Raymond Grieve did not know anything about boats. Never in the twenty seven years of his existence had he ever set foot on, or ever had any desire to set foot on, anything bigger than the dinghy that he received for his ninth Birthday and he intended to keep it that way. Therefore, the Maybelle had been bought purely for show.
With his new house in the seaside town of Croabh Haven, he had decided that he really needed a boat. Nothing in particular had triggered this want other than the fact that he simply felt that it was expected of him. He didn't especially like these water vehicles nor did he reckon that he would ever get any use out of one, he just didn't want to stand out as the only man in the entire village who didn't own one.
However, when he gazed at his newly purchased fishing boat, he couldn't help but feel a spark of pride. Pearly white paint gleaming in the late afternoon sunlight and blue mast billowing in the wind, not even Raymond could deny that she really was very pretty. He first seen her on his way home from work and had not been able to believe that she was on sale for only fifty pounds.
Reaching out, he ran his fingers gently over her smooth, cold surface and smiled. Later, he painted Maybelle - named after his wife - in bold black letters across her side and, as if to make up for never taking her out to sail, would spend every second weekend caring for her.
For the next forty five years, that was how it went. The little boat would stay tethered outside of Raymond Grieve's house in return for being adoringly pampered and spoiled. During spring and summer, she would bob peacefully over the gentle waves and bask in the heat before spending the remainder of the year hibernating underneath the tarpaulin that had been carefully placed over her. That was where John Alton found her many months after Raymond had passed away.
John was never to know that the Maybelle had not been built to withstand brutal weather. He didn't realise that it had been designed for the very reason that Raymond Grieve had paid fifty pounds; it was nice to look at. He just saw a boat perfect for his weekend out fishing with his son and friend. That was why the Maybelle's first trip out to sea would also be her last.
"Quick! Help me-" John's voice was drowned out by the roaring of the storm.
Violent wind shoved the small boat from side to side, ripping and tearing at the mast. Waves slammed relentlessly against her sides, splashing over her edges and turning the deck into a deadly ice-rink. The three figures tried to shield themselves from the heavy rain as they grabbed onto anything that they could got their hands around. Thunder clapped in the sky as the fishing boat collided with something hard and one by one, the figures were thrown into the baltic, unforgiving sea below. The remaining wooden chunks of the Maybelle were dragged into the gloomy night by the ferocious waters.
It was at some point during the early hours of the morning that Christopher woke. The throbbing at the back of his head suggested that he had been knocked out, although by what he could not remember. One minute he had been sitting aboard the Maybelle, the next he had opened his eyes to find himself, well, here.
After a moment in which he took to gather his senses, he reached out a hand to pull himself up to a sitting position. Something cold and slimy squelched in between his fingers.
With a yelp of surprise, Christopher scrambled to his feet, realising that he was knee deep in pebbles and foul-smelling seaweed. Wrinkling his nose with disgust, he dragged himself further up the beach. His sodden clothes were weighing him down and it felt as if all of the energy had been drained from his body, but he knew that he had to find out where he was. Hauling his aching limbs over to a nearby rock, he began to take in his surroundings.
Dim dawn light brightened the beach enough for Christopher to make out the assortment of shells, stones and seaweed that scattered the sand. Nothing but the soft rustling of the trees behind and the squawking of a distant gull stirred the peaceful air. He watched as the sea - that just hours before had been a furious commotion of froth and foam - gently licked at the grey shore. If it had not been for the ragged remains of the Maybelle that had washed up on the coast, the previous night's disaster might not have happened.