The Boy and the Sea Dragon
A Boat Ride
All four were down at the wharves. They walked down the road running by them. Zuangeng kept looking at the ships they passed. They came to the last ship. The next pier was vacant. There was no Serikua.
Zuangeng looked at the vacant pier. He raised his head to look beyond it. He left the group and headed toward the pier. He walked out to the pierhead. He stopped and stood there, gazing out to the sea.
Gunthar noticed the boy was missing. He looked around. He found him on the pier. He turned and headed for him. Hans and Petra followed. Gunthar came to Zuangeng’s left. He gazed out to the for a while.
He turned to look at Zuangeng. Zuangeng had a look of despair and frustration mixed. Tears started to swell in the boy’s eyes. Gunthar said, “What’s wrong? Are you missing home and the ship?”
Zuangeng said with a tinge of sadness, “I wish I could be on the Serikua on the ocean. It has been my home since I can remember. Nowhere else, have I known to be home.”
Gunthar said, “I wish I could help you there. At least, you get part of your wish. At least, you’ll be on the ocean. We’ll be taking my sailboat out on the sea. We’ll be sailing along the coast. You’ll see more of our island. As long as you stay with us, consider our home yours.”
Zuangeng said, “Thank you.”
They continued looking out to the sea in silence. It was a beautiful day for a trip in a sailboat. The sky was a brilliant blue. The sun was shining bright. Light reflected off the ripples in the water. There were some white, wispy cirrus clouds. A light wind blew inland.
After a while, Gunthar said, “It’s time for us to continue on to the boat.”
They turned around. They walked off the pier. They turned right. They continued down the road. They passed a section of clear sandy beach. It stretched form the pier they had just left to the first of a new set of piers. Boats, not ships, docked at these piers.
Zuangeng looked to the right. He watched water wash ashore and retreat.
They came to the first pier. A sailboat was tied to the pierhead. They walked to the pier. They walked to the boat. Zuangeng looked at it. The hull was painted blue outside. The bow was covered by a varnished mahogany slatted deck. It went just past where the mast would be. The deck continued along both gunwales toward the stern deck, forming an open cockpit.
The single mast and boom were flat, lengthwise, across the boat’s middle. Three cables ran along the mast. Zuangeng thought of them as the stays. One end of each was tied to what he thought was the top.
They climbed into the cockpit. Petra stood on the bow deck. Hans and Gunthar unlashed the mast and boom. They grabbed the mast. They picked it up. Petra bent down and grabbed the forestay. Hans and Gunthar raised the mast. Petra pulled on the forestay, walking toward the bow. When the mast was upright, Petra knelt down. He clipped the stay to a plate at the bow. He walked back to the cockpit. Gunthar held the mast up. Petra and Hans clipped the other two stays to plates on either side of the boat. Gunthar let go of the mast.
Hans and Gunthar picked up the boom. They carried it aft. They lined it up with the mast. Petra pulled a pin out of the bracket on the mast. Petra guided the boom bracket in the mast bracket. He replaced the pin. He clipped the pin in place at the bottom.
Below the bow deck at the cockpit edge, there was a wall. The wall had a sliding door. Petra knelt down. He opened the door. He pulled out two triangular sails. He closed the door. He took the larger of the two sails. Hans and Petra unfolded it. Petra clipped one corner to the boom by the mast. Hans clipped the other corner to the boom’s aft end. Petra clipped the third corner to the sail’s halyard. Gunthar clipped the sheet to the boom’s aft end.
Petra took the smaller of the two sails. He and Hans unfolded it. Petra got on the bow deck. He took one corner of the sail to the bow. He clipped the corner to the same plate as the forestay. Hans clipped the jib sheet to the second corner. He clipped the third corner to the jib halyard.
Petra untied the bow painter from the dock. He coiled and secured it. He walked back to the cockpit. Everybody sat on the port gunwale. Petra was near the bow. Gunthar was near the stern. Zuangeng sat beside Petra. Hans sat beside Gunthar. Gunthar untied the stern painter form the dock. He coiled and stowed it. Petra pushe the boat along the dock. At the end of the dock, he gave a final hard push. Gunthar steered the boat to port. Petra hoisted the sails. He grabbed the jib sheet. Gunthar grabbed the main sheet and the tiller.
They pulled on the sheets. The sails tightened and caught the breeze. The boat moved forward. They pulled on the sheets some more. The boat picked up speed. The bow rose on the waves. It slapped the water when it came down. Water sprayed form the impact.
They pulled on the sheets more. The boat picked up more speed. The port side rose. Everybody leaned back.
Zuangeng turned his head toward the shore. He watched the shore go by. Further up, were houses.
Gunthar steered the boat further from the shore. They came to some one hundred foot cliffs. Gunthar steered further from the cliffs to avoid hidden obstacles. They adjusted the sails.
The coastline curved around to the left. Gunthar steered the boat to port. They continued following the coastline.
The cliffs soon became sandy beach. Further up the coast was a large pile of sand. It curved up to about fifty feet. Hans saw Zuangeng gawking at it. He said, “That is a sand dune.”
Grass was growing on the top of the dune. The bare sand sloped down to the beach. They past it, leaving it behind.
Further up the coast, there were fences lining the inner edge of the sand. Various plants grew on the other side of the fences. Some were tall. Houses were scattered near the plants. Hans said, “Those are farms. They produce the food we eat.”
About an hour later, Gunthar said, “Coming about!”
They got down into the cockpit. Gunthar turned the tiller. The boat swung around to starboard. They ducked under as the boom swung to the other side. The jib did likewise. They got on the other side of the boat. Gunthar and Petra pulled on the sheets. The boat tilted to port. They sat on the starboard gunwale. They leaned back.
They returned to the harbor. They docked the boat in the same slot as before. Petra lowered the sails. He unclipped the halyards. He unclipped the jib from the sheet and the bow. Hans and he folded the sail. Petra unclipped the main sail from the boom near the mast. Gunthar unclipped the main sheet from the boom. He unclipped the sail from the boom. Petra and Hans folded the main sail. Petra stowed the sails away. Gunthar and Hans held the boom. Petra unclipped the boom from the mast. Gunthar and Hans laid the boom aside. Gunthar, Hans and Petra lowered the mast. They lined the mast and boom beside each other. They lashed them down. Zuangeng stood on the dock, watching them. They went home.