The Waterwitch by Michael Fitzalan


Waterwitch – Chapter 1 – The Storm

The sixteen-ton boat surfed over the gigantic waves. Its metal hull the only strength that prevented the boat from breaking up, yet it was this steel that within minutes of flooding would sink to the ocean floor like a stone slung into a pond. This smallness in the immense ocean, the vulnerability of our situation, that was the major worry.
The Atlantic is a cold and lonely place in a gale.
Safety, the Portuguese coast, was twelve miles off, but it was becoming further away with each wave, we were being driven in the direction of America over three thousand miles to the west with only enough water for two days at the most. The Azores to the Southwest might as well have been the same distance. Both wind and wave drove our vessel westwards, the waves were in command, we had no control.
Clouds hung in stratus layers, rain fell at the wind’s whimsy, drops angled to the back of the head or darting, diagonally, onto the deck as another wave of water crashed over the bow. Helplessly we bobbed into the shipping lanes. Waves, rising ten metres high, raised us above the blue boiling water below, we rested on the foaming crest, afforded a glimpse of a ship or a tanker or just grey cloud horizon, before plunging down, sliding along the wave into a deep trough where another wave would splash over the bow as our boat dipped its nose into the bubbling brine. In a heartbeat we were lifted up again on a swell, as it grew higher we floated up like a chair on a Ferris wheel.
Our boat was a heavy 52-foot sailing cruiser, a yacht designed for day sailing in safe seas with the occasional overnight anchorage. The boat was never designed to be buffeted by waves that swamped its own size. The sea rose and fell all around us, an inconstant billows, and we were dwarfed by the swirling swell.

Michael Fitzalan’s first novel gained cult status and here are some others: Waterwitch was a hit with those who have ever sailed; two brothers battle storms and Spanish support for the Malvinas in an attempt to meet up with their girlfriends in Ibiza. They have to get from The Algarve to Ibiza, all very straightforward until engine failure and storms threaten to sink all their plans. The Taint Gallery tells the story of a modern Romeo and Juliet; the story is set in Cheslea and Fulham, not Verona, nevertheless, it is a doomed relationship. The book was shunned by big publishers for its highly charged and graphic sexual content and the small publisher who produced the book folded, copies are rare. A reprint is planned for its twentieth anniversary next year; it is still as pertinent and shocking today as it was back in 1996. Switch is an amazing mixture of Franz Kafka realism yet it reads like a Raymond Chandler thriller. Joe Ederer falls for a French girl but he is recovering from being dumped by his English girlfriend. A fish out of water in London, he chases her home only to be rejected. He hooks up with a suffocating drug addict and that is when his nightmares begin. Major Bruton’s Safari is the story of innocents abroad; a family invited to celebrate the coronation of the Kabaka of Buganda become indoctrinated into the ways of Africa. With an acerbic observer on hand, the family experience the warmth and ways of Uganda that help them to understand themselves a little better. IPG – Innocent Proven Guilty is about a teacher, Philip Hayward whose brother sold their shared flat and ran off to America with the proceeds. Philip bumps into his brother’s ex-girlfriend and she tells him his brother is back. Racing to the address she gave him, he arrives to find his brother with a knife in his back. As he leaves, his shoes leave bloody footprints and the police come looking for him. Carom – Finn McHugh and his team take on a swindler and smuggler, Didier, who is depraved in so many ways. They know he is smuggling art and drugs; he must be stopped before others take him out. The Cubans, want him dead, Finn wants to break the smuggling ring. Who will win? Remember the Fifth November – Guy Fawkes was innocent, Catesby was a broken man who brought his children up in the Anglican faith, yet Robert Cecil arranged for them to be portrayed as terrible villains. With a spy service second to none and with moles everywhere how could someone hatch a plot like this and fail to be discovered? The answer, they could not. Read the truth! One – Bullying does not go on anymore in schools. I would not bet on it. Weep as you read the terrible story of a school bully and the misery he dispenses to all the boys. Then, cheer as one of his victims takes revenge. Take a trip to a prep school in a time when kids built tree houses, danced and swung on Tarzan ropes!

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