Two Half Hitches

It never would have happened if I hadn’t been in a silly mood and decided to tweak him. After all, when you’re with someone twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, and there isn’t any way to change very much until you get to the next port, you have to accommodate each other, right? You can’t get any more than fifty feet away from each other. And I don’t know about you, but I sometimes get in these moods that are… silly. I just felt like teasing him. So I grabbed his captain’s hat and jumped out of the cockpit and ran forward, dangling his hat over the side and taunting him.

“You can’t catch me.”

Of course he couldn’t – he was busy conning us through the shipping lanes, and neither of us had been able to get much sleep. I guess I needed a break, just a little fun.

“Get your ass back here with that right now.”

Things would have been fine except a little wave hit us… well, maybe not quite so little, it got us rocking for a second and I had to grab on with both hands and I dropped his hat. My heart was in my throat as it blew across the deck from me. As soon as we settled back down I dove after it and I touched it with my fingertips, wriggled after it, almost had it. It blew off the deck into the water. I knew I was in trouble. He growled at me.

“That hat was older than you are. Get back here right quick and take the wheel.”

It’s hard to walk on the deck of a pitching sailboat and not look where you’re going. Maybe it would help because I wasn’t looking him in the eye and he might have thought I was being a little… submissive. I took the wheel and my heartbeat pounded as he glared at me, then ducked down the companionway. I kept us on-course as I heard him rummaging around down there. What on earth did he want? It was a while – maybe five minutes before his head popped back up. Once he climbed back on deck I sucked in my breath. He was holding a cane in his hand. I’d never seen it before. A short length of line was stuffed in his pocket.

“Where did you get that?”

Of course I knew what it was – I’d had a boyfriend who thought it was the best way to keep me in line. Maybe he was right, I don’t know. But it had never appeared on board our boat before. When had he decided to prepare for my foolish behavior? I had a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach that had nothing to do with the gentle rocking of the boat.

“Never mind. I’ll be takin’ care of ye once we get into clear waters on the other side of the channel. Until we get there ye just stay right there Missy.”

It was awful. He laid it down on the cushion next to him. For another two hours every time I looked over at him I couldn’t help seeing it, laying there, the damn thing was scary. My tummy kept doing flip-flops until finally we were clear, and he turned up upwind and dropped the sails. I stood there trying to stare him down.

“Now, bein’ captain of this vessel and all, and havin’ the right by law to punish crew who are insolent…”

I couldn’t take it.

“Insolent? You big blubberhead. Insolent.”

He laughed for a second, a dry laugh without humor, grabbed the rail to steady himself.

“… insolent, I said. You’re gettin’ a taste of the cane now to straighten ye out as to who runs this boat. We’ll just put two half hitches on yer hands now, hold them out, then ye can bend over the cooler and be secured to the deck.”

I looked down at the cooler in the center of the cockpit. For him it was convenient – there was a small mahogany table on top that I’d be bent over. I couldn’t. I crossed my arms.


He looked at me.

“I beg yer pardon?”

It was a question. I answered.

“No. You can’t make me either, Dolph.”

I was pretty sure I knew him and I didn’t think he’d force it on me. I’d been caned before and he was a far bigger, stronger man. I just couldn’t face it.

“ I’m givin ye one last chance.”

I couldn’t talk, I was too scared. I just shook my head.

“All right then. Missy, just remember it was ye who started it.”

He spun the boat on a dime, sorted out the sails, didn’t say a word, and retraced our course. I couldn’t help wondering what he had in mind. It would be hours before we got back to port, which was all there was in this direction. I tried talking to him but he wouldn’t answer. If I’d been scared before, I was terrified now. The only thing I could think of he might do would leave me stranded in Brazil with no money, no friends, and nowhere to live. I begged him. He ignored me as if I weren’t there.

 * * *

 It was dawn when we cleared the breakwater and headed for the itinerant slips. He’d called in to the harbormaster requesting return and promising to leave right away. I’d talked myself hoarse and he hadn’t acknowledged me. He tied up alone – didn’t even send me running with the lines, which was my part of docking. I missed it. He went below while I stood there stupidly, not sure at all what to do. He tossed my bag out into the cockpit, then scurried up the ladder and stood there. He held out my passport.

“Have a nice life Missy. Ye’d best be checkin’ in with the port captain as crew who’ve been put ashore.”

“Please. Just go ahead and whip me if that’s what you want. I’ll take whatever you want. Just don’t leave me.”

I reached down to untie the bottom on my bikini, but I stopped. The look on his face was so sad. I knew I’d blown it.

“Nah, Missy, it just wouldn’t be the same. Ye made your bed, now, well… get off me boat.”

He threw my bag on the dock. I turned and looked. The sadness of his mouth was challenged by the harshness in his eyes. I shrugged, trying to keep the tears back. I jumped down to the quay, walked down toward town. I heard him moving, couldn’t watch. I went quite a way before I turned around. The boat I’d called home for two and a half years was silhouetted against the rising sun. I could just barely hear his voice, singing one of the many sea-chanties he favored.

I guess I won. He hadn’t beat me. For the rest of my life I knew I’d wish he had…


This is part of the #wankwednesday group run by Ruby Kiddell. To look at all the entries see

I did a post yesterday you might enjoy – a taste of the old west but in modern days




5 Responses to Two Half Hitches

  1. Pingback: Two Half Hitches | Passion's Blooming Rose

  2. Very thought provoking, excellent! 🙂

  3. Molly says:

    Ohhhhh that left me with a bit of a sad……although he kinda gave up a bit quick, and turned out her after 2 and half years!!!


  4. Gene says:

    So sad, a different sort of anticipation, leading to this break….very nice, hon.

  5. Thank you all for visiting – life has needed attention so I couldn’t get back to here until tonight – late for me for #wankwednesday.

    Yes, it was sad. Some of my writing explores the really bitter side of love, sometimes the bittersweet, but of course I love the sweet best. We’d all really like it best if it was all sweet, but once you’re past eleven or so you know that it really doesn’t work that way.

    Love to you all,


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