Key & Compass presents:
To Sea in a Sieve
by J.J. Guest

To Sea in a Sieve is a Glulx work of interactive fiction written with Inform 7 and is © 2023 by J.J. Guest. It was an entry in IF Comp 2023 where it took NTH place. It is also a prequel to To Hell in a Hamper, and the new series is called The Curse of Captain Booby.

In this one-room comedy, you play as Peter Petibon, who wert the cabin boy of the pyrate ship, Queen Mab, until it sank. Now you're in a leaky jolly boat with the feckless Captain Booby and his pile of heavy treasure. Booby expects you to bail water for days, but if you truly want to avoid being shark food, you must throw all that treasure overboard.

This solution is by David Welbourn, and is based on Release 1 of the work.

SPOILERS AHEAD. Reading a walkthrough prematurely can sometimes diminish one's enjoyment of a work of interactive fiction. Please make an honest effort to play the work before reading this walkthrough.


Jolly Boat

Ye Jolly Boat "Puck"

When the game begins, the Captain is wielding a pistol, the boat will sink in 10 turns, and the excess weight is 125 pounds. You must periodically BAIL water with your bucket every so often to prevent disaster; this takes priority over other actions.

Start by examining what's visible.

> bail. (Sink in 12 turns.)

> x me. x jerkin. x slops. i. x bucket.

> bail.

> x boat. x sun. x sea. x sharks.

> bail.

> x Booby. x pistol. x treasure.

> bail.

> x coat. x left pocket. (not while he's armed!)

> x boots. x hat. x plume. x bag. x strap.

> bail.

Get rid of that pistol.

> fill bucket. throw water at Booby.

The pile of treasure is now several distinct items that you should now examine.

> x pearl. x barrel. x knothole.

> bail.

> x cage. x beaver. (note the weak eyes)

> x hurdy-gurdy. x label.

> x silver bar. x pineapple.

> bail.

> x handkerchief. x mirror.

> take it. x it. (The reflection hurts your eyes.)

> drop it.

> bail.

> x chest. x plant. x maw. x rum.

> x left pocket. x snuffbox. x biscuit.

> bail.

> x right pocket. x knife. x glass.

> take knife and glass. (You can pickpocket!)

> open knife. cut strap. (You get the bag.)

> bail.

> open bag. take tin and fuse. throw bag overboard.

> take pearl. throw it overboard.

> take silver bar. throw it overboard.

> bail.

> take hurdy-gurdy. throw it overboard.

> take pineapple. throw it overboard.

> open tin. x gunpowder. put gunpowder in knothole.

> throw tin overboard.

> cut coil with knife. put short fuse in knothole.

> light short fuse with glass.

> take snuffbox and biscuit.

> z.

The barrel explodes, staining everything blue with indigo. Then Booby unlocks the cage, freeing the beaver, which now starts to gnaw on the boat!

> take mirror.

> blind beaver with mirror. (The plant eats the beaver!)

> throw mirror overboard.

> bail.

> look in barrel. take brocade. x it.

> ask Booby about plant. (It sleeps at night.)

> put brocade on plant. (It snores.)

> take sack.

> open snuffbox. x snuff. (reddish brown)

> empty snuffbox.

> put pepper in snuffbox.

> close box. put it in left pocket.

> drop all.

> take plant. throw it overboard.

> look in barrel.

> take tea caddy. x it. drop it.

> look in barrel. push it. (It's now overboard.)

> take cage. throw it.

> take bucket, knife, glass, biscuit, sack.

> open chest. (locked!)

> look through glass at caddy.

> take caddy. take iron key. throw caddy.

> unlock chest. (with key)

> open chest. (Booby grabs a cutlass!)

Wait for him to use the pepper "snuff" and drop the sword. If he's carrying anything else, he might drop that instead. When you get the chance, throw the sword overboard.

> x cutlass. x treasure.

> take rum. open rum. throw rum.

> throw sack.

> throw cutlass.

To deal with the chest, use the bucket.

> fill bucket with doubloons. empty bucket.

> fill bucket with doubloons. empty bucket.

> fill bucket with doubloons. empty bucket.

> drop all. throw chest.

The boat is no longer sinking. Booby tries to attack you with an oar, but it falls into the ocean instead.

> look. (Note how the floating barrel and oar are on opposite sides of the boat.)

> take oar. push barrel with oar.

> take oar with oar.

> xyzzy.

> yoho. (You get a random vision of the future, where one of your descendants contends with one of Booby's descendants.)

> row. SPACE

After you reach New Providence, you sleep exhausted on the beach. When you wake, Captain Booby curses you and your lineage before he leaves you forever. You make your own way back to London and get an honest job as a clerk.

*** THE END ***

Note: A third game in this series is planned and will be called To the Moon in a Microbus.

> amusing



This is the response to AMUSING after you've won the game:

Have you tried...


Seen in visions of the future:



This is the response to CREDITS:

To Sea in a Sieve was written by me, J. J. Guest, between 2020 and 2023, using Inform 7.

I would like to thank my beta-testers, Andrew Schultz, Mike Carletta, Lance Campbell, Mark Bailey, Laura R. King, Max Bennett and dott. Piergiorgio d'Errico. The idea for "weeviling" was suggested by Lydia O'Sullivan.

To Sea in a Sieve is dedicated with love to my nephew, Max Sidney Bennett, who has played To Hell in a Hamper to completion more times than any living being besides myself. This prequel, long overdue, is my gift to him.

It is also dedicated with respect and affection to Jeffery Farnol, an unjustly neglected author of romances and swashbucklers, and the undisputed master of piratical language. I hope he would have enjoyed this salty yarn.



In the approximate order obtained in this walkthrough:

Honorable mention:


This is the response to SCORE, whether or not the jolly boat is sinking:

In a total of several turns, ye have thrown out Xlb o' treasure. There be still Ylb to go afore the Puck is safe from sinkin'!

Every pound you throw overboard gains you a minute. The approprimate weights of everything you throw or push overboard (in this walkthrough), from heaviest to lightest, are:

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