Shipwreck (Island Book 1)

From the book:

Radford turned to the cockpit. "We're secure, Skipper!"
Harnessed to the wheel stand, Captain Cascadden was barely visible through the rain, foam, and spray. Out of the chaos came his order. "All hands below!"
"You don't have to ask me twice!" exclaimed Will, sprint-crawling for the companionway to the main cabin.
Lyssa was hot on his heels, followed by Charla, high-stepping to keep her balance. Next came Luke, dragging Ian by the arm. At the last second, a huge wave broke over the bow, jolting the stern upward and pitching the two boys down the companionway.
Radford hooted with laughter. "You guys should join the circus --; the flying Archie brothers!" His brow clouded as he did a head count. "Where's Richie Rich?"
Luke froze as J.J.'s words came back to him: Just put up the sails and fly! "That maniac," he muttered, clamoring up the companionway again.
"Hey!" barked the mate. "Get back here, Archie!"
At that moment, J.J. was clamped around the wrapped mainsail, hanging on with one hand and untying lines with the other.
When the furled sail was free, he stood up. Instantly, he was thrown to the deck. His father had once gotten him a bit part in a movie --; an earthquake scene. There had been thirty special effects guys underneath them, pitching the floor every which way. It was nothing compared with the Phoenix right now! They had to get out of here! They could beat this storm no matter what Radford said! All they needed was some sail....
Crouching low, he dashed astern through the rain and spray, steadying himself with an arm on the cabin top. He peered around the corner and set his eyes on the instrument panel behind the wheel. Six, maybe seven feet away. He'd be seen, but by then it would be too late --; if he could keep from falling flat on his face!
Counting silently --; one, two, three! --; he launched himself past the captain and reached for the mechanism that raised the mainsail.
Luke hit him at hip height, diving like a linebacker. The two of them fell hard to the slick deck.
"What the --;?" The captain spun around to face them. "What are you doing here, crewmen? Get yourselves below!"
"You lunatic!" Luke rasped at J.J. "You'll get us all killed!"
"I know what I'm doing!" J.J. insisted frantically. He lunged for the panel, but Luke grabbed him once more.
"Archie!" Radford struggled onto the scene. The beam of his flashlight captured Luke and J.J. locked in a wrestling match.
"Break it up!" ordered Cascadden. He unhooked his safety harness and stepped between the two combatants, separating them with a heave of his powerful arms.
The schooner lurched suddenly, and J.J. Was tossed off his feet. The deck wash had him, was about to sweep him away. In a single motion, Captain Cascadden clamped his right hand onto J.J.'s wrist and reached back with the left, groping for something, anything, to hold on to. His fingers closed on the side of the instrument panel and gripped hard. His palm pressed against a small button.
The roar of the waves covered the mechanical clunk as the mainsail began to rise automatically.
Radford ran over, and he and the captain set J.J. back up on his feet.
"Captain!" Luke spotted the white canvas flapping wildly as it rose from its boom. "The sail!"
Captain and mate turned just as the fifty-knot wind filled the half-open mainsail with an overpowering force.
It was as if the whole world suddenly tilted ninety degrees. The sixty-foot boat was blown all the way over on its side, its masts barely out of the water. Radford grabbed the mainsheet, which now extended over his head like monkey bars. The captain hung on to J.J. and the instrument panel.
The next thing Luke knew he was moving, falling parallel to the deck. Only the gunwale --; eighteen inches of wood --; stood between him and a violent ocean.
Wham! He bounced off like a Ping-Pong ball, snatching wildly for the lifeline. He felt the wire in his hands and held on, his feet dragging in the water.
"Archie!" Radford called. "Lock your harness on the lifeline!"
"I can't!" he tried to answer, but a torrent of sea and spray found his throat. He came up choking.
Waves crashed over the twin masts. The automatic halyard winch ground to a halt.
The captain secured J.J.'s safety belt around the wheel stand. Then he hit the button to lower the mainsail.
Nothing happened.
"No power to the winch!" howled Radford. "I'll have to lower it manually!"
Like Tarzan moving from vine to vine, the mate grabbed the halyard and swung over. He hung there, trying to use his full weight to pull the sail down. "Too much blow, skipper!" he called. "I can't budge it!"
"Take the helm, crewman!" the captain ordered J.J. He heaved himself up on the side of the cabin top to make his way over to the mate.
Clinging to the wire at the starboard gunwale, Luke was the first to see the great wave. It was enormous --; a forty-footer --; curling over the high side of the Phoenix like a giant hand about to crush the small ship.
He shouted, "Captain --;!"
And then the monster broke. To Luke it seemed like Niagara Falls raging down the upturned deck toward him.
The mainmast snapped like a toothpick under the weight of the thundering sea. An avalanche of rope and canvas pelted down. As if in slow motion, the broken peak of the mast toppled over, striking Captain Cascadden across the shoulders.
Fierce lightning backlit a terrifying scene. Luke watched in horror as the captain was pitched from the deck into the foaming Ocean.
"Man overboard!" he tried to shout.
But the force of the wave drove the gunwale of the Phoenix --; and Luke with it --; deep beneath the rampaging sea.

Copyright © 2001 Gordon Korman, used by permission


The first title in a three-part adventure series (Gordon's first non-comedy work), Shipwreck is the story of six troubled kids, forced to participate in a kind of character-building experience, spending a few weeks at sea on a small sailboat. They are supposed to learn to work together, and to steady themselves.

The participants are all involved for different reasons. Luke was in trouble because a gun was found in his locker at school. Will and Lyssa fight a little too much, even for brother and sister, and were sent on the trip when they put each other in the hospital. Ian watches too much television, and spends too little time with real people. Charla suffered a stress-related nervous breakdown. J.J. is the troublesome son of a famous Hollywood actor, but his antics have been getting too dangerous to continue covering up.

When an unexpected storm combines with willful stupidity to destroy their craft, the six youths will be in for far more character building and survival training than anyone ever expected. How well they'll survive is anybody's guess.

Gordon's first adventure series starts out as a very good read, and hopefully will only get better with the summer releases of Survival and Escape. If you are at all interested in Gordon's writing, give these titles a try and see what you think of them. And if you want even further information, check out Scholastic's web site for even more information at: