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Meet The Crew

 

Spoiler Alert: This page is intended for people who have already read For Those In Peril On The Sea, and may contain information that spoils your enjoyment of the story if you have not done so yet.

Rob MacGregor: Rob is the narrator of the novel. He is a thirty-nine year old academic dropout who never really achieved what he wanted to.  Disenchanted with his life, when he's offered redundancy, he takes it, cashes in all his assets and starts to sail around the world.  He ends up in Cape Town with damaged boat and takes a delivery job to earn enough money to get it repaired.  The delivery job turns out to be a bit of a nightmare and he really doesn't get on with the other people on the trip. When they reach their destination, they find the world has changed and he is stuck with these people whether he likes it or not. While some people have suggested that Rob is based on the author, he denies this.  Although he has worked as an academic, he is not as washed up as Rob.  Rather, Rob is a composite of certain aspects of many people he has worked with over the years. While Rob's surname is not provided in the book, he does have one.  It gives him a nearly-famous name, one that is close enough to Rob Roy MacGregor, the famous Scottish outlaw (Liam Neeson played him in the 1990s film based on his life) for people to confuse the two, much to his annoyance. One of the reasons Rob dropped out of academia is that he didn't like making decisions that affected other people's futures.  This makes it all the more ironic that he is left in charge of a boat full of people after Bill dies.  This responsibility weighs heavily upon him throughout the book, but eventually he learns to accept it.

Bill Davidson: As with Rob, Bill's surname is never provided in the book, but in the original sketch for this character, he had the surname Davidson. Bill is an experienced sailor and is everybody's best hope of surviving what happens to them. He is the type of person you would always want in charge if you were there when something went wrong.  Bill is an amalgamation of a variety of yacht captains the author has sailed with over the years. In this time, he's been in some tricky situations (including one where the boat he was on ended up being blown onto the shore in a gale), and it has always been the captain that gets them through it in one piece. This is very much the captain's role, to make those decisions that have to be made and to make sure that they are right. Bill's loss dramatically changes the dynamic on the catamaran and thrusts Rob into a position he is very uncomfortable with. Yet without this, the whole narrative of the book would have been too straight-forward and too easy. Sometimes it takes a bit of adversity to make a story better, even if it meant Bill had to die.

Jon: Jon was originally John, but that just didn't seem right. Dropping the h' gave a more archetypical American feel to his name. It was originally the author's girlfriend who suggested he should be a college dropout, and this role worked well. Tweaking this story so that he was a rich kid dropout provided a source of conflict with CJ (another rich kid, but this time a British one). Jon is twenty-four and the author admits that he is very much based on himself at that age. Many older people will recognise this type of person, the type who is young and confident, and thinks he knows how to solve all the world's problems if only people would listen to him. When you're young you think you know it all, it's only once you get older that you realise things are more complicated. Jon learns this throughout the story and eventually grows into someone Rob can rely on. For some reason, Jon never had a surname even in the original notes on the character.

CJ: CJ is the only individual character who's surname is given in the book. This is because CJ is a shortening for Camilla Jamieson. At nineteen and having had a privileged upbringing, CJ is inexperienced with the world. Her gap year is meant to be providing her with this experience. When she meets Bill on a charter boat before the start of the novel, he takes her under his wing. There is the suggestion that Bill treats her as the daughter he never had, or possibly even grand-daughter. CJ is the character that grows the most throughout the book and was also the one that gave the author the most problems. Being a middle-aged male, he readily admits he had problems accurately portraying a teenage girl. CJ is loosely based on a type of girl that he has encountered often throughout his life, often when they are taking their first steps into the world on their own. Quite frequently, this is the first time they find that not only do they have to work for the respect of others, but that they are not always treated nicely, even if they deserve it. Both Jon and Rob take CJ for granted at first, but in the end both come to respect her. CJ and Jon eventually get together, but only after Jon grows up enough to stop despising her and start treating her like a real person. This is change is portrayed in the book when Jon shifts from calling her Cammy, which annoys her, to calling her CJ as she prefers.

Jack: Jack is, in many ways, a replacement for Bill, but he differs from Bill in his relationship to Rob. On the catamaran, Rob is second in command to Bill, but Jack treats Rob as an equal since by the time they meet Rob has become the captain of the catamaran.  The relationship between Jack and Rob represents a shift within Rob's character, changing him from a follower to a leader. While he resists this change at first, he grows into it by the end of the book. While Jack is not based on any specific individual, he is easily recognisable in many communities. He is the one that everyone looks up to even though he doesn't ever try to place himself in this position. This is the main characteristic that separates him from David. David demands that people obey him, while Jack earns their trust and respect.

David: David is another character that never had a surname even within the original notes for the novel. He is also one of the characters that changed the most from the original drafts of the novel. He started off as a completely unlikeable sociopath that was way too two dimensional. However, in the final novel his character was changed quite substantially. By providing David with a bit more of a back-story than originally planned and in making him a bit more enigmatic, he became more three dimensional. In addition, in many ways David is the Cassandra of the story. He is the only one who sees the real reason as to why living on boats is not a viable long term survival option, its just that he has a very poor way of persuading people to share his point of view. It also happens that he has it slightly wrong, something that Rob realises on his own by the end of the book.

Andrew: Andrew is the only local Abaconian (as people from the Abacos are known it is also the name of the local newspaper) in the book. He provides Rob and the others with an introduction to life in Abacos, including where to fish for tuna. He has a pathological fear of sharks which leads to him making a snap decision on a dock that results in Jon's death. While it is never clearly stated in the book, it could be inferred that he is black (as pictured here), making him part of the ethnic majority in the Abacos. However, this may not be the case and the author was specifically ambiguous on this issue.

Dan, Kathy And The McGann Family: Dan and his family are, in many ways, your typical sailing family. They have young kids that are happy to mix with new people in new environments. As with many such cases, the situation starts to unravel when the oldest kid starts moving towards their teenage years. This is the time they start to need a stable social group and other kids their own age to mix with.  In the changed world of For Those In Peril On The Sea, this leads to Jeff sneaking out one night to see one of the only girls left of a similar age, and from there, to the death of his family. This is a prime example of the law of unintended consequences. Small actions and decisions can have big unexpected consequences, especially when there are infected around. On a side note, the McGann's boat is the only one where the name is mentioned within the book, all others are described either by their type (such as the catamaran) or their make (such as David's Morgan Out Island). This name is that of the yacht the author lived on in his later years in the Abacos.

Mike and Jimmy: Mike and Jimmy remain relatively undeveloped characters. Their age is provided along with a rough description. Beyond that little information is provided about them. As a reader, you know that they have been through hell before they meet up with the crew of the catamaran but they remain fairly enigmatic throughout the book.

 

 
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Last modified: 03/14/14