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The Boat

By Yael Sofer

There once was a little blue fishing boat with a cheerful red mast and a crisp white sail. Every morning at dawn, the little boat would wake up with a smile and sail out to fish in the open sea. Although it was quite small, it was the fastest boat in the harbor and always returned from the sea with lots of fish—enough for the whole city. The larger boats in the harbor often wondered how this could be.

The little boat knew that it was because everyone on the boat worked together. The Anchor, the Sail, the Net, and the Wheel all wanted the boat to succeed, so they always worked together, each doing what it did best.

The Anchor knew how to grab onto the bottom of the sea so the boat would stop safely. The Sail knew how to catch the wind so the boat would glide smoothly through the waves. The Net knew how to jump into the water and spread out wide so the boat would catch lots and lots of fish. And the Wheel knew how to steer precisely right or left to keep the boat from getting lost and bumping into icebergs along the way.

But one morning, the Wind was full of mischief, and everything seemed to go wrong.

“Raise the Anchor! Go to sea!” the old captain shouted as he did every morning. In fact, he had been sailing the boat for so long that no one even remembered his real name anymore and everyone just called him “Captain.”

“Raise the Aaan-chor! Go to sea!” echoed the Captain’s loyal friend, a gray crow. He was given the name, “Pirate,” because of the large black spot over his eye, which resembled a pirate’s patch.

“Aye, aye, Captain!” sang the Sail, Anchor, Wheel, and Net in harmony. And the little boat set out for the open sea.

The Captain glanced at the map, looked over at the compass, wet his finger and raised it up in the air to determine the direction of the wind.

“Today we will sail east,” he decided. “Pirate, right rudder! Raise the Sail!”

“Wait a minute,” said the Sail. “Why do I always have to climb up on the mast and flap in the wind? Can’t I swim like the Net today? It gets to jump and splash in the water every day.”

“Did you hear him? Ha-ha!” Pirate laughed. “The Sail wants to jump in the water! Net, what do you think about that?”

“I am happy to switch places with the Sail,” the Net replied. “I have to soak in that freezing cold water every day and I don’t like being tickled by fish. I am not jumping into the water any more!”

Now, this started a big disturbance on the boat. Everyone tried to yell over the others and no one did their work.

Even the quiet, hardworking Wheel said, “Actually, I would like the Anchor’s job. It gets to rest on the boat all day and sleep in the water all night.”

Everyone was so caught up in the quarrel that they didn’t even notice when the wise old captain disappeared into his cabin, leaving them alone.

And so the friends decided to trade jobs. The Net climbed up on the mast and prepared to catch the wind as soon as it received a sign from Pirate.

“Raise the Net!” ordered Pirate.

The Net opened and tried very hard to catch the wind. But the wind soared right through the large holes in the Net, and the little boat didn’t move at all.

“What a Sail!” the wind laughed. “It is all full of holes! Such a silly boat!”

Embarrassed, the Net drooped on the mast. She was very sad because she had made the wind laugh at the boat.

Meanwhile, the Sail couldn’t wait to jump into the water. But when it jumped overboard, instead of going under the water and catching lots of fish, the Sail spread out over the waves like a huge rug.

“Ha-ha! Have you ever seen a Net without holes?” the fish giggled, tickling the sail with their fins.

“Wow, what’s this? A rug on the water?” the seagulls asked in surprise, and without thinking they sat on top of the Sail. The poor Sail began to sink; fortunately, however, the Net noticed it and saved the net before it drowned.

Exhausted, all the friends decided to return to the harbor to rest. The only problem was that no one but the Captain had ever laid the course for the boat.

Now, since everyone was taking each other’s places that day, Pirate flew up on the Captain’s bridge to read the map. Right beside him the lifebuoy tried to steer like the wheel. It tried very hard to turn the boat in the right direction, but it was no use.

“Left rudder! And now… left! A little more to the left!” Pirate ordered with his nose buried in the map.

“Why are we only going in circles?” asked the little boat. “I am really getting dizzy.”

“Maybe we should go a little more to the left?” Pirate asked, feeling a lot less confident than the Captain.

“I didn’t catch a single fish,” the Net remembered. “What will we bring to the harbor?”

“I want to go back to the mast and dry off in the warm breeze,” the Sail confessed.

“I am so-o-o bored just hanging around on this chain and waiting to be thrown to the bottom of the sea,” the Wheel complained.

“I miss our Captain,” the boat cried. “And I miss how we all used to do what we did best. After all, the Wheel is the best at steering, and the Net is the best at catching fish. Without the Sail, the wind won’t carry us through the waves, and without the Captain we will lose our way.”

Everyone sighed in relief. They agreed with the boat completely! They promised to resume their usual positions as soon as possible. But where was the Captain?

“Captain! Captain!” they cried together. “Where are you? We miss you!”

Smiling, the old captain opened the cabin door.

“Raise the Sail, Net in the water. Pirate, hold the Wheel. On we go!” the Captain ordered happily.

The friends gladly got back to work. It felt so good to share their best with the others. And now, it seemed they were twice as strong!

Pirate sang harmoniously, repeating the Captain’s orders with great care. The Sail fluttered graciously in the wind, and the Wheel steered according to the Captain’s directions. Once again, the boat glided smoothly over the waves — it seemed as if they were flying! The fish that the Net caught that day were bigger and tastier than ever. And never before had the town seen such variety.

Ever since that day, they all work joyfully together. They realized that their own comfort does not matter as much as the success of working together. Finally, they realized that this is what makes them all happy!

Illustrations: Yelena Strokin

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