Twas a dark and stormy night, the wind
like a dying gull through the shrouds, in the gathering gloom Great Barrier Island loomed its forbidding bulk above me, a fearful lee shore. Somewhere in the darkening turmoil ahead I knew there was a break into Tryphena but I didnt know whether I'd be able to get close enough before the night descended.
The only guide I'd have now would be a break in the foam clamouring onto the snarling hackles of the approaching shore. One chance to spot it and run in was all I needed, but a wrong turn meant no going back and no reprieve. Every break between the hammering surf was a moment of false hope, only to be snatched back at the very instant of decision by another crashing wall of grey spume at the edge of the light. Each time I saw a gap I'd hold my breath swearing at my desperate impatience, holding off and holding off. One shot. It held for a moment, I waited. It held but I knew I had to hold back until there was no doubt, and then wait a bit more, til the tiller walked across by itself and I threw her into the blind chance of a wild guess, hunched over for the moment of horrible revelation as the rocks of my imagination surged out of the sea ahead to claim me. But they didnt come.
As the water
cleared ahead of me i knew we were in the clear. For the first time in a good while I realised how tightly I'd been gripping the tiller, eased her off and slipped the tie rope
onto the cleat to give my arms a rest. It was as close as I'd like to come to that sort of buggerup.
That was the moment the last dirty little rogue wave
smacked over the weather
beam, my trusty old bucket sitting against the mizzen shrouds, tipped for an instant, then she was gone into the roiling abyss, the old painter having no ghost of a chance to hold against the snap of the grasping ocean. My moment of triumph snatched away with the last glimpse of her bravely bobbing into the whitecaps, the wind
seizing her with howls of execration.