Fri, 06/03/2022 - 3:15pm

It was a great year for the 2022 Block Island Yacht Club Creative Writing Contest. It is our seventh year and seven students submitted stories, the most to date! The contest is open to students in grades 10 through 12 enrolled in the Block Island School. Contestants are required to use a paragraph given to them in advance in their story. The stories are read and ranked by three members of the BIYC. These “judges,” who change every year, do not know who wrote the stories nor do they know who the other judges are. The first and second place stories are published in The Block Island Times. The three top contestants also receive a cash prize, $500 for first, $300 for second and $100 for Honorable Mention. This year’s contestants were: Campbell Coviello, Rory Crawford, Samantha Hester, Amira Veldman-Wilson, Cally Weber, Chloe Weber and Sofia Williams. We appreciate the hard work they put into the writing; they were creative and enjoyable to read. We look forward to next year’s stories!
First Prize went to Sofia Williams for her story “The Noble Taino,” second prize went to Cally Weber for her story “Haunted Island” and Honorable Mention went to Chloe Weber for her story “Storms Wait for No Soul.” Congratulations to these students.

Haunted Island

By Cally Weber

Isla de Mona is a small island 38 nautical miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. There are no inhabitants other than a few biologists, however with permission, people are allowed to camp on the island for limited amounts of time. Mona is challenging to get to, the seas are often rough, there are no ferries and no docks. It does have a small airstrip. After obtaining permission, Al and Sarah decided to sail Icarus, a 23-foot sloop, to Mona. Their idea was to camp overnight, take some night sky photos and head back to Cabo Rojo the following day. They did not realize that a storm was brewing further south in the Caribbean.
Early Monday morning, Al and Sarah started their journey. The breeze was light, perfect for a calm, romantic sail. They packed the cooler full of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and water, enough to last them a few days, just in case. They made sure to bring a compass and some extra camping gear. As they left Cabo Rojo, Al and Sarah bickered about the best way to reach Isla de Mona.
“Sarah I’m telling you,” said Al. “If we tack here and go on a close reach for a few miles it will be faster.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about Al,” insisted Sarah. “A close haul will be way more efficient.”
By the time they finally reached an agreement, the sun was already past the meridian. This meant noontime. They broke into their first bags of sandwiches as they discussed their past sailing endeavors.
“Remember that time we sailed Isla de Desecheo, that Marine Reserve?” asked Sarah.
“And we got chased off by those marine biologists, telling us that we were ruining their trial,” laughed Al. “Hopefully we don’t end up back there.”
After approximately eight hours of sailing westward, they began to get worried. No land was in sight. They checked the compass again. Now, it pointed east.
“But we haven’t repositioned in hours?” questioned Al.
Sarah grabbed the compass and shook it and to her surprise, the screw holding the arrow had loosened and fell off.
“Oh no!” exclaimed Sarah, wondering what they were going to do.
Without a compass they had no navigation. The old sloop was too dated to have a working GPS system. They had no idea where they were, or how far they were from land. Maps weren’t helpful if they didn’t know where they were. Sarah started to freak out, blaming Al.
“This is all your fault,” she exclaimed.
“Calm down,” said Al carefully, not wanting to increase her panic.
“How am I supposed to be calm?” questioned Sarah. “We’re stranded!”
Both their phones were out of battery, so they were left with only their cameras. They decided the best plan was to keep sailing in hopes of finding Isla de Mona. If they didn’t reach the island by nightfall they would jibe and make their way back to Cabo Rojo. The wind began to pick up and the sails began to fill, making the boat heel. Al slowly eased
the main to flatten the boat out. Out on the horizon the clouds began to darken. The ripples on the water signified heavy winds coming their way. It began to rain. Small spits of water at first, then large drops. Clouds covered the sun, ruining their last sense of direction.
“Al, look,” yelled Sarah from the bow.
Out on the skyline was a small speck. The outline of a small island made its way through the clouds. They could make out a few trees and what looked like a small house.
“Isla de Mona! We’ve found it,” exclaimed Al.
The closer they got to the island, the worse the weather got. It was now pouring, and the wind was blowing around 35 knots. They would be lucky if Icarus survived the squall. The shore was rocky, so it wouldn’t be an easy docking. They decided the best course of action would be to lower the sails and let the waves push them in. It was a risky move, but the right one.
“I got the main Sarah, you grab the jib,” ordered Al.
They quickly uncleated the halyards and dropped the sails. The waves pushed them into the island, occasionally hitting one of the jagged rocks that littered the shallow water. Al cringed every time, just imagining the damage to his beloved Icarus. Finally, they made it to the shore. They unloaded their bags and dug the anchor into the sand.
“This wasn’t what Isla de Mona looked like in the pictures,” said Sarah with horror.
Littering the beach were bones, bird and fish carcasses. The smell was atrocious, seaweed and rotting avians. A growl came from behind one of the
small trees in the center of the small island.
“Al, what was that?” questioned Sarah with fear in her eyes.
Al decided to investigate, taking some of his camping supplies with him in case he needed a weapon. Sarah watched as he disappeared into the brush. It was now dark, and still lightly raining. Sarah decided to set up the tent to take cover. She waited for Al to come back and looked at a map, trying to scout out where they were. Her eyelids become heavy and she dropped the paper chart.
“Oh no,” exclaimed Sarah.
She had fallen asleep, and Al was nowhere to be found. She unzipped the tent and was blinded by the hot sun. She began to explore, searching for any trace of Al. After a couple hours Sarah gave up. The island was approximately a mile by a half a mile. She had searched every square inch, finding nothing but a few sticks and a couple boat parts laying astray. Sarah decided to make a small fire and ration out the water and her peanut butter jelly sandwiches. She sat for days, hoping and praying that Al
would come back, but he never did.
Finally, Sarah ran out of food and water on her small island. She did one last sweep of the island before deciding to single-handedly sail back to Cabo Rojo. Just as Sarah was digging the anchor out of the sand, she heard someone screaming. She followed the voice to find Al, buried in a rut. He had tripped and landed in a ditch trying to find the
growling creature. He had no recollection of what happened. The only clue being a large scratch across the side of his face. Sarah helped him out and as they turned to walk away, the growling started again. They ran back to Icarus and unbeached her as fast as they could.
As they were sailing away, a haunting black creature emerged from the brush, warning them to never come back.