Girl at Sea: A coming of age tale

Girl at Sea is a reissue of Ancient Mariners.

Girl at Sea is a dark, coming-of-age, urban fantasy novel.

No use looking back. There’s no family or friends to wave goodbye to. This is not our home anymore, and it’s likely we’ll never be back.”  — Beth Portman



Girl at Sea

Death sets Beth and Silas on a journey they cannot refuse.

Two people, vastly different but with a common thread binding them together, set off onGAS BLACK-BIRD a voyage of discovery and adventure…

When 14-year-old Beth Portman’s parents are killed in a suspicious fire, she finds herself cast adrift in more ways than one. For Beth, there was no use in looking back. There was no family or friends to wave goodbye to.

Death is an Albatross.

Teaming up with her old sailing mentor and ex-Navy Seal, Silas Tuft, who is himself grieving for a lost family, they sail the seas of the South Pacific, seeking solace for their respective pain. But Death, in the form of a black Albatross, hadn’t finished with either her or Silas yet and he sets them on a journey they are unable to refuse.

Encountering her old friend Judy, who is escaping from her vile and abusive father, Beth and Silas finally understand what Death wants from them as the parallel tracks of their lives are guided towards one small act of revenge, atonement, justice or murder that will set them free of their guilt and grief.

“I, too, lost my family by going to sea. They say time heals all wounds. But survivor guilt can fester like a dead Albatross, making you hard inside and careless outside. We survived several potential disasters. Silas thought, though he didn’t say it, he survived because he had not suffered enough.

I began to believe Death was not ready for us, that there was purpose, or a curse, to our survival. At first, I thought we were spared for the events fourteen days after my sixteenth birthday. When I killed my first man.”       Beth Portman

Girl at Sea is now available at these sites:





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Girl at Sea excerpt –

Beth strode up the ramp from the Airlie Beach docks where she tied Montegar to an end tie.

Sitting on the transom of a fishing boat an old fisherman joked with a group of buddies.

“Hey, girlie,” the fisherman called out. “You sail that boat all by yourself?”

Good naturedly, she called back. “Sometimes I have an old man to do the heavy lifting.”

“Yeah? What do they get for that?”

“I wouldn’t want to give you a heart attack by telling you.”

All the men laughed.

“Maybe I’ll sign up, anyway.”

“I said an old man, not an old fossil. But I’ll keep you in mind, Captain.

Over his friends’ razzing the old man called back.

“You do that. I’d sail with you. Girlie or no, you handle that boat real good, Captain.”

Beth touched fingers to forehead as thanks for the compliment.


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Unnoticed, the Albatross watched her from a fishing boats cabin top. Even in the tropical daylight, its eyes gleamed red, if anybody was in a place in their life to notice.

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Walking toward the bus station, Beth searched for Judy. She wasn’t hard to pick out among the colorful tourists and locals. Tired and bewildered, she struggled with a backpack and a small bag, head swiveling side to side as if taking in a wondrous new planet.


Judy perked up. Managed a fast shuffle toward her friend.

They smashed together in a joyful, happy tears hug.

When they separated and looked each other over, the contrast between them was marked: Beth, tan, healthy and strong. Judy, pale, thin, and barely holding herself together.

“Oh Beth, you’re beautiful.”

“You look like crap, but it’s so good to see you. Finally.” She noticed the remnants of a bruise on Judy’s face. Gently she touches it. “Oh, Judy….”

Judy moved Beth’s hand, and wouldn’t meet her glittery gaze. Tears flowed unchecked from both of them.

“Oh, Judy.”

They hugged once again, a long one to cover the years. Finally, tears wiped, smiles returned, Beth picked up the small bag as if it was empty.

“I’m so glad you’re here. Come on, you’ll be safe with me.”

The fishermen still congregated by the old man’s boat as Beth and Judy descended the ramp.

Beth called out, “Those fish are going to die of old age with you guys fishing for them.”

“I need another man for crew. You want to sign on?”

“I’d sign on with you anytime, Skipper. But I wouldn’t want to put any of these other guys out of business.”

The men hooted with laughter as they called out affectionately rude things to her.

A short time later, as Montegar faded into the distance, medics from an ambulance rushed a gurney down to the dock. The group of men parted to allow the medics access to the old fisherman lying on the dock as one of his buddies performed CPR on him.

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Eyes clear of the crimson glow, the Albatross soared after Montegar.

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In a stiff breeze, Montegar sailed on a brilliant sea.

Laughing, Beth tried to teach Judy how to steer the boat. Though Judy laughed with her, there was always a deep sadness evident in her face. The sadness lifted briefly as they lay in the bow and watched dolphins play inches from their fingertips. Judy’s eyes glistened as they stood arm in arm doing the Titanic king-of-the-world thing at the bow.

Setting sun behind them, the lagoon entrance in sight, Beth sat behind the helm, Judy clutching her arm, head on her shoulder, wistfully looking ahead.


A magnificent sunset illuminated Montegar at anchor.

Judy was helping Beth with the mainsail cover when Tom coasted up. Beth looked down at him, said nothing.

“We thought you left for good. Like maybe you were mad at me, us.”

“I’m not mad at you.”

That was enough for him. “Okay, I get it. Hey, tomorrow we’re all going diving at our special place. It’s the best. Come with us. Your friend can come, too.”

All cleaned up, but still with the sadness in her eye, Judy managed a smile.

“Judy, Tom. Tom, Judy.”

“Hey, Judy. You want to go diving with us tomorrow?”

“She’s had a long trip. Give her a day or two, okay?”

“No worries. I’ll come by and….”

“Tom. Give it a rest.”

“Okay, I get it. Maybe dinner…?

Beth shot him a look.

“Okay, okay. One day, then you have to do something with us. Judy, you’ll love this place.”

Tom pushed off and started the engine.

“Tom, all of you, be careful. Okay?”

Tom shot her a puzzled look as he zoomed away.

“What’d I tell you? Cute.”

“Oh my God, I guess. You won’t believe this, but he reminds me of Mitch Pellingham.

“Mitch P? Slacker, geek, slob extraordinaire?

“It’s been awhile, Beth. He lost weight, cut his hair and learned how to dress himself. Major hot. Even Tiffany Cellars talks to him.

“Oh my God. Tiff “Stick up the butt” Cellars? Remember that time in the cafeteria when she…?


Thanks for checking out Girl at Sea.  Buy the E-book or paperback editions now.



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