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Chapter 50
It was three and a half feet deep, eight feet wide andtwenty-six feet long, exactly. I know because it was printed onone of the side benches in black letters. It also said that thelifeboat was designed to accommodate a maximum of thirty-twopeople. Wouldn't that have been merry, sharing it with somany? Instead we were three and it was awfully crowded. Theboat was symmetrically shaped, with rounded ends that werehard to tell apart. The stern was hinted at by a small fixedrudder, no more than a rearward extension of the keel, whilethe bow, except for my addition, featured a stem with thesaddest, bluntest prow in boat-building history. The aluminumhull was studded with rivets and painted white.
That was the outside of the lifeboat. Inside, it was not asspacious as might be expected because of the side benches andthe buoyancy tanks. The side benches ran the whole length ofthe boat, merging at the bow and stern to form end benchesthat were roughly triangular in shape. The benches were thetop surfaces of the sealed buoyancy tanks. The side bencheswere one and a half feet wide and the end benches werethree feet deep; the open space of the lifeboat was thus twentyfeet long and five feet wide. That made a territory of onehundred square feet for Richard Parker. Spanning this spacewidthwise were three cross benches, including the one smashedby the zebra. These benches were two feet wide and wereevenly spaced. They were two feet above the floor of the boat– the play Richard Parker had before he would knock hishead against the ceiling, so to speak, if he were beneath abench. Under the tarpaulin, he had another twelve inches ofspace, the distance between the gunnel, which supported thetarpaulin, and the benches, so three feet in all, barely enoughfor him to stand. The floor, consisting of narrow planks oftreated wood, was flat and the vertical sides of the buoyancytanks were at right angles to it. So, cur............
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