In the Works:
Lost on the Raincoast
an 18th Century Adventure
In 1793 a young English sailor and First Nation youth are thrown together in a collision of cultures that includes slavery, murder and supernatural beings.
Fleeing for their lives in a daring journey down the West Coast of British Columbia, they find their courage and beliefs tested in ways neither ever imagined. Survival depends on working together but can they overcome their cultural differences, prejudices and lack of a common language?
Excerpt from Chapter 3: Kidnapped
Suddenly the sea was boiling. It felt like the longboat had been tossed into a giant cauldron of water with huge bubbles breaking the surface as far as the eye could see. I must be dreaming, John thought, rubbing his face.
After last night anything was possible. But no, Lieutenant Puget was shouting and the 12 sailors were leaning into the oars in an effort to stop the boat from being thrown first one way and then the other.
“Lay out on your oars!” Puget yelled from his position at the stern of the craft just behind John.
One minute the water was like glass, shiny, slick and smooth; the next it was heaving up and down like a monstrous creature breathing deeply. Now, as the longboat rounded a small outcropping, it was caught in a powerful tidal current funneling through a narrow channel.
Choppy waves battered the boat as John watched the butt end of a massive tree rush by, its tangled roots close enough to touch. Ahead, a whirlpool yawned like a giant throat waiting to swallow everything that ventured too close.
“Pull to starboard! Pull to starboard!” Puget ordered. The sailor’s muscles strained against their linen shirts as they struggled to bring the boat about.
John stared in horrified fascination as the tree that had just passed them was sucked into the gaping vortex and disappeared from sight. A second later it shot up out of the water with the force of a cannon ball, narrowly missing the hull of the longboat and spraying water on everyone in it.
“For God’s sake, pull! Pull for all you’re worth!” Puget bellowed as they teetered at the edge of the swirling water. Despite the sailor’s best efforts, the vessel drifted sideways towards the largest whirlpool John had ever seen. He figured it was at least 50-feet across, more than twice the length of the boat.
“Starboard! Starboard!” Puget urged over and over. As the stern slid towards the maelstrom John caught his breath at the sight of the 20-foot deep hole before him. He knew if they entered that white hell, no man would survive.
The longboat hovered on the lip of the whirlpool. John felt Puget’s warm breath on his face as they both leaned forward, away from certain death. “Row your hearts out!” the lieutenant roared.
John clutched the side of the boat as it suddenly veered sharply to the right breaking free from the circular motion. “We did it! We did it!” he cried shooting Peter Puget an admiring glance.
But now the strong current was propelling them towards an enormous boulder in the middle of the channel. The water broke against the stone island then cascaded around it in a froth of churning foam.
Puget hollered an order and John watched the shoulder and arm muscles of the sailor in front of him bulge with exertion. Splattered against the gray of the rock John saw a white streak of dried bird dung and a network of cracks where a few straggly bushes clung to life. They were moving too fast, there was no way to avoid the stone wall in front of them.
“Prepare for impact!” Puget called out. John braced himself, there was a load crack and the boat bounced away from the boulder. At the last moment Able Seaman Peterson had half stood and used his oar to take the brunt of the collision. The oar had snapped in two catapulting Peterson over the side of the boat.
“Man overboard!” someone yelled.
“Man the oars!” Puget shouted. “Right about!”
As they raced down the chute of water between the island and mainland, Peterson was swept ahead of them. “Over here! Over here!” he hollered, his arms thrashing in the water.
“Come on men, you can do it,” Puget bellowed. Little by little the boat gained on Peterson. “Come on lads! Come on!” Puget yelled, “Get your mate!”
As they approached Peterson, one of the sailors stretched out his oar, “Come on Petey! Grab a hold!”
Peterson’s huge hands wrapped around the piece of wood and clenched tight. He was a big man and it took two of the sailors to hold the other end. Down the channel the boat sped trailing Peterson alongside like a giant, red-faced fish. His head bobbed up and down in the water but his meaty hands never loosened their grip.