Death of a Supertanker

Death of a Supertanker by Antony Trew Read Free Book Online

Book: Death of a Supertanker by Antony Trew Read Free Book Online
Authors: Antony Trew
    The deck officers whom Kostadis saw most of were Jarrett and Foley. He had already entertained them to dinner at the Oyster Box, the hotel outside Durban where he was staying. Quick to sense the hostility between them he’d not invited them together. Foley had come with his wife on one occasion, Jarrett alone on another.
    It had not taken him long to sum up these men, to see into their minds: Jarrett, ambitious, talented, restless, tired of the sea, eager to make a career ashore; Foley, intelligent, conscientious, lacking in humour, content with life at sea but worried that he could not give his wife the sort of life she wanted. Kostadis found Sandy Foley attractive in a physical, sensual way. A little too provocative, perhaps, but very much the sort of woman men wanted. Foley, he conceded, had a problem. Jarrett was a vital amusing man; Foley himself, though competent, struck Kostadis as rather a bore.
    Captain Crutchley was busy in his office writing. He did this slowly in a large hand on ruled paper, stopping at times to peer at what he’d written. He finished a letter, sighed deeply, looked at the time and went through the bedroom to the bathroom. There he took off the dark glasses, bathed his eyes in a solution of warm water and metallic salts, inserted drops from a small blue-cappedbottle and massaged the eyeballs with his fingers. These tasks completed he cleaned the dark glasses and went back to his desk.
    From a drawer he took a rectangular magnifying glass and reread the letter. It was to his wife in Farnham – his second and very much younger wife. He’d recorded what little had happened since last he’d written, told of the progress of repair work, of Kostadis’s daily visits – I still mistrust the man and disapprove of an engineer in the post of marine-superintendent. It is essentially a seaman’s job. But he is capable and popular, so it must be prejudice on my part. – He complained that neither Kostadis, Lars Hammarsen , London nor Zurich was yet able to tell him the movements of the ship once repairs were completed – We’ve lost the cargo we were chartered for. – He asked after the two boys at Lancing – it’s good to learn from you that they are well and happy. I could wish that Bobby’s results were better. He’s certainly intelligent so it must be that he’s a late starter or just plain lazy.
    It was then that Captain Crutchley came to the matter so much on his mind: You ask about my eyes. I’m afraid the news is not good. The conjunctivitis shows little sign of clearing up. I intend to see a specialist here if the trouble continues, but would prefer to wait until I get home. I heard yesterday that Middleton is to be transferred to one of our homeward-bound bulk carriers due here shortly, while young Price is still in hospital and will not be fit for sea for several months, if ever again. This, as you will appreciate, confronts me with a difficult situation. Who knows what the end may be. But do not worry. I’ll find a solution.
    He wondered if he would and, if so, what it would be.
    There was an unseasonal wind blowing, its gusts rustling the leaves of solitary palm trees, chasing dust and old bits of paper along the roads behind the warehouses at the Point where the launch left the Ferry Jetty on its last trip of the night to thud and splash its way over the dark waters of Natal Bay. Freeman Jarrett, the Foleys, two junior engineers and the catering officer and his wife were crowded together in the sternsheets with a number of crewmen. Some of the Cape Verde Islanders had had too much to drink and the journey soon became a noisy one.
    The launch was well on its way and the men had just finished a sad mournful song of the islands when a row erupted suddenly. There were sounds of a scuffle, an exchange of oaths. Though most were in Portuguese, some were sufficiently international forJarrett to shout, ‘Cut that out, there are ladies on board.’ It was dark in

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