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Voyage of the Damned

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Ok, here it is, It is called Voyage of the Damned and takes place in the 1820's onboard a small English Brigantine.......



Voyage of the Damned

Jacob Swartz


(Length approved by Tim Brown)


Honestly, I had no notion what was to await me upon that cursed voyage. For I long I was back home in Plymouth, with the cool ocean breeze, my family, the bright beaches, and me waking up to the calm tides against the rocks at the cove, and the gulls flying for their own pleasure in the morning. Oh, if only I knew my first voyage would also be my last!

My name is William Hamilton, and I am due to become history any minute now. For no one will remember me, or miss me; I am just an average bystander that dies because of the incompetence of a fool. Two score and six years ago, I was born in Yorkshire, England.


My father wished me to pursue law, but I wished to become a doctor instead. I attended Cambridge University to study biology, theology, and medicine and graduated five years later. I was soon married to a perky yet pretty young lass who bore me two fine sons and a beautiful young girl. During my marriage years, I published a book about the life of my grandfather, Alfred, who served as physician aboard the HMS Endeavour belonging to famed captain, James Tiberius Cook. The match that triggered this final venture was ignited when my childhood friend, Spencer Bright, now a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, asked me to accompany him on a trip to the royal capital of New South Wales, “a small patch of heaven” he delineates, “called Sydney,” which apparently was settled in the year 1788 by predecessors of Cook.



“You really need to get out and have an adventure Will,” Spencer said to me as we sat down to a glass of ale in Starlight Tavern on the wharf in Plymouth. “I am a lieutenant now, which means I am almost ready for my first command. In order to prove myself worthy for that honor, I must first prove myself as a first officer.”


“What does this have to do with me?” I yawned in a bored manner.


“Everything! You see, before I am to become master of my own sloop or brig, I am to accompany Captain James McDougal to the New World. We are to deliver a ransom to the governor of the prison camp there which orders the release of an entire Yankee privateer crew that boldly attempted to take one of our East Indiamen back in June. We are then supposed to pick up spice from India on our return voyage and deliver it straight into Dover itself! All we need on the voyage is a doctor, and I promised the captain I’d find one. What do you say Will?” As he spoke, my mind wandered into what glimmering fortune I could acquire by accompanying him on the trip.


Sure enough, I accepted and told my children I was going to be away for several months (my wife was long since dead three years back) and I wrapped up all of my current affairs. I then arrived at the wharf where the vessel was moored. She was a quaint little Brig of maybe eighty or so tons that could carry up to twelve ten pounders, four swivels, and a crew of about sixty. We however needed to save room, so the captain only armed her with eight six pounders and a small crew of only twenty men including me. The men I personally got to adjoin besides Spencer and the Captain were two others, an expert seaman named Timothy Arrow, and one of the two ship’s boys, Thomas Wheeler, who was only twelve. “Captain on deck!” one of sailors respectfully yet firmly said as Captain McDougal climbed the gangplank.


The captain was different than I expected. He was old, warn, proud yet not of anything worthwhile, and crippled. He had no right leg! I pictured him as young, valiant, handsome, and decorated.


“Good day lads, and welcome aboard the HMS Ares,” Captain McDougal stuttered as he leaned on his fractured, wooden cane. The captain was a very monotonous person, and he lectured more about our mission and what was expected of us on this trip. I however stared in the direction of the newer wharf where one of those new steamboats was docked. I could barely make out her name, Lady Luck. She was obviously a transport ship.


“Captain,” I said as I yawned, “what’s that beauty over there?”


“That,” McDougal replied, “is the Lady Luck and our competition on this voyage. I have made a wager with her captain. Whoever makes it to Australia first gets 114 pounds and a small plantation in Jamaica.”


“What the Hell do we get then? You couldn’t sail this bucket without us!” said Jim Davis, one of the sailors.


“Indeed, you will be compensated. I plan to give you each two pounds of my wealth” the captain proudly said.


“Two measly pounds?” Jim disrespectfully replied to the captain.


“At least I am generous. Besides, I am the captain, am I not?” Jim grunted and went back to swabbing the deck. Within two more hours, the Ares was out of the channel and close behind the Lady Luck which had embarked earlier. During the first few days at sea, the ocean was calm, the crew was happy, and for a time, we were ahead of The Lady Luck due to its emergency stop in The Azores.


On this voyage, I was considered an officer. There were four others on the ship, and every night we had dinner in McDougal’s cabin below. My companions included McDougal, of course, First Officer Spencer Bright, and two ensigns. On the evening of the eighth day, the captain first asked about my previous “exploits” as he called them. “I have heard of your studies and accomplishments,” he continued, “Doctor, it is truly an honor to have you aboard my ship.”


One of the officers then changed the subject, “Captain, which passage will we be traveling through to get to Australia? We are rounding the Cape of Good Hope, correct?”


“Wrong!” the captain yelled banging his fists on the wooden table, “I intend to go the fastest route to Oceana, by rounding Cape Horn,” everybody paused looking at the captain, recollecting what he said. For everybody knew that Cape Horn was treacherous this time of year. “The Lady Luck will be traveling round’ the Horn. I intend to as well.”


“But sir,” one of the ensigns commenced, “The Luck is a steamboat; steamboats are made to handle gales. This is a Brigantine, we are vulnerable to storms like that and will surely sink. Do you truly intend to put you, your ship, your commission, your cargo, and your crew’s lives at risk by rounding the cape?” The captain didn’t answer; he only stared before going back to his meal.

The next day brought silence, nobody saluted the captain. We were all disgusted with his choice to round the Horn. We had the power to commandeer the ship since he was the only one in the crew who wished to make the trip. But we were not a rebellious crew, besides, we knew mutiny wasn’t tolerated, and we’d be surely hanged by a noose if we returned to any British colony.


Tim Arrow then spoke up as the captain took the helm of the ship once again, “You fool! You would really put us in danger by doing this? You are despicable!”


“I wouldn’t say such things if I were you Mr. Arrow,” the captain expressed calmly yet with a hint of annoyance.


“Most of the crew would agree with me there as well, Captain!” Arrow continued, “May our good Lord take pity upon your perverted soul!”


“I wouldn’t say such things if I were you!” the captain yelled as he lost his temper, “Men, tie this trouble maker up!” The four marines and their lieutenant grabbed Arrow and tied him up to one of the masts, “We will show our good seaman the true punishment if the captain and his orders are questioned. Four lashes Mr. Dawes,” McDougal ordered the marine’s officer. He followed his orders without any hesitation and soon Arrow’s back was bleeding heavily, he took his shirt and tied it like a bandage around his back.

Later that evening while the rest of the crew was eating their chow down below, I emerged back to the deck for a breath. There I found Tim gazing over the railing at the sea, sighing, his back still bleeding from earlier.“Will, I’m sorry, mutiny may be the only resort at this point, nineteen men can easily overtake the captain, even if he is armed.”



“Mr. Arrow,” I began as I let my pipe, “If we mutiny, we will be branded as pirates and will have no safe haven. Besides, it wouldn’t be us versus just the captain, there are always allies. The marines would assist him, as will two of the ensigns. Eight versus twelve men; they would potentially have an advantage.”


“Your right sir,” Tim sighed again, “I hope it didn’t have to come to this, but, tally ho my friend!” Tim jumped inside one of the boats and lowered himself down.



“You will be branded as a deserter Tim!” I called after him as he began rowing in the direction of Brazil.


“I am aware of that William; I’ll take my chances!” and with that he disappeared from my sight.


That night, I had a dream, the storm was already at hand and a large ship was sighted on the horizon. Amidst the tempest, the ship boarded us. Anyone could tell that she was The Flying Dutchman, doomed to sail the seas for eternity. I pitied the souls onboard who moaned as they saluted their damned captain who approached me. We discussed the captain’s incompetence, and he told me his tale about how he cursed to God as he rounded The Cape of Good Hope almost two centuries ago. His story in a way inspired me to convince the captain once I woke.


When I awoke, the storm was encroaching upon our small vessel and the captain standing proudly at the helm. He must have been as dumb as an ass and as proud as Lucifer if he had the guts to sail through that monster. “Captain!” I yelled, “Can’t you at least rethink your decision? We are, in fact, two days ahead of the Lady Luck!” He didn’t listen, and I knew that I would have no luck at all just as I witnessed the forward mast fall. Now I knew, he would surely lead us to ruin.


We almost sank once, but luckily one of the waves pushed us back to the surface. At one time, I thought this was merely a dream, so I attempted to fall asleep, but when I awoke, I was still in that nightmare. As we ventured deeper within the hurricane, the captain still stood at the wheel, smiling.



When the second mast collapsed, I knew I would die. I called for everybody alive to go bellow with me, and who was left of the crew followed me there. My childhood friend, Spencer Bright wasn’t there, he had been swallowed by the storm; all who remained was me, Captain McDougal, the boy, Tom Wheeler, two marines, and an ensign. We prayed that we would make it through and if not, our good Lord would accept us into his eternal kingdom. We knew it was all over when we heard a shriek, the captain was dead. We all agreed that the captain couldn’t deserve a better downfall, dying by the hands of his own mistake. Water began leaking into the ship not long after. My first voyage has proven to become my last; I will however complete this trip, though it will be to die…….


The End

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