A well-written nautical novel by J.C. Hutcheson. The Nancy Bell appears to be a well-found ship, on its way out from the United Kingdom to New Zealand, but she is beset early on by a severe storm which leaves her rudderless and mastless. One of the passengers was an ex Royal Navy Commander who, for some reason, was travelling incognito. He had offered the Captain advice which was rejected as the Captain thought it came from a landsman. Very possibly, had he heeded that advice, the whole train of disasters might not have occurred. Hutcheson has a habit of introducing characters who speak in their own form of English. In this case he has a Jamaican, an Irishman, and a Yankee, all speaking with their own native versions of the language. For good measure there is also a Norwegian, who has to make himself understood in a mixture of German and English. All this makes for a rather difficult book to transcribe, but I hope we have got it right. Eventually the vessel is wrecked just off Kerguelen Island, where the crew and passengers land and build themselves a shelter to take them through the winter. There had been a mutiny just before the wreck, and some of the crew had landed elsewhere, but eventually one or two men who had not been the actual mutineers, but who had got caught up in events, make their way back to the main party. When spring arrives they make their way to the other side of Kerguelen Island, by a route which includes an overland traverse by boat, portaging where necessary. Eventually a vessel comes in, and they are saved. (Nick Hodson)According to Wikipedia: John Conroy Hutcheson (1840- 1897) was a British author of novels and short stories about life aboard ships at sea. Hutcheson was born in Jersey, Channel Islands, in 1840, and died in Portsea Island, in late 1896 or early 1897.
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B&R Samizdat Express
January 01, 2009
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