Short Story The Sea Witch. An intro.,

Legend:

ON SCREEN: – SINGAPORE 1751 (the text on screen)

A drunken European sailor is being robbed in a dark alley by two thieves who pull an old, torn sea chart from his jacket’s inside pocket.

CLOSE: Camera close up DEL GELDERMASLEM  is scratched on the parchment.

The thieves run off leaving the sailor gasping for his life.

22.7.94/96

Outline for Children’s Story    12,000 word

Title:         THE SEA WITCH or THE SEA VIXEN

Period:     Present

Location     West Australian Coast Town-Fremantle.

Characters      2 Boys/girls-here as boys aged 10 & 12, a 10-year old Tomboy

Retired Grumpy old Sea Dog: Nester Grimes (Bill Kerr)

Ex-sea mate of Nester: Jim Forbes

EXT. A GALLEON – AT SEA – NIGHT – FEBRUARY 1752 Scene

Action in this scene

A Galleon in the grip of a cyclone is being smashed to bits on a coral reef, off the northern coast of West Australia.  Sharks circle below the surface as a plank of wood bearing the lettering DEL GELDERMASLEM is tossed towards the shore.

EXT. SWAN RIVER CREEK – DAY – PRESENT TIME

Three siblings, AMANDA, 12, CHRIS, 10 and SAM, 8 stands on a sandy ledge looking at a large beached boat.

AMANDA Characters

Who’s can it do you think?  And how did it get here? Character dialogue

CHRIS I dunno, funny looking boat.

SAM Looks empty to me, look how dirty it is too, all covered in dust and dirt, yuck!

AMANDA The question is, who’s is it?

CHRIS Dunno, how we going to find out?  And, how are we gonna have a swim?

AMANDA Oh Chris don’t be a twit, this is serious stuff.  I vote we go aboard and have a look.  It just may be someone’s on it, inured…

CHRIS (Interrupting) P’raps there’s a reward.

AMANDA For what

CHRIS I dunno.

SAM So what are we gonna do?

AMANDA I’m going to have a look in case someone needs our help.  You go first, Chris.

She eases him forward as she smiles.

CHRIS Not me, you’re the eldest, you always take charge, so don’t pick on me!

Amanda leans over and jumps on the deck.  Suddenly a wind swirls up the creek sucking up leaves and dust.  All three cover their eyes.

AMANDA Never had a ‘willy-willy’ here before!  See, I told you it was O.K.  Now come on and let’s have a look, it won’t take long, then we can have our swim, before it gets too hot.

SAM I’ve got goose pimples all over my arms, look.

AMANDA You’re always cold Sam, even when it’s a hundred degrees.

CHRIS Well, I’ve got ‘em as well, and I’m not always cold.

AMANDA Are you two coming?  Or do I collect all the reward myself?

All appear a little nervous.

AMANDA Chris and Sam go that way, I’ll go the other way and we’ll meet up here O.K.?

CHRIS You go that way, and we’ll go this one.

AMANDA Chris, it doesn’t matter which way, your way is near the bank, I thought it would be better for you.  You can jump off quickly if you want to!

CHRIS O.K. Then, we’ll go that way.

AMANDA You are in one of your ‘know-all moods again’, so you take charge.

CHRIS This is just like a war boat picture hanging on the wall in Nester’s den.

AMANDA What war?  You said you’d seen it in one of Dad’s books.

CHRIS Dunno, but Nester will.

AMAND Come on you two breathe on this windscreen and rub so we can see inside.

Being the smallest, Sam cannot reach, so she looks for a door, finds one, and goes in.

CHRIS How did you get in there?

With her face against the Perspex she looks out, points to the entrance.

AMANDA Crumbs, no one’s been in here for a long long time, that’s for sure.

CHRIS It stinks, watches out for the Red-Backs you two, they’re all over the place, it feels ghostly to me.

SAM How would you know?  Ever seen a ghost? (pulls on a drawer) Can one of you help me with this drawer!

AMANDA Chris give us a tug, we can’t open it.

All three manage to finally open it.

SAM Just look at these dusty old brown faded charts, I can hardly read the writing.

CHRIS Oh come off it Sam, you can’t read properly anyway.

AMANDA Pack it up you two.  I’ve already had enough.  )She rolls up a pile of charts)  Come on, let’s see if Nester’s home.

INT. NESTER’S DEN – DAY

60-year-old Nester, magnifying glass in hand is poring over the charts scattered across his bench.

NESTER You three sure this isn’t another one of your pranks?

SAM I found them Nester, so if there’s a reward I bags it first so there.

CHRIS But it was me who pulled the drawer open!

AMANDA Oh come on Chris, you didn’t want to get your hands dirty.  Don’t take any notice of them Nester, it was all three of us, so there.

SAM Are they any good, Nester?

NESTER Looks authentic to me Sam, why don’t we have a look at this ‘ere boat.  In your creek you say.  Come on, jump in the Ute and we’ll go and give it a couple of coats of looking at…

CHRIS A couple of coats of what?

NESTER Come on Chris wake up, it’s eight o’clock already.  You staying Coop (his German Shepherd) you can cool off in the river.

SAM Come on Coop, you can sit on my lap.

EXT. SWAN RIVER CREEK – DAY

All stand alongside the boat, Nester looks dumbfounded.

AMANDA Well, what do you think?

NESTER Heavens to Murgatroyd.

SAM Who’s he?

AMANDA Oh, Sam shut up, can’t you see Nester’s thinking.

NESTER This is unreal, a World War II M.T.B.

CHRIS Oh come on Nester, don’t get all technical, what’s an M.T.B..?

NESTER Motor Torpedo Boat, it has to be fifty years old, but this one looks in good nick to me.

CHRIS It’s filthy Nester.

NESTER The hull looks sound and watertight.  I mean, if it wasn’t it would have sunk now, wouldn’t it?  But she’s floating, with no lists so it must be in ship shape.  At the end of the day, it must belong to someone.  In the meantime, we cannot do any harm so let’s have a decko.  I Captained one of these back int World War II, patrolling the coasts around the top end.  (He scans the boat)  Hold on a minute, there’s a newish brass plate down there.  Let’s see if I can make out the name.

Lying down on the bank Nester leans over and wipes the plate.

NESTER ‘The Sea Witch’.  (he gets up)  What a good name to give her. That brass plate’s less than ten years old.  Let’s see if we can find the owner’s name in the cabin somewhere.  Come on, follow me.

INT. CABIN – SAME TIME

SAM What do you think Nester?

NESTER Someone’s spent a lot of time and cash on the Witch, she’s in great order.  (All rummage through drawers).  Does anyone find anything? … Chris be a pal and get my mobile, I’ll ring my mate at Freo.  Harbor ‘cause that’s where she’ll be registered.

INT. HARBOR MASTER’S OFFICE – DAY

We see FRANK, the Harbor Master scanning his computer screen, phone in hand talking to Nester.

FRANK Nothin’ Nester, I tell yeah.  Are you sure she’s an M.T.B.?

NESTER (FILTERED) Listen, after four years on one, I should know one when I see one.

FRANK O.K. Mate, keep your shirt on, I only asked.  Apparently, there is some info here.  It says there were two M.T.B.s In the Australian Navy, and after the war, they were sold.  Don’t say to whom or where mate, that’s all the info we got sorry.

NESTER (FILTERED) How about missing boats, maybe the owner didn’t know she was an M.T.B.

FRANK

Give us a break Nester, I got a pile of people waiting, so leave it with me, give us a ring later about five, G’day.

INT. SEA WITCH – DAY Nester closes his mobile, wry look on his face.

AMANDA Can we keep it?

NESTER Well, kids, she doesn’t have a registered owner, no boats are missing, at least not in the last ten years.  It’s a complete mystery  Tell you what, you carry on up ‘ere, I’ll have a look down below in the engine room.  Take care of those charts they are brittle and the lettering’s faded.

CHRIS Can I come?

NESTER Sure, come on Christ, watch your step!

INT. ENGINE ROOM – DAY We see Nester and Chris.

CHRIS Smells down here, puh!

NESTER Bit stuffy Chris needs a good clean up, and a spit and polish, she’s a good engine mate, a Rolls.  I reckon this has been re-built, and whoever did it knew what they were doing.  I got a feeling she’ll fire up the first time.  But let’s not get too excited, someone owns the Witch.  (They look around the compact room_  Watch your clothes, otherwise, I’ll have your um onto me, come on let’s get some fresh air.

INT. BACK IN THE CABIN – DAY

Amanda is puzzling over a chart.

AMANDA This chart says East INDIAMAN, THE DEL GELDERMASLEM, what on earth is that?

NESTER They were old sailing boats like the one Captain Cook sailed to Australia centuries ago.  But that’s a Dutch name, so she came from Holland.  Well let’s take ‘em and I’ll have a look over them tonight.  In the meantime, let’s keep The Sea Witch a secret, O.K.?

INT. NESTER’S DEN – DAY Nester is talking to Frank, the Harbour-Master, on his mobile.

NESTER Frank, it’s me Nester, any news?

FRANK (FILTERED) Yes and no.

NESTER What the heck does that mean?

FRANK (FILTERED) It means your Sea Witch boat doesn’t exist.  It’s never been registered anywhere in Australia, I’ve even checked with Canberra.  Which means, there ain’t any owners, officially, but there could be unofficially.  So there you go mate, she’s all yours, why don’t you come on down and register her?  You have to put a notice in the paper, and see what happens.

NESTER Sure thing Frank.  I’ll get down first thing tomorrow morning.

FRANK It’ll cost you a hundred bucks.Fremantle, Perth, Ningaloo,

EXT. LIGHTED PATIO – AMANDA’S HOME – NIGHT

PAT, Amanda’s mother, and DAN her father are sitting on the lighted patio talking to Nester.

DAN Tell you what Nester, register it in Amanda’s, Chris and Sam’s names.  You take care of running it, getting her ship-shape, I’ll finance any repairs, providing it isn’t gonna cost a fortune.  You find out about this Del … what’s its name, and we’ll take it from there, what do you say?

NESTER Sounds good to me Dan, I’ll be off and see you later then.  Apparently, I’ve got to put a notice in a National paper announcing the Sea Witch has been found, and that anyone claiming her contact the Fremantle Harbor Master.  And, if no one claims her, the nippers’ claims have to be filed within twenty-eight days.  I’ve got a mate who’ll let me berth her in Freo Harbor.  So I’ll get her going tomorrow and take her down there.  I’m sure the three nippers will ant to come, so will that be all right?

PAT Sure, Nester, they’re all good swimmers.  Good night.

EXT. FREMANTLE HARBOR – DAY

We see Nester, Coop and the three kids on board.  They spend all day cleaning the boat.

NESTER Well you three, you’re the proud owners of the best boat in W.A. Make no mistake about it, she’s a cracker.  So what do you say we get to some spit and polish work.

EXT. ALONGSIDE THE BOAT – DAY

Dan has come to fetch the kids.

AMANDA Nester, Dad’s here.

She waves as her father comes on board and looks around.

DAN How’s it going?

NESTER

Good, we’ll give her a run over to Rottnest on Sunday and see what she’s capable of.

DAN

Can’t make it, we’re off to Exmouth for a long weekend, business with pleasure.  So we’ll see you next week?

NESTER O.K.  Think I might stay here tonight so as to get an early start.  See ya!

INT. BOAT – NIGHT

Nester is sleeping in a bunk.  Coop is asleep at his side on the floor. Suddenly he yelps and dives under the bunk.

NESTER Quiet Coop!  For goodness sake, what the hell’s the matter with you, it’s 3 o’clock in the morning!

He tosses and turns unable to get back to sleep.

NESTER Well, I might as well get up and make a cuppa, and sit on the deck, it’ll be light at this hour.

EXT. REAR END OF BOAT – NIGHT

We see Nester sitting on a deck chair, and suddenly, startled, jump up spilling his tea.

NESTER What the blazes is that?  Who’s there?  What’d’ ya want?

Nester’s mouth drops as he sees a tall, bearded, hatless figure, dressed in a WWII navy uniform standing.

NESTER

Cor mate, you put the wind up me turning up unannounced like that.

Nester squints to see the figure better.

ADMIRAL CABLE Forgive me, Captain, I didn’t mean to startle you like that.  I keep forgetting I am not like you anymore, one of the many hazards of being a ghost.  Permit me to introduce myself, Admiral Cable, ex-Royal Navy, and ex-the-human race.  (He puts his hand out to shake hands) Blast, cannot do that either.  See what I mean?

NESTER A ghost, a real ghost?

ADMIRAL CABLE Well, I suppose if you put it that way, yes, a real ghost, or an unreal one depending on your viewpoint.  I hate being one really, the word ghost has an evil tone about it don’t you think?  Your dog obviously knows the difference.  I see you’re making a fine job of the old tub.  She’s in good hands.

NESTER As an ex-navy man, do I call you mister or sir?

ADMIRAL CABLE Well, both being ex-navy, how about if we stick to those if you’ve no objection.

NESTER

Captain Nester Grimes, ex-Royal Australian Navy sir.  Welcome aboard.

Snaps a salute.

ADMIRAL CABLE Admiral Sir James Cable ex-Royal Navy.  Delighted to make your acquaintance Captain.  (returns salute) Had a chance to have a look over the charts?

NESTER You, of course, only a navy man could have… I should have twigged it.  (Laughs)

ADMIRAL CABLE Spent all my retirement, when Mrs. C and I decided to settle here, searching for the Galleon, all authentic stuff you know.  It’s simply a matter of time.  There’s a fortune out there beneath the waves.  A Pandora’s box along this state’s reef ringed coastline.  If you care to follow my charts… come on, I’ll show you, are they still in here?

INT. CABIN – NIGHT

They both walk into the cabin and cable begins sorting his charts.

ADMIRAL CABLE Let’s see, which ones are they… ah here we are…

NESTER Excuse me Admiral, but how did the Sea Witch get into that creek and who owns her?

ADMIRAL CABLE Ah, forgive me again Captain, all very confusing for you.  Lady Cable owns the Witch, unfortunately, I never registered her.  She was moored in a large building I built at the bottom of our garden in Peppermint Grove, which backs onto the river.  So she never put to sea as it were.  At least not until I dropped her off at the creek where the children found her.  And where I gambled they would tell you, one of the few times a bet paid off.

NESTER But we registered her in the nippers’ names.

ADMIRAL CABLE We bought her from the Australian Navy, they sold the few they had.  I was at that time seconded to your navy, so I got in first.  I replaced the old engine and dropped in a Spitfire Griffon engine, one that had hardly been used.  So she should go like a bomb.  Unfortunately, I ran out of cash, hence she was never completed.  Took me forty-three years all told.  We did, Lady C and I, get to Ningaloo reef once, and all the locations I’ve marked on the charts.  Then I kicked the bucket in my sleep one night.  Still, eighty-four is a good innings.

NESTER, This is not the first time you’ve been aboard Admiral, is it?

ADMIRAL CABLE (Chuckling) Gracious no.  Been keeping an eye on things, looking over your shoulder literally.  Soon realized you knew what you were doing, but I had checked you out first, of course, ensuring the Sea With, came into good hands.  So how did you know I’d been looking around?

NESTER The charts, I’d leave them in a certain order, and the next day they were different.

ADMIRAL CABLE I was trying to steer you in the right direction, there are seventy in total, and I believed it would save you considerable time if I placed the important ones on top.  I never numbered them in case they fell into the wrong hands, and trying to sort them out would frustrate the most patient man.  Some, in fact, are completely useless. Oh, dear Captain, it’ll be dawn shortly so I must be off, until next time.  Good day to you.

There is a swish of chilled air and Nester is alone.

EXT. ON BOARD THE SEA WITCH – DAY

JIM FORBES stands alongside the boat and calls out.

JIM FORBES Hello!  Anyone aboard? He whistles attracting Nester onto the deck from down below.

NESTER (Smiling in greeting) Jim Forbes, I don’t believe it, after nearly fifty years.  You’re looking fir and well, where have you been and what brings you here?  Come on, this calls for some wine, I got some here somewhere.

JIM FORBES You look pretty good yourself, I’ve been living in New Zealand and decided to come and see what’s happened to Fremantle and Perth.  I thought you might still be around, and the Harbor Master pointed me this way.

Time passes JIM FORBES … we all know this coast is battered by the tropical cyclones and no-one survives them if they get caught at sea.  One hundred and sixty miles an hour winds with all those reefs up there isn’t for the faint-hearted Nester, it’s suicide.  Even these supertankers have disappeared without a trace. So how long will you be away?

NESTER Three to four months.

JIM FORBES Cutting it pretty close, if the season kicks in early as the experts think, you’ll be stuck up there for another couple of months.

NESTER Look Jim, if you’ve got nothing going on, why not come along, you never know you may be tempted to have a dive.  I take it you still do?

JIM FORBES Sure, been running a diving school back home now for twenty years.  But that place is full of sharks and saltwater crocs.  It’ll have to be worth my while, just what’s your interest in this lot?

NESTER Ever heard of the Del Geldermaslem

JIM FORBES Can’t say I have.

NESTER How about the Naking Cargo?

JIM FORBES Give us a break, never been one for history.

NESTER The records say she floundered off the Philippines, simply because that was her last reported position according to records in the Dutch East India Company’s office in Rotterdam.

JIM FORBES Hold on a minute, are you telling me you’ve been to Rotterdam?

NESTER No, I’ll get to that part later.  Anyway, she should have docked at Rotterdam in November 1751.  So by February 1752 she was long overdue and the owners were concerned for their 350-ton barque which had disappeared off the face of the planet.

JIM FORBES A cyclone I suppose?

NESTER Yes, but before that, her Captain sent a sealed message to the bosses back in Rotterdam, via another one of their ships….’That he is after a Spanish treasure galleon near the Philippines.’ When he gets there and steals the treasure, several other Spanish galleons give chase.  He outruns them, gets lost and ends up down the WA coast as the cyclone season’s hitting top gear.  So, imagine a tranquil February afternoon under a blazing sun.  With the breeze promising a gentle passage on the Leuwin current, the Captain hauls in some sail as the old oak creaks under the strain as she raced south.  By late afternoon the seas deteriorate as an unseen cyclone rapidly strengthens a thousand miles further north.  Within sight of land, waves begin crashing over her decks.  Blackening skies above, uncharted coral reefs below, her fate was sealed.

JIM FORBES You should have been a writer after that graphic description. So what was she carrying in her black infested hold?

NESTER This ‘Nanking Cargo’ consisted of 220 gold ingots, each weighing 25 pounds.  Over 180,000 pieces of Chinese blue-white porcelain.  A treasure trove of uncut Emeralds and Gold rings.  Dozens of sea chests crammed with 24-carat gold pieces.  1000 bars of silver, gold platters, and rosaries.  Estimated today’s value over 300 million US dollars.

JIM FORBES Do you mean all this is recorded?

NESTER Sure is, they were pretty meticulous about such matters in those days.  She’s out there waitin’ for any man with guts and a little luck.

JIM FORBES So where did all this information come from, and how did you get hold of it?

NESTER If I tell you-you’re not going to believe me Jim.

JIM FORBES Why?

NESTER It came from An English Admiral.

JIM FORBES So why doesn’t he go after it?

NESTER He can’t.

JIM FORBES Why not?  He’s got this far.

NESTER He’s dead.

JIM FORBES That does put the mockers on it rather, so what happens next?  You’re going to tell me he’s been in touch.

He looks like he believes Nester has flipped.

NESTER You don’t believe me?

JIM FORBES You could say that.

NESTER He’ll be along tonight, if you hang around I’ll introduce you to this great charismatic person.

JIM FORBES Are you saying to a ghost?

Nester nods and smiles.

JIM FORBES That’ll be a first for me.  In the meantime, Ningaloo Reef is nearly a thousand miles north, if I am going to do your diving, I’ll need some gear, get all the gear tomorrow, how about the family who owns the boat?

NESTER If we strike it rich, she’s mine.

JIM FORBES What about this fortune.

NESTER The Shears family and Lady Cable get 10% of the salvage value each.  There’ll be a half million in it for you and I get a million.  The Dutch and our state government split the rest.

JIM FORBES So what’s your program?

NESTER We crank up the engine in four days and steer to Ningaloo Reef. In the meantime get all the provisions, the equipment we’re going to need, any item after that we get flown into Exmouth.  The government are funding it, I gave them a shopping list last week, which included four sets of diving gear, so you don’t have to get anything.  They insist any divers have medical, and that’s about the lot.  We have to preserve the wrecks, so the government can lift whatever remains of the ship.

EXT. BOAT – NIGHT

Nester and Jim sit talking, waiting for the Admiral who suddenly materializes before them.

NESTER Bang on time again Admiral, I can set my watch by you.  Like you to meet another ex-navy man, Jim Forbes.  He’d like to come along, and his experience would be useful, but if all seems a bit far fetched for him if you get my drift.

ADMIRAL CABLE Not surprised to hear it in the circumstances must appear to come from a scriptwriter’s pen.  So where were you in the Navy?

JIM FORBES On demolition and diving work all over the place.  Then in ‘44, they sent me here, and that’s where I met Nester.  We spent a glorious time along the north coast waiting for the Jap invasion.  When it finished I had a look at New Zealand and I’m still there.  It’s pure luck I came here to have a look at the place and wondered if Nester was still alive and kicking.  Now I’m on the team as a chief diver!

ADMIRAL CABLE What a stroke of luck.  I know Nester was feeling down as the men he’d interviewed for the diving was not up to par, and obviously, it’s beyond me.

NESTER Can you run over the details on how you came by all this info?

ADMIRAL CABLE Yes I understand, it may seem more than a trifle suspect.  I suppose it started with getting my hands on the boat, plus an interest in sunken treasure along this coast.  The plundering that went on centuries ago around the Philippines is well documented providing you know where to look and what you’re looking for.  More wrecks are unaccounted for than have been discovered, I simply have a gut feeling more than one ended up off our coast.  I know if I had been a Captain and were being chased I’d have taken the quickest escape route, and as the trade wind blows from the Philippines south to Australia I’d have hitched a lift.  But Australia wasn’t on any maps in those days, neither were the reefs.  Toss in the cyclone season and getting back on course for the Captain was virtually impossible.

JIM FORBES So how about this particular Dutch galleon?

ADMIRAL CABLE All guesswork, apart from the dates, which I know are accurate, and that the incident took place in February 1752, a date worked out from her last known docking position, and the Captain’s message advising his bosses in Rotterdam he was going after a Spanish galleon.  He didn’t mention its name for security reasons I believe.  And according to the Spanish records in Madrid they had six galleons around the Philippines late in 1751. But the time lapse from her voyage through south China and the Java seas would have placed her on, near the Tropic of Cancer in mid cyclone season.  This, together with the Leuwin current belting down this coast meant she, and others for that matter, we’re doomed.

JIM FORBES But Admiral, there could be ten food of sand covering over it now.

ADMIRAL CABLE True Jim, but it’s only sand.  What is certain, however, her bounty has never been recovered, not a single coin, piece of gold, jewelry, any ingots, gold or silver.  Had the Spaniards reclaimed their stolen cargo, which they had stolen, it would have shown up in their records, but it doesn’t.  So it’s out there somewhere.  Unfortunately, it is probably scattered across a large area of shark-infested waters, where strong currents sweep south for several months of the year.  When it doesn’t the coral spawning attracts Whale Sharks, Manta Rays and Bronze Whalers gathering to feed on this annual larder feast.  So nothing is certain, except to say, I really wouldn’t have gone to all this confounded trouble, breaking me financially in the bargain, if I did not feel it worthwhile.

JIM FORBES I understand Admiral, so why Ningaloo Reef?

ADMIRAL CABLE Good question, Jim.  It’s really down to this Captain knowing his business, again according to records and their choices of Captain selection.  The Dutch would never send a valuable galleon to plunder anything the Captain could find unless he was worth his salt.  Like it or not the Dutch were formidable sailors and no fools.  Knowing that, and then placing myself in his shoes, one should arrive at a reasonably accurate conclusion.  And, according to the oldest charts int the WA Museum, it was the only large existing reef at that time.  Added to which the winds and currents would fetch up any ship at that point on the coast, and not north of it.  In other words, a ship approaches the coast at an angle, or about ten-o-clock.  That’s of course why nature or rather the coral chose that spot, plenty of food.  It’s smack in the middle of a mighty current junction. The secret is where the Del Geldermaslem start breaking up?

JIM FORBES That’s quite a story Admiral, so how long did all this research take?

ADMIRAL CABLE Over thirty years, probably nearer forty I suppose, and it must have cost us, Lady C and I that is, oh, I don’t know, about eighty thousand pounds.  But treasure hunting’s always been a perilous, often nasty enterprise.  Every time a storm goes through treasure disperses and strong currents drop another layer of sand over everything and plus coral growth so it becomes a game of chance.  I might surprise you to know the Spanish were the world’s largest treasure plunderers and over half of their spoils never arrived back in Spain.  And unbelievably out of fifteen of the world’s most valuable wrecks the bounty ranges from just two million dollars to nine billion.

NESTER Let’s not forget the reef is stall largely unexplored because of its inhabitants and the currents.

JIM FORBES Diving on it will not be that easy, but how did you convince the WA government?  I mean the Admiral can hardly attend meetings.

ADMIRAL CABLE Lady C is a clued up as I am, and a very convincing talker, wouldn’t you say Nester?  No one knows just where these wrecks started to break up, but I don’t think I am that far adrift.

NESTER She had them baffled, any question they asked believing it would trip her up she answered without missing a beat.  It was an Oscar performance.

ADMIRAL CABLE Mind you, we made an evening meeting, so I could be on hand as it were, just in case.

EXT. NINGALOO REED – DUSK

We see the Sea Witch cruising over the reef.

NESTER That’s it, everyone, we’ll drop anchor here, rustle up some grub, have a drink and relax.

LADY C. I don’t suppose I can tempt you with some more fish?

NESTER Well, that makes a change, we’ve not had any since, ooh I don’t know, when was it, Jim?

JIM FORBES Lunch and breakfast.

LADY C. Yes but this will not taste the same, reef fish is acknowledged as the finest tasting available.  How about I grill it for a change?

NESTER Isn’t that how you cooked it, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday…

LADY C. Well, you must have enjoyed it, but I get the message, come on Amanda we’ll manage something.  Pull in the lines, and let’s see what we can offer the men.

We see Amanda straining to land her catch.

AMANDA Crumbs, look at that, it’s a monster.  What sort is it?

LADY C. Spanish Mackerel, there you are, just look at this specimen.  Perfect for grilling  (laughs).

NESTER Just look at that Jim, nothing like it anywhere.  The balmy atmosphere, tangy smell about it, calm sapphire seas.  I wonder where she cracked up.  I suppose if any of them made it ashore, after a week they’d have died from starvation and thirst, poor devils.

JIM FORBES  You can feel the excitement building now the prospect of finding a three hundred and fifty-year-old galleon, and that fortune.

NESTER Well, we’ve got a couple of months before the cyclones arrive, it’s December the fourth, over a hundred each day.  Be great to have Christmas up here.  In fact, I’ve only been back here a couple of times since the war.

INT. BOAT GALLEY – DUSK

AMANDA Do you reckon we’ll strike lucky Lady C?

LADY C. Yes, I do funnily enough.  James is convinced the galleon’s around here somewhere, and it seems strange no-one has ever found her or the treasure.

AMANDA But just suppose the Captain decided to pinch it himself, and sail to a place where they couldn’t find him, then sink the ship.

LADY C. But that would require help, which can only have come from members of the crew and as many had wives and children back in Holland, in spite of the idea of being rich, it would have faded fast in a foreign country.  So eventually some would have made it back to Holland and talked.  Apart from which they would have been deserters who stole a Dutch naval ship.  A fate punishable by death, or at the very least, life imprisonment.  So you see my dear, it’s most unlikely that’s what happened.  You remember what happened to the sailors from the Bounty, they were eventually discovered.  Anyway, it doesn’t help our cause.  So what about his fish, let’s grill it, and we’ll tell them we fried it for a change.  (laughs)

EXT. ON BOARD – NIGHT

We see the crew sitting on the deck.

ADMIRAL CABLE Hello everyone, good to see you all looking happy.  So what’s your plan Nester?

NESTER Good evening Admiral.  The first item on the agenda is to get something else to eat other than fish.  Since leaving Freo we’ve had fish cooked every way possible, at least six times.  So I’ve found my prawn net, and it’s over the side right now.

AMANDA But we’ll get fed up with those too.

NESTER Not as fast as a fish young lady.

ADMIRAL CABLE Assuming you’ve managed to sort out the menu arrangements.

NESTERJim and I will start at dawn as you suggested about the mid reef.  We’ll chart the area so we don’t cover it twice.  You know the visibility up here is incredible.  Then as you mentioned, it’s down to luck.

ADMIRAL CABLE She carried large cannons, they may just be poking out somewhere.

JIM FORBESHow many did she have Admiral?

ADMIRAL CABLE Thirty-two, plus plenty of shot.  A huge anchor, so she was very low in the water.  She tipped the scales empty at 350 tons, most of those ships carried another fifty-tons at least in provisions and the like.

JIM FORBES So with the treasure adding several more, she would have been low and easily swamped in a storm.  Let’s hope she made it this far before the first cyclone struck.

ADMIRAL CABLE Yes, let’s.

EXT. ON BOARD – DAY Nester and Jim are ready to go over the side as everyone watches.

LADY C., As usual, the weather’s perfect, flat and clear.  Time check five-ten, we’ll see you in sixty minutes, unless you strike it rich.  Good luck!

Jim taps Nester’s shoulder, he nods, they jump.  Their Hi-tech equipment allows communication between the two divers and the boat while under water.

JIM FORBES One, two, three over.

LADY C. Loud and clear, good hunting, over.

JIM FORBES Let’s go, Nester, keep eyeball contact.

NESTER It’s always scary on your first dive in a new location.

JIM FORBES Even more so with these sharks around.

NESTER It’s the salties I worry about, and the Ghostly assassin.

JIM FORBES Oh yeah, and who might he be?

NESTER Box Jellyfish.

JIM FORBES Do you know I’d forgotten about them, we don’t get ‘em back home.

NESTER Current’s getting stronger the deeper we go.

The coral reef comes into view.

JIM FORBES Yeah, I reckon we’ll turn here, head north that way.  Twenty feet apart, good luck.

NESTER Jim, we got company already, off to your right, about thirty feet.  That haunting shape.

He points at a shark.

JIM FORBES The man in the grey suit.

NESTER In what

JIM FORBES

The Kiwis’ name for the undertaker.  Close up to ten feet. He don’t look hungry.

NESTER Every shark looks hungry.

JIM FORBES We’ve got the stunners, keep an eye on him.

TIME PASSES

JIM FORBES See, I told you he wasn’t hungry.  See anything yet?

NESTER No, surely the tallest coral growths are the oldest, in which case we should look around those first.  What do you think?

JIM FORBES Sounds reasonable, there’s a large crop coming up, off to our left.  Let’s give it a try.

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