A cooling breeze came up from the gulf. The air felt good after the long hot still days of summer. Soon the wind would fill the sails of the galleons. The great fleet of Mother Spain would set sail, loaded down with it's cargo of gold, silver, coconuts, and woods, taken from the new world.
The ship, Aterrizar de Dorado, set low in the water. Its belly full. Tomorrow it would set out to sea on its return home. The longshoremen, were like ants, crawling over every part of the ship, everything had to be checked, then recheck. The ship would be at sea for nearly twenty-eight days before landing on the Canary Islands. The dried food stuff, water, and rum had been stored, now all that remained were the fresh food and yucca bread.
The night before the launch, was the busiest of times. The ship's crew and officers checked and listed everything in the ship's log. The King's booty was checked, if one coin or gem was missing it would mean their lives. Two hours before the sun rose the passengers were on board. The great wooden ship left the port of, Pota y Cuba. The passengers watched the land vanish from their sight.
Many had come to the new world poor, but now they returned rich. Gone was the hardship of the islands of Hispania, Cuba, Dominicana, and Puerto Rico. Now they would live the good life in Spain. There was a few tears, but within a few weeks they would live out their lives in the comforted of civilization.
Once the ship was out to sea, the crew was busy with their work. The sails had to be check, so no rips would tear them. The mask and rigging needed daily inspection.
The lookout in the crow's nest kept his eyes open for land but most important in the first few days, pirates. The unbelievers of the devil's own nation, England allow these thieves to roam the seas and they even protected, as well as stocked them.
The English ships were not as strong as the Spanish ships, but they were faster. But if the ship reached the jet stream, the Spanish secret route, they would be safe.
The ship was in its second day, the winds filled its sails. The heat of the land replaced by the cool ocean air. The sailors were getting into their routine went the voice called from the crow's nest, "barco."
The Captain looked in his glass. He saw the ship. It is coming from the North, that is not good, he thought. The devils had set up colonies in the North. They didn't care that these lands had been claimed for Spain. Even the Pope himself had approved this claim. His hope was that the other ship hadn't seen them yet. He knew he was taking a change setting out earlier then the other ships, but his cargo was most important for he carried the Lady Maria de Martinez, niece of the King of Spain.
He ordered his ship to change course to the South, to the Leeward Islands. He kept his eye on the other ship. Mother of God he thought when it changed its course. He yelled to the crew to open the sails and head southward. Then he ordered each man to man his station and prepare for battle.
They had a little over two hours. The lookout called down to the Captain, every change he saw. As the ship came nearer the lookout could soon make out her lines, his heart was in his trough as he yelled, "barco de Ingles, pirata!" The Captain was studying the ship through his own glass.
As he made out the colors his face turn pale, the skull and cross bones in a sea of red. "Sweet Jesus," he said. He was going to battle with one of the most feared pirates on the seas, Bloody Red Richard.
He could no longer run nor could he expected any help. Now he and his crew were in a battle for their lives, for this one took no prisoners. He ordered his ship to keep their port to the pirates ship. His one hope was to blast them from the waters. His cannons were larger then the ones used by the dogs of England, but that meant he had to get closer in order to fire them.
Richard's spies had done well. He had received word of one ship setting out early carrying a cargo worth more then he or his crew could spend in their life time.
The Captain knew his ship thought, Richard. He knows he can't out run me so he isn't wasting his time. He plans on fighting. Now Richard orders his own ship to change course.
The English ships were lighter then the ones of Spain, which made them faster.
But a couple of good shots of the sixteen pound balls would sink him. His strategy was to keep to his enemies bow or aft.
The Spanish cannons were hooked down and pointed on the port or stern side of the ship. The English were able to use their cannons from any part of the ship.
The Spanish Captain ordered a shot. This was more for show, range, and aim then any hope of hitting the enemy. The pirate vessel stayed out of range of the cannons.
Richard ordered his ship to head to the bow. He knew this was the weakest part of the boat. The back and sides were built with aged wood, which was as strong as iron. His orders were to damage the boat but not to sink it.
The gold and jewels would be nice, but the only jewel he was thinking of was wearing a dress. The bastard of a Spanish King would pay dearly for his niece he had told his crew.
Now Richard's ship was in the front of the gallon. As the Spanish ship tried to turn, Richard kept to the front. His cannons began their own booming.
His crew had been in many battles and each man was well seasoned. The pirate's ship kept inching closer to the Spanish ship. Soon they would be close enough to use their grappling hooks. The main mast of the Spanish ship was struck and fell.
The thick smoke of the cannons fire was beginning to blind everyone. The pirates throw hooks onto the yardarms. The Spanish crew saw the pirates flying through the air like demons.
Richard's men knew that the Spanish crew were ready for a fight. They knew that it was kill or be killed. The deck was full of smoke and flames, set off by the knocking over of the lamps. The Spanish crew were brave fighters but the fear of these demons were to much. Soon the pirates had taken the deck.
The pirates now were in control of the ship. Now the survivors were rounded up and the passengers taken to the deck. The booty was now brought up. The rum, gold, silver, and jewels was placed into a pile. The passengers saw that their years of hard work was now for nothing.
Out of the fog walked one man, tall with reddish blond hair. The pirates open a path for him. He ordered some of his men to take the booty to the ship. The prisoners were scared; scared for their lives. Some of the foodstuff was brought up. Richard ordered a plank of wood to be put out over the water.
Cries were heard among the Spanish passengers and crew. When the food was hauled up onto the deck Richard told his men to throw it over along with the dead.
Within minutes the water was boiling as the sharks fed and fought each other.
Richard looked at the ship hands, everyone was surprised as he spoke to them in Spanish. He said, "I feel no ill will for you, after all we are brothers of the sea. I will give you a choice, walk the plank and die for those who give you scraps as your rewards or join me. If you join me then each of you will get an equal part of what we win. The choice is yours."
Never had the sailors heard about this, they had always been told that Richard killed everyone. To a man they stood and swear their allegiance to Richard. Richard now looked at what remained of the ships officers, a hope that they might live was not to be their fate. Richard ordered their formal crew to place them onto the plank.
One by one they were forced to walk the plank. Each man begged for mercy as they stood on the end of the board. The crewmen pushed them off with pikes.
They screamed as they were pushed and fell, then there was a splash, and their cries stopped as the sharks fed.
Richard now turned to the passengers. Each of them had lost the color in their face.
"What shall I do with you?" he asked. "I have your gold, and you have no wealthy families to pay to get you back."
Then one voice, a female voice used to being listen to spoke up, "I am the niece of his majesty King Philip of Spain. My Uncle will pay my ransom as well as the rest of my fellow passengers," she said.
Richard looked at her, this one wasn't afraid, and she was sweet to the eye. He smiled bowed his head slightly and with a wave of his hand invited them aboard his ship.
As they were going abroad one of the pirate crewmen grabbed Lady Maria, she quickly turned and slapped him across the face.
"How dare you touch me," she said. She then shrieked as he raised his hand to her.
Before he could deliver the blow, Richard had sprung into action. He caught the pirate's fist in mid air, twisting his arm into a hammerlock he now had it pined behind the man's back.
Speaking to him and the rest of he crew he said, "no one lays a hand upon my guests without my leave. Do you understand me?"
"Aye, Captain," they all said.
Richard had all the hostages taken below deck. He had them locked into a storage area then posted two guards. He chosen them from the new crew members.
"No one is to enter or leave without my say so. Food is to be given to them at the door. If my orders are disobeyed you will have a long swim. Do you understand?" he asked them. They said they did.
.... There is more of this story ...