The Raging Gale completed her turn to port to finish off the entangled sloop and pinnace. Hope watched as the ship’s guns turned battered and bloodied men into piles of meat. The slaughter burned into her eyes as the Gale came around for another pass at them.
To her surprise, a loud crash came from the entangled prey as the pinnace pushed off from her target, some of her gunwales tied to the sloop and dangling above the water from the lines that had kept them together before. The lateen of the pinnace caught the wind at beam reach and got under way quickly as it abandoned the sloop.
Captain Sanders gave an angry low yell as the situation changed and brought the Gale to a broad starboard heading to keep the sloop between her and the pinnace.
“Arms at the ready!” Osei commanded the crew on deck.
Hope kept singing, her voice starting to strain as she tried to keep the double time beat for the crew in battle. She tried to look for Charles among the men as they took position, ready to move to the gunwales or away as needed for Collins to light the guns.
Quickly, Sanders pushed for her life on the tiller and brought the Gale hard to port. The new heading put her and her ship on the same side of the sloop as the pinnace, now bearing down on the other vessel.
As the Gale closed with her, the pinnace went hard to starboard, putting the Gale straight into line with her guns. Before Hope could let her fears register, the pinnace fired two shots with a thunderous boom.
The report of cannons were followed by the cracking of wood as the bowsprit flew up, ripping the jib sail from the foremast. Hope couldn’t see if Kelly had jumped to safety first or if he went into the water with the rest of the wood and canvas as it ripped from the ship.
The Gale took a violent twist to starboard. As she came about, Collins gave the Gale‘s response; it was not coordinated with one voice as the first one had been, but each individual gun spoke, six distinct voices that delivered their own message. The three loaded with chain made short work of the pinnace’s lateen, raking it as though a giant cat had used her claws to tear it to shreds. The three with grape made the lucky ones dive for the decks; the ones without luck lost their heads and arms to the shot.
Quickly going to run close hauled with the wind, Sanders leapt while the tiller was tucked under her arms against her chest to keep the Gale moving. Moments after the turn to broad port, Osei gave his command and the compliment fired on the pinnace’s deck. Anyone who had stayed down on the deck from the grape shot were now buried under those who stood for the musket and blunderbuss fire that followed.
The blood on the pinnace’s deck ran such that the prey seemed ready to turn the waters of the Caribbean red…