Write a story set in the Golden Age of Piracy where a captain and his crew, after a series of intense battles with Spanish galleons, find themselves facing a powerful storm. Explore the captain’s thoughts, the crew’s reactions, and the harrowing experience of facing the wrath of both man and nature.
The Spanish Main was known for its silver and gold. The coast is a graveyard of ships, all from different times and places, each trying to carry their riches through this unfathomable weather. The waves were known to dwarf even the largest of ships that travelled in that part of the world.
Hearing the water crash against the side of the ship never ceases to bring me peace of mind, as we lay anchored in the harbour waiting to resupply with munitions and provisions from the local harbour master.
I told the crew I wished not to be disturbed for the next few hours. I open my windows to hear the soft caws of gulls and crashing of the waves upon the hull of the ship and the sight of a storm brewing off in the distance, the combination gave some semblance of peace and quiet. All of us are far away from the places we used to call home. We have made many scores in our journeys along the Main; we have had many close calls and lost many good men along the way, but this is the life we live, there is always a cost for absolute freedom. The distant rumbling of the thunderclouds brings me back to reality. The peace I sought out was short-lived.
“Captain. Captain! You’d best get out here now” said Wade Scott, my first mate as he burst through my door, he was short of breath.
“What is it that is so important that you had to disturb me?”
“Our boys are coming back.”
“They aren’t due back for another couple of hours.”
They yelled something that could not be heard over the sound of the ocean and the men working the docks.
“Did they just say something?” I said as I turned to Scott.
“The Spanish are here,” said one of the supply crew.
“Oh, bloody hell. All hands on deck. Make ready to weigh anchor, lest you want to dance the hempen jig“. As our last man made it to the ship I gave the order to cast off and make for the Open Ocean. I turn to those that just come aboard “What in God’s name happened down there?”
“Well, we were on our way to pick up the supplies you ordered. When we arrived at the market, we were faced with four Spaniards, they seemed to know we would be docking at this particular port. One made a move for his sword, so I shot him dead, and well you know the rest.”
“You had better hope for your sake that they don’t pursue us,” I said. We rounded the cove in order to make it to the open waters, “You three return to your stations”
“Captain! Two Spanish galleons off the port bow” came a call from the Crow’s nest.
“God dammit. All hands to battle stations” I said. Our ship’s cannons fire a warning blast. The explosion rocks the nearby Spanish ship. The Spanish drew ever closer. Musket balls fly. Grenades explode. A wounded helmsman staggers. He lets go of the ship’s wheel and a Spanish Galleon swings around wildly. “Bring us about and prepare to fire a broadside.”
Our ship converged upon the wayward galleon always sure to never allow the other ship to gain an advantage. We closed in, “Fire on my mark…hold…hold…Now” I said, and the words “fire” spread across the ship. Thunder cracking in the hull. The galleon’s side was ripped apart and its innards were gutted, they still had enough guns to return fire. Our hull was far stronger than theirs and their attack did little damage.
“Use a chain shot to bring down their masts”. The chain shots were loaded and fired. The first rounds missed their target. “Again”. The second had more luck bringing down two of the three masts. All that could be heard was the creak, snapping of the rigging and smashing of glass. Thick grey smoke began to rise from the galleon. Men scream as they rush to put out the blaze. A plume of flame explodes into the air; glowing embers leap and dance into the sky like small gleeful friends. These men were no longer in the fight.
To our dismay, the second galleon had made her way around to our rear while we had our eyes focused on another prey. There came several loud booms off to our rear. Cannonballs ruptured the walls of my cabin behind me, spraying debris in all directions. We had no time to find our feet before another barrage of cannon fire made contact with the rear of our ship. “Bring us about and return fire”.
During the time it took our ship to turn around; we were hit with several barrages of cannon fire, each doing more damage than the last. “Return fire,” I said, just as we were hit by more cannon fire. “Fire”. The side of the ship was covered in smoke and flashes of light from the firing of our cannons. The hull of this Spanish galleon was at another level of strength compared to the others we have faced. An almost blinding light burst at the side of the ship. I was sent flying from the blast wave. My ears ring. Everything began to slow down around me. A warm sensation gathered around my shoulder. I look around and through the haze of smoke and debris, I see men rushing about. The smell of burnt flesh and black powder sting my nose.
“Captain. Captain.” Said the helmsman bringing me back to reality. Blood is flowing freely to the deck from a gash in my shoulder. “Captain, I must stop this bleeding”. He wrapped my shoulder and set me against the forward railing. The last galleon circles us, like a shark savouring the meal to come. It was at this time Scott came running up to me with a grave look about him.
“Captain. We’ve run out of powder”. An eerie silence set over the crew. A volley of cannon fire ripped into the side of the ship, shredding the side railing, sending splinters in every direction. Men scatter to and fro, blood seeped to the floor of the deck.
“What are your orders?” said Scott
We have three choices. One, to surrender. Two, to fight to the death. Or three, to flee through the storm, I thought.
“Helmsman, you are relieved of your position. I shall be taking the helm. Men batten down the hatches.”
“God this can’t be good. Captain, please tell me you’re not thinking of doing anything insane.”
“That depends on two things my boy, do you wish to live another day or die on this one.”
“I would prefer to live.”
“Well then if you wish to live, we will be taking our chances with the storm, and hope that the sea will be merciful with our souls. Get the wounded below deck, a storm is no place for the wounded and unable.”
The air becomes thick with salt, carried along by anunyielding gale. The storm clouds began to move overhead, blocking out the bright sun. The shadows slowly swallow up the last of the rays of light and with it all hope of certainty. Thunder cracks through the air; the rain begins to ferociously pour from the heavens. The waves around us grow so large that the ship becomes overshadowed. We are riding up and down the swelling of the sea, as though we are some little child’s toy being held at their mercy.
The Spanish could no longer be seen through the storm, but we had more pressing worries around us. “Captain there is large amounts of water entering through the breach on our port side” screamed Scott; his voice was nearly lost on the wind.
“Find a way to patch the hole or else we’ll be finding ourselves in Davy Jones’ locker before long.”
We would receive no mercy in that wind, no grace in those waves, only wrath and tempest. It was as if the gods were punishing us for all our misdeeds. We felt like we were in the cold clutches of death itself, the rain stabs our faces like icy knives.
The cold wind laced with shards of rain batters our faces. The boards on the deck began to creak, and the sails began to flail uncontrollably, as though they had been possessed by some unknown entity.
“Captain there is nothing to patch up the hole, all of our usable materials have all been destroyed. We will not survive much longer in this storm.”
“I had feared as much. She will be lost soon; I fear we will go with her.”
A loud rumbling began in the middle of the ship, so deep that it seemed to drown out all other noises. Loud cracking noises begin to resonate within the wood. I soon realise it was the main mast coming apart from the central deck.
The mast begins to fall and with it all the rigging and sail, like the trees in the forest where I grew up. It plunges into the side of the ship, widening the already large hole. All seems lost. The men begin to cry “Abandon ship”. All hands abandon ship but me. I was not about to leave the ship that I had fought so hard to keep. The ship sank at a rate faster than I thought a ship could plunge into the deep. It was like Davy Jones was pulling us to his door.
I should never have docked in the harbour. Then none of this would have happened. We would join the graveyard along the coast and become lost in history.