Its Go Time

Live and Let Die Chapter 18

Bond spends his last night at the training camp reading more books and pamphlets on shark and barracuda. He also reads reports on the Shark Repellent which is on its way to him. Quarrel is “scornful” about whether the stuff will work, but is “impressed against his will” when Bond reads how the repellent was tested and how the sharks reacted to it.

They leave in the morning and return to Beau Desert, where their operations base is.

The property was a beautiful old plantation of about a thousand acres with the ruins of a fine Great House commanding the bay. It was given over to pimento and citrus inside a fringe of hardwoods and palms and had a history dating back to the time of Cromwell. The romantic name was in the fashion of the eighteenth century, when Jamaican properties were called Bellair, Bellevue, Boscobel, Harmony, Nymphenburg or had names like Prospect, Content or Repose.

This property will figure large in a future Bond adventure. After sitting down and examining every inch of the reef in front of him, Bond has lunch and then goes through the equipment sent to him from London. Strangways arrives and has some news, the Secatur has arrived. The ship is coming into the reef and the three men look at the boat through glasses.

She was a handsome craft, black with a grey superstructure, seventy foot long and built for speed – at least twenty knots, Bond guessed. He knew her history, built for a millionaire in 1947 and powered with twin General Motors Diesels, steel hull and all the latest wireless gadgets, including ship-to-shore telephone and Decca navigator.

I was curious about what a Decca navigator was, as I had not heard the term before. This article from Wikipedia tells you almost everything you would want to know about the system, which was high-tech for the time of this novel and was widely used until GPS technology came into use.

As they are watching, a figure on a stretcher is brought on deck, and Bond recognizes that it is Solitaire. He feels a “tightening of the heart at her nearness” and “prays” that the stretcher is only a device to keep her from being seen from shore. Strangways notes that only about six cases of fish tanks came on the ship, they usually had 50. It looks like this stay will be a short one, probably only one night.

So it is decided. Bond is to swim out to the ship tonight and attach the limpet mine to it. Without the shark repellent which is due in tomorrow. He pours himself half a glass of whiskey and downs a benzedrine tablet with it.

Exactly at ten o’clock, with nothing but anticipation and excitement in him, the shimmering black bat-like figure slipped off the rocks into ten feet of water and vanished under the sea.