Spacer’s Cove

With help from the EA Log Files.

Day 191 Alchibah:
“Got another firm order with good credit Pam, we won‘t starve this winter, things are looking up.” I was exaggerating for effect because we had more work than we could manage.

“Ok dear, tell me,” my wife Pam said with a very pleased expression.

“Travis up on the Mayflower has gotten a bug up his ass what with Bart’s Bluenose on the water and Andy’s ship nearing completion. I think Monroe has been egging him on but that’s not our problem; we got another order. We’ll need more help from the bots and more lumber from the mill but hey, we can do this and ain’t it wonderful.”

Spacers Cove

Out beyond where the river ran to the sea, two miles from Liberty City, the coast tended northward. About 2 miles in that direction was a hook of land and a natural bay. Thirty foot high grasslands, you could almost call them dunes, sheltering a quarter mile long by third as wide deep water harbor opening to the sea at it‘s northern end. The land comprising the western, the ocean exposed side of the hook, was very nearly 1400 feet long and 400 wide. The eastern, inner shore, fronted on the harbor proper.

One large building at the foot of the harbor and several smaller structures, individual homes, were completed on the hook; several others in the works. This area had been completely inundated by the Tsunami four months earlier but as building hadn’t been started yet nothing was lost, except for the few tall trees that had established themselves over time in the sandy soil. Now the grasses, tall and lush, were being augmented by rapidly growing cane type growths and true trees were still years away. This land comprised all of the Spacers freehold except for one section and a building in town.

The prevailing winds were mostly from the west and had been all summer. Computer models predicted that this would be the case year round but a blow from the north could cause large waves to build and funnel up the length of the bay and this had been seen to happen more than once. There was a chain of closely connected islands less than a mile off shore north of the harbor mouth and these would blunt some of the wave action. The solution taking care of the worst case scenario was to build a breakwater across the opening. Fortunately the normal wave and drift patterns tended to build the sea bottom up at the bays opening until it averaged only 10 foot at the open end of the hook.

The Spacers while this wall was being built often had half of their bots dedicated to the project. Stones, rocks, large and small, were moved from nearby areas and dumped into the water. The large ocean going cargo ship Nash built went into the project. That ship was owned by the township and named the Liberty Express. Presently only Nash and the Neilson brothers were authorized to captain it but Bart was well on his way to a license and several other colonist who worked regularly as crew members had started learning what it would take.

In a remarkably short period the first stage of the breakwater was complete. There was a single opening on the landward side large enough to pass anything built so far or envisioned as likely in the near future. The coast once out side of the harbor tended rather sharply eastward and inland. A good thing as it would insure time to set a course without the usual west wind driving us onto the shore. Over time more rock and eventually fill would be added but for now the anchorage was secure against any but the most severe storm. It was planed that anything large ship would be taken and docked up river during winter when the storm threat would be highest.

Even before the break wall was finished, and as soon as Travis had seen what Nash was building for Bill Bartlett, he decided that the Spacers needed a ship of their own. Andy Stewart had made the same decision so now Karl Nash had two more under construction. The fact that so much of the original Bluenose was built by robot, and since once any of them knew how to do something they all did, progress was rapid.

The large building took quite a bit of engineering to complete. John Pierce handled most of the design and JJ Parker supervised the construction details. Most of the labor not supplied by bots was done by colonists in repayment for services rendered. In deference to the exposed location and action of wind and wave a deep sturdy foundation was set and secured with kiln fired cement mixed with sand and transported again by the Liberty Express.

The main building was not quite half the size of Hanna’s First Inn and only a single floor right now, thick stone walls and a metal roof covered with fronds to muffle the sound when it rained. Lumber was piling up in the back and in a few weeks the second story would be added. The only electric need was for lighting and a pump which moved water from a fresh water storage tank and a small water heating unit. Demand at this level was provided by batteries that were kept charged by tapping off the bots, but there were also plans in the works to set up one of Gabe’s ethanol generators if demand started increasing.

Day 218 Alchibah:

The day was bracing with a cooling breeze from the west that stiffened as we got into the chop caused by the meeting of the river current and the waves working in from off shore. Larry Monroe was onboard because Captain Travis couldn’t get away on such short notice when Karl released the Spacer’s ship the Second Chance.

“Damn this is great Bart,” Monroe said taking in the sights and sounds of the Schooner a virtual twin of the Bluenose as was Andy Stewarts recently completed ship the Cuchulainn.

“Prepare to tack,” I yelled, “no sissy com units on my deck! Prepare to make sail!” the bots hurried to their positions. “Helm a’ larboard!”

Steve Fallon rapidly spun the wheel in a counterclockwise direction. “Belay that order,” I shouted. Steve stopped the wheel and centered the rudder. We had plenty of sea room due to exiting the river mouth near it’s middle so I had plenty of time to explain.

“Steve you know the difference between larboard and starboard don’t‘ you? I have mentioned that several dozen times. have I not?”

“Sure Bart, larboard is left and starboard is right.”

“Mr. Fallon, Captain.,” I said archly, “is the proper form to use when addressing me in relation to orders issued on this ship.” I was beginning to enjoy myself. “Now when I say helm I am talking about the steering gear and more particularly about its position in relation to the ship as a whole. Am I making this clear Mr. Fallon?”

“Ah sure Bar-, er I mean Captain.”

“A simple Aye, aye Sir will suffice… Now where was I? Hmm yes, the helm. In this case the helm corresponds to the rear of the ship so when I order helm to larboard that means I wish the stern of the ship should go in that direction so that the stem or bow of the ship, that’s that pointy part out in front, can point the other way and in this case take us northward. Do you follow me now helmsman.”

Steve swallowed and said, “Aye, aye sir! May I say something else.”

“Please do.”

“It seems backwards to me. If we want to go right or starboard, why not just say helm to starboard?”

“A salient point Mr. Fallon, and there are two schools of thought on the matter. The one held by Commodore Nash, the Neilson brothers, myself, and the bots, and of course the other school…represented by you. I propose, in order to keep confusion to a minimum, that when aboard ship you adopt the former.” I nodded my head and smiled, finding it easy to agree with myself.

“Aye, aye sir, it won’t happen again.”

With that I reissued the order, and with the bots taking care of the sails, we were soon on a northerly course taking us slowly away from the shoreline. We began to both pitch and roll as we crossed the incoming waves at an angle.

“How about cracking on some more sail Captain?” Larry Monroe asked.

“Cracking on some more sail. Very good Lar, very salty indeed, but not on this trip. We’ve only got a couple of miles to the harbor and I’d like to get there with the minimum amount of wear and tear. I think that you spacers are going to need to work up your own learning curve when it comes to sailing. With the race plan already in place I don’t want to show too much now. You guys are going to have to work for it and take the time if you expect a chance to win.”

“Yeah I see your point, and with this chop even the robots seem to be stumbling around a bit.”

“What?” They were normally so sure footed I had never seen them off balanced except when trying to climb; something they were not very good at. Sure enough though all four of the bots on deck seemed unsteady when they moved, even the Jeep who had as much time on the water as I had and the downloads from every other bot as well.

“Jeep, come aft” I called him closer and watched his movements. He actually slipped but caught himself almost immediately. “You don’t seem very steady about now, what’s going on?”

“There is a problem with our balancing algorithm Captain Bart,” the Jeep said. “With this angle to the wind and these sea conditions the rise and fall of the ship is irregular enough that we can’t accurately predict it and our balance routine is switching back and forth between predictive and reactive mode at the wrong time. This is the first time we have seen conditions exactly like this and the first time it has affected our ability to function to design spec.”

“Glad we found out now. Get back to the foresail and move around as little as possible. We’ll be in the harbor soon and I’ll turn the problem over to Sabbu when we get back to Liberty. Don’t expect it will take to long to find a fix.”

“Thanks for catching that Larry. I might have noticed but then again maybe not.”

Monroe’s expression gave evidence of a new thought and he said, “Let’s not tell Andy about this little problem. If he doesn’t catch it himself it will be a small edge you and I hold when the race finally comes off. And if safety is ever a factor we can have Sabbu work in an automatic activation routine.”

“Sounds good to me but if anyone ever asks it was your idea!”

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Colony: Alchibah is a science fiction blog novel.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Probably.

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Copyright (C) 2006 - 2011 by Jeff Soyer. All rights reserved.