A Sinking Ship

“You can’t be serious?” The captain’s face was flushed with fury.

“It’s an expedient manoeuvre but it could work. We’ve nothing to lose now have we?” Jack glanced over the port quarter and saw 22 wooden lifeboats full to capacity bobbing on the choppy ocean.

“What you’re proposing is an offence.”

“Well,” Jack said addressing the 76 remaining men directly, “I suggest we start praying.”

There were anxious looks and in the brief silence, an agonising squeal from the belly of the ship signified that another pig had met its end.

A voice called out, “We should try.”

“Sink the ship?” The captain bellowed.

“Not sink the ship.” Jack was getting exasperated with the captain’s obstinance. “I said we could try partial scuttling. It’s been done before I’m sure.”

“No, it hasn’t.”

“Well let’s be the first.”

“Aye! and the last!” countered the captain.

“you won’t free the seacock from the inside,” said Dulcas. “The bulkhead’s alight and the pressure on the hull will hold the valve fast.”

“We can free the seacock if we turn her hard to port.”

“Then what?” said another voice. “That will quench the fire but how do we re-seal the valve before she sinks?”

“I can dive under and close the shut-off,” suggested Dulcas.

“And what if you can’t?”

“Then we drown instead of burn,” Jack said finally.

Once in agreement, the men moved quickly. Dulcas was lowered over the side. He wrestled with the valve as the ship turned hard against the wind. She straightened and the hulled filled with ocean. The fire couldn’t compete and soon the signal was yelled over the Bulwarks. Ducas disappeared beneath the water and was gone for maybe a minute. Finally, his head broke the waves and he sucked in the air with a gasp.

“Done!” He shouted and they cheered in triumph and relief.

“I admire your innovation.” the captain said with a weak smile. He moved so close that Jack could smell the fumes of his breath and said in a low menacing tone  “Question my authority again and I’ll kill you.”

© richard 2021
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critique and comments welcome.
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A tight little package with a neat ending. A couple of unnecessary capitalisations but that’s trifling.


This reply was from Richard (logged in as admin by mistake!)
Thanks, Steve 🙂

Last edited 7 months ago by ukadmin

Nice little scene. I would bring the captain back again after this sentence to stress his irritation: Ducas disappeared beneath the water and was gone for maybe a minute. Also correct ‘hulled’ in the last but one paragraph to ‘hull.’ Good writing.


The inclusion of the irritated captain at that point will give the readers a chance to feel the minute Ducas was underwater.

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