Friday, 20 January 2017

'Quay Moment' - FICTION based on GENEALOGICAL FACT. Point of No Return - A narrative based on a key moment when an ancestor departed from a place

Well, I’ve done it. After hanging around the docks for the past week I’ve finally plucked up the courage to sign on as a deckhand. 
I’m on board the ‘Thetis of Dundee” and looking up at the square rigging.
It looks a whole lot scarier to climb than the trees back home in Gippsland.

That seems a long time ago now. After Mum died, and with Dad gone most of the time training horses, us kids were all sent to different family homes.   

Being eighteen they put me in a bakery as an apprentice, but I hated it. I wanted to travel and see the world.  So I took off here to Sydney and I’ve been watching the ships ever since.  When I heard this one needed crew I jumped at the chance to get away from Australia.

Jim, who I’ve been sleeping rough with on the docks, reckons I’m mad.  He says the boat’s sure to go to South Africa with the Boer War raging.
I asked the ‘mate’ would that happen and he said: “No chance - not with all this wheat on board”.

I feel such a coward – first time on salt water and I’m shivering in my boots.
What will it be like when we get out to sea?  The mate says he’ll whip me if I don’t go aloft. Have I done the wrong thing?

The tug is alongside getting us ready to sail.  It won’t be long now and we’ll be outward bound for Valparaiso, Chile in South America.

Reference:   Personal Collection.  Family Correspondence from Claude Palmer


  1. Hi flissie
    One of my relatives by marriage was a master mariner on the Thetis - I have a photo of it if you want. As far as I know for awhile it sailed up and down the east coast of Australia.

  2. Hi Sue
    Yes, I would love a copy of the photo, thank you for your kind offer. I have another post on here about Claude - it is taken from his autobiography notes. He had an amazing life.