From the author of “The Spy” series comes three short stories about a mechanical watch lost on an uncharted island, a submarine’s voyage in Fiji, and an encounter with a Great White Shark. CLICK IMAGE BELOW TO ACCESS:
Owning a private luxury submarine was one of the greatest achievements for the young Trillionaire. Ever since reading about Captain Nemo and the Nautilus when he was young he dreamed of owning his own submarine. And now he does. From conception to christening, the Trillionaire, whose name is Peter, was involved every step of the way through the seven year project.
The overall length of his submarine is 821 feet and the beam is 112 feet. It has a triple hull and was built using titanium alloy for increased pressure resistance. It is propelled by an exotic eco-friendly engine producing a top speed of 50 knots submerged and 30 knots on the surface. Peter loved the ocean and wanted to spend most of his time under the water when traveling, so his submarine was made to endure submersion for up to 120 days. When on the surface, he and any guests aboard could relax on the deck of the submarine. He christened it Marinochka.
Peter thought it fitting to name his boat ‘Marinochka’ because it meant ‘From the Sea” and he could think of nothing more appropriate. As a gift on the maiden voyage he bought himself, and his crew of eighty-seven, Omega Seamaster Professional wristwatches. The watches were the classic black dial and black bezel on stainless steel and featured sword hands that produced an unmatched glow when in darkness. The watches were admired and worn by the entire crew.
The Marinochka was sailing from the San Francisco Naval Shipyard in California where it was temporarily docked until today. Peter told Captain Sumner to make way to the open ocean. The destination was to be the island of Fiji, approximately 5,434 miles from San Francisco. The journey would take about 96 hours submerged with the engines running at 100%. The sail on the boat was streamlined to the hull so the Conn could be housed inside it with seven portholes around it for observation. And it is from here Captain Sumner gave orders to his crew.
“Commander McShane, ahead slow and 3 degrees down.” said Captain Sumner.
“Aye aye sir. ‘Ahead slow and 3 degrees down’.” repeated Commander McShane.
“Captain, how is the weather outlook?” asked Peter.
“Unless something changes the weather will be clear, sir.” answered Captain Sumner.
When the Marinochka was 5 miles out, Captain Sumner stated the following order “Full ahead and 15 degrees down. Maintain your depth at 1-6-0 feet.” Satisfied all was well on the Conn, Peter set off down the stairwell to one of the few spacious rooms to relax and look at ocean life as it passed by through a large porthole. Only the finest of everything was found inside the Marinochka. The interior décor was by Versace and the beds were bespoke of Hästens. Even the crew had luxuries sailors of mega-yachts could only dream about. But when it was time to work, the Chief of the Boat, or COB, made sure they knew it.
Over the course of the journey the boat performed remarkably. The engine worked almost silently while propelling the submarine under the surface at just under 50 knots. The Marinochka was fitted with two Rolls-Royce azimuth thrusters on its tail on the port and starboard sides. At one point Captain Sumner ordered the submarine to perform Angles and Dangles maneuvers to see how the Marinochka held up under rapid direction and speed changes. The boat was solid. To Peter it was great fun. But the adventure had yet to begin.
Peter and the crew of the Marinochka spent six days at a resort in Vanua Levu, Fiji. He had reserved the entire resort for himself, so there were no other guests around for those six days. Half of the crew stayed aboard the boat while the others took time on the island and then switched with their mates. Never had they seen any place so beautiful and innocent to pollution often seen back home. Peter spent most of his time away from the crew. He enjoyed solitude most of the time because to him it meant freedom. He could march to the beat of his own drum. But sadly, also, he learned a long time ago how difficult it is to trust anyone interested in a relationship with him because of his incomprehensible wealth.
On the sixth day Peter woke up at 9:07 AM and grabbed his scuba gear and set off for a quick dive before returning to the Marinochka to depart to the next destination. He had forty minutes of oxygen left in his tank so looking at his Omega Seamaster he rotated the 20 marked on his bezel in line with the minute hand and dove into the water.
Below the surface he saw the many beautiful corals on the reef and took pictures of sea turtles, sea snakes, and dolphins. He was amused by the way the dolphins play and communicate. After what felt like a long time, he glanced at his Omega Seamaster. The minute hand was now aligned with the number forty-eight on the bezel indicating he had twelve minutes of oxygen remaining. He began his return and ascent to the surface.
About four meters from the surface, he felt a slight disturbance in the water and saw clouds of sand on the ocean floor tremble. He knew something had happened and thought perhaps it was a minor earthquake. He reached the surface and swam to the beach. Once he removed his scuba gear he started walking back to his bure to pack up his belongings. A few hundred yards away Captain Sumner was running towards Peter and waving his hands in a panic to attract his attention.
“What is it? What is going on? asked Peter.
Trying to catch his breath, Captain Sumner said “There is a gigantic wave, a tsunami, heading our way, sir. We need to leave now, or we’re dead.”
“How much time do we have?” asked Peter urgently.
“Just minutes possibly. But every moment we delay is going to cost us greatly. We must leave now, sir!” urged Captain Sumner
“Recall all crewmen on the island back to the boat and prepare the Marinochka to leave the island.” ordered the Trillionaire as he started to run to the staff at the resort.
“Right, sir.” acknowledged Captain Sumner running to the skiff where many of the crew was waiting.
Peter ran to the resort staff inside the main building that was huddled around a television watching a CNN report of the mega-tsunami. He heard the anchor say the tsunami began somewhere between Japan and the Midway Island’s. He did not hesitate to stop to watch a second of the report.
“All of you! You must leave now!” yelled Peter.
“We have nowhere to go, sir. We live on the island.” said the manager of the resort, a man named Tuicakau.
“Then you all must come with me. My boat can hold you all. Come with me now!”
“What about our families? May they come too?” asked Tuicakau.
“I am sorry, but there is not enough time to get them all to the boat. You must come with me now if you are going to live.” said Peter regretfully.
“No, I cannot go with you. I cannot leave my family behind. If there is not enough time for them to come, then I will spend that time with them.” said one of the resort staff. “I cannot go either. The shame of leaving them will be more painful than death.” added another staff person with tears running down her face.
Nearly all of the twenty-three resort staff chose to stay behind with their families and face certain death. It, also, was painful for two of the staff who was not from the island. They worked at the resort in part of an exchange program between Australia and South Africa.
The Australian staff member, Connor, began to feel ashamed about the words he was about to speak.
“My family is in Melbourne. If I stay here, it will devastate them. I will come with you.” he said. “So will I.” spoke up a girl named Vanessa, whose home is in Cape Town, South Africa. Inside she felt the same as Connor. But she too had a reason to leave. “My father is in Cape Town. He already lost my mother. If I can help it, he cannot lose me.” she said.
“Very well then, you must hurry to my boat.” said Peter. Then he took one last look at the staff remaining behind, and turned and left. There was nothing more to say. The staff’s decision was not going to change.
Peter helped Connor and Vanessa onto the skiff and then got on himself. Once they reached the Marinochka he got off the skiff and onto the submarine. He informed Captain Sumner two resort staff would be joining them and to order someone to see they are secured for departure. The Captain followed the command and once everyone had boarded the boat, he ordered the hatch sealed and said to Commander McShane, “Emergency speed.”
“Dive. Dive deep”
Peter checked on his guests and then headed to the Conn. He checked the time on his Seamaster; it read 10:16 A.M. At the Conn he asked the Captain about the tsunami.
“Where did the tsunami originate?”
“From the radio traffic we have been monitoring in Communications it started between Japan and the Midway Islands. It was the product of an asteroid impacting the water.” said Captain Sumner.
“An asteroid?!” exclaimed Peter in disbelief.
“Aye sir. Apparently, a piece of it broke away from a larger chunk passing by earth about 27,000 miles away. It was a complete surprise to everyone.” explained the Captain.
“Bloody mess. How close is the wave?” asked Peter. But just then one of the crew monitoring communications interrupted.
“Sir! Land communications report satellites are tracking the wave at over 6-0-0 miles per hour and 1-8-0-0 feet in height. Right now it is 1-6-0 degrees north longitude by 3 degrees north latitude.” said the crewman.
“What time was the asteroid impact?” asked the Captain.
“0-5-0-7 hours.” answered the crewman.
Peter glanced at his Omega Seamaster again; this time it read 10:19 A.M. “At that speed the tsunami will be here in six minutes.” Quickly, he rotated the bezel to align the 54th dot on it with the minute hand.
“I concur, sir.” said Captain Sumner, and then turning his attention to the communication speaker, “All hands, this is the captain. Secure all hatches and brace for collision.” Now, to Commander McShane, he said “Sound collision alarm.” The alarm sounded and a red light started flashing.
“Captain, sir”, said one of the crewmen, “we are approaching the Tonga Trench.”
Through the portholes in the sail, Captain Sumner and Peter looked out over the water using binoculars to the direction from where the gigantic tsunami was coming. In the distance they could see it. It was still miles away, but they could see the tsunami. Peter and Captain Sumner looked at each other. Peter then said ominously to the captain, “Dive. Dive deep.”
The captain reiterated the command, “Dive deep, 5-0 degrees down, depth 2-0-0-0 feet!” Immediately, following the order repeated by Commander McShane, the helmsman pushed forward on the wheel and the Rolls-Royce azimuth thrusters dipped down sending the Marinochka descending into the deep darkness below. If the reported height of the tsunami, 1,800 feet, was correct, the captain suspected the submarine would be safe at 2,000 feet below the current surface since the increase in water above would change the pressure at 2,000 feet below. If the Marinochka was any deeper than 2,000 feet before the tsunami passed on the surface the boat would implode because its crush depth is 3,960 feet.
The depth counter now read 590 feet. The sunlight in the water was beginning to disappear, being replaced by darkness. A couple hundred feet deeper and the only visible light was the luminous dial on the crew’s Omega Seamaster watches. The Trillionaire told a crewman to turn on the lights. At 1,169 feet the Conn’s portholes showed only blackness outside the boat. The Marinochka descended 1,200 feet, 1,500 feet, 1,760 feet; it continued to dive deeper and deeper and deeper. Finally, the depth counter read 2,000 feet and the submarine leveled off and held its position. If Captain Sumner’s math was correct, when the wave passed over on the surface they would be merely 50 feet from the Marinochka’s crush depth, but still safe from the gigantic tsunami. It was a gamble.
“Seventeen seconds until the wave,” said the communications crewman pausing and then resuming his countdown, “11 seconds……3 seconds, 2, 1, now.” At the count of ‘now’ the tsunami past on the surface and completed consumed the islands of Fiji and all surrounding islands. Only ocean could be seen in every direction. The depth counter reading changed to 3,910 feet; 50 feet from the boats crush depth. It was just as Captain Sumner had suspected! Following the tsunami was a wall of water below the surface extending down almost to the ocean floor. The underwater wall of water trailed the surface wave by a few seconds. When it passed the Marinochka, at what is now 3,910 feet below the surface, the boat experienced a brief drop in its depth. If it were not for the depth counter recording a 30 foot drop lasting about four seconds, no one would have noticed. Captain Sumner waited a few more minutes and then gave the order to surface. It was the longest few minutes all on board had ever experienced.
Return to the Surface
“Commander McShane, set your course 3-7 degrees up and hold our depth at 50 feet; keep your speed at 2-1 knots.” said Captain Sumner. The helmsman complied with the command and the Marinochka ascended from the darkness. Gradually, light returned to the Conn and in affect nulling the luminosity of the Omega Seamaster dial on the Trillionaire’s wrist. It was scary for a brief moment because it was a race against time and it appeared time had turned its back on the Marinochka; but not today.
“Captain Sir, our depth is now 5-0 feet.” announced Commander McShane.
“Bring up the surface on the display.” said Peter. The Marinochka was equipped with ultra high-definition monitors to observe above the surface while remaining submerged a few feet below.
Connor and Vanessa came up to the Conn to see the results of the tsunami. What they saw left them speechless and in shock. On the monitor they could see nothing except water in all directions. It was as though the islands around them had never existed. The friends they had made while at the resort were all lost.
Regretting that a search for survivors or bodies would be fruitless because they had been claimed by the ocean; Peter looked at his Omega Seamaster on his wrist and reset the bezel’s triangle to the twelve o’clock position and then, after a couple silent minutes, said “Captain, order the ship ahead slow. There is nothing we can do.”