“We can plug her seams, all right,” said Steve, “and by keeping a pump going get to port, if we can only get her off the beach. But I can’t, for the life of me, see how we’re going to do that. Her bow’s settled a foot deep in sand and it’s piled up along this side of her. Even her propeller’s buried!”
“Not very much,” said Joe. “If we start her she’ll kick it away in a minute.”
“But there isn’t any use starting her,” said Steve thoughtfully, “unless she’s afloat a good deal more than she was this morning. If only we had something to fix a line to astern we might pull her off with the windlass.” His gaze ran seaward and in an instant he was on his feet gazing intently through the mist. “What’s that back there?” he demanded eagerly. “Isn’t it a rock, fellows?”
It was a rock whose brown head was thrust barely two feet above the water.
“It’s the ledge we grazed last night,” cried Joe. “Could we get a rope to that, Steve?”
“Why not? We’ll have a go at it, anyway. Help me with the tender, someone!”
It was difficult work. As a first step the bow line was replaced by a smaller rope and taken through the breakers to the out-cropping ledge. There, working precariously in the water while Joe held him from the boat and Han did his best to keep the dingey steady, Steve eventually got the big cable around the rock, protecting it from the rough edges by a blanket from one of the berths. Fortunately, the rock was so formed that, once drawn tight, there was no danger of the rope slipping off, and they returned to the Adventurer, Steve towing behind, in triumph. In the meanwhile the others, directed by Phil, were stuffing the worst of the seams with strips of muslin, using table knives for caulking irons. The cable to the rock was led through a ring at the stern and carried forward to the windlass. By the time the tide had begun to rise again they had got the hull free of water, taking turns at the hand-pump and operating the bilge-pump at the same time. Then they waited to see how well they had succeeded at their caulking. It was noon by that time, and they ate cold rations in the galley, and while they were below a transient gleam of sunlight shone for an instant through the hatch above and they tumbled to deck. The fine rain had almost ceased and although the sunlight was gone again, the clouds were breaking. Steve whooped for joy and the others joined him. It might have been only in imagination, but it seemed that the wind was less fierce and that the in-rolling breakers were less formidable.