Wednesday, June 24, 2009

the genesis of stories

Storm warning .
I will start this story today, since the deadline for the southern Yorke peninsula writers group short story competition is August 14 and not all that far away.1500-2000 words. $5-00 entry fee – first prize $150-00.

Have no idea at this point how it will go, but need to begin – as the thoughts and info are of no use whatsoever if stored in my mind.

There are some words that strike an interesting mix of emotions in the heart of a boat skipper, changing sail while clinging to the plunging bow of a small sailboat in the dark of the night; the words floating forrard from the cockpit through scuds of rain and rising gusts of wind; 'Oy Skipper!”
“What?” the skipper shouts back.
“the tiller just broke!”

We were on a journey from Lakes Entrance in Victoria, northward to Brisbane, Queensland. It all began when I decided to take the boat from Westernport near Melbourne to attempt a circumnavigation of Australia. The boat wasn't new; a Roberts 32' ketch, hand-built in airex core glassfibre by a retired master mariner more used to ocean going cargo steamers than the subtleties of small wind-powered craft, but with the advantage that it was built with strength to survive and withstand anything that the vagaries, capriciousness, that the weather could throw at it - except, perhaps, the tiller – that vital physical lever that connects me with control over the direction of the vessel.

Not the first boat that I owned, nor the first time had been on the open ocean, but the first time I had ignored advice from coastguard regarding weather forecasts – or rather, had no real idea of what wind does to the seas of Bass Strait, and how they interact with the Southern ocean

HF conversation - “CG Loch Sport (repeated three times) this is (boat name).”
“This is CG Loch Sport responding”
“This is (boat name) departing Lakes Entrance,4 persons on board, bound for Eden, over.”
“Um, are you aware of the strong wind warning?”
“Yep. No problem. (boat name) out”
“This is CG Loch Sport. Best wishes. Out”

Am, basically, a soloist;single handed – but recognised that an ocean voyage of that magnitude needs assistance. Am not a machine, and occasionally need sleep – so advertised for three crew in a National 'Cruising sailor” magazine. Six people responded. Crew selection was an interesting exercise, but eventually distilled into – first choice was someone that I already knew. A stalwart, gentle person (let's call him Neil)– a known fighter – with one leg, the other amputated above the knee. He features later in this story.

Another impressed me by his reasons. Admitted to “know nothing about sailing”, and wanted to “gain experience” and “go to Queensland to buy a boat” (let's call him Toby); and the next – someone who convinced me that he knew “everything about Queensland waterways.” (Let's call him Bert). He also features with, perhaps - difficult results.



Vincent said...

An excellent foundation for a story here, methinks. Joseph Conrad springs to mind.

Davo said...

Ah, Vincent - am not a Conrad, nor Alan Villiers; the time of the "square riggers" have past.

Davo said...


Davo said...

Interesting, though - there are several projects here to introduce young people into the strictures of travel by sail, "Falie" is one .. and "One and all" is another.

Davo said...

O Vincent, perhaps am an incurable romantic. I know the provenance of that boat. Was originally registered as "Polly Esther" but thought that that was undignified, so re-named and re-registered it as "Tycho Brahe". Where it is an who owns it now is anybodies guess. Ted Bradley's coat was aboard when I acquired it - would like to think that he's still there.

R.H. said...

Hi. My name is Robert. I like adventure stories.

Hop into it.

R.H. said...


Davo said...

Robert, if i ever have the chance to attempt a journey like that again - would like you as part of the crew .. heh.

Davo said...

It wasn't an "easy" journey. Not only did the 'elements' throw a whole heap of shit at it, I also had to deal with some interesting characters.

Davo said...

(methinks you might have enjoyed it)

Davo said...

had no "certificates', "shoulder patches' .. and 'mutiny' was one of the problems.

Davo said...

.. oddly, watched some video footage of the disastrous "Sydney to Hobart". OOoo, think I. been there, know the seas .. but not really. Was travelling northward- not trying to fight against it southward. Still a bit interesting, though.

GreenSmile said...

a boat at sea is all of life...and death, control and helplessness all inside 32 or 44 feet. A fine setting for any tale of our mortality and foolishness.

I like "indifferent might and whim" better than "vagaries, capriciousness"...but then I should write my own damn story. I am handicapped to have never had more that three hours of lying on the deck of a 24 foot sail boat someone else was kind enough to invite me to in long island sound on a sunny day of steady medium breeze.

oy, cheap burgundy lets me say anything.