Destruction Aftermath, Book 3
Copyright© 2011 by radio_guy
Everything on the boat was tied down tightly. The wind continued to rise in force and the waves got bigger. George began to edge away from the coast and even further into open water. He explained he was hoping that the storm would stay over land and weaken or, if it followed us, would lose strength as we went north. George's people had some short range marine radios and the Rose had a GPS so we had a good idea where we were even though his radio was useless. We had an hour to go before I expected Dad to call but we were listening just in case.
Jen and Lois were both sick and the high seas would not make them feel better. Janice and Bennie were both out of it due to the roughness leaving me and George's crew and Ed's wife. Margie stayed on the radio listening while I followed instructions from George and Ed.
Half an hour early, Dad called and Margie responded telling him to stand by while I came to the radio. "Dad, it's Mike. What have you found?"
"Mike, we were able to receive some satellite pictures at the old Weather Channel offices. They show a hurricane coming up the east coast with winds extending almost to Bermuda. This is a big storm and looks, from here, to be very violent. Try to run east and get beyond it as best you can."
"Roger, Dad. George had guessed most of that and he is trying to maneuver us east while still running north away as best we can. Are there any computer models staking out a direction like what you described to me from before the Day?"
"We haven't been able to get them operating though your father in-law is working hard at it right now. Can you keep a listening watch on this frequency?"
"Yes, Dad. Margie will be here and ready for any communication."
"Very good, Son. Your mother says, 'Be careful.' I know Jen's parents feel the same."
"Yes, sir. We are strapped in with life preservers and the boat is battened down. Mike out."
"Okay, Mike. We will call with more information when we have it."
I handed the earphones and mike back to Margie and told her what I now knew and that I would tell George and her husband. She smiled wanly as she took the earphones to listen.
I went up to George and shouted over the wind, "Dad called and said that it's a hurricane and is headed up the east coast. It looks beg enough to stretch to Bermuda. He recommends we head east. I told him we had to stay in front as much as possible but were trying to head east hoping to get out of the path."
George nodded and smiled grimly. "That's what we're doing," he said.
Over the next hour, we continued on a northeasterly by east course. After two hours, it seemed that the wind had lessened a little. George called me over and said, "Call your dad and give him our position. I think we are getting away but we are a terrific distance out in the Atlantic and may have to go further before we can tack back. I don't want the run the motor and will just keep a scrap of sail going. We are north and maybe a bit east of Bermuda. While the north is not too bad, the east is a long ways."
We continued to run before the wind and, though it had lessened, the seas were still high and the wind was pushing us across the Atlantic. Dad and I talked about it. He said that checking out Europe was always on his list though he wasn't sure we were really interested in that journey right now. I told him that it only really mattered that we were on it. We didn't have a big enough boat to run against the wind safely. The general wind was from the west pushing us toward Europe. Dad had lost contact with all overseas radio people about ten years ago so could offer nothing about conditions over there. He was trying to track weather information for us. He was talking with Jim, Jen's father, about setting up a permanent office at the Weather Channel offices to give some warning about storms to the people on North America. He did verify that their decision would, at worst, mothball the offices for a quick recovery and use.
George and I went over his maps of the Atlantic and were both surprised at how far north Europe was when viewed in our eyes which were based upon the southern tier of the old U.S. We also realized we were being pushed north as well as east. George plotted that we would land in Ireland, southern England or France depending upon how far north the wind pushed us.
We didn't lack for food as long as variety wasn't too important and, as the seas eased, settled into a routine and sailed on. We finally arrived at Swansea Bay according to our GPS. I informed Dad and he asked what were our plans? Other than carefully disembarking and planting our feet on dry land that didn't move all the time, I told him we were going to play it by ear. He said to be careful.
It was dawn when we first sighted land and pulled in toward it.
We had a two meter radio scanning the frequencies for activities. On the HF bands, we scanned and occasionally called for anyone who might hear. All was quiet. We tied up and waited a bit before showing ourselves. Bennie and I went onto land first and scouted the area for inhabitants. We found no sign of people or even any animals other than rodents and cats. The area looked to have been thoroughly picked over and abandoned.
Bennie and I reported back over two meter simplex and continued to carefully search the area for people or anything useful. We found nothing on either count and were now ten or fifteen blocks from the pier. We began to swing around still searching. We both were armed with rifles, pistols, and knives. As we had left, we agreed that using the guns was to be avoided as that noise would draw company quickly.
We had now swung in a wide arc around our docking point and now were returning to it. We still hadn't seen anyone nor heard anything. Our footsteps were quiet but still sounded loud in our ears as we walked back. It appeared that this area was deserted holding nothing for survivors any longer. We reached the boat without incident.
Jen and Lois were on the pier laying things out to dry in the sun. Joe was climbing inside a three story building in the hopes of reaching the roof to give him a clear vantage point. It took him a while but he finally got up there and picked up some rubble for a seat. He had binoculars and began to search. He reported that he could see smoke in the distance from campfires or something similar. It seemed to be from across the bay and a considerable distance from the shore.
The day went on quietly. We were on guard and Joe gave some hope of an early warning if people were approaching. Late in the afternoon, Joe called down that three men were approaching from the land and somewhat toward where he had seen smoke. George and I went out to meet them and everyone else but Joe got on the boat. Joe continued to watch in all directions in case there were more groups than what he had already seen.
George and I met the three about six blocks from the pier where Joe had a clear line of sight and our boat was shielded from their view. We had to assume that there were watchers across the bay who could see the boat.
The three men coming were dressed cleanly and were carrying their guns loosely over an arm. George and I were waiting at the intersection. George held up his right hand and said, "Hello. We are from the U.S. blown here by a storm."
They stopped and looked at one another. Then, one came forward a few steps, raised his right hand, and said, "Hello, strangers. What are your plans?"
George said, "We need to dry out and rest up. We would like to know what the conditions are here. My name is George and this is Mike."
"I am Phillip. With me are Jeremy and Todd. We are farmers across the bay and claim these lands. We would like to hear what you yanks are doing, also."
"Fine. May we come forward in peace?"
"Yes. We would prefer to avoid fighting any more."
George and I walked slowly forward with our guns at rest. We smiled. I said, "You guys have accents." I grinned.
Phillip grinned back, "It's our country. We think you have the accents." Everyone laughed a little self-consciously and the tension that had been easing eased off some more.
George said, "Phillip, tell us about yourselves, please."
"There is not much to tell. You know even better than we about the Day and its aftermath. Most people here died from the virus. We formed a community around a surviving farmer. As supplies ran low, he taught us how to farm. We have lost so much but are trying to get some machines running. Most travel is horseback or bicycle. For shorter distances, it's foot. We grow our own food.