Dear America Wiki
Dear America Wiki

Abandon Ship!: The Diary of Debbie Atherton is the third fictional diary in the My New Zealand Story series. It was written by Shirley Corlett; her first for the series. The book was first published in October 2003 and was followed by Finding Father. It was republished twice in February 2013 and in April 2020 as The Wahine Disaster.


Book description[]

""We are going to abandon ship. All persons are to proceed to the starboard side of the ship."
When Debbie's grandmother gives her a copy of her forefather's old sea journal, she finds it fascinating. While Debbie's own diary tells of school life and troubles with her friends, excerpts from the diary of 1841 tell of the hardships of life on an emigrant sailing ship.
At home, sick with glandular fever, Debbie feels transported back in time. Is it the fever, or is her long-dead relative trying to tell her something?
Following a trip to visit family, Debbie boards the ferry to return home to Wellington.
It is May 1968. The ferry's name is


Historical Note[]


Main article: List of Abandon Ship! characters
  • Debbie Atherton


Main article: Shirley Corlett



"I would like to express my thanks to the following who helped me in the course of writing this novel:
For taking the time to talk to me,
Wahine survivors Ken and Diane Wilton and Mike Inwood, all of Masterton. Ken and Diane, then a young married couple, made it ashore in the last lifeboat launched from the stricken vessel. Some terrible memories still linger with them. Mike, at 20 years of age, was an assistant purser aboard the Wahine. He spent several hours in the water, before being washed up on the Pencarrow coast.
Thanks also to the Museum of Wellington City & Sea, and the staff at Masterton Public Library.
For constructive criticism and friendship, fellow writers Cheri Pinner, Lois Stead and Alison Vallance. Very special thanks to my friend, novelist Ann Macrae. I am also grateful to the Scholastic team, particularly Penny Scown and Peter Rees, for their editing skills.
As always, thanks to my extended family for their unwavering confidence in me, and their unconditional love and support.


  • The cover of third edition of the book was illustrated by Minky Stapleton.[4]


See also[]

File:Abandon Ship! Teacher Notes.pdf, File:The Wahine Disaster (2013) Information Sheet.pdf, File:The Wahine Disaster (2020) Information Sheet.pdf

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Harbour Bridge Aquarius, My Ohu Year