Solar Sails

Solar Sails

Copyright © 2019 Farley Dunn

Flambeau hoisted the sail on the old-fashioned craft.

It seemed odd to see the spinnaker billow off the boat’s bow, catching in the wind with its bright yellow and blue stripes.

He sighed and began to reef the new mainsail. Its real use would come later in the voyage, when the breeze off the rocks diminished, and the wind became more precious than gold.

“Oddfellow,” Flambeau called through the open hatch. “We’re away. You thinking about lunch anytime soon?”

“Yah,” the unseen voice returned. “You sail, I cook. Yah? Then we be on the same foot.”

“Got it.” Flambeau laughed. Oddfellow using the phrase on the same foot was odd in itself, matching his name. Flambeau wondered if the old fellow had read it in one of the local rags from the shore. He shrugged and turned his face to the sun. It had warmed over the morning, the first truly bright day of the week. It was good to be on the water and away from their time on land.

As the boat flew through the chop faster and faster, Flambeau reefed the mainsail yet again. At this rate, before long, they wouldn’t need it at all. The spinnaker alone would provide more than adequate thrust. He turned to catch sight of Oddfellow coming up through the hatch, one long arm first, then a second carrying a plate of steaming oyster pie.

“This be yourn,” Oddfellow said, setting the plate on the deck, and balancing on his remaining six arms. His bulbous head and his larges eyes took in the whipping spinnaker and the boiling wake spreading from the gunwales. “Be about time to kick in the grav-lifters? Speed’s up right good. Be nice to get there before nightfall.”

“As you suggest, my friend.” Flambeau lifted one claw and pulled a lever back, and the deck rumbled as the turbines inside the ship powered on. Around them, the sea dropped away, as a powered winch rolled the spinnaker into a long tube rising to the top of the mast. A slight haze filled the air around them, the resulting energy field shimmering with the air’s realigned protective nanostructure; and with a quick jerk, the boat shot into the sky, reaching for the heavens.

Within moments, the deck settled down, riding smooth as glass in the boat’s protective envelope, and Flambeau reached for his pie, pleased to find it still steaming.

“A custard pie’s wait’n when you finish that,” Oddfellow offered, as he dropped to the deck and began to wriggle below. His final arm wrapped a cleat, its suckers holding tight, perhaps to steady himself, just before he disappeared into the cabin.

“Looking forward to it, my friend.” Flambeau balanced his plate on his crusher claw and used his smaller pincher to pick the juicy oysters from the pie and let one at a time slither down his throat.

It was good to be aboard his craft once more. He looked forward to reaching a high enough elevation to redeploy their new solar mainsail. They would really fly then.