Water Ghosts began, not with a plot or a character, but with a setting – an old junk moored at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor on Oahu. The first time I saw her was after Bob and I had moored, Tahitian style, on Ala Wai’s 800 Row, not long after sailing 2500 nautical miles from Bora Bora. Walking through the harbor to the Hawaii Yacht Club we passed Intrepid Dragon II, a few rows away. Her foredeck was crowded with crates, jerrycans and 50 gallon drums, covered with a blue plastic tarp. She looked more like a floating storage shed in need of a little varnish. But I was intrigued. Very intrigued.
Sometime later I called the number on the flier posted on the piling, expressing my interest in the vessel. The caretaker invited us aboard to give us a tour and tell us about her current mission as the flagship of the China Seas Voyaging Society — a nonprofit whose purpose is educating Americans about Chinese maritime history and the attributes of the ancient junk design. Intrepid Dragon II was built in 1969 in Hong Kong by the Woo-Ying shipyard. Built of Yucal teak, her passenger capacity is roughly fifty persons. Length overall 80′, 18′ at the beam, she draws 8′. The vessel participated in the 1984 Tallship Parade out of Long Beach, California and the following year led the Ancient Mariners Race for nine days, from San Diego to Honolulu.
According to her log books, the Intrepid Dragon II is a likely contender for holding the world’s record for the most recorded circumnavigated miles for a Chinese Junk rigged motor-sailing vessel. Ccurrently home-ported in Honolulu, Hawaii, she has also served as a set on several Hollywood movies and an episode of Hawaii-Five-O.
Still, I found her a little creepy, I don’t know why. As soon as I stepped onto the deck my imagination fired up. My first thought was if this is Intrepid Dragon II, I wonder what happened to Intrepid Dragon I?
And so my interest in Chinese maritime history and fascination with Chinese ghosts began. The resulting novel, a contemporary psychological thriller with historical and paranormal elements, is to be published 2015, by Fiction House, Ltd.
“Water Ghosts” is a spine-chilling tale where fantasy and reality spin out of control and James’s vivid hallucinations are orchestrated by the disturbed and malevolent spirits from a long-forgotten Chinese dynasty” — author Margaret Muir
Cover design by Albert Roberts