Pete lashes himself to the life line and heads through the hatch to the outside. Maybe for the want of simply something to do, he closes in on the life raft for a look. He's a braver man than I. I didn't even want to look at it this hopeless craft. Upon seeing the foot pump he asks whether it is worth trying to fill up the raft with air. I can see his point.
'No, I don't think it is.'
I don't believe that the energy involved to get it to the 288 pounds per square foot of pressure needed would be worth expending. We can gather in the morning and try pumping it up then if it's needed. There will be more people to help and it will give us a job to do. Besides, I don't want to fully accept that we may well have to abandon our vessel for this floating tent.
Ben, Ben and Luke agree that maybe it should be left for now, Pete also.
'Quick! Pass me an EFIRB!'
It couldn't have been more than fifteen minutes of Pete being outside that we here him cry out.
Luke replies, 'What's an EFIRB?'
My humble guess would be that it's an EPIRB he's after. So we pass him one out. He sounds excited.
I stick my head through the gap. What a sight! What a beautiful, beautiful sight! What a din! What a beautiful, beautiful din! Floating above us is the brightest light I've ever seen, it's lighting up not only us but the vessel in front of us. The Letters WAGONBORG Must be twenty feet tall painted against the grey hull of a rather large merchant ship not twenty meters from us. The letters adorning the side of the boat are more like six feet tall. It is truly amazing how one remembers such things.
This vessel was the Dutch Merchant Ship M/V Ijsselborg. It had steamed 35 nautical miles out of it's way to aid in our rescue. It too had a bright light shining on us.
'Set off a flare.' I said.
I of course meant a smoke flare, it's not considered the done thing to be firing rockets at helicopters.
'DO NOT FIRE A FLARE!'
Enter Ben Bones. Standing up and looking good. Me and Ben Wookey insist that he leaves first. Reluctant to this idea he says that it's his responsibility to see we are all off of the boat safely. Ben Wookey replies with,
'Ben, we can argue about this all night when we're on the helicopter but you need to get up there before we do.'
This was indeed true, though looking at our skipper now you would never have guessed that he was lying silently on the brink of sleep up until thirty seconds ago. His argument was too a strong one.
'Look guys, there's no fucking way I'm not getting on that helicopter.'
OK Ben. We throw him through the hatch behind Luke. It's just me and Ben Wookey left here now, both laughing at each other. A serious disposition suddenly washes over me.
'Ben, I'm not sorry for what I am about to do.'
Grabbing his head I plant a massive, and I mean huge kiss right on his lips. The most surprising bit of it all was when he started kissing me back! Quite the moment indeed. Have you ever kissed your hero? Try it.
The elation of our now present situation is overwhelming. We've just lived a hundred years in six hours, and we are now being given the chance to live a hundred more.
'After you Ben.' I motion towards the hatch.
'No, please after you.'
'No no, I'd like to see that you get out okay.'
Ben says that he'll find it easier to leave the boat knowing that I'm outside. Fair enough. I tell him to leave anything behind that doesn't need to go up with him. This includes the torch he's been holding on to for a while now.
Once again I find myself looking around at a confused world, ready to plunge myself outside and escape from that upside down toilet that's been mocking me all night. Not so clever now are you? Stupid feckless porcelain bastard shitter!