Monday, August 24, 2009


We had a hurricane! Well, not quite a hurricane---didn't measure up. I'm afraid Bill the Hurricane was overblown; a bit of a blowhard, actually. A linesman on our street this morning told me that Cape Bretoners are referring to this particular hurricane as Counterfeit Bill. Cute. So now the radio is interviewing people about what it's like to NOT have a hurricane, which, when you think about it, they could do any time. Right? Oh, we did have rain and lots of wind, but it's like the man being interviewed on radio said, "I seen worst". And it's true, but it's all too bad. I guess maybe the 'worst' thing is waiting for a great blow and not getting it.

I forgot one of my favourite sea quotes last post. It goes this way:

no matter what you lose(like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea.
by e.e.cummings Poem: maggie and milly and molly and may

I want to talk about the non-fiction book I just finished reading last week. THE FLOATING BROTHEL, by Sian Rees. This is a sea book, actually; I enjoyed it very much. Sian Rees is a good writer and must have done extensive research for this book. This is evident in the characters and dates presented.

It takes place in 1789 when a ship loaded with women convicts were heading for the new settlement at Sydney Cove (Australia). There were over two hundred women on board ranging in age from 13 to 60. They were all criminals under the eye of British Justice, and for their crime were "Transported to Parts Beyond the Seas". Most of their so-called crimes centered around thievery, most likely cloth, dresses, coins, watches, and so on. Many of them were really falsely accused. Of course, many of them were prostitutes. It took them about a year to finally get to Sydney Cove which was nothing more than a few shacks and a harbour.

They were given access to the whole ship during the day, they were never shackled or put in the hold during the trip. All the sailors took one of the women for their own, and fed and looked after them throughout the voyage---some of the officers, too. The women stole anything they could find; got into the storage rooms and helped themselves to the food and the rum barrel they found. The captain didn't know what to do for any form of punishment. It turned out to be quite a sea voyage.

At ports of call some of the prostitutes came upon an idea. They, with the help of their agent(government official looking after them), would set up a brothel on board ship for the locals in the area. The women would ply their trade and the agent would look after the money, which he divided equally among the women, some for himself, and a kickback to the captain who was expected to look the other way. It was all good. The women bought food, dresses, and put some money away for their new digs in Australia. A successful enterprise, for sure.

I was thinking that this would make an excellent Disney movie. Don't you think? It's kind of a feel-good movie that naturally brings a smile on your face. I would definitely have Shirley MacLean in it. And maybe Emma Thompson. Lynsey Lohan? Maybe Madonna---she looks like a convict. It would be great fun to make this movie. Yep, it would make a great Disney movie.

There's a long list of excellent sea books I could go over in detail, but I'll just mention a couple and get to the others at a later post.

SAILING ALONE AROUND THE WORLD by Joshua Slocum. He's one of our boys, and this is an excellent book. His voyage on the SPRAY has got to be the best sea adventure ever written.
Any of the books about the ESSEX which was sunk by a sperm whale ramming it. Owen Chase is the author. This is where Melville got his inspiration for Moby Dick.
MUTINY ON THE GLOBE by Thomas Heffernan tells the story of one of the most horrifying events in Nantucket's whaling history.
MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY by Nordhoff and Hall. There are many books out about the Bounty mutiny, but theirs is the best. Also MAN AGAINST THE SEA by them. This book tells of the fantastic voyage Bligh and his loyal officers took in an open boat after the mutiny. They actually made it home, excellent story---and true!

Anyway, I must go look for my bird feeder. It was hidden from Bill the Hurricane by my wife who thought it had the potential of becoming a lethal projectile. I think she buried it, but I'm not sure. She says that in the hurried preparation for the expected atmospheric onslaught, she has now forgotten where she put it. The finches are worried, I know. Maybe it's in the green bin---she puts many things in the green bin that don't belong there. She's not environmentally friendly.

Next: God books

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