The next morning, George, Darlene and Terry, now the yacht’s crew, united the bow, stern and spring lines, gave the engines some power and began their voyage. Before 0800 they were through the inlet and past the jetties, where they passed the line that divided the brown waters of the lake with the green and then blue waters of the ocean. As they passed the palace they could see the King and Queen on the balcony watch them set their course to the southeast and wave them off on their voyage.
It was a good day to be on the water, too; they were cruising into a headwind and a sea that were not too difficult. Terry was spending time with George at the helm getting used to piloting the boat, as Terry was the designated relief. They also used an autopilot from time to time. Darlene watched this with interest but stayed aloof; she was still cold and offish with Terry.
The Continental Shelf approached the island at its closest point on its eastern and western ends, so it was possible to run well within sight of land for the first leg of the voyage. They followed the coast down past the Drahlan border, but they only saw the occasional house on land as they travelled. They did see numerous Drahlan boats of various kinds, including one from the newly formed Royal Drahlan Coast Guard with which they had radio contact. William’s message of their coming had been received and was up and down the coast; although the yacht flew the Serelian flag off of the stern, they had taken the two Drahlan flags off of the car and were flying them off of the mast. The Serelian royal flag was off of the bow.
“Why did your father put together this meeting where Richard and I would clash? Didn’t he know about our bad relationship?” Terry asked.
“My father wanted to test you both,” George answered. “You passed. He didn’t.”
“But couldn’t Richard go back and set us up for failure?”
“Maybe,” George mused. “Depends on which bureaucrat wins out, and with the Verecundans one never knows. He has many enemies on both ends of the Island. So do you. Be careful.”
About noon Drago Point, with its lighthouse, was at the starboard, but they went on a bit before changing course to the southwest, in order to give the shoals off of the point a wide berth. With that the sea, which was at the bow, came to the port beam, the boat’s pitch turned to roll, Darlene turned green, and everyone realised that no one was looking forward to completing the journey in this way. George looked at the chart, then asked Terry, “You think we can run through the Crescan Sound?”
“How much does this thing draw?”
“A little less than 150 centimetres.”
“Let’s go inside—I’ll take it through Drago Cut and we’ll be fine.” Terry took the helm, set a course roughly northwest, took the boat right through the centre of Drago Cut at slack current, and came out in the Crescan Sound. They went back to their south-westerly course and continued as Darlene returned to her normal colour.
Terry piloted the boat to the centre of the Sound and let George steer for a while. Meanwhile the sight of a yacht with Serelian colours was getting the best of the Drahlans’ curiosity, so Terry and Darlene went out on deck to let them know who it was for sure. Most of them recognised Terry, but both of the girls waved at just about every craft they passed, like two beauty queens on a float. As was the case with her voyage up, Terry was watching the bottom, and redirected George’s course from time to time. As the afternoon went on and they came towards the part of the sound where the town of Cresca is, Terry came in to speak with George.
“This is where Ronald Amherst led his last expedition against us—he had three coastal freighters which he ferried his army through that cut”—she pointed to the gap between the barrier islands on the port—“and up past the point and landed just below Cresca.”
“Didn’t he lose one of the ships?” asked George.
“The first one went off course, picked the wrong cut, and ended up running aground in Vidameran waters.”
“Those guys eventually got back to Serelia, which was quite a comeback.”
Darlene listened to this conversation with intense interest while Terry continued. “But now we’re getting towards Alemara and the Avalon Retreat—these waters are a little tricky, especially since both the sun and the tide are getting low, so we’ll have to be careful.” Terry took the helm as they reduced the throttle. Just off the starboard bow they could see the Driscoll Point light; Terry progressively changed the course to port to avoid the shoals off of Driscoll Point until the Avalon Retreat Island was just off of the port bow, all the while watching the depth finder very carefully. The whole manoeuvre was a little tricky; the sun was setting just to port of Driscoll Point and their vision was blinded both by the sun and its reflection on the water. In the meanwhile George attempted to contact with Retreat by radio. They then carefully made their way until they were about 1500 metres on the lee side of the Retreat, at which point Terry told them to drop anchor.
Once their mooring was secure, Terry went and prepared dinner, since she thought that Darlene had spent too much time as galley slave on this voyage. Darlene concurred with this assessment; George continued to radio the retreat. It was after dinner when he finally raised them, but they informed him that they would prefer to receive them in the morning. Just after this they saw some small boats come out from the Retreat. They passed them but did not stop, and returned to the retreat shortly. The crew was tired after a long day at sea and quickly got to bed.
William’s trip back to Barlin wasn’t so eventful. When he got to Ft. Albert, he instructed his pilot/driver to go on and bring the lighter back by himself. He met Art Winley, an orange grower and his cousin, to take him through the grove trails which would get him close to Barlin. As they bounced down one of them in Winley’s old pick-up truck, their conversation turned to the trip to the Serelian palace.
“What’s the old king trying to do with Terry and George?”
“I’m not 100% sure,” William replied. “They’ve definitely soured on the Verecundans.”
“Which is probably why they recruited Terry,” Art mused. “But didn’t she figure it out about Darlene?”
“Hasn’t yet,” William answered. “But she will. And it won’t be pretty when that happens. But, to be honest, for this thing to blow up would be the best result.”