Book inspired by Berrimilla’s voyages

  Alone on a wide wide sea,
by Michael Morpurgo
A book based on Berrimilla’s travels – purely fictional, but using the logs and an interesting take on the whole adventure.

Introduction: Arthur and Allie

Stories evolve. I had wanted to write about the orphaned and unwanted children who were packed off to Australia after World War 2 ever since I first heard about them. The frame for Arthur’s story was relatively easy but I needed an idea to round it off and involve all those who were left behind. I wanted to develop the themes of hope and resilience and redemption and make them interesting for children of the space age.

I first heard about Alex and Pete and Berrimilla from Alex’s sister Isabella and her husband Graham who have been my friends for a long time. I was fascinated and inspired by Berrimilla’s voyage and particularly by their conversations with Leroy Chiao in the International Space Station. I wondered whether I could use their story to bring Arthur home and I wrote an outline for my publisher in which ‘Allie’ was a boy and was lost at sea and Arthur sailed off to find him. My editor suggested that it might work better if I changed things around a bit and I was working on a new draft when Berrimilla arrived in England.

When they reached England in 2005, we all had dinner together and I asked Alex whether I could use his logs and Berrimilla’s voyage as props for my story. Alex agreed and offered to check the sailing references so I sent him the new draft for comment and correction. Alex modified my Australian slang, suggested the correct route for Arthur’s voyage and gave me all Berrimilla’s navigation co-ordinates for Allie’s journey. He also suggested that Allie should be a girl. My publisher asked him to draw Berrimilla for the book and Kitty 4 was born and Allie became herself.

See Michael Morpurgo’s website

Books that inspired/entertained Berrimilla’s sailors


  • Heavy Weather Sailing
    6th edition by Peter Bruce, Adlard Coles UK, 2008 (or earlier editions).
    The bible for offshore sailors.
  • Planning for an arctic voyage p73]
  • Ocean Passages for the World
  • World Cruising Routes
    by Jimmy Cornell