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قراءة كتاب Troubled Waters Sandy Steele Adventures #6

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‏اللغة: English
Troubled Waters
Sandy Steele Adventures #6

Troubled Waters Sandy Steele Adventures #6

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 4

was a far smaller boat with two. Sandy thought to himself that there didn’t appear to be any simple rules to the business of boat designing. All in all the bustling Cliffport Boat Yard was a thoroughly confusing sight for Sandy, and a pretty exciting one, too.

As a matter of fact, the entire last two days had been pretty confusing and exciting, Sandy reflected. Just two days ago, he had started on his spring vacation from Valley View High School with not a thing to do but loaf around home. Now, suddenly, he was the owner of a sailboat he had never seen, and he was preparing to take a two-hundred-mile cruise down the coast! A two-hundred-mile cruise—and he had never even been on board a sailboat!

Looking at the maze of masts and rigging around him, Sandy sensed for the first time some of the complications of handling a boat. Laying a hand on his friend’s shoulder, he said, “Boy, Jerry, I sure hope you can sail this boat alone! If what I see around me is a sample, I’m afraid I’m going to be too confused to do more than just watch you and maybe ask a few simple-minded questions!”

“Don’t worry about it,” Jerry said with a grin. “It’s not anywhere near as complicated as it looks at first sight. I learned to handle a boat fairly well in just a few summers at the shore, plus some instruction in the Sea Scouts, and I didn’t even have my own boat so that I could sail regularly. One season of working your own boat will probably turn you into a first-rate skipper!”

Then Jerry frowned for a minute and ran his hand over his hair. “Speaking of being a skipper,” he began awkwardly, “you realize, I guess, that I’ll have to act as skipper of this boat at first? I mean, I know it’s your boat and all, but....”

Sandy laughed. “You go right ahead and take charge! I’ll be more than happy to take orders from you. After all, somebody on board has to be in charge, and it’s a good idea to have it be someone who knows what he’s in charge of!”

“Fine,” Jerry said, looking relieved. “If you just keep up that kind of attitude, you’ll be the best kind of a crew member that any skipper could ask for!”

Sandy’s Uncle Russ had been waiting by his car while the boys had been talking and taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the Cliffport Boat Yard. Now he moved over to join them. “The trunk of the car is open,” he said, “and your sea bags are in there. And that’s as much as I intend to do about it. I don’t know much about sailors, but if they’re anything at all like soldiers, they carry their own packs! Now let’s get going!”

The boys grinned sheepishly and ran to the back of the car to gather their equipment, and Russell Steele relaxed and dropped his mock military manner. An ex-general of the United States Army, he often kidded Sandy and his friends by pretending that they were soldiers in his command. This time, he reflected, it was very nearly true. In the same way that a general must feel a responsibility toward the men he sends out on a mission, Russell Steele felt responsible for Sandy and Jerry as they were preparing to set out on this trip.

After all, he reminded himself, the trip had been his idea, and the sailboat had been his present to Sandy. He had been using the boat during the last few months while doing some research on special underwater equipment for the government, and now he no longer had any need for it. As Vice President of World Dynamics Corporation, Russell Steele was in charge of the New Projects Division. World Dynamics was a sprawling concern with almost unlimited interests, often in the most secret kinds of affairs, and his work with it often called him to different parts of the world. He had found his stay in Cliffport a pleasant change from some of the remote and often primitive places he had been forced to settle in in the past. Now, however, he was off again, to one more secret destination. He wouldn’t be in a position to use a sailboat again for a long time to come.

Sandy’s Uncle Russ had been brought up on the seacoast of California. While his brother, Sandy’s father, had become fascinated with the rocks and geological formations of the nearby mountains and deserts, he had gone in the other direction to the shores of the Pacific. During nearly all of his boyhood he had puttered around boats and boat yards.

Although Russell Steele had spent most of his adult life in the Army (and maybe because of it) he had always had a soft spot in his heart for the sport of sailing. He had regretted that Sandy, his only nephew, lived inland in Valley View where he was unable to share in this enthusiasm. But Valley View was only a couple of hours from the seacoast and now that Sandy was old enough to drive a car, it would be possible for him to own and enjoy a sailboat.

Uncle Russ thought of all this, and then he wondered whether it had been a good idea to suggest that the boys bring the sloop all the way down from Cliffport on their very first sail. Still, he mused, Jerry seemed like a responsible lad, and he had said that he knew how to handle a boat well enough to make such a trip. And Sandy learned fast and was good with his hands. Well, the General thought to himself, we’ll just have to give them their heads and let them try it to see how they make out....

At that moment in his reflections, the boys joined him with their luggage, and all three started through the boat yard to the waterfront. As they picked their way through the clutter of boats, scrap lumber, railroad tracks and equipment, they passed close by the side of a boat standing on the ways about to be launched. Sandy ran his hand over the gleaming paintwork of the hull, and found that it was as smooth as glass. Jerry explained that great care was given to getting a smooth paint job, because the greatest force working against a boat to slow it down is the friction created by the water passing over the hull. Good racing boats, he told Sandy, are hauled out of the water to be cleaned and painted several times in a season.

Their walk had by now led them down to the water’s edge, where they walked along a weathered wharf. A light, early-morning haze made the colors of the sailboats that floated in the bay seem soft and pale. The water and the sky appeared to be one single surface, with no break or horizon line to indicate where one stopped and the other began. The boat-yard flag on its mast atop the main shed fluttered lazily in a mild breeze, and a gentle ground swell made soft, lapping sounds under the wharf.

Strolling along, they came to a long, steeply sloping gangway that descended to a floating dock, to which were tied several small sailboats that rocked quietly on the smooth swell of Cliffport Bay.

Russell Steele took his pipe out of his mouth and pointed with it. “See there?” he said. “The third sloop—the one with the white hull and the green decks and the varnished mast—that’s your new sailboat, Sandy, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.”

Before he had finished his sentence, Sandy and Jerry were down the steep gangway, racing along the floating dock to where the trim, white sloop was tied. Russ Steele smiled, replaced his pipe in his mouth, and followed at a pace almost as fast as the boys’.

“It’s a beauty!” Sandy panted, pushing his hair back from his eyes. “What slick lines! And look at how roomy the cabin is! And look at the height of the mast! And all that rigging!”

His grin faded, and a look of bewilderment spread across his face. “Boy, I can sure say that again! Just look at all that rigging! How am I supposed to know what to do with what and when to do it, Jerry?”

Jerry laughed,