The Great Escape

Finally, after more than four months under Rainui’s rule, it’s getting close to the time for me to make the final break. Swell is lowered back into the sea with beautiful new seafoam-green decks and topsides.

A boat with two young men is tied up near Swell in the slipway, and Rainui is instantly jealous. I watch his mood unravel and placate him as much as possible. That night I hear him come in and lie down on the other side of the bed. For many months he has stopped being affectionate, and rarely pushes to be intimate. I wait until he is sound asleep, then slip quietly out of bed to pack my few items with trembling hands, and carry them out to the car.

The Great Escape Photo Gallery

The next morning Rainui is still in a terrible mood and doesn’t want to come to the yard with me to move Swell out of the slipway. This is my chance. I leave some clothes in the room to throw him off, but notice that he’s hidden my favorite surfboard. I eat breakfast like nothing’s unusual and while he’s showering I’m able to find my board. I load it up and drive off with my heart beating wildly.

I spend the morning doing the bare minimum to get Swell off the dock, but there is a ton of stuff to shift and sort through to find what I need after so many months of work. When I turn on the motor to back out of the launching slip, I hear water leaking: There’s a crack in the plastic base of the strainer that filters the seawater before it flows to cool the engine. Miraculously, the yard owner has a replacement. I buy it and change out the broken piece immediately, knowing that Rainui could show up any moment. Instead, he calls around lunchtime and says he’s working on something with his cousin. He must not have noticed I took the surfboard.

“That’s fine,” I tell him. “I’ll be home later.” By the time I’m ready to go, it’s almost dark. I’m exhausted and can hardly think about moving the boat. But when Poana and another friend, Aymeric, come by on their way back from a surf, they offer to help me tying up their skiff behind Swell and climbing aboard for the crossing. The three of us sail away under a lopsided waxing moon.

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