Chapter 12

With Tinkerbelle doing her stuff, I bore up well under the waves' onslaught, but I began to have troubles of another sort, for this time, about 10 A.M., Tinkerbelle time, I had gone without sleep for nearly thirty hours.As it had done the day I picked up that "hitchhiker," my mind began to play strange tricks on me.

During the next hour or so, as closely as I can recall, my being was gradually permeated with the inexplicable feeling that Tinkerbelle and I were accompanied by other people in other boats, none of them identified specifically, and that we were there to search for a small dock and community known as Ada's Landing.� I didn't know why the other sailors had to find the place, but I had a clear understanding of why I had to do so:� I was to meet Robin and help her overcome some serious trouble she was in.I didn't know exactly what her problem was; all I knew was that it was extremely serious and that a solution was essential for her future happiness.

I took in the sea anchor and, sailing under genny alone, began to hunt for the landing.We sailed and sailed and sailed; and now, looking back on it, I realize the sailing I did that day, through those giant waves, must have been remarkable, even fantastic.Or maybe the magnitude of the waves was itself a part of the hallucination.

Eventually we got to a part of the ocean called the Place of the Sea Mountains, an aptly named spot, for the waves there were as lofty as snow-capped Alpine peaks; so enormous, in fact, that I realized, even in my hallucinational state, that for safety's sake Tinkerbelle should be returned to her sea anchor.

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So I streamed the bucket again and we resumed our roller-coaster ride, slowly drifting eastward, stern first.

As we climbed and slid over those aqueous peaks, the notion seeped slowly into my mind that we were in a kingdom of the sea ruled by a crusty old Scotsman named MacGregor, a man with scraggly white sideburns, plaid tam-o'-shanter, knobby knees showing below his kilt and an even more knobby cane in his hand.And for some unknown reason he was determined to do me in.

Of course, I wasn't going to let him knock me off if I could avoid it, but he did seem to have a rather unfair advantage in the form of a demonic choir of evil-faced, surplice-clad cutthroats.This horrendous assemblage of gravel-voiced killers had the miraculous power of controlling the size of the waves by the loudness of their singing.They were singing their lungs out, goaded on to ever-increasing volume by vociferous tongue-lashings administered by MacGregor.Louder and louder they sang, and bigger and bigger grew the waves.It seemed as though my hours, maybe my minutes, were numbered.

During all this (and it went on for several hours) I had strange visions of MacGregor and his choir in the sky that appeared very much like the double exposures one sometimes sees in a movie or on television, where two or more images are super-imposed on the same background.And as the minutes passed, old MacGregor grew increasingly enraged by his choir's inability to sing loud enough to put an end to me.He raved and stormed all over the heavens, threatening his dealers in a-cappella death with horrible punishments if I survived their vocalizing.Meanwhile, I waxed more and more confident that, with Tinkerbelle's help, I would be able to hold my own.Perhaps I even became over confident because, even the waves had not diminished in size, I felt I had to go on and find Robin.I was sure she was in desperate need of my help.

So I drew in the drogue again, set the genny and, with that single sail, started to swoosh up and down and around the

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wave mountains as if I were crossing the Rockies by bobsled.I did some of the fanciest sailing of my life, swishing around the edges of those huge waves, dodging the breaking crests and, sometimes, planing down their forward slopes at breakneck speed.

But I never seemed to get anywhere, much less to Ada's Landing.And neither did the people in the other boats accompanying me.We all seemed to be trapped in a maze, unable to find the way out.That's what the trouble was:the Place of

Drawing of Robert Manry and hallucination.

the Sea Mountains was a maze-like ocean realm, set entirely apart form the regular ocean we had been on the day before.We had to get out of it before we could get to Ada's Landing.

Eventually, after hours of struggling to find our way out, Tinkerbelle and I came upon a little elfin character who looked like a cross between a leprechaun and Gunga Din.

"How can we get out of this place?"I asked him in a tone of intense urgency.

He stood there on the water studying me for a long time in an impish way that I couldn't fathom.Then he scratched his bald head, threw out his arms, palms up, in a gesture of sad amazement, and said:

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"Sir, the trouble is you have been sailing clockwise.If you want to get out of here you must sail counterclockwise."

And with that he was gone.

I put Tinkerbelle about and started moving on a counter-clockwise course.It seemed to be the correct maneuver, for soon we came to a place where the sea descended in a gigantic staircase leading off to the eastern horizon. The whole world seemed to be tilted and yet, marvel of marvels, none of the water in the sea ran down the staircase and off the edge of the horizon.

Tinkerbelle and I now did some even fancier sailing than we had done already; we went down that mammoth staircase lickety-split.What we were actually doing, I guess, was to surf-ride the waves, which, through some sort of perceptual distortion induced by the hallucinations, appeared to be great downward steps in the sea.The thrills of downhill runs were electrifying, far more stirring than any I'd had before in all my life.They warned of danger, but I was in no condition to heed them.

We charged down wave after wave as if we were on a toboggan and then along came a wave we couldn't handle.It flung us forward so fast we broached and over we went.I found myself in the ocean a second time.I wasn't knocked as far from Tinkerbelle this time, though, because I had kept a firm grip on the tiller.I was back on board in a jiffy.

Two more times that afternoon Tinkerbelle broached and I was knocked into the sea by waves slamming into us from abeam.I held firmly to some part of the boat each time and got back aboard quickly, but the repetitious way in which I was being dumped overboard was as exasperating as my boat's self-righting accomplishments were gratifying.

Late in the afternoon we got to the bottom of the wave-formed staircase and again met the Gunga Din pixy.He told me Ada's Landing was off to starboard, not much farther, and so I turned and headed in the direction he indicated.In a few

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minutes I began to "see" bits of land ahead that I took to be the landing, but they always disappeared before I got right up to them.It was most perplexing, and equally infuriating.

I came to the conclusion-reluctantly, because he seemed a nice fellow-that Gunga Din was having prankish fun at my expense and that I had better not rely further on anything he said.I'd simply have to do the best I could on my own.I felt that I was bound to get out of the Place of the Sea Mountains, sooner or later, but I was assailed by painful shafts of doubt about whether I would be able to reach Robin and help her.The search for Ada's Landing began to seem futile.

My misgivings and anguish increased with each passing minute.My very soul was on the rack, tormented between the desperate ardor of my desire to help my daughter and the accumulating suspicions that I would not be able to do so, that I would fail her at this time when she needed me more than she ever had before.It was agony.

At about sunset Tinkerbelle and I (alone now, for our sailing companions had vanished) came to what seemed to be the brow of a long, easy slope off to port; and at the bottom of it was the "regular" ocean.This was the way out of the Sea Mountains.We'd found it, at last.

Tinkerbelle, still sailing under genny alone, all but flew down that ocean hill and rushed happily out into the normal, unjinxed, unbewitched sea.Oh, what a relief it was to be in it again!The face of our predicament was transformed from a frown to a smile, as though we had moved with one leap from hell to heaven.Goodbye, MacGregor!Goodbye you sinful singers!

I had a queer feeling that Ada"s Landing was nearby and that maybe we"d find it after all.But I needed sleep; every cell in my body cried for it.So I decided to rest and go on to the landing in the morning, hoping that Robin would be able to wait that much longer.I put out the bucket drogue, took down the genny, hoisted the anchor light in the rigging,

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unshipped the rudder, changed into dry clothes (those I had on were still wet from my dunkings) and climbed into the cabin, closing the hatch (all but a crack left open for air) after me.It was good to pull that blanket over me and close my eyes!

I now had no qualms whatever about sleeping in the cabin.In any case, the sea had settled down considerably; it wasn"t making nearly as much fuss as it had during the daylight hours.Conditions seemed ideal for sleeping, but just before I dropped off, the boat jiggled violently in a way that, I felt, couldn"t possibly have been caused by wave action.I stilled my breathing and strained my ears for some clue to what was going on outside.I thought I heard someone, or rather, two people, holding onto the boat and whispering.And then the boat jiggled again in that peculiar way.It was clear what was happening.Two jokers had swum out from the landing and were jostling the boat to annoy me, to keep me from getting the sleep I needed and to see how far they could go before I flew into a rage.

I tried to control my temper, but it steadily became more and more difficult.When I heard my tormentors pulling themselves around the boat, hand over hand, and, in low voices, planning more trickery, I could hardly contain myself.Then they jiggled Tinkerbelle again.

"Cut that out!"I yelled in as threatening a tone as I could produce.

Quiet reigned for two or three minutes and then I heard more whispering.Soon the boat began to rock.Those damnable swimmers were hanging onto the rub rails, one on each side, and seesawing the hull with fiendish delight.I could stand their impudent maliciousness no longer.Adrenalin gushed into my veins, making me hot with anger, and I stormed out of the cabin ready to beat my harassers to a pulp.

"Dammit!You bastards are going to get it now!"I roared.

But nobody was there.