Excerpted from Ocean of Insight by Heather Lyn Mann © 2016. Reprinted with permission of Parallax Press.


Tilloo Cay, Abaco Islands—Bahamas December 31, 2008

I look upon the jagged shore to calculate the time until impact. It’s difficult to know exactly because the anchors scrape the ocean floor, slowing our approach. The storm is building. Waves slam against the bow and drive us backward. The ship’s engine picked this moment to stop functioning, so Dave and I are suddenly, inexplicably, without power. The sun is slipping low and soon we will be without light.

I sailed my ship, Wild Hair, to this spot because I wanted lobster from the reef for a New Year’s dinner. But this is a place of peril in a gale––especially with a busted throttle cable. Now I am exposed, disabled, at risk of losing my ship, and maybe my life.

A primal panic starts simmering at the base of my spine. It wraps my intestines. My limbs feel thick as logs and my thoughts are slow; they roll into consciousness with the speed of old movie credits. Usually, I’m a quick thinker with good judgment, but fear is turning me into a sluggish animal—a bear sliding into hibernation.

“Wind, please stop blowing,” I whisper. A cold blast strong enough to make me stagger in place is the answer.

Wishful thinking is my problem. The promise of buttered seafood seduced me into believing the wind and sea wouldn’t turn foul until late in the evening, the storm would come more from the northeast, and this lobster-peppered harbor would remain flat. In reality, the fifty-four-degree cold front textures my flesh with goose bumps and shoves the boat toward ruin. The sky and ocean froth in a matching Soviet color palette. I don’t know what to do.


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