Pacific Odyssey:

Author Notes and Introduction


(links at bottom of page)




This lovely screen capture was graciously sent to me by Janis Whitcomb from the episode, "Señor China Boy".



Pacific Odyssey (originally titled Shanghai Passage) was the second Zorro story that I wrote.  It was written in the space of a month and was the longest story that I had written until I did Memories in the Dust this past year.   And it continues to be one of my favorites.  I kept it pretty much unread for the past four years because at one time I had this crazy notion that I might be able to publish it.   I would prefer that it give some enjoyment to a few people than to sit in the limbo of a disk for another four years.  

The novel has undergone several edits, the most drastic, recently as I realized that for all its 265 pages, it was still not very detailed.  I did some more research and added more to the story, including several new characters.   

I want to thank two people who have been most instrumental in the development of this story.  Pat Dodez, my former library aide, was my first beta reader, so very long ago, and Keliana Baker (along with her son, Matt) was my second.  In fact, Kel has beta read it twice, the original story and the revised edition.  I also am indebted to my friends on the GWwritersforum, who edited my chapters with many colored cyber-pens.   My sincerest thanks to everyone. 


This story probably has an unrealistic time frame.  I was only, at best, able to guess lengths of time of the various events, and because of the great distances involved, I have had to ignore some historical events.  I didn’t pinpoint a time for the beginning and the end of the story, just specific actions, such as the distance from the rescue at sea to the landing in Canton.  I guessed that the shortest time this entire story could have taken place might have been six months, but that, too, could be unrealistic.  Someone said, (Keliana, I think), when you have to choose between the story and history, you take what you have and go with the story.  That is what I have done.  

This tale came about when I watched the episode of Zorro called “Señor China Boy.”  That story entranced and mesmerized me.  It seemed so very different then the rest of the episodes.  Pacific Odyssey is a sequel to that story, although that is not apparent at the outset. 

I hope that my depictions of Chinese life, culture and the people are semi-accurate.  If not, I have tried to be sympathetic, at least.  The Chinese names were taken from real names encountered when I was doing the research.  In most of my research, the family name comes first and the first or given name, last.  That is the way I kept it here, even though there were a few sources that used the western custom of first, then last name.  Also used was the custom in the ‘old days’ of not giving the children proper names when they are young.  The wife’s family name is also different then the husband’s. 

I hoped for semi-accuracy, as well, in my depiction of life on board a ship in the early 1800’s.  However, despite the fact that several sources mentioned that sailors were often treated more like animals on board ship than human beings, my sailors have a certain amount of leeway and freedom.   

There were a few times when information seemed contradictory.  In those cases, I just tried to go with the most reliable source and with the flow of the story telling.  There are a few things that I had to guess at and some that most likely wouldn’t have happened, such as the idea that the European trade envoys would have their families with them.  But the possibility was there and it felt right for the story.


Diego/Zorro, Tornado, Alejandro, Bernardo and all the rest of the WD pantheon were borrowed with much gratitude.  George Bowman, John Beatty, Leiching, Qing Kang Zhu, Zhaou Haifang, Victoria, do Santos and the others were created in my own devious little mind and may be borrowed after slight negotiation….





I used the following materials in my quest for some form of accuracy and realism: 


World Book Encyclopedia: general information on places such Singapore and the Hawaiian Islands, on ships and opium. 

Oxford and National Geographic Atlases: distances and topography in China, general idea of the voyage, etc. 

Various juvenile books on China to get a general feel for the culture, history and people, including Great Civilizations; China by Beth McKillop, Homesick, by Jean Fritz, Karate and Kung Fu by Kevin Casey, and others. 



More detailed examination was made of the following: 


Biesty, Stephen.  Stephen Biesty’s Cross-Sections; Man of War.  New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1993. 

China.  Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1986. 

Clayre, Alasdair.  The Heart of the Dragon.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985. 

Elementary Chinese Readers, 1.  People’s Republic of China: Foreign Languages Press, 1983. 

Fairbanks, John King.   The Great Chinese Revolution, 1800- 1985.  New York:  Harper and Row, 1986. 

Iborra, Micki.  “Medicinal Herbs in Chinese Medicine.” Innerself Magazine, 


Miller, Russell.  The East Indiamen.  Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1980. 

Scott, William D.  Chinese Kung-Fu (Kenpo): An Introduction.  Vermont:  Charles L. Tuttle Company, 1976.





Because of all the terminology involved, below is a glossary of terms and words.  A rough diagram of an East Indiaman follows the glossary.

Ballast:  the weight down in the bottom of the ship that kept it upright.  Usually that consisted of a layer of loose stones, called shingles that were spread on top of flat bricks of iron called pigs. 

Bilges:  the very lowest part of the ship; the small space below the ballast.  Often water collected there and became foul.  Other things might seep down into the bilges, too.  It became necessary at times to clean out the area in the keel and it was dangerous as well as dirty work. 

Bow:  front of the ship 

Cuddy Saloon:  the dining room for the officers and important guests. 

East Indiaman:  a cargo ship of a basic design used extensively by most of the European countries.  It was not known for its smooth ride.  In the later years of its rule of the commercials seas, most English East Indiamen made money by taking passengers to the various outposts of the Empire.  Schooners and steam ships began replacing them by the mid 1800’s.   

Foot ropes: ropes that run alongside the yards to allow sailors to stand while furling, or tying up, the sails. 

Forecastle: top of the front end, or bow, of the ship; a raised section of deck at the bow. 

Foremast: the mast in front, or bow of the ship. 

Guangzhou:  The Pinyin spelling of the Chinese name for Canton.  

Hong: A Chinese merchandising house, usually backed by the government.  They had to put their seal of approval on exports and imports.   

Keel: bottom of the ship, usually in a V- shape.  That along with the ballast in the bottom of the keel, keeps the ship upright and balanced.    

Kowtow: This usually involves kneeling and placing one’s forehead to the ground in obeisance to another of higher rank. 

Lateen:  a type of sail used on most oriental ships and boats.  It was set more ‘sideways’ than the traditional European sails.   

Mainmast: the main, and usually largest mast of a three-masted ship like an East Indiaman.  The mainmast was the middle mast.  Each mast (except for the mizzen, which had a spanker sail closest to the deck) had three main sails, (from the deck), the sail, the topsail and the topgallant sail. 

Mizzenmast: was the back mast, located at the stern. 

Qi: the vital energies that must remain in balance for the human body to be healthy.  It is part of the philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which uses herbs and acupuncture to restore healthy vigor and vitality.  TCM as opposed to Western medicine is a non-invasive form of treatment.  Most conservative practitioners of TCM would never consider surgery.  TCM is very complicated.  Please see the bibliography for sources.   

Quarterdeck: a raised section, or deck of the ship at the stern. 

Papist: Derogatory slang for someone who is Catholic, who holds the Pope as their leader and head of religion. Common term after England’s split with the Church. 

Poopdeck: a raised section, a deck above part of the quarterdeck at the far end of the stern. 

Port or larboard: left side of the ship. 

Ratlines: rope ladders that run from the deck to all parts of the yards and masts.

Sandwich Islands- What we now know as the Hawaiian Islands.

Starboard: right side of the ship.

Stern: back of the ship.

Supercargo: equivalent of a cargo master.  

Wushu:  Chinese word for martial arts.  This is a generic term encompassing all of the martial arts/fighting skills.  The most prevalent form seemed to be Kung Fu.  

Yardarm: the end of the yard.

Yards: the horizontal poles that hold the sails. 





This is the what I used to visualize daily life on board Diego's ship.  I gratefully used a basic drawing from The East Indiamen, a Time-Life Book and added the labels and lines.



Pacific Odyssey, Book I
Pacific Odyssey, Book II: China
Pacific Odyssey, Book III: Journey Home
Zorro Contents
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