Cap’n Jack’s Short Stories

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True Stories from the Sea and faraway places.

Our most popular short stories will soon be in print along with two new major works, African Honeymoon and Malpelo Lessons as well as several others from our early years when sailing with our sons.

front_800pxAn odyssey lasting not the one year first imagined, but the rest of their lives
A great book for all ages filled with adventures, courage, and encouragement .

They met in a German pub, raced one another to Paris, fell in love in America and were married in England. Their African Honeymoon took them overland to Johannesburg and from there to Australia where Jack and Jude found space everywhere and a feeling of ‘she’ll be right’ that encouraged them to not only start a family, but to also start building an ocean going yacht.

Three arduous years later, with little sailing experience, their sons just two and three, they began a journey into the unknown. Frightened with mountainous obstacles to overcome their sea roving life took them in ever-increasing circles around the world touching 80 countries in an odyssey that lasted not the one year first imagined, but the rest of their lives.

Jack and Jude have many grandchildren now. Our physical forms may have weakened, our confidence has been tempered, but we still hear the call of the wild and again since 2007, aboard Banyandah we have explored much of the vast Australian coastline and surrounding seas .

This book of short stories is a celebration of an adventurous exploration of life together.

African Honeymoon

Our route through Africa

Our route through Africa

When we were just kids and about to be married, we bought a rusty VW van that had languished in a field for nearly forever. Our first sight of it was a pair of sad eyes, its divided windscreen peeking over tall grass, so we bought that cute little box. Not out of pity, but thinking we could use its new tyres on our honeymoon trip to Southern Africa.

The year is 1968. The Sahara is a vast unmarked area without fuel or water. Nigeria is still in the grips of the Biafran War. Central Africa, a chaotic mess struggling to overcome colonialism, many still hate whites. The Congo, filled with illiterate warring factions, still believes in voodoo. Only East Africa offers a ray of hope. That too was snatched from us by Rhodesia’s quest for freedom.

Desperate people do desperate things.

Ceuta, North Africa to Johannesburg, 12,720 km in a five month African Honeymoon.

Malpelo Lessons

Malpelo before discoveryThe day began like many others aboard the good ship Banyandah. At first light our anchorage was found to be encased in a wispy mist that softened the morning’s warmth and light, making sounds far-away whispers. Suspended in time and stillness our floating home lay so quietly at rest she felt afloat in space instead of on the calm waters off Colon at the entrance to the busy Panama Canal.

Banyandah’s aft cabin is a lovely place to dream of far away places. Like a mother’s womb holding tranquil peace on such a quiet day was perfect for meditation. With eyes partly closed and my ship smooth and quiet under me, my fingers traced routes while the passage miles slid past in my mind.

“Hey Kids! Guess what!” I blurted out breaking into their school work, “There’s an enormous rock jutting out the ocean on our route to South America.”

Tears in Paradise

Jack navigating

 

Young family chance their luck, sail for a forbidden island and find themselves fighting for their lives. Written 1983 aboard Banyandah in Indian Ocean.


Madagascar! Jude loved the sound and wanted it to roll off her tongue as easily as it had off the stranger’s and she repeated, “Madagascar.” The sound igniting visions of green mountains and primitive people.


Failed Again

Failure is a word that can strike despair in many young minds. And yet, now that I am older I’m proud to admit that I’ve failed several times. My first failure was a boat I built which simply would not float. It was suppose to be fast, so I thought it had to be sleek and narrow. But, while sketching its design, I realized I’d never built anything. Never used fiberglass, never made a mold nor knew anything about sailing. But building that boat changed my life forever.


To the Naval of the World

“You’re on your way where? To Easter Island! Wow, that’ll be great!” My friend’s voice, sounding awed and impressed, came clearly over the Ham radio in Banyandah’s aft cabin. “But isn’t this the wrong time of year?” Skepticism had crept into his voice. “You do know it’s winter down there.”

Of course I knew – hadn’t I sat for hours with those dog-eared weather charts before me? Hadn’t I tracked over and over July’s wind patterns for the deep South Pacific. My friend had voiced his worry over storms, but it wasn’t storms that were shown in the ocean before Easter Island, it was frustrating calms and contrary winds from around the clock.


Moonlight across the Southern Ocean

Waychinicup: the locals swear it is safe, but that’s the Southern Ocean just outside that narrow crack.

By the time the Roaring Forties pass under Australia, they have gathered energy from halfway around Earth and are either driving the sea wild or are ready to pounce when next provoked by a depression from Antarctica.

Now imagine two aging flower powers, their petals shriveling, yet with bright strong hearts, aboard a homemade sailboat cross the most feared stretch of water. Alone, they must look after themselves and God forbid either be injured or suffer a body malfunction.


Running Scared at Spratly

Back in 1979, the world had no satellites guiding our every movement day and night. Instead, all ships used the heavens to navigate and our charts at times were inaccurate – some reefs charted by aerial surveillance in WWII with soundings dating back to the earliest explorers.

From the log of the Banyandah -South China Sea, March 31, 1979

 

Running Scared at Spratly
Only steel nerves and luck stood between the 1979 Amateur Radio expedition and disaster

 


Late Night Visitor

While alongside at Emu Point Slipway in Albany, in the night I heard my dear lady shouting, “Put that down. Get out of it.”

Groggy, coming out a deep sleep, I thought she was dreaming, and was about to comfort her when I felt her crawl over me. That got me wide awake. I sleep next to the companionway.

 


The People You Meet


When we were guests of the Fremantle Sailing Club, I awoke feeling a bit old this particular morning. Too much booze or one too many stories the night before had me feeling every one of my sixty-four years and I was crawling rather lethargically round the cabin when I heard a rap on our railing. Coming up my eyes clasped onto a man my age inspecting my boat.

“Bonny wee sailing ship you have laddie,” were his first words, and I smiled. I love people who like my boat. And replied, “She’s stout and looks after you in a storm and that’s what matters, plus she’s a treat to live aboard.”

“Aye, I can see that”, this fellow went on, his bushy eyebrows going up and down as he ran his eye over our craft.
“You’re a Scots, I can tell. My wife’s a Geordie.” And with that disclosure, he ambled closer.
“Aye, a bonny lad from the old country.” He said when we were eyeball to eyeball.
“Been back lately?” I asked, thinking of our trip to England in 1999.
“Aye, went back in 2005.”
“Good flight?”
“Did nay fly, I sailed.”


Fishing for Monsters

Aboard Banyandah, off North West Cape WA

Walking aft I saw our Ocky strap bowstring tight and the trolling line singing. Quite shocked I jumped back shouting, “Hey Jude! Come look. Something huge is hooked up.”

 

Cap’n Jack


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Cap’n Jack’s Short Stories — 1 Comment

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