“You’re right,” said Neil, after an instant. “There’s surf there, or I’m a Dutchman. And it isn’t far away.”
Steve, who had handed the wheel to Joe, nodded. “It’s surf, all right,” he agreed, “but it hasn’t any business there. What are you going to do when you can’t depend on the chart? Well, the only thing for us to try is another direction.” He swung the wheel well to port and slid the clutch in gently and, with the engine throttled down, the Adventurer nosed forward once more. “Phil, beat it out to the bow and keep your ears open, will you? Watch that deck, though; it’s slippery.” An anxious silence held for several minutes. Then Phil’s voice came from the fog-hidden bow:
“Surf dead ahead, Steve!” he called.
“Can you see anything?” shouted Steve as he again disengaged.
“No, but I can hear the waves breaking.”
They all could now that the propeller had stopped churning. Steve gazed dazedly from fog to compass and from compass to chart, and finally shook his head helplessly.
“It’s too much for me, fellows,” he said. “I’m going back as straight as I know how, or—” He stopped. “Hang it, there can’t be land on all sides!” He pulled the bow still further to port and again started. “Keep your ears open, Phil,” he called. “I’ll run her as slow as she’ll go. If you hear the surf plainer, shout.”
The Adventurer went on again. After a moment Han, leaning outboard over the deck rail, said: “It’s not so loud, Steve. I think we’re going away from it slowly.”
“Or else running parallel,” suggested Perry. “Anyhow, it isn’t any nearer.”
Another minute or two passed, with all hands listening intently. Then Phil sounded another warning. “Hold up, Steve! I may be crazy, but I’ll swear there’s surf dead ahead again!”
Steve motioned to Joe and, yielding the wheel after throwing out the clutch again, swung around a stanchion and crept cautiously along the roof of the main cabin and galley until he reached Phil’s side. Then, dropping to his knees and steadying himself by the flag-pole, he listened. Quite plainly and, as it seemed, from alarmingly nearby, came the gentle swish-swash of tiny waves breaking on a beach. In the fog it was difficult to tell whether the sound came from directly ahead or from starboard. At all events, when Steve turned his head to port the sound was certainly at his right or behind him.
“I’ll try it again,” he said. “You stay here, Phil.” He climbed back to the bridge deck. “Perry, are you working that fog-horn?” he demanded. “If you aren’t, get busy with it!” Once more the cruiser picked up and stole forward, her nose slowly swinging around to port. Steve had given up watching the compass now. All he wanted to do was find clear water. The swish of surf died away by degrees as the Adventurer edged cautiously along and, after five minutes, Steve