Twenty-four sailors from every walk of life, of every age and temperament, living literally cheek-by-jowl for week after week, away from family and friends sometimes for months at a time. All crammed in an elderly 40 metre metal hulled boat - in seas of all conditions with temperatures often in the 30's.
Jessica, or ‘Biiird’, as she’s called by the crew of Hammersley, is seventeen years old and, having finished high school just four months ago, decided rather than go straight on to uni, to sign up for a ‘gap’ year on a Navy patrol boat out of Cairns.
It’s a long way north and a big change from a comfortable life in Melbourne but this bright and energetic teenager is looking forward to having a break from study, earning real bucks and getting away for some adventure in the tropics. Who knows, if things work out, she may even ditch her dream of being a paramedic and become a Navy medic instead. So she says. And all of that is true. It’s just not the full story…
When we meet her, Bird has been on Hammersley for two months and just loves being away at sea for weeks on end. Huh? She’ll soon get over that, the boys tell her. What about love and romance? None of that on a patrol boat, hey, they joke. But Bird maintains she’s over that (at the vast age of seventeen!). Well, she may be over it, but that doesn’t stop the boys on Hammersley vying for her attention – particularly 2Dads, who thinks he’s definitely in with a chance (when she’s finished her gap year, of course, he hastens to reassure Swain, who’s got an eagle eye on his fraternisation attempts). Even the emotionally abstemious Robert is showing some interest, but that may be just to get up 2Dads’ nose. RO claims to be oblivious to the fact that Bird is very attractive, which earns him an indulgent if disbelieving smile from Kate, who privately accuses Mike of putting the cat among the pigeons with his choice of GX.
But while she may have come across as a bit of a princess at first, in whose mouth butter would remain solid, Bird has quickly become Hammersley’s favourite daughter. Except perhaps for Bomber, who finds herself suddenly envious of the attention – why is everyone making such a fuss of Bird? What am I – chopped liver? It’s Robert who bluntly points out they see Bomber as one of the boys. Off Bomber’s death stare – take it as a compliment, he offers. At least Bomber has avoided the practical jokes.
It’s true Bird is the target of 2Dads’ merciless wind-up. But as it turns out, Bird has a wicked sense of humour herself and enjoys one-upping him every time until she has 2Dads begging for a truce.
Proving herself to be smart and capable, Bird earns the affection of Kate, who takes her under her wing. In turn, Bird looks to Kate as a mentor and gradually comes to her for advice on different things – all except one thing – the fact she develops a massive and secret crush on Dutchy…
SMN Jessica 'Gap Girl' Bird Photos
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