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Books reviewed by Peter Campbell
BOOKS OF THE
Boat Books Tel: 1300 262 826
All the Oceans
Designing by the seat of my pants
Celebrated yacht designer Ron Holland drew his first yacht
at 19 years of age. He rapidly made a name for himself as
one of the most successful and sought-after designers in
the highly competitive world of international ocean racing,
before advancing to bigger things. His seminal influence on
the then-new category of superyachts, those toys of the rich and super-rich, brought
him fresh success, and an introduction to a world of fascinating personalities: business
tycoons, royalty and rock stars. For over 50 years Ron’s innovative designs have
repeatedly shaken up the world of sailing. HB 396 pages $82.50
Growing up in inland Australia, Judy, a young teacher, has rarely
seen the sea. But when she flees a rioting classroom one dismal
Friday, a dud and a failure, she gets drunk and wakes up on a boat.
Overnight her life changes; she is in love with being on the water
and in love with Wes Bannister who lives on the boat. Sailing was
not something Judy had ever thought about wanting, but now she
craved it. A Sea-Chase is a novel that vividly tracks ambition, self-realisation, and
lasting love tied up in a sea story. The idea that nobody who sets off to do something
alone, without family, friends, rivals, and a pressing duty to the world, ever does so
alone, finds beautiful, dramatic expression in Roger McDonald’s tenth, and most
surprising novel. PB 288 pages $32.95
by Michael Beashel
published by the author
RRP: $25.35 (331pp; 16cm x 24cm)
Unbound Justice is the first volume in the
Sandstone Trilogy and the first novel by
Michael Beashel. And yes, his relatives are
the famous Sydney family but his passion
is with the pen – not the spinnaker.
The good news after enjoying reading Unbound Justice is that
Beashel has completed the second and third volumes of the
Sandstone Trilogy – Unshackled and Succession.
The three novels span 37 years of Sydney life in the second half
of the 19th century. They follow the fortunes of 20-year-old John
Leary who leaves his rural family home in Ireland and sails as an
unassisted immigrant to New South Wales.
John is a carpenter by trade and by hard work, talent and
opportunism he creates his own construction company at a time
when Sydney’s booming population is fired by the Gold Rush and
dedicated to creating the finest buildings in the colony.
Michael Beashel is a resident of Sydney’s inner West, an
authority on Sydney’s built environment and with a lifelong career
in construction management.
He has long studied and researched the colonial development
of Sydney, its street layouts, wharves and buildings of the mid-1850s
and the people who came by sailing ship to pioneer its growth.
With an Irish background, Beashel’s interwoven families that
feature in Unbound Justice are all from Ireland, the Leary family, McGuire
and O’Hare families and the notorious Baxterhouse brothers.
The Sandstone Trilogy is a series of historical novels, with a rich
cast of characters; a family saga in which love, revenge and tragedy
all influence John Leary’s destiny.
Unbound Justice is a thoroughly enjoyable, well-written novel and
I can’t wait to read Michael Beashel’s second and third volumes of
The Sandstone Trilogy.
Industrious, Innovative, Altruistic
The 20th Century Boat Builders of Battery Point
by Nicole Mays
published by Navarine Publishing, Hobart, Tasmania
Price $60.00 (368pp; 21cm x 30cm)
If you walk or drive along Napoleon Street in Hobart’s historic
waterfront suburb of Battery Point you can see remnants of what
was once a great boat-building complex, old sheds and slipways,
jetties protruding into the River Derwent, and a large dock cut into
the rock face.
From Charlie Lucas, Purdon and Featherstone, Percy Coverdale
and the Taylor Brothers to Jock Muir, Max Creese, Purdon Brothers
and Bill Foster, the 20th century saw more than a dozen commercial
boat building yards in operation along the Napoleon Street corridor
of Battery Point.
In total, hundreds of men were employed as shipwrights and
hundreds, possibly thousands, of vessels, from workboats to harbour
racing yachts such as Sharpies, Derwent classers and Tasmanian
One Designs, to famous ocean racing yachts, were built, of which
many remain in existence.
For example, the yawl Landfall, a
Sparkman & Stephens 44, built here by
Percy Coverdale in 1935, competed in the
2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
Writing a forward to Nicole Mays’
excellent book, Landfall’s current owner
Mike Strong says “the boat builders of
Battery Point cannot ever be regarded as just manual labourers,
they fill the space between craftsmen and artists.”
The shores of Battery Point have seen wooden boats built there
since 1835, with the dawn of the 20th century precipitating a new
generation of boat builders of Battery Point, men described by
Nicole Mays as ‘singularly and collectively ... innovative, industrious
They designed and built, and often sailed, many fine racing craft
such as the 8-Metre Erica J, all constructed from the remarkable
boat-building timbers that grow in Tasmania.
Although the last boat built at Battery Point was launched some
years ago, the legacy of Battery Point’s 20th century boat builders
continues with at least a quarter of the 470 wooden vessels they
built still in existence.
Mays has meticulously researched the history of Battery Point
boat builders, recording in detail the craft they launched, interviewing
their descendants and, in several instances, talking to the few
remaining shipwrights who built boats below Napoleon Street.
I am sure copies will be on sale during next year’s Australian
Wooden Boat Festival on Hobart’s waterfront, but they are available
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