Disclaimer: I don't own Pirates of the Caribbean, nor any of the characters or anything related to it.


Author's Note: This ficlet is based on an experience of my own. I was caught in a storm while sailing my Optimist dinghy (the smallest racing sailboat there is--only 8 feet long) on Lake Pontchartrain. I ended up wrecked on the seawall, where I was rescued by passersby. My poor boat survived and has been fixed, but this is my tribute to its suffering. :) And to Jack Sparrow. God bless mad pirates in eyeliner.

I hope the boat-related language isn't too obscure... I'm incredibly used to sailorspeak, so I'm not really sure which terms are common knowledge and which are not so common. Let me know if anything's not clear.





Absolutely Smitten



The single sail flailed like a thing alive and water dashed over the sides of the little boat as the gale raged across the bay. The lone sailor in the dinghy, a boy of no more than eleven years, threw his scarce weight into the wind and fought with the tiller, hauling on it with all his might to try to turn his girl toward the harbor. But all his efforts were futile; every time the sail filled the slightest bit, she heeled precariously and nosed up to point uselessly straight into the wind.


Damn, the squall had come on fast! He hadn't had time to get in to port before it was on him. He knew too well that his ten-foot dinghy would never be able to handle the fifty knot winds that poured into her shabby sail and strained the simple rigging to its limit. He also knew that the heavy winds were sweeping him dangerously close to the jetty where jagged rocks stood ready to tear into his hull.


Letting loose a stream of profanity worthy of Tortuga's gutter, the boy scanned the iron gray water again. He raised a hand, brushed matted, salt-ridden black hair out of his eyes, and bit his lip. The storm was getting stronger. The water curled up into little whitecaps that skittered toward him like frightened mice. And his unwilling progress toward the jetty was growing ever quicker.


Spurred to more frantic action by this last observation, he set his jaw and fought on against the storm. His sea-calloused hands gripped the tiller and mainsheet with a determined ferocity as he tried to force his girl to obey him, tried to force her to make some headway. Damned if he'd let her hit that jetty!


But she would have none of it. The storm had turned her wild, and at every turn she defied him and whirled her prow back into the wind. She slid backwards under the onslaught of wind and waves until the jetty reared mere yards behind her rudder. Her young skipper screamed curses at the black sky. It had seemed before that in his pretty boat he could go anywhere and do anything and there was nothing he couldn't handle. But now… now he was helpless, and it sent the rage coursing through him.


In desperation he pumped the rudder back and forth as a sort of crude paddle. Anything to keep that gap from closing! Anything to keep his girl safe! But it was too late. A last wave swelled up beneath her and carried her to her ruin.


The whole boat shuddered on impact and the tiller seemed to vibrate under his hand as she struck the rocks. He heard splintering under his feet as the serrated stone gnawed at her hull. A sharp crack told him that the rudder had just snapped. The mast tilted to one side with an ominous creaking before it, too, fractured in a shower of splinters. The sail flapped and frayed against the rocks.


He couldn't move, he couldn't curse, he couldn't do anything. He simply stood in the stern and watched in horrified fascination as his girl, his baby, was wrecked against the jetty. It was not until a frayed line flew at him and hit him in the eye that he regained the presence of mind to climb out of the broken boat and onto the jetty itself. His bare feet somehow found traction on the slime-coated rock as he stood over the wreck. The sight of her sent the first pangs of misery through him, and his shoulders sagged.


Another wave broke over the boat and her hull creaked over onto its side before overturning completely. She lay like a dead animal at his feet, her mast bent beneath her, her rudder twisted in the air at a painful angle, and her sail plastered like broken wings over the rocks. Suddenly he wanted to cry. But he wouldn't. He was much too old for such nonsense...


He closed his eyes, turned to the wild, swirling iron of the sea and let the cold wind dry the salt water against his cheeks. Then he opened his eyes, and the most bizarre thing happened.


He fell in love.


The iron grey waves were crashing against the jetty in an exquisite symphony of white spray, heedless of the minor tragedy that had so recently taken place. The water of the bay beyond roiled and swirled, all storm grey and powerful. The wind rushed past him and snatched at his loose shirt, taking no notice of his plight. The sea was beautiful and wild and free and she didn't care at all.


And young Jack Sparrow was absolutely smitten.