By Anton Sokolov
We were only miles from the shore, but our approach was marred by numerous hidden reefs and jagged rocks. They lay shallow and we spied two vessels that had succumbed to them some time ago. The remaining crew was uncharacteristically silent as we edged by the weathered wrecks.
The first mate declared a particularly narrow channel to be un-passable. But the Captain dispatched ten crewmen onto the submerged coral with sledgehammers. Thereafter, each chest-deep in water, they pulled the Antonia Aquillo into the tiny channel with ropes. It provided a marvelous solution!
However, just as we were about to lower the rope ladders, tragedy struck, as the men were beset by a school of reef-dwelling eels. Apparently, their toxic bites were quite painful. From the railing, we could see them swarming the men, who begged us for aid before succumbing to the paralytic effects of the toxin. Within moments, all were still in the water.
We continue on, in silence, and by sunset we had cleared the bars and put anchor in a bay with a red rock beach and emerald overgrowth beyond.
I confess I was near giddy to put my feet on land again! The smell of ripening fruits and warm earth was so pleasing to me as a cherished vintage. We gathered wood and made fires, and indulged in some tinned meat and lemons from our stores. How good it was to slumber on the beach with the cackle of embers nearby, having finally escaped the cramped and damp quarters of our vessel! We took turns with the watch and passed a quiet night - at last, we stood on Pandyssian soil!