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.”