Day Five Hundred Fifty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

All day the ship has been a veritable hive of activity. We took on a full complement of cargo, for there is a great backlog of containers that ships bearing the mark have refused.

It was also a long day for goodbyes.

Elijah and I each conducted three of our guests to the sign of the fish, and brought back a local to lead more groups. The Raj twin G accompanied the last group to leave after a tearful parting from his brother.

The Captain shared with Elijah the dilemma of the other ship’s captain. He has a pressing need for a first mate and is resisting those with the mark the local authorities are promoting.

Our Captain suggested me.

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Day Four Hundred Sixty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Before the course change last night Tomas went to the Captain’s cabin and woke him up. The Captain had guessed already the motivating concern of his First Mate’s visit. And told him that it was more likely that the robotic warship was a bigger threat to them than the rumored pirates. The Captain reiterated the order. On leaving Tomas successfully begged him to double the watch.

Or so Elijah related to me this morning.

Having little to do myself I sought Tomas and volunteered to stand additional watches. He accepted my offer and took a few moments to run down what I should be alert for – small, fast-moving boats with a few armed men.

I hope they stay away.

Day Three Hundred Fifty Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I should have paid more attention to Tomas. To his state of being.

But his duties kept him out of our sight and busy. And the Captain, not yet familiar with his personality, had no standard against which to judge any seeming anxiety or concern in his new First Mate.

Our paths crossed today. Off duty, Tomas stood idly by the rail, staring blankly into the sea. I gauged his demeanor to be due to homesickness, and tailored my comment in an effort to bring him out of his funk. It failed.

I sent for Elijah who got to the bottom of the matter. He assured Tomas that his family is safe and like him had a job to do.

Day Three Hundred Fifty Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We had cast off the night before and were awaiting a pilot in the roadstead in the growing light of morning, when a tug hailed us and drew alongside.

It did not deliver our pilot, but rather a group of three young men sent for by Tomas. They have volunteered to replace some of the hands that had gone with the First Mate. The Captain gave his approval, no doubt helped along by the fact that none of them bear the mark. And one of them, a fisherman in these waters, offered to pilot our ship out.

When we were underway, Elijah took me aside to share some news, the Hamashiachites per his instruction are all safe in the hills.

Day Three Hundred Fifty Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I was of the opinion that we depart right away, lest the authorities change their minds and forbid our leaving. Of course, the Captain would not hear of departing until he had a first mate. But Elijah quietly stepped forward with both an idea and a plan.

In talking with Tomas, Elijah had learned a lot about the young man – not only has he studied at this country’s maritime academy, but has also worked on ships in his father’s merchant fleet.

The Captain was familiar with the family shipping firm and expressed his wish to meet the young gentleman.

Elijah went ashore and brought back an amenable Tomas to meet the Captain.  

Our ship now has a new first mate.

Day Three Hundred Fifty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Upon stepping onto the bridge, we were greeted by the Purser, not the Captain. He had stood watch the entire night, and was beside himself about the prolonged absence.

He was at the point of deputizing me to take the watch and dragging Elijah along with him in search, when the Captain was returned under armed guard.

His countenance was combustible, but he calmed down enough to give us a rundown. Because the First Mate bears the mark he has been given undisputed claim to the grain ship, and because the Captain won’t take the mark we are being expelled with these guards to accompany the shipment.

But the Captain swears that he won’t leave without a new first mate.

Day Three Hundred Forty Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We have been brought into harbor. But instead of the empty berth next to the grain ship, we were escorted to the other side of the harbor.

It may well be because we are a container ship, and this side of the harbor is given over to them. Still the Captain is highly displeased with the assignment for he won’t rest until he confronts his First Mate.

Elijah let it be known that he and I want to go ashore as soon as possible, and asked how long the ship would be in port.

The Captain put off the question of our stay, until we know more about local conditions, but did promise we could go ashore when he did.

Day Three Hundred Forty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The grain ship has disappeared from the sea to our front. The Captain’s immediate concern was for the missing vessel’s engines, fearing that they may have failed, and we passed them by during the darkness. He considered coming about and going in search of the vessel.

The Purser spoke up and opined that it made more sense that they pressed on to the port, which he calculated was only a one day sail away.

The Captain was unhappy with that conjecture as it cast a bad light upon his First Mate, calling into question his motivations.

With what we suspected we could not help coming to the same conclusion as the Purser.

Elijah took him aside to explain our suspicions.

Day Three Hundred Forty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

And His thoughts higher than our thoughts.

Both Elijah and I were newly encouraged that we are indeed on the right path. That we are exactly where we are supposed to be, doing exactly what we were meant to do.

Elijah asked the Purser if there were other followers of Hamashiach among the crew. For sure he was aware of two others, with several other possibles. Then, the thought occurred to me to ask if any crewman bore the mark.

The Purser thought not. For they were never in one place long enough for any government authorities to force the issue. Besides the Captain was very protective of them in that way.

Then he caught himself, perhaps the First Mate.

Day Three Hundred Thirty Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The sea continues calm. With the grain ship in tow, our speed has dropped, despite that favorable circumstance.

Seabirds discovered the locust laden vessel and gathered from all points of the compass to partake. This alarmed Elijah. He insisted that a watch be set to shoo them away.

The Captain had to go over anyway to help his First Mate with a problem (which slowed us down again, as they had to stop to effect a transfer), so Elijah made the trip too, to practice what he preaches.

They have succeeded in getting the grain ship underway on its own power.

And Elijah has returned with the Captain. But only after a crewman was assigned to fend off the birds.