Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Buff's America's Cup Adventure 12/13

The Final Hours

 As the planet rotated towards the sun, light returned showing us the faint outline of a coastline, Gaza, a dusty silhouette against the red sky.

“We did it” breathed Ali.

“You did it” said Rachel, and for him that was what mattered.

It was so close now. We could see waves breaking on the beach, we could see the entrance to Gaza’s harbour, we could see crowds waiting for us. I watched this from inside my sleeping bag, lower half kept warm while my head popped out to watch our arrival, our triumph.

No boat could catch us now, for we’d outrun them all, their navel boats gunmetal grey smudges miles behind us.

I looked up at the massive wing glinting in the first rays of this, the new day. There was a line of holes from the encounter in the night, bullet holes. I shivered and snuggled deeper into my sleeping bag.

It was reflected in its mirrored surface that I first saw them. A pair of Cobra helicopter gunships, racing towards us like Terminator wasps, angry and dangerous.

Everyone watched them, unsure of how to respond. They’d been focussing for so long on sailing they’d forgotten there are other ways to travel.

“We keep going” said Michael.

“I will tell them who we are” said Rachel.

She got out the VHF again.

“I am Israeli, there are three Israelis on-board. There is a journalist on-board. We have no weapons, no fight.”

The helicopters tracked us, the speed we were so proud of nothing to their air frames, even though they were dwarfed by our wing.

Rachel raised her passport high in one hand.

“See” she said. “We mean no harm.”

She raised other hand high as if to surrender, and it was then the gunship opened fire. A stream of shells cut her in two, her top half tumbled overboard while the legs remained lying on the netting.

There was pandemonium, chaos in which they lost control of Luna Rossa, the giant craft nose diving into the waves, fling me headfirst into the surf. Bullets and shells continued to fly, picking off the others as they dangled on the netting, their screams cutting short one by one.

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