rigger no
doubt, amongst other things eh?"
I looked around me in bewilderment....Moses stepped down from
the gunwhale where we had still been perched...He stepped up
to the Mate, whispered something in his ear...I saw a look of
puzzlement cross the Dutchman's face...."Very well Moses...If
you say so!"
"Right men!! Send below and fetch all hands on deck...I need
to talk to the crew! All of the crew!!!"
One or two of the crew ran to clear the lower decks of men off
shift...I wondered what was coming....Just then a large portly
red faced man in bloody clothes came on deck, a man I had not
seen before....he walked to the Mate and whispered into his
ear, just as Moses had done! I saw a strange look come over
Van Eike's face...."Thankyou Bones!!"
"Step down from there Mister" He beckoned to me.."This
concerns you too!"
We waited in silence for several minutes, as men in dribs and
drabs, filtered onto the decks from below....Eventually...
"Is everyone here?.....Moses!!!! Is everyone here I asked??"
"Shoa Mr Eike Sir!! Shoa!"
"Right men! You all saw what happened to the Captain!...I have
to tell you now, that the Captain, and Able Seaman Jarvis have
both died of their injuries...therefore, in accordance with
the rules of the Company..I am assuming command of this ship!
(there were muted voices which seemed to be saying
hooray)....Our new signing ..Mr em...Ballsy will do for
now...had no knowledge or involvement in the "Accident" that
befell our beloved Captain!"
"The two of them will be buried at sea, as is Company policy
(Mutterings again) tomorrow...It is also my duty to tell you,
that as of this moment, this ship will be freelancing...I have
no intention of returning this ship to it's owners!!
(hurrahs)...We are owed much money in unpaid wages
(Mutterings) We have every right to seize this ship and it's
cargo.... to dispose of it to pay all of you wages due you for
the past year!! Mr Ballsy has no idea what I'm talking
about...I will enlighten him later....Meanwhile...any man who
does not want to sail with me, you have the option now of
taking a whaler, stocking it with provisions, and
leaving....We all know what a thoroughly bad lot ours has been
this last year...And....now that fate has intervened to rid us
of Captain Stone...our chance to get recompense has arrived!!"
I looked at Moses...he cast his eyes to the deck....he knew
about all this!!! Was this a mutiny? Had the crew killed
Stone??? I didn't have long to wait for the clue that told the
"What I would remind you of....is that we are all guilty of
this "Accident"!!...If you take a boat and provisions...when
you are eventually picked up...IF...you are picked up...you
will face an enquiry into the Captain's death!! You would
quickly swing from the nearest yardarm!!.....I aim to take
this ship to TORTUGA in the Carribean Sea....there we will
sell her and buy ourselves into a new life! Buy a new
ship...maybe become a privateer!!! What say you all???"
"There were cries of "AYE" from all round!!
"Then....are there any who wish to leave??"
All eyes turned to me! This had been planned a long time
ago!!! The Captain had been murdered in cold blood!!! I
pondered long and hard....
"Well!! Is there anyone Mr Ballsy??"
I looked into his eyes...I had committed the very same crime
myself hadn't I??....who was I to judge??? Condemn???
"Mr Van Eike!!" I stepped forward..."I am not a naive fool...I
am now aware of what has happened...and...all I can do is
quote a passage from the Holy Bible...."Let him who is without
sin, cast the first stone!!...I am not without sin...nor guilt
for that matter! However I do wish to be informed of all the
facts...I do not wish to swing from the end of a rope from a
yararm for some crime I am not fully conversant with!!"
"Very well Ballsy!!! So be it...Moses will bring you to my
cabin after this!!! Now men....What say you???...TORTUGA????"
A resounding cheer went around the decks...."Anyone wish to
leave us?? You have my word on leaving safely!!"
No-one moved, nor a sound uttered from any throat....."Mr
"Not me!" I replied...."And whilst we're at it the name's
Allen...Chris Allen!!" There were a few titters around the
assembled crew....but then silence fell again!!
"Right!!! Mr Allen it is!!!...I am promoting Moses to
Mate...he will bring you to my cabin in 10
minutes....meanwhile...let's get some of this whaling junk
over the side!! Let's make sure when it's found..it looks as
if we have foundered!!! I want everything with the ship's name
on cast overboard!! Cut the whales free!....everything to do
with the whaling overboard!!
Vats...knives...casks...oil...everything.....this ship is
going to be reborn!...when the weather abates, I want 2 men on
a staging over the stern...I want "Pelican" painted out...and
"Zee Schwalbe" painted in!!"
"I will make up the ship's log to date...and that too can be
chucked overboard!....The clothes and belongings of Captain
Stone and Able Seaman Jarvis are to be thrown over too!!
"Aye Sir!!" chorused around the deck!!!
"OK men....To Tortuga!!!"
God!!!! What future now????
I had no real idea where Tortuga was! But...Hell! I had no
choice...and I now had no problem, no Stone to look out for!
So...when, eventually,guided by Moses, I arrived at the
Dutchman's cabin, I had a question or two to ask!
"Come in Mr Allen! Would you like a glass of my favourite
"Thankyou!" I replied...he poured a cherry coloured liquid
into a long sherry schooner....It looked a cranberry
colour...and picked up the two glasses and offered me one!
"A Cherry gin I mix myself!!...Now! We have to straighten some
things out haven't we?...You now realise that the Captain's
accident, may not have been an accident after all!..This, I
don't know for certain! What I do know, is that the New
Bedford Whaling Company has not paid us for over a year!! Any
I took in this news a little sceptically....Surely they must
have had some monies? How did they have money to spend ashore
"Captain Stone...we feel, has been mis-appropriating funds! We
have landed 26 whales since we left the Americas.....monies
due, are in excess of £100 per able bodied man!!"
I whistled through my lips!!! £100 per man! That was a
"So! The crew, unbeknown to me, decided that they had had
enough of waiting! They decided, unanimously I hear, to take
the ship and sell it to reclaim their dues!!!...It's a
sentiment for which I have no argument!! You might condemn,
and label it Mutiny...but these men have families in different
parts of the world...and deserve to be able to support them!"
"The action I have taken, is to channel that mutinous action,
into a less aggressive, less harmful strategy!"
"I intend to sail this ship to Tortuga...there I will sell her
on the open market....this will be a renegade's market...but
she will fetch a fair price! If the price is right...I shall
then set about purchasing a smaller schooner or somesuch and
work as a privateer for the highest bidder!...Any comments?"
"None so far! Mr Eike! As I stated when we were on deck! I
have closeted skeletons also....I would have, at some time,
had to face down the Captain...and it might have been a fight
to the death! Someone has done that job for me...you may call
it murder!! I call it justice! I will take my chances with the
hangman!! If you're asking me if I want to ship-out with you
and this crew...then the answer is "Yes"...I need to be miles
away from the English coast...I would prefer to have been lost
or abandoned at sea...for the record that is!!"
"I see! You sound an educated man Mr Allen! Yet you say you
can't read or write! How is that?"
"My wife was an educated woman Sir! She taught me many things
about life and love! (I reddened...) And she tried, in vain,
to teach me to read and write.....I found it difficult!! But
we shared many hours with her reading books to me!!!"
"So! Why didn't you stay with you wife?"
Should I confide in this man??? I thought not...but then....if
I ever needed an advocate, would he step forward, not knowing
me? I couldn't help but feel uneasy about the future and what
it held! Awaiting the hangman...Anyone would be glad of an
advocate to give reference for him!
So I related what had happened at the woodcutters cottage, the
fire, the rape and murder of my family! He listened intently
when I told him of my act of vengeance!!
"You have hidden qualities Mr Allen! Qualities that will come
in mighty handy, working the Spanish Main!"
As this was now the Captain I was talking to, my future lay in
his hands! Whatever this crew, this ship did, I was a part of
it!! I decided there and then...to enter into the new venture
wholeheartedly...there would be no feelings of reserve...no
remorse! I would sail with this man, this crew, whether they
be angels or demons!! Come hell, or high water!
"So! If it pleases sir...I would like to sign on this voyage
and take my chances alongside the rest of you!!...Come what
"So be it! Do you have a post at present in this crew?"
"I was going to be a flensman Sir...but that is now old hat!"
"Then you shall be a watchkeeping helmsman! Can you steer a
ship do you think?"
"Aye Sir...I'm sure I can!"
"Then see Moses...he'll put you in the watch system.....and,
if you show promise...I will get you instructed in the art of
Navigation! How does that sound?"
"Very fine sir!....Where is Tortuga? I have never heard of
"It is a nest of vipers Mr Allen! But a very profitable one!
We will now plot a course for there....it will be a voyage of
a week and a half...but it will be much warmer climes....you
will like the weather, the sea, the sand.....and the women!!"
I raised my eyebrows!! Women????
He caught my look of puzzlement!
"Oh Aye! There'll be a lot of that in Tortuga....it will be a
bloodthirsty bunch we serve alongside! But it will also give
us all, more gold than we've ever seen...Taking from the
French and Spaniards, and giving to good English stock, and
Dutch of course!!!....namely...you and me!!" He laughed...I
assumed he had been in the business before, somewhere, some
time...I thought I would ask!!
"You seem very versed with Tortuga Mr Eike! Have you been
"Oh Aye! Mr Allen...Oh Aye! But as a prisoner...not a fellow
villian!! I was part of the crew of the Dutch East Indiaman
"Lydia Cardell"!! We were boarded, sacked and plundered, some
of the crew slaughtered, Captain Van Meer's wife and two
daughters raped for 2 days and nights, before being tossed to
the sharks!!! Oh Aye Mr Allen! I have been to Tortuga
before...and I have a score to settle with a one armed rogue
called LaSalle....a Frenchman, a thief, a rapist, a
murderer...and, if I have any say, a dead man walking!!!...You
might know him as Red Beard!!!"
"I had heard many horror stories in Portsmouth and the
surrounding area of this man called Red Beard....apparently a
deserter from the English Navy...now one of the most
bloodthirsty pirates in the world...and the most wanted! I
recalled a poster in the "Lennox" Inn in Portsmouth which
offered 2,000 guineas for his capture, dead or alive!!!! And
we were obviously soon to meet him!!!
I was shown around my new watchkeeping duties the following
morning...I would have the First Dog watch at 4pm that day,
followed by the First watch from 8pm until midnight...it was a
very strict regime of watchkeeping that was observed on this
ship...but, I was looking forward to my new job! I thought a
lot over those intervening few hours, about Tortuga! If it
really was as bad as Van Eike said, we would need to be very
wary! To sell the ship, make enough money to pay the crew
dues, and to have enough to buy a smaller ship...would take a
bit of skill, and, with the inhabitants being a cutthroat
bunch, a lot of nerve also!!
It was at about 5pm, halfway through my watch on the wheel (I
had a tutor with me called Mason) when the wind started to
rise...I knew from the chat earlier on when I had relieved the
previous watch, that we could expect a little blow....during
the afternoon it had freshened from the Southwest....by 6 pm
when all were below eating...it had risen to a force
6/7....the topmen were aloft changing sail...the deck crew
were on hand changing tacks...as the wind backed, we needed to
adjust our course and patterns of sail!!
By 6pm, when I was relieved at the wheel, the wind was at
about a force 8 gale!....I felt sick, I was so glad to get
relieved and get below to the relative comfort of my
hammock....Another couple of hours and I'd be back on watch
again!! I climbed into my "mick" and fell immediately
asleep...I was shaken by a seaman I knew as Mick Redfern....a
bluff Fensman....His lilting Anglian accent I found
fascinating! "Time for your watch boy!" the lilting rise at
the end of the sentence, was something I had not heard before,
but, unknown at the time, would be glad to hear spoken at a
Van Eike came on deck after I had relieved my opposite
number..."What's our course now helmsman?"
" South west, a point south sir!" I didn't know what I was
talking about really, but had been told that was the course to
follow...so that's what I was doing!
"Very well!..I think this weather will slow us!...We're going
to have to tack continuously from now on...I have set a new
course, which will be the mean course, to take us to Tortuga,
but skirting around this depression will take us North...so in
order to maintain our heading we will have to use the wind to
our advantage and zig-zag across the mean course!! This my
friend is known as tacking!"
I was learning fast...I heard sail patterns being set, heard
the calls of the deck to the top men aloft!
The watch went swiftly..it was midnight before I knew it, and
I was relieved....the last four hours of beating against the
wind, continuously changing course to keep moving ahead, had
made the time on watch fly by! I went below and turned in....I
dreamt of being caught by the Sheriff's men...the ghost of the
minstrel pointing me out amongst the crew! The rope hanging
from the gibbet in the background made me shake, I woke in a
cold sweat!! It had been a dream! Nothing more! But, so
I thought it must be 3 maybe 4 o' clock in the morning...I was
not on watch again until the afternoon...I clambered out of my
mick, and went on deck...the wind had abated..and the "Zee
Schwalbe" was fair skimming along...I looked aloft...canvas
was straining away from the yards...we heeled over to Port,
with the portside gunwhale running close to the boiling sea! I
walked aft, past the helmsman's position...to the after poop
deck..the stars were out now...there was a moon, low on the
horizon...Suddenly, I was joined by Van Eike...he had a
telescope and a measuring device in his hands..."Looking for a
star sight Allen!" He said..."Then I can plot our position
"In a few days time...once you've mastered the helm, I will
take you through some Navigation techniques ok?"
I was warming to this likeable Dutchman!!....I decided to ask
him more about Tortuga!
"You'll see soon enough! It's a den of thieves and
pirates...but they have a code! They live by that code...and
some say, they die by it too!...Piracy!!! Some say it's in the
blood!! Most have become very rich men, a few, only until the
hangman caught up with them!!!...Piracy is in the blood in my
opinion Allen! I hope there's some blood in the pirates eh???
'Cos one particular one is going to spill lots of it....for
"What of the new ship, the ship we intend to buy?" I
asked..."Will we take her to sea lawfully or unlawfully?"
"Do you have qualms Mr Allen?...We will fit her out with
cannon....and help re-distibute some French and Spanish
wealth!...What say you?"
As long as some of it found it's way into my coffers, I cared
not either way! And said as much to him!
"Excellent!!! There will be a price on your head no doubt! But
I expect there is already eh?"
"Aye! I expect so too! So!!... in for a penny...in for a pound
"Oh I think it'll be a pretty penny Allen...A pretty penny!!
As long as you keep your nerve...and don't waste on rum and
women!"..."Me!!! All I want is a chance at that Red Bearded
swab! The rest is bonus!!!"
"We'll need to take down the Dutch ensign as we near Tortuga
and the islands....and....replace it with something more
fitting! Our renegade flag!!"
The next 4 days were spent learning about navigation
techniques, handling techniques of a ship under sail, and,
helmsmanship! In off watch hours, I spent a lot of my spare
time with "Capt" Van Eike and Moses...learning about my new
career to be, that of a privateer...I learnt that privateering
was a form of piracy allowed by law....sanctioned by the
Government of the day, mainly to raid, rob and generally cause
mayhem amongst enemies, or supposed enemies of that
Government! I was quite taken aback by the knowledge imparted,
and often wondered if I would be confident enough to board a
ship with this crew, robbing and pillaging, using knife and
cutlass....It would take a lot of guts....did I have them?
The ship was almost sailing herself, our position at noon on
the 4th day, was 200 miles Northwest of Cuba...another couple
of days like this and we would make landfall of Tortuga Island
easily within the time we had allowed...Preparations were in
hand for entering the harbour of St Kitts....where we knew we
would get the best price for this ship!...Great care had been
taken to make sure all traces of the "Pelican" were
erased...we were now, to any eyes, the Dutch ship "Zee
Schwalbe"!...I had learned from Van Eike that it meant the Sea
Swallow...or the Arctic Tern!! A fitting name for her...she
was fair flying along with the reduced tonnage of the whaling
It was on the Friday (the date I didn't know)....I was on
watch from 4 am to 8 am...I had handed over the watch to the
Westcountryman Ned Bolitho...a whalerman from the port of
Falmouth...we were now "oppos" or opposite numbers in the
watch hand-overs...I had passed the watch to him knowing that
sometime later in the day, we could make a landfall...where
exactly was not really known, because of overcast skies...but
we hoped it would be Cuba! I had turned over the watch, gone
below, rinsed my body in the cold water available, eaten a
crust of weevil ridden bread, and climbed into my mick....I
was awoken by the sounds of shouting and running feet....My
head muzzy with sleep, I took a few moments to orientate
myself...I jumped from my mick, threw on a pair of trews, and
ran on deck....I could hear shouts from aloft of "Sail
Ho!"....I ran aft to where others were gathering and pointing,
sure enough....there, a few miles distant was a ship, a 3
masted ship!....I walked across to where Moses was cracking a
ropes-end menacingly around a group of seamen, scrubbing and
stoning the decks....
"Moses! What sort of ship is it?" I asked.
"Fo shoa...'tis an Engris'man Mr Allen! An Engris'
Frigate...Captain..he say we get boaded!!"
Boarded!! Why would they want to board us? Did they suspect us
of something? Had we been reported? Had I been reported? What
were they searching for?
The two ships closed to within 5 miles....we had now trimmed
sail and were riding with furled main and for'tops....relying
on the lower fores'l and mizzen to keep us head to the wind,
as we waited for some sign that the other ship was going to
come alongside us! We didn't have to wait long...As I watched,
a flutter of flag bunting soared to the masthead of the
English Frigate...it took a few minutes for Van Eike to
decipher the signal!...."What ship?...Where Bound???...What
Our signalman was quite inexperienced in the way of Naval
affairs, and took time to sort out the relevant flags for our
reply...Van Eike had told him to "Bend on....Zee Schwalbe out
of Groningen....bound for Cuba....and light ship!" This meant
we had no cargo! Something they would soon find out about if
they came aboard!!! The smell of whale was still cloyingly
obvious to anyone going below to where the whale oil, and
flesh in casks, had been stowed before they had been dumped
over the side! The reply flags climbed our mast and fluttered
in the breeze....the Royal Navy had every right to stop and
board any vessel on the high seas, as long as it was not in
Territorial Waters....And we certainly were not!! We would
never pass an inspection by the Navy...questions would quickly
be asked...and before long the truth attained!
Flags fluttered again to the mast of the Frigate....."What is
the name of your Captain?"...The reply was hoisted...Captain
Jan Van Eike...Dutch East India Company...Port of
registry...Groningen!"....The frigate had now closed to within
a quarter of a mile....through the telescope, Van Eike watched
as men mustered around the sea boat, davited on her after
quarterdeck......."The Beggars are going to board Moses!!! Get
armed men into the scuppers, lying down...they'll have a
surprise if they do board!!"
GOD!!! We couldn't take on the English Royal Navy....we would
be facing the rope!!!..As I watched...men crept along the
bulwarks, laden with knives, pikes and cutlasses...until they
were lying beside the bulkhead gated section that the Naval
crew would have to climb through!!
"Moses! Drop a rope ladder over the side in plain view! I want
them to come over the side exactly there at the bulwark gate!"
"Yessum Cap'n Eike Sir!" A rope ladder was quickly found and
lashed to the bitts, then dangled over the side....the armed
crew were secreted exactly beside where the unsuspecting
English Navy boarding party would gain access!.....Van Eike
was watching intently the comings and goings on the
Frigate......She had closed to within 200 yards now...and her
officers and crew could be plainly seen, along with an array
of redcoats in the rigging! No doubt, the Captain had his
glass trained on us as well....What if they boarded and found
out who we really were, who I really was? I was sure I would
be arrested and tried for murder...I would not go
willingly...I started to sweat! We could all face the hangman
Flags soared aloft on the English Frigate!....Was this it??
Van Eike cursed softly under his breath..."Gott verdamt" I
think I heard him say....Then this IS it I thought with
"Bloody English!!! Oh Pardon Mr Allen!...But that could have
"So what's happening?" I asked.
"The flags are the signal..."Bon Voyage"...They are pulling
away as we speak! They are obviously content that we are who
we say we are! For the moment!!!"
Thank God for that!! I had felt there was no retreat....the
boarding party would have met with violence upon coming
aboard! Then, when we were overrun, the arrests would have
started! Phew! That was as close as I wanted to be to the
We crammed on sail....eager to put distance between us and the
English frigate!...We were soon surfing along atop the
rollers,the sea now turning from a deep indigo, to a more
pleasant blue/green...as we neared the island, I could see
from my perch at the truck...... palm trees, rolling surf,
white sands...and a few scattered huts along the tree
line....Using the glass, I was able to pick out the headland
we needed to come around before we arrived at the harbour at
Moses was doing a jig on the after deck when I returned from
my trip aloft....another of the seamen was entertaining with a
small squeeze-box...Moses looked happy to be in this
enviroment...the warm sun...cool breeze..and inviting waters!
We rode the swell, surfing along on the tops of the breakers
for another hour before we had rounded the headland, I had now
found out was called Cape Fine...a sort of lookout point had
been established on it's crown!...I wondered if it was to look
out for distressed sailors...or more likely...English Naval
ships or trespassing privateers from nearby islands...Jamaica
being one hot bed of piracy I had been told!
By the time I had officially taken over the watch again...(I
had been Rubber-necking for hours) we were within 4 miles of
the harbour! We diminished sail, and Zee Schwalbe cruised
steadily towards the harbour entrance...
"Treacherous reef and coral here Mr Allen...so watch your
helm! I will send a man into the chains now to take the depth!
We need to shorten to fores'l and mizzen only!"
The appropriate orders were given, men clambered aloft to take
in the sails of the mainmast, and the tops of the fore! I saw
a tall seaman, a rigger......whom I had watched the previous
day, splicing new yoke eyes with a marlin...run for'ard, with
a lead and a knotted rope in his hands...
"He will stand in the chains (Which I learnt were the chains
attached to the bowsprit) and swing the lead ahead of
us....then as the ship comes up to the rope, he will shout the
depth for us...giving a small margin of time to stop the ship
before we ground!"
"Small sail Sir!" A call from for'ard! I looked over the bow,
by standing on tiptoes I could see a small white boat
approaching...."Coming to offer a tow I'd wager" said Eike.
Sure enough, the boat came to within hailing distance, and we
could see it was manned by several men in highly flambouyant
dress, one of whom, stood in the bow...doffed his hat in a
sweeping gesture, and using a paper cone, shouted "Ahoy
there!! What ship are you? Do you need a pilot?"
"At a bloody fair price I would wager Mr Allen! Still it might
pay to be safe rather than sorry!"
"I agree Sir!.
The boat was hailed in return, the offer of a tow was
accepted, and a cable was passed through the fairleads and
picked up by a seaman in the stern of the boat! With great
efficiency, she used both sail and oars to take the strain up
and proceed to pull the Zee Schwalbe towards the harbour!
"By the mark Seven!!....By the mark Seven!!...By the mark
Four!! (Twenty four feet below our keel)...By the mark Four!!
By the Mark Four!!...By the mark Three and a half!! (God it
would be tight!!)...By the mark Three and a half!....(The
monotonous sound of the depth caller belied the nervousness we
all felt)....By the mark Four!!!...By the mark Four!!! By the
mark Five!!!!...." Phew! We were through the gap in the reef,
and now had a clear run to the harbour!
We surfed gently through the gated entrance...armed men stood
on either pier!....The pilot boat dropped her tow and came bow
to, alongside us and gently nudged us towards the wooden, weed
covered, jetty....10 minutes and we were safely moored
alongside!! We made fast, and stood the watch down....the
gangway party were busy wresting the timber walkway from it's
housing alongside the port gunwhale...poles were being dropped
into holes in the long, barred plankings, then ropes would be
strung through holes in the heads of the poles, thus forming a
safe walkway from the shore onto the ship! We had barely slung
the gangway ahore, before it's first recipient, the man I had
seen in the bow of the towboat, came storming up it....stepped
through the bulkhead and doffing his large feathered cap,
announced..."Bon Soir Monsieur Le Capitaine! Je m' appelle
Jean Paul Baptiste! Enchante!"
"Bonsoir Monsieur Baptiste! I would prefer if you spoke
English or Dutch, as my French is very poor!!"
"Certainment Monsieur!! But of course! I am Jean Paul
Baptiste! I have great pleasure in offering my services as
your guide and mentor in Tortuga!!!...or even as far as Nevis
and St Kitts! If there is anything you need...just call on Le
Baptiste eh?? Oh! Monsieur...that will be 40 francs for the
tow...or 50 guilders if you prefer!!"
"Of course Mr Baptiste...but it will have to be in English
Pounds...that is the only currency I have aboard at the
moment! Is that ok?"
"Mais oui Monsier Le Captaine! Of course... in that case it
will be Thirty guineas!" A wicked gleam came into his eyes! He
watched for the reaction from Van Eike!! There was none!
"You will have your money Monsieur....I need to give my crew
recreation and rest...If you would come with me below I have
some requests with which you might help me!"
"Recreation Capitaine????? Mais oui!!!! But we have the best
Rum in the islands...and the best.....'ow yo say "Ladies"!!!
Very beautiful! Very clean!"
Ladies???? Wow!! It had been long months since I had last lain
with Cassie! Would I be able to make love with another woman?
For money? I took this thought with me as I tumbled below for
We spent the first few hours in the harbour at "Turtle Island"
cleaning ship...we needed to make the Zee Schwalbe look as
smart as possible! Monsieur Le Baptiste had taken Captain Van
Eike ashore with him...they had been gone now for two
hours...aloft the shipwrights were bending on new white
canvas, our best suit!! Aft there were seamen painting over
some of the missing gilt, and repainting the red and blue
artwork at the stern...for'ard the sprit ferrules were being
painted white, all in all, work was going on apace to make her
look as good as she could be!
It was next morning before Captain Van Eike returned,
accompanied by a bevy of rough looking merchant types in
breeches and high boots, wearing ridiculous looking tall
hats.....these I later learned were the "bankers" of
Tortuga...amassing their fortunes through buying the wares of
the buccaneers and pirates abounding in these waters! They had
come to assess the ship for value!
They took in the whole ship...topside and below...stem to
stern...some even clambering lubberish up the shrouds to
inspect rigging and yards etc! There was much hand
wringing...much whispering and much tut-tutting! Eventually,
they all disappeared aft to the Captain's cabin...I assumed it
would be several hours before they staggered ashore!
It was later that afternoon when they eventually came on deck,
and made their way drunkenly ashore, filled no doubt with Van
Eike's Cherry Geneva Gin!
"Moses!!! Clear the lower decks! I wish to speak to the crew!"
"Aye Aye Cap'n Sir!" Moses skitterd away for'ard to get the
message below decks! Interesting!!! I wondered what this would
be about? Ten minutes later I had my answer!
"Men! I have had a cordial discussion with bankers from the
local community! I have had an offer placed for the sale of
this ship...and I am also in possession of details of another
ship that is for sale! She is a fast schooner lying in the
harbour at Port-de-Paix across the water! I would like to ask
all of you to consider the offer and come to a decision on
whether you think it's a fair offer or not!"....there was a
pregnant silence...."The offer I have received is in two
parts.....one part is for the sale of this ship only, along
with all fittings and sundries.....in other words...everything
we are standing on!!!...for that...the bankers have offered
1300 guineas......shared between the 47 of us...that would be
28 guineas each, or thereabouts....fair equal shares for all!
Or!!....(there was a long pause)...400 guineas and the
schooner in Port-de-Paix!"
There were mutterings all round..400 guineas shared by 47 was
less 9 guineas each! Still a large amount...but hardly a
"If you take the first option...I will pay you your
bounty..and wish you a fond farewell....If you take the second
option....whether you stay as new crew, or decide to leave us,
shares will be the same! Again...for those that leave I will
wish you a fond farewell! I give you 24 hours to think on what
I've said...and then I will await a representative of the crew
in my cabin! All clear??"
"Aye Sir!" echoed across the decks! I decided that my mind was
already made up and therefore I need take no further time
perusing the offer!
"Sir! May I speak?"
"Of course Mr Allen! Of course!"
"Captain sir! I have been made most welcome aboard the Zee
Schwalbe...a fine ship, with a fine crew...I cannot return to
my home country as a wanted man...I have put my trust, and my
future in your hands and the hands of this crew...I have come
to know some of them...and not found them wanting....I have
nowhere to lay my head except on this ship! I have no homeland
to return to...no wife...no children...I am wanted by the
Sheriff of the Southern Counties of England!! So! For me there
is no choice to make! I throw my lot in with anyone who will
sail with you in the new ship! I feel many men here will wish
to do the same......!"
I was cut off mid cry by the Captain raising his
hand..."Enough Mr Allen! Those are your feelings...and maybe
yours alone, we have 24 hours to assess the offer!"
"We don' nee' no twen'y fo hour Mr Eike sir! We kin tell yo'
There were cries of agreement all round the decks....Moses was
speaking for us all!!
"We ready to go sail da new ship now, come da hell or da high
"How many yo' esscuse fo sailor men sayin' Aye too??"
Achorus of "Ayes" rang round the deck...."There Cap'n Sir! Yo'
question answer fo' yo'!!"
"OK men...let's take a show of hands...how many want to sail
the new ship with 400 guineas as a starter?...Show your
I looked around....a forest of hands in the air!
"Those not wishing us to purchase the new ship...if she's a
good ship remember! we haven't seen her yet! But I'm told
she's fast..and has good lines!....Those that do not wish to
Four hands were raised!!
"Then a new ship it is! I will arrange to be taken across the
water to see her tomorrow! Oh! By the way...her name is the
"Squalus" which I think means Shark! A fitting name I think!"
"I will ask for 3 members of the crew to accompany me...one
will be Moses...another will be Mr Benney the shipwright....so
will you vote me one other?"
"I think Misser Allen Sir! He da one make da suggestion! He
have some good savvy sir...so I say Misser Allen!"
"Aye Aye's" accompanied this from Moses.....
"All those in favour of Mr Allen being the third man...raise
"Unanimous!!! So you will accompany us tomorrow Mr Allen, on
behalf of the crew...We look forward to you comments!"
Well!! I was stunned...I knew nothing about ships...but the
crew had put great faith in me! I looked forward to
tomorrow!...I hoped their faith was justified!.....
"SQUALUS"....the name sounded like a terror from the deep
right enough!!!...I felt a surge of pride....feelings of a new
beginning began to run through my body!! We would take on all
comers!!!... This crew...this new ship.... the "Squalus"!!!!
We went ashore that night, with a little cash on advance from
Captain Van Eike! Several of the crew headed straight for the
bars in the small town...I decided I would rather have a look
around at this new haven, familiarising myself might prove
invaluable in a future melee!! I walked the foreshore and the
quayside for an hour, it was a deep water harbour we were
moored in....several feet of draught at low water, no risk of
grounding if we had to make a run for it at low tide for any
As I neared the settlement...(It was too small to call a
town)...I could hear the sound of merriment from several of
the beach bars, adjoining the sands...noisy carousing took me
in the direction of the rest of the crew...I stopped for a
moment looking to seaward, a huge full moon led a path right
up to the beach where I was standing!....The bay was a silver
mirror...the sea flat calm with no whisper of a wind! The
stars looked magnified, much more so than at home higher in
the northern hemisphere! I was overcome with nostalgia
suddenly for my homeland! Would I ever see it again? My
thoughts drifted to the summer days in the New Forest...the
times we had walked, hand in hand, Cassie and I....we spent
summer days in fields of flowers....finding secluded places,
where we would strip naked and make love in the sun, sometimes
staying until the stars and the moon came out at night!...My
thoughts drifted back to tonight...I would get myself a drink
and then come back to the beach...!
I was passing a small palm-roofed shack. lit inside the open
frontage by an oil lamp....I heard someone softly singing...a
woman!....then a male voice hailed me from the corner of the
"Hey Mister! Hey English sailor! You wanna party a bit maybe?
You wanna buy rum? I got the white rum aplenty mon!! You wan'
"No!" I replied somewhat discourteously..."I'll get a drink in
the town....with my crew!"
"You wanna nice girl mon? Nice an' clean?"
"No!" I replied again "I don't want a girl! Goodnight to you!"
I was about to strut off in a huff, when the lilting voice
appeared in the doorway of the verandah...God! The girl who
had appeared was beautiful! Stunning! With long black hair
tumbling to the middle of her back, it contrasted with her
coffee latte skin....her dark brown eyes looked out from under
long lashes...her lips were full, soft and inviting....She
wore a simple white muslin dress, it was cut to just below the
knee...there was little covering her upper torso...one strap
of the dress hung invitingly off the shoulder, exposing most
of a tanned breast...My heart was hammering! I could feel the
blood surging through my body, as I stared at her, she laughed
a tinkling laugh, I looked (rather stared) at the expanse of
breast and flesh exposed....this would not happen in England I
thought, where dresses were to the ankle and buttoned to the
"Johnny!! You like me? You like love me?" She asked in a husky
I stammered out a reply..."Y-y-you are very beautiful! But no
"Is only 25 franc mon! She give you good time for 25 franc!"
The tall man with rope-like hair emerged from his
shelter...."What say you mon?"
"No thanks! Besides I don't have 25 francs!"...I looked again
at the woman..."But Madamoiselle! You are very beautiful!"
"Is shame Johnny!!!" she laughed and disappeared into the
hut...I went on my way to the town of shanties!
I met up with some of the crew in a bamboo bar...most were in
female company...some of the girls were taking on two or more
of the crewmen, hoping, no doubt, to arouse them, get them
drunk...then in a back alley, or maybe in a bed, roll them of
whatever monies they had...In the morning they would not
remember how they had spent their meagre allowances! I found a
quiet seat in the corner, and asked for rum...it was produced
in a large clear bottle without label...and a generous measure
was poured....I took out my money, and offered loose change to
the bar man...he took a small coin and walked back to his
work...I sipped the liquid.....it was very pleasant to the
taste...but kicked as it hit the throat and burned like fire
as it went to the stomach! I whiled away an hour, imbibing 3
more drinks...then thought I would wander back along the beach
in the moonlight...my reserves of cash only slightly depleted!
The moon was huge...and had turned the bay into liquid silver
gold....Birds were calling from the trees, even though it was
dark.....there was a constant chirrup of night insects...the
clicking and calling coming from every corner...there were
also the choruses of frogs...burp-burping in the greenery
surrounding the beach! It was beautiful!...I stood there for
an age, lost in the wonder of the night in this tropical
paradise....it was hard to think it was a hot bed of cut
throats and mercenary killers!
"Allo again Johnny! You no like the town! You come back see
"Madamoiselle!!!!" she interjected!!
"I'm sorry Madamoiselle! I stand corrected!...But I have no
money and have not come back to see you! You are very
lovely...very beautiful....but alas, I have very little
money....and I have not lain with anyone since my wife!"
"You are marry?" she asked forthrightly....
"Not any more! My wife and daughter were raped and murdered!"
"By the sea-raiders?" she asked with a pained expression.
"Oh no! In England...by a man who is no longer on this earth!"
"I sorry for you!" she cast her eyes downward with a sad
expression on her face "You been many day at sea?" she asked.
"Six months almost!" I replied.
She moved closer, then slowly stood on tiptoe, put her arms
around my neck...and kissed me full on the mouth....
"But!!...I have no........."
"Shhh!!! ...I will love you free Johnny! You look so sad!"
She stood back three feet and dropped the dress to her
waist...she took my hands and raised them to her breasts...the
nipples showing hard and erect in the moonlight..."I love you
free!!!" she whispered..."But you only tonight...not me!"
I shuddered as I caressed her breasts...she was
beautiful!....I dropped my hand to her dress, raised the hem
and moved my hand to her thigh...I inched it higher expecting
to find a barrier of clothing....there was nothing!!! My
fingers found the juncture of her thighs slippery with
moisture.....as I searched for, and found the centre of her,
my fingers slippery with her juices...she moaned deep in her
throat...the moan bursting from her mouth as our lips
separated....her hips thrust downwards on my fingers...then
suddenly she pulled away!! Panting for breath, she gasped.."No
Johnny...tonight..I love you! I love you for free!"
She dropped to her knees, undid my breeches, and dragged them
down to my knees.....My manhood, erect and straining, wet with
anticipation, sprang forth....she moaned as she lifted her
eyes to mine..." You wan' Carla badly Johnny don' you?"She
whispered..."Carla love you now...."
She took my erect organ in her hands and proceeded to stroke
the length slowly, squeezing as she neared the tip...God! I
was so hot for her!....I stroked her breasts as I reached
downwards to her....Then as I fingered her nipples...I heard
her moan in frustrated wanton abandon....she sroked me once
more in her hand, then ever so slowly enveloped my manhood in
her mouth....taking me deep into that warm enclave....she
slowly proceeded to take the length in deeper, until I was
sure she was going to choke.....she was moaning her
desire....I was fast approaching my climax...surge after surge
of want was singing through me...centred on her sucking soft
mouth.....I was unable to hold off any longer...I reached down
for her head, to lift her and kiss her...she stubbornly
resisted...I whispered " Carla!! I am near!!"...hearing this,
she redoubled her effort, squeezing her lips tightly around
the shaft at each upward stroke....I could hold no longer!!!!
In a screaming, freight-train rush, my orgasm was upon
me....My pent up months at sea came out in surge after surge
of male seed...I felt as though it went on for a whole
minute....she made no move to stop...as my manhood
softened...she sofly drew her mouth along the diminishing
length, until I had totally subsided.....I knew not what she
had done with the result...until she stood, wrapped her arms
around me, and kissed me wetly on the lips...I knew
then!!!!...."Goo'night Johnny! Next time...you love me eh??"
with that she slipped her dress straps back on her
shoulders...and laughing, lightly skipped away into the
night.....I picked up, and fastened my breeches.....turned to
look again at the moonlight!!! My first night in Tortuga!!!
Would we meet again....why did she need to sell her sex to
everyone I wondered???
(To be cont............)