David Dun Bestselling Thriller Author
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Silverwind looked salty when compared to the vacation boats that jammed the big-city marinas and yacht clubs. It was loaded with the trappings of wilderness cruising: sheepskin on all the stays at the spars to protect the sails; dinghy and gas can lashed to the deck; netting on all the lifelines; canvas wind and spray breaks around the cockpit; solar panels; wind vane; a heavy-duty canvas and plastic windshield known as a dodger; a foldaway bimini top; and two diesel generators. The list of extras was formidable. After buying the Silverwind, Sam had spent another $250,000 preparing her to cruise.

There was nothing to this sailing on the so-called Inside Passage from Alaska to Victoria in summer except rocks and currents, intimidating to the uninitiated. The rocks made holes in boats and the currents from time to time made swirling holes in the water, aptly named whirlpools, and even more frightening, rolling waves called overfalls, created by the force of water meeting water at great speed in a narrow passage. A severe overfall could swallow a yacht in seconds sometimes swamping and sinking it, other times pounding it into slivers on the rocks. 


The tides sluice the salt water in from the Pacific Ocean through the Queen Charlotte Straits behind Vancouver Island and between the smaller islands and up into the inlets, bays, and estuaries. Wherever the land constricts the flow of tidal water, the current races. In a few places the water moves like a white-water river, and boats dare not cross it during the tidal surge. 

The spring tide was ebbing and the sea was tugging Silverwind toward Devil’s Gate, where the current on occasion reached a solid seventeen knots, one knot faster even than the infamous Nakwakto Rapids at the mouth of Seymour Inlet to the north and at least two knots faster than the Skookumchuck to the south. Last Sam heard, the Skookumchuck had killed sixteen people, and Devil’s Gate was way ahead of that, having eaten ten in one summer when a large yacht wandered down her throat and slit its belly on the rocks.

On one occasion Sam had seen a Devil’s Gate whirlpool pull down a telephone-pole-sized log, then free it, to burst to the surface three hundred yards down current with such force that it shot for the sky like a breaching whale.

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