Under a Yellow Sky
A Tale of the Sea and Coming of Age
Simon J. Hall
Simon Hall went to sea in search of a way of life that he believed was glamorous, adventurous and disciplined, a life where smartly-uniformed men ran ships in a tightly organised manner. At this time the British fleet was still one of the largest in the world and the Red Ensign a common sight in most large ports. In over three years as a Deck Cadet he explored this world and although he uncovered much of the magic of the sea, he also encountered brutality, exploitation, dizzying hard work and frightening bouts of violence. From the rigidity of naval college to the heat and sweat of working as a deck-hand in the South China Sea, the book charts Simon's progress from a naïve and callow school-leaver to a strong young man. On that road he encountered a cast of people that were beyond his wildest imagination. He met the bad: sadists, bullies, madmen; and the sad: alcoholics, prostitutes, drug addicts. And sometimes people so good they diminished him. The author tells of nights so cold the water froze on his hands; of days when the sun was so hot he could hear his skin sizzle and of times when the ship steamed through wild seas that rushed over the deck like boiling foam. With a thread of humour running throughout, he writes of the shipboard camaraderie and the wild jaunts ashore in exotic places. As he tramped around the backwaters of the world, he encountered a rarely-experienced side of life that at times became almost surreal, making this an extremely different travelogue. This is an incisive and colourful commentary of men living and working together in extreme circumstances and a coming-of-age book like no other. Under a Yellow Sky shines a backward light on a world that has now disappeared.