Lost at Sea
The faering resembled more a miniature longship than it did a small, working boat for fishing or local travel. It gleamed darkly with newly dried pine tar. Gaukr Gullbatr had chosen the wood of the ash tree for his boat, a good wood, and the same as the World Tree, Yggdrasil. Perhaps it would also give him a little luck of the Gods in the upcoming Berk Regatta.
Gaukr stared at the boat proudly. He was one in a long line of fishermen and sailors, and this year he would compete in the Regatta in the small ship class. The Dragon Races may have over-shadowed the older tradition of the Regatta, but nowadays on Berk, the Vikings held both competitions. It lengthened the festivities and provided more excuses for feasting and drinking. This year, he would have a boat everyone looked at, rather than he being on the sidelines doing the watching. Not that he minded watching either - he enjoyed checking out the sleek lines and curves of Viking ships.
His racing faering was complete, but untested. In theory it would sail quite fast whether by oar power or the wind filling its bright green striped sail. Gaukr looked up at the sky. The sun was out, there were a few clouds, and there was a brisk breeze. He removed the logs propping his boat up on a pebble beach and pushed it into the water. It bobbed - seemingly happy - as Gaukr stepped aboard and took the oars. He shoved the boat out and started stroking the water to get out into Berk's harbor. The boat glided through the water almost without a sound, splitting the water like a hot knife through butter. He expertly rowed between the other ships, large and small, dotting the harbor.
Gaukr slid past another, rather typical faering, in which the Margrkind sisters, Nauma and Ketiley, rowed in tandem. He smiled and waved briefly as he passed, trying not to stare. He enjoyed admiring Nauma's sleek curves almost as much as a ship's. He cheeks colored for a moment, and he hoped the girls didn't notice, but rather noticed his impressive boat.
Gaukr reached the outer bay. The choppy sea splashed on his faering's sides. He tugged on the rigging and the fresh new sail rolled down the mast. The wind immediately filled it out. The faering practically lunged forward like a wild horse. Gaukr gave the wind and ship their rein, and moved back to the steerboard. It moved at a fast clip out into the ocean. Berk grew smaller and smaller. The wind picked up and drove the little racing boat even farther. Gaukr was very pleased at his boat's performance.
He was so entranced by his faering that he neglected to notice the low gray clouds rolling in, or that the wind was getting more blustery, or that the sea was heaving a bit more wildly. Finally he noticed there were no more shadows from the sun and felt a tad nippy. Gaukr had to pull at the rigging and the steerboard harder. The sky suddenly turned even darker and hazier to the West and the winds howled, and the clouds pelted him with cold, driving rain.
Gaukr had been through storms before on the sea, but not by himself and not in such a small boat. His heart beat fiercely but tried not to panic as he gripped on the steerboard tightly. The rain and waves sloshed into the boat. It rocked to and fro and up and down, at times nearly sideways and at other nearly vertical. Gaukr had to crank on the steerboard roughly and yank the rigging. He even had to throw his own weight to one side or the other to help from toppling over completely. He took the rolling waves at a shallow angle ans was pushed along as if he were no more than a speck of debris.
Gaukr's fingers grew numb and raw from the ropes, and his back and shoulders burned from exertion. He didn't know how long the squall lasted or where it had driven him, as he had brought nothing navigational with him.
Slowly, though, in the dark, the wind died down and the rain petered off. His clothes were soggy and his feet were bathed in the water at the bottom of the boat. There had been no time to bail water. His arms twitched almost of their own volition on the steerboard. His mind was foggy from exhaustion. His hearing must've been damaged, too, because he thought he heard a deep resonant voice that began low, then jumped to a high pitch in an other-worldly rhythm. Was someone huving? He was too tired and raspy to offer a return tune. Instead he steered through the dimmness toward the song.
Gaukr wasn't sure for how much longer he sailed, but a cluster of sea stacks finally loomed darkly before him. There might've even been stony spires just below the sea surface, but his small Viking boat had a very shallow draft. Did this spot once sport a whole island, but wore away into the sea over eons upon eons? Or perhaps a vengeful Screaming Death chewed it to pieces. Either way, Gaukr jerked the steerboard with numb hands to a tall, wide-based stack. The faering butted up against the exposed rocks. He stood slowly, then stumbled out, falling to his knees and scraping them lightly. Suddenly, he realized, the strange huving singing had stopped. At least it led him to solid ground. He pulled the lightweight boat onto the rocks. His eyelids were heavy and vision a little blurry, but he managed to find shelter under a rock overhang. Despite the wet and chill, he huddled in a ball and fell instantly asleep, not sure if he was going to wake up again.
The high-low calling-singing had returned, and gently returned Gaukr to consciousness. Someone was huving - calling and singing to communicate their doings and whereabouts. Except it had little use on the open sea and was more for the mountains where it could echo for miles. Also, there were no words he could make out, only sounds. The singer was close, though. Gaukr slowly lifted his body up to a sitting position. The sun was out. His clothes were still damp and the faring was still on the rocks. The grey stone of the sea stack was covered with seaweed.
The singing suddenly grew quieter, and then stopped altogether. Gaukr could see no one. He stood very gingerly, his body stiff and sore. He squinted and stared at the rocks, because it appeared some of the rocks were shifting and moving. Perhaps he had hit his head, too? A draconic head lifted up on a thick neck. He opened his mouth and a deep note came out, "lurrrr." The dragon seemed to slither closer in curiosity. "yaaahhhh," came, in high tones.
"Uhhh ... " Gaukr muttered and rubbed his eyes. Hallucination or real, he was too worn out and anxious about his situation to react much. The dragon looked to be a sea serpent, with flowing fins and short, webbed legs. He hunched up his middle back and waddled over to the Viking boy, trying not to drag his fins on the rocks too much. The dragon snuffled the boy's helmet and shaggy hair.
"Not shy are you?" Gaukr said and touched the dragon on his snout. "You're not one of those that sings and lures sailors to their deaths, are you?" he asked. The dragon blinked at him for a moment, then waddled away to a large boulder to sun himself and sing and preen. The dragon did not 'lure' sailors, but certainly had many stop and listen, so he was not overly afraid of humans. Fortunately for him, none had been Hunters.
Gaukr shrugged out of some of his clothes and laid them out to dry in the sun. He walked and climbed around to take in his surroundings. Rocks and ocean. He had no idea where he was. He had brought no food or water or anything to navigate with. His intent had only been to try out his boat. Bit it sailed so well, and he went out too far, and got caught in a storm. As far as getting off the sea stack, Gaukr wasn't sure if it was wise to pick a direction and sail away in his little ship. Sure he could roughly estimate North, East, South, and West from the sun, but in which of those directions was Berk? Or any larger bit of land than here, for that matter? For the moment, he needed to figure out how to survive.
There was no fresh water, save for the brackish water in the bottom of his boat from the rain and waves. He had wood available ... Gaukr sighed. He wasn't ready to cannibalize his precious racing boat just yet. But he did untie the sail to use - intact - to collect water. It was brand new and well oiled for water-proofing. He folded it carefully and set it aside. Then he found a suitable flat rock and started to dig a wide shallow hole.
The dragon meandered over to his digging and sniffed, chirping in question. "Don't push in the dirt," Gaukr asked nicely. No sense shooing him off and potentially angering a dragon. "I need to get water," he explained. As if he understood, the dragon looked out to the sea. "I need fresh water, not sea water. And I can't just eat raw fish and suck the water out of them." The dragon sniffed at him and then lost interest.
Gaukr dug his hole. It had a small rise in the center. He then unfolded the sail and lined the hole gently with it. Amazingly, he had retained his Viking helmet through the storm. With it, he transferred the rain/salt water from the faering to the lined hole, helmet-ful by helmet-ful. When it was sufficiently full, he settled his helmet on the rise in the middle. Then he carefully folded over the rest of the sail and held it down with rocks along the edges. He took a small rock and rolled it into the center of the cover, so the center was lower. He had created a solar water still; the water on the inside of the hole would evaporate as the sun heated it, then condense on the underside of the covering and roll and drip into the helmet, collecting fresh water. It wouldn't yield too much, but it should be enough to survive.
Satisfied with his work, Gaukr sat down on a rock, not too far from the dragon. Food was next on his agenda. He pinched off a bit of dulse seaweed and chewed on it. Seaweed was a good food, but he did need some protein, too.
"Ya know, you could fish for me," he talked to the dragon conversationally. The dragon stopped his singing, blinked at him, then started again. Gaukr listened quietly for a bit before speaking again. "Huving. Yodeling. That's what you sound like. Is it simply your song, or are you calling to others? I wonder if other dragon species would listen to your yodeling," he thought aloud.
He got up and explored some more. There were actually alot of winkles and limpets clinging to the rocks. He pried one off and wrinkled his nose. He'd have to eat them raw. Gaukr glanced at his boat. There wasn't alot of material around to have a fire, especially not long-term. So he picked out the tiny creatures from the limpet shells and crushed the periwinkle shells and picked out those slimy creatures out, too. He chewed some dulse and chewed the molluscs and swallowed them down. Yet again, the dragon wandered over to him and sniffed at the shell bits. Gaukr held out a limpet for the dragon to inspect. He sniffed it and poked out his tongue, lapping up the bit of mollusc. He gave a draconic shrug and walked away, not impressed. Then the dragon disappeared into the sea, probably to get the taste out of his mouth.
Gaukr shrugged to himself as well. Aside from limpets and winkles, he also found a tidal pool. He was excited to see some small fish there, and spent the rest of the day trying to catch them, then cleaning them. There was driftwood about, but not enough to support many fires in the long-term. Instead, he used some to prop the fish on, in hopes of them drying by wind and sun.
As the sun went down, he ate some more seaweed and a few winkles, put back on his now dry clothes, and tried to sleep under the rock overhang, wondering how he was going to get home.
Gauker awoke, not feeling the chill breeze on him. His place under the rocks felt ... secure. He heard a whistling note, as if it were meant as a breathy sigh. The yodeling sea dragon was draped on the stones in front of his rock overhang. blocking the elements. "Well I think I slept a tab better that time," he whispered to the dragon, and reached out to touch his soft skin. The hide shuddered under his touch, unfamiliar with the feel of a warm human hand. Yodel had seen enough humans, but not been touched by them. The smooth green and brown mottled skin slid past Gaukr's hand as the dragon moved away. Yodel looked back and "laaa'd" at him, then continued to his basking stone.
In the dragon's abandoned space, though, was a few fish tails and one large, fresh Saithe. Gaukr nearly squealed to himself in delight. He snatched up the fish and started scaling and cleaning it. He thinly filleted it and sliced off a few slivers. He wrapped the raw slivers in seaweed and had breakfast. The rest he hung in the sun to dry.
He checked the still and slurped down the few gulps of water it had produced. What now? Should he start settling in for the long-haul? Maybe try to evaporated sea water for salt? Make a better shelter? Or sail out into the sea in hopes of finding land before he starved to death? Or should he signal for help in hopes a ship or even a dragon rider saw it? And was anyone even looking for him? Vikings lost at sea were common ...
Gaukr went over to sit near the dragon. "Thanks for the fish, Yodel," he said, and laid back on the stones. Yodel sang his odd huving song. Not long after, Gaukr started humming along then added raspy "la's" and "eee's" and "oh's" and "re's" of his own. The dragon glanced at him, then raised his voice louder, drowning out Gaukr's attempts at singing along. The dragon's voice was so loud, it almost hurt Gaukr's ears. "That song must carry miles," Gaukr muttered, just a tad put off that Yodel didn't approve of his singing. Yodel returned his volume to a more comfortable level once Gaukr stopped trying to sing along.
That song must carry miles. Gaukr wondered if Yodel's singing could attract help. It sounded eerily human. but visuals were a great help on the sea, and fire and smoke were the best for that. Gaukr glanced at his boat again, then around at the bits of driftwood, the dry grass clinging to the small spots of soil, and the seaweed. Flammable material wouldn't last too long and would run out. Lighting a fire would be a one time shot.
Having decided on his course of action, Gaukr gathered up most of the driftwood, some drier bits of seaweed and handfuls of dry grass. The top of the sea stack was not very high up fortunately, and covered with more grass. Bit by bit, Gaukr carried up the wood and seaweed and dry grass. Yodel watched curiously and even picked up some wood to see what was so special about it. He wasn't convinced there was any use in it and let Gaukr take it from his mouth. What use did a water dragon have for fire? Gaukr took up the fish, too - at least he could smoke those while the signal fire burned.
Gaukr spend more time trying to light a fire. Striking rocks together was not going well. "Where's a fire-breathing dragon when you need them," he muttered. He switched to rolling a stick between his palms over another bit of wood and surrounded by dry grass. Finally, palms sore, he got a little flame going. He had laid seaweed amongst the wood and grass, hoping the fire would smolder more than flare up. The smoke would carry much farther.
He climbed back down and waited. There was nothing else to do except make sure it kept burning as long as possible. Yodel glanced up at the billowing smoke uneasily.
"Don't worry, the worst that could happen is a few sparks might fly down. There's not really anything here to burn," Gaukr soothed. "Why don't you sing? That'll make you feel better." The boy started singing a rough tavern song and soon Yodel was singing loudly to drown him out.
"Hey! Lad! Wake up!"
Gaukr rubbed his blurry eyes, laying under his rock, pretty sure Yodel had lent his tail for him to lay his head on during the night. It was pretty firm and muscly, but sure beat a stone.
"Boy, come on, rise and shine."
Instead of Yodel peering at him, it was a bushy-bearded Viking. Surprised, Gaukr sat up too suddenly and knocked his head on the rock overhang. The Viking clucked at him in sympathy. The man stood back and let Gaukr crawl out.
Yodel was grunting dissonant notes of irritation at a saddled Hot Burple, who was laying out on his sunning rock.
"I'm Skammel of Berk. Are you the boy they're looking for? The one who took off on the ocean just before the storm blew past?"
Gaukr's cheeks reddened. The sailors had probably predicted the storm, but he had been too excited about his boat and the Regatta to pay attention to important things like the weather. "I guess. I'm Gaukr Gullbatr. Hey, aren't you a StoneSmith?"
Skammel nodded. "Yep, was out on a trip to check out some Soapstone quarries. The Auxillary and some fishermen are out looking for you in the complete opposite direction. If it hadn't been for your signal fire and your -" Skammel glanced back at the sea dragon, "or someone's - yodeling, we might not've noticed ya."
Gaukr nodded gratefully as Skammel beckoned his Hot Burple over. He took out some bread and cheese and a water skin for Gaukr to eat and drink. The boy took the food and thanked him, wolfing it down. Anything was better than raw limpets.
"Right then," Skammel said once Gaukr was finished. "Mount up so we can go back to Berk. The saddle's only made for one, but Ironfly's a smooth ride."
Gaukr glanced at his racing faering. It still stood on the rocks, shiny and ready to sail. "But ... But my boat. Its very fast. I was going to enter it in the Regatta ..."
Skammel scratched his beard. "Well, can you follow me if I'm in the air, then? Ironfly's got a real slow leisurely flying pace you might be able to keep up with."
"Yessir!" Gaukr said excitedly, and rushed over to dismantle his solar water still. He yanked up the sail and tossed his helmet into the faering, and went about remounting the sail to the mast.
After he was satisfied, Gaukr climbed up to the smoldering sea stack top and tried to stamp out the fire. He grabbed up the half-smoked fish, too. Just then, the Hot Burple rose up and hacked out a mouthful of sea water over the fire. He grumbled and smacked his lips in distaste. Gaukr rushed back down. Yodel was on his rock again. He went over to the dragon and laid the fish out before him. "You eat this, its the least I can do. Thank you," he said and patted the dragon on the shoulder. Yodel looked at the now odd-smelling fish, then licked up a filet and chewed carefully. He hadn't had somewhat cooked fish before.
Gaukr turned away with a pang of sadness. He shoved his boat out into the sea and hopped aboard. He took up the oars and rowed out further until the sail could catch a breeze.
"Maybe you will place in the Regatta," Skammel grinned down at him. The boat was fast, but nothing was as fast as a flying dragon, even if it was a Gronckle or Hot Burple.
The rock or island bit or sea stack or what-have-you dwindled into the distance. Yodel had looked a bit surprised when Gaukr bobbed on the water. Though it had only been a few days and nights, the dragon had quickly gotten used to the human. A somewhat melancholy tune followed Gaukr, with many heavy low notes.
Gaukr looked back and waved. He'd come find this place again soon, just perhaps when he had heard the weather predictions first and had a few supplies on board. He turned back and concentrated on sailing. Again, the boat slid through water at a quick clip, after the leisurely flying Burple.
"If we go any slower, Ironfly won't have enough speed to stay in the air!" Skammel yelled down jokingly.
Gaukr frowned back up at him. "I bet you couldn't sail a l ...!" He fell backwards in his seat as the boat suddenly surged forward. It started moving so fast the bow pointed out of the water and it skipped along the waves.
Skammel leaned down in his saddle for better aerodynamics and his Burple sped up. "See? A boat can beat a dragon at speed," he laughed down.
Gaukr grabbed the sides and looked behind him. A grey and green splotched tail stretched out behind, churning the water powerfully. Yodel. Gaukr smiled. The dragon - perhaps his dragon - had followed him. They sped along rapidly along to Berk. Would Yodel like to race? Gaukr wondered. More to the point: Was a dragon-powered boat allowed in the Regatta?
About the Singing Fin Wing
(Quoted directly from ScarfyWings)
Singing Fin Wings are probably one of the most beautiful dragons of the sea. They communicate by singing, which can be heard from miles away. Every Fin Wings have unique voice that identifies them and some vikings have learned this to track them down. Their short wings means limited flying, but they are graceful swimmers and fast on land thanks to their webbed paws.
- Huving - This is a type of traditional Norwegian singing, similar to Yodeling. Information in English is sparse when Googling information. But it was a means of communication and identification in the mountainous regions of Norway. Huving is also known as laling. There is also a similar form of singing called Lokk, which is singing to call animals such as cow home.
- Solar Water Still - This is a way to distill fresh water when in a survival situation. The source of water can be undrinkable water (like salt water), plants, or even just wet soil.
- Faering - is a type of clinker-built Viking ship typically with (but not always) two sets of oars. They are small, and sometimes accompanied large Knorrs as a sort of lifeboat. Occasionally, faerings had sails.
- Regatta - This is a Berk Festival of boat racing mentioned in the "Dawn of the Dragon Racers" movie short.