Sospan Fach: The Saga of the Little Saucepan (North American Edition)
Four people with no sailing experience leave Auckland, NZ on a home-built yacht to Sydney, sailing three days north and turn left. The boat has no motor, radio, extra sails, or instrumentation. The skipper has a small compass and a toy sextant on which he has no training. There are a one-person lifeboat, one life preserver, and provisions for three weeks. Stranded for 6 weeks they consider mutiny. More
ITHNAN NICKELSON is a carpenter who dreams of building a yacht. Sentenced to serve in the British Merchant Service, he jumps ship in Port Moresby and works at the Bougainville Copper Project in the Solomons. After brushes with the law over drugs and smuggling, he flees to New Zealand, builds the Sospan Fach, the Little Saucepan. He advertises for an all-female crew.
COLLEEN BAKER is a teacher from Adelaide, South Australia. Daughter of a passive father and a straight-laced Anglican mother, she takes a research position with a hospital in Auckland, NZ. She lives in an Auckland hostel, where she sees Ithnan’s ad and pins it to the bulletin board.
GEORGINA YARNELL is the Chinese stepdaughter of poultry farmers who live south of Auckland. She pursues nurse’s training at another Auckland hospital. At the end of an exhausting year, she decides to take a holiday rather than go home. When a co-worker shows her the ad, she decides a two-week cruise to Sydney could be what she needs.
PHILIP LUNDQUIST is the oldest child of a large family living near Melbourne, Australia. He has no job or plans for college, and graduates from secondary school. On the way to find work on Australia’s Gold Coast, he encounters a young man who persuades him to go to NZ to pick apples. He has trouble with his boss, quits, and moves into the hostel, where he sees Colleen’s notice of the voyage.
The vessel is ill-equipped and carries contraband cargo. Nickelson avoids inspection. During test runs the vessel is grounded in the harbor, leading to difficulty leaving Auckland. Once underway he ignores requests to return and enters the Tasman Sea. There is physical conflict between Philip and Ithnan. Georgina is too sick to protest much. Colleen whines and complains.
The vessel runs aground on Middleton Reef, 800 miles off course, the site of many prior shipwrecks. Within walking distance is a wrecked Japanese fishing trawler, the Fuku Maru #7, where they reside for six weeks, struggling to stay fed and healthy, and dealing with interpersonal relation problems. Philip develops courage. Georgina finds her voice. Colleen continues to whine. The skipper appears mad, attempting to keep the others from eating the available food and suggesting he is capable of murder. The three discuss mutiny. The Sospan Fach breaks up and cocaine powder floats in the bilge water.
DIETER WAGNER is the skipper of a fishing trawler, the Hammerblitz, operating out of Fiji. The vessel is undergoing sea trials when a gale pushes it near Middleton Reef. The crew discovers people on the stranded Fuku Maru. They rescue the castaways and return them to Australia. Ithnan does not mention the contraband. Neither does Philip, who has his own. What neither knows, however, is that the cocaine is merely the tip of the cargo, that several million dollars in gold are also secreted in the Sospan, and are now lost in the Tasman Sea.