PTP: The Freak Wave
Part 1
by HMS Lozzy

It had seemed little short of a miracle that finally, after so many
years divided by culture, continent and timezone, the inaugural
meeting of the Monstrous writers was about to commence. With many a
fantastic 'Age of Sail' adventure under their collective belts for
all to see and enjoy, perhaps the greatest story of all was the fact
each and every lady was finally coming together in one place. The
excitement was palpable as this band of sisters met at the hotel bar
for a pre-dinner drink (the last of their number having arrived
after a horror 40 hour delayed plane flight from the UK but thirty
minutes previously).

Hearts brimming as one with expectation, the atmosphere over dinner,
coffee and still more drinks was jubilant as plans for the next day
were discussed with eager anticipation - the experience of meeting
face to face most incredible .

As it turns out, not only were the dozen or so ladies together in
one place for the first time, but a five day charter yacht trip was
also planned. What better way was there to explore the magnificent
coastline of Sydney and its surrounds from Gunnamatta bay in the
South to Little Jerusalem bay to the north than aboard a sailing
vessel (even if such was a far cry from the beloved tall ships
that had so thoroughly stolen their hearts to a woman.

Leaving sweethearts and families on land (those remaining behind
getting together for a little sightseeing of their own) the vessel
set sail; a trip burgeoning with promise aplenty. Not willing to
simply remain passive throughout the voyage, the ladies all took an
active role in either crewing their yacht(aptly named
Indefatigable), the act of participation bringing their shared
genre of interest to life in so many ways. With no one assigned to
kitchen duty, Sarah quickly volunteered (without protest from anyone
else) to take care of the group's culinary needs - fantastic
provisions making such a task a joy(if not a bit of a challenging
one - the galley though well appointed, ridiculously cramped).

Anchoring for the night in Little Jerusalem Bay, the champagne
flowed as all concerned partook of a fantastic meal, good
conversation and sharing over a bottle of wine or two leading to the
reason for their meeting - the Age of Sail and one certain Horatio
Hornblower and company. As late evening became early morning, the
girls turned in for the night, many a sweet dream to be had.

After an early breakfast, the Indi set sail once more, a long day's
voyage ahead. Having continually kept in touch with the authorities
on land and keeping a watch on bureau of meteorology forecasts, it
seemed more perfect weather couldn't be hoped for - the sky a
beautiful azure blue with a good wind in their favour and not a
cloud to be seen. It came as a complete shock when, upon the
horizon, an insignificant little white cloud swiftly developed into
a wild and terrifying storm of gale proportions tossing the yacht
about like a toy. The situation quickly escalated from bad to worse
as all radio and electronic contact with shore was lost further
investigation revealing the problem seemed to emanate from land as
all comms equipment checked out OK.In short succession, this trip of
a lifetime deteriorated into the group's worst nightmare as the
decision to abandon ship became imperative. No sooner had they piled
into their bright orange liferaft, than their yacht was all but
engulfed in a terrifying wave that took it under with chilling speed
and efficiency. Come to think of it, the charter personnel had
seemed to vanish right in front of their eyes an instant before the
evacuation. Barely five minutes had passed when the end seemed
unavoidable as a second freak wave capsized the liferaft with ease.
fighting for their lives, each woman struggled to the surface -
miraculously thirteen heads counted as the women swam for one
another, trying as much as possible to stay together, supporting
each other against the icy blast. To their utter shock,
communications with land were impossible as those who had
managed to retain their mobile phones could not raise a signal. With
no way of contacting the authorities the very real possibility of
this being their first and indeed their last adventure gnawed at the
fringes of their minds. The end almost upon them (several women
already unconscious from the cold) one of their number, a note of
sheer surprise in her voice, announced she'd spotted sail in
the distance. Quickly those who were able looked in the direction
indicated; this sighting confirmed as the familiar outline of a
tallship could be made out when lightning permitted. Little did they
know, they were no longer off the coast of Australia and most
certainly not half way through 2007.

***