Bagger island has been released.
My latest book in the Conor and Anne trilogy has been released. It is available at Amazon or on Kindle.
The cackling voices of fast flying puffins disturbed the morning scene as they approached the high cliffs on Bagger Island and began to descend onto the soft tufts of grass. The comical birds returned from a fishing trip and were getting ready for their last few weeks of habitation on the island before going back out to sea until their return the following year. Black and white coats made them look like waiters out for a day trip on the island, and their large orange and red beaks gave the impression that they were living too far north as parrots having missed their country.
The young puffins were ready for the ocean trip that lay before them and had learned to fend for themselves by diving deep into the water to find their prey. Onshore they stood outside their burrows and watched the boating activity taking place below them on the slow rolling swells.
Two boats lay anchored below the cliff loaded with scuba divers and gear. The divers stood around a chart laid out on the deck and were planning their next activity.
“That was a good haul last night,” said Soren to Ronan English, one of the divers, “Twenty gold bars and a bag of coins. We need to make another shipment to France by the end of the week.”
“The cave is getting full at this point,” Ronan replied.
Soren Van den Berg was working with the other divers to remove gold artifacts from a galleon wreck located just off the south of the island. The long red hair flowed around his face like Medusa’s nest of snakes. His skin-tight diving suit gave him the appearance of a black seal basking in the morning sun.
The secret treasure hunt had been in operation for three years. Soren and his partners, Ronan English, Redmond Doyle and Karl Kramer had been contracted by Don Rua, the owner of Bagger Island, to remove the treasure and smuggle it out of the country.
Don, the self-proclaimed Irish chief of the family Donal, operated the salvage company which had found the galleon using side-scan sonar, a remote underwater vehicle and a team of divers. They had set up a marine research business to hide their true purpose and so far it seemed to be working.
Bagger Island lay on the edge of international waters off the southeast of Ireland. Caves were visible on the south side and nesting gannets, puffins and other sea birds lived on the eastern side where the island’s back provided shelter from the prevailing wind. Tourists visited the island frequently to observe the bird activity and recreational divers took part in organized trips to the underwater world below.
Nature had carved large blow holes and caves into the craggy terrain and when the tide was right the powerful waves would enter the hollow chambers and blow the water up into the air with a terrifying roar.
A large stone house above the layer of rocks had been built by the family centuries before. It sat behind a grass landing strip which had been shaped out of the thick sod along the back of the island. The strip was used by Don and previously, by his deceased father who had also lived on the island. Don and his pilot, Joel, flew a Cessna 172 and housed it in a metal hanger at the end of the runway.
Tunnels populated the rock like an ant farm and drew spelunkers who often visited the island to explore the mysterious spaces. Don allowed all this activity to take place, but also had other motives in mind. A busy tourist area was a perfect cover for the clandestine activity occurring beneath the waves. He knew he had to protect his cache or it would be over-run with treasure hunters.
In 1556 the Spanish galleon, Bella Maria, hadwrecked on a reef just off the south side of the island. She was filled with gold bars and coins from the New World which were destined for Spain but she never made it due to a huge storm in the Celtic Sea and sank off the island where she had remained, lying on the seabed for centuries like an unopened treasure chest. The wreck was covered with sand and kelp and difficult to salvage because it rested on the edge of a shallow shelf before the terrain plunged over eight hundred meters to the bottom.
The diving team lived in one wing of Don’s stone house and operated their dive business from there. A perfect location on the high side of the island, it gave the inhabitants a 360 degree view around the island in case their activities were interrupted by some nosey government or meddlesome treasure hunters.
“That was a good night’s work!” said Soren as he eased the throttles forward on the service boat and headed for the small dock at the bottom of the rocky cliff.
“We’re goin’ to need more supplies from Cara Quay,” said Redmond. “Fuel’s getting low also.”
“We’ll get over there later today,” Soren replied. “Hey Red, don’t forget to buy more beer.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t. I’ve a couple of things on the boat to fix first, then we’ll be ready to get underway.”