STORY SO FAR: With Lisa paying more attention to him, Aaron is feeling better. His mood plummets, however, when he hears the hum and throb of an approaching motorboat. Is it the Sea Wolf?

We knew that sound by now. The Sea Wolf was somewhere behind us, and gaining steadily. Sound travels far, out on the water; there was no telling how distant away the boat was. Willie raised his paddle, the signal to regroup. Dad and I coasted up to the others.

“This is the plan,” Willie said. “We separate, then meet up on Sprague Island after dark. According to the chart, there’s a tiny cove tucked into the southeastern corner.” He pulled out the chart and pointed out three ways to get to the cove. Then he handed the chart to Roger, who studied it for a moment and handed it to Dad.

The sound of the motor grew louder. “Whistle like a bird when you enter the cove,” Willie said, twittering softly by way of example.

Willie and Cassidy paddled northwest while Roger and Lisa headed northeast. Dad and I went due north, sticking to the channel.

I looked over my shoulder. The silhouette of a fishing boat, less than a mile away, was cutting our way.

“Dad, they’re coming!”

“Let’s pull toward shore,” he said, “and hide out till they pass by.” There was a wooded islet off to the east, maybe 500 yards away.

I never paddled so hard in my life. We synchronized our strokes so our paddles wouldn’t clash, and we skimmed across the sea. The first stars popped out, and the moon, half-full, grew brighter.

We slipped like a shadow up to the rocky shore, just as the Sea Wolf pulled even with us, about a quarter of a mile out in the main channel. They were chugging along at about 10 knots per hour, sweeping the sea with their spotlight.

I looped my arm around a low branch, and we hid out in the moon shadow till the Sea Wolf dwindled to a spot of light in the growing dark.

•••

Dad whistled softly as we entered the cove in the moonlight. The same whistle floated back to us.

Willie had built a small fire beneath a tarp rigged up like a lean-to. “You’re just in time, pard,” he said to me, and winked. “Bring me that big cod you hauled in. I got me some good hot coals here.”

I came back with the big fish dangling from a stringer and slapping against my shin.

“Thanks, pard,” said Willie. “I’ll have this puppy good to go in a jiffy.”

Twenty minutes later, our mouths watered when Willie pulled the foil-wrapped cod from the coals with his bare hands. He’d done it again. The stars burned, the waves slapped the shore, and the moon poured into us as we ate that fish with our fingers and moaned in delight.

•••

Lisa and I stayed up late, lying on a bed of moss and gazing up at the sky. A dark cloud passed across the moon.

“I had a dream about Chinese immigrants,” I said, and described it to her. “I don’t know how you got into it, but dreams are like that.”

“Yeah, dreams are strange, aren’t they?” she said. “Maybe you’re worried about me, Aaron, but don’t be. I can take care of myself.”

The wild, haunting cry of a loon pierced the night.

“Dad says that native people up here call loons rain birds,” I said. “If you hear one, it means a storm’s on the way.”

“Shhhh. It’s time for bed, me lad and lassie.” It was Roger. “We’re breaking camp before dawn.”

I rolled toward Lisa and she rolled toward me. Her high cheekbones caught the moonlight, and I could feel her warm breath on my face. The whole world seemed to stand still – but Roger called us again, the moment broke, and we crawled off to our separate tents.

•••

At false dawn, Dad slipped on a wet boulder and bruised his elbow. Cassidy told him he could go in his kayak and that he’d paddle for both of them. I started to protest, but Dad said, “Thanks, Cassidy. Good idea.”

Yeah, thanks Cassidy, I said to myself. Luckily, Lisa cheered me up. She begged to paddle with me – claiming we’d be lighter than Roger and her, and that we’d fly through the water like a dolphin.

We hugged the shorelines of small island after small island, paddling swiftly, perfectly in sync. At this rate, I told myself, we’d make it to the ferry on time the next day. Tomorrow! I thought. All of a sudden, I realized that I wanted this trip- which I’d had such doubts about taking – to never end.

Dark clouds began to gather in the late afternoon. When we heard the sound of the Sea Wolf, it hit us like a thunderclap.

“In here!” Roger called. We followed Willie and him through a narrow opening into a large lagoon. It was slack tide, and the lagoon was as flat as a lake.

We looked for a place to put in and camp, but stunted spruce grew in a solid mass right down to the waterline, so we decided to slip back out of the lagoon in the twilight and seek a better haven.

When we got to the opening, a tidal rip slashed across the way; the tide rushed in, like rapids through a narrow gorge. But Roger and Willie shot through it like pros. Then Cassidy paddled like the maniac he was – with Dad in front – and broke through, yipping like a coyote.

Now it was our turn. My mouth went dry, my palms were sweating. Here we go! I thought. Lisa and I paddled like crazy. But the rip turned our bow and hit us broadside, and over we went – swoosh! We hung upside down from our cockpits, clutched in the icy grip of the current – like the talons of an osprey – pummeled by bubbles of light.

(To be continued.)

Vocabulary/context/definition

Stringer: “I came back with the big fish dangling from a stringer…” (an open hook that slides through the end of a fish’s lower jaw to hold the fish on a chain after it is caught.)

Haven: “…we decided to slip back out of the lagoon…and seek a better haven.” (safe place, refuge)

Tidal rip: “When we got to the opening, a tidal rip slashed across the way…” (a body of water made rough by the conflict of opposing tides or currents.)

Talons: “We hung upside down…clutched in the icy grip of the current – like the talons of an osprey…” (the claws of a bird of prey or fish hawk)

Pummeled: “We hung upside down from our cockpits…pummeled by bubbles of light.” (pounded)

Question/predict/evaluate

1. What does the group do when they hear the Sea Wolf’s engine? Why do they split up? What do you think the captain would do if he found the kayakers?

2. How do you know the Sea Wolf is seriously looking for them?

3. Why does food taste so good when you are camping?

4. When Aaron and Lisa talk, she tells him not to worry, she can take care of herself. Would you agree with her? What would be the advantages and disadvantages of being the only female on such a trip?

5. Dad slips and bruises his elbow. What are the effects of his fall?

6. When Lisa and Aaron paddle together they hope to “fly through the water like a dolphin.” Explain what actually happened.

7. How do you right yourself in a kayak?

The newspaper connection

1. Throughout our story, Willie has used charts to plan their trip and determine their location just as he does in this chapter. How does a newspaper make use of charts, graphs, maps, and tables? Find an example and explain how to read the information in the graphic and what it adds to the article.

Chapter 13 answers

1. The kayakers regroup and each of the three kayaks go a separate way to end up at the same cove. They split up to try and fool the Sea Wolf. Answers will vary.

2. The Sea Wolf is serious because they don’t give up, they keep following the kayakers, using a spotlight to sweep the coast.

3. Answers will vary. Perhaps being outdoors spikes your appetite.

4. Answers will vary.

5. Because Aaron’s dad has bruised his elbow, Cassidy offers to take him in his kayak and paddle for him, Aaron gets mad about this idea, and Aaron gets teamed with Lisa in a kayak.

6. What actually happens is that a tidal rip rushes across the opening of the lagoon and it becomes very challenging for a kayak to make it to open water. Everyone gets through except Lisa and Aaron who capsize.

7. Answers will vary. Experienced kayakers are able to do a roll and flip themselves over and upright again.


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