Saturday, March 03, 2012

Female sailor aboard the wreck of the Sydney Cove

In Max Jeffreys' narrative recounting of ‘The Wreck of the Sydney Cove’, in 1797 a handful of survivors sailed and hiked hundreds of miles over rugged terrain to get help for their mates who they had left on a desolate island in Bass Strait. During an arduous struggle along a cliff top, one of the young lascar sailors fell to the rocks below, and it was soon evident that the body was that of a young woman.

It was the First Mate, Hugh Thompson, who had picked up a group of lascar beggars from the streets of Calcutta and, favouring one in particular, had made ‘Pochari’ his cabin boy. Only after 6 months did he discover she was not a boy. But he told no one and no one suspected the truth.

The wreck of the Calcutta-built Sydney Cove, carrying a cargo of rum, is a remarkable true story of hardship and survival. I enjoyed Jeffreys’ re-telling, apart from the broad Scottish dialect of Captain Hamilton which, as the printed word, slowed my reading.


Capt'n Jack said...

Not sure how much of Max's version is fact. I have a Tasmania Parks and Wildlife file that states Captain Guy Hamilton was only 37 at the time.

M. C. Muir said...

I posted that in 2012 so afraid my memory i not that good on the facts. I think I still have the book and enjoyed reading it, as I said apart from the Scottish dialect/dialogue.

Capt'n Jack said...

Must be new information since Max's version and Nash's thesis from the 90s, and Nash's volume in collaboration with Flinders University a decade later. I'll give him a ring next week and let you know