Zander Hua is thrown overboard a thousand miles from land with nothing but the clothes he has on, his cell phone, and a package of chewing gum. As fate would have it, he’s in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. There’s plenty of junk to help him survive, if only he can figure out how to use it!
Resources I used for researching the novel.
Seventeen-year-old Zander Hua from Tacoma will be a deck hand on the Wayward Star, a $4 million dollar sailing yacht that his dad, Mike, was hired to sail from Seattle to Hawaii. Also on board are the boat’s owner, Estevan, a retired software executive from Seattle; Zander’s girlfriend, Jenna; and her cat, Mr. Jackson.
Zander and Jenna are enjoying the trip until several nights after leaving Los Angeles in route to Hawaii. Zander falls asleep on deck under the stars and wakes up as someone removes his safety harness and throws him overboard. The yacht sails away, and he finds himself all alone 1,000 miles from land with nothing but the clothes he is wearing, his cell phone, and a pack of chewing gum. About thirty minutes after the yacht disappears, Zander sees a fire in the distance. It seems the Wayward Star is burning. He assumes his dad and girlfriend are dead and that he will soon join them.
He treads water as long as he can, but after several hours he loses hope and decides to give up. Just as he is ready to stop fighting, he hears a cry and thinks it must be Jenna. He follows the cry, but it turns out to be coming not from Jenna but from her cat, Mr. Jackson. The cat has somehow climbed on top of a dugout canoe made by the Makah tribe of the Pacific Northwest. Estevan had been planning to display this beautiful canoe at his summer home in Hawaii. After some serious struggle, Zander is able to right the canoe and climbs inside with Mr. Jackson.
The next day, Zander begins to notice trash floating around him. Soon, he recalls a project he did at school during his freshman year regarding the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Turns out, he’s right in the middle of it. He starts collecting everything he can: fishing nets, Styrofoam, plastic bags, water bottles, detergent bottles, etc. A storm passes, and he is able to collect rain water with some of the junk he found.
After finding more PET bottles, he makes solar stills based on a survival show he had seen on YouTube. He tries to catch fish with the nets he has found and eventually lands a small lemon shark. After devouring much of the shark raw, he needs a place for the leftovers away from his canoe because he is afraid it will attract other sharks to his canoe. So he gets the idea to make floating island out of all the trash floating around him.
Once the small island is ready, he places the remains of the shark onto it and falls asleep. Unfortunately, as Zander had feared, the blood attracts a much larger shark. Zander tries to defend the island, but the shark rams his canoe, causing it to crack and take on water. As the canoe sinks, Zander has no choice but to climb onto his floating island and struggle to stay alive on just the trash he had tied together.
All this time, Zander doesn’t realize that Jenna is in fact not dead. Instead, she is facing the challenge of her life. Estevan has kidnapped her and has called on his cronies to pick them up in their boat. Jenna must use her strength and cunning to survive and to avoid getting sold into modern-day slavery.
Told in first person from Zander’s point of view, this is the story of how both Zander and Jenna fight for survival on the high seas. They are two teenagers dealing with the ramifications of ocean pollution and human trafficking.
Currently self-published on Smashwords. I am seeking comments and critiques.
Word Count 46,000 words