Journey to Atlantis
Journey to Atlantis
by Philip Roy
- August 2009
- ISBN 978-1-55380-076-7
- 5-1/4″ x 7-5/8″ Trade Paperback, 224 pages
- Young Adult Novel
Shortlisted for 2010–11 HACKMATACK CHILDREN’S CHOICE BOOK AWARDS!
In this sequel to the prize-winning young adult novel Submarine Outlaw, the sea of myth and legends beckons young Alfred once again, and the intrepid young explorer answers the call. With his loyal crew of a dog and a seagull by his side, Alfred sails across the Atlantic in his homemade submarine and enters the Mediterranean in search of the fabled lost island of Atlantis.
Ziegfried, genius and master builder of the sub, cautions Alfred to be careful and practical. Yet Sheba, friend and island enchantress, whispers to Alfred: “Trust your feelings.” Indeed, Alfred must trust his premonitions many times on this ambitious and far-reaching adventure.
From a daring rescue of drowning fishermen, to a skirmish between the Canadian coastguard and Spanish fishing trawlers; from escaping an exploding WWII sea mine, to colliding with a submerged container filled with toys; from turning the chase on bumbling pirates, to an unscheduled camel trek into the Sahara, Alfred’s submarine voyage brings him closer and closer to the legendary island until one moonless night he finds himself a little too close for comfort.
“Journey to Atlantis kept me biting my nails as Al and his crew of dog and seagull tackled peril after peril. Al’s a rare thing these days, an intelligent hero driven by intellectual curiosity; a courageous hero in the face of both physical danger and ethical choices; a hero we’d all want to be. The story plunges from one tense moment to another yet still has time for fun, for thoughtfulness, and for wonder at the world above and below the sea.”
— K. V. Johansen, author of the Warlocks of Talverdin series
The legend is ancient.
Thirty-five hundred years ago the sea swallowed a rich
and powerful island. It dragged it down to the bottom with
everyone and everything in it. All of it disappeared in a single
day, without a trace. Now everyone wonders if it ever
really existed. The thing is, people have never stopped talking
about it. That doesn’t make sense. Why would people
talk about something for so long if it never existed? So I figured
it probably did. Then I thought, well . . . maybe I could
I woke with a seagull on my stomach.When he saw me open
my eyes he hopped from foot to foot and glared at me.
“What do you want, Seaweed?”
Hollie was on the bed too. He was chewing the rubber
handle of a hammer into tiny soggy pieces. He must have
been at it for hours. This, this feathered and furry pair, was
my crew — a dog and a seagull. It had been a long winter in
the boathouse and they were anxious to go to sea.
So was I.
I fed the crew and hurried downstairs. There, suspended
in the air like a whale lifted out of an aquarium, was my submarine.
Two days earlier, we had sprayed the final coat of a
sophisticated, slippery paint that was supposed to reduce
drag and make the sub five-percent faster through the water.
Ziegfried, master inventor and junkyard genius, was right
about ninety-nine percent of the time. His latest obsession
— to make the sub faster — had kept us hard at work all
winter long.We had installed a bigger,more powerful diesel
engine, more industrial batteries and a new propeller with
aggressive torque. Now, with this shiny new blue-black coat
of paint, and the dolphin-like nose that Ziegfried had welded
to the front, the sub looked more like a sea mammal than a
submarine. Today, just a few days after my fifteenth birthday,
it would finally go back in the water. I was almost too
But I had to tether that excitement. Nine times out of
ten Ziegfried would find something else to test, and the relaunch
would be set back once again. I had to calm the butterflies
in my stomach and just hope it wouldn’t happen
There were voices outside. Two doors slammed on the
truck — Ziegfried, and my grandfather.When the ocean had
frozen over in December, and the fishing boats were up on
planks, my grandfather surprised us by coming out to the
boathouse.He just showed up one day, without asking what
he could do, and got busy. Pretty soon we didn’t know how
we had ever gotten along without him. More than once I
witnessed Ziegfried, one of the biggest and strongest men in
all of Newfoundland, reach over an impossibly sealed jar of
glue to my grandfather, a much smaller man, but with larger
hands, and he twisted off the top as if it were a toy. He
handed the jar back and Ziegfried took it graciously. My
grandfather never uttered a word when we were working.
Ziegfried talked constantly, mumbling to himself mostly, as
if he were thinking out loud. But the two men worked side
by side harmoniously. And I was their assistant, running for
tools, filing the edges of metal cuts, holding lights, making
tea. Once the sub was back in the water, all of that would
change. Then, I was the captain.
But I wasn’t the captain yet. When they came inside, my
grandfather immediately frowned at me, because I had just
woken up and he was such an early riser. But I had learned
that his frowns were not nearly as serious as they looked. In
fact, I was beginning to understand that his severe bearing
— looking so disapproving all the time — had nothing to do
with me. That was just the way he was. I was used to sleeping
in because I was nocturnal on the sub. So was the crew.
My grandfather quickly scanned the boardwalk around the
sub. Fortunately, I had remembered to sweep it clear before
going to bed. He frowned again anyway. Ziegfried reached
over and put his hand on one of the cables holding the sub
up in the air and stared at the water beneath it. He took a
deep breath and sighed. It was a sigh that spoke volumes. I
imitated him exactly and waited anxiously to hear the words
that came from his mouth.
“Well . . . I suppose . . .”
He paused. I held my breath.
“I suppose . . .”
“There’s a storm coming,” warned my grandfather.
Of the few times my grandfather chose to speak, I wished
this hadn’t been one of them.
“They didn’t mention a storm on the radio,” Ziegfried
“All the same,” snapped my grandfather.
Ziegfried sighed again. The decision was his. As much as
he respected my grandfather, he wouldn’t be swayed by a
fisherman’s superstitious way of predicting the weather.
“I suppose she is ready for a run at sea. Why don’t you sail
her to Sheba’s island? That’ll take you two or three days. I
can drive to the coast in the truck, take a boat over with supplies
for the big voyage and meet you there. Then you can
tell me how she’s handling and whether she’s ready for the
journey. What do you say?”
I felt like yelling with excitement but didn’t. I was standing
in a boathouse with two of the most cautious people you
were ever likely to meet in Newfoundland.
“That seems like a pretty good idea to me,” I said, as
calmly as possible. “Then, when we meet up at Sheba’s, I can
tell you how she’s handling.”
I knew that was just what he had said, but I was too
excited to think of anything else to say.
We lowered the sub into the water and unleashed it from
the cables. The newly painted hull glistened like a black jellybean.
It was beautiful. I climbed inside, then heard a pitiful
bark from the boardwalk, so I went back out, picked up
Hollie and carried him in. Seaweed followed immediately,
tapping his beak on the portal before dropping inside like a
chimney sweep, as was his custom.
My sub was twenty feet long and eight feet high on the
outside, with the portal jutting up another three feet. Inside
was a different story. Standing up straight in the soft cedar
and pine interior, I had barely two inches to spare. I used to
have four, but had grown. With my arms outstretched I
could just barely touch both walls with my fingertips. The
oval shape of the hull, minus the wood and insulation, the
mechanics beneath the floor and above the ceiling, plus the
compartments in the stern, left me with an interior space a
little short of fourteen feet by six. It was more than enough
in which to stretch out but I had to duck my head in the bow
and stern. Standing directly beneath the portal gave me a lot
of extra headroom and the feeling of more space, which was
particularly welcome when we were submerged for long
periods of time. I also found a way to fit a bar across the
inside of the portal to do chin-ups, and was pretty good at
them now. And sometimes I would just hang there and
Although we had replaced the engine and added new batteries,
they were housed in separate, watertight compartments
in the stern, and so the main area of the sub remained
more or less the same as before. The stationary bike was still
in the center, my hanging cot behind, and the control panel
with sonar and radar screens in front. The periscope hung
on the starboard side of the control panel. I had to turn
sideways to pass it. The observation window, in the floor of
the bow, was also the same, except that Hollie’s beloved
blanket, rather frayed at the edges, had been replaced by a
lovely quilt my grandmother had knitted especially for him.
Well, that didn’t fly. Hollie picked up the new blanket in his
teeth, carried it dutifully to the stern and dropped it in front
of the door to the engine compartment, where his litter-box
was kept. Then he whined at me until I went back into the
loft, found his old blanket in a box and brought it back. He
pawed it into a proper sleeping berth and plopped down on
it. Seaweed settled on his usual spot on the opposite side of
the observation window — sitting very still, like the Buddha
— and watched the little dog fuss.
It didn’t take long to load up for a three-day sail. I was
ready in less than an hour. But Ziegfried felt the need to
climb inside and go through a checklist with me. Inside the
sub he had to crouch like a giant inside a bus.
“When you’re at sea, Al, make sighting tests of your wake,
will you? I want to know if any of the changes we’ve made
cause her to sail less true. She won’t be faster if she’s cutting
arcs through the water.”
“Make the same tests submerged and watch your depth
gauge closely. Check for any deviation either vertical or horizontal.”
He frowned and rubbed his brow. “These are the tests we
can’t make until she’s in the water.”
“I know. Don’t worry, I’ll make them right away.”
I was glad we couldn’t make every test in the boathouse,
or I’d never get to sea. He looked down the list.
“Same, . . . topped up.”
“One week fresh; two weeks emergency.”
Ziegfried knew all of this, but his cautious, exacting nature
wouldn’t permit him to skip steps.When he said a vessel was
ready for sea, she was.
When we finished, I came outside and stood on the boardwalk
beside the two men. There was never any way to thank
them adequately for the gifts they had given me, both in
their own ways, and yet I would feebly try. But they wouldn’t
hear of it.
“Bring back another treasure,” Ziegfried said jokingly.
“There’s a storm coming,” repeated my grandfather, and
shook his head. But he reached out and took my hand, completely
concealing mine inside of his.
“Hold on,” said my grandfather. “I’ve got something in
He went out and returned with a long wooden case. “I’ve
been meaning to give you this for a while now.”
He put the case down on the floor and opened it.My face
dropped. So did Ziegfried’s.
“It’s a dangerous world out there. If you’re going to go as
far as I think you are, you might as well take this along. I
don’t need it anymore.”
My grandfather lifted up a heavy long shotgun and handed
it to me. I was so shocked I didn’t know what to say. I had
never even shot a gun before.
“Uhhh . . . thank-you, Grandpa. It’s a wonderful gift.”
“Oh, it’s nothing. I have no need of it anymore, and who
knows, you just might.”
I thanked him again as graciously as I could, and they
went out. A moment later, Ziegfried hurried back in by
“I forgot something, Al,” he said, and reached over and
took the shotgun from my hands. “It’s quite an honour for
your grandfather to pass this on to you like that.”
He stared at the shotgun in his hands, and a strange look
came over his face. And then the gun just sort of slipped out
of his hands and dropped into the water beside the sub.We
both watched it disappear.
“Oh! What a shame!” said Ziegfried. “Oh, well, it’s just as
well, I suppose. It was kind of an old shotgun, I think. And
one thing’s for sure, Al, when there’s a gun around, somebody’s
going to get shot.You have a great sail now. I’ll see you
at Sheba’s in a few days.”
I stood and watched him go. I needed time to think about
what had just happened. It was not for no reason that I
trusted him with my life.
It didn’t surprise me that Ziegfried and my grandfather
didn’t hang around until we left. Their work was done. This
was their way of letting me know I was on my own now, and
that was important. If I needed anyone to help me get safely
out to sea, then I had no business going out in the first place.
I climbed inside the sub, shut the hatch and let water into
the ballast tanks.We started to dive. A shiver of excitement
rushed through me. I engaged the batteries and felt the vibrations
of the new propeller come up through the floor.
The feeling was thrilling. I turned on the sonar and watched
the screen closely as I steered the sub through the craggy
rocks outside. It was one of the most isolated spots along the
northern coast of Newfoundland. All the same, I motored a
mile out from shore before surfacing. I never wanted anyone
to know where the Submarine Outlaw was moored for the
A mile out, we surfaced and I opened the hatch. Seaweed
climbed the portal, took a look all around and jumped into
the wind. What a familiar sight that was. I grinned. Hollie
barked sharply from the bottom of the portal. I carried him
up and we leaned against the open hatch and breathed in
the fresh sea air. It was wonderful to be back at sea. There
were a few clouds, a steady wind, but no sign of a storm in
any direction. The weather report had made no mention of
a storm. Strange. I wondered if my grandfather was getting
too old to predict the weather.
Philip Roy’s Submarine Outlaw Series:
“A truly enjoyable tale of bravery, friendship, and exploration … Roy covers a neatly fused set of events and topics in an informative and non-didactic way. Journey to Atlantis would be useful in the classroom, especially when read along with a geography or social studies unit on modern ocean travel, the Mediterranean area, or ancient Minoan society. Beyond its practical applications, Journey to Atlantis is really interesting! 4 out of 4.”
— CM Magazine
“Roy has crafted an adventure tale that readers will relish. . . .It is an altogether charming read that will capture the imagination of any young reader who has ever dreamt of exploring the world.”
— Atlantic Books Today
“Philip Roy’s confident, refreshing Journey to Atlantis avoids the tendency now to write such stories as complicated grand narratives set in magical secondary worlds, and provides a lean, linear, episodic tale [that] has an odd credibility about it, and appealing characters: as for whether it is a ‘boys’ book,’ it seems more a mostly male world that doesn’t preclude female participation or readership.”
— Canadian Literature
“If you’re looking for an underwater adventure that completely delivers, Journey to Atlantis is definitely worth the read.”
— What If? Magazine
“A simply wonderful read!”
“Fast paced, and really fun to read. Al is a very insightful and curious lead character . . . Roy creates a wonderful tale that is sure to delight any child, while teaching them a valuable lesson or two. 4 out of 5.”
— The Neverending Shelf
“Roy has skillfully blended the mythology and legends of ancient civilizations with geographical accuracy so that a reader could actually plot out Albert’s voyage on a map. Highly recommend it even for the reluctant reader!”
— Recently Read
“This is a great second book in a series. It takes us beyond the premise of the first book, but does not act ONLY as a bridge to the third book. No Second Book Syndrome here!”
— Lucy Was Robbed (YA book review blog)