On the Line 3.1

by Steve on October 16, 2007

Back to 2.2

The fine lines of the thirty foot boat said “speed” in no uncertain terms. The pair of big block V-8 engines only asserted that reputation. With a total of eight hundred horsepower under the hydraulic engine cover she was designed to run comfortably at over seventy miles per hour. No expense had been spared in outfitting this boat and her sisters. The engines and surface-piercing drives were state-of-the-art and maxed out for one purpose: long distance high speed operation. The stepped hull was heavier than most sport boats, designed for the punishing environment of offshore racing. Everything from the stringers to the engine beds had been over-engineered to take the pounding of running wide open in three foot seas without having to back off the throttles. The navigation system was also top-of-the-line, tied into an autopilot that allowed the crew to program a route and then run hands off. If desired an arrival time at the programmed destination could be designated and the throttle control would automatically compensate to arrive on time. If the sea state became too rough for the desired speed, the throttle control would back off to achieve a smoother ride.

Alberto Fargut grinned as he gripped the stainless steel steering wheel with one hand and the throttles with the other. There was a two-foot chop running in the bay this morning not unlike the area where this boat would really be put to the test, he thought. He checked the engine instruments one more time – all showed normal readings after over an hour of running at forty-five miles per hour. He shoved the throttles against their stops and the rush from the raw power as the turbochargers kicked in sent chills through his body. As he accelerated through seventy miles per hour the adrenalin rush was partially displaced by a twinge of fear but the hull settled into a nice easy rise and fall as it cut through the choppy seas. As he grew more comfortable with the speed he made a few gradual turns to get a feel for how the hull handled in this sea state. His previous test runs had been on smooth water. He was more secure operating on flat water but this was a much more realistic test of the hull and her handling characteristics. He backed the throttles down long before he approached the docks to keep a low profile.

As the boat slipped in alongside the pier he killed the engines and quickly attached the lifting harness to the eyes on the deck. His crane operator then expertly lifted the boat from the water and set it on its waiting cradle/trailer. A forklift operator attached a tow bar to the cradle and pulled the boat inside away from prying eyes. There were three more boats identical to this one tucked away in this warehouse in an undesirable section of the waterfront docks in Toulon, France. This was the fourth that Alberto had personally tested just to be sure that everything was in working order. From the outside the warehouse looked just like all the other rundown buildings along this section of the waterfront and that was just fine with him. He didn’t want to draw any unnecessary attention to what was going on inside. Toulon was the French Navy’s home port and much like its American counterpart, Norfolk, Virginia, it was a vital port but a little rough around the edges. It lacked the polish and yachts of the other French ports along the Mediterranean, it was decidedly a working class port city even though it had as much history as the more popular tourist destinations.

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{ 1 comment }

Michelle October 27, 2007 at 21:26

Ahem.
Please, Steve, no more posting On The Line installments without putting your loyal fans from TFD on notice. 😉

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