14 - Troubled Waters by Dewey Lambdin

14 - Troubled Waters by Dewey Lambdin

Author:Dewey Lambdin [Dewey Lambdin]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Ship Captains, Lewrie; Alan (Fictitious Character), Action & Adventure, Fiction, Great Britain, Suspense, Sea Stories, Historical
ISBN: 9780312539375
Publisher: Macmillan
Published: 2008-01-02T08:00:00+00:00

Chapter Twenty-One

The safe, and navigable, outermost reaches of the Gironde river estuary measured about twelve miles across on a line drawn from Pointe de la Coubre, the tip of a narrow, hook-shaped peninsula on the north shore, an appendage to a clenched-fist larger peninsula whose Atlantic face was labelled the Cote Sauvage—which Lewrie took as auspicious—to a seaside village south of Pointe de Grave on the southern Atlantic coast named Soulac sur Mer.

The south shore peninsula narrowed and bent back to the nor 'east at Pointe de Grave, near another coastal village called Le Verdon sur Mer, which actually lay on the inner river bank. From Pointe de Grave to the north shore, and the small town of St. Georges de Didonne just a mile or so south of the larger town of Royan, lay the narrows of the Gironde, which was only about three miles across; a short row for a determined boat crew, or an even shorter sail.

Temptingly beyond those narrows, the Gironde widened considerably, remaining deep and six miles across, only narrowing slightly until it reached the long and skinny river aits that Rear-Admiral Lord Boxham had mentioned, near Pauillac and Blaye. Any number of French warships or merchant vessels could be moored below those Pointe de Grave narrows, but as to the getting to them, or even sneaking a ship's boat up the river to spy them out, it just didn't look like it was do-able . . .

"Now in King Louis the Fourteenth's day, sir," Mr. Winwood said in his usual bleak manner, "the key fort guarding the river was on the eastern bank, 'bout twelve or thirteen miles up-river, ah . . . here, at Saint Fort sur Gironde. One might suppose they deemed fortifications by Le Verdon sur Mer, the tip of Pointe de Grave, and Saint Georges de Didonne too vulnerable to armed landings. Now, though . . . my word!"

Keeping a chaste three miles offshore as they cruised down the north bank past La Grande Cote, St. Palais sur Mer, and to within sight of Royan in case some monstrous 42-pounder coastal guns might lurk in the forests and bleak fields, they had not seen all that much sign of military preparations. They had not been fired upon . . . yet . . . Though, as they neared St. Georges de Didonne, they could finally espy a stout pile of stonework sited about halfway between the village and the town of Royan. It appeared to be no more than one hundred yards long overall, a place formed in a shallow, three-sided U, with the crenellations that served as gun-ports no more than sixteen or twenty feet above the shoreline; but, with an even lower water battery mounting lighter guns to deter an assault by boats at the foot of its centre face.

"I count only four openings atop the walls for heavy guns along the walls . . . well, four per face, sir," Lt. Urquhart pointed out. "It might be open on its land face.


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