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Marsh Owl

RB Pahl

Copyright RB Pahl, 2011

Published at Smashwords

All rights reserved.


On a moonless night in the middle of a non-descript slough in the San Joaquin Delta, a stealthy flat black “Go-Fast” crept along an almost imperceptible pathway. River tules were thick in the slough, almost blocking passage by the sleek craft. In the inky darkness, the black form seemed nearly invisible, as the tules were pushed aside and flowed back as the boat passed.

The boat was a high speed offshore racing boat some thirty seven feet long, known as a “cigarette” boat, named from one of the first boats of the design. It was designed to go ninety miles an hour over reasonably calm waters, and perhaps sixty or seventy over heavy chop.

When the Black Widow emerged from apparently nowhere and turned right onto the San Joaquin River, she was completely blacked out, including the required navigation lights. No lights were visible from off the boat, except for a dull green glow from the radar screen. Heading west, she accelerated to maximum speed, striking out for the offshore waters of San Francisco. Five miles from the place where she emerged onto the river, the mufflers on her engines were cut off, allowing the engines to exhaust hot gasses without restriction. The resulting sound was a throaty deep bellow that could be heard for miles. The navigation lights popped on, making her legal and the fastest thing on the Delta tonight.

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