Your Daily McMaster: a star to steer her by

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The skies are dark and menacing. It’s the type of storm you can feel well before it reaches you. With the salty, sea air stinging my body and whipping my cloak about me, I turn the wheel and head into the storm.

After the jump, the sea was angry that day my friends

By the time we get a good look at the coming gale, it’s too late to avoid it. The air hangs heavy and oppressive, like a wet blanket not letting any breath enter our lungs without struggle. Our target rises from the sea – a god-forsaken piece of rock with a fortress perched upon its highest point. Normally we wouldn’t attempt this level of strike without sufficient back up and supplies, but with luck the storm will cover our approach and make the attack that much more surprising.

The men sit quietly. Any attempt at striking up a shanty is drowned out by the wind and the creak of our rigging. Without the constant sound, our vessel would ring out the quiet chorus of prayers and benedictions. It appears as if we may have crept in under the nose of our enemies. Just as the mood begins to shift towards guarded enthusiasm, the cannon ring out. “Brace for impact,” I shout as the volley strikes the ocean and my ship. A ball caught Bart in the gut, taking out the rail he was clutching with him. Smiling Jack was washed over by a rogue wave. No time for that now. “Ready the canon, lads! Let’s show these Spaniards what we’re made of.”

Our cannon ring out in response and the first cracks appear in the fortress. With a skillful shot of our swivel guns, an entire wall comes down, exposing the inner workings of the tower. Another volley sends the crew and all other inhabitants to hell. The night sky lights up again and we take more casualties. Part of our rigging snapped and fired John Mayweather into the stormy seas.

“Fire,” I cry into the wind and our ship’s guns light up once more, severely damaging a gun placement. “We might just make it out of this,” I find myself thinking. If we can dance around the fortress cannon long enough, we should be able to destroy or otherwise incapacitate their defense. After the battle on sea we will have to take to land to finish. The melee that follows a landing is enough to turn a man’s stomach. I push those thoughts aside – we gotta destroy the defenses and then land.

“Spout,” cries Haywood just as I begin to register the sound. A whistling, growing louder, is coming at us. We have no time to turn or avoid the twister and, as we approach, the ship is gaining speed. “Brace,” is all I manage to get out before the funnel overtakes us. The pressure in my head is intense but is nothing compared to what the ship must be going through. The creaking break of the mast rings out what I would imagine is our death knell. A sharp pain overtakes my consciousness, followed by darkness.