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.