I'm currently writing a prequel novella for my Georgia Pattison series and I hope to publish this story, Whistles After Dark and the first two books of the series at some point this year. In researching for this story, set in Whitby, I became interested in the trawling fleets of the Yorkshire coast of the UK.
Some years ago, I sang at St Johns church, Newington, Hull when the bell of the lost trawler Gaul was consecrated. In the church were a series of books of radio messages from the trawler fleet. In 1968, Hull had a triple trawler tragedy when, in the space of a few weeks, the St Romanus, Kingston Peridot and Ross Cleveland all foundered in heavy seas and horrendous gales with the loss of 58 lives. The youngest lad on the Ross Cleveland was just fifteen years old.
When I came to write Whistles After Dark, I remembered reading those reports and looked up the details again. As with most stories, the trawler connection is only a tiny tiny part of the story I am writing, but this was one of those times when the research affected me so much I sat and cried. Weeks later I am still emotional about it and when you read the next paragraph, I defy you not to be similarly upset.
The skipper of the Ross Cleveland, Phil Gay sent the following message.
"I am going over. We are laying over. Help me. I am going over. Give my love and the crew's love to the wives and families."
The ship was icing up faster than the crew could knock it off. The seas were mountainous. One man survived and that in itself is a miracle. If you want to see just what these small ships go through to bring us fish for our chips, then look at the pictures here:
One day, I am going to write a full-length novel about these brave men. Once I've finished Whistles After Dark and the two other books in the pipeline. Once I can be objective about it.