Way Too Deep (Love Overboard Series Book 1)
Aboard the Boadicea
One Day Southwest of Falmouth
Captain Lindsay Fisher jolted awake to thundering pain
centered over a golfball-sized knot on the right side of her forehead. Hot,
sticky blood trickled from a gash on her scalp.
The cabin lights were out, but in the gloom she could hear
the roar of seawater cascading along the floor of her starboard aft cabin.
She’d fallen into her bunk a few hours before encased in foul weather gear —
and a life jacket.
The ship was in a severe list. Dazed and still barefooted,
she used handholds to make her way to the main saloon. The dim glow from the
overhead deck bevels illuminated water pouring through the galley from the
forward cabin. Shit. The custom glass
top over the owner’s cabin had shattered.
The sixty-four-foot Hallberg-Rassy must have done a full
roll. Lindsay had been asleep on the floor of her cabin and had probably
smacked her head sometime during the spin.
They were sinking. Fast. And her first mate, her uncle
Tommy, had been on watch at the helm.
She ignored the stuttering of her heart and snatched the
ditch bag carabineer, clipped to the galley counter rail. She nearly collided
with her second crewman in a race to the top deck.
“Jim, deploy the life raft. Now.” she shouted, shoving the
bag at him.
“Got it,” he yelled, and pounded up the companionway ahead
She hauled herself up, two steps at a time, and called out,
“Tommy.” She didn’t wait for an answer but hit the top deck running.
The wreckage above sickened her. Anything not tied down was
gone. The rigging still stood, but the sails were soaked, twisted and ripped.
The top quarter of the mast had broken off.
A late, fierce storm, at least Force 11, was kicking up
monster size waves, and sixty-knot winds whipped the surface water into a
roiling mist. Airborne spray and foam narrowed visibility to nearly zero.
The earlier weather faxes she’d checked had shown the storm
passing west of them. Mother Ocean must have changed her mind.
Tommy. I have to get
Lindsay exhaled hard at the sight of the lifeboat valise still
lashed to the safety rail. Her third crewman Jim worked at the straps to free
the big rubber inflatable, the only thing between them and the frigid North
When the huge raft was prepped, he would splash the lifeboat
into the savage waves battering the broken yacht. He’d already attached the
raft’s painter to the ship to keep it from blowing overboard. When the ship
sank, the emergency tether would break free.
The steep tilt of the deck meant she had only minutes to
call for help and find her first mate before the yacht plummeted to the bottom
of the sea.
She punched the DSC button on the waterproof radio strapped
on her chest to broadcast their GPS coordinates. Then she pushed transmit and
“Mayday, Mayday, Mayday. This is Captain Lindsay Fisher on
the Boadicea, Boadicea, Boadicea. We’re a day southwest of Falmouth at
48°37’17”N, 20°12’20”W, and sinking. The ship has rolled with three passengers
aboard. One crew member possibly overboard. We are deploying the lifeboat and EPIRB
She waited a minute and repeated the plea while crossing to
the wheel where Tommy should be.
They were still less than two hundred miles out of the
English Channel. If she didn’t get a response soon from the Brits, she hoped
another nearby ship listening to Channel 16 would relay her call for help.
When she reached the stern behind the wheel, the only sign
of Tommy was a taut portion of his six-foot safety tether. Lindsay squinted
through the spray peppering her face like needles. The strap wound down the
backside of the wallowing yacht and disappeared into the black waves.
There was still tension on the line. She heaved up on the
tether, but the weight on the other end wouldn’t budge. She didn’t dare divert
Jim from getting the life raft ready.
Lindsay heaved again on the strap, this time using her whole
body weight but lost her grip when her bare feet slipped on the wave-soaked
deck. No dice.
She stood for a moment, scanned the waves around the ship,
and then plunged into the cold seawater. The towering waves pounded her
senseless like a mass of ice mallets pelting her back. Breathe. Focus.
The roll had knocked out their running lights, and the water
below the surface was as black as an oil slick. She clutched her lifeline,
still clipped to the ship’s jack line, with one hand while groping along the
hull beneath the waves searching for Tommy. She swept a 180-degree arc before
realizing his tether was stuck on a piece of the swim ladder twisted during the
yacht’s violent revolution. Dammit.
The tension on the end of the line wasn’t Tommy.
She unclipped her safety line and left her life jacket on
the ladder to begin a frantic free swim along the keel beneath the hull. The
creaks and whines of the straining ship shrieked in her ears. Not much time left.
Lindsay resurfaced, gasped in a few breaths, and dived again
to the bottom of the keel. Huge thrashing waves exacerbated the wallowing
motion of the ship, and the black water threatened to suck her into the
Her hands and feet were numb, and she wanted nothing more
than to close her eyes and let the frigid water take her.
No. She wouldn’t
give in to the cold, but she was out of options. One more dive was all her body
She was all in, no backup plan. In a flash, something
brushed against her hand. A fish? Not bloody likely this close to the surface
in a storm.
She made a wild grab and grasped a sleeve of her uncle’s
foul weather gear. His life vest must have hooked onto a protruding piece of a
sensor on the keel during the roll.
She pulled with her last surge of strength, and his body
broke free. Kicking them both to the surface, she hung on to his life vest and
gave silent thanks for her barefoot state. Sea boots would have filled and
pulled her down.
The doomed yacht’s loud groans and creaks filled the air
when she came up, gulping breaths. They were out of time.
But there, the big yellow raft bobbed in the water,
surrounded by the wake of the sinking ship.
Jim’s face in the low light was grim, the most beautiful
sight she’d ever seen. He’d found them with the battery-operated spotlight. The
EPIRB’s beacon flashed behind him as he thrashed through the waves. He grasped
Tommy by his jacket and pulled him aboard, then extended a hand to Lindsay.
Once inside the small canopied raft, she rolled her uncle to
his back and leaned over his chest, listening for breathing. The screaming
winds and rain pelting the raft’s rubber top made hearing next to impossible.
Her frozen fingers were useless. She couldn’t use them to
detect a pulse, so instead she looked for a rise in his chest. Nothing. She
started compressions and after only two or three, Tommy jerked to life and
slapped her hands away.
“You tryin’ to kill me or what?” He took the bucket Jim
shoved toward him, and in a matter of seconds, puked up seawater. “Son of a–.”
“He’s back,” Lindsay said, her voice ragged with relief and
exhaustion. Painful needles of feeling returned to her fingers and toes. She
collapsed onto the inflated rubber floor and stared at the peaked roof.
Her career was over.