Novel Shipwrecks

Treasure Island

I read a trivia blog about shipwreck novels, and left a comment about Great Lakes shipwrecks, including Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, and one that was found in the sand of my home town’s beach. When the writer asked for details, I emailed him this double-barreled story.

65 years ago, there were a couple of boards which protruded from the sand, at one spot on our lovely beach. We kids tried to pull them out, but they were obviously attached to something heavy. Eventually, they disappeared – storm damage? Town works crew cut them for tourist safety?

Lighthouse

About twenty years ago, a couple of residents became interested in history and restoration. The abandoned lighthouse-keeper’s house on the offshore island was repaired, and little boat tours began. Someone must have remembered the boards on the beach. A group of archeologists from the University of Toronto arranged a dig. They had to design and build a coffer-dam to keep the waves out as they dug up that section of beach.

Sure that they had something physical, they began searching the written records. Soon they found the story. Once upon a time, my home-town was a bustling Lake Port. Prairie grain for bakeries, iron ore for steel mills and lumber for construction were unloaded and shipped by train below Niagara Falls.

The wreck on our beach turned out to be an 87 foot sailboat freighter. “She” was the ‘Sir Robert McAllister,’ making what might have been the last trip of the fall, before the lake iced up in 1887. Unloaded, they set sail ahead of an autumn storm. Heading back north, they barely got outside the safe harbor when the winds raged. Unloaded, top-heavy, empty and bobbing like a cork, she couldn’t maneuver, and was driven onto the beach.

No hands were lost, but the storm pounded her to flinders. Our Lake is not an ocean, but I remember body-surfing 6 and 8-foot storm waves. Little was left above the keel. She held no cargo, and what was left wasn’t worth salvaging. She was just left to rot, and subsequent storms piled sand over her.

The other local shipwreck that I wanted to tell you about – wasn’t – quite. There used to be a prosperous fishing trade out of our river harbor, until they overfished themselves out of business. Each day, six days a week, 4 forty-foot, enclosed, steel fishing boats would go out a couple of miles.

One spring, the lake ice had broken up and had moved offshore, drifting slowly down the middle of the lake, toward Detroit. Finally, two miles of ice on the river broke up, and thundered out to join it. One fish boat owner, whose craft and crew of three had been unemployed for almost 4 months, got the boat winched back into the water, with plans to go out the next day.

The weather was clear, if cold, and away they went. They set nets, waited for fish migration, and pulled the nets back in. While all this was happening, a spring gale blew up, pushing all that ice back in past them from the west. By the time they headed for home, it had piled up against the shore in a wall 15/20 feet high, a mile out from the river harbor.

As they looked for a solution, more ice piled up behind them, wedging them against the barrier, ice floes 4 – 5 – 6 feet thick, as big as the boat. Soon, the increasing pressure tilted them, to almost 45 degrees. Fearing that the boat would be crushed or capsized, they decided to unship the lifeboat, and push it like a sled across the valleys of the ice-field.

About halfway to shore, the youngest crew-member, a 19-year-old nicknamed Zip, lost his footing – and his hold on the lifeboat rail – and plunged through a small gap into the freezing water. Two days later, when the weather had cleared, and the ice had moved offshore again, the owner used a motorboat to chase his fish boat two miles out, and 8 miles south, with a cargo of frozen fish. It was slightly dinged and scraped, but the rudder and propeller weren’t damaged.

Zip’s body was found a couple of weeks later. The ship didn’t even sink, but still cost a crewman’s life. The town has a small park, where the river meets the lake. They added a memorial to all those lost to the lake, and specifically, Zip.

***

Somehow, I conflated the stories of the lumber freighter that I researched for an earlier post about the decline and fall of my home-town as a Lake Port and the change from a transportation-driven economy to a manufacturing-based one, with a previous War Of 1812 warship-turned freighter, named H.M.S. General Hunter. The light-as-a-cork lumber boat was repaired and refloated. The repurposed warship, still heavy with cannon, got buried. Click above to read her story.

 

Flash Fiction #153

Echo

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

LOCAL DIALECT

Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

I have no idea. This place just seems to go on forever.  What’s the name of it – ‘Echo Emporium’??  It’s déjà vu all over again.  What do they do in there – make tape measures – package spaghetti – a bowling alley?  Oh look, another tower – just like the last one.

You kids aren’t watching ‘Groundhog Day’ back there are you?? I think we’re just driving in circles, nothing changes….

….When that pub owner suggested visiting the “Loch”, I thought he meant like Loch Ness. This is a canal ‘lock,’ and us with no boat.

***

You don’t have to go to Europe to have trouble with local dialects. A ‘Yankee’ had a retirement home built in Florida.  When it came time to install the driveway, the contractor asked him if he wanted poured concrete or shale.  Concrete seemed so common and blah.  He liked the idea of crushed grey stone, so he ordered shale.

When he went out to view the finished installation, it was this horrid, loose, dusty white….stuff. “I ordered shale!  That’s not shale!’

“Shore ‘tis. That there’s oyster shellshale.”

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

You’re Pulling My Leg….Off

Pirate

A man is walking down by the docks, and sees an old man standing at the end of the pier with an eye-patch, peg-leg, and a hook for a hand. He figures this guy’s got some good stories, so he wanders over and asks the man, “Excuse me, but do you mind my asking where you got your peg-leg?”
“Arr, ’tis a good story, matey. I was climbin’ up the rigging, and a rogue wave came along and smashed into the boat. I lost me footing and fell in the water, when a shark came along and bit off me leg.”
“Wow, that’s terrifying! What about your hook?”
“Arr, ’tis a good story, matey. We were sailin’ along when we were boarded by a band of marauders! I got in a sword fight with one of ’em and he cut off me hand, so I had a hook put on.”
“Jeez, that’s horrible! Alright, how about the eye-patch?”
“Arr, ’tis a good story, matey. I was out on the deck one day, with clear blue skies all around. I looked up in the sky, and a seagull came along and he pooped in me eye!”
“So, you lost your eye because a seagull pooped in it?”
“Well, ’twas the first day I had me hook.”

=====*=====

Man goes to the library and approaches the front desk. He asks the librarian: “I was wondering if you had the book I ordered? It’s for men with small penises.”

She replies: “I don’t know if it’s in yet.”

He says: “Yeah, that’s the one.”

=====*=====

If trees screamed, would we be so willing to cut them down?
Maybe, if they screamed all the time.

=====*=====

A man walks into the street and hails a passing taxi. “Perfect timing,” he tells the driver. “You’re just like Frank.”
”Who?” asks the cabbie.
“Frank Fielding. He did everything right. Great tennis player, wonderful golfer, sang like Pavarotti.”
“Sounds like quite a guy.”
“Not only that, he remembered everyone’s birthday, was a wine connoisseur, and could fix anything. And his wardrobe – immaculate! He was the perfect man. No one could measure up to Frank.”
“Amazing. How’d you meet him?”
“Oh, I never met Frank.”
“How do you know so much about him?”
“I married his widow.”

 

Oh G.O.D.!

Fishing Boat

So a girl brings her new fiancé home to meet her parents. Boy looks like a hipster (scarf, big bushy beard, etc.) Understandably, her father would like to know the boy better and so he takes him to his study for a private conversation.
Dad: “So, John. What do you do for a living?”
Fiancé: “Well, I’m an artist.”
D: “So you’re doing well?”
F: “I paint, and God provides me with all I need to live.”
So the dad is a bit confused.
D: “And what will you do when you marry my daughter? Will your art provide for the two of you?”
F: “I will paint, and God will provide for us.”
D: “And when you have kids?”
F: “I will paint, and God will provide for my family.”

The dad nods and walks out of the study. Outside, his daughter is anxiously waiting for him. Daughter: “So, daddy? What’d you think of him? He’s great, isn’t he?” “Well, sweetie,” says the father, “I don’t like his job choice. But, on the other hand, I LOVE what he calls me!”

***

A young guy from North Dakota moves to Florida and goes to a big “everything under one roof” store looking for a job.

The Manager says, “Do you have any sales experience?” The young guy says “Yeah. I was a vacuum salesman back in North Dakota.” Well, the boss was unsure, but he liked the kid and figured he’d give him a shot, so he gave him the job. “You start tomorrow. I’ll come down after we close and see how you did.” His first day on the job was rough, but he got through it.

After the store was locked up, the boss came down to the sales floor. “How many customers bought something from you today?” The kid frowns and looks at the floor and mutters, “One”. The boss says “Just one? Our sales people average sales to 25 to 30 customers a day. This is gonna have to change very soon if you’d like to continue your employment here. We have very strict standards for our sales force here in Florida. One sale a day might have been acceptable in North Dakota, but you’re not on the farm anymore, son.”

The kid took his beating, but continued to look at his shoes, so the boss felt kinda bad for chewing him out on his first day. He asked (sarcastically), “So, how much was your one sale for?” The kid looks up at his boss and says “$124,548.88″. The boss, astonished, says $124,548.88??? What the heck did you sell?”

The kid says, “Well, first, I sold him some new fish hooks. Then I sold him a new fishing rod to go with his new hooks. Then I asked him where he was going fishing and he said down the coast, so I told him he was going to need a boat, so we went down to the boat department and I sold him a twin engine Chris Craft.

Then he said he didn’t think his Honda Civic would pull it, so I took him down to the automotive department and sold him that 4×4 Chevrolet Suburban.” The boss said “A guy came in here to buy a fish hook and you sold him a boat and a SUV???” The kid said “No, the guy came in here to buy tampons for his wife, and I said, ‘Bro, your weekend’s a mess, you should go fishing.

 

 

 

Flash Fiction Redux

I am taking advantage of our Fairy Blogmother, Rochelle’s kind offer of a respite from composing Flash Fictions.  Hopefully, some of you missed this one the first time.

Fishing boat

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright – Georgia Koch

Walking On Water

Mischa had made his living fishing this little inland sea all his life, and his ancestors had done so for untold generations, back into the mists of time.

First the water had got thick, and saltier, then the fish had all but disappeared. Now it was the sea itself which was disappearing.  The little cottage where his parents had raised him was now half a kilometer from the new shoreline.  His fishing boat sat stranded on the mud flats.

He recently met a group of outsiders, “scientists”, studying the Aral Sea. One had taught him a new term – Global Warming.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Flash Fiction #35

Fishing boat

 

 

 

 

 

Walking On Water

Mischa had made his living fishing this little inland sea all his life, and his ancestors had done so for untold generations, back into the mists of time.

First the water had got thick, and saltier, then the fish had all but disappeared.  Now it was the sea itself which was disappearing.  The little cottage where his parents had raised him was now half a kilometer from the new shoreline.  His fishing boat sat stranded on the mud flats.

He recently met a group of outsiders, “scientists”, studying the Aral Sea.  One had taught him a new term – Global Warming.

 

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and used the Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.