By Jeff Baker
We’d traded our sloop in on something with an engine and had spent about a day fishing in the open sea. I guess that was my Stepdad’s idea of “bonding,” and it largely worked. Then the fog rolled in and our engine cut out. After about ten minutes of trying, my Stepdad gave up on starting it and swore under his breath. I had just turned fifteen and hadn’t started driving, let alone working on engines. We tried the radio but all we got was static. This was a few decades before cellphones, but I have a feeling those wouldn’t have worked either.
My stepdad smiled and suggested we break out the oars. We had oars, but I could tell he was worried. I was fishing around in my pockets for my compass when we heard someone call out “Hullo!”
We looked there and saw another ship sitting there in the fog. There was a name on the bow. I couldn’t read it; it was in some foreign script, like maybe Russian.
“Can you help us?” my stepdad asked. “Our engine won’t start, and we’re stuck out here.”
“Don’t know much about engines, but maybe we can pull you back to shore,” The man in the other boat was tall and sunburned, with dark curly hair. “We’re the Swift Traveler by the way.
“We’re the In Doubt,” my stepdad told him.
The man on the Swift Traveler nodded and turned to his crew.
“Autolycus, get the rope over there. Ancaeus, prepare to get this ship back to port.”
A young man pulled off his shirt and shoes and jumped into the water and quickly swam the distance between the two ships, rope between his teeth which he tied to the In Doubt. He then swam back as if he’d been born to the water. When he climbed back aboard the Swift Traveler, the man gave a few orders and their ship started moving, pulling us along with it. In a few minutes we saw the rocky outcropping that marked the entrance to Wanderer’s Bay. We hadn’t been far. The Swift Traveler pulled us back and once we were safely docked, the crew of the Swift Traveler waved and the ship began to head out to sea. My stepdad and I waved.
“Thanks! I’m Ed, this is Sean,” my stepdad called out.
“Jason,” the man in the other ship called out.
We watched them go, their engines as silent as any I’d ever heard.
Gus, the man who ran the shop on the dock listened to our story and said we were lucky someone showed up to pull us in.
“I wouldn’t want to be stuck out there,” he said. “The sea around Wanderer’s Bay is supposed to be haunted. From time to time, old ships and sailors have been seen in the area. Some from long ago.”
I didn’t believe any of that, but one night decades later I looked up some of the names I remembered and what came up was “See; Argonauts.”