Saun 26th, 716th Arc
Here it was. Stacks of maps, papers and mess jumbled on the desk. When they told her that she would substitute a navigator who suddenly fell ill, she was excited. She was thrilled to return to the sea after waiting for this opportunity for many trials. Now, she was going through these familiar mysteries, trying to create a passage plan. The ship that hired her was a trading ship. They were going to Burhan, the captain said, carrying some materials for foresters and bringing back timber from Burhan.
Burhan. She had her forefinger stuck on Lake Krom on the large scale map. The captain said they can moor there. In fact, the beginning and the end of the voyage was no problem. Ayissi knew how to unberth, leave a port and approach with the final mooring. What she was doing now as the sun braved the highest point on the azure arch, was figuring out the en route part. How did the currents move? Where were the shallow waters? Was there any danger along the sea bed they'd pass over? She had a few nautical charts on a small scale map, all of which captured the Andaris coast and sea. Right now, she was trying to get her head around the coastline. Considering the geographical differences along that particular stretch of land, Ayissi was mainly concerned with the seabed. The jagged rocks of east coastline could very well have hidden, unpleasant surprise below the water level, which is what she tried to read from the charts. Brushing against shallow waters with that type of threat was much more dangerous and damaging than brushing against a sand one. Well, preferably, no brushing against any type of shallow water was ideal, of course. Cocking her head from side to side, pulling in her cheek from time to time and producing a pensive pout, as far as she could tell, if they stayed between twenty to thirty cable lengths from the coast, they should hit no complications with regards to water’s depth. Any further and manoeuvring into the mouth of Zor river would be unnecessarily difficult.
Scribbling away in her notepad, Ayissi moved to the next matter at hand - the tides and currents. For a smooth and swift journey, it would be best to leave during neap tide, but that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. Quarter moon was still a little way away and the ship was leaving tomorrow. Her next best option then was to leave during high tide when the water would carry them out of the dock and onto the west, north-west current towards river Zor. The journey back might be a little slower considering that they would be going against the current, but if the wind was in their favour, they would do just fine. Becoming a statue with eyes losing focus, her mouth moved silently as she performed mental calculations before she sharply breathed in. Early morning hours…never good for the sailors who spent the previous night drinks their brains dumb. Well, the captain would have to get his men in order for them to leave on time. It was not her problem to solve and so she made a note in her pocket book for later reference.
Twirling the carbon pencil between her fingers, Ayissi bent a little lower. She only saw her father do this, but he often drew lines on his maps. “It’s the set of the voyage,” he used to tell her. But as a small girl, it only appeared as one of many confusing bits and bobs. She preferred stars then and she did now as well. Unfortunately, stars did not shine when the sun was out and Ayissi could not risk a thing with this job. It was the first one, after all. She felt like she had to prove herself, which she probably did. And so, she dragged the tip along the paper, leaving behind a thin line. Mid-way, the frown on her brow was intense enough for her to stop. She did not like the shape of it. Just past the caves as the coast changed into menacing cliffs, it went almost too close to the land. Rubbing it out, she smudged the line into the sides until it was gone and started anew. Moments later, she repeated the process. The curve drawn as they went past the city to leave it behind on their left, the turn was narrower than it would be ideal perhaps. A ship loaded with trading items, heavy and heaving on the sea would not make such a turn. Hence, another large grey smudge was added to the chart. In fact, many more followed. She wasn’t quite content with what she was producing and something inside Ayissi told her that with this line, one had to be sure. It would be the way that the ship would have to follow. After covering the previously pristine white nautical chart in grey blots, the finalised line appeared somewhat a partitioning in amongst formless thunderclouds. Though Ayissi huffed contently. The dirty visage of the chart was not bothering her a bit. It didn’t even bother her that she left some carbon smudges across her forehead when she went to brush her hand through her hair during the line drawing.
Looking to a side, she left a few fingerprints next to the items on her checklist. She had a few more tasks to tick off. It was mainly calculating the speed with relation to the currents, as well as reading on the port in the lake Krom so she could get an idea on the approach and berthing. But for now, her eyes were hurting. Staring at the maps and charts ever since early morning hours, it tired her. This was the first time she ever had to work with these properly and alone. At first, she thought she’d never make sense out of all the numbers and lines! Thankfully, her wits did not leave her. Within less than a break, Ayissi’s mind was already creating a mental picture with all the information before her. But to speak frankly, she was worried at first.
Dropping the pencil on the table, the woman dressed in the simplest of her clothes stretched skyward. Rolled sleeves travelled down her arms, the low unbuttoned blouse allowing little breeze to cool her skin. A trickle of sweat was slithering down the groove of her spine. Saun was going to kill her one day. The heat was unbearable even in her sloop and coupled with the weariness she began to feel, Ayissi decided it was the best time for an afternoon nap. After all, she wasn’t meeting the captain until the evening in the tavern.