sandy beach with palm tree in front of blue waters with sailboat

Adventures of a Modern Pirate: June 2020

Despite the beauty of Rum Cay that lay before us, we could not ignore Mother Nature and her abrupt changes as there was a noticeable shift with the winds. The dark night had overtaken the island and became pitch black and blacker with each passing minute. Without warning, the winds became tangible, with a chill. 

My uncle asked for rum. I took a quick sip and handed him the bottle and restocked the dwindling fire with fresh sticks. We had talked long, and the conversation was beginning to languish; the smoke had gotten into the sleeping bags and the rum had gotten into our brains, which became plucky and made lips move. 

“There is three times more ocean on the earth than there is land,” my uncle started. “It can be full of danger and mysterious things happen. Countless ships have vanished without a trace over the centuries, taking their crew with them. Hell, even Lloyd’s of London keeps detailed records of over 4,000 missing ships. There is one lost ship that was thought to have reappeared, albeit very briefly. On August 24,1927, the Columbia, a schooner from Massachusetts, vanished. On January 1,1928, the fishing trawler Ventosa caught her nets on something heavy near Sable Island.”

His eyes were distant and glazed. As he continued, I found myself being creeped out as the winds grew stronger and the temperature dropped. 

“Pulling up the steel cables, they were surprised to find the Columbia hanging from the winch at the stern. Her masts were still intact, the deck covered in mud and seaweed, and there was a grotesque corpse shackled to the helm. The captain of the Ventosa and his crew stared at their catch, fearful and with superstitious angst. It swayed back and forth for all to see, when suddenly, the cables snapped and the Columbia sank back down to her watery grave.” 

Being a young, impressionable 15-year-old, my mind did a fantastic job of portraying the grotesque corpse with a microbe of ghostly images. No longer was I in paradise but in my own pusillanimous despair. 

A squall came howling from the north, catching our fire and dousing it out. I looked out and saw the waves raise to the stars as my heart sank. Expeditiously, we shoved everything into our backpacks and hunkered down in our sleeping bags behind a cluster of palm trees. 

I wished for paradise to return, but somewhere behind me, I heard my uncle snoring away. 

Gotta get back to my coconut concoctions . . .

This column is part of an ongoing story of tales from the past that continues each month. Read Josh’s previous columns here:

To read more about Josh’s new novel, click here!

Joshua MacLeod is a NSB local and a Florida native. He is the author of Savage Tango and Chasing Latitudes. He lives with his dogs, Durango, Higgins and Oscar.

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