Covid and Boats: Close Quarters



Close Quarters.


Covid gave us a new appreciation for the term. Parents crowded in homes with their children; couples worked remotely, with competing needs to Zoom and make phone calls; the elderly locked their doors and ordered via Costco or Amazon. Even when people ventured out, they used their cars as refuge and further confined their spaces by wearing masks.


The term, ‘close quarters,’ is a nautical term from the 17th century. ‘Close fights,’ the original wording, described barriers used to protect sailors in battles with enemy ships. These retreat areas, fitted with holes for shooting guns/cannon, provided protection for the crew.


My 11th novel, WHEN OCEANS RAGE, shows my heroine on a shrimp boat, the ocean roiling around her, in close quarters with a gun-toting villain. A little more threatening than a virus, wouldn’t you say?


In my 12th novel (at draft stage), WHEN WINDS HOWL, I provide an extreme version of close quarters: a charter boat sequestered in a cove, waiting for the end of a four-day blow. Someone dies. Murdered? And it’s the heroine’s first gig as a ship’s captain. None of her maritime courses taught her how to keep her clients safe while she hunted for a killer.



The vaccine will protect us when we venture out once more, but trust mystery/suspense writers like me to continue to explore the tension and the danger of close quarters.





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