I first saw this boat - the Moira - 11 years after the incident in the Marine Laboratory. I was living aboard my own research vessel: a 60 foot catamaran motorsailer named Antares. I used her for coral reef expeditions in the Florida Keys and the Bahamas. When not at sea, The Antares and I lived at Tropical Marine Marina on Stock Island, next to Key West, Florida.
One night, my German shepherd walked me through a large empty lot next to the marina. Key West had its share of odd characters. One of them had put a monstrous, steel statue of a devil in the middle of the lot. I was busy thinking of a forthcoming expedition to the Bahamas and hardly noticed the black 10 foot high devil until my dog lifted his leg to anoint it.
The night was pitch black. The head of the statue was a blacker black against the canopy of stars. There were horns on the head, big black bat wings, and cutouts where the eyes should be. When I looked up at the Devil's face I saw a star through one eye cutout. By shifting slightly to the left I got a star in each eye, just where the pupils should be. Spectacular. A Devil with stars in its eyes. I tried to see the whole black shadow devil while focusing on the stars. I told my dog, "The depths of his eyes span the years." I began to smile and was about to correct myself with `light years' when the starlight flooded my vision.
|I am inside a sailboat, sitting at the dinette,
looking slightly to the left, at a yellow typewriter on the chart table. I see a girl,
short with blonde hair, out of the corner of my eye. She stands to my right, in the
Like the first Moira vision, this was another frame from the movie of my life: out of place, out of time. The monohull sailboat was definitely not the Antares. Yet, somehow I knew it was my boat. I also knew it was at anchor. It was on the other side of the planet from where I stood, somewhere along the northeast coast of Australia.
The whole vision was vastly different from my intentions or aspirations, but I knew it was going to happen.
Six months later, Frederique signed on as crew aboard the Antares for a Bahamas expedition. I did not know she was the girl in the vision. She was the right size, build, blonde hair, but, in the vision, I only saw her out of the corner of my eye. In any case, I had forgotten about the vision by that time. When we returned to Key West and tied up in Tropical Marine, I saw the statue again and remembered the vision. It wasn't long before I realized Frederique was the girl in the shadow-devil's eyes.
Moira's story continued after a break of seven months. I opened the post office box and found one of those blue, folding airmail letters inside. When I touched it, I knew it was the key to the devil vision. It was from Walter Starck, my partner in the Marine Research Foundation, postmarked in the Solomon Islands. I brought it back to the Antares unopened. Frederique was cooking dinner when I came aboard.
"It's here," I announced, waving the envelope at her.
"Remember when I told you about the vision? Us on a sailboat on the other side of the planet? The night we went out to see the statue over by Tropical Marine?"
"Sure, so what does it say?"
"Dear Rick," the letter said, "I've managed to acquire a small island in the Olu Malu group just 10 miles off Kira Kira, San Christobal, in the Solomons. It has a lagoon about one mile in diameter in the center with an entrance just deep enough for the El Torito to get in. The northern half of the island is a rain forest and the southern half a coconut plantation.
"The reefs are incredibly rich, more so than either the Great Barrier Reef or Palau. Over 90 species of Pomacentridae alone. As well as fish there are salt water crocodiles, dugongs, monitor lizards, two species of eagles, ospreys, parrots, megapodes and fruit bats.
"It is the perfect place to conduct the series of investigations we've talked about on wild dolphins. If you have not become hopelessly bourgeois in your declining years, why not sell the Antares and come out here to join me?
"The Solomon Islanders consider the islands taboo. It seems there were once four islands in the island chain and a girl on one of them decided to run off with a local boy rather than marry a San Christobal Chief as per her parent's agreement. The chief, seeking vengeance, went to a sorcerer who laid a curse on the people and their island. It was apparently effective since, so the story goes, their island sank. So there are now only three islands here, uninhabited except by yours truly and friends. The island group is also known as The Three Sisters."
"The Three Sisters," The words sent a chill down my spine. I never told Walter about The Three Sisters of Fate. About my experience with the Moirae. My premonition that the letter was the key to the second Moirae vision seemed to be verified by these three words. How could it be coincidence? What are the statistical odds I would have a vision, attribute it to the Moirae, get a second feeling this letter was the key to the Moirae vision, and have the letter actually say, `Come to the Three Sisters in the Solomons?'
I looked up at Freddy and said, "We are on our way."
"Do you think we can sell the Antares?" Freddy asked as she put dinner on the dinette.
It was a key question. The previous Sunday there were 5 full pages of "Boats for Sale" in the classified section of the Miami Herald. Not a good time to try to sell a boat. The previous owner of the Antares advertised for a full year before I took her off his hands for a ridiculously low price.
Over the next few days I sent advertisements to four major yachting magazines. We had an expedition planned to the Dry Tortugas for the following month. The ads came out while we were on the expedition. As we returned to Key West, I stood in the wheelhouse of the Antares and laughingly said to Freddy, "If this is the Moirae at work, there will be someone waiting on the dock with money in hand when we tie up."
There were two people were waiting in Key West to buy the Antares. On Christmas day, three months after getting Walter's letter, we moved off the Antares and the new owners moved on.
It was the first time I had been without a boat in many years. Although Walt assumed I would share the use of the El Torito and his smaller boats, I needed my own boat.
Freddy and I walked away from the Antares with one small suitcase of our clothes. We had given away or sold everything in preparation to leaving for the Pacific.
This is where the Three Sister's Expedition truly got moving. If they existed, if the vision had validity, all I had to do was relax and go with the flow. The Moirae would guide me if I would follow. As we walked down the pier, I got the uncomfortable feeling of having stepped out onto a narrow thread above a yawning abyss.
We went onto the next pier to say goodbye to Lowell and Patti on the Infinito Errante. Lowell was a large, friendly, investor/bar owner who spent most of his time on his yacht keeping himself current on all things yachting. He had an enormous stack of yachting magazines: the perfect grazing ground for a new boat. As we went below I said, "Lowell, my friend, the deed is done. Antares is in the hands of the new owners and now I can look for my new boat. I know about what she looks like and maybe if we browse through some..."
"Magazines. Right," he grinned. "Excellent idea. Some Coffee? Patti, how about some coffee while Richard and I get into these magazines?"
So, as Freddy and Patti began to make coffee and treats, Lowell flopped a stack of yachting magazines on the dinette. He cut the stack like a deck of cards and passed me one half. I picked up the first magazine, looking forward to a leisurely morning of flipping through the pages, hunting for my best Christmas present ever. I turned the first page of the first magazine and looked at a glossy full page add of a double-ended sloop.
"Here she is." Lowell handed me his magazine. I looked at him in amazement. He had opened the first magazine, apparently at random, to page 112 and was pointing with one of his big fingers to a one eighth page add in the lower right corner.
The advertisement showed an aerial three-quarter stern view of a sailboat under way. The heading announced, "Peterson 44." In smaller type it said, "HERE SHE IS..." Lowell, watching me read the ad, began to laugh. Looking at the photograph of the Peterson 44 under sail, I decided the interior might very well match the vision, "It could be, Lowell, my friend, it really just might possibly be the right one." The advertisement was from a San Diego yacht broker named Jack Kelly. "But I wanted a Taiwan built boat so I could pick it up over there and save money and a long sail."
"No problem," said Lowell, "I believe she is built in Taiwan. Why not give Kelly a call and find out?"
"Why not? Give it a try."
Jack Kelly answered the phone on the first ring. Two days later he met us at the San Diego Airport. We drove from the airport to the marina, walked down the dock and got aboard one of the prototype Peterson 44s. She was georgous. Excited, I swung down the companionway. Freddy followed and we both stood looking around the beautifully appointed cabin. I sat at the dinette. Freddy stood in the galley and looked at me expectantly. I glanced over at the chart table. No doubts at all. The Moirae existed. They were towing me into the future with their cosmic threads. "This is the boat," I said to the Moirae, Freddy and Jack Kelly.