Chapter Ten [V]

At once Ophélie was back in the race, but they had lost a lot of ground previously and Kristy was gaining on them, having just reached the place where the gully of the Dripping Rock dipped inwards. The ferry landing was, for Team Kristy, several minutes away.

Suddenly Kristy’s mainsail flapped, interrupting its quick run and warning Captain Élodie of wind changes beyond the point.

Captain Daniel pursed his lips as the sail flapped and their plight was checked. Élodie would certainly not make the same mistake of blundering naively past the point, having watched their own error in perfect innocence. He must make a decision, and fast. The wind was completely different to the channelled gusts before the point, blowing down from the mountains opposite the lake and whipping around Pertisau. It was so unpredictable.

“How’s the wind, able seaman?” Dan appealed to his sister, who could be relied upon to keep her ground and analyse the wind more accurately than he, as he was always twisting and turning about.

“It’s all wrong,” thus said Dee. “If we head straight for the ferry landing we’ll be battling against the wind not to be blown onto the shore. It’ll be impossible to miss the diving board at the Furstenhaus if we go straight on.”

Dan frowned again. What could they do, then? He trusted Delia’s verdict as he trusted himself. But how could they possibly avoid heading straight for the ferry landing? All this time they were wasting valuable moments and Ophélie was gaining rapidly. He made a decision.

“Dee, steer straight for Seespitz, and keep at it till I say otherwise,” he ordered. He didn’t know if his plan would work, but it was worth a try. Delia looked surprised, but she said, “Aye, aye, captain,” and turned for Seespitz, trusting his orders as he trusted her judgment.

Blaise was up in arms at once, but Daniel paid no heed to her. Aoife just smiled at him. It was good for Dan to think for himself, and good for Blaise’s whims to be ignored for once. Aoife didn’t know what the captain was up to, but she trusted him implicitly.

Captain Élodie frowned as Kristiane changed tack.

“What are they doing?” Coralie cried.

“I don’t know, but I’m not worrying just yet.”

“I wouldn’t. They’re going the wrong direction, and they said they didn’t know a thing about boats when I asked Blaise when we first met them. They’ve just been lucky today, and have no idea what they’re doing.”

“Yeah, lucky,” Basilie said expressionlessly. She seemed to be assuring herself that the Thimbles could not win. After all, they had virtually no speed on their present tack. They were crawling along. How could they win at that speed, and in that direction? “What is Dan up to?” Basilie murmured, racking her brains.

But Captain Dan knew what he was doing. And it was coming together in his head as they edged along through the water.

“Coralie is level with us!” shrieked Blaise. “Why aren’t we going towards the landing?”

Dan merely laughed, and Aoife did too.

“They can’t hope to beat us,” she said. “They’ll spend at least half a minute just going round that diving board, and then they’ll be in the soup. We’re nearly there.”

Blaise glared at the diving board. It was the reason she had just made a fool of herself. But on the other hand, it was winning the race for them. And yet, why were they still not turning for the landing? They were nearly level with it, for goodness’ sake!

She opened her mouth to remind the captain, but he was before her.

“Right, now for the ferry landing, Dee, and make sure you come up just beside it. We don’t want any scratches on our good old Kristy.”

“You sound like Franz,” grumbled Blaise. It was obvious she had nothing better to do than grouse.

“Wake Nat up when we land, Blaise?” appealed Aoife, who seemed to realise Blaise’s feeling of uselessness, and as Ophélie’s crew realised that unless they halted and made some careful manoeuvres around the diving board they would crash, Delia was serenely helping the two passengers onto the jetty.

The End

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