Two hours into the Caribbean Sea crossing, Nuco and Medio were having a dramatically different experience than most of the boat's passengers. Nuco's decision to climb to the top deck had proved wise. La Florita , dwarfed by the waves the ocean wind kicked up, bobbed in the water like an airtight toy in a pool of hyperactive children, but from up high, they could see they rode a seaworthy vessel.
The situation was different on the main deck, starting with the boat's skipper. Since leaving dock, the man holding the wheel had zi
gzagged seaward, as if taking direction from the spin of one of the empty rum bottles the crew had polished off before leaving port rather than a real compass. The occasional deckhand that stumbled out of the pilothouse to search for land didn't help.
A wave hit the bow, shattered, and sprayed the top deck with seawater. Just as quickly, the water was burnt away by the sun, which warmed them. "Yaaoooooo!" howled Medio, waving his arm in the air and dipping into the bob. Nuco chuckled and wiped the water off his face, enjoying its salty taste. Medio had been in quite a different frame of mind when they flew out of Syracuse, where his ex novia had predicted that she would be the last person to see him alive.
One of several islands that poked its nose out of the coral reef fringing the north coast of Honduras, Utila had served as a mooring point for English pirates intent on raiding the Spanish galleons plundering the mainland. Nuco had visited the island several times and when Medio approached him about traveling to a tropical place for the winter break, he'd suggested the former pirate colony. "They have great beer down there," Nuco said, which had been enough to set the plan in motion.
Another wave crested against the bow and the airborne water soaked them. Nuco leaned forward, enjoying the contrast of hot and cold brought on by the waves and sunand felt a sudden shock on his calf. He pulled his leg away from the boat and glanced down. A bare wire ran below him to an overhead bulb inside the pilothouse. "Watch that wire!" he yelled, pointing out the electrical hazard. This was why they had come so far from the ice and snow of central New York! This was high adventure at its best!
Nuco heard a retching sound below and peered over the top deck. Capn lay on the main deck, his head hanging over the port side gunwale. Near him, a pile of propane gas tanks were lashed on board with a rope, which disappeared into the sea. Like a wounded Ahab, the seasick Syracusan gripped the rope tightly, as if it led to his deep water nemesis. Once he had finished retching, Capn fell back among the propane tanks, which formed a comfortable niche for the ailing mate.
"Yo Capn!" Nuco yelled, over the laboring sound of La Florita's engine. "Capn, you want to come some place dry?"
"I don't know where," Capn replied weakly.
Nuco straightened up, regretting not having convinced his friend to join him on the top deck at the beginning of the voyage.
"Where's the BigGuy?" Medio yelled.
"Probably getting sick in the back of the boat!" Nuco replied.