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Tuesday, 19 July 2022

An Exercise In Logistics Chapter {Episode} 24


Miss Anirue

    The attention span of an Observer is approximately twenty minutes, after that he begins to fail to notice movement on the monitor in front of him. When that happens any such Observer has to take a break. It was a keen eyed Observer who first sat at his monitor and saw the large object drifting into the mouth of the estuary. It was one of the two workmen at the top of the bell tower who was the second person to see the object.
    “Here!” Number 91 said.
    “What’s up?” asked Number 90b
    “What’s that?”
    “What’s what?” 90b said looking in the direction in which his workmate was pointing.
    In the Control Room the Observer drew the attention of the object to his Supervisor.
    “Let’s have it on the screen, put up camera fifteen” the Supervisor ordered “get closer.”
    The camera zoomed in on the object.
    “Get as close as you can.”
    The camera zoomed in to its maximum range.
    The object now in the mouth of the estuary turned out to be a de-masted yacht estimated to be about fifty to sixty feet in length.

    “What’s that doing there?” asked the Observer.
    “Drifting into the estuary” the Supervisor replied picking up the grey ‘L’ shaped telephone “Where is the powerboat?”
    “I have her on sonar now sir, she’s on her way back from patrol” said the operator.
    “Good, calling Natalia, calling Natalia....investigate a yacht in the estuary. She’s de-masted, not making way and drifting” the Supervisor then put a call through to Number 2 alerting him about the yacht.
    “Send the power boat to investigate, and I’m on my way to the Control Room” Number 2 said.

    The Natalia powered her way through the waves, the two man crew keeping a sharp lookout for the stricken vessel.
    “There she is, two points off the starboard bow” 49 said.
    The helmsman steered a course straight for her.
    “Stand by a line, and stand by to board her and take her in tow” 50 ordered.
    “Why me?” 49 asked.
    “Because there are only the two of us, and I’m the helmsman!”


    “Well get as close as you can to her before I jump aboard!
    It was a calm sea which made it easy for the helmsman to draw the power boat alongside the yacht. As the Miss Anirue was taken under tow Number 49 made a search of the yacht. Her mast had gone, rigging lines lay strewn across the deck. Below there was nothing but chaos, and she was partly flooded, but of the crew there was no sign.
    Number 2 arrived in the Control Room and glanced at the large wall screen from the gantry.
    “Why has the Natalia taken that hulk under tow?”
    “We could hardly leave her to drift further down the estuary” the Supervisor replied.
    Number 2 descended the steel staircase “Where did she come from?”
    “She was observed drifting into the mouth of the estuary, looking at her she’s been through a storm. The crew of Natalia report no-one aboard” the Supervisor reported.
    “What are we going to do with her?”
    “She’s being towed in as you can see sir, I thought to have her moored at the quayside.”
    “What for?”
    “Well we can do that, or we can have her towed out back to sea and sink her!” the Supervisor suggested.
    Number 2 thought and considered the situation.
    “She’s called the Miss Anirue” said the Supervisor.
    “What’s that to us?”
    “I’ve had the name run through our computers.”
    “Oh you have!”
    “The Miss Anirue is one of a number of yachts taking part in a round the World yacht race” the supervisor said.
    “So what’s she doing washed up here?”
    “I’ve no idea sir. But she was crewed by the yachtswoman Philippa King, who wasn’t found aboard!”
    “So this Phillipa King is lost at sea.” Number 2 said.
    “Yes Number Two.”
    “Probably no bad thing as far as we are concerned.”

    “There is another question...the yacht’s Global Position System.”
    “What about it?”
    “It could be used to track the last position of the yacht and bring any possible search here to The Village!”
    “Yes of course” Number 2 said “have the yacht moored at the quayside, have the GPS deactivated, and put a security team aboard to keep watch.”

    The powerboat having a wrecked yacht in tow attracted the attention of a number of citizens who watched the vessel’s slowly approach along the estuary. Number 6 was one of the citizens watching from the lawn of the Old People’s Home.
    “Looks like she’s been in a storm” the Admiral said.
    “Wonder if the crew’s still aboard?” Number 6 asked.


    “She looks abandoned” the Admiral said “she’s taken on water judging by the list.”

    The power boat came inshore, slowing and manoeuvring so to bring Miss Anirue alongside the Stoneboat. A crewman threw two mooring lines to two men standing aboard the Stone boat, and secured both bow and stern lines. Number 6 now standing on the quayside stood watching, two guardians went aboard the yacht to make a search, there was no-one aboard. Either they were washed overboard in a storm, or they abandoned the vessel, certainly the life lines were broken and lay limp over the port side.

    “You don’t miss much, do you Number Six?” said a female voice behind him.

    “You could hardly fail to miss her if you tried!” Number 6 quipped with a broad grin on his face “she’s the Miss Anirue.”

    “Tell me something I don’t know!”

    “This could constitute a breach in security, what have you done with the crew?”
    “Nothing, there is no crew, she was apparently abandoned at sea.”
    “I can see why!”

    “The crew might still turn up, in a lifeboat perhaps.”
    “Hope springs eternal eh Number Six” Number 2 said “even if they do it will be of no help to you.”
    “Hell of a place to get yourselves shipwrecked!”
    “She drifted here on the current, having been caught up in a storm well out to sea. Nobody is going to turn up here Number Six.”

 “The yacht will be equipped with GPS, someone somewhere will have her course plotted, and a search will extend outwards from the last known position….”

    “Why don’t you go and bother someone else!”
    The two guardians emerged from below deck, one carried a lap top, the other a log book.

    Number 2 contacted the Control Room via her mobile phone.

    “Supervisor here” said Number 56.

    “Have a search made of the coastline, there is the possibility of the crew having been washed up somewhere.”

    “Yes Number Two, at once.”

    “A marvellous invention are they not Number Six?”
    “Once upon a time they were a novelty, now virtually compulsory and people cannot seem to live without them!” Number 6 replied.
    “Makes you wonder how people managed before?”
    “They used something called a telephone box, and back in those good old days you could go about your business without others knowing where you are! How do you stop others from detecting The

Village, what with spy satellites and all that?”

    “The Village is cloaked!”
    “The Global Positioning System aboard the yacht won’t be cloaked!”
    “Thank you for your concern Number Six, my men were sent aboard to disable the GPS! Where is your mobile phone?”


    “I keep it in the fridge!”
    “That could be deemed as misuse of Village property!”
    “And you keep yours in your pocket, why?”
    “So that I can be contacted at any time of day, no matter where I am.”
    “Then how very uncomfortable for you!” Number 6 replied.

    “What will you do with her?” he asked.


    “Miss Anirue.”

    ‘It all depends” Number 2 replied turning to leave.

    “Depends on what?” he asked casually.

    “On whether or not we find the crew or not” returned Number 2 turning back to face him “there is an active search underway, perhaps you would like to join in”’ asked Number 2 with a knowing smile.

    Number 6 said nothing.

   “I thought not. Be seeing you” Number 2 saluted and walked away with log book and lap top under her arm.

   Number 6 casually returned her salute before turning and stepping aboard the Stoneboat in order to get a closer look at the Miss Anirue.

    “Take much to get her sea worthy again Admiral?” Number 6 asked.

    “Aye lad. Probably take weeks” said the Admiral as he stood looking her over “she needs a new mast and jib, rigging, perhaps a new rudder, and the self steering gear could be damaged.”

    “Engines?” asked Number 6.

    The Admiral looked at Number 6 “Aye lad, the auxiliary engine should be sound, if she didn’t take too much water on board. I know that look lad, what are you thinking?”

    “Ask no questions Admiral and I’ll tell you no lies” retorted Number

6, who was already calculating how he could turn the Miss Anirue to his advantage.

    With the tide out, the afternoon found Number 6 walking along the base of the cliffs searching amongst the rocks and pools with other members of the search team. They searched the wide expanse of open sand and the water filled gullies left by the outgoing tide. But it was a fruitless search, nothing and no-one was to be found anywhere. In the cipher room technicians had been able to log in on the Lap Top found on the Anirue, while Number 2 occupied her time by going through the yacht’s log. This while Number 6 maintained his own search, and it was while he was poking about in the cove where the small narrow slit cave is set in the cliffs that Number 6 found it, a yellow life jacket! He had found the life jacket floating in a rock pool. It was badly torn, but of the body of the person who had been wearing it there was no sign. It was at this point that he found himself gazing in the direction of the cave. There were no footprints in the sand, so it was reasonable to assume that the cave had been neglected during the search. Easing himself through the narrow slit he entered the small narrow cave, it was cold and damp and just inside was a yellow life jacket. The cave was not very deep, and there lying on the damp sand was the body of a woman. Kneeling down he turned the body over, she was dead, he could only imagine the body was washed into the cave by the sea. It was obvious to him that the woman was off the Anirue, he decided to leave her where she was for the time being. For it to be discovered it might hamper his chances of using the radio aboard the yacht!


    Number 2 was in her office, she had been reading through the log of the Miss Anirue when the pair of steel doors opened and the Supervisor entered. 
    “What have you to report?”
    “There is no sign of any crewman of the yacht Number Two. The coastline has been searched to the both the northern and southern perimeters all with negative results.”

    “And the yacht?”
    “A survey has been carried out and it appears she does not warrant repairs to be carried out. She has a hole on her starboard side. The GPS has been disabled, also the radio.”
    “Good. What makes you think I should not wish repairs carried out on the yacht? But get a pump installed on board, I want the water pumped out.”
    “Yes Number Two. What about the search, do we continue or should I call it off?”
    “Don’t waste any more time, call it off. Any such body might well wash up somewhere else, either that or it has been lost at sea.”

    “And Number Six?”
    “What’s Number Six got to do with it?”
    “It is reported that he involved himself in the search along the base of the cliffs. He may have found something.”

    “Did he find anything? More important did he find anything and decide to keep it to himself?” asked Number 2.

    “I’ve really no idea” returned the Supervisor nervously.
    “Then we had better find out, hadn’t we?”
    “Yes Number Two.”

    “And have security keep a close watch aboard the Anirue.”
    “Yes Number Two.”
    “And I want the yacht camouflaged!”
    “A yellow and blue will stand out a mile don’t you think? We may have given up on a search, the question is....has anyone else? We don’t want to inadvertently attract attention to us do we?
    “No Number Two.”

    Outside on the balcony of the Green Dome, the Supervisor met with Number 6 who was just about to pay a call on Number 2.

    “Where do you think you are going Number Six?”

    “In there to see Number Two” retorted Number 6, whilst hiding something behind his back.


    “What have you there?” asked the Supervisor, curious to see what the Prisoner was trying to hide.

    “What are you, Number Two’s assistant?” quipped Number 6.

    “I asked you what it is you have there, do not have me ask a third time” the Supervisor demanded.

    Number 6 produced his find from behind his back, that of a yellow life jacket.

    “Where did you find that?” Number 2 asked rising out of her chair.

    “Amongst the rock pools, your people missed it!” Number 6 with a look of satisfaction.
    “You involved yourself!”
    “I thought I would lend a helping hand.”
    “Helping yourself would be more like it” Number 2 said examining the life jacket.

    “It was easy to miss, I only came across it by chance.”
   “Lucky you!”

    “I don’t suppose you found a body to go with it?” asked Number 2 casually, but it was an obvious question.

    “No, there was no body to be found” Number 6 lied.

    “Well thank you Number Six that was very public spirited of you. If you would perform one favour for me?”
    “Yes what is it?”
    “Show two guardians exactly where you found this life jacket.”

    Number 6 led the two guardians across the beach, but in the opposite direction to where he actually found the life jacket.
    “Right” said Number 256 “where did you find the life jacket?”
    “It was here, amongst the Maram grass.”
    The two guardians made a search of the area for themselves, there was nothing else to find.
    The Supervisor and Number 2 watched them searching on the wall screen.
    “What’s Number Six’s game?” asked the Supervisor.
    “If, and it is if, Number Six has found the body of the yachtswoman he will be aware that there will be those from the outside world looking for both her and the yacht. He may have found the body and has hidden it, thus attempting to delay the finding of it. He might be under the misapprehension that a search team from the outside World might turn up on our doorstep and rescue him!”

    “It’s a long shot.”
    “Yes. The tide being out I want certain repairs made to the Miss Anirue, just enough to make her seaworthy. I want rid of that vessel, 
towed well out to see on the next tide, then cast adrift for someone else to find it miles away from here!”

    The quayside was a hive of activity and Number 6 went to see what was going on. He was standing on the starboard side of the Stoneboat watching, observing, and making mental notes.


    “What are you doing here Number Six?” asked one of the security guards.
    “Just looking.”

    “This has got nothing to do with you, clear off!”
    “I have been, I’ve been assisting Number Two.”
    “That will be the day!”
    “No it’s perfectly true.”
    “Well we don’t need your help here.”
    “I can see that, getting her ready for sea are they?”
    “It’s no business of yours if she’s being broken up, her planking turned into items of treen to be sold to tourists!”
    It was apparent to Number 6 that he would need a small crew in order to handle Miss Anirue at sea!

    In the Control Room, the Supervisor was watching the activity of Number 6, and reported his interest in the activity aboard the yacht.
    “Is he, I wouldn’t have expected anything else from him. The guardians report they found nothing else. I believe Number Six purposely led them in the opposite direction to where he actually found the life jacket. Have another search conducted, in the other direction.”
    “Yes Number Two, and Number six?”
    “Leave him to me.”

    Number 6 decided that it was time for the discovery of the body in the cave. Making his way along the cliffs and a little way past the lighthouse he lookd down into the cove. A Mini-Moke towing a Red Cross trailer was parked outside the cave, and the body was being placed into the trailer by two medics. He was too late!

    “Well Number Six, your little ruse, I’m not quite sure what you hoped to gain by it!” Number 2 said with a feeling of satisfaction “and as you saw Miss Anirue is being made ready for sea.”

    “So clever aren’t you!”

    “Yes we are, very clever don’t ever forget that!”

    “And the woman?”
    “She will be given a burial at sea, far from here.”
    “And me, what happens to me?”
    “Nothing, you are free to go.”
    “If only!” he said unable to disguise the disappointment in his voice.

    Number 6 strolled about The Village looking for a likely crew to help man the yacht. Himself as navigator, he needed a mechanic for the engine, and a couple of hands, his problem being how to select them? He thought of the Admiral and his flag officer, but they were too old sea dogs! On the taxi rank a man in dove grey overalls had his head under the bonnet of one of the taxis.



    “Excuse me” said Number 6 his hand on the bonnet.

    “Yes” said the mechanic come electrician looking up from his work “if it’s another breakdown you’ll just have to wait.”

    “Fair enough” said Number 6 and calmly walked away, obviously he was not the man for the job.
    A gardener who had been cutting the grass of The Village green had stopped to attend to the engine of the tractor.
    “Excuse me” Number 6 said “But are you by any chance a motor mechanic?”
    “No, I’m a gardener, but I know a little about engines.”
    “Good, then you could well be the man I’m looking for” Number 6 told him.
    “Very good sir!”
    As for his two hands, he could think of no-one else other than the Admiral and his flag officer despite their age, he was sure they would appreciate a sea voyage!

    Number 6 had been an early riser, forgoing his usual early morning stroll round The Village. Instead he went down the hill to the quay where Miss Anirue was moored. Work had been carried out at a feverish rate in order to make the vessel seaworthy, all that was needed was a full tide in order to tow her out to sea, that tide was already on the turn. He was going to board the Stoneboat in order to get a better look at the yacht but the white amorphous white mass of the guardian intervened blocking his progress. As he stood facing it the thing became agitated at his defiance, then Number 6 backed slowly away as two guardians stood aboard the yacht watching on.

    Later that day Number 6 approached both the Admiral and his flag officer talking to them confidentially. The Admiral questioned Number 6’s reason for the sea voyage and took a little convincing, the flag officer was all for the plan, at least he agreed it was something to do.
    The gardener was sitting on his garden tractor cutting one of the lawns when Number 6 approached him, he stopped the tractor but kept the engine running.
    “A sea voyage, I’m no sailor, I’m a gardener!”
    “Yes but I need a motor mechanic” Number 6 told him, the noise from the engine disguising their conversation.
    “I don’t know, I’m not much in favour of The Village. I’m an horticulturist when I was recruited I expected more, but I’m just a gardener fit only for trimming hedges and cutting grass!” Number 87 

    Number 6 had his man! The four met up at the stage coach, Number 6 laid out his plan. It was argued that the yacht was nothing more than a hulk, with no mast, no prow with a hole in her starboard side. But Number 6 told them she was being made seaworthy. That the rudder is undamaged, so too the steering gear, that she had three advantages, an engine, GPS and a radio transmitter Number 6 said he could deal with communications and navigation. At the very worst they could send out an S.O.S, and so he was able to convince his three confederates.


    “How are we going to work this lad?” the Admiral asked “she’ll be towed out to sea behind the power boat!”

    “We just step aboard and take her do we?” asked the flag officer “they would be onto us before we had time to cast off!”

    “Number Eighty-seven and I will overpower the two guards on the yacht and take their place. Then we can smuggle you two onboard the yacht and you stow away until we are out at sea when the yacht will be cast adrift, but able to make way under the power of the engine.”
    “Then what?”
    “We will be a prize crew!”

    In the Control Room the Supervisor picked up the yellow ‘L’ shaped telephone and called Number 2 “I have to report Number Six has been seen spending time with the Admiral and his flag officer.”
    “Well Number Six does pay chess with the Admiral.”
    “And he’s been talking to the gardener Number Eighty-seven.”
    “I never realised Number Six was interested in horticulture!”

    “He’s never shown interest before!”

    “Where are they all now?” asked Number 2.

    “They are sat talking together at a table on the lawn of the Old People’s Home” the Supervisor told her watching the wall screen.
    Number 2 pressed a button on the control panel of her desk activating the wall screen.
    “I can’t get the audio” she told the Supervisor.

    “The microphone is kaput, I bet Number Six has fixed it!” the Supervisor said.

    “How can it be broken if Number Six has fixed it!”
    Number 2’s witticism went over the Supervisor’s head.

    “I don’t suppose one of the Observers can lip read?”
   “They have an unhealthy interest in the yacht. Earlier today Number Six tried to get close to the yacht but the Guardian steered him away” the Supervisor reported.
    “You think they will attempt to take the yacht?”
    “I think Number Six has found his crew. Shall I have them brought in?”

    Number 2 thought for a moment “No. Whatever Number Six is planning it will teach him that there is no point in being mutinous!”

    “He and his crew cannot possibly escape in that hulk!”

      “No, but it might be interesting to see him try. You know where I’ll be if you need me.”

    The next day the tide was in and final preparations were being made to tow the Miss Anirue out to sea. The powerboat had drawn alongside. The quayside was not exactly bustling with the madding crowd, there were two men on the deck of Miss Anirue, and Number 6 had them under close surveillance from the main cabin of the Stoneboat. He was wondering how they were going to get aboard when the gardener Number 87 turned up.


    “Where are the others?” Number 6 asked.
    “They have had a change of mind.”
    “They’re not coming?”
    “No, they say they are too old for escape.”
    “Perhaps it’s just as well”
    “How do we get aboard with those two standing there?”
    “We wait” Number 6 replied “we wait and take our chance when it comes.”

    “Have you checked the sea cocks?” asked Number 234.

    “No, I was just about to go below and do that” answered Number 155 “what about the yacht’s log and lap top, Number Two still doesn’t have them?”

    “No they’re here. While you’re at it, plug in the lap top’s connections and boot it up, the access code is written on a piece of paper inside” Number 234 told him handing over a black case.

    Number 155 took the black bag and disappeared below deck. Then Number 234 turned his back making a final check of the helm and steering gear. Numbers 6 and 87 seized their chance, and from the starboard side of the Stoneboat jumped aboard the yacht and ducked down into the forward compartment. Then there came footsteps on deck and Number 6 dropped through the open hatch.

    “That was a close call.”

    “What’s happening?” Number 87 asked.
    There was the deep growl of the twin diesel engines of the powerboat.

    “If they close and bolt the hatch down……” began 87.

    “Shhh” returned Number 6 as a shadow passed across the open hatch way, and all they could do was wait as they listened to the voices on deck.

    “Here catch this line and tie it off” shouted a crewman aboard the powerboat throwing a stern line to his fellow crewman aboard the Miss Anirue.

    “Did you check the sea cocks?” asked another.

    “Well that’s what I went down for isn’t it” Number 155 muttered to himself.

    ‘Well just make sure I’m off this hulk before you open them, I don’t want to be going down with her!” said Number 234 busy tying off the tow line.
    “They’re going to sink her then?”

    “That’s the plan, Number Two has had a change of mind. Secure the towline, I’ll take the helm, and prepare to cast off” ordered Number 234.

    “Aye aye sir” Number 155 saluted standing by the stern line.


    “Did you hear that, the sea cocks. They’re going to scuttle her!” whispered a startled Number 87 “why ever did I listen to you?”

    Number 6 grabbed 87 as he made a move for the open hatch and pulled him back “Once the two guardians are off there will be ample time to close them.”

    Miss Anirue’s lines were cast off and the helmsman on board the powerboat revved her twin diesels and prepared to take the stricken yacht under tow. Not so much a spectacular sight, but a little excitement to entertain those all watching from the quayside. Also the senior citizens watched from the lawn of the Old People’s Home, where the Admiral and flag officer stood at the salute whistling the sailor’s hornpipe as the power boat, its diesels growling, slowly got under way towing the Miss Anirue out into the estuary. Number 2 also watched the proceedings, but from the comfort of her chair and with a smile of great satisfaction, as did the Supervisor in the Control Room.

    Miss Anirue did not behave well under tow. The waves giving the impression that she was bucking against her tow line as though she was resisting her return to the open sea. The two crewmen on board were feeling distinctly uncomfortable and would be glad when it was time to abandon ship. That time was now not so far off. Below, the pair of stowaways were not having a pleasant voyage either, being rocked about in their forward compartment as they waited their moment which was now quickly approaching. Suddenly the stricken yacht was no longer under tow, the powerboat was standing by to take the two guardians off. One guardian went below deck to open up the sea cocks, while the other prepared to release the tow rope. Then the two jumped ship onto the powerboat, the helmsman revved the twin diesels, pushed the throttles forward before making way back to the estuary and The Village. Number 6 and 87 threw back the forward hatch and burst out onto the deck to find they were still moored alongside the Stoneboat!

    “We couldn’t have you two being cast adrift in such an un-seaworthy craft Number Six” Number 2 told him “a danger not only to yourselves but also to shipping” from the deck of the Stoneboat.

    “It had all been for nothing” 87 said in despair.
    Two guardians stepped aboard the yacht and took Number 87 in hand.

    “You knew all along” said Number 6 “the voyage was merely a simulation!”

    “That’s one way to put it I suppose” retorted Number 2 still smiling.

    “Why, why go to the bother?” asked Number 6 from the deck of the Miss Anirue.

    “Call it a practical demonstration” Number 2 grinned broadly, holding out a hand as to assist Number 6 aboard the Stoneboat.

    “What will happen to Eighty-seven?” asked Number 6.

    “Don’t tell me you care. I expect he’ll be back at work tomorrow.” retorted Number 2 as she walked with Number 6 along the quayside

“what are we to do with you is perhaps more to the point?”


    “You could simply let me go, then we would both achieve peace of mind” quipped Number 6 with a smile.

    Number 2 laughed “Ha ha ha ha ha, you kill me Six!”

    “You shouldn’t go making promises for me!” quipped Number 6.

    “It’s good that you maintain your sense of humour. You may be in need of it in the very near future” was Number 2’s promise to him.

    “What will happen to her?” asked Number 6.

    “Miss Anirue” said Number 6 following behind Number 2.

    “She’ll be towed well out to sea where she will be found by someone else. The lone yachts- woman having been swept overboard and drowned” Number 2 explained “can I offer you a ride home?” indicating with the point of her furled umbrella shooting stick the waiting taxi.

    “I prefer to walk, get my land legs back you know!” he quipped sarcastically.

    “Suit yourself. Be seeing you” Number 2 saluted from under the taxi’s candy striped canopy.

    “Be seeing you” he saluted as the taxi pulled away
    Number 6 made his way slowly through the Village, passed Hercules, the pink pavilion, and up the cobbled path. Music played through the speakers of the public address system, an old favourite by the Sutherland Brothers “Sailing.”


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