Together with recently self publishing my two debut novels, ‘The Merry Millionaire’, and ‘Pomp and Circumstance’, further adventures with The Merry Millionaire, I have been editing and proofing my soon to be published, ‘The Durra Durra Saga’. At the same time, I’ve thirteen chapters secured of a new novel, ‘The Dreadnought Boy’, an adventure story set at the time of the First World War, telling the tale of a sixteen year old lad, Charlie Fuller, who voyages from his homeland of England, to far away New South Wales as part of a scheme, set up by Australia, to educate British city lads, in the ways of farming. Charlie, and six other Dreadnought lads are aboard the Royal Mail Steamer, Osterley, enjoy a life on the ocean wave. Please allow me to give you a tiny snippet of what awaits them as the ship sails into the Suez Canal.
Having never seen the Suez Canal, let alone heard of it, the lads were surprised how interesting a slow cruise along the canal could be. As the canal is too narrow for ships to pass each other, on several occasions, Osterley tied up at a designated jetty to all…ow ships to pass her heading north.
A great deal of activity is conducted along the banks of the canal, as the ever invading sand is dredged from the bottom, back to the bank, then loaded into hoppers, then borne away by trails of slowly padding camels. In addition, small Arab sailing craft jostle for position along side, the lads leaning over the rail, waving and calling cheekily to the Arab watermen.
It was late afternoon when the ship came under steam, therefore, by dinner time the sun was setting across the starboard rail, delighting everyone dining with a spectacular show, as it dipped behind the banks of sand. Then at dusk, an eerie silence fell upon the ship, any music, laughter, chatter, or engine noise, muffled by the sand banks, so closely located over her sides. All the while, the powerful searchlight in Osterley’s bow sent its probing beam into the darkness, sparkling moths enticed into its ray, somehow miraculously navigating towards the lamp itself, beating themselves helplessly against the glass.