Thursday night, May 20th, 1651
The Kerch Strait, 850 yards due east of the city of Cherzeti, Crimea
With overcast skies and pleasant temperatures, with a moderate breeze prevailing from the south, along with a thunderstorm marked by heavy rain.
Moon: waxing gibbous, 4 days before the full moon.
As the wind begins to rise out at sea, blowing north and rough, the sea begins to rise and the Captain comes on deck for the first time to give orders for the ship to sail full on for the Strait. Within an hour land is sighted, by which time the sea is choppy and filled with white caps. The sky darkens, both with the oncoming night and the black clouds of the first thunderstorm the party has seen this year . . . and the Petrel begins to fly across the sea under full sail.
By the time the Strait is reached, it is full night, and every soul on board, from party to peasant to child, is hard pressed to move water up from the hold to where it can be tossed overboard. The ship is tight, fast and under control, but the rain is profound in volume. At one point, as Maximillian is on deck, having been seized by the collar and forced to join a gang to hold the sail to keep it from tearing, the Spaniard next to hi, Milogros, shouts that if he had his hands free to take off his hat, he could catch it full of rain in a minute . . . and Maximillian, soaked to the bone, believes it.
All about, lightning flashes on every horizon, and seeems to threaten the masts as it flashes and forks overhead.
It seems impossible that there could be a patrol ship out on a night like this. Most of the navy of the Ottomans, particularly in the Black Sea - so Dumont, the Walloon, tells Lukas - are galleys, and galleys do not fare well in poor weather. "You must hand it to the Captain!" shouts Dumont, as he waits for Maurice the cook to sew up a wound he's gotten from being tossed across the deck, "She knows damn well how to avoid company!"
In the dead of night, without even seeing the lights of Cherzeti on the shore, the Petrel's Wing steals its way into the sea of Azov. As the night wears on, the rain slackens, and the cloudy skies break towards the east. The dim glow of approaching dawn can be seen, across a calming sea, with the last great fortress of the Ottomans left behind.