One by one the others followed without misadventure save when Han slipped on the deck and would have rolled across and plunged over the further side had he not fortunately caught the iron support of the searchlight in front of the funnel. Phil was the last to go. With a final look about the deck as he clung to an awning pipe, he followed Ossie. The latter was swinging himself hand-over-hand by the rope with the waves surging to his shoulders. Then Phil saw him strike out and the waters hid him. The beach was visible at moments from the bow, and once Phil, as he prepared to swing himself off, thought he saw figures there. Then he, too, was battling. The waves swept him under the rope and would have wrenched him from it had he not clung on desperately. Holding to it with his right hand, he sought to find it with his left and so draw himself on, but the surf swirled him about dizzily and he gave up the attempt. Instead, almost drowned in the smother, he used his left arm and his legs for swimming, edging his right hand along the cable as best he could, and presently, although none too soon, felt the churning gravel beneath his stockinged feet. But when he tried to stand, the receding water swept his legs from under him so unexpectedly and forcibly that he lost his grasp of the rope. He went down and felt the water tugging him back, swam mightily and was lifted to the top of an in-rushing breaker, filled his lungs with air and felt blindly for the rope. Then hands seized him and Joe and Han, clinging to the cable, dragged him ashore.
Phil found himself under the frowning battlement of the huge cliff on a ledge of sand and shingle scarcely twenty feet wide. But there was less sweep for the rain here and the Adventurer was plainly visible through the strange semi-darkness. Steve had made the shore end of the cable fast to a boulder that stood, half out of the shingle, at the base of the cliff. For a long minute the six boys huddled there in the storm and disconsolately gazed at the boat. It was Han who voiced the thought of most of them.
“She won’t stay together long, I guess,” he said sorrowfully. “Those waves will batter her to pieces.”
“She’ll stand a lot of battering,” answered Steve hopefully. “It’s hitting her on the beam and she hasn’t swung much since I left her. The tide’s still coming in and—” He stopped. Then: “I ought to have dropped the stern anchor over,” he went on. “What an idiot! If she had that to hold her from swinging broadside—”
“Would it hold her?” asked Joe dubiously.
“It would help.” Steve tightened his belt. “I’m going back,” he said.
They remonstrated, but to no purpose. Then Joe and Han wanted to go along, and were denied. “It’s no trick,” said Steve resolutely. “I can do it easily. You fellows stand by when I come ashore again. That’s the only tough part of it. Someone might see if there’s a way up from this beach. If the tide comes much higher it’s going to be a bit damp here.”