The Angry Whore - Book 1
Chapter 9: Tortuga

Copyright┬ę 2006 by POL

´╗┐

19 July, 1686 Early Evening

The following week was uncommonly light, pleasant, and clear, with a good, wholesale, flowing breeze and the Angry Whore sailed onward in regular order with Carmen occasionally waving to one or another of the women when she wanted a sail trimmed, and that woman would run to the ropes and pull them through the blocks to adjust the angle of a yard. Everything worked smoothly and the Angry Whore proved herself to be a tight ship.

The women cleaned the entire ship from top to bottom including the hold, burning pitch, scrubbing everything with watered down rum, organizing ropes, sail cloth, hardware, barrels, food stuff and other miscellaneous items, then they tossed everything of no value overboard.

Carmen showed her shipmates how to drop a bucket attached to a rope from the rail, fill it up with sea water and swab the decks. She explained this was not a chore that had anything to do with housecleaning. Ships had to keep their planks tight against one another or the ship would leak. The water was used to swell the wood and keep it from drying out.

The small crew having become familiar with the handling of the ship became somewhat complacent and did not seem to apprehend any particular danger until they encountered a storm just after they had entered the "Windward Passage" off the eastern coast of Jamaica, which forced the craft to go north about. The waves lost all pattern, they had no regularity, no rhythmic succession as they hurled themselves against the sides of the ship and then sent sea spray pouring over its rails like steam. The women's senses were stunned by the terrible turmoil, the merciless might of the ocean beating down all feelings except that of overpowering domination and fear.

"Damn it!" Carmen shouted her loudest to the other women trying to make herself heard with difficulty, as the wind suddenly swept around the prow end of the ship chopping off her words with vicious abruptness, "No time to raise the storm sail! Bare poles ladies! Drop all sails but the Fore Stay! Then tether yourselves to the ship! Constance, get up here as soon as you can! I'll need help with this wheel! Claire, make sure you use the storm reefing ties on the Fore Stay and that the lines remain tight... or we'll lose it!"

Even though the wind made her words sound disjointed the women followed Carmen's orders and quickly dropped all but the one sail, then everyone lashed a tether tightly to themselves which was then securely attached to the ship.

Though out the night, they rode out the violent storm, trimming the single sail, keeping lines taunt through their blocks, manning the bulge pumps, and always with a minimum of two women at the wheel keeping the ship pointed into the teeth of the wind and sea.

The heavens themselves seemed to have fallen on sea, and as the lowering scud flew over their heads, and the sea-spray stung their faces and soaked their clothing the women labored on keeping the ship right while suppressing their aroused feeling of fear and anxiety knowing their very lives depended on the job at hand.

The storm raged on, ever pushing them farther north off their intended course and ever closer to the vicinity of Cuba. Then as suddenly as it had come, two hours before dawn the storm was gone and the sea fell almost as quiet as a lake.

Finally satisfied they were past all danger the women hugged each other, then laughed, then cried, and then laughed again releasing hours of pent up fear and tension.

They were becalmed for awhile, giving them time to inspect the ship which seemed to have come through the storm no worse for ware, then the wind rose, the sails were set and after adjusting the ships heading, the Angry Whore continued on, set on a course for their previous destination.

Two days later they were finally in sight of the Island of Tortuga, off the northwestern shore of Hispaniola and separated from it by only a narrow channel of some five or six miles in width. The small island, not more than twenty miles in length by perhaps seven or eight in breadth derived its name because of its shape which resembled an animals shell, the Tortuga de Mar, or sea turtle.

They anchored the Angry Whore well out in the bay away from most other vessels, and then taking the time by suspending themselves over the quarter deck the women painstakingly removed the name plate "Angry Whore" from her stern.

Over the next week they entered town in two's or three at a time. They each outfitted themselves with a few new wardrobes consisting of, breeches, linen shirts, full skirted waistcoats, stockings, pig leather thigh high boots, baldricks sword belts, sash's to be worn across one shoulder and tied with a bow at the waist, tricorne hats, and, as an after thought, each of them purchased a few less than lady like skirts.

They located an artisan and commissioned him to carve and then paint a new ships name plate "Maidens Revenge", which when completed at the end of the week they affixed to the stern of the ship to replace the one they had removed.

Like all larger ships the Maidens Revenge had cloth cords soaked in tar wedged between the hull planks to keep water out. A regular on-board ship's carpenter would keep track of any leaks and fix them before they caused a problem or got any stores below damp and rotten, because of the storm Carmen felt it a good idea to have the ship inspected by a practiced Carpenter. She located one named Ihon Dancort, a man with long slender arms that were taut with sinewy muscle from working with wood so much, and gnarled hands looking like they could hammer nails with their knuckles, and she hired him to look at the ship's planking and seal any leaks he might find in the hull.

After the carpenter had come aboard and had a look around he said, "I don't see much of a problem with her, but I'll bang a few cords up here and there, clapped full o' tar and she'll be drier 'n a lamb in Scotland."

"Seems like we're springin' leaks every time out," Carmen told him as if she had been sailing the Maidens Revenge forever.

"Sure, enough? It ain't like you're on a point o' purpose there or nothn'. She's not that old, unless you've been up on many a foul wind and weather I don't understand why she'd be loosenin' her skirts... like I say, unless it's a poundin' she's a getting'."

"Oh, thinkn' on it once again, I guess the Angry Whore... Aa... the Maidens Revenge hasn't sprung that many leaks but she has just recently come through a storm," Carmen said quickly attempting to cover up her idiocy of the ships name.

If the carpenter suspected anything he gave no notice of it, "I'll make a start on the port bow," he told her.

She nodded and the carpenter fell to his task.


Once they felt the ship was suitably outfitted and ready for sail, Constance and Carmen went ashore together a little after dark to see if they could gather current information concerning Port Royal, any talk of the taking of the Angry Whore or of her former captain Bass. They were both dressed in the not so lady like clothing they had recently purchased, cut high up one leg offering a tawdry display of shapely bare thigh flesh, tall boots, swords, Constance a striped bandana over her head, and Carmen wearing a red one. Both women also carried a loaded flit lock strapped high up on their thighs still covered by their skirts.

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