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Backwater Pass by Steven Becker

Backwater Pass by Steven Becker

Author:Steven Becker [Becker, Steven]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: The White Marlin Press
Published: 2018-07-23T22:00:00+00:00


15

Now came the question of how much I wanted to involve Allie. She was in, so far as we were already headed to the reef site to look for physical evidence before it was dropped to the sea floor. I wanted to follow up on my new theory, but decided against including her, at least until I could confirm it. Searching through a pile of concrete and steel was not the same thing as speculating on whether one of the victims of the catastrophe actually had been a target.

For our purposes tonight, it didn’t really matter.

Spray flew off the low bow of the boat, giving us a misting that brought me back to the present. The wind had dropped, but the seas were still running about two feet, only slightly less than this morning. The bay waters at night were something that needed to be respected. Depending on the season, outside of the park boundaries lobster and crab buoys could be a minefield to nighttime boaters. Inside the boundaries it was generally safe, unless you hit a piece of debris. There were many hazards in the shallow bay waters, most well-marked with lights. Even without a chart plotter, as long as you remembered the three R’s—right, red, return—and kept the red markers or lights to starboard when inbound, you would be safe.

I dropped the RPMs and let the engine settle before raising the tilt of the engine slightly until the boat started to porpoise, then dropped it down slightly until it leveled out. Once I found the correct trim, I steered through the channel at the Featherbed Bank and headed for the open water to the north of Boca Chita Key. The lighthouse there was ornamental and had no functioning light of its own, but the security lights scattered around the campground gave the same information.

Once we were clear of Boca Chita there were no more barrier islands to slow down the surge of the open Atlantic waters and I had to readjust the trim and drop speed again. This time I caught it before taking on any water. On the way out I’d been worried about finding the site at night, but the barge was lit by security lights now. They weren’t from the barge itself, but from another, larger barge with a crane tied up next to it. A large ship was also stationed nearby. I could tell right away from its position that it was anchored and assumed from its size that it was a Coast Guard Cutter.

Without saying a word, I aborted our mission and spun the wheel to reverse course. Justine and Allie had come to the same conclusion, and we all glanced back, wondering if we had been seen. It was my park, but a nighttime confrontation with the Coasties was not good for anyone—you were assumed guilty until you proved your innocence. Without a light bar on the park service boat, we would not be recognized until they were within gunshot range. A



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