A maritime action and adventure spy story with a difference based on real people and events of the time.
Richard Raine is the master of the collier brigantine “The William Thrift” that enters Seaham Harbour in April 1881. Richard could never have imagined the adventure that was to unfold when he sailed out of harbour and the part he would play in maintaining the fragile peace that existed in Queen Victoria’s empire.
The main characters in the book:
Captain Richard Raine:
Richard Raine was born in Sandsend, near Whitby, North Yorkshire in 1841. At the age of 14 he was apprenticed on board a sailing ship and learnt his trade as a seaman on the coastal routes along the east coast of England and Scotland eventually obtaining his first mate's and then his master mariner's certificate of competence. He has been master of the collier brigantine "The William Thrift" for the last five years. Deeply conscious of his responsibilities to his crew he works tirelessly to provide a safe and comfortable environment on board his ship in an age where two out of every one hundred mariners are killed each year at sea. Sailing into Seaham Harbour on census day 1881 he describes harbour life and his usual routine in the town before casting off again the next day. He could never have imagined the adventure that was to begin and the international events into which he would become entangled.
First Mate George Marwick:
George is a giant of a man who commands respect from all who meet him. Born in Orkney, Scotland he has sailed in all manner of sailing ships including the trans-Atlantic routes to the Hudson Bay Company on board square-rigged ships. As first mate on board "The William Thrift" he takes the two young crewmen Billy and Tom under his wing and guides them through the hardships and sometimes terrifying events of life at sea.
Lieutenant Commander Jack Alexander Smith:
Jack Smith, the son of a physician, was born in 1849 in London. Exposed to the numerous uniformed naval officers walking through his home town of Greenwich on the River Thames he knew from an early age that he would go to sea. Always excelling at everything he did at school he entered the Royal Navy as a midshipman at the age of 15 and soon began to shine like a beacon. Promoted to second Lieutenant at the age of twenty he learnt how to get the best out of his men under the guiding hand of Captain Herbert Armstrong on board the frigate HMS Galatea. Not content with the mundane duties of a Royal Naval Officer he sought adventure and danger by volunteering for a new service within the Admiralty - the Naval Intelligence Branch.
Kapitan Ernst Sturm:
As senior intelligence officer for the Imperial German Navy he reports directly to General von Caprivi, Head of the Imperial German Fleet. Ernst Sturm is ruthless and devious and carries out his subversive activities with no concern for the welfare or lives of anyone who gets in his way. He has crossed paths before with Lieutenant Commander Jack Smith and has sworn to his fellow intelligence officers to eliminate him one way or another.
Lord Londonderry, grandson of the 3rd Marquess and founder of Seaham Harbour, portrays the typically flamboyant, fantastically wealthy and over-indulged aristocrat born into a privileged world but what secrets are lurking behind this façade?
Historically accurate in the social and political events of Victorian England this story reveals many twists, turns and surprises. After reading this book the reader will feel as though they had actually been to sea on board a sailing ship.
Settings & Locations
This novel is set in Queen Victoria's reign along the wild east coast of England and Scotland. The British merchant fleet is more than 20,000 ships strong and every coastal town has a strong maritime community. On any day more than 100 sailing ships are anchored off Seaham Harbour waiting their turn to enter port and load with coals.