All were on deck now, and orders were being given from all directions. It was a moonless night and the sea was as black as pitch. The sound of the waves thrashing against the ship rose above the yelling of the crew on the Convert.
It was now the wee hours of the morning, on February 8, 1794. Instead of the crew getting a good night’s rest, their distress gun was fired.
Captain Lawford came bounding out of his quarters. Dressed in only his trousers, he raced barefoot onto the top deck.
“What in land’s end is happening here? I heard the distress gun fire!” he cried.
“Aye, Captain, there be breakers ahead!” shouted seaman Thompson from up in the crow’s nest. “The fleet is getting ahead of us now. They are all firing off their distress guns.”
Lawford grabbed the telescope from the seaman standing next to him.
“Damn, this can’t be the Grand Cayman reef! I thought we passed that an hour ago. I charted this course myself, so that we would avoid that bloody coral reef!”
He shouted orders for all of the men to report on the deck. Before any of the men had time to react, a voice alerted them to a whole new danger.
“Pirates – there be Pirates!” shouted men from the Britannia, which was close on their starboard side. All of the ships began to move closer, trying to protect the Convert.
The crew aboard the Convert flashed their lanterns. All they could see were ships clustered together…too close together.
They heard the sounds of the crash before they saw it. Splintering wood and screams of terror echoed over the water. It was as if the reef had sliced right through the ships, like an axe slicing through wood.
“Take cover, men!” shouted Captain Lawford, just before the Britannia rammed into the Convert.
When the ships collided, it hit the Convert hard into the windward reef. The ship began to lean on its’ side, ready to split.
The remaining ships crashed into one another in an endless pile up. The deafening sound of screams mingled with bodies splashing into the water. Many of the seamen were now jumping into the water, clinging onto pieces of the ship that floated nearby.
“It is Poseidon coming to take us to our watery graves!” shouted one of the men in the water.
Despite the chaos, Captain Lawford still shouted out orders. They were largely ignored, since every man was out to save himself – all but one, of course. There was one seaman who had to save his dearest friend.
Dear God, please let me get down to Jonathan in time.
Peter did his best to hold onto anything he could to make his way down to the
hold. The ship’s hull had been hit hard and would be soon flooding with water.
Peter threw open the cargo door and raced down the steps. He was already knee
deep in murky water. The trunks were swishing around, banging into one another. “Jonathan! Jonathan, I’m coming!” Peter yelled, as he sloshed through the water. Jonathan popped the lid of his trunk open and began yelling for Peter.
“Peter, what is happening?”
“We have hit the reef on Grand Cayman, Jonathan. All of the other ships have
slammed into each other. We are all going down. You’ve got to get out of that trunk – now!”
“No, no…I’m afraid!” cried Jonathan. “I can’t swim!”
“It doesn’t matter now, my son. Just hang onto me and we’ll grab a hold of whatever we can find until we are rescued.”
As Jonathan tried to sit up, the chain of his locket got caught in the latch of the lid. He desperately tried to untangle it, but it had formed a small knot that refused to come undone.
Peter was still holding onto the trunk when a huge gush of water came and swept him away. He had been pulled down through the hold. Jonathan couldn’t see exactly where he was, but there was a small crack that he could see out of.
“Peter! Peter, where are you?”
Jonathan prayed that Peter had been able to swim to safety. His trunk had begun to slam into all of the other trunks; he could feel water dripping onto his face. Jonathan pulled and pulled at the knot in the chain, but nothing worked. The more he pulled at the chain, the tighter it pulled around his throat.
Jonathan’s body trembled, as he closed his eyes one last time.
I know I will be with you, mother. Please look after me.
As water overtook Jonathan’s small body, his trunk was pulled through a gaping hole in the ship. His trunk landed at the bottom of the sea, nestled underneath a large crevasse deep under the reef.
A large sea turtle who happened to be in the area circled the chest. It seemed to take on an iridescent green glow that lit up the waters with its shimmering light.
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