The sea rocks the captain awake, as it rocked him to sleep a few hours before, and will again tomorrow,
and the next day and all the mornings stretching out into the weary months of blockade ahead.
For the first few moments he watches the spangles of grey pre-dawn light filtered through the sailcloth that separates his cot from his hutch like cabin.
Then he turns to the tell-tale compass on the deck beams above his head, and automatically makes calculations from the heading, the cant of deck, the shuddering of the tiny sloop.
Heading north-nor-west., tacking against a north easterly, of perhaps 13 knots. A rough wakening. In the Atlantic, somewhere south of Brest.
It is bitterly, searchingly cold. His breath smokes on the pillow.
The sheets, washed only in salt water for the last five months, can never be fully dried; they suck up the damp air of the cabin.
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