Tales from the Crow’s Nest – Ship Story: The Nautilus, a Gift from the Gods
Welcome to our inaugural post of Tales from the Crow’s Nest.
The Colorado Rogue’s are a fleet of “ships” which each have their own unique voice and story to tell.
Today we will be presenting one of those stories for your enjoyment. This will be the first in the series of, “Ships of the Fleet”.
We hope you like it. And a huge Thank YOU to the Captain and Crew of The Nautilus for sharing their story with us all. Next week, in addition to our Friday article we will be posting up favorite recipes people have donated in preparation of Thanksgiving.
Mistress of the Twiztedsails and Editor of Tales from the Crow’s Nest
The Nautilus: a Gift from the Gods
We’ve always had a strong crew, with an undying common love for the sea, our ship, her Captain and her crew. We served loyally for years under our beloved Captain Moon, and rarely was a ship known that was stronger. The Rising, as with all the ships in the Fleet, was no ordinary ship. She possessed an independent spirit — some might even say a soul. This soul grew up knowing the love of her crew, but most of all the love and care of her first Captain. But after many early successes at piracy and a long period of rest at anchor in the Harbour, the time eventually came for Captain Moon to retire and her First Mate Lorrance Ohm to take over as her new Captain.
Captain Ohm was a strong leader and the crew was as happy and content as we’ve ever been. But we were eager to return to the open sea. Captain Ohm shared this desire, and ordered the crew to prepare for a short 3-day sail to test the Rising’s seaworthiness before committing her to longer voyages throughout the Caribbean.
Four weeks later, on a bright mid-summer morning, we raised anchor and sailed out of the Harbour for our trip around Eilean er Coayl Grayse, pleased to once again see it from the sea. But the sight was short-lived. I’d forgotten just how much of the island was masked by that ring of impenetrable fog, and we soon sailed through the veil. Vast swaths of the shoreline were absolutely invisible, even through our best spyglass, and even though we knew it was there. The surrealism of the place made it no challenge to imagine that the supposed curse about the island was true — that no one could find this place unless they’d already been here.
It didn’t take long for Captain Ohm to sense that the ship wasn’t responding to her home upon the sea as she once had. She was oft slow to respond to adjustments in both rigging and in helm. It was as if her soul didn’t want to leave the Harbour or distance herself too far from her first Captain. By the second day, we found ourselves in treacherous waters along the south side of the island. Despite our best efforts and long-tested skills, we could not keep her heading straight and true. The good Captain came to worry that to take her through the rocky passages ahead would only end in disaster. And so it came to pass that Captain Ohm called for the Rising to reverse course and return immediately back to the Harbour. Though we were disappointed, all of the crew understood the need.
Immediately upon her return to the Harbour, Captain Ohm ordered that the Rising be careened for repairs, as it was evident to him that she was not seaworthy in her current condition. New masts, new rudder, new sails and rigging, fresh pitch and paint throughout, barnacles scraped, and new cannon installed. We were running low on the plunder in our hold and must set sail again soon if we were to continue to live in the style to which we’d grown accustomed. Each member of the crew understood the repairs needed would take time, strength and patience, but we were looking forward to a rejuvenated ship, Captain and crew. Per Captain’s orders, we would have the work done before Christmas when he would rejoin us after some much needed quiet time by himself for reflection and focus in preparing for our next stage of life aboard the Rising. In his absence, First Mate Daphne Tart’n’Sweet was in charge of the crew and the repairs.
We did not see our Captain again for 40 days. When he returned, he seemed “different” somehow, still confident and skilled, yet more philosophical and contemplative, and with a more knowing look in his dark eyes.
Repairs were still underway, but going well. All of the crew were getting restless and anxious about our upcoming voyage. They longed for the sea as never before. A few of the crew, yearning for more immediate sea time, moved to other ships of the Fleet. Most, however, stayed with the Captain and the Rising, inclined to be with trusted crewmates rather than amongst others of the Brethren, who were, by comparison, somewhat more like second cousins.
At last, just two days after Christmas, the repairs were completed, and the Captain had us gather in celebration at the local pub that night. We drank heartily of the Fleet drink, Bones to Jelly, and of our honored ship’s drink, the Rising Damnation. We were to set sail the morning after next, and all provisions had already been stored away below decks. The ship was beautiful, fully restored to its original condition and exuding strength and power. The crew was proud and more eager than ever to return to the sea, and drank and cheered “to the Rising!” throughout the night. Even the Captain appeared more confident than ever of our future success.
We weighed anchor on the morning of December 29th and left the Harbour on a calm sea. Through the fog wall and out to the open ocean, the Rising responded well this time, though there was still the sense she didn’t want to leave. The first day we headed south, towards Port Royal, the sky bright and the winds fair. We were happy to be on the open sea again, almost giddy, and were ready to plunder any ship that crossed our path. Though we sailed without any problems on that first day, the second day brought us an eerie calm and a near breathless wind that was barely able to move us forward at more than a drift. The crew was quiet that day, as if they were trying to sense something within the stillness that they couldn’t quite make out.
As night fell on that second day, we were still perhaps a half day north of Tortuga, which we would pass on our way to Port Royal. Most of the crew went below decks for some much needed rest, leaving only a skeleton crew above decks to steer the ship and to keep watch. It was just after midnight when the storm hit.
All the crew had their jobs and worked feverishly just to keep the Rising upright while being battered with waves from an angry sea. In all our experience, we could not recall the Rising having ever endured such a storm. Guided by our Captain and tended by her crew, she initially responded smartly to every command, our lifeline in the sea as ever she had been. But after many hours, she once again became unresponsive and slow, seeming to fight to return to our home port. We grew tired of the battle against the sea, and against the Rising herself, and knew that we were fighting a losing battle if this storm continued much longer.
Realizing the situation, the Captain and the rest of the officers gathered in the Captain’s cabin for a brief time and emerged as one, faces graven. Each one of them bore looks of grim determination as they proceeded to the fo’c’sle. They formed a half circle open to the sea as the Rising rose and fell into the gale.
I could not see well their actions in that hellish storm, but each in turn pulled forth some object and held it aloft. What manner of ritual this was I know not, but afterwards they held hands, upraised, almost seeming to be oblivious to the tempest that raged around us.
Suddenly the ship pitched forward and rolled hard to port. Apparently, everyone else on board was able to grab something solid to hang onto, but I was tossed into the air, flailing madly. It is by the grace of some uncanny luck that a sheet whipped out past me and I was able to grab for it.
For the briefest of moments I was suspended mid-air, the ship off to my right and naught but open sea to my left, when I looked down and saw the most horrendous sight — a maelstrom was opening up directly below me, reaching further and further down until I swore I could see the bottom of the ocean through what little water remained at the end of that monstrous funnel. The Rising was already spiralling into it, bow pointed down at an unearthly angle and accelerating. It was as if Neptune himself had summoned us for an audience with him.
Then the slack was gone and the rope snapped taut. I have no idea how I managed to hold on, but I was pulled forward, toward the ship as it lowered, encircled by swirling water toward the sea floor.
As I fell, I closed my eyes. Unexpectedly, I felt the splash of seawater and a sudden tug of the rope forward — I had somehow been pulled into the wall of water, and was being dragged along behind the ship as she spiralled down. I was pulled out of the water and sucked back in repeatedly, disoriented beyond hope, when suddenly I felt hands on my arms. The crew had somehow managed to pull me up to the safety of our ship.
The ship was sitting level and still now, in an odd calm, surrounded by a wall of water rising up to the top of the ocean, which swirled about us at blinding speeds. The sea floor was serene, and a beautiful pale sand surrounded the hull of the ship, supporting us.
It was an order, reverberating through my senses. I am not certain if it was spoken or I merely imagined that it had been, but it had a palpable presence and commanded immediate obedience. We threw ropes over the rail and descended to the sandy bottom.
Led by the Captain, we gathered in a crowd at the edge of the wall of water, uncertain how to proceed, but seemingly safe and dry on the sea floor. A massive, shadowy figure approached from beyond the swirling wall of water, standing perhaps fifty feet tall. It stopped without crossing into the vortex, and spoke.
YOU HAVE PERFORMED THE RITUALS OF OLD, WHICH PLEASES ME GREATLY. WHAT IS YOUR REQUEST?
The Captain then said something in a strangled, foreign tongue I could not recognize. The crew was dumbstruck as they stared at him. There was a pause, and then the shadowy figure bellowed:
FOR THIS I WOULD DEMAND ALLEGIENCE, THE LIKES OF WHICH HAVE NOT BEEN SEEN ON THESE SEVEN SEAS IN A MILLENIUM. ARE YOU PREPARED TO PAY YOUR PENNANCE?
The Captain nodded and fell to one knee, sword in hand.
The figure turned and reached toward the wall of the maelstrom. Piercing that watery wall was a monstrous, jewel-encrusted trident. He paused. The ship that had been our home for years began to glow a golden yellow, as was the color of her banner. The air became eerily calm and the crew was silent and awestruck in observance. The banner that once flew proud over the ship was effortlessly removed by an unseen force and glided through the air towards our Captain. It landed in front of him, swaddling the bottle that once contained the Rising Damnation. The yellow glow receded from the ship and transferred momentarily to the banner and bottle, then disappeared altogether, like a fading mist. We somehow understood that the soul of the Rising was now contained within the cloth and glass that now rested at our Captain’s feet, and that it was our task to return the bottle and the banner of the Rising to her previous Captain to honor him and the ship that we sailed aboard for so many years.
IN LIGHT OF YOUR NEW MISSION, WHAT NEW NAME DO YOU GIVE THIS VESSEL?
The Captain spoke, again in that foreign tongue.
A peal of thunderous laughter, deep and prideful, erupted from the shadowy figure beyond the wall of water.
YOU HONOR MY LONG DEAD PAST, MORTAL. YOU SHALL HAVE IT.
With that, he aimed the massive trident at the ship. Lightning issued forth from the tip of that mighty weapon, and emblazoned letters onto the hull, utterly replacing that which was there before. A new glow illuminated our ship unlike anything we had ever seen. A new banner appeared atop her mizzen mast with colors to symbolize the blessing we had been granted: the vibrant aqua of the sea, the warm brown for the wood of our ship and the color of sand for the sea bottom where we underwent this monumental transition.
GO NOW, RETURN TO YOUR SHIP, AND SERVE ME WELL .
With that, the massive form turned and faded into the sea. As the maelstrom began to slow, a blue mist filled the funnel in a deep fog. Certain that the sea would rise again and bring us to the surface, we quickly turned toward the ship to climb back aboard. The only thing visible in the thick fog were the still-glowing letters on the hull of the ship: