Stories From the Crow's Nest (3 of 10)
About two weeks into my job, the monotony had started to set in.
I caught myself thinking about Jarvis more than before. I began
to take a knife aloft with me and carve things into mast and the basket and the deck I stood on. I tried to sing chanteys when the crew did, but they could never hear me, and all I ever heard was my terrible voice that was too far aloft to come together with theirs to make a robust melody. I began to watch the crew more than the horizons. I’d make bets in my head on where Paddy was headed on deck, or look for people breaking the rules.
The vessel’s eyes was I.
Now and again I’d give people a scare, telling them I’ve been watching them, and I saw them shirk their work, or spit tobacco juice on the officers’ door, or take too many trips to the head. Flynn took four head breaks in a half hour once. I never tell on my comrades but that time I did consider it.
Then one day I saw it. I mean all of a sudden I saw it. It stuck out like a sore thumb. I grabbed the spyglass that hangs on the inside of the basket and gave a look. It was a Portuguese cargo fluyt. I could see the crew, I could see the lanterns, and so I gave a shout to the master.
“Ship ahoy!” I said. “She’s flying Portugal sir, about two miles off the port bow!”
Make no mistake, we weren’t in a direct conflict with the Portuguese, but again we weren’t the Navy. We were a privateering packet out of London, as I previously stated.