Monday, June 21, 2010

Pete's story

I saw the kid when I came outside for a break. Been working on the Barbaree all week--scraping paint, tinkering with the engine, getting things running smooth. I'm a little worried about her navigation system--that new GPS seems to be a bit sensitive to electrical anomalies in the system, but I'm sure we can work the kinks out eventually.

So, I'd been working hard all morning and, it being such a nice day in a town famous for bad, bad weather, I thought I'd go up on deck, have a look around. St. John's harbour is pretty--lots of views--the Basilica, Signal Hill with that great tower on it, the streets leading to the pretty colored houses. I've always had good feelings about St. John's and Newfoundland in general. Love the people, good people, storytellers.

Anyway, once I was on deck, I thought I'd go over the side and have a little chew of gum, look at the people a little. We don't see that many people, sailing on the Barbaree. And when I came over the side, I saw her, a little redheaded kid, big knapsack, looking a little lost. But as I watched her, I also saw she looked determined, like she might not know where she was headed, but that she knew how she was getting there, all right. I could practically see the wheels turning in that coppery head. So I talked to her, and saw she was running alright, but not away from anything--to something. She had a gold ring on a string around her neck, you could see it meant something to her. Said her name was Mikki and asked, kinda casual-like exactly how someone goes about stowing away.

Well, I've been sailing these seven seas since I was not much bigger than Mikki there, and one thing I know is, when you go to sea, you've got to be able to trust the ones you sail with. Every single day off land, your life is at risk--the sea is no joke. And I took it into my head that little Mikki there would be a lot better off with me and my Missus watching over her than she would be with anyone else. So when she asked me about stowing away, I told her. I knew the Captain wouldn't allow such a thing--illegal, taking a child from her home, hiding her on a ship, but something whispered in my ear that this child needed us and that somehow, we needed her too. So she came aboard like a good 'un, while I looked out over the wharf and whistled a little tune.

St. John's, where the Madigan family lives.

When Mikki walks from the central town toward the harbour, carrying her pack full of sandwiches and the NCOM, she travels down this street. On rainy, cold days, when she is just walking down to see which boats have entered the harbour, she dreads the trip home because the streets slope down to the water--walking back up that hill again is a drag, especially with the cold Newfoundland rain on the back of your neck. But on this day, the air is mild. It's the kind of day where anything might happen...And for a girl looking for a way out of town, walking down to the St. John's harbour is the most practical way to begin a grand adventure...

Read the story at...