As the Lady Luck approached Egmont Key, whenever the lighthouse beam flashed across the water, Victor could see Captain Mortenson on the Bertram's fly bridge, wagging a cigarette at them. Once within earshot, Mortenson told them to throw the anchor. Evan scrambled down the ladder to follow the captain's bid. A southeasterly breeze had kicked up with enough gust to dry the sweat from Victor's T-shirt and ruffle his hair. But in spite of the wind, the water gleamed as smooth and reflective as God's own mirror.
"Just let her drift up here," Mortenson said, waving them in. He'd thrown out boat fenders alongside the Blew Bayou to protect her. When the Lady floated in close enough, Mortenson clasped hold of her like a runaway child. He pulled her up next to the Bertram and tied some lines to keep her tethered. When he'd finished, Mortensen set his hands on his hips. Before Victor knew what was happening, the chief and Slick had jumped in the Whaler and taken off. "Riding the shoals," the captain said. "But we can't go any further in this boat. The tide's too low. We'll run her aground." A cigarette dangled from his mouth. "They think Cuda's on the south end, unloading. But we can't be sure."
The lighthouse flashed on, and Mortenson pointed toward the northern tip of the island. "Tiger and I are taking the Lady around now. Her draft's low enough to make it." Then he held out a hand to hoist Evan onto the Bertram and then a hand for Victor. Once on board they stood across from the captain while the lighthouse flashed every thirty seconds. There were out far enough in the channel that the lighthouse beam hit the Bertram dead on.
Mortenson took a long drag on his cigarette. He said they'd stopped using the radio; they had an inkling Cuda may have been tipped off. That's why he'd changed his plans and headed out early. Then the captain grabbed his windbreaker, his fishing cap, and a fresh pack of cigarettes. "If Cuda hits Tierra Verde and unloads his stash, all we got is an empty Booty."
Victor wanted to ask about Daniel, but the way Mortenson's eyes darted from the Lady Luck to the lighthouse to the channel, Victor understood all plans had been scrapped. They were winging it.