How did relatives send their loved ones off to sea in The Cay?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter Two suggests that because of the war, relatives were very nervous about sending their loved ones off to sea. This is highlighted by the way in which the Empire Tern is torpedoed and sunk in this chapter. It is clear that German submarines are in the area and are actively attacking any ships that come along and are considered to be of military value. Even though the ship that Philip and his mother leave on is described by his father as an "old tub," the text indicates that he is still very concerned about whether the ship will be attacked or not:

Yet I saw him looking over the lifeboats. Then he inspected the fire hoses on the boat deck. I knew he was worried. 

It is clear therefore that saying farewell to members of your family who you sent off to sea was a very risky and dangerous business. At a time of war, there were no guarantees of safety, and the obvious presence of German submarines who have very recently destroyed a ship in the area meant that it was even more of a risk to take. Philip's father, from the way that he stands on the wall of Fort Amsterdam, waving them off until they can no longer see him, is obviously very concerned and worried about their safety and if they will make it through to Britain in one piece. Relatives would have sent their loved ones off to sea therefore in a very concerned manner, hoping that they would be reunited once again and trusting that the ship that they set off in would not be attacked.