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The wave rushed them. Patrick's father hauled hard on the oars, and the boat pitched skyward.
With the surge forward, the keel sliced the ridge, and they plunged over the other side. Patrick was dragged, fluttering in the surf. Behind him, the wave exploded.
Through the chaos, he heard orders shouted.
"Dig in! Push us!"
He flailed for the bottom. Feet running over nothingness. Kicking. Kicking. His toe scraped, but he had water to his neck.
He tried to shove the boat farther from shore. No time. The next wave loomed. The sandy floor dropped away, and the boat soared.
The crest slapped the prow and heavy spray drenched Patrick's face. Again, they plummeted. Patrick's feet flipped out of the water, but he held on.
Too fast. Not enough time to recover. The prow dug in, bit water. He cracked his skull into the side of the boat. His hands flinched open.
"Patrick!" his father yelled.
The current sucked him down. A blanket of cold hugged him.
He sensed the lift of the next wave. Something blocked him. Denied him air.
"Pull him up!"
A fist grappled his collar and pulled him from under the boat. He gasped, but a breaker rumbled into his face. His nose and mouth flooded. Chilly ice hit his lungs. He gagged.
Ahead, the water churned with torn sand. An inshore sandbar. Ferocious breakers.
"We're going to lose him!"
Three men groped, sending the boat perilously close to spilling.
A wave crashed on their doorstep. Angry water poured over the bow.
"Bail it! Bail it!"
The muscles of Patrick's father bulged on the oars. A race to the sandbar. They sliced two smaller waves. The third would be a monster.
"You got him?"
Patrick dangled half in the boat. The gunwale cut into his waist. One more heave sent him to the bottom. Coughing seawater, he hit six more inches sloshing under the benches.
"We're too heavy!"
A rush of hands splashed out as much water as they could. Bare hands. Only the bailer flung bucket-fulls downwind.
"We're not going to make it!"
Patrick lifted his head. The horizon bowed to a twenty foot beast, black as night.
The shallows provoked it, curling, ready to fall.
"Go! Go! Go!"
Patrick's father screamed with exertion. A vertical wall met them. They were going to flip.
Two men leapt forward and landed on the bow. The force pierced the wall, and the water rolled from under them. They fell through yards of open air and hit with a gigantic splash. The impact pounded breath from the sprawled men.
The sandbar passed underneath them.
Patrick stared out into the deep. Into the march of living mountains.
On to Part 3