* The Empty Vessel

SirenThe foursome were enjoying their sundowner cocktails and pupus in the cockpit when John suddenly jumped up.

“We’ve got company.” Everyone turned towards the pretty boat entering the narrow passageway between the reefs into the secluded cove.

“It’s almost dark. We better help them get moored. C’mon, Tom, you drive.”

Tom maneuvered the dinghy carefully around the reef, approaching the boat as John hailed, “Ahoy there! We’re here to give you a hand. It’s a tricky reef.”

There was no one on deck and no answer to the repeated greetings.

The rubber dinghy bumped alongside the boat. The sails were set but with the light island breeze the boat was barely moving; just floating along with the slow moving tide.

After knocking on the hull, John climbed onboard, afraid of what he might find.

He popped his head out of the companionway saying, “There’s no one here and no damage that I can see. Let’s raft her up to our boat and call the Coast Guard.”

John had to repeat the radio transmission twice, “A 33 foot empty vessel floated into Hideaway Bay and is secured alongside our boat. Please advise.” The Coast Guard would put out a Notice to Mariners and launch a boat and helicopter to search the area, but there were no clues as to ownership. At the direction of the Coast Guard, John searched for a logbook or any documentation, but found none. She had no registration numbers on the bow and he couldn’t locate a documentation plaque. The only identifying feature was the name on her transom.

“Siren is an odd name,” said Kathie. “Why would anyone name a sailboat after a noisy thing like that?”

Tom looked at the boat, shimmering in the soft moonlight. “A siren is also a mermaid gone bad. In Greek mythology sirens seduced sailors with their voices, luring them to steer courses into rocks and reefs.”

“That’s just creepy,” Sheila said with a shiver. “And too close for comfort with her next to us. I’m glad the Coast Guard will tow her away tomorrow.”

A few cocktails later the couples retired to their bunks. Just before dawn their anchor alarm went off, causing everyone to sprint on deck. The boat next to them was gone and they had drifted dangerously close to the reef. Kathie manned the helm while John tried to pull up the anchor, but it was lodged in something under water and wouldn’t budge.

Although it was a small cove, the water was deep so Sheila quickly donned her Scuba gear and slipped below the surface to check out the situation. On deck, the crew scanned the horizon as the sun rose, seeing no sign of the boat.

Minutes passed and then Sheila emerged, flinging a handful of coins onto the swim platform.

“What the heck?” John exclaimed.

Sheila hauled herself out of water, stripping off her mouthpiece. “It seems that this Siren wanted to redeem herself. Instead of disaster, she led us to treasure!”


Written for the To Live and Write in Alameda 2019 “Flash Lit February” Challenge #3. We had three days to write a poem or short story (of 500 words or less) or draw a piece of art to the theme “The Empty Vessel” and submit. 

You might notice a link in the story … I’m adding my own stretch goal into each of these challenges by incorporating a link to one of my #TinyKitchen recipes posted on VivoOSonho.com in the storyline. This one is a collection of Small Bites, or Pupus, including Hawaiian-style poke with rice crackers, peppadews stuffed with shrimp, blue cheese/pear/walnut boats, watermelon with mint, chilled edamame with sea salt, and meatballs. 


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