Falmouth Freddy and the Cruising Kanes
by Niamh McAnally
Chapter 1: BVIs Jost Van Dyke
Charlotte Kane didn’t like heights, but her petite French figure meant that she was the one forced to go up the mast to fetch the parrot. The bird belonged to the Kadey-Krogen next to their monohull but had taken up residence on their second spreader. If she hadn’t been fixated on how the harness dug into her thighs, the 15-knot wind whistling in her ears, and that she had barely slept, she might have appreciated the view over the BVI’s Jost Van Dyke. The Soggy Dollar lay to port, Foxy’s off the starboard bow. But she did hear a distinct clunk. The trawler had hauled anchor.
From the deck below, her husband, Logan, yelled across at the skipper: “Oi. What about your bird?”
“You keep it,” the man yelled back. “It will bring you luck.”
“Good or bad?” Logan joked, having no intention of minding a damn parrot.
“His name is Falmouth Freddy.” With that, the boater gave a wave and motored out of the anchorage. Logan watched, dumbfounded. Ever since Christmas Day, sailboats, trawlers and private yachts had been crowding into this small anchorage all desperate to get a spot in time for tonight’s legendary New Year’s Eve party at Foxy’s. Yet this guy had just abandoned his annoying pet and taken off.
“Oh, sorry Char.”
“Bring me down.”
Logan carefully payed out the halyard and lowered Charlotte to safety; Freddy remained aloft.
“Who, him? Or the parrot?”
“Agreed. Look at the hole he opened up. God knows how many more boats will pile in on top of us.”
Within twenty minutes the gap had been filled, not with just one boat, but with two. The second, a 50-foot Leopard, was so close they could have reached over and grabbed a wine and some hors d’oeuvres. No amount of begging the charter captain to relocate worked. No, he knew these waters better than anyone, had put out the correct amount of scope, and besides, his clients were staying onboard for the evening so he would be keeping watch. Logan gave up. There was no arguing with this dude. Plus, it was almost 2 p.m., he needed to get to work.
The pandemic had changed lives, his and Charlotte’s included. The mandatory exodus from offices to homes had reset people’s thinking and enabled them to take a new look at the work/life balance. Logan, whose father had worked on Wall Street, had always been a savvy investor. Like many others cocooning at home, Logan delved into day trading. And he was good at it. Very good at it. If a computer and internet connection were all he needed then why remain in the city, or wait until retirement to sail away?
Instead, at age 53, Charlotte, 49, three children raised and gone, the pair of them had made the break. They’d bought the cutter-rigged sloop in Puerto Rico, a Caliber 40 long-range cruiser built on the west coast of Florida. Along with several other vessels that had been stored on the hard in Puerto Del Rey Marina in Fajardo during the summer of 2017, she had miraculously survived Hurricane Maria with minimal damage. But the owners never returned; sold her to the yard, who sold her to them. Once repairs and sea trials had been completed Logan and Charlotte had set off through the Virgin Islands.
Logan didn’t trade every day, didn’t have to, but today was one he couldn’t miss. The inventors of Solartop™, the revolutionary laptop every outdoor enthusiast coveted, were taking the company public. At last, here was a computer whose screen could be read in bright sunlight and whose battery was constantly topped up by the solar panel lid. Hoping a short trading day would make their IPO soar, they’d chosen to release the stock at 2 pm. Even so, Logan waited until 2:06 pm to buy in. Big. By 2:28 pm the stock had doubled. He watched the ride. Throughout the afternoon it dipped and rose as investors tried to gauge the top. Logan remained vigilant. He had strict rules on when to cash out. Too soon he’d leave money on the table, out too late he’d lose most of his gains, or worse. He reckoned he had another four minutes to go. Two minutes passed then:
A powerful gust of wind swung the catamaran into their hull. Three things happened at once:
Falmouth Freddy flapped from his perch in a screech of feathers. Charlotte was thrown into the galley stove. And Logan’s computer flew from his knee crashing screen-first into the binnacle, then bounced off the wheel and landed on the cockpit sole.
Charlotte regained her balance and scrambled up the companionway. “Ça va? Logan?”
“No no, no no, no!” Logan shouted. He was tapping every key. The screen remained black. “I’ve got to get out of the trade.”
“Here.” Charlotte grabbed her phone and thrust it at him.
He tried to bring up the app but the dots kept spinning. He rushed up on deck. The stern of the catamaran was alongside their forward quarter. Their bowsprit was buckled. Logan peered up against the afternoon sun. “Shit, the wi-fi extender’s loose.”
The charter captain looked down from the flybridge. “Hey. You dragged into us.”
“What? Are you kidding me? You hit us!”
“No, we didn’t.”
Logan didn’t have time to argue. “I need to use your internet, NOW.”
“Sorry, it’s for guests only.”
“What time is it?”
Logan dropped his head and pounded his scalp with his fingers. “Too late.”
“Too late, too late,” the parrot mimicked from his new post on a stanchion.
“You!” It took everything Logan had not to grab the bird and fling it at the charter captain’s throat.
“How much were you in?” Charlotte asked.
“An awful lot.”
And so it was, on this particular New Year’s Eve, Logan and Charlotte Kane dinghied ashore for Foxy’s party not knowing whether they were millionaires or paupers.
Installments of Falmouth Freddy and the Cruising Kanes will be published in upcoming issues of the Compass. Niamh McAnally is an Irish-born author known as The Writer on the Water. Many of her stories are inspired by her global travels on land and by sea. She and her husband Gary spent six years sailing through the Bahamas and the Caribbean islands (fortunately for them, without Freddy). Her book FLARES UP tells the true story of why two middle-aged men rowed a 20-ft wooden boat 3,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean and how it affected their families. She has been shortlisted for The Vikki Orvice Award for New Women’s Sports Writing in the 2023 Sports Book Awards in association with The Sunday Times. Niamh hosts interactive “behind the scenes” presentations to various groups and book clubs. To learn more visit www.thewriteronthewater.com.