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Title: Troubled Waters - Sandy Steele Adventures #6
Author: Leckie, Robert
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber’s note:

      Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).



Sandy Steele Adventures

TROUBLED WATERS


      *      *      *      *      *      *

SANDY STEELE ADVENTURES

Black Treasure
Danger at Mormon Crossing
Stormy Voyage
Fire at Red Lake
Secret Mission to Alaska
Troubled Waters

      *      *      *      *      *      *


Sandy Steele Adventures

TROUBLED WATERS

by

ROGER BARLOW



Simon and Schuster
New York, 1959

All Rights Reserved
Including the Right of Reproduction
in Whole or in Part in Any Form
Copyright © 1959 by Simon and Schuster, Inc.
Published by Simon and Schuster, Inc.
Rockefeller Center, 630 Fifth Avenue
New York 20, N. Y.

First Printing

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 59-13882
Manufactured in the United States of America
by H. Wolff Book Mfg. Co., Inc., New York



CONTENTS

  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
  1 An Unusual Gift                                                    9
  2 Make Ready to Sail!                                               20
  3 Shakedown Cruise                                                  33
  4 The Man with the Gun                                              51
  5 Storm Fears                                                       67
  6 Something Lost—Something Found!                                   75
  7 A Million Dollars’ Worth of Trouble                               82
  8 Double Blackout                                                   87
  9 To the Freighter                                                  97
  10 Aboard the Floating Prison                                      108
  11 Escape to Danger                                                120
  12 The Race Begins                                                 136
  13 A Race of Mistaken Identity                                     146
  14 Slow-Motion Chase                                               153
  15 Turn and Turn Again                                             160
  16 The End of the Race                                             169
  17 Another Discovery                                               177
  18 Homeward Bound                                                  183

                   [Illustration: CLIFFPORT CALIFORNIA]

                          [Illustration: SLOOP]

  (1) _Mainsail_
  (2) _Jib_
  (3) _Mast_
  (4) _Boom_
  (5) _Shrouds_ (_standing rigging_)
  (6) _Headstay_ (    ”    ”    )
  (7) _Backstay_ (    ”    ”    )
  (8) _Rudder_
  (9) _Tiller_
  (10) _Mainsheet_
  (11) _Hawk_
  (12) _Halyards_



                              CHAPTER ONE
                            An Unusual Gift


Sandy Steele slowly put down the phone and pushed his blond cowlick back
from his brow. Excitement and confusion were mixed in equal parts in his
expression as he turned to his father, John Steele, who stood leaning
against his workbench, idly tossing a piece of quartz crystal in the
air.

“Wow!” Sandy said. “Leave it to Uncle Russ to come up with a real
surprise!”

“It certainly seems to be a habit of his,” John Steele smiled. “What do
you think of this particular surprise?”

“I hardly know what to think,” Sandy answered. “The question is, what do
you and Mother think? I mean, is it all right if I go—if I can find
somebody to go with me?”

“Your mother and I discussed this with your Uncle Russ before he called
you,” Sandy’s father said, “so I guess that’s one worry you don’t have
to consider. The only problem you have is finding somebody who knows how
to handle a boat, and who’ll be interested in making this trip with
you.”

Wrinkling his forehead in thought, Sandy swung his gangling six-foot
frame up on to the workbench next to his father. “How about you, Dad?”
he asked. “Do you know anything about sailing a boat?”

His father shook his head. “Sailing is hardly a skill that a government
field geologist needs to develop. My work is with rocks and minerals—the
dryest kind of dry land. What I know about water, you could carve on
granite and put in your watch pocket!”

“Geology didn’t make you into an inventor, a chemist, an electrical
engineer, a carpenter and gosh knows what else,” Sandy answered, waving
around him at the crowded workshop with its confusing mass of equipment.
“I just thought you might have done some reading on this subject, too.”

John Steele smiled. “As the proud but confused owner of a new sailboat,
one of the first things you’ll learn is that there’s a world of
difference between theory and practice. I’ve been out on a boat a few
times; years ago, though. I’ve also read some books on the subject, as
you thought. But all I know is that I don’t know anything.” He put down
the quartz crystal and moved away from the workbench. “No,” he said, “if
you’re going to be able to accept your Uncle Russ’s offer of a sailboat
as a gift, and if you’re going to sail it on a three-day trip down from
Cliffport, you’ll have to find someone with practical knowledge to help
you do it.”

Sandy frowned in concentration. “Finding a sailor in Valley View is
going to be like finding a ski instructor in the Sahara Desert!” he
said. “Why, this town is almost one hundred miles inland from the
ocean!”

“That’s true,” John Steele said; “but it seems to me that I once heard
you and one of your friends talking about sailing. If I’m not mistaken,
it was Jerry James, and it sounded to me at the time as if he knew what
he was talking about.”

“Of course!” Sandy said, slapping his forehead in exasperation. “I don’t
know why I didn’t think of it! Jerry was a Sea Scout in Oceanhead before
his family moved to Valley View. It’s just that he’s become so much a
part of this town that I forget he didn’t grow up here with the rest of
us. I think he was a Sea Scout for about three years, and he had been
sailing before he ever joined up. I’m sure he can do it!”

“Well,” his father said, “you’d better hunt him up fast and find out
whether he can and will. Your uncle expects us to call him back within a
couple of hours to give him an answer, because he’s leaving the country
in two days and he wants to get this settled before he goes.”

He had hardly finished his sentence before Sandy was out of the
workshop, on his bike, and tearing down the tree-shaded street. He was
sure that Jerry would be able to do it! He remembered their conversation
well, now that his father had reminded him of it, and he recalled that
Jerry had said that he practically grew up on boats, and that they were
the only thing that he missed since moving to Valley View. In the close
friendship that had grown up between them in the last couple of years,
Sandy could not think of one time that Jerry had promised something that
he did not deliver. If he said he could do something, he could do it!
Sandy smiled, remembering Jerry’s early days in Valley View, his modest
admission that he “could play a little baseball,” and his first day on
the diamond. Jerry had immediately shown himself to be the best high
school catcher in the county. With Sandy as pitcher, they had developed
into an almost unbeatable battery.

As he pedaled toward the drugstore owned by Jerry’s father, Sandy hoped
that they would be able to carry their teamwork on in this new venture.
He could still hardly believe his Uncle Russ’s offer of a sailboat,
provided he could find someone to teach him how to sail. Like most boys,
he had read and enjoyed sea stories, although many of the words used
were strange and meaningless to him. In his reading, he had often
pictured himself at sea, steering a tall ship through white-capped seas.
A confused series of sailing words went through his mind: bow, stern,
helm, topgallant sails, mizzen, poop deck, quarter-deck, galley, batten
the hatches, go aloft....

He was suddenly brought back to land as he narrowly missed running his
bike into Pepper March, who refused to hurry for a mere bike. Putting
the sea dreams firmly out of his mind, he continued more carefully until
he pulled up in front of James’s Drugstore, where he put his bike in the
rack under the green-and-white striped awning and hurried into the cool,
vanilla-smelling store.

Jerry was behind the counter, making up a pineapple ice-cream soda for
Quiz Taylor who, with two empty glasses in front of him, was impatiently
waiting for the third.

Sandy climbed onto the stool next to the stubby Quiz and impatiently
waited until Jerry was through making the soda. When the concoction was
safely delivered into Quiz’s eager hands, Sandy said, “Jerry, I’ve got
some real exciting news! In fact, it’s so exciting that I didn’t want to
tell you while you still had that soda in your hands. I was afraid you’d
toss the whole thing into the air!”

Having firmly secured both his friends’ attention, Sandy told them about
the phone call from his Uncle Russ, the offer of the boat, the need for
instruction and the whole story. When he had finished, Jerry’s
lantern-jawed face was lit up with a 500-watt grin.

“It sounds as if this is going to be the best vacation of my life!” he
said. “A boat! I can hardly wait to get going!”

Sandy sighed with relief. “Then you’re sure you can handle it?” he
asked.

“That’s a good question,” Jerry said, running a hand over his
close-cropped inky hair. “To tell you the truth, I don’t know because
you haven’t told me yet what kind of a boat it is. There are plenty that
I wouldn’t even say I could act as a decent crew member on. Do you know
what kind it is?”

“Why ... why ... it’s a sailboat!” Sandy said. “I mean, that’s all I
know about it. Does it make much difference?”

Jerry laughed. “There are almost as many different kinds of boats as
there are people,” he said. “Nobody but a real Master Mariner would just
answer that he could sail anything. It’s like being an airplane pilot.
If you got your pilot’s license flying a Piper Cub, you wouldn’t be
exactly ready to fly a four-engine jet bomber!”

“Still,” Quiz interrupted thoughtfully, “the principle remains the same
in both. It’s simply a question of creating a high-speed airstream, so
directed as to pass over and under an aerodynamically shaped surface
which, because of the varying degree of arc and the cambered sections
and angle of attack, produces a lift, drag and momentum proportional to
the density of the air, the square of the speed and the area of the wing
or airfoil. It’s simple! What’s more, a sailboat works the same way.”
Looking pleased with himself, Quiz happily returned his attention to the
pineapple soda.

“Why, Quiz!” Sandy said. “I didn’t know you could fly!”

“Fly!” Quiz looked up from his soda with a grimace. “The very thought of
flying makes me sick. If I don’t hold on to the banister, I get dizzy
when I go up to bed at night!”

All three boys laughed, for this side of Quiz’s personality was a
standing joke with them. Quiz, formally known as Clyde Benson Taylor,
was a virtual encyclopedia of obscure information. While he could tell
you vast amounts about nearly every human activity, the very idea of
taking part in an activity usually upset him.

“So much for theory,” Jerry said. “Now, to get back to the practical
realities of sailing a boat—I’d have to know a few things about the kind
of sailboat you have before I’d be willing to give an answer. There are
all kinds of boats, of all different sizes. There are sloops, cats,
cutters, yawls, ketches, schooners and a hundred variations. Did your
Uncle Russ give you any idea of what he has for you?”

“I think he said it was a sloop,” Sandy said. “And he did say that while
it was large enough to sleep on and take out on a cruise, it was a
pretty small boat. He said that anyone who knew how to sail would know
how to handle it.”

“That sounds right to me,” Jerry said. “I didn’t think that he’d want to
start you off with a complicated rig or a big boat. If it’s the kind of
thing I think it is, I’m sure I can sail it, and teach you too.”

“Will I have to learn all about yardarms and fore-topgallant sails and
things like that?” Sandy asked, somewhat doubtfully.

“Not for quite a while,” Jerry laughed. “You’ve been reading too many
books about pirates and whalers in the old days. You only find all those
complicated sail and rigging names on the big square-rigged ships—the
ones with three and four masts. If your boat is a sloop, it only has one
mast, one mainsail, and a choice of maybe three other sails, flown one
at a time with the mainsail. There’s nothing much to learn compared with
the old full-rigged ships with up to four masts.”

“Five,” Quiz said.

“I never heard of one with more than four,” Jerry commented.

As if he were reading from a book buried deep in his pineapple soda,
Quiz mumbled around the straws, “The steel ship _Preussen_ was the only
five-mast full-rigged ship ever built. It was 408 feet long, had masts
223 feet high, yardarms over 100 feet long and 47 sails totaling 50,000
square feet.”

Even though Sandy was used to this sort of thing from Quiz, he was more
impressed than usual. “How would you like to come with us, Quiz?” he
asked.

“Who, me?” Quiz looked shocked. “I don’t know the first thing about
boats! No, thanks—I’ll stay safe ashore!”

The next half hour was spent in excitedly discussing the trip to come,
the possibilities of sailing, the things Sandy would have to learn, and
the equipment that he and Jerry would have to take along. Finally Sandy
remembered that his Uncle Russ was expecting a phone call, and that
Jerry still had to get his parents’ permission to make the trip. They
agreed to go back to Sandy’s house and let John Steele make the call to
Jerry’s father so that the adults could satisfy themselves about the
wisdom of letting the boys take a three-day cruise for Sandy’s first
trip.

Leaving Quiz in charge of the drugstore’s soda fountain, they quickly
hiked to the Steele home, where Sandy’s father agreed to make the call.

Getting Jerry’s parents’ consent to the trip proved not to be a
difficult task. Mr. and Mrs. James obviously had a good deal of
confidence in Jerry’s ability to handle a sailboat, and both sets of
parents felt that their level-headed sixteen-year-olds could take such a
trip on their own. In short order, all of the details were worked out,
and Sandy was once more on the long-distance phone to speak with his
Uncle Russ in San Francisco.

“It’s okay!” he shouted, as soon as his uncle answered the telephone.
“Jerry James, my best friend, used to be a Sea Scout and knows all about
boats. His parents say he’s a good sailor. We’re ready to start any time
you want!”

He listened for a minute to his uncle, then said, “Swell! We’ll be
ready. And thanks a million for the boat!” Hanging up the phone, he
turned to his father, mother and Jerry with a wide grin.

“Uncle Russ sure doesn’t waste any time,” he said. “He’s leaving now and
expects to be down here tonight. He says that we’d better get all packed
and ready, because he wants to take us up to Cliffport tomorrow morning,
and we’ll have to leave here by six o’clock!”



                              CHAPTER TWO
                          Make Ready to Sail!


“There’s one good thing about riding in this little sports car,” Sandy
said, and laughed as he eased his cramped six-foot length out of his
Uncle Russ’s low-slung red racer. “It’s going to make the sailboat seem
as roomy as a yacht in comparison!”

Sandy pushed his cowlick out of his eyes and stretched as his uncle and
his friend Jerry followed him out of the little car.

“Don’t worry about the size of the boat,” Jerry said. “I’ll guarantee
that it’s going to seem pretty big and complicated, no matter how small
it actually is, until you’ve learned how to sail it. In fact, you’re
going to find that a boat is a whole new world, full of all kinds of new
things to get used to. And from what your uncle told us about this one,
it’ll be more than big enough to keep us both busy for a couple of
summers to come.”

“I feel as if we’re in a whole new world already,” Sandy replied, “and
we’re not even on board yet!” He looked about him at the beehive of
activity that was the Cliffport Boat Yard. “I’ve never seen anything
like this before!”

From all sides came the sounds of hammering and sawing, and the thin
whine of electric sanders. The brisk, salty smell of the sea was mingled
with the sharp odors of paint, varnish and turpentine and the peculiar,
half-sweet smell of marine engine fuel.

Boats of every size and description were ranged about them. Towering
high above them, resting in specially built cradles, were long hulls
with deep, weighted keels like giant fins under them. Heavy frames and
timbers held these boats upright, and ladders leaned against them to
where their decks joined their sides, high overhead. Men scrambled up
and down the ladders with tools and equipment, or sat on the scaffolds
and frames, painting.

Smaller craft without keels were braced in cradles or frames on the
ground, or lay bottoms up on racks made of heavy beams that looked like
railroad ties. Some of the boats were having their bottoms scraped, some
were being sanded, others were in the process of painting.

At one nearby boat, Sandy saw men hammering on the bottom of the hull
with big wooden mallets. Jerry explained that these were calking
hammers, and that they were used to drive oakum into the seams between
the planks to make the boats watertight for sailing. When the boats were
put in the water later on, he added, the planks would swell and form
waterproof joints where the planks met.

On both sides, lines of railroad tracks led from the boat yard and the
big sheds straight down to the water’s edge and on into the water. Boats
on wheeled flatcars stood on the rails here and there, ready to be eased
down the tracks into the water for launching. Jerry explained how, when
the flatcars with their cradles had gone down the slope and were under
water, the boats simply floated away from them. Then the launching
device would be hauled back up the tracks for use on another boat.

Sandy looked about him in bewilderment at the variety of boats in the
yard. There were small boats with one mast, larger ones with two, cabin
cruisers with no masts at all, and one sleek, beautiful, black-hulled
boat with three tall masts. He was just beginning to think that he had
found some relationship between the size of the boat and the number of
masts when he spotted what appeared to be one of the largest hulls in
the boat yard, with one immense mast. Next to it was a far smaller boat
with two. Sandy thought to himself that there didn’t appear to be any
simple rules to the business of boat designing. All in all the bustling
Cliffport Boat Yard was a thoroughly confusing sight for Sandy, and a
pretty exciting one, too.

As a matter of fact, the entire last two days had been pretty confusing
and exciting, Sandy reflected. Just two days ago, he had started on his
spring vacation from Valley View High School with not a thing to do but
loaf around home. Now, suddenly, he was the owner of a sailboat he had
never seen, and he was preparing to take a two-hundred-mile cruise down
the coast! A two-hundred-mile cruise—and he had never even been on board
a sailboat!

Looking at the maze of masts and rigging around him, Sandy sensed for
the first time some of the complications of handling a boat. Laying a
hand on his friend’s shoulder, he said, “Boy, Jerry, I sure hope you can
sail this boat alone! If what I see around me is a sample, I’m afraid
I’m going to be too confused to do more than just watch you and maybe
ask a few simple-minded questions!”

“Don’t worry about it,” Jerry said with a grin. “It’s not anywhere near
as complicated as it looks at first sight. I learned to handle a boat
fairly well in just a few summers at the shore, plus some instruction in
the Sea Scouts, and I didn’t even have my own boat so that I could sail
regularly. One season of working your own boat will probably turn you
into a first-rate skipper!”

Then Jerry frowned for a minute and ran his hand over his hair.
“Speaking of being a skipper,” he began awkwardly, “you realize, I
guess, that I’ll have to act as skipper of this boat at first? I mean, I
know it’s your boat and all, but....”

Sandy laughed. “You go right ahead and take charge! I’ll be more than
happy to take orders from you. After all, somebody on board has to be in
charge, and it’s a good idea to have it be someone who knows what he’s
in charge of!”

“Fine,” Jerry said, looking relieved. “If you just keep up that kind of
attitude, you’ll be the best kind of a crew member that any skipper
could ask for!”

Sandy’s Uncle Russ had been waiting by his car while the boys had been
talking and taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the Cliffport
Boat Yard. Now he moved over to join them. “The trunk of the car is
open,” he said, “and your sea bags are in there. And that’s as much as I
intend to do about it. I don’t know much about sailors, but if they’re
anything at all like soldiers, they carry their own packs! Now let’s get
going!”

The boys grinned sheepishly and ran to the back of the car to gather
their equipment, and Russell Steele relaxed and dropped his mock
military manner. An ex-general of the United States Army, he often
kidded Sandy and his friends by pretending that they were soldiers in
his command. This time, he reflected, it was very nearly true. In the
same way that a general must feel a responsibility toward the men he
sends out on a mission, Russell Steele felt responsible for Sandy and
Jerry as they were preparing to set out on this trip.

After all, he reminded himself, the trip had been his idea, and the
sailboat had been his present to Sandy. He had been using the boat
during the last few months while doing some research on special
underwater equipment for the government, and now he no longer had any
need for it. As Vice President of World Dynamics Corporation, Russell
Steele was in charge of the New Projects Division. World Dynamics was a
sprawling concern with almost unlimited interests, often in the most
secret kinds of affairs, and his work with it often called him to
different parts of the world. He had found his stay in Cliffport a
pleasant change from some of the remote and often primitive places he
had been forced to settle in in the past. Now, however, he was off
again, to one more secret destination. He wouldn’t be in a position to
use a sailboat again for a long time to come.

Sandy’s Uncle Russ had been brought up on the seacoast of California.
While his brother, Sandy’s father, had become fascinated with the rocks
and geological formations of the nearby mountains and deserts, he had
gone in the other direction to the shores of the Pacific. During nearly
all of his boyhood he had puttered around boats and boat yards.

Although Russell Steele had spent most of his adult life in the Army
(and maybe because of it) he had always had a soft spot in his heart for
the sport of sailing. He had regretted that Sandy, his only nephew,
lived inland in Valley View where he was unable to share in this
enthusiasm. But Valley View was only a couple of hours from the seacoast
and now that Sandy was old enough to drive a car, it would be possible
for him to own and enjoy a sailboat.

Uncle Russ thought of all this, and then he wondered whether it had been
a good idea to suggest that the boys bring the sloop all the way down
from Cliffport on their very first sail. Still, he mused, Jerry seemed
like a responsible lad, and he had said that he knew how to handle a
boat well enough to make such a trip. And Sandy learned fast and was
good with his hands. Well, the General thought to himself, we’ll just
have to give them their heads and let them try it to see how they make
out....

At that moment in his reflections, the boys joined him with their
luggage, and all three started through the boat yard to the waterfront.
As they picked their way through the clutter of boats, scrap lumber,
railroad tracks and equipment, they passed close by the side of a boat
standing on the ways about to be launched. Sandy ran his hand over the
gleaming paintwork of the hull, and found that it was as smooth as
glass. Jerry explained that great care was given to getting a smooth
paint job, because the greatest force working against a boat to slow it
down is the friction created by the water passing over the hull. Good
racing boats, he told Sandy, are hauled out of the water to be cleaned
and painted several times in a season.

Their walk had by now led them down to the water’s edge, where they
walked along a weathered wharf. A light, early-morning haze made the
colors of the sailboats that floated in the bay seem soft and pale. The
water and the sky appeared to be one single surface, with no break or
horizon line to indicate where one stopped and the other began. The
boat-yard flag on its mast atop the main shed fluttered lazily in a mild
breeze, and a gentle ground swell made soft, lapping sounds under the
wharf.

Strolling along, they came to a long, steeply sloping gangway that
descended to a floating dock, to which were tied several small sailboats
that rocked quietly on the smooth swell of Cliffport Bay.

Russell Steele took his pipe out of his mouth and pointed with it. “See
there?” he said. “The third sloop—the one with the white hull and the
green decks and the varnished mast—that’s your new sailboat, Sandy, and
I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.”

Before he had finished his sentence, Sandy and Jerry were down the steep
gangway, racing along the floating dock to where the trim, white sloop
was tied. Russ Steele smiled, replaced his pipe in his mouth, and
followed at a pace almost as fast as the boys’.

“It’s a beauty!” Sandy panted, pushing his hair back from his eyes.
“What slick lines! And look at how roomy the cabin is! And look at the
height of the mast! And all that rigging!”

His grin faded, and a look of bewilderment spread across his face. “Boy,
I can sure say that again! Just look at all that rigging! How am I
supposed to know what to do with what and when to do it, Jerry?”

Jerry laughed, and jumped lightly into the small cockpit. “Come on
board, skipper, and we’ll start your first sailing lesson by showing you
around and telling you the names of things. It’s not half as complicated
as it looks. In fact, this sloop rig is just about the simplest there
is. As soon as you learn what to call things, you’ll have the hardest
part of the lesson over with.”

Sandy followed Jerry into the cockpit, then paused to turn and face his
uncle, who was still standing on the dock. “How about you, Uncle Russ?”
he asked. “Will you stick around for a little while and take the first
sail with us?”

“Thanks for asking, Sandy,” Russell Steele answered, “but much as I’d
like to come along with you, I can’t manage it. I have to be back in my
office this afternoon for an important conference. In fact, I’ll just
about make it if I get started now. But before I get under way, and
before you get carried away with the fine art of sailing, there are a
few things that you’ll need to know.”

He talked rapidly and uninterruptedly for about five minutes and, when
he had finished, Sandy appreciated for the first time how thoroughly
well-organized his Uncle Russ was. His preparations for the boys’ trip
had been complete in every last detail. Russell Steele’s practiced
military mind had reviewed the situation and had missed nothing that
might be needed.

The sailboat had been fully provisioned for more than a week of sailing,
and had been equipped for every possible emergency as well as for a
routine and pleasant cruise. The small cabin contained an alcohol
cookstove and a good supply of canned food. Every locker and storage
place was full, and everything put on board had been chosen with care
and an eye for both comfort and necessity.

A complete tool chest was stowed in its cubby with several boxes of
spare hardware, ship fittings, nuts and bolts, wire and odd tackle. A
drawer under one of the bunks contained a whole assortment of fishing
equipment. Another carried an odd mixture of things that the boys might
want, even including clothespins for drying garments, and a sewing kit.
A specially made bag contained another sewing kit, this one for sails
and canvas repair.

In a narrow, hanging locker in the forward part of the cabin were two
complete foul-weather suits consisting of waterproof pants and jackets
with hoods. Below them were two pairs of sea boots.

Opposite this was the small enclosed “head,” sailor’s word for bathroom.
No bigger than a telephone booth, it still managed to contain a toilet
and a sink, plus a cabinet for medicines and first-aid supplies and
another for towels, soap, toothbrushes and the like.

“The only things that you won’t find on board yet,” Russell Steele
concluded, “are your sleeping bags and your air mattresses. I’ve ordered
special ones that the local store didn’t have in stock, and they’re not
due to arrive until tomorrow. For tonight, you’ll have to plan on
sleeping ashore, but I’ve taken care of that for you, too. I’ve got a
room reserved for you at the Cliffport Hotel. After tomorrow, you can
sleep on board, like sailors.”

He scowled at his pipe for several seconds, as if he hoped to see in it
some hint of anything that he might have forgotten to take care of, and
he mentally checked each item again. Sails okay? Charts and navigating
instruments in place? Food? Tools? Spare lines? Life jackets? Oars for
the dinghy? Cleaning equipment? Sea anchor? Everything checked out. At
last, satisfied that all was in good order, he smiled and clamped the
pipe in his teeth again.

“I think,” he said, “the only thing I’ve forgotten is the seagoing way
to say goodbye!”

He settled for “Ahoy!” and “Smooth sailing!” and, brushing off Sandy’s
thanks, walked briskly up the gangway without turning back.

The boys watched him as he turned the corner of the main shed and walked
out of sight, then they gave all their attention to a close survey of
their new floating home.



                             CHAPTER THREE
                            Shakedown Cruise


“Well, Jerry, what do you think of it?” Sandy asked his friend, as he
cast a proud eye along the sleekly shaped length of the little sloop.

“Not ‘it,’” Jerry said. “You should say ‘her.’ You always call boats
‘she’ or ‘her,’ though I’ve never met a sailor who could tell you why.”

Jerry looked critically down the twenty-four-foot length of the sloop.
“She looks really seaworthy,” he said, “and she looks pretty fast, too.
Of course, this is not a racing boat, you know. They use this kind
mostly for day sailing and for short cruises. Even so, she looks as if
she’ll go. Of course, we can’t really tell until we’ve tried her, and I
don’t think we’ll be ready to try anything fast for a little while yet.”

Noticing the flicker of disappointment that crossed Sandy’s face, Jerry
added, “I’d rather have a boat like this than any racing machine ever
built. And I’m not saying that just to make you feel better about not
having a racer. There’s not much difference in actual speed between a
really fast boat and an ordinary good boat of the same size. But there
sure is a lot of difference in comfort. And I like my comfort when I go
for a cruise.”

“Why should a racing boat be uncomfortable?” Sandy asked.

“It’s not uncomfortable for racing, or for day sailing,” Jerry answered,
“but a racing boat of this size wouldn’t be fitted out for cruising at
all. You see, to get the most speed out of a boat, designers make sure
that the hull is kept as light as possible and as streamlined as
possible, too. A light hull will ride with less of its surface in the
water, and that cuts down on the amount of friction. You remember what I
told you about friction before?”

Sandy nodded, and Jerry went on. “Streamlining the hull shape helps it
to cut through the water without making a lot of waves at the bow to
hold it back. Not only that, but to make the boat really as fast as
possible, most designers want to streamline the decks, too. That way,
even the air resistance is lowered. Well, when you streamline the hull,
you make less cabin space below. Then when you streamline the decks, you
have to lower the cabin roof so that it’s level with the decks. You can
see that in a small boat like this, you wind up with no cabin at all.”

“I see,” Sandy said. “But how does the lightness of the hull affect
comfort? I’m not so sure I understand that.”

“When you have a light hull,” Jerry replied, “it’s a good idea to keep
it light. If you overload it, you lose the advantage you built into it
in the first place. That means that you can’t carry all the stuff we
have on board to make for comfortable, safe cruising. Our bunks, the
galley, the head, the spare anchor, all the tools and supplies—it adds
up to a lot of weight. If you want a really fast boat, you have to leave
all that stuff behind.”

“Then if this were a racing boat,” Sandy said, “we wouldn’t have
anything more than a small cockpit and a lot of deck, with a little
storage space! No wonder you said you’d rather have a boat like this!
But there’s one thing I’d still like to know. You said that there wasn’t
much difference in real speed between a racing boat and an ordinary good
boat. How much is ‘not much’?”

Jerry thought for a minute. “Well—” he said, at length—“I’d have to know
a lot more about boat design than I know to give you an accurate answer,
but I can give you a rough idea. This is a twenty-four-foot boat. If it
were a racing hull, you might get eight and a half or maybe even nine
knots out of it under ideal conditions. For practical purposes, you can
figure eight or less. A knot, by the way, is a nautical mile, and it’s a
little more than a regular mile. When you say eight knots, you mean
eight nautical miles an hour.”

“But that’s not fast!” Sandy objected. “You said that’s what a fast
racing boat would do!”

Jerry smiled. “Believe me, Sandy,” he said, “when your boat is heeling
way over and your decks are awash and your sails are straining full of
wind, it seems like an awful lot of speed! You’ll see when we get out
today. Besides, speed is all relative. A really dangerous speed on a
bike would seem like a slow crawl in a car.”

“I guess you’re right,” Sandy answered. “But you didn’t tell me how fast
this boat will go, compared to a racer.”

“I think we’ll get five or six knots out of her,” Jerry replied
thoughtfully. “That’s not fast, but it’s only a couple of knots slower
than the fastest. You see now what I mean?”

Sandy nodded, then said, “I’m with you, Jerry. Now that I know a little
bit about it, I sure think you’re right. I’d much rather have a boat we
can sleep on and take on trips up and down the coast than a racer that
doesn’t even go so fast! Besides, I’d be pretty foolish to think about
any other kind of boat at all, wouldn’t I? I don’t even have the least
idea of how to sail this one yet! Come on, Jerry, start showing me!”

As Jerry carefully explained the different parts of the rigging, the
complicated-looking series of wires and ropes around the mast began to
look a whole lot simpler to Sandy. The first thing he learned was that
not much of the rigging moved or was used for actual sailing of the
boat. The parts that didn’t move were called “standing rigging,” and if
you eliminated them from your thoughts, it made the “running rigging”
comparatively easy to understand.

“You have to learn about the rigging first,” Jerry said. “The idea is
simple enough. The standing rigging is used to support the mast and keep
it from bending to either side or to the front or back when the sails
start to put pressure on it. The standing rigging is every line or cable
you see that comes from the top of the mast or near it down to the outer
edge of the deck or to the bow or stern.”

Sandy looked about the little sloop, and noticed that this seemed to
take care of more than half of what he saw.

“The running rigging,” Jerry went on, “is used to raise and lower the
sails and to control their position to catch the wind when you’re
sailing. The lines that are used to raise and lower the sails on the
mast are called halyards. They work just like the ropes on a flagpole.
The other kind of running rigging—the lines used to control the way the
sails set—are called sheets. You’d think that a sheet was a sail,
wouldn’t you? It isn’t, though. It’s the line that controls a sail.”

“I think I understand so far,” Sandy said, “but don’t you think it would
be easier for me to learn if we went out for a sail and I could see
everything working?”

“Right,” Jerry said. “That’s just what I was going to say next. Telling
you this way makes me feel too much like a schoolteacher!”

Jerry decided that it would not be a good idea to try to sail away from
the dock, because the part of the harbor they were in was so crowded.
There would be little room to maneuver with only the light morning winds
to help them. The best thing to do, he concluded, was to move the boat
to a less crowded part of the harbor. At the same time, he would teach
Sandy the way to get away from a mooring. In order to do all this, Jerry
explained, they would row out in the dinghy, towing the sloop behind
them. Once out in open water, they would tie the dinghy behind them and
pull it along as they sailed.

Together they unlashed the dinghy, which was resting on chocks on the
cabin roof. Light and easy to handle, the dinghy was no trouble at all
to launch, and in a minute it was floating alongside, looking like a
cross between a canoe and a light-weight bathtub.

Getting into the dinghy carefully, so as not to upset its delicate
balance, they untied the sloop from the dock. Then they fastened the bow
line of the sloop to a ring on the stern of the dinghy, got out the
stubby oars and started to row.

At first, it took some strong pulling at the oars to start the sailboat
moving away from the dock, and Sandy feared that they would tip over the
frail cockleshell of the dinghy. But once the sloop started to move,
Sandy found that it took surprisingly little effort to tow it along. It
glided easily behind them, its tall mast swaying overhead, as they rowed
slowly out into the waters of Cliffport Bay.

“We’ll find an empty mooring, and tie up for a few minutes,” Jerry said.
“I don’t think that anyone will mind. I want to show you the method
we’ll use most of the time for getting under way.” He pointed to the
anchorage area, or “holding ground,” as it was called, and Sandy noticed
several blocks of painted wood floating about. They had numbers, and
some had small flags on them. “Those are moorings,” Jerry explained.
“They’re just permanent anchors, with floats to mark the spot and to
hold up the end of the mooring line. Every boat owner has his own
mooring to come in to. The people who own these empty moorings are
probably out sailing for the day, and we won’t interfere if we use one
for a while.”

Easing back on the oars, they let the sloop lose momentum and came to a
natural stop near one of the moorings. They transferred the bow line
from the dinghy to the mooring and made the sloop fast in its temporary
berth. Then they climbed back on board and tied the dinghy behind them.
Jerry explained that a long enough scope of line should be left for the
dinghy so as to keep it from riding up and overtaking the sloop, as
accidents of this sort have been known to damage the bow of a fragile
dinghy.

This done, Jerry busied himself by unlashing the boom and the rudder to
get them ready to use, while Sandy went below for the sail bags. These
were neatly stacked in a forward locker, each one marked with the name
of the type of sail it contained. He selected the ones marked “main” and
“jib,” as Jerry had asked him to, and brought them out into the cockpit.

Making the mainsail ready to hoist, Sandy quickly got the knack of
threading the sail slides onto the tracks on the mast and the boom. He
worked at this while Jerry made the necessary adjustments to the
halyards and fastened them to the heads of the sails. When this job was
done, Sandy slid the foot of the sail aft along the boom, and Jerry made
it fast with a block-and-tackle arrangement which was called the “clew
outhaul.”

“Now,” Jerry said, when they had finished, “it’s time to hoist the
mainsail!”

“What about the mooring?” Sandy asked. “Don’t you want me to untie the
boat from it first?”

“Not yet,” Jerry answered. “We won’t do that until we’re ready to go.”

“But won’t we start going as soon as we pull up the mainsail?” said
Sandy, puzzled.

“No,” Jerry said. “Nothing will happen when we hoist the sail. It’s like
raising a flag. The flag doesn’t fill with wind and pull at the flagpole
like a sail, does it? It just points into the wind and flutters. That’s
just what the mainsail will do. You see, the boat is already pointing
into the wind, because the wind has swung us around on the mooring. You
look around and you’ll see that all the boats out here are heading in
the exact same direction, toward the wind. When we hoist the sail, it’ll
act just like a flag, and flap around until we’re ready to use it. Then
we’ll make it do what we want it to by using the jib and controlling its
position with the sheets. Look.”

Jerry hauled on the main halyard, and the sail slid up its tracks on the
mast, squeaking and grating. As it reached the masthead, it fluttered
and bellied loosely in the wind, doing nothing to make the boat move in
any direction. Motioning to Sandy to take his place tugging at the
halyard, Jerry jumped down into the cockpit.

The halyard ran from the pointed head of the sail up through a pulley at
the top of the mast, then down to where Sandy was hauling on it. Below
his hands, it passed through another pulley near Sandy’s feet, then back
along the cabin roof. Jerry, from his position in the cockpit, grabbed
the end of the halyard and hauled tight, taking the strain from Sandy.
Then he tied it down to a wing-shaped cleat on the cabin roof near the
cockpit.

This was done with a few expert flips of the wrist. The mainsail was up,
and tightly secured.

“There,” Jerry said. “Now we’re almost ready. We won’t move at all until
we get the jib up, and even then we won’t move unless we want to. When
we want to, we’ll untie from the mooring and get away as neat as you
please.”

They then took the jib out of its sail bag and made ready to hoist it.
Instead of securing to the mast with slides on a track the way the
mainsail had, the jib had a series of snaps stitched to its forward
edge. These were snapped around the steel wire forestay, a part of the
standing rigging that ran from the bow of the boat to a position high up
on the mast. The jib halyard was fastened to the head of the jib, the
snaps were put in place, and a few seconds of work saw the jib hanging
in place, flapping before the mast. Then Jerry asked Sandy to pick up
the mooring that they had tied to, and to walk aft with it.

“When you walk aft with the mooring,” Jerry explained, “you actually put
some forward motion on the boat. Then, when you get aft and I tell you
to throw the mooring over, you put the bow a little off the wind by
doing it.”

Sandy untied the bow line from the mooring, and walked to the stern of
the boat, holding the mooring float as he had been told. Then, when
Jerry said “Now!” he threw the mooring over with a splash.

“With the jib flying and the boat free from the mooring and no longer
pointing directly into the wind,” Jerry said, “the wind will catch the
jib and blow our bow even further off. At the same time, I’ll steer to
the side instead of straight ahead. As soon as our bow is pointing
enough away from the wind, the breeze will strike our sails from one
side, and they’ll start to fill. When the sails have caught the wind
right, I’ll ease off on the rudder, and we’ll be moving ahead.”

By this time, the morning haze had “burned off” and the light breeze had
freshened into a crisp, steady wind. As the head of the little sloop
“fell away” from the direction from which the wind was coming, the sails
swelled, the boat leaned slightly to one side, and a ripple of waves
splashed alongside the hull. Sandy looked back and saw that the bow of
the dinghy, trailing behind them, was beginning to cut a small white
wave through the water.

“We’re under way!” Jerry cried. “Come on over here, skipper! You take
the tiller and learn how to steer your boat while I handle the sails and
show you what to do!”

Sandy slid over on the stern seat to take Jerry’s place, and held the
tiller in the position he had been shown, while Jerry explained how to
trim the sails and how to go where you wanted to go instead of where the
wind wanted to take you.

“I’ll take care of the sail trimming,” Jerry said. “All you have to do
is keep the boat heading on the course she’s sailing now. The wind is
pretty much at our backs and off to the starboard side. You have to keep
it that way, and especially keep the stern from swinging around to face
the wind directly. It’s not hard to do. Just pick a landmark and steer
toward it.”

He looked ahead to where a point of land jutted out some miles off the
mainland. A lighthouse tower made an exclamation mark against the sky.

“Just steer a little to the right of that,” he said, “and we can’t go
wrong.”

“What if the wind shifts?” Sandy asked. “How can we tell?”

Jerry pointed to the masthead, where a small triangular metal flag
swung. “Just keep an eye on that,” he said. “It’s called a hawk, and
it’s a sailor’s weathervane.”

“With one eye on the lighthouse and one eye on the masthead,” Sandy
laughed, “I’m going to look awfully silly!”

He leaned back in the stern seat with the tiller tucked under his arm.
The little sloop headed steadily for the lighthouse, steering easily.
Every few seconds, Sandy glanced at the hawk to check the wind. He
grinned and relaxed. He was steering his own boat! The sail towered tall
and white against the blue sky above him and the water gurgled alongside
and in the wake behind where the dinghy bobbed along like a faithful
puppy.

“This is the life!” he sighed.

Jerry pointed out a handsome, white-hulled, two-masted boat approaching
them. “Isn’t that a beauty?” he said. “It’s a ketch. On a ketch, the
mainmast is taller than the mizzen. That’s how you tell the difference.”

“How do you tell the difference between the mainmast and the mizzen?”
Sandy asked. “You’re going to have to start with the simplest stuff with
me.”

“The mainmast is always the one in front, and the mizzen is always the
one aft,” Jerry explained. “A ketch has a taller main; a schooner has a
taller mizzen; a yawl is the same as a ketch, except that the mizzen is
set aft of the tiller. Got it?”

Sandy shook his head and wondered if he would ever get all of this
straight in his head. It was enough trying to learn the names of things
on his own boat without worrying about the names of everything on other
boats in the bay.

As the ketch sailed by, the man at her tiller waved a friendly greeting.
The boys waved back and Sandy watched the big ketch go smoothly past,
wondering how much harder it might be to sail a two-masted boat of that
size than it was to sail a relatively small sloop such as his own.
Certainly it could not be as simple as the sloop, he thought. Why this
little sailboat was a whole lot easier than it had seemed to be at
first. As a matter of fact....

“Duck your head!” Jerry yelled.

Not even stopping to think, Sandy dropped his head just in time to avoid
being hit by the boom, which whizzed past barely a few inches above him!
With a sharp crack of ropes and canvas, the sail filled with wind on the
opposite side of the boat from where it had been a moment before, and
the sloop heeled violently in the same direction. Jerry grabbed at the
tiller, hauled in rapidly on the mainsheet, and set a new course. Then,
calming down, he explained to Sandy what had happened.

“We jibed,” he said. “That means that you let the wind get directly
behind us and then on the wrong side of us. The mainsail got the wind on
the back of it, and the wind took it around to the other side of the
boat. Because the sheets were let out all the way, there was nothing to
restrain the sail from moving, and by the time it got over, it was going
at a pretty fast clip. You saw the results!”

Jerry adjusted the mainsail to a better position relative to the wind,
trimming it carefully to keep it from bagging, then he went on to
explain. “A jibe can only happen when you’ve got the wind at your back.
That’s called sailing downwind, or sailing before the wind, or running
free. It’s the most dangerous point of sail, because of the chance of
jibing. When the wind is strong, an uncontrolled jibe like the one we
just took can split your sails, or ruin your rigging, or even snap your
boom or your mast. Not to mention giving you a real bad headache if
you’re in the way of that boom!”

“I can just imagine,” Sandy said, thinking of the force with which the
boom had whizzed by. Then he added, “You said something about an
‘uncontrolled jibe,’ I think. Does that mean that there’s some way to
control it?”

“I should have said an accidental jibe instead of an uncontrolled one,”
Jerry said. “A deliberate or planned jibe is always controlled, and it’s
a perfectly safe and easy maneuver. All you have to do is to haul in on
the sheet, so that the boom won’t have any room for free swinging. Then
you change your course to the new tack, let out the sail, and you’re off
with no trouble.”

Sandy grinned. “I’m afraid that description went over my head as fast as
the boom did—only a whole lot higher up!”

“Things always sound complicated when you describe them,” Jerry said,
“but we’ll do a couple later, and you’ll see how it works.”

“Fine,” Sandy agreed. “But until we do, how can I keep from doing any
more of the accidental variety?”

“The only way to avoid jibing,” Jerry replied, “is never to let the wind
blow from the same side that the sail is set on. This means that if you
feel the wind shift over that way, you have to alter your course quickly
to compensate for it. If you don’t want to alter your course, then you
have to do a deliberate jibe and alter the direction of the sail. All it
means is that you have to keep alert at the tiller, and keep an eye on
the hawk, the way I told you, so that you always know which direction
the wind is blowing from.”

“I guess I was getting too much confidence a lot too soon,” Sandy
admitted, shamefaced. “There’s obviously a lot more to this sailing
business than I was beginning to think. Anyway, a jibe is one thing I
won’t let happen again. I’ll stop looking at other boats for a while,
and pay more attention to this one! There’s more than enough to look at
here, I guess.”

Once more, Sandy cautiously took the tiller from Jerry. Then he grinned
ruefully and said, “Just do me one favor, will you, Jerry?”

“Sure. What?”

“Just don’t call me ‘skipper’ any more. Not for a while, at least!”



                              CHAPTER FOUR
                          The Man with the Gun


“Just keep her sailing on this downwind course,” Jerry said. “Head for
that lighthouse the way you were before, and keep an occasional eye on
the hawk. As long as the wind isn’t dead astern, we shouldn’t have any
more jibing troubles. As soon as we get out into open water, we’ll find
an easier point of sail. We can’t do that until we’re clear of the
channel, though. When we are, we’ll reach for a while, and then I’ll
show you how to beat.”

“What’s reaching?” Sandy asked. “And what’s beating? And how do you know
when we’re out of the channel into open water? And how do you even know
for sure that we’re in the channel now? And how....”

“Whoa! Wait a minute! Let’s take one question at a time. A reach is when
you’re sailing with the wind coming more from the side than from in
front or from behind the boat. Beating is when the wind is more in front
than on the side, and you have to sail into it. Beating is more like
work than fun, but a reach is the fastest and easiest kind of a course
to sail. That’s why I want to reach as soon as we’re out in open water
where we can pick our direction without having to worry about channel
markers.”

“How come reaching is the fastest kind of course to sail?” Sandy asked.
“I would have guessed that sailing downwind with the wind pushing the
boat ahead of it would be the fastest.”

“It sure seems as if it ought to work that way,” Jerry said with a grin.
“But you’ll find that sailboat logic isn’t always so simple or easy.
When you’re running free in front of the wind, you can only go as fast
as the wind is blowing. When you’re reaching, you can actually sail a
lot faster than the wind.”

“I’m afraid that I don’t understand that,” Sandy said. “How does it
work?”

Jerry paused and thought for a minute. “You remember what Quiz said
about the sailboat working like an airplane? Well, he made it sound
pretty tough to understand, what with all his formulas and proportions,
but actually he was right. A sail is a lot like an airplane wing, except
that it’s standing up on end instead of sticking out to one side. Well,
you know that the propellers on a plane make wind, and that the plane
flies straight into that wind. You see, the wind that comes across the
wing makes a vacuum on top of the wing surface, and the plane is drawn
up into the vacuum. You get a lot more lift that way than if the
propellers were under the wing and blowing straight up on the bottom of
it.”

“I see that,” Sandy said. “And a propeller blowing under a wing would be
pretty much the same as a wind blowing at the back of a sail. Right?”

“Right!” Jerry said, looking pleased with his teaching ability. “Now you
have the idea. When you have a sail, like a wing standing up, the air
that passes over the sail makes a vacuum in front and pulls the boat
forward into it. Actually, the vacuum pulls us forward and to one side,
the same as the wind from the propeller makes the plane go forward and
up. We use the rudder and the keel to keep us going more straight than
sideways.”

Sandy shook his head as if to clear away cobwebs. “I think that I
understand now, but it’s still a little hazy in my mind. Maybe I’ll do
better if you don’t tell me about the theory, and I just see the way it
works.”

“Could be,” Jerry said. “There are lots of old-time fishermen and other
fine sailors who have absolutely no idea of how their boats work, and
who wouldn’t know a law of physics or a principle of aerodynamics if it
sat on their mastheads and yelled at them like a sea gull! They just do
what comes naturally, and they know the way to handle a boat without
worrying about what makes it run.”

Still heading on their downwind course, they passed several small
islands and rocks, some marked with lights and towers, some with bells
or floating buoys. They seemed to slide by gracefully as the little
sloop left the mainland farther behind in its wake.

“Before we get out of the channel,” Jerry said, “I want to show you some
of the channel markers and tell you about how to read them. They’re the
road signs of the harbors, and if you know what they mean and what to do
about them, you’ll never get in any trouble when it comes to finding
your way in and out of a port.”

He pointed to a nearby marker that was shaped like a pointed rocket nose
cone floating in the water. It was painted a bright red, and on its side
in white was painted a large number 4.

“That’s called a nun buoy,” Jerry told Sandy. “Now look over there. Do
you see that black buoy shaped just like an oversized tin can? That’s
called a can buoy. The cans and the nuns mark the limits of the channel,
and they tell you to steer between them. The rule is, when you’re
leaving a harbor, to keep the red nun buoys on your port side. That’s
the left side. When you’re entering a harbor, keep the red nun buoys on
your starboard side. The best way to remember it is by the three R’s of
offshore navigating: ‘Red Right Returning.’”

Sandy nodded. “I understand that all right,” he said. “But what are the
numbers for?”

“The numbers are to tell you how far from the harbor you are,” Jerry
said. “Red nun buoys are always even-numbered, and black cans are always
odd-numbered. They run in regular sequence, and they start from the
farthest buoy out from the shore. For example, we just sailed past red
nun buoy number 4. That means that the next can we see will be marked
number 3, and it will be followed by a number 2 nun and a number 1 can.
After we pass the number 1 can, we’ll be completely out of the channel,
and we’ll have open water to sail in.”

“Do they have the same kind of markers everywhere,” Sandy asked, “or do
you have to learn them specially for each port that you sail in?”

“You’ll find the same marks in almost every place in the world,” Jerry
said. “But you won’t have to worry about the world for a long while. The
important thing is that the marking and buoyage system is the same exact
standard for every port in the United States and Canada.”

“What’s that striped can I see floating over there?” Sandy asked,
pointing.

Jerry looked at the buoy. “That’s a special marker,” he answered. “All
of the striped buoys have some special meaning, and it’s usually marked
on the charts. They’re mostly used to mark a junction of two channels,
or a middle ground, or an obstruction of some kind. You can sail to
either side of them, but you shouldn’t go too close. At least that’s the
rule for the horizontally striped ones. The markers with vertical
stripes show the middle of the channel, and you’re supposed to pass them
as close as you can, on either side.”

Another few minutes of sailing brought them past the last red buoy, and
they were clear of the marked channel. From here on they were free to
sail as they wanted, in any direction they chose to try.

For the next hour they practiced reaching. With the wind blowing
steadily from the starboard side, the trim sloop leaned far to the port
until the waves were creaming almost up to the level of the deck. Jerry
explained that this leaning position, called “heeling,” was the natural
and proper way for a sailboat to sit in the water. The only way that a
boat could sail level, he pointed out, was before the wind. With the
boat heeling sharply and the sails and the rigging pulled tight in the
brisk breeze, Sandy really began to feel the sense of speed on the
water, and understood what Jerry had told him about speed being
relative.

After they had practiced on a few long reaches, Jerry showed Sandy how
to beat or point, which is the art of sailing more or less straight into
the wind.

“Of course you can’t ever sail straight into the wind,” Jerry said. “The
best you can do is come close. If you head right into it, the sails will
just flap around the way that they did when we were pointing into the
wind at the mooring. You’ve got to sail a little to one side.”

“Suppose you don’t want to go to one side?” Sandy asked. “If the wind is
blowing straight from the place you want to get to, what do you do about
it?”

“You have to compromise,” Jerry replied. “You’ll never get there by
aiming the boat in that direction. What you have to do is sail for a
point to one side of it for a while, then come about and sail for a
point on the other side of it for a while. It’s a kind of long zigzag
course. You call it tacking. Each leg of the zigzag is called a tack.”

Sailing into the wind, they tacked first on one side, then on the other.
Each time they came about onto a new tack, the mainsail was shifted to
the other side of the boat, and the boat heeled in the same direction as
the sail. The jib came about by itself, just by loosening one sheet and
taking up on the other one. Soon Sandy was used to the continual
shifting and resetting of the sails, and to the boom passing back and
forth overhead.

Suddenly Sandy pointed and clapped Jerry on the shoulder with
excitement. “Look!” he cried. “There’s a whole fleet of boats coming
this way! They look just like ours! And they’re racing!”

Jerry looked up in surprise. “They sure are racing! And they are just
like this one! I guess I was wrong when I said they didn’t race this
kind of boat. This must be a local class, built to specifications for
local race rules. Boy, look at them go! I was wrong about not racing
them, but I sure was right when I said that she looked fast!”

The fleet of sloops swept past, heeling sharply to one side, with the
crews perched on the high sides as live ballast, and the water foaming
white along the low decks which were washed over completely every moment
or so. The helmsmen on the nearest of the boats grinned at them and
waved an invitation to come along and join the regatta, but neither
Jerry nor Sandy felt quite up to sailing a race just yet.

As they watched their white-sailed sisters fly down the bay, Sandy felt
for the first time the excitement that could come from handling a boat
really well. He turned to his own trim craft with renewed determination
to learn everything that Jerry could teach him, and maybe, in due time,
a whole lot more than that.

The next few hours were spent in happily exploring Cliffport Bay and
trying the sloop on a variety of tacks and courses to learn what she
would do. Eventually, the sun standing high above the mast, they
realized almost at the same time that it was definitely time for lunch.

Jerry took the helm and the sheet while Sandy went below to see what the
boat’s food locker could supply. In a few minutes, he poked his head out
of the cabin hatch and shook it sadly at Jerry. “It looks as if Uncle
Russ didn’t think of everything, after all. There’s plenty of food all
right, but there’s not a thing on board to drink. The water jugs are
here, but they’re bone-dry, and I’m not exactly up to eating peanut
butter sandwiches without something to wash them down!”

“Me either!” said Jerry, shuddering a little at the thought. “Of course,
we could settle on some of the juice from the canned fruits I saw in
there, but we haven’t taken on any ice for our ice chest, and that’s all
going to be pretty warm. In any case, we ought to have some water on
board. I think we’d better look for a likely place near shore where we
can drop anchor. Then we can take the dinghy in to one of the beach
houses and fill up our jugs.”

“Good idea,” Sandy agreed. “And that way we can eat while we’re at
anchor, and not have to worry about sailing and eating at the same
time.”

Several small islands not too far away had houses on them, and the boys
decided to set a course for the nearest one. As they drew near, they saw
a sunny white house sitting on the crest of a small rise about a hundred
yards back from the water. Below the house, a well-protected and
pleasant-looking cove offered a good place for an anchorage. A floating
dock was secured to a high stone pier, from which a path could be seen
leading up to the house. It looked like an almost perfect summer place,
set in broad green lawns, with several old shade trees near the house
and with a general atmosphere of well-being radiating from everything.

They glided straight into the little cove, then suddenly put the rudder
over hard and brought the sloop sharply up into the wind. The sails
flapped loosely, and the boat lost some of its headway, then glided
slowly to a stop.

On the bow, Sandy stood ready with the anchor, waiting for Jerry to tell
him when to lower it. As the boat began to move a little astern, backing
in the headwind, Jerry told Sandy to let the anchor down slowly.

“You never drop an anchor, or throw it over the side. After all, you
want the anchor to tip over, and to drive a hook into the bottom. It
won’t do that if it’s just dropped.”

When Sandy felt the anchor touch the bottom, he pulled back gently on
the anchor line until he felt the hook take hold. Then, leading the line
through the fair lead at the bow, he tied it securely to a cleat on the
deck.

Loosening the halyards, they dropped first the jib and then the
mainsail, rolled them neatly, and secured them with strips of sailcloth,
called stops. Jerry pointed out that it was not necessary to remove the
slides and snaps. That way, he explained, it would only be a matter of
minutes to get under way when they wanted to. With the last stop tied
and the boom and the rudder lashed to keep them from swinging, the sloop
was all shipshape at anchor, rocking gently on the swell about fifty
yards from the end of the floating dock.

“Let’s row the dinghy in to the dock and see if we can find somebody on
shore,” Jerry suggested. “Of course, with no boats in here, there might
not be anyone on the island right now, but I think that I saw a well up
by the house, and I’m sure that no one would mind if we helped ourselves
to a little water.”

But Jerry was wrong on both counts. There was somebody on the island,
and he looked far from hospitable. In fact, the tall man who came
striding down the path to the float where the boys already had the
dinghy headed was carrying a rifle—and, what was more, he looked
perfectly ready to use it at any minute!

“Turn back!” he shouted, as he reached the edge of the stone pier. “Turn
back, I tell you, or I’ll shoot that dinghy full of holes and sink it
right out from under you!” He raised the rifle deliberately to his
shoulder and sighted down its length at the boys.

“Wait a minute!” Sandy shouted back. “You’re making a mistake! We just
need to get some water to drink! We don’t mean any harm!”

The man lowered his rifle, but looked no friendlier than before. “I
don’t care what you want,” he called, “but you can just sail off and get
it some other place! This is my island and my cove. They’re both private
property, and you’re trespassing here! Now turn that dinghy around and
get back to your sailboat and go!”

This speech finished, he raised his rifle to the firing position once
more and aimed it at the dinghy.

“All right, mister!” Jerry yelled back at him. “We’ll get going! But
when we get back to the mainland, you can bet that we’re going to report
you to the Coast Guard for your failure to give assistance! I’m not sure
what they can do about it, but they sure ought to know that there’s a
character like you around here! Maybe they’ll mark it on the charts, so
that sailors in trouble won’t waste their time coming in here for help!”

As the boys started to turn the dinghy about, they heard a shout from
the man on the pier. “Wait a minute!” he called. “There’s no need to get
so upset. I’m sorry—but I guess I made a mistake after all. Row on in to
the float and I’ll get you some water.”

Not at all sure that they were doing the wisest thing, but not wanting
to anger the strange rifleman by not doing what he had suggested, they
decided to risk coming to shore. After all, Sandy reasoned, he hadn’t
actually threatened to shoot _them_—just the dinghy—and he couldn’t do
much more harm from close up than from where they were. Besides, both
boys were curious about the man and his island. They rowed to the
floating dock and made the dinghy fast to a cleat.

“I’m sorry, boys,” the man with the rifle said pleasantly. “It’s just
that I’ve been bothered in the past by kids landing here for picnics and
swimming parties when I’m not here. They leave the beach a mess, and one
gang actually broke into the house once, and stole some things. That’s
why I don’t like kids coming around. I thought you were more of the
same, but I figured you were all right when you said that you’d report
to the Coast Guard. Those other kids stay as far away from the Coast
Guard and the Harbor Police as they can.”

He smiled apologetically, but as Sandy started to climb up from the
dinghy to the floating dock, his expression hardened once more.

“I said that I’d get you some water,” he said, “but I didn’t invite you
to come ashore and help yourselves to it. You just stay right where you
are in that dinghy, and hand me up your water jars. I’ll fill them up
for you, and I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

More than a little puzzled, Jerry and Sandy handed up their two soft
plastic gallon jugs. Their “host” took them under one arm, leaving the
other hand free for his rifle which he carried with a finger lying
alongside of the trigger. Without a word, the island’s owner walked off.

“I wonder what’s the matter with him,” Jerry said.

“I don’t know,” Sandy replied, “but whatever it is, we’d better do what
he says, or something pretty bad might be the matter with us!”

Halfway up the path to the house, the tall man stopped, turned back, and
looked hard at the boys before continuing on up the hill.

“Mind you do just what I said!” he shouted back over his shoulder. “You
just stay in that dinghy, and don’t get any fancy ideas about exploring
around. If I find you ashore, I’m still as ready as ever to use this
gun!”



                              CHAPTER FIVE
                              Storm Fears


Unpredictable as the wind, the man was all smiles when he returned with
the two jars filled with water. But he still had his gun.

“I’m glad to see you stayed put in your dinghy,” he said. “I kept an eye
on you from the hill.” He handed down the plastic jugs to Sandy and
added, “Sorry I acted so gruff, but you know how it is. I live all alone
out here, and even though the island is only a little over a half mile
from the mainland it’s a pretty isolated spot. I have to be careful of
strangers. But I should have seen right away that you boys are all
right.”

“Thanks,” said Sandy. “And thanks for filling our water jugs. We’re
sorry we bothered you.”

They cast the dinghy free, rowed quickly back to the sloop and, as fast
as they could manage it, raised the anchor, hoisted the sails and
skimmed out of the cove. As they rounded the rocky point that marked the
entrance to the cove, they looked back to where the island’s lone
inhabitant was standing on the dock, watching them out of sight, his
rifle still held ready at his hip.

“Boy, that’s a strange one!” Sandy said. “I wonder what he’s hiding on
that island of his—a diamond mine?”

“You never can tell,” Jerry replied, “but it’s probably nothing at all.
I guess the kind of man who would want to live all alone on an island
away from people is bound to be pretty crazy about getting all the
privacy he can. And as far as I’m concerned, he can have it. From now
on, if we need anything, let’s head for the mainland!”

Dismissing the mysterious rifleman from their minds, they set out once
more to enjoy the pleasures of a brisk wind, blue sky and a trim boat.

The afternoon went swiftly by as Sandy learned more and more about
handling his boat, and about the boats they saw sailing near them. Jerry
pointed out the different types of boats, explaining more fully than
before that the ones with one mast were called sloops, the two-masted
boats were called yawls, ketches and schooners. Telling one from the
other was a matter of knowing the arrangement of masts. The ketches had
tall mainmasts and shorter mizzens behind them. The yawls had even
shorter mizzens, set as far aft as possible. Schooners, with taller
mizzen than main, were relatively rare.

Jerry also pointed to varied types of one-masted boats. Not all of them,
he told Sandy, were sloops, though most were. The sloops had their mast
stepped about one third back from the bow. Cutters had their mast
stepped nearly in the center of the boat. In addition, they saw a few
catboats, with their single masts stepped nearly in the bows.

Learning all this, plus trying to absorb all that Jerry was telling him
about harbor markers, sail handling, steering, types of sails and
conditions under which each sail is used, Sandy found the time flying
by. Almost before he realized it, the sun was beginning to set and the
boats around them were all heading back up the channel to find their
moorings and tie up for the night.

Everywhere they looked, the roadstead of Cliffport Bay was as busy as a
highway. Sailboats of every description, outboard motorboats, big cabin
cruisers, high-powered motor racers, rowboats, canoes, sailing canoes,
kayaks, power runabouts, fishing excursion boats and dozens of other
craft were making their way to shore.

The afternoon, which had started so brightly, had become overcast, and
the sun glowed sullenly behind a low bank of clouds. The breeze which
had been steady but light during the late afternoon hours, suddenly
picked up force and became a fairly hard wind. It felt cold and damp
after the hot day. Joining the homebound pleasure fleet, Sandy and Jerry
picked their way through the now crowded harbor, back to Cliffport Boat
Yard.

They arrived in a murky twilight, just a few minutes before the time
when it would have become necessary for them to light the lanterns for
the red and green running lights demanded by the International Rules of
the Road.

The boys decided to drop anchor in the boat yard’s mooring area, rather
than tow the boat back to the float where it had been tied. This would
make it unnecessary to tow the sloop out again for the next day’s
sailing, when they would start on the long trip home.

They dropped the sails, removed their slides and snaps on mast, boom and
forestay, and carefully folded them for replacement in the sail bags.
These were stowed below in their locker just forward of the cabin. Then
Sandy and Jerry turned their attention to getting the boat ready for the
night.

Sandy helped Jerry rest the boom in its “crutch,” a piece of wood shaped
like the letter _Y_, which was placed standing upright in a slot in the
stern seat. This kept the boom from swinging loose when the boat was
unattended, and thus protected both the boat, the boom and the rigging
from damage. All the running gear was then lashed down or coiled and put
away, the sliding cabin door and hatch cover were closed in place, and
the sloop was ready to be left.

“That’s what’s meant by ‘shipshape,’” Jerry said with satisfaction.

As the boys rowed the dinghy back to the float, they felt the first fat
drops of rain and they noticed how choppy the still waters of the bay
had become. Jerry cast a sailor’s eye at the ominously darkening sky.

“That’s more than evening coming on,” he said. “Unless I miss my guess,
we’re in for a good storm tonight. To tell you the truth, I’m glad we’re
staying ashore!”

They lifted the dinghy from the water, turned it over on the float and
placed the stubby oars below it. Then, picking up their sea bags, they
ran for the shelter of the shed as the first torrential downpour of the
storm washed Cliffport in a solid sheet of blinding rain.


Later that night, after a change of clothes, dinner, and a movie at
Cliffport’s only theater, the boys sat on their beds in the hotel room
and listened to the howling fury of the storm. Raindrops rattled on the
windowpanes like hailstones, and through the tossing branches of a tree
they could see the riding lights of a few boats in the harbor, rocking
violently to and fro. As they watched, the wind sent a large barrel
bowling down the street to smash against a light pole, bounce off and
roll, erratic as a kicked football, out of sight around a corner.

“It’s a good thing we anchored out,” Jerry said, watching this evidence
of the storm’s power. “The boat could really have gotten banged up
against the float if we had tied it up where it was before!”

“Do you think it’ll be safe where it is now?” Sandy asked anxiously.

“Oh, a little wind and water won’t bother a good boat,” Jerry answered.
“After all, it was made for wind and water! Still....” He scowled and
shook his head doubtfully.

“Still what?” Sandy said with alarm. “Is there something wrong with the
way we left it?”

“Not really,” Jerry said. “I’m just worried about one thing. We’re not
tied to a permanent mooring, the way the other boats around here are.
That means that we might drag anchor in a storm as bad as this one, and
if we happen to drag into deep water where the anchor can’t reach the
bottom, the boat could drift a long ways off until it hooked onto
something again. And there’s always the chance that it could get washed
up on the rocks somewhere, first!”

With this unhappy thought in mind, the boys stared out the window for
some time in silence as the storm continued unchecked. Finally, knowing
that worry couldn’t possibly help, and that a good night’s sleep would
prepare them to meet whatever the morning would bring, they turned out
the lights and went to bed.

But, for Sandy, bed was one thing—sleep was another. Although Jerry
managed to drop off to slumber in no time, Sandy lay a long time awake
staring at the shadows of the tossing tree on the ceiling of the hotel
room.

His mind was full of the events of the crowded day. It had been quite a
day, starting with the ride in his uncle’s sports car, and proceeding to
the new boat and learning to sail. Then the mysterious man on the
island, keeping guard with his ever-present rifle, and concluding with a
night of powerful storm. He reviewed all this, and mixed with his
recollection his new worries about the safety of his boat. A series of
images crowded his mind—a vision of the smart sloop lying smashed
against some rocky piece of shore was mingled with a memory of the
pleasures of his first day of sailing; and somewhere, behind and around
all of his thoughts, was the unpleasantly frightening memory of the man
with the gun, waiting on his hermit’s island.

All of this mingled in his mind with the sound of the storm until Sandy
slipped into an uncertain, restless sleep—a sleep filled with vague,
shadowy dreams, connected only by a sense that somewhere, something was
wrong.



                              CHAPTER SIX
                    Something Lost—Something Found!


The next morning, when Sandy and Jerry awoke, the storm that had lashed
Cliffport had vanished as if it, too, had been a bad dream.

Cliffport’s Main Street, which fronted the bay, was washed clean, and
sparkled in the bright morning light. The bay waters themselves even
looked cleaner than before, freshly laundered blue and white, with
silver points of sunlight sprinkled over their peaceful surface. It was,
in short, a perfect sailing day, and the boys could hardly wait to get
down to the boat yard to see if the sloop had ridden the storm at
anchor.

They dressed hurriedly in their sailing clothes—blue jeans, sneakers and
sweat shirts—and bolted breakfast in the hotel coffee shop. Then, sea
bags slung over their shoulders, they raced down the street to the
Cliffport Boat Yard, rounded the corner of the main shed and, at the
head of the gangway, came to a stop.

Sandy felt a sick, sinking feeling as he scanned the mooring area,
searching vainly for a sight of his sloop. But where she had ridden at
anchor the night before, there was only a patch of calm blue water.

It hardly seemed possible that she wasn’t there. The storm, on this
bright, sunny morning, seemed never to have happened. Other boats rode
peacefully at their moorings, apparently untouched by the night’s wild
work. Life in the boat yard and on the bay went on as if nothing had
occurred. But Sandy felt as if it were the end of the world.

Slowly and silently, the boys walked down the gangway to where their
dinghy lay like a turtle, unharmed. They anxiously scanned the bay on
all sides, searching for a mast that might be theirs, but to no avail.
Then Jerry straightened up and clapped Sandy on the shoulder.

“Come on,” he said. “There’s no use standing here moping. The only thing
to do now is to take out the dinghy and start to hunt.”

They launched the dinghy, put out the stubby oars, and rowed away from
the float.

“Where do we look first?” Sandy asked.

“We’ll just go the way the wind went,” Jerry said. “Luckily, the storm
came from the mainland and blew out to sea. That means there’s a good
chance that the boat didn’t pile up on the shore. Of course, there are a
lot of islands out there, and plenty of rocks, but there’s a lot more
open water. With any luck we’ll find her floating safe and sound,
somewhere out in the bay. I don’t think she could have gone too far
dragging that anchor.”

They headed down the channel, taking occasional side excursions around
some of the small islands whenever they saw, on the other side, a mast
that could be theirs. But none of the boats they found was the right
one. The hot sun made rowing even the light cockleshell of the dinghy
unpleasant work. Sandy paused at the oars and pushed back his cowlick,
then wiped his perspiring brow. He was beginning to fear that he would
never again see his trim new sloop—unless he was to see it lying
shattered on one of these rocky islands. Then, with dogged
determination, he picked up his oars once more and bent his back to the
task of rowing.

Once or twice they asked passing sailors if they had seen an unattended
sloop out of the mooring areas, but though everyone offered sympathy and
promised to help if they happened to see it, none had any information to
offer.

The morning wore on slowly as Sandy and Jerry pulled farther and farther
away from the mainland, exploring every possible hiding place the bay
had to offer.

By noon, Sandy’s spirits were at low ebb, and he was beginning to wonder
how he would tell his Uncle Russ the bad news. Then, almost tipping the
unsteady dinghy, Jerry half rose from his seat and pointed. “Look!” he
shouted. “Over there! I think that’s her! And will you look at where she
drifted to!”

Sandy dropped the oars and turned to look at the small white sloop with
the green decks that lay quietly bobbing at anchor just outside the
entrance of the cove where, yesterday, they had been welcomed by a gun!

“Of all places to drift to,” he gasped. “It’s a darn good thing she
didn’t drift inside his cove, or she might be shot full of holes by
now!”

Then, with a lighter heart than he had felt all morning, Sandy picked up
the oars and sent the dinghy fairly flying to the side of the trim
sloop.

“From now on,” he said, “sleeping bags and air mattresses or not, we’re
sleeping on board until we get a permanent mooring for this boat near
home!” Relieved and happy, Sandy climbed on board as Jerry tied the
dinghy to the stern.

“I’ll go below to get the sails out,” Sandy said, “while you unship the
boom and get the rigging ready.”

He opened the hatch cover and slid back the doors, then stepped down
into the little cabin. As he started forward to the sail lockers, he had
a sudden, odd feeling that something was wrong, something out of place;
a strange notion that he had seen, out of the corner of his eye,
something that was not what it should have been.

Pausing to look around, he saw what had bothered him. Clamped to the
bulkhead over the port bunk was a large, oddly shaped brass pistol, like
the kind he had always imagined the old-time pirates carried. He had
never seen anything like it before—and he was almost positive that it
had not been there yesterday!

“Jerry!” he called, sticking his head out of the hatch. “Come here! I
want you to see something and tell me what you think.” As Jerry poked
his head into the cabin, Sandy gestured at the brass pistol. “Was that
thing here yesterday, or have we gotten into somebody else’s boat?”

Jerry brought his dark brows together in a frown and scratched his
crew-cut head. “I don’t think it was here. I probably would have noticed
it. But maybe we just didn’t see it. We were so busy with other things.”

“But why would Uncle Russ have left a pistol on board?” Sandy asked,
puzzled.

“He probably wouldn’t have,” Jerry said. “But he might have left one of
these. That’s a flare gun, not a regular pistol at all. You use it as a
signal of distress. It shoots a rocket. Still ... I don’t remember
seeing it. And I know that your uncle didn’t mention leaving one.”

“Well, I don’t know whether he did or not,” Sandy said, “but we’d better
make sure this is our boat before we go sailing it off. If it belongs to
that guy on the island, we could get into some pretty bad trouble if we
took it by mistake!”

As they looked for some identifying marks, an idea suddenly occurred to
Sandy. “Maybe this isn’t our boat, but one just like it, and maybe the
man with the gun was expecting it with somebody else on board! That
might explain his actions!”

“That makes sense,” Jerry said. “And in that case, we’d better find out
fast if it’s ours. Look—our boat didn’t have any name on it, and most
boats do. If this has a name, we’ll know.” He hurried to the stern to
see, and then to the bow, where some boat owners fasten name plates, but
none was to be seen.

“That doesn’t prove anything, though,” Sandy said. “But I have an idea.
Let’s look in the food locker. I remember pretty well what was in there
yesterday, and I doubt if two boats would have the identical food
supplies. One look should tell us.” He reached above the galley stove
and slid back the doors of the locker, then stepped backward as if he
had been hit.

“It’s sure not our boat,” Sandy said in hushed tones, for in the locker
there was no food at all. Instead, where food should have been, was what
appeared to be a fortune in fresh, green money!



                             CHAPTER SEVEN
                  A Million Dollars’ Worth of Trouble


Sandy and Jerry, stunned for the moment, stood in silence, gazing at the
neatly wrapped stacks of tens, twenties, fifties, hundreds and
five-hundred-dollar bills—more money than either of them had ever
dreamed of!

“I don’t know whose boat this is,” Sandy said, “but whoever he is, he
can sure afford a larger one!”

Awed by the sight of the money, Jerry reached out and slipped a
five-hundred-dollar bill from its wrapper. “I just want to look at it
for a minute,” he said. “I’ve never seen a five-hundred before!”

Sandy joined him to look at the crisp bill. “Neither have I,” he said.
Then, stooping to look closer, he took the bill from Jerry’s hand and
examined it with the most intense interest.

“Jerry!” he said, almost in a whisper. “I think we’ve found more than a
stack of money in a peculiar place! I may be mistaken, but I think this
thing is counterfeit!”

“Counterfeit!” Jerry said, with a gasp. “How can you tell, if you never
saw a five-hundred-dollar bill before?”

“Come on over into the sunlight where we can see better,” Sandy replied,
“and I’ll show you what I mean.” They moved to the rear of the little
cabin, where the sun poured in through the open hatchway cover. Sandy
held the money up to the light.

“Look at the corners,” he said, pointing to the lower right-hand corner
of the bill. “You see all those fine hair lines that make the looping,
criss-cross pattern you see on all paper money? Well, I read once that
those loops and swirls are the hardest part of a bill to counterfeit,
and if you’re on the lookout for phony money you should always look
there first. Ones or one-thousands, they’re all very complicated to
engrave. On a genuine bill the lines are sharp and clear. On a
counterfeit, they’re usually a little fuzzy, especially where two lines
cross. Look over here, right next to the five-hundred-dollar mark, for
instance.”

He pointed to where a complicated series of fine lines that came
together had made a small smear, instead of a sharp, well-defined
pattern.

“You’d never find sloppy work like that on a genuine government bill,”
Sandy said, pointing to this and to another telltale spot his sharp eyes
had uncovered.

“I see what you mean,” Jerry said. “Boy, there must be more than a
million dollars’ worth of this useless stuff in that food locker!”

“It’s not so useless to someone,” Sandy returned. “Whoever made this
stuff and is responsible for it is sure making real money out of it in
the end—and an awful lot of real money, too!”

Jerry nodded thoughtfully, then said, “Where do you suppose it’s coming
from?”

“That shouldn’t be too hard to figure out,” Sandy answered. “That man on
the island was pretty nervous about having any unexpected guests, I’d
say. I’ll bet you this whole stack of money that he’s behind the whole
thing, and that this is his boat that we’re on!”

“You must be right,” Jerry said. “From the way that he came racing down
that path with his gun yesterday, he must have been watching us all
along, yet he didn’t come to stop us until we had dropped our anchor,
lowered our sails, and were halfway in to shore in the dinghy! We should
have realized when he didn’t stop us sooner what that meant. It meant
that something funny was going on here!”

“That’s right!” Sandy agreed. “He must have been expecting somebody else
to come along in this boat—the same class and colors as ours—and he
thought that we were whoever he was expecting—until he saw us in the
dinghy! That’s why he was acting so confused and excited that he didn’t
know whether to shoot at us, or to be nice and let us get our water and
be on our way. We really caught him off guard!”

“Right,” Jerry said. “And now we’ve confused the boats the same way he
did, and we’ve caught him off guard again!”

Sandy sat looking silently at the counterfeit five-hundred-dollar bill,
frowning. Then he looked up at his friend and said, “The question now
is, what are we going to do about it? We’re pretty lucky that we weren’t
seen coming on board this boat, but do you think our luck is going to
last? I’m worried that we won’t be able to get away from here again
without being seen.”

“We haven’t got much choice in the matter, have we?” Jerry answered.
“The longer we stay here, the worse our chances will be. There’s no
telling when the man with the gun or somebody else will come out here to
do something with this money, and if they find us here....”

“I’d sure hate to cross that fellow,” Sandy agreed. “I don’t like the
way he handles that rifle of his. He looks too darn ready to use it!”

Stuffing the counterfeit five-hundred-dollar bill into his pocket, Sandy
stood up. “We’d better get going now, while we still have a chance,” he
said. “The only thing to do now is to get this bill to the police as
evidence of what we’ve found, and to put them on to this island.”

Sandy started up from the cabin but, as his head emerged from the
hatchway, he stopped dead in his tracks, for floating in a dinghy just a
few feet away was the mysterious owner of the island accompanied by two
tough-looking sailors! Sandy looked in dismay from their three faces to
the muzzles of three guns pointed directly at him!

It was not a pleasant smile that the man from the island gave him as he
said, “Well! This is quite a surprise for all of us, isn’t it? Are you
still looking for water? Or do you have a better story to entertain me
with today?”



                             CHAPTER EIGHT
                            Double Blackout


Sandy tried his hardest to look unknowing and innocent, and at the same
time shocked and outraged. With the three guns aimed at him, it was not
an easy job.

“What’s the idea?” he exclaimed. “I’ve never seen anybody so ready with
a gun as you are! We were only looking for our boat. You know it looks
the same as yours. We thought for a while that this was it, but....”

“But you found out, after some thorough snooping, that it wasn’t, didn’t
you?” the man sneered. “Of course you did. It’s my boat, all right! And
you’re trespassing on it! And this is my island too, and you were
trespassing there yesterday! And if I were to shoot you, I would be
perfectly within my rights as a landowner!”

Sandy tried with difficulty to smile reassuringly. “Take it easy,
mister,” he said. “Honestly, we were just looking for our boat. It
dragged anchor in the storm last night, and when we saw yours we made a
natural mistake and thought it was ours. Okay, it isn’t. We made a
mistake, that’s all. Now if you’ll just let us apologize, we’ll get off
your private property and go looking again.”

But the man didn’t show the slightest intention of even moving his rifle
from the ready, much less of letting the boys go.

“Of course you’ll go looking again,” he said. “Looking for what you were
looking for yesterday and today. Oh, no! I hardly think I can let you
go!” Then he smiled his peculiar smile again. “What’s more,” he added,
“even if I were to let you go, I would first have to ask you to return
the money you stole—the money I see sticking out of your pocket!”

Sandy’s heart sank. There was nothing he could think of to say now, and
he could see no way out of the situation. He sank wearily to a seat in
the cockpit and sighed.

“I guess we can both stop play-acting about this trespassing thing,” he
said. He pulled the telltale bill out of his pocket and threw it on the
deck. “This is what you’ve been so upset about all along, isn’t it?”

“You’re a very bright boy,” the man with the gun said. “Far too bright,
I’m afraid. You have this whole thing figured out already, haven’t you?”

“Most of it,” Sandy admitted. “At least the parts that count. You’re
using this island to make counterfeit money, and you’re using this
sailboat to take it somewhere. That’s about all I know, but it’s enough
to get you in trouble, isn’t it, Mr.—?”

“Jones is the name,” the man said. “Yes, I would say it was quite
enough. The only mistake you’ve made is your conclusion. What you know
is enough to get _you_ in trouble—not me. In fact, I should hate to be
in as much trouble as you two boys are in right now!” Jones put down his
rifle for a moment and said, “Do you mind if I come on board my boat so
that we can discuss your difficulties in more comfort?”

Jones stepped out of the dinghy to the deck of the little sloop and
settled himself comfortably in the stern seat while his two silent
crewmen kept Sandy covered. When he was set, with his ever-present rifle
held at ready across his knees, he was followed on board by the larger
and meaner looking of the two sailors, who stationed himself beside
Jones.

“Oh, yes,” Jones repeated, “I should say that what you know is quite
enough! And, since you already have too much information to ever let you
leave here with, I’ll be happy to satisfy your immense curiosity by
giving you a little more. But why not have your friend join us on deck?”

When Jerry had come up from the cabin and was sitting beside Sandy,
Jones cleared his throat, as if he were about to give a formal speech.

“As far as you went in your thinking, you are most certainly right,” he
said. “I use this boat to transport counterfeit money which I make on my
island. I take it to a waiting freighter that meets me five miles off
shore—well beyond the legal jurisdiction of the United States
government, in international waters. The freighter takes my pretty
counterfeit money and disposes of it in foreign markets, where I get a
good price for it, and where not every bright and nosy boy is out to
make a nuisance of himself.”

Then, once again, Jones smiled his peculiar and unpleasant smile. “I
find the foreign markets most useful for disposing of items which are
too difficult to get rid of here. I expect that you will not be much
harder to dispose of than this money, when you are beyond the limits of
U.S. waters!”

Sandy looked at Jerry in silence, desperately hoping his friend would
come up with some flash of inspiration—some idea—which would help them
to get out of this situation. But Jerry was no help. For that matter,
Sandy reflected, he was not much help himself. But as long as he kept
“Jones” talking, he’d get some more information and meanwhile, perhaps,
he or Jerry might think of something.

“There’s only one thing that has me puzzled in all this,” Sandy said
therefore. “Why did you leave this boat full of money floating around
outside of the cove?”

Jones laughed. “There you have the full essence of our little comedy of
errors,” he said. “Last night’s storm probably tore more than one
hundred boats loose from their anchorages and moorings. Yours, I assure
you, wasn’t the only one that drifted a good distance, and neither was
mine!”

“Yours?” Jerry gasped. “You mean that our boat _did_ drift over this
way? And that you—?”

“I think you understand,” Jones replied. “But it wasn’t I. It was these
stupid fools who work for me. They had loaded the money on board the
boat last night before the storm. Then, when it blew up, we knew that it
was impossible to sail to the freighter until the storm had passed. They
failed to take the money out of the boat for the night, trusting to luck
that nothing would go wrong. But something did go wrong! My boat broke
loose and floated out around the point to where it is now. Your boat
drifted up to the entrance of my cove. When they came out this morning,
my assistants saw your boat, and did not see mine.”

Jones laughed a short, sharp laugh. “They actually sailed your sloop
five miles out to the freighter! Of course they discovered their mistake
when they opened the money locker and found it full of canned food!”

He looked at the sailors with disgust, then continued. “When they
realized their error, they promptly sailed back here, but by that time
you had found my boat and assumed it to be yours. When they told me
their story, I guessed at once what had happened and went to correct the
mistake before you found out about our little business. If you had only
come a half hour later, you would have found your own boat and sailed it
off in perfect safety. Unfortunately for you, you were just a little too
soon.”

“As long as you’re telling us the whole story,” Jerry said, “will you
answer a question for me? I don’t understand why you bother with
sailboats, when a power boat could do the job so much faster.”

“That’s a fair question,” Jones said. “You _are_ smart boys, aren’t you?
Well, I pride myself on using my brains, too. I use this
innocent-looking sloop for several reasons, one of which caused this
whole ridiculous mix-up. For one thing, an individual member of a
popular class of sailboat is very hard for the casual observer to
identify. This we have both seen to be true. For another thing, everyone
thinks of a sailboat as being merely a pleasure craft, and would never
suspect it of anything illegal. It can go in and out of the harbor on a
regular schedule and nobody will notice it or even realize it’s the same
boat they are seeing. Third, all power boats have to be registered and
licensed by the Coast Guard, while a sailboat is so anonymous that it
doesn’t even have to have a name. Fourth, it gives me a reason to live
on this island. To the people who stop to think of me, if they think of
me at all, I am a retired gentleman whose principal hobby is sailing,
and who lives on an island in order to get the most enjoyment out of the
sport.”

Again Jones smiled, and Sandy shivered. “It’s quite a neat setup, don’t
you agree?” Jones said. “And, with the same neatness that is a part of
my way of life, I am now going to put an end to this whole unpleasant
interruption.”

Suddenly dropping his lazy conversational manner, Jones sat upright and
pointed his rifle at Sandy. Not moving his eyes from the boys, he spoke
to the sailor who was still standing silent by his side. “We’ll have to
take them out to the freighter now. There’s nothing else to do. I’ll
decide what to do with them later on. You and Turk sail this boat and
I’ll follow in theirs. Lock them below,” he added, nodding toward Sandy
and Jerry.

For the first time since they had seen him, the sailor spoke. “Okay,” he
said. “We won’t mess it up this time.” Then, this being apparently the
longest speech of which he was capable, he shut his mouth into a thin,
hard line, and moved heavily to the boys.

Using his pistol as a goad, he poked Sandy in the ribs and motioned him
to go below. As Sandy started to take his first step down into the
cabin, the sailor shoved him roughly and sent him sprawling onto the
deck below. His head spinning, Sandy looked up to see the giant sailor
towering above him. He was conscious of an odd noise, like a strangled,
slow sobbing, far away. What was it? He had never heard such an ugly
sound in his life....

Then, as his head cleared, he realized what it was that he was hearing.
The sailor was laughing!

Afterward, Sandy was unable to explain why the strange laughing sound,
and the sight of the warped expression that only faintly resembled a
smile, should have made him behave as he did. An uncontrollable fury
filled him and he jumped to his feet with a headlong rush!

Caught off guard by Sandy’s sudden attack, the sailor made a clumsy move
to sidestep, but not before Sandy’s swing had caught him a terrific blow
in the ribs. All of Sandy’s six feet of wiry muscle went into the blow,
and the sailor reeled back, staggering.

Sandy followed him into the cockpit to take advantage of the surprise
attack, just in time to see Jones bring down the barrel of his rifle
sharply on Jerry’s head. Sandy whirled to face Jones as Jerry dropped to
the deck.

He started forward, cocking his fist to lash out before Jones could
raise his rifle again, but suddenly, with a sound like a bat striking a
ball, a blinding light seemed to explode in his face. This first
sensation was followed by a dull roaring sound and a spreading pool of
inky blackness. He felt his knees buckle....

Somewhere, from afar, he heard Jones speaking in bored tones.

“Bull,” he was saying, almost lazily, “you know how I dislike
unnecessary violence in any form. If you hadn’t shoved the boy, this
little scene would never—”

And that was the last Sandy was to hear for quite a while.



                              CHAPTER NINE
                            To the Freighter


When Sandy came to, the first thing he was aware of was a terrific
headache. This was accompanied by such severe dizziness that when he
tried to sit up he sank back immediately, holding his head. Gingerly, he
ran his hand over his skull as if to make sure that it was still all in
one piece. Then he lay still for a while, afraid to try moving anything
else, and looked at the ceiling above him.

Slowly, the dizziness ebbed away and the pain lurking behind his eyes
settled down to a more bearable level. When he felt it was safe to try,
he moved more cautiously than the first time, sat up and swung his long
legs over the edge of the bunk.

For a moment, he simply sat there with his elbows on his knees and his
head propped in his hands, and looked at the decking. He had to think
hard, as if he were remembering a dream that was fast fading away. Why
was he in this bunk below? How was Jerry handling the boat alone? He
frowned, pushed back his cowlick and raised his head.

As he did so, he caught sight of the brass flare gun clipped to its
bracket on the opposite bulkhead, and suddenly he remembered everything
that had happened. Of course! This was not his boat at all, and Jerry
wasn’t sailing it alone—or in any other way, for that matter!

Jerry lay on the opposite bunk below the flare gun, propped up on one
elbow and looking at him with a grin.

“I guess it isn’t funny,” he said, “but you sure took an awful long time
to wake up and figure out what had happened to you! I’ve been lying here
awake for five minutes now, just watching you come up from under!”
Ruefully rubbing a hand across his black crew-cut, he added, “I guess I
must have taken the same length of time doing it when I woke up, but
there wasn’t anybody here to time me!”

“I saw Jones hit you,” Sandy said, “and he sure wasn’t making any
special effort to be gentle. I guess that Bull, the big sailor, got me
from behind when I turned to go after Jones.”

Still rubbing his head, Jerry sat up in his bunk and faced his friend.
“Sandy,” he asked, “what made you take a swing at Bull like that? You
sure must have known that the two of us didn’t stand much of a chance in
a fight against three men with guns!”

“I don’t suppose I was really thinking at all,” Sandy answered. “I know
it was a pretty foolish thing to do, but there was just something about
Bull’s laugh.... Anyway, I’m sorry. It could have got us killed right
then and there, I guess. As it is, I think we’re lucky to have got away
with nothing more than a couple of headaches.”

“What do you mean, a couple?” Jerry said. “I’ve got two myself!”

Both boys laughed, but as their laughter died down, they became more
serious than they had been before.

“Look, we can sit here and make jokes about the situation until they get
us out to that freighter,” Sandy said, “but that isn’t going to help us
to figure out a way to escape and get to the police.”

“You’re perfectly right,” Jerry agreed. “We’d better scout around and
size things up while we’ve got a chance.”

“And we’d better do it fast,” Sandy added. “We don’t know how long we’ve
been knocked out, so we haven’t any idea how much time we have left
before we arrive at the freighter. And by then, it might very well be
too late to do anything for ourselves at all.”

Half rising from their bunks, for the cabin roof was too low to allow
them full standing headroom, they moved aft to the sliding doors that
separated them from the cockpit. Gently testing the doors, Sandy found
that they were locked, as he had assumed they would be. A crack of light
showed where the two halves of the door met, and he placed his eye to
it. With a frown, he turned around to look at Jerry.

“Boy, they’re not taking any chances this time,” he whispered. “Both of
the sailors are out there in the cockpit, and the one called Turk has
his pistol in his hand, and it’s pointed right at this door!”

Moving back to the bunks, Sandy and Jerry knelt to look through the
small windows above them. On both sides of the sloop, there was nothing
to see but water—not so much as a buoy or another boat in sight. Far off
to the starboard side, they made out a low smudge that was the shore.

“We must be almost there!” Sandy said.

“Do you think there’s any use trying the forward hatch?” asked Jerry.
“Or do you suppose that they have that one locked tight, too?”

“I don’t know if it matters much one way or the other,” Sandy sighed.
“Even if it is open, I wouldn’t care to stick my head out—not with Turk
sitting back there with his pistol ready! I think I’ve had enough of
rushing into pistols for one day!” Putting his hand to his head, he felt
the lump that was forming above his right ear.

Moving with the most extreme caution, so as to attract no attention from
their guards, they started to explore the cabin for whatever
possibilities it had to offer. Coming to the two tiny forward portholes,
barely large enough to put a hand through, Sandy paused to take a look
forward.

Before their bow, perhaps fifty yards away, was a boat sailing calmly
along as if the whole world were on a holiday. For one short instant,
Sandy thought that this might be their chance—perhaps a signal with the
flare gun might bring aid from the passing sailor! But his hopes were
shattered in no time as he realized that the sloop sailing ahead was his
own, sailed by Jones who was leading the way to the freighter that
waited, like doom, not far off.

Even in his hopelessness, Sandy could not help pausing to admire his
boat, graceful and trim, making good time beating into a steady breeze.
He thought for a moment of the preceding day when he had learned to take
the tiller and had first felt the happy pride of ownership and
accomplishment that comes to every boat owner. What a change in fortunes
this new day had brought! Now his boat was no longer his and, instead of
carrying him to pleasure, was leading him to what looked like certain
disaster!

As he watched, his boat suddenly put about on a new tack. He saw Jones
skillfully handling both the tiller and the sheets. The jib was swiftly
brought over to fill and, together with the mainsail, was trimmed and
drawing in no time. Whatever else you could say about Jones, Sandy
thought, the man sure knew how to handle a boat!

The new tack set by Jones was followed by their sailor-guards. With a
creak of tackle and rigging and a shifting of weight to the opposite
side, the little sloop came about. Still at his lookout post at the
forward port, Sandy saw the head of the boat swing about. As it did so,
he caught sight of their destination.

“Jerry! Look!” he whispered, motioning his friend to join him at the
other porthole. There, high in the water, perhaps a mile away, was the
dark shape of the freighter. Wisps of gray-white smoke curled from its
stack and drifted off in the breeze. It was an ordinary-looking freight
cargo ship, such as you would see in any port of the world. It had a
black hull, a white deckhouse and a black stack marked with green
stripes. All perfectly ordinary, perhaps, but to Sandy and Jerry it
looked sinister and piratical. They stared at it for a few minutes,
trying to judge their rate of progress from the lessening distance
between themselves and the black-hulled ship. Then Sandy tore himself
away from the porthole and grabbed Jerry’s arm.

“Jerry, we’ve got to start acting fast,” he said. “There’s hardly any
time left!”

“Act how?” Jerry said. “What can we do but sit here and wait like a
couple of chickens in a crate being taken to market? If you can think of
anything to do, I’m game, but I haven’t got an idea in my head.”

“I don’t think there’s anything we can do about the situation now,”
Sandy said, “but I have an idea that might work later on. It may not be
worth much, but anything’s worth trying.” He cast his eyes about the
small cabin.

“Did you by any chance come across a first-aid kit while you were
searching?” he asked.

“Yes, I did,” Jerry answered. “It’s in that locker next to the money.
But what do you want it for?”

“Bring it over and I’ll show you,” Sandy answered.

While Jerry went for the first-aid kit, Sandy took the brass flare
pistol from its bracket above the bunk. Then he sat down on the bunk and
rolled up his pants leg. “Here,” he said. “Give me some tape. I’m going
to strap this bulky thing to my leg if we have enough.”

“What for?” Jerry asked in surprise. “It’s not a real gun, you know. All
it does is fire a flare. Besides, there’s only one flare in here, and I
don’t know if that can do us very much good.”

“I don’t care about the flares,” Sandy answered. “It’s the gun itself
that I’m interested in. It fooled me when I saw it and it just might
possibly fool someone else who might not be familiar with these things.
I’m hoping that if we get a chance to pull it on someone after dark, we
can fool him long enough to get hold of a real gun that will help us
escape!”

“That’s not a bad idea,” Jerry admitted. “That is, if we’re still alive
by dark!”

“That’s about all I’m hoping for now,” Sandy answered. “I don’t know
whether we can do any good with this flare gun or not, but it’s pretty
clear that we can’t escape from _this_ boat. So I’m doing what I can to
let us be able to take advantage of any chance we get on board the
freighter. If we’re lucky enough to _get_ a chance.”

As he spoke, Sandy was fastening the bulky flare pistol to the inside of
his calf, making it as secure as he could with the tape from the
first-aid kit. Finished at last, he stood up as well as he could in the
low-ceilinged cabin, and tried to walk around.

“Does it show too much?” he asked Jerry, shaking his leg a little.

“It shows,” Jerry said, without much encouragement. “But maybe if you
move around carefully, and if they don’t take a sudden interest in your
legs, you might get away with it. Anyway, what can we lose by trying?”

Sandy looked down at the bulge which so obviously distorted the leg of
his blue jeans. He was afraid that he would never get away with it. He
remembered the bell-bottom pants that the Navy enlisted men wear and
that all sailors once wore, and he wondered if their original purpose
had been to carry concealed weapons. Whatever they were for, he sure
wished he were wearing a pair now!

“I guess this is about as good as we can get it,” Sandy said. “If one of
us only had a jacket on, we could probably hide the gun under an arm,
but these sweat shirts just don’t leave enough room.”

“No, I think the leg is a better place anyway,” Jerry said. “If they
search us for weapons, they’re apt to miss your leg, but they’d never
miss patting you under the arm. Anyway, we don’t have a jacket, and as
far as I can see there’s no place else to hide the thing.”

The boys took a last look around the cabin to see if there was anything
else to help them, but there was not even a small kitchen knife or a can
opener in the little galley. It seemed that Mr. Jones kept only
counterfeit money in that area. As they were carefully exploring every
possible nook and cranny in the cabin, they felt the sloop heel to the
other side as it once more came about to go on a new tack.

From the vantage point of the two forward ports they saw the reason for
this latest maneuver. They were coming up to the wind alongside the
freighter, preparing to stop. The high sides of the big ship loomed
above them like the walls of a fortress, but chipped and scarred with
streaks of rust. As the sloop swung completely into the wind, losing
headway, they caught sight of Jones making a line fast to the bow of
Sandy’s boat. Then, with a rattle of slides and a clumping of heavy
steps on the cabin roof overhead, the counterfeiters’ craft came to a
halt and was made fast alongside the freighter.

Whatever was to happen, it would happen now!



                              CHAPTER TEN
                       Aboard the Floating Prison


Moving away from the forward portholes, Sandy and Jerry sat on the edges
of the bunks and waited for their captors to come and get them. Both
boys made themselves look as if they were completely dejected—as if they
had already given up any hopes they might have had of escaping or of
being rescued.

In a few minutes the footsteps on the deck and cabin top stopped and the
little craft lay bobbing and wallowing in the sea swell that rose and
fell alongside the freighter.

Rope bumpers, large braided lengths of thick cordage, were lashed to the
sides of the sloop to keep it from being damaged by rubbing and banging
against the steel side of the big ship.

Although they were listening as closely as possible to everything that
went on, they could not make out the words they heard shouted from the
freighter’s deck far above. Nevertheless, the sense of them was made
clear by the answer that Turk bellowed back.

“Yeah! we got the stuff this time, all right! And we got a couple of
other pieces of cargo with us, too! Wait and we’ll show you!”

This was the moment, Sandy thought. He would have to be careful, he
warned himself, not to lose his temper as he had done last time, even if
he was roughed up and shoved around again. And above all, he must be
careful about the way he moved. One false step would surely outline the
telltale shape of the flare gun taped to his leg—and that would be the
end of the only “weapon” that he and Jerry had! Not only that, but it
might well be the end of the only chance they would have to get away
with whole skins!

A bolt grated in its slide on the companionway door and the hatch slid
open to reveal Turk, pistol in hand, grinning nastily at them.

“Okay, gents,” he said. “The first-class passage on the local ferry is
over. Just step up on deck, and we’ll transfer to the next vessel.”

As Sandy reached the companionway steps, Turk reached down and grabbed
him by the neck of his shirt. With a swift heave, he sent Sandy
sprawling on the cockpit deck. Keeping a tight control on his temper,
Sandy confined his thoughts to worrying about getting his leg tucked
under him in such a position that the flare pistol wouldn’t show.

But he need not have worried, for Turk was too busy enjoying himself
giving the same treatment to Jerry, who came flying out of the cabin to
land heavily on the deck alongside Sandy.

“These boys sure play a lot of rough games,” he murmured. “And I’m
afraid that this is only the beginning of a whole world’s series!”

“Take it easy,” Sandy whispered to his friend. “Let’s just go along with
them quietly. Maybe we can keep in one piece until we have a chance to
figure a way out.”

At Turk’s orders, they rose to their feet. Looking up to the freighter’s
deck high above them, they saw the other sailor, Bull, already on board,
at the top of a long rope ladder. He too had his pistol held ready, and
the expression on his face gave every indication that he would be only
too glad to use it if he were given even half an excuse to do so.

“Get up that ladder,” Turk ordered, “and don’t try nothing funny. We’ll
have you covered all the way.” He waved his pistol at Jerry to indicate
that he wanted him to go up the ladder first.

Sandy’s heart seemed to sink in his chest. The order of climbing was all
wrong—it couldn’t be wronger! Jerry first, himself next, and Turk last!
Surely Turk, if he was below him looking up as he climbed, couldn’t fail
to notice the flare pistol taped to Sandy’s leg!

Acting as if he misunderstood Turk’s wordless command, Sandy stepped
forward and grabbed the rope ladder, but the sailor’s big hand gripped
him by the shoulder hard and firmly pulled him back.

“You sure are eager, ain’t ya, kid? And you’re tricky, too. Now why did
you want to go up that ladder first? That ain’t no picnic or party up
there!” He screwed his big face into a frown of deep thought. Apparently
unable to reach a decision, he undid his thinking expression and snarled
at Sandy. “Just stop thinkin’ up tricks, see! You let me do the thinkin’
here! Now, you go on first, the way I told ya!” He pushed Jerry toward
the ladder.

Resigned to having his flare gun discovered, and almost resigned to
whatever would happen next, Sandy moved to the ladder to take his turn,
when once more the big hand of Turk pulled him back. “I told you I’d do
the thinkin’!” Turk said. “I don’t know what you got up your sleeve, but
whatever it is, you’d better forget it. I’m goin’ up next!”

At last, here was a turn of luck! Sandy could hardly keep from grinning
as Turk started to mount the rope ladder. The big sailor swung up
easily, keeping his eyes always turned downward to Sandy. Halfway up, he
stopped.

“Come on, now,” he said. “You won’t be able to play no tricks this way.
You’re too far back for any leg grabbing, and I got this gun aimed right
at the top of your head. Now come on up, and come slow!”

Sandy stepped from the deck of the sloop to the lower rungs of the rope
ladder and did as he was told, moving his “gun leg” as carefully as he
could without running the risk of attracting any attention to it. At
least, he thought with some satisfaction, he had gotten over the first
hurdle!

On the deck of the freighter, the boys were met by Jones, Bull, and a
mean-looking crew of some of the dirtiest men they had ever seen. The
freighter itself was none too clean, with paint scaling from the decks
and splotches of grease covering the cargo-handling winches and other
deck machinery. The white deckhouse, seen from close quarters, was a
dingy and spotted gray, and the portholes were streaked with dirt and
dried salt.

In the midst of a rat’s nest of coiled ropes, fraying cables and other
ship’s debris, Jones sat on an overturned crate as if it were an easy
chair. He seemed perfectly at ease and completely out of place at the
same time, his smart sports clothes and yachting cap making an odd
contrast to the mixed clothing of the freighter’s crew.

Despite his air of being a gentleman of leisure, Jones had his rifle
still with him, lying across his knees, and his long fingers played
restlessly with the safety catch and the trigger.

“Gentlemen,” he smiled. “Welcome aboard. I hope you will find our modest
accommodations suitable for your long journey. The Captain will arrive
in a moment, and I am sure that he will do whatever is in his power to
see to it that you are treated—appropriately.” Still smiling, he turned
to Bull and said, “Bull, see to it that our passengers aren’t carrying
any unnecessary luggage.”

Bull looked puzzled. “I don’t getcha,” he mumbled.

Jones rose with a swift movement, his smile turned at once to ice. “If
you weren’t such a stupid lout, perhaps you’d get me the first time I
speak to you! If you weren’t such a stupid lout, we wouldn’t have had
these boys here with us in the first place.”

He moved forward as if to strike the cowering Bull, but stopped and
regained control over himself. Once more, he put on his bland smile.

“Pardon my temper and my little jokes, Bull,” he said. “What I meant by
‘unnecessary luggage’ was concealed weapons. In other words, frisk
them.”

Bull shook his head and said, “Why’ntcha say so inna first place?” and
started toward Jerry and Sandy.

Once again Sandy tensed. If only his luck would hold and he could get
through without having Bull find the flare gun! Otherwise....

He watched as Bull patted Jerry, none too gently. He realized that, if
Jerry had been wearing a jacket under which to hide the flare gun, it
would surely have been discovered. Soon Bull was finished with Jerry,
and it was Sandy’s turn. Bull frisked him quickly and clumsily, patting
his chest and under his arms, even though it was obvious that he
couldn’t possibly have hidden anything there. Bull’s big hands continued
down to Sandy’s pockets, hesitated for a moment, and stopped right
there. He turned to face Jones.

“They’re clean,” he said.

Jones nodded, not paying too much attention to Bull or to the search. “I
didn’t think that they would have had the foresight to bring any
weapons. Still—there’s no sense taking any chances. In this business,
one can’t be too careful.”

Noticing that Jones was not looking directly at either Bull or
themselves as he said all this, Sandy followed his gaze to the upper
decks of the freighter, wondering what he _was_ looking for. A door
swung open and a man stepped out into the late afternoon sunshine. Jones
rose, waved to the man and called, “Captain! Come down! We have a little
surprise for you!”

Sandy had not known what to expect of the captain of such a ship as
this, but surely, the man who came down the ladder did not look in the
least like anything he might have imagined! He would not have been
really surprised by a bearded giant, or another tough, such as one of
the crew, or even, perhaps, by a turbaned oriental—but this captain was
surely a complete surprise!

He was a thin, wispy-looking old man—how old, Sandy could not begin to
guess—with a face like a wise preacher’s or perhaps a college
professor’s. He was dressed entirely in white, down to his old-fashioned
white high-buttoned shoes, and he carried a bamboo cane with a gold
head. To finish off this spotless outfit, so out of keeping with his
ship, the Captain wore a pith helmet, such as British officers wear in
the tropics!

The old man moved briskly down the steep ladder from the upper decks
and, with scarcely a glance at the boys, addressed himself to Jones.

“Who are these children?” he asked, his voice thin and reedy, but
carrying authority and as sharp as the crack of a whip.

As Jones explained the presence of the boys on board the freighter, the
Captain looked from them to Jones and back again. When Jones told him
how Bull and Turk had mistaken Sandy’s sloop for his own, the Captain
shifted his gaze to the two sailors, who almost winced under his cutting
stare of scorn. Then, when the tale was done, he devoted his attention
exclusively to Jones once more.

“What do you want to do about it?” he asked.

“I leave that entirely up to you,” Jones said. “I want no part of any
violence—if it can be avoided. Besides, you will have them on your
hands, and I’ll be ashore, so that it’s hardly my place to dictate the
conditions of their—er—disposal.”

Jones rose, leaning casually on his rifle as if it were a walking stick.
“Whatever you want to do is all right with me. Just get rid of them,
that’s all. And do it in a way that won’t attract any suspicions ashore.
I don’t want anyone poking around the island asking questions about
them.”

The Captain thought for a minute, then answered, “I don’t think we’ll
have anyone poking around the island. Not if we handle this thing right.
They must not, you see, simply disappear. If they just drop out of sight
without a trace, it will surely bring on a search, and someone may have
seen them near your place. No, that won’t do. On the contrary, they must
be found. But they must be found in such a condition that they can
answer no questions—ever. And it must look natural.”

“Perfect logic,” Jones said. “I agree completely. But how are you going
to manage it?”

“We will keep them aboard,” the Captain answered, “locked up below. I
will tow their sloop after us. When we are a satisfactory distance from
shore—say a thousand miles—we will put them into their boat and cut them
loose.”

“But,” Jones protested, “isn’t there a chance that they could make it in
to shore somewhere? Men have managed rougher trips than that in the
past.”

“Don’t worry about details,” the Captain said in his quiet, scholarly
voice. “I’ll take care of everything. First, we will drop them far out
of any regular shipping lanes. In addition, we will first wreck their
sails, their mast and their rigging as if it had been done by a storm.
When they are finally found, it will be too late to do anything about
them. It will just look as if a storm had wrecked them and blown them
out to sea. It’s a tidy way to operate—no messy violence—and there will
be no clues to lead to your precious island.”

Jones considered for a minute before answering. “It sounds all right to
me, if you say so. After all, you know your end of the business better
than I do.”

“Indeed I do,” the Captain answered calmly.

“Now,” Jones said briskly, dismissing the matter of the boys from his
mind, “we have my other cargo to discuss before our dealings are
finished for this trip.”

The Captain held up a thin, white hand to stop Jones. “Not now,” he
said. “Our business can wait until we have refreshed ourselves and had a
bit of dinner. Then when it is dark, you can turn over your cargo—if the
terms are satisfactory—and sail home unobserved.”

He waved his stick at the boys and motioned to two of his crew members.
“Take them below and lock them in an empty cabin. And set a close watch
on them.”

As Sandy and Jerry were led off by the two crewmen, they saw the Captain
precede Jones to the foot of the deckhouse ladder. He paused and bowed,
indicating that Jones should go first. Somehow, the courtly,
old-fashioned gesture seemed to Sandy more sinister than anything else
he had seen since the start of this day.



                             CHAPTER ELEVEN
                            Escape to Danger


Stepping over the high sill of the door that led from the deck to the
passageway, Sandy and Jerry were plunged at once into gloom and
near-darkness. The throb of the freighter’s engines, barely noticeable
on deck, became a roar, and the passage was thick with the smells and
heat from the engine room below.

They were pushed and shoved along the passage, past a number of doors
which Sandy presumed were the crew’s quarters. On the other side of the
passage, an occasional door opened onto the engine room, a great cavern
of heat and noise, brightly illuminated by lights on all sides, and
crisscrossed by catwalks and ladders.

Without a word, their guides stopped before a door opposite the main
opening to the engine room. One of them produced a large key ring and,
after a moment’s searching for the right key, unlocked the door.

Motioning them to enter, the guard stood aside as Sandy and Jerry
stepped into the gloom of a small cabin. Then the door slammed behind
them, the key clicked in the lock, and they were alone. Through the
ventilating slits cut in the top and bottom of the door, they heard one
of their captors.

“You take the first watch while I go for chow. I’ll bring the kids
something to eat when I come back, then you can get yours.” The other
said something in agreement, and the speaker’s footsteps in the
passageway were soon drowned out in the roar of the engines.

Sinking to a seat on the bare springs of a bunk with no mattress, Jerry
looked up at Sandy and asked, “What now?”

“I don’t know,” Sandy admitted. “But at least we got away with the flare
gun, and we may figure out a way to use it.” He lowered himself to the
bare bunk opposite the one Jerry occupied, and surveyed their floating
prison.

The cabin offered very little promise of help. There were the two double
bunks, both bare of mattresses, four lockers, a sink in one corner and a
single porthole. Going to the porthole, Sandy tried to open it, but with
no success. The “dogs” that secured it, heavy steel latches, were welded
in place, and the glass of the porthole looked too heavy to break.
Obviously, the place had been used as a prison before. Outside of the
porthole, there was nothing but the sea. Even if the glass could be
broken, Sandy didn’t like the idea of dropping down into the black
waters below. That seemed as unpromising a position as the one they were
in now!

The lockers were the next subject of their exploration but, as they
expected, these proved as empty and bare as the cabin itself. The sink,
the only remaining thing in the room, was the source of no inspiration.

Settling himself on the bunk once more, Sandy began to roll up his pants
leg. “I guess this flare gun is our only hope at that,” he said. “We
might as well have it ready.”

He quickly undid the adhesive tape, then stuck the gun in his belt. As
he did so, an idea came to him.

“Jerry, I think I have it!” he whispered.

The plan was a simple one—almost too simple to work. But it seemed the
only chance they had. Sandy proposed to wait until the guard came with
their food, then, threatening him with the flare pistol, they would try
to overcome him, tie him up, and make their way to the deck. Once there,
they would have to find a way out. It seemed a slim hope, but what else
could they do?

Jerry agreed, and whispering quietly, they worked out the best positions
to take to make their attack good. Meanwhile, one more stroke of good
fortune came to them. Jerry found that he still had the roll of adhesive
tape in his pocket, undiscovered in Bull’s quick inspection. It would
come in handy for binding and gagging the guards, if they could once
overcome them.

Now there was nothing to do but wait. Through the porthole, they could
see the sky growing dark, and the gathering gloom in the cabin raised
their spirits. It was one more bit of aid that might fool their jailer
into thinking the flare gun was a real weapon. The last glow of day was
dying on the horizon when they once more heard voices in the passageway.

Jerry took his position by the door while Sandy readied the flare gun,
then sat on one of the bunks. The door swung open and their guards
entered, the lead man carrying a tray and his companion behind him.

As they stepped over the sill, Sandy stood up suddenly, upsetting the
tray. Hot coffee spilled over the lead man, who stepped backward with a
cry. As he did so, Jerry, from his position behind the door, reached out
and knocked the second man to the deck. At the same moment, Sandy raised
his flare gun and aimed.

“All right,” he said. “I have you covered!”

“Do what he says,” one of the sailors said. “Do you see that gun? It’s a
flare!”

Sandy was startled. If they knew it was not a real pistol, why didn’t
they charge him? Why were they cowering away? Then he realized for the
first time that the flare pistol, used as a weapon, must be an awful
thing. Anything that could send a stream of flame hundreds of feet into
the air could surely inflict a terrible wound when used against a man.
He shuddered, knowing he could never use it in this way. But as long as
the sailors didn’t know it....

It was short work to silence the men with adhesive-tape gags, and to
tape their hands firmly behind their backs. When this was done, the boys
pushed the sailors into the lockers, taped their ankles together, and
shut them in. The locker doors secured firmly with a latch. Leaving the
cabin silently, Sandy and Jerry locked its door behind them. That
certainly took care of two of their captors. Now, if the rest would just
prove this easy!

As they stepped away from the door, Sandy whispered, “Let’s get out of
this passage fast. There are too many doors here, and one might pop open
at any minute!”

They swiftly moved down the length of the passage until they reached the
bulkhead door. Outside, the deck was dark, with the complete blackness
of a night at sea, pierced only by the shaft of light that came from the
passage. Moving now as quickly as they could, they slipped out onto the
deck, and stepped back out of the light. Their shadows had been outlined
boldly against the passage light for only a second. They crouched in the
darkness and waited to be sure they had not been observed. So far, so
good.

Now that they had gotten this far, Sandy realized, their problems were
just beginning. How were they to get off the ship? And how could they
prevent being followed?

“Jerry,” he whispered, “we’ve got to see to it that we get away from
here in the fastest boat they have! I wonder if there’s a power boat
around?”

“There has to be,” Jerry answered. “Every ship carries lifeboats, and
one of them always has power so it can be used as a captain’s launch
when necessary.”

“Well, let’s find it!” Sandy whispered.

Gazing over the side, they could see no boat tied up at all. They had to
work their way to the other side of the freighter, without once more
crossing the telltale path of light from the passageway. To do this,
they had to work their way forward to the bow, and then around to the
other side of the ship. Slowly, with as much care as they could muster,
they dropped to their knees and began to crawl.

They reached the forepeak with no trouble, except the minor difficulties
of crawling over the mess of rope and ship’s gear scattered around the
disordered deck. As they started back, though, two dark forms appeared
in the light of the passage!

“Down!” Sandy whispered, and he and Jerry dropped flat on the deck
behind the protection of the windlass. Peering around the corner of the
huge machine, with its coil of giant anchor chain, they watched the
figures come nearer. Halfway between them and the deckhouse, the shadows
stopped, leaning against the bulwark, and lit cigarettes.

In the brief flare of the match, the boys recognized the grim face of
Turk. The other man with him was a sailor they had seen on deck with the
rest of the crew when they had been taken aboard the freighter. He spoke
in a thin, flat, whining voice, with a trace of a foreign accent that
might have had its origin in any country in the world, but which by now
was simply international. The first words the boys could make out came
from Turk.

“This waiting is getting on my nerves,” he rumbled. “What’s keeping us
from shoving off?”

“It’s the big businessmen up there,” the sailor whined, jerking his
thumb toward the Captain’s quarters. “Jones wants more for the phony
dough than he got last time, and the Skipper wants to give him less. The
Skipper says he rates a break in the price for getting rid of those kids
for Jones. Jones says he’s taking as much risk as the Skipper.”

“And how about us?” Turk asked. “Ain’t we in this as much as them?
Where’s the payoff for us?”

“I don’t know about you,” the sailor answered. “But the Skipper never
let _us_ down yet. He says he’s gotta have better terms so’s to pay us a
bonus. And we’ll get it,” he continued, his voice taking on a mean,
determined tone. “We’ll get it, or else!”

Sandy and Jerry, scarcely daring to breathe, lay still in the shadow of
the windlass, listening to this exchange. At each word, the black
freighter seemed less and less like a place where they wanted to stay.
Something had to be done, and fast! As each moment wore on, Jones and
the Captain were coming closer to an agreement, and when that agreement
was reached, the ship would sail. And if it sailed with them still
aboard, Sandy thought, their chance of escape would slim down almost to
the vanishing point!

For a few minutes, Turk and his friend stood silently at the rail and
smoked their cigarettes. The stillness of the scene was marked only by
the glow of coals against the black sea and sky. Then one of the
cigarettes made an arch through the night as it was flipped over the
side. The figures straightened.

“I’m going back up there,” Turk announced, “and see if I can get any
better idea what’s going on. I’ll listen at the porthole, and you stay
back on the boat deck and cover for me. If anyone comes along, start to
whistle.”

The two dark figures walked back to the deckhouse and disappeared for a
moment in the shadows. A few minutes later, Sandy saw their forms
outlined briefly against the light from a porthole on the boat deck;
then they passed once more from sight.

Turning to Jerry, Sandy whispered, “We’d better get going! If they wind
up that business talk before we’re out of here, I don’t give us much of
a chance!”

Once more, they crept in the shadows, moving with painful care over the
tangled equipment that seemed to cover the decks everywhere. At last,
reaching the ladder from the main deck to the boat deck, they paused and
took stock. Above them, showing only as a dark shape against the dark
sky, loomed the bow of the nearest of the freighter’s four lifeboats.
Slowly, and with the greatest of care, they slipped up the ladder until
Sandy’s head was at a level with the deck above. He waited and watched
to be sure the deck was uninhabited. When he was reasonably certain, he
moved ahead, slower now than before, and slid his body up onto the deck.
Jerry followed suit, and soon the two, pulling themselves forward on the
deck by the flats of their hands and the toes of their sneakers, were
sheltered by a life-jacket box below the lifeboat.

Turning over, Sandy scanned the bottom of the lifeboat, until, with a
sigh of relief, he saw what he was hoping to see—the screw of a power
boat protruding from the stern. This was the object of their search!

As he pointed excitedly to the screw, Jerry whispered with puzzlement,
“Now that we’ve found their power gig, what are we going to do with it?
It takes four men to launch these things, and even if we could launch
it, it would make such a noise that we’d have the whole crew on our
necks before it ever hit the water!”

“I didn’t figure on launching it,” Sandy said. “What I want to do is fix
it so they won’t be able to follow us in it when we make our getaway on
the sloop!”

“Smart thinking!” Jerry whispered. “There’s very little danger that they
can chase us with the freighter itself. In the first place, by the time
they could turn it around, we’d be out of sight. And if they don’t catch
up with us out here, they won’t dare come too near the harbor. The water
there isn’t deep enough for a ship this size and it would be too risky
for them. But _I_ don’t know too much about engines. How are you going
to disable this one?”

“I know a few ways,” Sandy answered, “and I’m going to use them all! If
I just put one thing out of order, they might fix it right away. But,
with the mess I’m going to make of that engine, it’ll take them a half
hour or better to get it going. And by then, I hope, we’ll have sailed
out of sight!”

Working with the greatest of care, the boys unlaced the canvas cover on
the outboard side of the lifeboat. Standing on the rail of the ship,
Sandy swung up and slid in beneath the cover, into a pitch-blackness
that made the night outside seem bright in comparison.

As Jerry joined Sandy, his added weight made the lifeboat lurch to one
side, and brought a creak from the davits in which the boat was hung. To
the boys under the canvas, it sounded as loud as a scream! Motionless in
the dark, they waited for the thud of running feet, the tearing back of
the boat cover, the glare of flashlights—but none came. The only answer
to the noise was a thin, tuneless whistle from the deck above them. It
was Turk’s fellow sailor, keeping watch for his spying friend, and he
was as afraid of passing noises as the boys were!

Not daring to move, Sandy and Jerry waited for what seemed hours until
the slight swaying of the lifeboat stopped. As cautiously as they could,
so as not to start it moving again, they changed their positions in such
a way as to balance the boat better. At last they were stationed one on
each side of what Sandy could only hope was the engine compartment.

“How can you work in the dark?” Jerry whispered. “How will you know
what’s what in there?”

“It shouldn’t be too hard,” Sandy replied. “Almost all engines have a
lot in common. If I can just get my hands on the engine, I think I’ll
know what to do.”

Working only by touch, it was not easy to find out how the lid to the
engine compartment was removed. Slowly moving his hands around the
surfaces of the box, Sandy found two hook-eyes, which he carefully
unfastened. On the opposite side of the box, he found two more, which he
also undid.

“We’re in luck,” he whispered to Jerry. “If this had been a hinged top,
I don’t think we could have opened it. There isn’t enough headroom below
this canvas to raise a boxtop this size.”

With the greatest of care, making only the smallest of scraping noises,
they removed the heavy lid and placed it across two of the lifeboat’s
seats.

“I’m ready,” Sandy said. “I’m going to be handing you some parts, Jerry.
I want you to put them in your shirt. We can’t leave them in here, and
if we threw them overboard, the splash would surely be heard. Just be
sure they don’t clank around!”

Working noiselessly, Sandy ran his hands over the engine, starting from
the top of the block. He touched and counted the spark plugs—four of
them. His own experience with assorted jalopies would come in handy
here, he thought. Carefully, he slipped the wires off the tops of the
spark plugs. Following the wires to their source, he came to the
distributor cap. Two clips held it in place. These were easily removed.
Following the wire that came from the center of the distributor cap, he
came to its end at the spark coil. A small pull removed it. Then he
handed the whole thing, which felt like a mechanical octopus, to Jerry,
who slipped it into his shirt.

A little more probing brought out two more parts from the distributor,
both quite small. One was the rotor, the other the condenser. “With any
one of these things gone,” Sandy whispered, “they won’t be able to run
this boat!”

“Great!” Jerry breathed. “Now let’s get going!”

“Not yet,” Sandy said. “We still have some more to do. I don’t want to
make it too easy for them!”

The next thing to go was the fuel pump, as Sandy unscrewed from it the
glass bowl through which the gasoline had to pass. This was followed by
a small collection of springs from the choke, the accelerator and the
carburetor.

“I think that ought to do it,” Sandy said. “Now let’s put this engine
lid back on, so they can’t tell right away that somebody’s been in
here!”

It took even more care to replace the lid than it had to take it off. It
was a tight fit, and really needed a blow on the top to make it fit
properly on the casing, but this could not be done without making far
too much noise. Finally, they decided to leave it unhooked, rather than
run the risk of giving away their presence in the lifeboat.

Getting out and dropping soundlessly to the deck was not easy either,
especially for Jerry, with the hardware stored in his bulging shirt
front. Sandy, who had gone first, helped him down, and Jerry landed
beside him with a muted clinking of metal and hard plastic. The slight
noise brought no warning whistle from Turk’s lookout.

A glance at the deck below showed them why. Their eyes, grown accustomed
to complete darkness, were now able to see quite clearly about the
freighter’s deck. Up forward, near where they had hidden below the
windlass, stood Jones and the white-uniformed little Captain, together
with Turk, Bull, and several other sailors.

Apparently the business talk was concluded and, much more to the boys’
concern, the freighter was making ready to hoist anchor and set off for
ports unknown!



                             CHAPTER TWELVE
                            The Race Begins


Even as they watched, a working light mounted on the foremast suddenly
flooded the foredeck with brilliance, bringing the shadowy figures into
sharp focus, like actors on a brightly lighted stage.

Instinctively, Sandy and Jerry shrank back into the shadow of the
life-jacket box, until Sandy realized that the bright light on the
foredeck would make the rest of the ship almost invisible to people in
its rays.

For a few seconds or more, the boys watched the tableau below them until
several of the sailors ambled over to the windlass. Then Jerry said,
“They’re getting ready to hoist the anchor now. We have to move fast if
we’re going to get to our boat before Jones gets to his!”

Still exercising the greatest care, they re-laced the canvas where they
had entered the lifeboat, then quietly crept alongside the rails under
the lifeboats until they came to the ladder connecting the boat deck to
the afterdeck.

This, fortunately, was both deserted and unlighted, the deck crew having
all gone forward to work on the windlass. The boys made their way down
to the point where they had come on board via the rope ladder, which was
still slung over the side, waiting for Jones’s departure.

Looking over the bulwark, they saw the two sloops below them, bobbing
gently in the swell that washed against the sheer side of the tall
freighter. They looked almost unbelievably peaceful, and Sandy thought
once again about Jones’s comments about the unsuspicious looks of
sailing craft. Next to their trim, small shapes, the freighter looked
every bit as sinister as it had actually proved to be!

“This is it,” Sandy whispered. “Let’s make it fast!”

He stepped over the bulwark and disappeared down the rope ladder. Jerry
was as close behind him as he could get without running the risk of
stepping on Sandy’s hands. A moment more brought them to the deck of the
sloop.

“Now comes the hard part,” Jerry whispered. “We’ve got to get our sails
up and shove off without anyone seeing or hearing us—and it’s not
exactly a quiet job. In fact, if I remember right, our slides squeak
pretty badly in their track. I noticed it when we first took it out, and
made a mental note to oil the track as soon as we got some time.”

“Maybe we’d better not risk it,” Sandy said. “Is there some way we can
get away from here without having to hoist the sails right away?”

“Well ...” Jerry said, “if there were enough current, we could drift
off, but I don’t think there is. Besides, it would take a long time, and
I don’t think we’ve got too much time to waste right now.”

“Suppose we tow it off behind the dinghy?” Sandy asked. “You know, the
way we brought it out of the harbor for the first day’s sail.”

“Good!” Jerry exclaimed. But it only took a moment’s search to assure
them that the dinghy was not with them. “Jones must have left it tied to
his mooring,” Jerry said. “That puts us back where we started.”

“I guess there’s nothing to do but try it with our sails,” Sandy said.
As he started to move forward, Jerry stopped him with a hand on his
shoulder.

“Wait a minute! I think I know a way to do this! I remember I was once
taught about sculling with the rudder. You use it like an oar. I’ve
never had to try it, but this is probably the best time. C’mon! Let’s
cast off those lines!”

Working swiftly, Sandy cast off the bow line while Jerry did the same
with the line at the stern. Then both of them pushed off from the side
of the freighter, and the little sloop drifted noiselessly away from the
scarred steel cliff of the huge hull.

The bright light from the foredeck spilled on the waters around the bow
of the ship, and seemed even to light up the sloop. Sandy only hoped
that whoever was standing lookout on the freighter was within that
circle of light. If he was in the darkness of the upper decks, even the
few dim beams that reflected from the white hull of the little sailboat
would shine out like a warning beacon against the dark waters!

Sandy worked his way aft over the cabin roof, and dropped into the
cockpit to join Jerry at the tiller. Jerry was carefully working the
tiller backward and forward, making small gurgling sounds as the rudder
swept through the water.

“Here’s the way it works,” he said. “I’m using the rudder like a single
stern paddle. Lots of boats in the old days used to be run like that. If
the paddle’s properly shaped, it will do a good job of propelling a
boat. They call a long stern oar a sweep, and it’s good enough so that
it’s still used on heavy barges in lots of places around the world.”

“Won’t it just push the stern around from one side to the other?” Sandy
asked.

“Not if you do it carefully,” Jerry replied. “What I’m doing is this: I
ease the rudder to one side, slowly, so as not to row with it. Then I
give it a strong pull toward me—like this—and then I shove it halfway
back.”

As he spoke, he hauled on the rudder, and the stern of the sloop swung
around a bit, but the return motion of the rudder stopped the swinging
action and steadied the sloop on her course. Sandy saw small ripples
form a wake behind the boat as some forward motion was gained. As Jerry
repeated the gentling, pulling and returning of the rudder, the sloop
gained a little more forward speed. Slowly, the rusted sides of the
black freighter slid by them.

“So far, so good,” Sandy said. “If we keep this up, we’ll be able to get
away before we’re spotted.”

“I hope so,” Jerry agreed fervently, pulling strongly on his improvised
sweep. By now the sloop was some thirty feet or more away from the
freighter, and heading past the overhanging stern of the big ship.
Suddenly, the stillness of the night was shattered by a roar and clank
of machinery.

“It’s the windlass!” Jerry cried. “They’re getting ready to haul up the
anchor! Jones must be ready to go over to his boat!”

Even as he spoke, a flare of work lights came up over the freighter’s
afterdeck, clearly showing Jones and the Captain standing by the head of
the rope ladder, flanked by Turk and Bull. The Captain and Jones were
shaking hands, apparently having concluded a deal on the counterfeit
cargo that pleased them both. Neither of them had as yet looked over the
side to see that one of the sloops was missing.

“We can’t chance this any more,” Jerry said. “We’re bound to be
discovered in another minute, when Jones starts over the ladder! Let’s
get those sails up now, and do the best we can!”

“You’re right,” Sandy agreed, swiftly leaping atop the cabin roof to
reach the main halyards. Taking a deep breath, he hauled. With a
screech, the slides moved stiffly up the track, and the mainsail
fluttered overhead.

Moving quickly, Sandy grasped the jib halyard and hoisted it aloft while
Jerry was fastening the main halyard to its cleat. The sloop began to
make headway in the light breeze. Then, as Sandy joined his friend in
the cockpit, the sloop sailed clear of the shadows that lay below the
stern of the freighter, and into the circle of light that surrounded the
afterdeck. At almost the same instant, a shout rang out from above them.

“Look! It’s the kids!” It was Turk, who, seeing the sail like a luminous
flag in the water, had sounded the alarm.

“Get down!” Sandy said, pulling Jerry to the deck of the cockpit. His
action came not a minute too soon for a pistol shot rang out. It was
followed by a volley of shots, as more of the freighter’s crew got into
the action, but the boys were unharmed, although two bullets had hit the
cabin roof and one had plowed a furrow in the deck.

The shooting stopped after a few more stray shots were fired, the sloop
having by now moved out of effective pistol range. Making the best
headway they could in the light breeze, Sandy and Jerry looked back with
satisfaction to see the freighter’s crew working feverishly at the
davits to get the ship’s power gig into the water.

“If we can just get enough lead time,” Jerry said fervently, “we’ll make
it to shore well ahead of them!”

“What if Jones follows in his boat?” Sandy asked.

“We’ll worry about that if he does,” Jerry answered. “He’s a good
sailor, but we have a lead on him. It’ll be our first race, if it
happens, and I sure hope we win!”

By now the power gig was hanging over the side, its davits having been
swung into launching position. The canvas cover had been removed, and
several sailors clambered in, waiting for the boat to be lowered. With a
creak of blocks and tackle, the lifeboat was swiftly dropped to the
water. The boys could see someone bending over the engine compartment,
trying to get the boat started.

“Jones’ll have a long wait, if he wants to go after us in that!” Sandy
chuckled. “That ship is so sloppy, I’ll bet it will take them an hour
just to find the parts they need, once they discover what’s wrong!”

But apparently Jones wasn’t going to wait. He had sized up the situation
quickly—too quickly—and was going over the side and down the rope ladder
to the other sloop!

“Oh-oh!” Jerry said. “He’s going to try to catch us in the other sloop!
And we haven’t got more than a few hundred yards on him yet. This is
going to be some race!”

Some race! Sandy realized once again how different the meaning of speed
is to a sailor and to a landsman. Here they were, in a gentle breeze on
a calm sea, preparing to race for their very lives—and they would
probably not sail faster than he could walk!

Consulting the stars, Jerry set a downwind course, and the boat headed
slowly but steadily toward the mainland.

“We’d do better on some other point of sail,” Jerry said, “but there’s
one consolation.”

“What’s that?” Sandy asked.

“He’s got to sail on the same course we take, so he can’t take advantage
of any more favorable wind than the one we get. That, and the fact that
the boats are the same, at least puts us on an even footing.”

By now, Jones and a crew member were in the sloop, and were getting the
sails up. Sandy watched as the mainsail caught the light from the
freighter, followed almost immediately by the jib. The sloop swung about
into the trail of light that danced on the water between them and the
big ship, and set her sails for a downwind tack.

Small waves whispered softly at the bow, and bubbles gurgled quietly in
the wake. The mainsheet hardly pulled at all in Sandy’s hand as the sail
caught all the wind there was to catch. Hardly seeming to move at all,
the sloop glided slowly ahead in the soft night breeze.

And the toughest race they would ever sail was under way!



                            CHAPTER THIRTEEN
                      A Race of Mistaken Identity


“Trim your main!” Jerry said. “Haul back a little ... more ... no, let
it out a shade ... that’s it! Cleat it down there!”

Sandy followed Jerry’s directions carefully, hauling at the sheet to get
the sail set to its best position. Like the airplane wing it resembles,
the sail must be perfectly shaped to get the maximum advantage of the
wind. Sandy had learned that this was true even on a downwind run, where
a sail let out too far will spill wind, and a sail sheeted in too close
will miss too much wind.

Rejoining Jerry on the cockpit seat, Sandy looked aft to catch sight of
their pursuer. He was surprised to see the amount of water that now
separated them from the freighter, which seemed a spot of bright light
far behind them. Against the light he could see the silhouetted shape of
Jones’s sloop. It seemed to him that they were closer than before, and
he motioned Jerry to turn and look.

“You’re right,” Jerry said, guessing at the question that had formed in
Sandy’s mind. “They’re closing in on us, all right. That Jones is sure
some sailor! We’ll have to do better than this if we’re going to get
ashore before they sail within pistol range!”

“What can we do?” Sandy asked, his brow wrinkling under the blond
forelock that hung over his eyes.

“The only thing we can do is put on more sail,” Jerry answered. “That
won’t be an easy job with just the two of us. And you’ve never handled a
spinnaker.”

“You’d better give me some fast instruction,” Sandy breathed. “First,
what’s the spinnaker?”

“It’s a big oversized jib, cut like a parachute,” Jerry replied. “You
saw a few out in the bay yesterday, remember? It’s that big sail that
flies out ahead of the boat. You can only use it on downwind sailing,
unless you’re a lot better sailor than I am, and it’s the best pulling
power you can have when the wind’s at your back.”

“What do I have to do to help you?” Sandy asked.

“I’ll have to put it up myself,” Jerry told him. “Your job will be to
hold a steady course and to keep the sails trimmed the way they are
now.” Sandy grinned. “I won’t look around to see how other boats look
this time,” he promised. Then he sobered. “I’ll do my best to keep her
sailing right. What’ll you be doing?”

“I’ll have to drop the jib, which will lose us some speed for a minute.
Then I’ll hoist the spinnaker, with a pole to the tack—that’s the
corner—to swing it outboard to where it will catch the wind. Then—but we
can’t waste time talking about it! I’ll show you now and explain some
other time!”

Both boys took another look back, but by now the night had swallowed up
Jones’s sloop, and all they could see was the glow of the freighter,
growing rapidly smaller and fainter behind them.

“I wonder if Jones has seen that?” Sandy said. “The freighter must be
under way. They haven’t even waited for him, to see how things turn
out!”

“I’m not surprised,” Jerry said. “If Jones catches us, they don’t have
anything to worry about. And if he doesn’t ... they want to be a long
way away from here!”

Turning their attention back to their own problem, Jerry asked Sandy to
go below to the cabin’s sail locker and pull out the sail bags, but not
to light even a match. The odds were that Jones still could not see
them, and it was better to keep it that way.

“How will I know which is the spinnaker?” Sandy asked.

“We only have two sails below,” Jerry answered. “We’re flying the main
and genoa jib now. That means that the only bags will have the working
jib and the spinnaker. The working jib is the small bag, and the
spinnaker will be as heavy as the mainsail.”

In the cabin of the sloop it was as dark as it had been under the cover
of the lifeboat. Sandy groped about, searching for the sail locker,
which was forward of the mast, in the peak of the boat. Finally, after
tripping a few times, and once bumping his head badly, he felt his hands
come in contact with the brass catch that secured the locker.

Inside were several sail bags, most of them empty. He came on one that
contained a sail, but it was obviously the small working jib. Worried
now, Sandy burrowed deeper into the locker, and at last found a bag that
seemed heavier than the first. Relieved, he carried it out to the
cockpit, where Jerry was anxiously looking aft.

“Look! If you look just about four points off our stern, you can see
her!”

Sandy squinted to where Jerry had pointed, and made out a dim white
shape through the darkness, surely no more than a few hundred yards
behind them!

“They’re closing in!” Jerry said. “I’d better rig this thing as fast as
I can!”

He took the sail bag from Sandy, and crawled forward over the cabin.
Sandy anxiously handled the tiller, hoping that he was keeping the
course. Overhead, a few dim stars made points of light, and he leaned
back to line up the masthead with one of them. In his right hand, the
mainsheet felt light—too light—and he worried that he had so little
control over it. What if they were to jibe now, as they had on the first
day’s sail? What if the sails were not properly trimmed? And how could
he be sure they were? How long would it take Jones to catch up with
them? Taking his eyes for a minute from the star and the masthead, he
saw Jerry kneeling on deck, doing something with the sail. Then he
looked back to the masthead, and fixed all his attention on keeping the
boat on a steady course.

Suddenly, Jerry was back in the cockpit with him, and the sail bag,
still full, was dropped on the deck at his feet.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Sandy, was that the only heavy bag there was?” Jerry asked.

“That’s right. The only other bag was so light it must have been the
jib. What’s the matter?”

Jerry shook his head slowly. “We’re in real trouble now,” he answered.
“That’s not a spinnaker at all. It’s a spare genoa!”

“But—but I saw the bag marked spinnaker the other day!” Sandy
spluttered. “Why would Uncle Russ put a spare genoa in a bag marked for
a spinnaker?”

“He wouldn’t,” Jerry answered. “And what’s more, he didn’t. I was able
to make out the letters on the bag, and they said ‘genoa.’ Brace
yourself for a shock, buddy. I _know_ we had a spinnaker aboard. And I
know we didn’t have two jennies!”

“Do you mean we’ve done it again?” Sandy gasped.

“That’s right,” Jerry said sadly. “We goofed again, and took Jones’s
boat instead of yours!”

There was nothing to say. They turned in silence to look aft at the dim
white shape that followed them through the night, and that slowly ate
away at the distance that kept them apart.



                            CHAPTER FOURTEEN
                           Slow-Motion Chase


“What can we do now?” Sandy asked.

“Just what we’re doing,” Jerry answered mournfully. “Just sail the best
we can and hope that he won’t close in on us before we come across some
other boat.”

“Maybe Jones won’t find our spinnaker,” Sandy suggested. “If he thinks
he’s on his own boat, he knows he hasn’t got a spinnaker below, and
maybe he won’t see any reason to go poking around in our sail locker.”

“I wouldn’t bet on it,” Jerry said. “We can make a mistake like this—and
make it twice—because neither of us is really familiar with your boat.
But a good sailor like Jones knows his own boat the way he knows his own
living room. He isn’t going to be fooled the same way we were!”

“Still,” Sandy reasoned, “that’s no guarantee he’s going to go to our
sail locker, is it?”

“It’s almost a sure bet,” Jerry replied. “He’s probably got Turk looking
around now to see what kind of extra canvas we might have on board, and
when he finds that spinnaker, we can kiss our chances goodbye!”

“Well, he hasn’t found it yet,” Sandy said stubbornly. “And until he
does, there must be something we can do to get more speed out of this
boat!”

Stirring out of his gloom, Jerry trimmed the mainsheet and then the jib.
Then suddenly he brightened. “Say! I remember reading about one trick
that might help us. It’s called wing-and-winging. What you do is rig the
jib on the opposite side from the mainsail when you’ve got the wind at
your back. It’s supposed to act almost like a spinnaker.”

“Well, let’s do it!” Sandy said. “What do you want me to do?”

“You just hold the course, like before,” Jerry explained. “I’ll go
forward and re-rig. When I tell you to, you uncleat the jenny sheet, and
I’ll swing the sail around on the other side and brace it out. I’ll use
the boat hook for a whisker pole to hold it in place. Maybe this’ll turn
the trick!”

He clambered forward, and once more Sandy was left alone with the
tiller, the star and the masthead. For a few minutes he thought only of
holding the course, until he heard Jerry’s voice, “Now!”

Leaning forward, Sandy uncleated the sheet which held the genoa jib in
trim, where it had flown almost useless before the mainsail. He watched
eagerly as Jerry hauled the sail around to the windward side, lashed the
boat hook to the clew and swung the big triangle outboard. Almost
instantly, the jenny started to fill, and Sandy felt the little sloop
start forward.

Jerry quickly leaped into the cockpit and secured the sheet, trimming
the billowing sail. “It’s working!” he panted. “This may just turn the
trick!”

They listened in satisfaction to the increased sound of the waves
slipping past the sloop’s sides and muttering in the wake. They could
actually feel the difference in the motion of the boat.

“Jones has probably had his jib winged out all this time,” Jerry said.
“That’s why he’s been closing in on us so fast. Maybe this will keep the
distance the way it is until we can get ashore or get help!”

“I sure hope so!” Sandy agreed.

“Just hope he doesn’t find that spinnaker! As long as we’re both flying
the same sail area, and as long as we’re both heading downwind, there’s
not much he can do to catch us. Running before the wind this way, equal
boats with equal canvas flown in the same way will come out just about
the same. It’s on a reach, or beating against the wind that expert sail
handling really makes the difference. And I’m sure glad we’re not on
some other point of sail, because Jones would outsail us every time!”

With that thought to cheer them, the boys sailed in silence. Above them,
clouds occasionally blotted out the stars of the dark moonless night,
and it was hard to set a course by any one of them. At the helm, Jerry
steered as much by the feel of the wind on his back as by the stars he
could see.

Behind them always, never drawing any nearer, but never falling astern,
was the white blur of Jones’s canvas. It was as if the two boats were
tied together with a fixed length of cable or a rigid bar that would not
allow the gap between them to change.

The race went slowly. It was like a chase in some fantastic dream, Sandy
thought, a dream where he was running in slow motion, trying with every
ounce of strength to make his legs go faster.

But there was a difference, for here there was no exertion, no strain,
except on the nerves. Here all was, to a casual glance, peaceful and
pleasant. If any boat were to pass, all its passengers would see would
be two pretty sloops, out for a night-time sail.

Suppose another boat did come? How would they know? Then Sandy
remembered the flare pistol. He had put it on the seat when they had
come aboard! Maybe the bulky brass gun would come in handy again! He
searched the night for some sign of a boat’s running lights, but saw
only the same black sea and sky on all sides. Still, perhaps nearer
shore....

The nightmarish quality of the race increased as each moment wore on. It
seemed to Sandy that he was doomed to sail on forever, like the
legendary Flying Dutchman, never getting to shore, never getting within
hailing distance of another boat.

He strained his eyes against the darkness ahead, and then turned to look
astern at the following shape of Jones’s boat, stubbornly staying with
them at the same fixed distance. He almost wished that Jones would in
some way catch up, just to break the tension. Maybe in a fight, there
would be a chance! At least, they wouldn’t just be sitting and waiting.

As he watched, something on the pursuing sloop seemed to change. A
shimmer of white sails, then nothing.

“Jerry!” Sandy whispered, gripping his friend’s arm. “Look back there! I
thought I saw something change in his sails. I couldn’t tell for sure,
but doesn’t it seem to you that the shape is different now?”

Jerry squinted back at Jones’s boat. “I think you’re right,” he said.
“It looks as if he’s changed his sail trim some way. I wonder what he’s
got up his sleeve this time?”

“Do you think he’s found our spinnaker?” Sandy asked.

As if in answer, the white shape behind them altered once more. A new
piece was added to it—a long, flapping shape. As they watched,
fascinated and fearful, but unable to do a thing, the long white
triangle billowed out, changed into a full, taut shape and lifted high
above the deck of Jones’s boat.

“So that’s a spinnaker,” Sandy said.

“It sure is,” Jerry answered grimly. “Take a good look at it, because it
may turn out to be the last one we’ll ever see!”



                            CHAPTER FIFTEEN
                          Turn and Turn Again


As Jones’s spinnaker filled and lofted, a fresh breeze came up from
astern, tugged at the rigging, tightened the sails and sent the boys’
sloop ahead at a sharper pace.

“Feel the breeze!” Sandy said. “Maybe that’ll help us out of trouble!”

“I wouldn’t bet on it,” Jerry replied. “The same breeze is helping
Jones, and he’s got an awful big sail up to catch it!”

“Even so, Jerry,” Sandy objected, “I seem to remember you saying
something that ought to give us a chance now....”

“If you do, you’d better let me know,” Jerry said, “because I sure don’t
feel very full of ideas now.”

Sandy wrinkled his brow and strained at his memory. There seemed to be
some fact, some idea half remembered from all Jerry had told him, that
ought to help. He looked astern, and the sight of Jones’s sloop bearing
down on them and swiftly closing the gap between the two racing boats,
seemed to have just the stimulating effect he was looking for.

“I know!” he almost shouted. “Didn’t you say that we can do better on a
reach than a boat with a spinnaker can do downwind?”

“That’s right,” Jerry said doubtfully. “But we have to sail a downwind
course to get to shore.”

“Well, what’s your hurry?” Sandy asked. “Why don’t we put off going
ashore just now? I mean, if we take off on a reach, maybe we can lose
Jones in the dark before he can change sails to follow us. If we can
just put some distance between us, we can head back for shore later!”

Jerry clapped Sandy on the shoulder and shouted, “You’re right!” Then he
looked back at Jones’s boat, clear in shape, but not in detail. “I wish
I could see how he has his spinnaker sheeted, but I can’t make it out.
Still, let’s just take a chance.” He looked at Sandy in admiration.
“Boy, you’re sure catching on fast! That was a real racing sailor’s
idea!”

Carefully selecting the best course to give their boat the most speed
and to lose the least time in putting about, Jerry instructed Sandy.

“We’re going to jibe,” he said, “but don’t worry. This is going to be
deliberate, not accidental. It’s the accidental jibes that wreck the
rigging. We’re going to put about this way so’s not to waste time
shifting the genoa jib to the other side. As soon as I’ve got that
whisker pole ready to come off, we’ll do it.”

He went forward, and after a moment’s work, quickly returned to the
cockpit. “Ready now,” Jerry said. “I’ll take the tiller and you take the
mainsheet. As I start to put about, you haul in on the sheet, until the
boom is right over the keel of the boat. Then I’ll put her hard over,
and you let the sail out evenly on the other side until I say stop. Got
it?”

Sandy wasn’t sure, but he figured that this was no time for more
detailed instruction on the art of the deliberate jibe. Holding the
mainsheet, and his breath, he silently hoped that he knew what he was
doing. One mistake now—the wrong kind of jibe, that could wreck the
rigging—would surely put them back in Jones’s hands.

He watched Jerry carefully, and, following his instructions, started to
haul in on the mainsheet. It came very lightly and easily. Remembering
the terrific force of the jibe on the first day’s sailing, though, Sandy
knew enough not to be fooled by appearances. He shortened the sheet so
that he would not be taken unawares when the wind caught the mainsail on
its new tack.

A few seconds of hauling and shortening brought the mainsail directly
over the center of the boat, with the sheet securing it tightly against
the dangerous sudden jibe. Then, as Jerry brought the sloop about hard
on her new course, the wind took the sail. The boat heeled far over,
leaning its lee side into the waves through which they were cutting with
a new speed.

Sandy held hard to the sheet, the pull of which was almost cutting his
hand. The load of wind in the taut sail transmitted its strength to the
sheet, and became a hauling, tug-of-war enemy.

“Let her out!” Jerry shouted. “More! More! Okay ... hold her there!”
Sandy felt some of the pull lessen as he allowed the sail to swing
farther out over the side. “Good,” Jerry said. “Now take the tiller—hold
everything as it is—while I free the jenny and trim it properly.”

Sandy, the mainsheet wound tightly about his right hand, took the tiller
in his left, while Jerry went forward to do his job. He was burning with
eagerness to look back to see how their maneuver had affected Jones, but
he didn’t dare. He had too much to think about to take his eyes away
even for a second from his own work of sailing. This was the first time
he had handled both the tiller and mainsheet and it was really the first
time he had actually handled the boat. There was a new sense of command
now and of real control. The feel of the boat was complete. It almost
seemed alive. His hands told him how a change of rudder position worked
a change on the sail, or how a shift of the mainsail, a few inches in or
out, affected the pull on the helm.

In a few minutes, Jerry was back in the cockpit, trimming the genoa
sheet and setting the sail in its best shape ahead of and overlapping
the mainsail. When all was made fast, he took the tiller from Sandy once
more, and the boys were at last free to look back.

What they saw was not encouraging. As they had expected, the change of
course had increased the distance between them and Jones, but the
distance was not great enough to take them out of sight. A few minutes
of looking revealed that they were not likely to outdistance Jones on
this tack any more than they had on the downwind run.

“How come we can’t beat him?” Sandy asked. “He surely hasn’t had time to
get his spinnaker down and his genoa up, has he?”

“He didn’t have to,” Jerry answered. “He’s using his spinnaker now as if
it were a genoa. It’s a good stunt. What he did was to bring the
spinnaker pole forward and lash it to the deck, so that it made a kind
of bowsprit. Then he sheeted the sail flat. It makes a powerful sail
that way.”

“What if he wants to go on the opposite tack?” Sandy asked. “How can he
put about?”

Jerry grinned. “I think you’ve done it again, Skipper,” he said. “That’s
the best question you’ve asked all night!”

“What do you mean?” Sandy asked, puzzled.

“I mean that he can’t put about on the other tack without an awful lot
of trouble. We can, and we will, and with luck we’ll lose him that way!”

This time the maneuver was a familiar one of bringing the sloop up into
the wind, shifting the genoa jib and coming off the wind to the new
tack. It was performed smoothly, both boys working like an experienced
crew.

On the new tack, they looked about once more for Jones’s following
sloop. As they had hoped, the strange zigzag they had described had left
him far astern, but still in sight. Even as they watched, they saw Jones
drop his spinnaker and re-rig it on the new tack. Once more, he was in
pursuit!

“I’ve never seen anyone handle sails that well,” Jerry said in unwilling
admiration.

“Do you think we can outmaneuver him?” Sandy asked.

“Well, we might keep up the sort of thing we’ve been doing,” Jerry
answered. “If we keep changing tacks, we can probably keep him out of
close shooting range all night. Then, by morning, we can hope to see
some other boats and maybe get help. There’s only one thing wrong with
that plan, though.”

“I know,” Sandy offered. “We’re all right as long as we don’t make any
mistakes. But the minute we goof on one maneuver, we lose the race!
Right?”

“Right,” Jerry said. “Still, I don’t see what else we can do but try. We
haven’t got much choice.” As they sailed on in silence, Sandy reviewed
their situation. The trouble with their plan was a simple one. They had
to do a perfect job of sailing, and he doubted whether they were up to
it. All Jones had to do was follow their maneuvers, and when they made
their first mistake, he would close in. There was no hope, he could see,
in waiting for Jones to make the first mistake himself. The man was too
good for that.

If only they could find some new way to take the initiative, things
might work out, Sandy thought. This cat-and-mouse game couldn’t possibly
do any good. Besides, even if they could hold out till day-light, there
was no guarantee that they would get help from any other boat before
Jones could finish the job. After all, lack of light was all that was
preventing Jones from firing at them now. When morning came, it would
most likely be accompanied by a hail of shots!

The more Sandy thought, the less it seemed that they could find a way
out of their desperate straits. Then his gloomy thoughts were
interrupted by Jerry.

“Got any more ideas?” he asked. “I know it’s my turn to think up a good
one, but I can’t seem to come up with a thing.”

“I don’t know,” Sandy answered. “It seems to me though, that we’re going
to have to do something really different now if we’re going to get back
to shore in one piece!”

Then he suddenly sat up straighter, pushing back his blond forelock.
“Jerry! I think I have an idea!”

“What is it?” Jerry asked eagerly.

“It may sound crazy, but I want to go back on a downwind course again!”

Jerry looked puzzled. “A downwind course? Sandy, we don’t have a chance
that way! That’s the way we were sailing when Jones first started after
us, and with his spinnaker in place, he’ll have us in no time!”

“I know,” Sandy said, “but I have an idea that might work this time. I
want Jones to get close—real close—to try this!”

Jerry shook his head. “It sounds nutty to me,” he said, “but if you
think you’ve got something that’ll work, I’m game. Just tell me
what....”

“Not now, Jerry,” Sandy cut him off. “Let’s just change course while I
work out the details. If we don’t do this now, I might lose my nerve!”

“I’ll do it,” Jerry agreed, shaking his head doubtfully from side to
side. “But what worries me isn’t that you might lose your nerve. I’m
afraid that you’ve already lost your mind!”



                            CHAPTER SIXTEEN
                          The End of the Race


It was still pitch-dark on the Pacific, miles off Cliffport, but Sandy
saw a dim, gray smear of light in the east that told him dawn was not
too far off. Dawn—and the shots it would bring from Jones and Turk!

If his plan didn’t work now, it would never work, he knew. This was to
be really a one-shot try! But better to try, he felt, than to tack
aimlessly back and forth, waiting for Jones to close in.

Almost mechanically, Sandy helped Jerry put the sloop about on her new
course before the wind. Once again the genoa jib was held out
wing-and-wing with the boat hook, and once again the mainsheet exercised
only a light pull in his hand. With everything set, Sandy and Jerry
turned their attention to the sloop behind them.

The pursuing white sails shone dimly through the darkness as Jones
followed them in their course. His spinnaker, released from its duty as
a genoa, was once more flying full and round before him, taking
advantage of every puff of wind at his back. It was a foregone
conclusion that he would catch them now, unless they were even faster
than before in putting about on some new tack.

Jerry could not stand the suspense a moment longer. “Sandy, what are you
going to do?” he cried. “Whatever it is, if we don’t do it now, we’re
goners!”

“Not yet,” Sandy muttered. “He’s got to get closer!”

“If he gets any closer, he’s going to start shooting,” Jerry replied.
“What do we do then?”

“We’ve got to be ready for it,” Sandy answered. “I expect him to shoot,
and I expect him to start pretty soon. In fact, we’d better get down as
far as possible right now!”

Both boys sat together on the cockpit deck, Jerry awkwardly steering and
Sandy holding the mainsheet in his left hand. “You steer, Jerry,” he
said. “I’m going to turn around so I can keep an eye on Jones. I expect
the fireworks to start any minute now!”

“I can do without the entertainment,” Jerry said. Then he added once
more, “Boy, I sure hope you know what you’re doing! If you don’t....”
His voice trailed off.

Half kneeling, Sandy crouched by the stern seat, keeping as much under
cover as possible. Over the edge of the afterdeck he saw Jones’s sloop,
closer now than it had been ever since their fantastic race had begun.
For some reason, Jones was holding back, not closing in as fast as he
had been before. Sandy knew that he must be puzzled, and trying to
figure out what their next move would be. His success depended on
outthinking them as much as it did on outsailing them, and his skill lay
largely in his ability to guess what maneuver the boys were going to try
next. This time, Sandy thought, he must really be baffled. No one in his
right mind would try to escape as they were doing!

For minutes that seemed like hours, the chase continued with Jones
making no effort to advance. Then, Sandy realized, Jones made up his
mind to attack. His sails were trimmed fuller, his spinnaker lofted
higher, and a white bow wave broke out to signify Jones’s new speed.
There wasn’t much time left now before things would start popping!

By now, less than one hundred yards separated the two boats. Not much
more distance, Sandy thought, than a target range. Still, it wasn’t
quite close enough....

A shot! As they heard the crack of the pistol, the whine of the bullet
passed overhead! Another shot—another—and a piece of the coaming
splintered off uncomfortably close to Sandy’s ear!

Jones’s boat surged on, preceded by a rain of shots. Now less than fifty
yards of water were between them! More shots followed, mostly going
through the sails. With a _thunk_, one hit the hull—another gouged up
the deck—a third hit the tiller, not six inches from Jerry’s hand.

Jerry’s face looked white as he craned his neck to look up at his
friend. “Whatever you’re planning, I wish you’d tell me now,” he said.
“Because I may not be around to see the big moment when it comes!”

“You’ll be here,” Sandy said, “because the big moment is now! Turn
around with me and watch Jones’s boat. If this works, it’s going to be
something worth watching!”

As Jerry changed his position, he saw for the first time that Sandy had
the big brass flare gun in his hand! He was cocking it carefully, and
keeping an eye on Jones’s sloop which seemed to be almost ready to ram
them. Lying flat on the foredeck of the pursuing boat, they could
clearly see the figure of Turk, hurriedly reloading his pistol.

“You’re not going to try to shoot him with that?” Jerry said. “Those
things are way too inaccurate! You won’t stand a chance!”

“Not him,” Sandy said. “It!” He steadied the flare gun on the edge of
the afterdeck and squinted down its length, aiming at the spinnaker!

Seeing now what Sandy was attempting, Jerry crouched beside him and held
his breath. Sandy waited till almost the last possible minute until,
just as Turk was raising his pistol to fire once more, he released the
flare.

A dazzling arc of fire leaped from the brass muzzle straight for the
bellying spinnaker! It landed in a shower of sparks, bright enough to
show them Turk’s astonished face turned upward to see what had hit them.
The shot had hit squarely in the center of the ballooning sail, burning
a small, red-ringed hole which slowly spread.

Would this be all? Just a spreading ring of coals that would die in a
minute or two? If this was all, it was not enough! Then, just as Sandy
was beginning to fear that he had made a mistake that might well cost
them everything, the sail burst into flame!

The column of fire shot straight upward into the blackness of the night,
vividly illuminating both boats. In its brilliant light, the boys saw
Turk stand up, black against the flames, then leap overboard.

“One down!” Sandy said. “But what about Jones?”

As the flaming spinnaker spread its fire to the mainsail and the mast,
they saw Jones rise in the cockpit, level his rifle and shoot. Six shots
rang out in quick succession, and all six whizzed harmlessly by. Then
Jones flung his empty gun into the sea and turned his attention to the
fire.

Jerry and Sandy sailed slowly away from the flaming scene, and then
started to sail in a circle around it, still watching Jones. He had
gotten a bucket from below, and was throwing sea water, as fast as he
could scoop it up, over the burning and the unburned parts of the sloop.
The fire was gaining though, and his efforts were obviously doomed to
failure.

“If he hadn’t been so busy shooting when the fire started,” Jerry said,
“he would have stood a good chance of putting it out. The delay is going
to sink him!”

Jones worked feverishly until the last possible moment, until the decks
and the cabin were aflame, and the fire had spread to the little
cockpit. Finally, when it was obvious that there was no more he could
do, he kicked off his shoes and jumped over the side.

“What do we do now?” Sandy asked. “We can’t just leave them there to
drown. They probably deserve it, but I don’t think it’s up to us to
judge what kind of sentence they get.”

“You’re right,” Jerry agreed. “But if we take them aboard, we won’t
stand much of a chance against them. Why don’t we try to find them and
toss them a couple of life jackets so they can stay afloat while we make
up our minds?”

It was no trouble to find Turk, who came swimming up to the side to beg
to be taken aboard. Sandy kept the empty flare pistol aimed at him while
Jerry looked for the life jackets. When he had found them, he tossed one
over the side, and Turk struggled into it. Then, still frightened of the
flare gun which he did not know was empty, he held up his hands tamely
to allow Jerry to tie them together.

“Now will ya lemme come on board?” he pleaded.

“I don’t think so,” Sandy answered. “I think you’ll be safer at the end
of a long line. Just relax, and we’ll tow you back to shore!”

With Turk in tow, the sloop handled rather sluggishly as the boys
circled the scene of the fire searching for Jones. The bright light of
the flames had died to a glowing, dull orange which was soon to go out
altogether as the sloop settled lower and lower in the water.

“What we need is a searchlight,” Jerry said. “We may never find him
unless he swims to us the way Turk did!”

“Listen!” Sandy said. “If I’m not mistaken, I hear a searchlight coming
now!”

Turning in the direction of the new sound of powerful marine motors,
they were met with a bright searchlight beam, which swept from them to
the burning sloop and back again. For the first time since their
adventure had started, Sandy felt a genuine feeling of relief, as the
Coast Guard cutter reversed its engines and came to a neat stop
alongside.



                           CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
                           Another Discovery


With the arrival of the Coast Guard, the problem of finding Jones solved
itself. He quickly realized the hopelessness of his position and swam in
from the darkness toward the cutter and the sloop, tamely giving himself
up.

It was only after he and Turk had both been taken on board the Coast
Guard vessel and placed under guard that the captain of the cutter,
Lieutenant Ames, started to ask the necessary questions.

He listened, absorbed in the story, until Sandy had finished talking.
Then he sighed. “That’s quite a yarn, boys. It sounds pretty wild. For
your sakes, I hope that you can show some evidence to back it up.
Otherwise, all we have is your word. Now, your word may be good enough
for me—” he held up a hand to forestall Sandy’s objections—“but it’s
going to take more than that to make a charge of counterfeiting stick in
a court of law.”

“We’ve _got_ more than that!” Sandy said angrily. “We can show you the
island, and unless I miss my guess, we’ll find Jones’s counterfeiting
presses there!”

“I hope so,” Lieutenant Ames said. “Meanwhile, since you’ve made charges
against these men, I’ll hold them in custody until we get ashore. Then
I’ll turn them and the whole case over to the FBI, where it belongs.”

His official statement done, Lieutenant Ames relaxed into a boyish grin.
“You can get those scowls off your faces now,” he said. “I just wanted
you to realize that we’ve got to have good, solid proof before this
business is over with. As for me, I believe your story, and I think the
FBI will, too.”

“I’m not too worried about proving our story about Jones and Turk,”
Sandy said. “But what worries me is how we’re going to get the
freighter, now that it’s out of U.S. coastal waters.”

“The Navy will take care of them,” Lieutenant Ames said. “But that
reminds me, you didn’t tell me the name of the freighter, and we’ll need
to radio that to the Navy right away.”

“I noticed the name on the lifeboat,” Jerry said. “It was the _Mary N.
Smith_, from Weymouth.”

“No!” Sandy said. “You must have gotten it mixed up in the darkness. I
saw it clear as day on the stern. It was the _Martin South_ from
Yarmouth!”

“I’m sure I had it right,” Jerry said. “I remember thinking to myself
that it was a pretty innocent, girlish name for such a dirty freighter!”

“Maybe you’re both right,” Lieutenant Ames said. “It sounds to me as if
both names have a lot in common. They probably have a set of phony
papers under each name—and maybe under three or four more names that
sound a lot like those. That way, all they have to do is paint out and
change a few letters after each port, instead of having the whole job to
do. It allows them to make quick shifts of identity.”

“It also lets them explain that they were picked up because of an
accidental similarity of names, in case of trouble,” Jerry put in. “I
wonder what name they’re using now,” he added.

“That’s pretty easy to guess,” the Coast Guard officer said. “If I were
changing names after leaving a port, I’d paint the bow and stern while I
was at anchor, and leave the lifeboats and other things for when I was
at sea. My guess is that we’ll find them sailing as the _Martin South_
from Yarmouth.”

“Unless,” Sandy added, “unless they decided to change it to something
else while at sea, after the trouble. After all, they have no idea
whether Jones got us or we got him, and they’ll probably be expecting to
get picked up.”

“Well, we won’t take any chances,” Ames said. “I’ll radio the Navy now
to be on the lookout for any freighter with a name anything like _Martin
South_ or _Mary N. Smith_. And if I know those boys, we’ll have a report
on them within the next few hours!”

After giving his instructions to the radio operator, Ames decided it was
time to head for shore and turn over Jones, Turk and the boys to the
FBI. It was decided to take the sloop in tow behind the cutter, and
Sandy went over the side to find a towing line to hand up to the
cutter’s deck.

“Come on over with me,” Sandy said, “and I’ll show you some of the
bullet holes we’re carrying. They ought to help support our story!”

Lieutenant Ames followed Sandy over the side and joined him on the deck
of the little sloop, where he examined the holes in the sail and the
furrows in the deck and the coamings. “They sure came close!” he said.
“You’re pretty lucky to be here in one piece now.” He ran his finger
thoughtfully along a deep scar in the coaming near where Sandy’s head
had been, and whistled low when he saw the splintered spot on the
tiller.

Lieutenant Ames followed Sandy below in search of the spare mooring
line. (The original one had been left dangling from the deck of the
freighter.) He stood stooped over in the low cabin, surveying the trim
accommodations. At last, Sandy found a line that would do, stowed away
up forward with the anchor.

Joining Ames in the cabin, he pointed to the locker above the compact
galley. “There’s where we found the money when we went looking for the
canned food,” he said. “It was filled up all the way to here,” he
indicated, sliding back the locker door.

“What do you mean, _was_?” the Coast Guard officer asked with a gasp.
The open locker door revealed the stacked counterfeit, untouched, just
as the boys had first seen it!

“Whew!” Sandy sighed. “Well, I guess _that_ takes care of our case
against Jones!”

As they towed the sloop back to Cliffport, heading into the bright
colors of a Pacific sunrise, they pieced together what must have
happened.

“From what we overheard on the freighter,” Sandy said, “Jones and the
freighter captain were both dissatisfied with the original deal they had
made for the counterfeit money. Jones wanted more for the stuff, because
of the risk he had run with us and because of the added chances he was
taking if we disappeared from Cliffport. A local investigation of our
disappearance might turn up someone who had seen us near his island.”

“Right,” Jerry added. “And the Captain wanted a larger share than usual
for himself because of the risk he was running in getting rid of us for
Jones. They bargained about it for a long time.”

Lieutenant Ames nodded. “And Jones wasn’t taking any chances by bringing
the money on board until his deal had been settled. He must have been
going for it when you saw him and the Captain shaking hands on deck. And
the reason he was so desperate when he saw you sailing off was that he
knew you were not only escaping, but escaping with the evidence!”

“I guess it’s not always a bad thing,” Sandy laughed, “to make the same
mistake twice!”



                            CHAPTER EIGHTEEN
                             Homeward Bound


Three days later, the case ended where it had really begun—back in the
Cliffport Boat Yard. Only this time, Sandy and Jerry picked their way
over the timbers and rails with Lieutenant Ames instead of with Sandy’s
Uncle Russ.

“I guess you boys are glad this is all over,” he said. “I suppose you’re
all set for your trip home now?”

“We sure are,” Jerry said. “We just need to buy a few things, and we’re
ready.”

“It was sure nice of the FBI to let us have Jones’s sloop as part of the
reward,” Sandy added. “I felt pretty bad when I saw my boat on fire. I
was sure that if we ever got back to shore, we’d be taking the train
home!”

“There was no sense in keeping it,” Ames said. “Not even for evidence.
We had all the evidence we needed with that bundle of counterfeit
money—and even more than that, with the printing press and the plates we
found at Jones’s little resort. And everyone agreed that you ought to
have it.”

They walked along the sea wall until they reached the corner of the
shed, where Lieutenant Ames suddenly stopped. “As long as you’re
thanking the FBI for the boat,” he said, “I think you might as well
thank the Coast Guard too!”

“Well, of course,” Sandy said, puzzled. “I only meant that it was the
FBI who really had title to it, and they were the ones who decided.... I
mean, we’re grateful to you all.”

Ames laughed. “I don’t want to keep you in the dark,” he said. “The FBI
gave you the boat, all right, but we decided to pitch in a little, too.
Look!”

They turned the corner of the boat-yard shed. In front of them, resting
in a high cradle, was the sloop, freshly painted and gleaming in the
sun, her sides as smooth as glass.

After both boys had thanked Lieutenant Ames profusely, Jerry asked, “How
did you ever get so much done in just three days?”

“Oh, that’s the Coast Guard way with boats,” Ames said and he laughed.
“A whole gang of the boys decided to go to work on her, and we did in
three days what would take most boat yards a week or two. It started
when we decided to fix up the bullet scars, and it just didn’t stop
until we had finished the whole thing!”

Climbing to the deck, they inspected the newly painted cabin and
cockpit, the freshly varnished coamings and mast, the almost invisible
repairs on the decks.

“We’ll have her launched within the next hour,” Lieutenant Ames said.
“Why don’t you go into town to buy whatever you need in the meanwhile?
It shouldn’t take you too long to get stores for a short trip.”

“That’s a good idea,” Sandy said. “But we’re going to need more than the
regular stores. I’m going to spend some of that reward money right away
on a new spinnaker. That’s one thing I’ve decided never to be without
again!”

“Not only that,” Jerry added, “but we want to get some more shells for
the flare pistol. I don’t think I’ll ever feel comfortable without that
on board!”

“There’s something else, too,” Sandy said. “I think we ought to think up
a name for this boat right away, and pick up some brass letters for the
stern. I don’t want to keep on making mistakes!”

Ames joined in the laughter, then said, “That’s one thing I think you
don’t have to do. That is, unless you don’t like the name the Coast
Guard picked out for you!”

Rushing to the stern, Sandy and Jerry leaned over to see the shiny brass
letters screwed to the counter of their sloop. Looked at upside down,
they spelled:

                                 REWARD


                        SANDY STEELE ADVENTURES

                           1. BLACK TREASURE

Sandy Steele and Quiz spend an action-filled summer in the oil fields of
the Southwest. In their search for oil and uranium, they unmask a
dangerous masquerader.

                      2. DANGER AT MORMON CROSSING

On a hunting trip in the Lost River section of Idaho, Sandy and Mike
ride the rapids, bag a mountain lion, and stumble onto the answer to a
hundred-year-old mystery.

                            3. STORMY VOYAGE

Sandy and Jerry James ship as deck hands on one of the “long boats” of
the Great Lakes. They are plunged into a series of adventures and find
themselves involved in a treacherous plot.

                          4. FIRE AT RED LAKE

Sandy and his friends pitch in to fight a forest fire in Minnesota. Only
they and Sandy’s uncle know that there is an unexploded A-bomb in the
area to add to the danger.

                      5. SECRET MISSION TO ALASKA

A pleasant Christmas trip turns into a startling adventure. Sandy and
Jerry participate in a perilous dog-sled race, encounter a wounded bear,
and are taken as hostages by a ruthless enemy.

                           6. TROUBLED WATERS

When Sandy and Jerry mistakenly sail off in a stranger’s sloop instead
of their own, they land in a sea of trouble. Their attempts to
outmaneuver a desperate crew are intertwined with fascinating sailing
lore.

PUBLISHED BY SIMON AND SCHUSTER



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber’s note:

--Copyright notice provided as in the original—this e-text is public
  domain in the country of publication.

--Silently corrected apparent typographical errors; left non-standard
  spellings and dialect unchanged.

--In the original, the last word in the text was printed upside down.





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