The Marmodon's Den - a slightly tall tale, part 3 (final chapter)

A few months ago, a group of friends chartered a sailboat for a 10-day jaunt around the Caribbean - including Guadeloupe, St. Kitts & Nevis, and Antigua.  This is the final chapter in our harrowing adventures. (Click here for part 1)

The Aves set sail at the break of dawn.

Along the peninsulas that framed English Harbour, Antigua's citizenry had flocked to wish us well. Weathered captains looked to us with quiet hope. Native islanders appealed for blessings from the gods. Maidens waved kerchiefs in the breeze.

Free from shore, the water adopted an eerie calm, a blue mirror stretching across the horizon. No signs of life were visible - we'd been left alone on this passage, by human and marine life alike.

Left alone, to face the beast.

But as we sailed, the beast would not come. We navigated our vessel southward to Guadeloupe, making good speed despite the light winds. It was as if something was drawing us forward.
We reached Guadeloupe, still skipping across a silent sea. We hewed down the western shore and entered Cousteau National Park, a diving area so beloved by the famed French explorer that some say he left a piece of himself there.

Distressed that we had yet to cross paths with the Marmodon, we moored in the park's bay. The black sands of Boillante's beach looked ominous in the lowering sun.

Then, off the port bow, a turtle head bobbed above the surface, beckoning. Was this our same friend from before? Jimmy donned his snorkel gear and was the first to follow, GoPro Wand in hand. The turtle sank into the water, fins working the current in long, smooth strokes. We dove with him.

'Beware the Marmodon's trap!' our turtle friend said. 'It's luring you in, facing you on its terms.'
We grimaced, but knew the turtle spoke true; there was no other answer for the swiftness of our voyage.

'What can we do?' we asked.

The turtle laughed in an ancient gurgle. 'You have the magic ballyhoo, that may help. But the Marmodon will still possess every advantage.'

The crew looked both amongst each other and within ourselves, appraising the depth of our character. 'Looks like we don't have a choice,' Travis concluded. 'We must meet the beast at the time and place of its choosing.'

We nodded grimly, knowing an oath had just been sworn. 'In that case,' the turtle said, 'you must summon all of your courage and rely on every facet of your skill. Only when the eight of you work as one will you have a chance of taking down the Marmodon.'

We turned to go, all but Christie, who had taken a particular fondness toward the creature. 'Tell us your name, wise friend, so that we may call upon you in our return.'

'Should you defy all odds and survive your encounter, you may call for Jacques,' the turtle said. 'Luck be with you.' And it faded into the murky depths.

We pulled up anchor and continued south toward Basse-Terre, trolling three lines rigged with the ballyhoo. Not a moment after rounding the isle's jutting point, the wind's calm became a whipping tumult, and the sea broadsided us in boundless wave-walls.

We were here.

'There it is! Dead ahead!' Tyler shouted, and the beast had indeed shown itself. Without delay, it made its charge, skirting through the whitecaps directly toward us like a ravenous torpedo. We manned our posts, bracing for a deadly impact, but at the last moment the Marmodon plunged into the boiling sea.

We'd gotten our first look at it, and what a monster! As it dove beneath us, the beast's shadow widened, enveloping our lonely vessel. We pitched back and forth amidst black water, a momentary silence lingering in the air. Where had it gone?

Then, a snap on the line yanked our tiny boat backwards with the force of the gods. By some miracle, the line held, but would the Aves? Ne'ertheless, her crew launched into action. Strapping on his gloves in the nick of time, Brad dove for the line and started pulling with heroic might. John took position behind him, serving as anchor. Jenny readied the gaff hook, and the rest of the crew focused on keeping ourselves afloat during this titanic battle.

If these were to be our last minutes on this earth, what minutes they were!

The ballyhoo had served its purpose and hooked the beast, but this seemed a mixed blessing at best. The Aves continued to lurch toward it at a steepening angle, threatening to spill our brave crew over the rails and into the burgeoning deep.

Our Captain blasted the engines, and we locked into a mortal tug o' war with the Marmodon. Which would prove the predator, and which the prey? The beast thrashed and coiled, screeching its siren's song.

Brad pulled and pulled. The Marmodon pulled back. It was a struggle that will echo through the ages. Our boat creaked noisily, threatening to buckle. The sails lashed in the violence, a rip streaking through our jib.

The beast was drawn closer. With every inch gained, it only grew more fearsome. The Marmodon's rage was like nothing your narrator has ever yet to witness, or is likely to hence.

'The gaff! The gaff!' Brad exclaimed, and was handed the implement. With one fateful swipe, he plunged his fisherman's axe into the beast's convulsing belly. The fight was joined in full.

The Marmodon recoiled and bucked, gaining enough leverage to launch backward into the sea. Brad, gaff hook still in hand, tumbled with it, and the two barrel-rolled in the surf, each trying to gain dominion over the other.

Finally! Finally! The beast's writhings slowed until it writhed no more. Four of us took the line and pulled both the beast and its conqueror back onboard.

'That's how it's done!' our champion proclaimed, and we knew our bellies would be full this night. Still, we looked with reverence upon our rival, who had tested us to our fullest. Hearts heavy, we pointed our ship to harbor, where our heroes' welcome would no less ring true. The beast was slain; long live the beast.




The crew of the S/V Aves: Scott, Jenny, Tyler, Travis, Jimmy, Christie, Brad, John
12/27/16-1/7/17

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