Historical Fiction is one of my favourite genres. Throw in a boat and that book has to be mine!
When I become so absorbed into a story I want to know more about the author… here’s a brief intro to Pamela Grimm and her alter-ego Captain Jane Thorn!
Why write about the merchant marine instead of pirates? Surely they are more fun!
Aaargh! A pirate lives by his sword, but a trading captain has to live by her wits. That’s much more fun, I think! Captain Jane has to figure out how to get what she wants without pulling a weapon on anyone, in general. Not that she won’t channel her inner pirate if needed!
What makes historical fiction set in the 19th century so special?
The first half of the 19th century was a time of upheaval and change all over the world. In many ways, the rapid developments in technology and the political turmoil would be familiar to today’s readers. For Americans, the country was still growing and defending its territory while trying not to get involved in European affairs. Within, issues of slavery, expansion, and the role of government were hot buttons that everyone had to work around. Captain Jane is akin to today’s millennials, figuring out what she thinks about things and acting on her principles.
How important is research to you when writing a book?
Research is everything! I want to bring the reader into Jane’s world and make it feel familiar. The problems people were solving in Jane’s day laid the foundation for the world we live in today. Have you ever thought about how long it would actually take to raise the anchor on a 200-ton ship? Longer than you might imagine!
How realistic are your books?
Captain Jane and the Destiny are as realistic as I can make them. All of the events and places I reference are real, as are many of the people she encounters. Every now and then, I take liberties with time frames, but I strive to give the reader a realistic sense of the world in 1820.
Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
Oh, my characters pretty much do what they want to do. They are constantly surprising me! I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. In general, I know what the central storyline will be, but how things play out is always a mystery until it happens. I find myself saying, “Oh really?” a lot when I am writing.
How much of yourself do you put into your books?
I confess, Captain Jane is my alter-ego. She pretty much does what I think I would do in most situations, although sometimes I have to shake my head at how obtuse she can be. That’s probably when she is being most like me.
Who would play Captain Jane in the movie?
If I could wave a magic wand, it would be a young Loreena McKennitt.
When can the readers expect your next book?
Soon! The Destiny is already headed out for a new adventure with Captain Jane and her loyal crew aboard. Look for the next volume in the series in 2019.
Cruisers’ Accumulated Acumen is selling incredibly well and has been tagged by a top sailing magazine as, “…probably the most comprehensive reference book designed for preparation for cruising life.”
Here’s an excerpt from our book – which not only includes over 1,800 tips, tricks and ideas for living on board, but also informative and fun articles such as this…
Your grab bag, ditch kit, flee bag (sounds like my old dog), jump-and-go-bag should include stuff to measure your own priorities and capabilities. What would you need? Who is on board and where you are going? Does everyone on board know where it is?
Align your inclusions with distance. Seasons don’t count, anyone on the water knows you can experience all four seasons twice in one day. However, thinking about the sea temperature is important; hypothermia has an insatiable hunger. The sea gods also have an unquenchable greed and anything in your boat that you think you need should have a piece of string (lanyard) fitted, to give you a fighting chance of hanging on to it. Common sense, speedy reaction and lack of panic should be mentioned, although I am not sure how to pack those things. The bag obviously needs to be watertight and waterproof, a bright reflective colour is a good idea (boats don’t just sink during the day).
Each to their own; some people include their obituaries – how very odd . . .! Other cruising buddies suggest a book and a mattress! All very nice, but I can think of several more important items. I’d rather have an extra bottle of water than reading material.
At the very least have water, flares and attention grabbers, surviving is nice, but being rescued is even better. The ditch kit should contain items for immediate use and possibly some months. Short-term think injuries, hypothermia and signalling devices. Mid to long-term survival, think water and food. Are you going to make water or catch it? Can you catch fish? Provision for prevention of sun exposure is imperative if you don’t want to end up like a crisp.
I have seen lists for short-term (minutes to hours), mid-term (hours to days), medium-term (days to weeks) and long-term (weeks to months). All very useful but how do you know which bag to collect when your boat sinks? Do you take all four? Think necessity not holiday!
Can the bag be snatched quickly? Paperwork is a good one, your passports and boat papers have to be somewhere, why not in the grab bag? Add a few dollars (American dollars are the most widely accepted if you are travelling overseas). Think of all the bureaucratic bits of paper that cause major headaches and gnashing of teeth, if you had to replace them.
As terrifying as it sounds, one day you might need it; now’s the time to think carefully about what it should contain. Grab bags provide thought-provoking conversations to all boat people. (Young, ‘Include my favourite toy’, old, ‘Put in the fine Scotch dear’), both would argue that their life depends on it.
Research suggests forgetting everything you have seen in the movies, on TV and in novels. But I tend to disagree, who’s to say what happens – survivors of course, but what of those who don’t. That monumentally dramatised scene could be precisely what happens. We’ve met a survivor whose boat took fifteen minutes to sink. He had ‘all the time in the world’ to grab stuff from cupboards. He now thinks all boats take this long to be swallowed in to the deep. Most of us know a story where a boat vanishes within seconds; those brief moments may give you enough time to grab your survival bag.
We have one big bag on our boat, which ideally should be split in two (1) Absolute necessities and (2) Necessities. However, it’s not and at the time of writing we are firmly welded to a mooring (for now). Our bag includes years of ideas gleaned from chatting to other people on boats as to ‘what’s in yours?’. It has (in no particular order): survival suits, sunglasses, wind up torch, handheld radio (VHF) and spare batteries, Spirulina (nutrient source in powder form), survival sheets (space blankets), hand Watermaker, toilet roll, water, string, fishing hooks/line, signalling mirror, knife, seasick tablets, First Aid with extra strong painkillers, flares, sanitary products, wet/baby wipes, tea towel, plastic bags, sea marker dye, lighter, paperwork (passports/boat papers/money), sunscreen, t-shirts, whistle, barley sugar, handheld GPS and batteries.
Diving into the bag after a year I am surprised to see that the wet wipes are still moist and the Spirulina still edible (mind you, it does look and smell remarkably like mould – even when new). Clearly, batteries should be replaced regularly, as should water in plastic bottles (leeching). Sunscreen and tablets/pills will have use by dates to be aware of too. We have spent over three weeks at sea in one go and been 1,500 miles from the nearest land, hence a fairly comprehensive bag. In compiling our kit, we gave careful thought to all the yummy stuff already included in our life-raft when it was last surveyed. Our EPIRBs are mounted in the boat, perhaps one should have been in the bag. Now, I would also include the Leatherman and some cereal bars. But the bag is heavy already.
Our small Watermaker was purchased in America (US$600). In Puerto Rico we met a guy who spent 66 days in a life-raft, in the Pacific Ocean, with his wife. They were attacked and holed by a pod of whales, ‘they were so lovely, riding alongside us and suddenly they turned . . .’ (Note to self: do not enjoy company of whales, turn on engine and shoot flares into water if same happens). He claims that they would be dead if they had not had the Watermaker in their grab bag. Before setting sail into the mighty Pacific, we purchased one. The emotions of coughing up the equivalent of almost a thousand Australian dollars were an odd mix; unwillingness to part with a large chunk of our cruising budget, conflicting with the thought that should we find our lives depended on it, it would seem a remarkably small amount of money. The Watermaker is still in its bag, unused and lonely, long may it remain so!
Other suggestions from friends:
My humble opinion
Chemical heat packs
Space blanket is smaller and works well
Book to read
Wool and rubber work gloves
Maybe one pair
Enema sack for rehydration
I’d rather drink the water
Already in life-raft
Swiss Army knife, sharpening stone, tube of oil.
Make sure knife is sharp to start with
Way too hard to use in life-raft
In life-raft already
Chemical light sticks
Dried fruit and chocolate
I’d never say no to chocolate (ensure fruit is not already in chocolate – this stuff can really go off)
Survival ship’s biscuits
Small plankton net
Photocopies of all essential crew documents
Yup(or the originals)
Shore survival items in case you land in an uninhabited island: waterproof matches, flint, wire saw
It’s all getting a bit much
Self-inflating foam pad or air mattress
What about a snugly blanket and a cuddly teddy bear too – really . . . !
Spare prescription glasses
Good idea – these are in our life-raft
Pack all gear into separate waterproof bags
Not a bad idea
We hope you found this article useful. It was compiled with ideas from many different cruisers and survivors. They all openly expressed their survival considerations, experience and concerns.
I produced some rather snazzy bookmarks, detailing my books/adventures. My mum hands them out to anyone she meets or whoever knocks on her front door. She’s brilliant – my No.1 fan – and quite passionate!
She has just written me a note about accosting someone famous on my behalf! She’s either brilliant or mad – but probably both. She says:
“On the way home Dad went into Sainsbury’s car park to get the papers and a few bits and whilst I sat in the car. You’ll never guess who walked passed, ONLY Paul Young!! I smashed on the window and leapt out of the car and said who I was plus you and ENPC (Enfield Chase Pony Club). I think he thought I was some mad woman accosting him. I blurted out your CV and could have kicked myself as I didn’t have any BOOKMARKS to give him. What an absolute chump am I! Anyway, I mentionedwww.jackieandnoelsjourneys.com and think he got it but he was in a hurry and had to get away.”
Mum’s not totally loopy – Paul’s daughter used to be a team member of Enfield Chace Prince Philip Cup Team and my mum and dad used to manage this team – so she did know him (and, I believe, he has sailing on his bucket list).
I was suitably impressed, as the first album I ever purchased was No Parlez. The first time I saw Paul was on daytime TV, after Rainbow, I was off sick from school – I’ve admired his work ever since.
I think Mum deserves a pay-rise, I’ve offered her double what she receives now – I think that’s fair.
I’ve offered Paul an audio, kindle or paperback book – I wonder if he’ll receive my message – perhaps he’s a little scared….. not from my mum – but selling up and living your dream is a brave step…
On the 11th November I’ll number each share and ask someone to randomly pick a number.
Here’s the blurb:
“We are from Australia, we have cash, and we have jet-lag and a desperate stare in our eye. In short, we are mugs ready to be led down the path of nautical slavery. If you can’t sell us a boat, there is something very wrong.”
The pull of the ocean was too strong to ignore any longer. Four years prior, they’d circumnavigated the globe on their 33-foot boat, Mariah. Now they wanted a new challenge.
So they sold all their belongings and flew to America from New South Wales in search of a boat.
Then Jackie and Noel set sail south, meeting descendants of the Bounty mutineers on Pitcairn, taking in the grand statues of Easter Island (the remotest inhabited island in the world) and making lifelong friends in Suwarrow.
Along the way, they lost a friend and came nail-bitingly close to losing their new boat. But they gained so much more.
This is a story of storms of emotions and oceans, travel, love, and relationships, and two people figuring out life and fulfilling their need to move and be challenged.
Coupled with middle age, this is not a good recipe for a healthy life.
So in order to combat midde-aged-spread (how lovely) I have a game plan.
I’ve taken up baking again. Not pastries and cakes, well not all the time. But vegetarian and healthy foods. I have a huge appetite, and eating less is just not going to happen. Here’s one of my favourite recipes.
Red Bean Moussaka
Painting! Owning a boat keeps you fit, when we move, furling ropes, climbing ladders (for locks) and handling lines keeps me fit. Plus painting is a regular task. We’re thankfully at the point where we just need to touch up our paintwork. Here’s my latest project. I love this anchor winch, it’s functional and beautiful!
Anchor Windlass- before
Anchor Windlass – after
If you are a writer/author or sit in an office, what are your tactics to stay fit and healthy?
A few weeks ago I mentioned, on ablog here, that I had a big announcement.
I’ve let the cat out of the bag in messages on Facebook, here and there… but now the “ad” is done, it’s official.
The ad for our Dutch barge, she’s for sale (Rouge Corsair).
Rouge Corsair – 1920s Dutch Barge
We are heading back to Australia.
For many reasons, but as we were contemplating a change, the guy that has three of our horses offered them back. With a big skip and a little tear, we agreed (well, I agreed and then told Noel what I had done!).
Lately, I’ve received some lovely emails from professional horse trainers who use a holistic approach – they congratulated us on what we achieved. So, when we get back we’ll build on that work.
So now we’ve finished the complete renovation on our barge and have a nice home, we’ll be heading back to a field and a tent… yes, really…
In January I will be launching the Pyewacket story. In 2009 we flew to San Francisco, purchased a sailboat and sailed back to Australia via Easter Island, Pitcairn and many other wonderful, far-flung places – over two years.
It sounds so simple when I write it now, but it wasn’t – it was a tough and emotional journey. When I trawled through my notes and logbooks and pulled the story together we were both surprised at the magnitude and variation of events – some were hair-raising!
I will be placing a full photo album on this website when I launch the book (as per usual there will be additional colour photos in the paperback edition), for now, though, here’s just a taster….
Down there is Peru! Tristan Jones inspired us to visit Lake Titicaca. From Ecuador we rode on a bus inland. This was our galley and our host!
Lake Titicaca – we learned fascinating information of how they ‘make’ their islands on the lake
Samoa – during a week-long festival – so many naked bodies, so little time!
Suwarrow – no strangers here…. A place where we picked up the threads of our previous voyage; a place where it all began to make sense….
I had a terrifying shark encounter, which I am still trying to recover from!
The adventure begins in Pitcairn!
Salt encrusted lines, via strong head winds day after day, week after week! We were close to sinking en route to Easter Island, then even closer to losing the boat at the Gambiers!
Guess where. The remotest inhabited island in the world!
A heavenly place we were blown to during a gale… a place we never planned to visit – heaven!
The book, (title to be confirmed) will be launched in January. It’ll have you gripping the sides of your armchair with fear, and clutching your stomach in laughter.
Here of course….. sailing along the NSW coast in Australia, on our way to our next adventure.
Sailing in my slippers! And Writing – this was the beginning of Of Foreign Build… Note the bikes (bike wheels upside down outside the stanchions), the outboard is under the blue canvas by my head. We were on our way!
Perhaps in a TSR (Travelling Stock Route) on the BNT (Bicentennial National Trail) with 5 horses and a tent…
Somewhere nearby there are five very happy horses, gallavanting, galloping, and rolling in the creek! Meanwhile, notes on the horse trekking book A Standard Journey started here….
What about on a 1920s Dutch barge in France? Not bad, but we were (and still are) renovating – it’s a noisy, dusty, and messy place to live and work.
Magdalena Bay, Mexico – the cafe was closed but wifi was on!
We’d recently purchased Pyewacket in San Francisco and were on our way to La Paz… but plans changed rapidly. We spent two years sailing back to Australia via Pitcairn and Easter Island, etc…. a tough journey – detail of which in my next book This Is It, out January 2016.
On a barrel in the boat yard in Panama?
Well at least I got to stay relatively clean!
Puttering along the Intracoastal Waterway of America. Near South Carolina on our 10 metre sailing boat Mariah II.
Flat water sailing – yippee!
I’m a travel writer – literally. If you want to travel and work you can – you just have to make it happen.
Where’s your favourite office? Where’s the most exotic, fun, extreme place you’ve worked?