Novel We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea (Form 3) : Chapter Summaries


On the River
John, Susan, Roger and Titty help Jim Brading to tie a rope to the buoy. In return he invites them to sail aboard Goblin. Mother agrees provided that they stay within the estuary of the rivers Orwell and Stour, do not pass the Beach End buoy at the mouth of the rivers, and do not go out to sea. These conditions are imposed because of the important arrival of their father, who is expected to return by ferry at any time from Holland. The children agree to these conditions.
In Harbour
Unfortunately, on the second morning Goblin runs out of petrol because Jim forgets to fill up before they start the journey.  So, Jim rows ashore to buy some petrol and promises to return in ten minutes but does not return. The children wait for the whole day until an unexpected fog drifts over the river, and the Goblin is without her captain.

Drifting out to Sea
Some hours later, after hearing the anchor drag in the fog, the children realise that the tide has risen, the anchor chain is now too short, and they are drifting down the river. While John tries to put out more chain, John loses the anchor, and the yacht drifts out beyond Beach End into the North Sea. Aboard the drifting boat, John decides that it is safer to hoist the sails and go farther out to sea rather than take the risk of being wrecked in the fog. They plan to return to the river, but find that sailing against the wind is impossible, so they have to sail eastward with the wind.

A Stormy Night
The Goblin sails east through the night in hazardous conditions, being nearly run down as the navigation lights are out of paraffin. John has to leave Susan at the helm while he reefs the mainsail. He is almost swept overboard, but manages to save himself and the rest in the yacht.

Sinbad and the Pilot
John persuades Susan to continue moving to the nearest port rather than trying to return to Harwich. Along the way, they rescue a kitten floating on a packing-case. They find themselves approaching an unknown coast - it is the Southern Netherlands. They see a pilot ship and pick up a Dutch pilot who decides to help the children and it is free of charge. As they are approaching Flushing, a ferry is leaving to Harwich. Their father happens to be on that ferry and sees John and shouts to him in surprise.

Arriving in Holland
Their father leaves the ferry just in time and returns to help them sail the Goblin back to Harwich.  Susan is terribly upset about their mother who will be worrying about them, so their father sends a telegram from Harwich to their mother.

Coming Home
On arriving in England, the Goblin and its crew are reunited with their mother and with Jim Brading, who is looking for his missing yacht. Their mother feels angry because she thinks that they actually and secretly go to meet their father. Jim was unconscious and in hospital for two days, suffering from concussion after being involved in a collision with a bus. Roger keeps telling their mother that they met Father in Holland. Hence, Father has to tell their mother about the mishap. Finally, the children hope that their mother will understand that they didn't mean to go to sea.