Happy Birthday Ralphie
I Hope You Like Your Present.
by: Ralph E. Ahseln
It wasn’t a hospital. I knew that. But it had that antiseptic smell that hospitals have.
I was slowly rocking back and forth so it couldn’t have been a bed.
Coming out of what seemed like a deep sleep, I felt like you feel after major surgery.
Nothing was quite solid yet and I wasn’t seeing too well. Everything was cloudy, out of focus and unfamiliar.
My brain began clearing and I was starting to shake off that “drugged” feeling. I still had no idea where I was or what had happened to me.
There wasn’t any pain. My arms and legs were starting to come back to life and my muddled head was connecting to the rest of my body.
I was in a place I’d NEVER been before.
Nothing was broken or bandaged. I guess It hadn't been a bad accident or fall
After a deep intake of air, the cobwebs were cleared out.
Looking around I was shocked. I was on a cockpit deck of a SAILBOAT!
Stretched out and wearing boating clothing, shoes, shorts and all.
It was pretty strange to say the least.
I HAVE sailed before. In fact I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t sailing. It’s the most important part of my life. It seems like I’m always ready to sail, But I sure as hell don’t remember getting on THIS boat. But here I was, and it appeared I’m alone!
“Ahoy! Hey! Anyone on board? Is there anyone around?”
What the heck had happened to me? How’d I get here?
I muttered to myself “Oh, I bet I know happened. I probably passed out and the rest of the people have gone off to get help. That’s it...
I bet I bumped my head and have had some kind of temporary memory loss.
My thinking that it might have been that way made me feel a whole lot better.
I sat up and looked around.
I’d never see a boat like this one. It was obviously a “Go Fast”. Built along the lines of an America’s Cup boat. Narrow and flush decked. Open cockpit with dual wheels.
The hull wasn’t fiber and Resin. Nor was it metal. I once heard that there were some experiments with Roto-Molded stuff. That’s what this boat seemed to be made of.
The sails were what you might have expected on a fast boat. Mylar and paper thin.
Funny, the folks ran off so quickly that they hadn’t dropped the sails, they were up and slating in a light wind. Not good for a Mylar!
What really caught my eye though was the head sail.
It was a self tending CLUB FOOTED jib. Why would an obvious racing boat have such a set up?
Maybe it’s a short crewed boat. Handling a big boat with few people would be a lot easier with a Self Tending jib. That HAD to be it. It also would explain why there was no one here. There must have been only one or two others on the boat. So when I “crashed” they didn’t have a choice. They had to leave the boat to get help... That’s got to be it! .
The boat wasn’t tied to a dock. There wasn’t any dock. There wasn’t anything alongside.
The boat was just lying next to a big wall. A big Sky Blue painted wall.
We weren’t tied to anything. Just gently bumping up against that wall. I leaned over and touched the surface. It’s was jut a plain blank Sky Blue painted wall. Smooth concrete reaching from the water into the sky. I COULD see the sky. The wall and the sky were almost the same color. The boat and I must be against the side of a very large building. A building like a storehouse or factory.
A CHEMICAL plant. Yes! That’s what it must be. That would account for the antiseptic smell I noticed.
It’s from the chemicals produced by the factory. They must dump their effluent into the water.
I reached over the side and dipped my hand into the water. Carefully I tasted some of the liquid as it dripped from my fingers.
It was fresh water and tasted OK. But it had that “hospital” odor.
A gust of wind suddenly hit the sails and the boat started to move away from the wall. We were sailing! The boat heeled over and in a flash we were rail down and moving away from the wall. By this time I’d gotten my balance back and was thinking much more clearly. “On no!” I yelled out. I moved quickly to grab one of the wheels.
It was LOCKED!
I leaned over to see if the second wheel was locked too. It WAS!
Desperately I looked everywhere to find some way to move the wheel. The wheels were un-moveable.
We were sailing quickly away from the Blue wall, and, I guessed, the owner of the boat.
For some time the boat and I just kept sailing. I began to notice that, instead of luffing up into the wind, as a boat should do, the boat kept on a straight line course.
Every time it felt like the boat would begin to go “Head to Wind”, the sails would move a little and the boat would correct itself. Apparently there was some kind of autohelm in operation.
I thought maybe the owners had dashed off so quickly, they had left it on. That’s probably why the Wheels are locked. Why I couldn’t move them. The boat was on automatic.
I’d better find out how to disable it and get control of the boat. Quickly!
Looking around the cockpit to find some switches or buttons that would be the controls I found that there were none.
This was such a modern looking boat, maybe all electronics were below.
There WAS a big sliding hatch. It was closed but didn’t seem to be locked.
The boat was still pretty stable so I thought I could chance going below to try to find out how to get control.
I pushed on the hatch. It moved slightly. It was heavy and going to need a lot of muscle to get it open. I put my back into it and it finally moved. It opened enough so that I could see down below. What the heck is all that stuff? I’d never seen a cabin so full of mechanical things.
There was a large electrical device taking up most of the cabin space. Attached to the device was a large gear box with two rotating arms. Rods were connected to each arm. One rod had to some kind of High Tech line coming out of it and the second rod continued aft and below the cockpit deck. I had no idea where it might be going.
Forward of the “motor” was a large stack of cylinders, I counted six of them. There may have been more but I couldn’t see past the first stack of them.
The cylinders must contain some kind of Fuel. Each lying on its side, they would have stood about as tall as I am and about as thick as my body. ..
There were NO controls that I could see.
I was about to climb down below for a better look, when, BAM! The boat hit something!
I stood up and looked around. We were up against that damned Blue wall again!
But how could that be? I was sure we had kept sailing a straight line for a long time. I was sure of it because I had watched the wake trail out behind us.
But what ever had happened, we were against that blue wall again!
I leaned over the side to see if any damage had been done. None had. I guess the Roto-molded plastic hadn’t fractured. I was totally confused and trying to figure out what next to do, when…
The sails sort of “jerked” to the other side picked up the breeze and moved away from the wall.
We were sailing. Sailing away from the Sky Blue wall again.
This time I kept a close watch on the attitude of the sun. I know, this time, we traveled a straight line for a long time…. Then…..
We hit a solid object again.
It was a SKY BLUE solid wall!
That wall with no features, no windows, no doors, nothing but smooth Blue painted concrete.
Was I going mad?
I sat there for a long time. My head spinning. Lost. In total confusion.
I don’t know how I got on this boat in the first place,
I don’t know why there are no operators anywhere,
The boat is on some kind of Autopilot and
we keep bumping into those damned plain Blue Walls.
What is happening to me?
Please, somebody help me!
Where am I ?
“Time for supper Ralphie!...... Did you hear me!? …
Turn that thing off and get up here….. right this instant, Young man!
You’ve been playing with your Birthday present all day long. Now it’s time to come in and get ready for supper!
I said; TURN OFF the control box …. Get your Radio Controlled Sailboat ...OUT of the Swimming Pool… NOW!
And don’t lose your sister’s Sailor Boy Doll! “……
ralph e. ahseln