Millie Fischer from Chapter Twenty-three of the novel Casper's Game
The funnel cloud came down from the thunderhead before they were even close to the squall line.
Cory cried out as Bell swung the wheel, but too late.
The waterspout formed less than ten yards from the port side of the Wind Dancer, sucking the fragile craft into the swirling winds.
Bell hit the “Start” button for the engine, but it was designed for puttering around in a dock area; it provided very little forward power, and certainly not enough to get away from the storm.
“Check your safety lines!” Bell shouted into the wind. He wanted to run to the kids and get them below deck, but he had to keep his hands on the wheel.
“Drop the main sail!”
Cory and Millie ran to the mast and struggled to untie the line.
“Damn it! I should have taught them how to tie a slip knot.” He swung the wheel to the left, but the rudder was unresponsive in the turbulent sea. “Use your pocketknife, Cory! Cut the line! Get the sail down before it pulls us over.”
Cory’s hands shook as he tried to open his knife.
“Millie!” Bell shouted. “Close the hatch cover!”
The jib sail ripped away from the bowsprit. The tattered canvas flapped in the wind, then blew away.
Cory finally cut the line, dropping the main sail to the deck. He ran to help Millie push the hatch cover closed.
The waterspout pulled them into a tight spiral. The wheel, tiny engine, and the rudder were all useless against the power of the wind.
The swirling wind roared as a huge wave buried the bow and swept along the deck.
Bell left the wheel and ran to grab the kids. He pulled them to the mast.
“Wrap your arms around it, and don’t let go!”
The boat groaned like an oak being twisted in the wind.
They were blinded by the wind and water, but they could feel the deck tilting one way, then the other.
With a sickening crash, the mast broke away and went overboard.
Bell grabbed the collars of the kids’ lifejackets, pulling them away from the wet spikes of the broken base of the mast. He held them tight against the rail as the boat tilted up onto its bow and tumbled over.
The three of them were suddenly underwater, and under the boat.
Bell pulled them to the side and shoved them upward.
He swam frantically, following them toward the surface.
They popped up into the howling wind.
It was impossible to see anything as they clung together, trying to keep their heads above the turbulent surface.
Just as suddenly as it had materialized over their heads, the waterspout collapsed under its own weight. The falling water sounded like Niagara Falls.
Tons of water fell from the sky as the wind slowed to a gale.
Less than two minutes had passed, but it seemed like two hours.
“Are you guys okay?” Bell yelled.
Neither one could speak, but he felt them nod their heads in his arms.
Ten yards away, a thin white board, shaped like the dorsal fin of a large shark, emerged from the choppy water. It rose to about five feet, then the hull of the Wind Dancer appeared. It was bottom-side-up, with the centerboard sticking up, but at least it was floating.
“Hang on to my jacket!” Bell yelled as he stroked toward the boat.
By the time they got to it, the wind had shifted to the west. The rain continued to pelt them.
He shoved the kids up onto the hull, then they pulled him up.
They sat in stunned silence, huddling together, shivering with cold and realization of what had just happened.