The Chronicles of Emelsa

The era is 1790 through to around 1830. "Emelsa" is an independent trading vessel mostly working the ports between the western coast of the Americas (no further north than Mexico), the new colonies of the South Pacific (including the British colonies of New South Wales and New Zealand) obtaining goods mostly from the "East Indies" and South Asia, which brings her crew into conflict with the Dutch and British East India Companies. I am considering exaggerating the "corporatocratic" nature of the era.

The conceit is that I am an investigative historian who has stumbled on references to "Emelsa" and Merande in various diaries and journals, so the tales are episodic and never from the POV of Merande or her core crew. There will be a strong blurring of real historical events and people with my fiction.

The fantasy elements, aside from the female captain and mixed gender and race crew is that Merande can, when the need arises, call a fair wind should the vessel be stuck in a doldrum or calm a bad storm should it threaten to sink them. Her other power is that she can communicate with the creatures of the deep, particularly whales and dolphins but also giant squid. I will be inferring that Merande's mother was from the island of Cthulhu and somehow "related" to the monster in the Lovecraft tale.

As Emelsa is a relatively small vessel, the permanent crew is relatively small. However, there are always temporary or short term crew members who are either working for passage or adventure.

About Emelsa and Merande

Emelsa was built for flight rather than fight, as was her captain.

Merande had learned to walk on the rocking deck of her father's boat, and she had worked as his "cabin boy" from the time she could follow instruction. There is a mystery to Merande's maternity, she was born around 1770 and raised by her father who was also a merchant mariner. Though she was about 25 years old (in 1795), she generally appeared for all the world to be a lad of no more than 15. But make no mistake, her small wiry frame was all muscle and if she had to, she could best a man five times her size, though was savvy enough not to court such encounters.

Merande is fluent in over a dozen languages, including several indigenous languages from the South East Asian and Arafura coasts along with English, Cantonese, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish. When she speaks English, her accent is indistinguishable from an Oxford Scholar and she would seamlessly pass as an "English lady of quality" when the need arised especially when procuring or selling cargo etc. from various colonial outposts.

Emelsa was a sleek little 82 foot schooner, no man-nor woman for that matter-could come before Emelsa in Merande's heart; indeed the boat was both her heart and an extension of her body and if something ailed Emelsa, Merande felt it.

Merande's attitude towards cannon and guns and how she negotiates a cargo shipment

"Why do men always think that defence comes down to who has the biggest weapons? Once a gun had shot its load it's useless till you've time to reload and bloody canons weigh a boat down and make her slow; and that's even before you start taking into account the man power needed to aim and load the damn things! No, I don't need a tonne of guns to keep what's mine safe, nor do I want the pretence of having them, they are nout more than an anchor round your neck and a target on your aft and I and mine will have none of them."

"You want to know what keeps my boat safe safe? Looking defenceless, but being agile and fast. As soon as you make a show of canon, folks are bound to conclude you are either up to mischief or have something worth taking, and I set my safety and fortune in looking as harmless as a babe, and should someone with a nasty intent wish to violate me, well Emelsa can make herself vanish in the blink of an eye; we have the wind and sea on our side. I'll get your goods to their destination surer and faster than anyone else. I have given you my price, pay it or put your trust in one of the companies who will full demand payment upfront regardless of whether your goods reach their destination, there will be no compensation. Also, I am thinking you have an inclination to avoid official ports, do I read you rightly?"

A Meeting on Sweers Island

An account of a meeting between Merande and Matthew Flinders in November 1802.
This tale is available as a chapbook edition from Anne Bonny's Locker

Ballad of Emelsa
A ballad Merande wrote about her first love, namely her ship, the schooner Emelsa


This site requires java script to be enabled for easy navigation