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Books reviewed by Peter Campbell
BOOKS OF THE
Boat Books Tel: 1300 262 826
The Boat — a vessel for escape, adventure, trade
and travel. This mode of transport is one of infinite
variety and inspires serious passion, whether
made of workmanlike bolted steel, sleek modern
fibreglass or lovingly hand-burnished timber.
Photographer Simon Griffiths has paced docksides
and jetties all over Australia to bring us this
stunning salute to the character and craftsmanship of all sorts of boats and
boatbuilders — from old whaling boats to elegant yachts, from fishing
dinghies to paddle steamers, rowboats and ferries. HB 206 pages $39.95
CRUISING YACHT ASSOCIATION OF VICTORIA 2036
Aguide to cruising Victoria, the Bass Strait islands and
Northern Tasmania. This wonderful new publication
put out by the Cruising Yacht Association of Victoria
seeks to provide information to assist the cruiser in
the planning and execution of a safe and enjoyable
cruise along Victoria’s 2500 km of coastline.
Spiral Bound 192 Pages $79.95
Renegades at Sea
The Adventures of Chas from Tas
by Charles Blundell and Juliet Prentice
published by Filament Publishing, UK
RRP: $33.00 (227pp; 150mm x 230mm)
For many years, around Sydney Hobart
time, my colleague Bob Ross and I would
receive a phone call or message from a Mrs
Blundell in Hobart ... “ Have you seen Chas
is he in Sydney for the race? ” or, before
we headed off to cover the Admiral’s Cup in
England, “Please ask him to call home ... or
write a letter.”
One Christmas, Chas from Tas did go
home to spend time with his Mum, to the
delight of his mates around the world. “ She
deserves it,” they told Chas.
I doubt if he related to his family the details of his remarkable life
as a professional yachtie on the international maxi racing circuit, of
long and adventurous cruising and delivery voyages, and of colourful
encounters in yachting seaports around the world.
Chas from Tas’s long-time friend Juliet Prentice has determinedly
compiled this fascinating book that recounts the life at sea between
1969 and the early eighties of this long-haired raffish, unkempt
Australian who went on to sail on many famous maxi yachts of that era.
Renegades at Sea vividly recalls many dramatic incidents at sea, of
Chas being shipwrecked, marooned and encountering with pirates.
Most famously, Chas was aboard Drum, owned by Duran Duran
front man Simon Le Bon, when the 78-footer lost its keel and capsized
during the severe weather in the 1985 Fastnet Race.
This I remember vividly as I was having coffee at Cowes on the
Isle of Wight with Edward Heath, former British Prime Minister and
1969 Sydney Hobart race winner, the morning after the start of the
Suddenly an official of the Royal Ocean Racing Club came rushing
down to tell us “Drum has capsized and there are crew trapped inside
the hull!” One of them was Chas from Tas!
It was a great news story for me to cover, making headlines
around the world, but you will have to wait for Chas to tell you the
inside (the hull) story.
Great South Land
by Rob Mundle OAM
published by ABC Books/Harper Collins
RRP: $45.00 (352pp; 160mm x 240mm)
One of my more recent book reviews was the Conquerors, British
author Roger Crowley’s narrative of how Portugal seized the Indian
Ocean, circa 1500. Several years ago I had read Australian Gavin
Menzies’ fascinating book 1421 – the Year China Discovered the World.
The Chinese trading armadas may have visited northern Australia,
but the Portuguese were primarily interested in India and the spice
trade. The Chinese, in a cultural change, ultimately withdrew from
foreign trade behind the bamboo curtain.
Journalist and author Rob Mundle, now regarded as Australia’s #1
maritime writer, has further sparked my interest in the real discovery
of what was to become Australia with his latest book Great South Land.
As Rob writes, for many Australians the
colonial story of this nation started with
Captain James Cook’s discovery of the east
coast of the vast continent in 1770.
In fact, some 164 years before Cook’s
historic voyage, Dutch navigators, by design,
chance or shipwreck, discovered and charted
the majority of the unknown waters and land
masses in the Indian and Southern Oceans.
Rob recreates life aboard the tiny ship Duyfken in 1606 when the
Dutch navigator and explorer, Willem Janszoon and this 20 man crew
became the first Europeans to discover Australia on the coast of
the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Over the following decades more Dutch sailors, like Hartog,
Tasman and Janszoon (on a second voyage) charted most of the
coast that eventually become Australia. The first English explorer to
reach Australia’s shoreline was the former pirate William Dampier,
also on the western coast.
Thus, when James Cook arrived on the east coast in 1770, all that
had to be done was to chart the east coast and lay claim to what
the Dutch had discovered.
I enjoyed reading Rob Mundle’s chapter on the remarkable long
voyage of Abel Tasman and his Dutch fleet which achieved for him
the dubious honour of becoming the first navigator to circumnavigate
what is now Australia without first sighting the mainland. The east
coast of Tasmania was his only landfall here.
Great South Land is splendid reading, written in entertaining and
informative prose. h
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