The Loss of the Brig
Late that night a distraught Hoseason asks Stewart to come navigate the ship. Everyone on deck can hear a roaring, which is the sound of the sea breaking on a reef. In a moment they hear the same sound in another place, and Stewart believes these reefs are the Torran Rocks, which he thinks spread out for ten miles. Hoseason gives an order to the steersman; only five men are able (and willing) to work, and they trust Stewart’s assessment of their location.
The night is bright, and soon everyone can see the danger surrounding them. Though neither Hoseason nor Riach displayed any significant bravery during the battle, they stand steadfast now. Stewart had fought bravely during the battle but is now quite pale. It is a close thing, but with skillful maneuvering, the crew of the Covenant at last sees open water ahead. All is well until the tide and a rogue wind throw the ship into the reef.
David is shaken and barely understands what is happening. He sees Riach and the sailors readying the skiff to escape the foundering ship and rushes to help them. Some of the wounded men emerge from below deck; those who are unable to move are screaming from their bunks, begging to be saved. The captain is dumbstruck. He moans in mourning for the brig, for his ship is his everything and he suffers along with it. David asks Stewart where they are; Stewart says they are in the worst possible place: the land of the Campbells.
Just as the skiff is about to launch, a giant wave strikes the Covenant, and David is washed overboard into the sea. He bobs up and down twice, and he is afraid he will not surface a third time. He is dragged under the water and then resurfaces many times until he finally finds himself in quiet water and begins to recover himself. He is far from the foundering ship and now begins to worry about dying from the cold rather than from drowning. Because he did not grow up near the ocean, he never learned to swim; however, he manages to propel himself by kicking and splashing into the sandy bay of an islet. It is a quiet and desolate spot, but it is dry. David Balfour is more tired and more grateful than he has ever been in his entire young life.