The Merrichase slid down into another trough only to be met by a towering wave that made Doria's blood pool in her feet. It wasn't the thirty foot wave of her dream, but nevertheless it loomed like a nightmare over the valiant trawler.
Before the swell poured down, Doria looked behind her to see if Murray had managed to lock the gate. Her heart squeezed in panic when she saw him lying on his side with his body jammed between the gate and the corner of the stern ramp.
She pulled back on the throttle, allowing the boat to drift. She flew down the ladder and without bothering to throw on her oilskin, grabbed a rope before opening the door. The wind slapped her as she tried to stand up against the gale. Securing the watertight door to the work deck, she faced the length of the stern while the trawler tilted at a crazy angle in the powerful grasp of the wave. Terror numbed her for a moment.
"Murray!" she screamed. The tempest tore the name from her lips. Clutching the rope in her hand, a spurt of adrenaline surged through her and gave her courage. She whipped the sturdy line around her waist, tied the other end to the capstan, and sped across the deck to Murray. She reached him as the water slammed into them both. She clung to him as the sea tried to crush them beneath its weight and then suck them both out into its eternal depths. The rope around Doria's waist bit into her flesh.
The Merrichase bobbed up again and Doria gulped in a lung full of air. "Murray!" she cried. He stirred in her arms. Sobs racked her as she pulled with every ounce of strength she possessed, though her hands had turned to ice and her body shook violently."
The deck sloped sideways making Doria's head spin, but the dizzy angle made the gate swing inward, freeing Murray.
Hanging onto him with one hand, Doria found the end of the rope Murray must have been using and fastened the gate shut. Then she tightened her arms around him as the ocean tried to take them for its own. Still, Doria's tether proved worthy and saved them from the sea's hungry grasp.
As the water receded, Doria tried to move Murray but his sodden weight proved more than she had could manage.
"Please, get up," she pleaded. Drunkenly, he staggered onto all fours. Doria clung to him while the boat began to spin, caught in a mad dance with the wind and the undulating swells. She felt spasms shudder through his body. He retched, spewing up the brine he had swallowed and then collapsed once more.
"Come on!" she screamed. "Get up!" As another torrent washed over the deck, Doria held Murray's head out of the water.