Thursday, 24 May 2012

A174 challenge - Lifeboats

This week's challenge was a story using lifeboats as its catalyst.


Jack crept aboard and hid in one of the five lifeboats. His job was to wait and check the crew and the defences of this fine battleship. The Catalonia was a large wooden battleship with twenty cannons both side and a crew of three hundred. However tonight was the festival of Santa Maria and only fifty men remained on board. The fighting had ceased weeks ago and Spain had signed a treaty with England to end the war. However the Spanish knew that there were still issues so the positioning of the Catalonia at the harbour entrance was a statement of power and a deterrent. She also acted as a sea-block as nothing bigger than a small rowing boat could enter the harbour without her moving. Unfortunately that would prove to be the downfall of fifty of the finest ships in the Armada.

Suddenly Jack heard movement. He ducked under the tarpaulin cover just as the first mate appeared.

'Heres to Santa Maria,' the first mate slurred and raised his flagon of ale in a toast.

This is going to be easier than we thought, Jack thought to himself. Suddenly a partially dressed young woman appeared.

'Hey Pete, are you not enjoying the party?'

'Sure am my lovely. I just thought I heard a noise up here.'

'Oh it'll just be one of the other girls, I shouldn't wonder. Come on back now. I need those strong arms of yours to keep me warm.

'Well here I come then.'

Pete chased the girl back towards the cabins. As the door opened the noise of a party in full swing could be heard.

The plan had been for Jack to signal to the other members of his team to come aboard as soon as the cost was clear but he had a better idea. He gathered together as many gun powder kegs as he could find and shared them amongst the lifeboats. Placing a long fuse in each lifeboat he lowered them into the water. He then piled the remnants of the gunpowder into the centre of the Catalonia's deck, barricaded the cabin door and lit the fuses. He lowered himself into the water, lit the lifeboats fuses and pushed them with the tide towards the other boats in the harbour. Swimming as fast as he could, he was at a safe distance by the time the first boat exploded. He had timed it perfectly. It had exploded next to a fully laden battleship, igniting its gunpowder and creating a knock on effect throughout the harbour. All this created the best fireworks display Santa Maria had ever seen.

The devastation was massive and Jack or Jacques as it should be spelt won the highest honour in the French Navy. It took another five years for peace to be restored between England and Spain by which time France had become the true European superpower.

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