03-12 What a Girl

by Ernest Bywater

Tags: Drama, Extra Sensory Perception,

Desc: Action/Adventure Story: Gerry wants to build a boat, so he does - but only after inventing the materials to make it work. Before he can build what he wants he builds a luxury yacht to test out the design. However, the major test is when he's at sea during a Category 5 storm, and has to help rescue others caught out at sea.

In 2003 the eleven years old Gerry wants to build a couple of yachts. One for practical reasons and a luxury cruiser for himself. He decides to build one hull able to do both tasks with different fit-outs. The luxury yacht will be the first built to prove the design. He knows what he wants, and how it should look. The experts say it can’t be done. He studies and qualifies as a maritime designer, maritime engineer, and chemist. Doing all the studies by distance education in nine months of hard studies. He sets about designing the yacht. They’re right, the materials don’t exist. So he sets about inventing new materials to do the job.

Using carbon filament and Kevlar as a start point he invents Nolar. Much stronger, lighter, and versatile than Kevlar; also cheaper to make. So strong and cheap it’s soon used in a wide range of products as a steel substitute. Using Nolar reduces steel imports which improves the local economy as well as the balance of trade figures. Nolar reinforcing rods for building with cement, Nolar cases for appliances and cars. See-through Nolar windows for security installations. Within months the company created to market Nolar makes many millions. Sadly, Nolar isn’t quite good enough for the yacht, so an improved version is needed and made. Nolar Two is only 2.5% dearer, and is used to build the yacht.

In late 2004 twelve and a half years old Gerry buys a failing boat yard in southern Berant, and refits it to build with Nolar Two. It’s a runaway success. The test hull is built as a shell to prove the concept and its abilities, then versions fitted out for commercial fishing are built. They’re cheaper and safer than traditional boats. With the design proven the yard builds luxury yachts for the world as well as patrol boats and rescue boats for the Guards. Dream Boats is a huge success.

Dream Boats is located in a region of Berant where the local economy has collapsed, mostly due to the closure of the boatyard. Reactivating the boatyard provides employment for hundreds of people, and it’s the key to revitalising the whole region. They overcharge heavily on the luxury fit-outs for the yachts, spreading most of the extra fit-out money among the local workers via higher wages and bonuses. They’re soon employing over four hundred people, and are producing fifteen boats a week for the various markets. The sales of Nolar are just as good.

This series are trimaran hulls made of Nolar Two, later there are Nolar Three variants. Both use twin water jet engines mounted in the rear of the main hull. The engine size varies with the intended use and maximum speed wanted for the vessel, four engine sizes are offered for use. Overall length is twenty-six metres with an overall width of nineteen metres. The main hull is six metres wide with side hulls of three and a half metres wide by fifteen and a half metres long. Inter-hull gaps are three metres. The rear wall of all three hulls are in a line. There are no rails on the deck, but there are bulwarks angled back at thirty degrees to a height of one and a quarter metres off the deck with drain holes in them at deck level. The bridge is over the third quarter of the main hull, about sixteen and a half metres back from the bow. It’s seven and a half metres deep and six metres wide. The inside deck height is two and a half metres, except the main cabin which is three metres. The main hull draws two metres of water while the side hulls draw one metre. The almost flat front deck stretches over the three hulls for ten and a half metres before sloping up to the bridge roof at an angle of thirty degrees. A curved deck wall angles around the sides for seven metres, also sloping to the bridge to give the ship a streamlined look (like a flying saucer from the front) that also sheds excess water with ease. The engine room is in the rear of the main hull, and the rear deck is only one metre above sea level there. Exterior hatches open outward, and they all have water tight double seals when locked shut.

Nolar Two is a composite material made up in layers. It’s naturally transparent, and paint is easy to add between layers for a non-fading colour. Windows are made by not painting areas during construction. This gives a great hull integrity with any sized windows. Carbon filament is added in the layers or between layers for increased strength in any desired quantity. Cables can be laid between layers and incorporated into the hull, giving them more protection. Nolar Two is used for the hull, deck, and all of the fittings.

By law Gerry, as the owner, has to take 20% of the profits out of the business for himself and other uses by him. The day he steps aboard the finished yacht for the first time the 20% profits from his businesses is over a million dollars a month, despite large donations to charities and paying staff wages well above those required by the legislation and / or union agreements for their jobs. Even the 40% spent on expansion can only go so far, because no business can expand indefinitely.

It’s been a hard road to build Gerry’s dream boat, even if the original wasn’t the exact boat he dreamed of. Instead of building the boat he wanted to he built its hull as a luxury yacht. Three years to design and build the first fully fitted out boat, now to prove it performs as he expects. Why build a luxury yacht when that isn’t what he wants. Well, he needs to prove the hull design is safe in a category five storm. If he’d made an error and it sank, then a new style luxury yacht will get a lot less adverse publicity than a more commercial version.

The boat is painted aqua-marine. The side hulls have four cabins with a head (maritime talk for toilet) and a shower in each cabin. The main hull has the Master’s cabin, six other cabins, two showers, a galley, four heads, a lounge area, and engine room. All cabins are seven and a half square metres or bigger. The Master’s cabin is thirty-six square metres at the front of the main hull with an attached en suite. Some space is lost to the bow angles and slopes, but it has spectacular views out the large forward windows. The views are exceptional when under way at speed.

The first boat built is called Dream Girl, and is Gerry’s personal yacht. He first goes on-board her on his fourteenth birthday, she’s a trimaran hull powered by two of the larger model water jets. She’s the most luxurious yacht in Berant waters, as befits his status as the country’s richest individual, and moors at the View Port Marina. Many luxury yachts from around the world moor there while the owners visit the resort town of Carmel, and the rest of the country.

Dream Girl is great for parties at sea or in harbour. Gerry goes out to sea as often as he can. Many clan members borrow her for special occasions. He loans her to the View Port orphanage and local schools for days out. She’s also available to employees for company outings. Dream Girl is written up in the yachting magazines as the best luxury yacht of its size. Dream Boats sell many variants with custom fit-outs to owner specifications at huge profits.

She has a double crew of ex guards from the Claymore and Orcas. Gerry provides nearby on-shore housing as well as on-board quarters, and they switch between as needed. In fitting out Dream Girl he puts in the Guards communications and encryption systems, computers, all the radar and other detection gear he possibly can. Plus enough fire-power on-board to arm a company. Also, all the sea rescue gear available. It’s a mobile maritime headquarters for him.

In the first few months of use they weather many storms at sea, including a category three cyclone. No problems and a delight to sail in. The hull and deck design allows waves to quickly wash off them. She’s very stable in the roughest weather they’ve been in so far.

An Interesting Voyage

In September, 2006 Gerry sails for a three week cruise on Dream Girl with his personal support team of Isobelle, Vicky, Deanna Chektar, and Captain Theresa ‘Angie’ Angelson (his personal medic since he was five years old). It’s a relaxing time at sea. In theory it’s a study cruise to prepare for coming exams. They do study - the sea, the weather, the sun, island beaches, and some text books at night. They spend the first week unwinding, the second week is mostly study for exams. Toward the end of that week they’re closely studying the weather; it’s changing and looks bad. A cyclone has blown up, and it may head their way.

Early Friday morning Captain David Harding, Dream Girl’s skipper, calls Gerry to look at the latest weather reports. The cyclone is now a category five, and it’s turned one hundred and fifty degrees to be heading toward them at high speed for a cyclone. If it stays on its current track it’ll travel the length of the Berant coast between them and the coast, since they’re well out to sea. However, the Sea Watch Radar repeater shows many small vessels that haven’t a hope of getting to a safe harbour, not before the cyclone arrives. They’d not headed for harbour before, because all the earlier reports showed the cyclone heading away. The Sky Hooks, Otters, and Orcas are out getting those they can, but there’s still several they won’t be able to reach in time, because they’re just too far from the coast.

Turning to David he raises an eyebrow. David ponders a moment, and nods yes while saying, “She’ll take it. Anyway, we won’t know for sure how she’ll handle this type of weather until she does.”

Lifting the radio microphone Gerry switches to the Sea Watch frequency, and he activates the microphone, and says, “Sea Comm, urgent, Sea Comm, urgent, this is Dream Girl.” He waits for the reply from Sea Comm, the Sea Watch Communications Centre.

They respond, “Dream Girl, this is Sea Comm, go ahead.”

“Sea Comm, Dream Girl, order those seven easterly craft to head south-east, we’ll head west and collect the people. Can’t do a thing for their boats, but we can get them off safely. Over.”

They reply, “Negative, Dream Girl, we can’t risk sending them further out away from our teams. Over.”

Captain Harding takes the microphone, and says, “This is Captain ‘Braces’ Harding, Dream Girl’s skipper, now stop arguing and get those craft turned about before they get too far away from us. If you’re not happy doing this get me Admiral Benning. Over.”

“Negative, Admiral Benning is unreachable, and what you want is against standing orders. Over.”

Taking the microphone back, Gerry says, “Captain, put us on full power toward the first craft.” He turns to do so while Gerry activate the microphone, “Give me the senior communications officer on watch, now! Over.”

A new voice replies, “This is Sea DO, I still can’t defy standing orders and order them to turn around. Over.” This is the Sea Watch Duty Officer.

While unlocking and opening a sealed panel Gerry says, “Sea DO, Dream Girl. Eggs, Hotel, Charlie, Tango, Papa. Over.”

Punching buttons he smiles when he hears Sea DO swearing over the open microphone while he does the same - they rarely have a need to use encryption codes. Sea DO says, “OK, were encrypted what now? Over.”

Looking at pocket computer Gerry says, “Sea DO, Dream Girl, Enter this computer Identification Code Romeo Oscar Yankee Papa Romeo Oscar, authorisation code this time frame Golf, Five, Whiskey, Lima, Seven, Charlie. Over.”

Sea DO says, “OK, I’m doing that, hold your horses. Smegging hell!” They hear him gulp over the microphone, then say, “Yes, Your Highness, what now.” The entire bridge crew look up at that message.

A serious Gerry replies, “I, Edward, Prince Royal, Protector of the People, hereby order you to instruct those seven most eastern vessels to turn around to immediately head south-east. We’ll make pick up on them as soon as we can reach them. Do you understand your orders? Over.” The bridge crew are glancing at each other, because this is a major revelation about their boss.

Sea DO responds, “Yes, Your Highness, my people are already contacting them. However, there’s one we’ve not had a response from for some time, and we suspect they’ve lost radio capability.”

Gerry calmly says, “Tell them to expect Dream Girl to rescue them, but do not mention me. Go on the civilian public broadcast radio, and give the orders for those boats, by name, to turn around and expect rescue by Dream Girl. If they’ve lost their two way radio they may have a working commercial receiver. Over.”

Sea DO replies, “Yes, Your Highness. Wilco. Out.” They hear his sigh before he deactivates the microphone.

Walking across the bridge Gerry notes the speed, “Fifty-five knots into a heavy sea, good girl.” He pats the cabin hull, “Hope she can keep it up all the way. What you just learned is classified, understand?” The bridge crew members all nod yes. “Captain, please let me know when we’re about twenty minutes from the first craft.” He leaves the bridge to tell the others about the situation.

Angie gets organised for medical emergencies while the rest prepare for sea rescues. Isobelle and Gerry ready diving equipment for use while Vicky and Deanna check the grappling equipment.

Half an hour later Captain Harding enters the lounge to inform Gerry they’re twenty minutes from the first boat. He also tells him all seven craft have changed course, as per his orders.

Rescues

Coming up to the first craft, a medium sized sail boat, Dream Girl pulls alongside, and turns her stern to the boat. Once swept up against it by the wind they’re quick to take the four passengers aboard, three women and a man, all in their mid-twenties. The boat is left free to manage on her own; they doubt it’ll survive the storm. It’s lives they’re out to save, not boats.

In another fifty minutes they’re at the second craft, a large ocean going motor yacht that’s very sea worthy, but not against a category five cyclone. A repeat approach, and a couple with four young children are taken aboard while the boat is left to the sea, too.

The next vessel is an hour away, and it’ll be harder. The seas are starting to get real rough, because they’re getting closer to the cyclone. What was a heavy sea is now a very heavy sea. Captain Harding is still pushing Dream Girl to her limits, but the heavier sea forces a reduction in her speed. They’re now making fifty knots in this sea.

Approaching the third craft is a lot harder, as it’s already floundering due to taking in water, and the sea swell is much higher. Deciding they can’t risk the boats getting too close together Joe Dorne (the ship’s most qualified rescue diver) takes three lines and harnesses across to the motor cruiser. After climbing onto the vessel he’s quick to put harnesses on the three passengers, and he has them jump into the sea. Dream Girl’s crew haul them aboard. He swims back. Again the boat is left to the storm.

When each rescued person is brought aboard they’re given a warm shower, clean clothes, and hot soup. They sit about the lounge talking or resting in the cabins assigned by Vicky.

Now down to forty knots they near the location of the fourth boat. It’s only 1:00 p.m., but it’s as dark as early dusk. The seas are so rough they spend most of their time in the troughs, and see nothing except water on each side. They have the boat on radar when it vanishes. Five minutes later they’re beside the overturned vessel, and pulling two very thankful people aboard, two women in their late twenties.

By 2:00 p.m. they’re beside a very large luxurious motor yacht which is handling the current seas OK, but won’t handle much more. The owner is aboard with his wife and three children. Joe boards, and talks to the owner. He refuses to abandon his expensive yacht, insisting it can handle this sea so he’ll run before the storm. The rest are scared stiff. Joe turns to leave, then spins back to carefully hit the man on the head, stunning him. He’s still half standing when Joe has a harness on him. The entire family is quickly transferred. The wife thanks Joe for forcing the issue. They leave the yacht to the storm. Dream Girl is down to thirty knots while shipping a lot of water, but shedding it just as fast.

Half an hour later Gerry takes some big mugs of hot chocolate to the bridge crew, one each. He watches the waves breaking over the front of Dream Girl, and the water sliding off the contoured hull. They’re well into the cyclone itself now, and down to twenty knots at sea level while the engine room says thirty-five knots. He looks at Captain Harding, and they smile at each other, because both are happy with how well Dream Girl is handling the rough sea and weather.

At 3:15 p.m. they’re at the last known position of the sixth boat. It’s not in sight. Switching to infra-red sensors they soon find four people. Manoeuvring Dream Girl so the people are between the hulls they’re quick to get them aboard, because the sea water is very cold. That’s the ship’s complement, so they move on to look for the next boat.

By 6:00 p.m. Dream Girl is approaching the last reported position of the seventh boat. They know it’s there, because they get the odd glimpse of it on the radar, but they can’t see it. They’re in the eye of the cyclone, its centre, in what’s known as a ‘confused sea’ with big waves coming from all directions. Dream Girl is being tossed about like a leaf, but handling it well at ten knots. However, people do have to hold on when moving about.

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Story tagged with:
Drama / Extra Sensory Perception /