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Books reviewed by Paul Talbot
BOOKS OF THE
Boat Books Tel: 1300 262 826
Two yachties John and Karen meet in the Clipper Bar in Porto
Cervo, Sardinia and twelve years and two children later, they decide
to pursue a one-year sabbatical spending winter in Denmark’s
capital Copenhagen, sailing the Mediterranean and crossing the
Atlantic Ocean as part of the ARC yacht rally. Intense family time
is not always easy, with their boy diagnosed withAspergers, living
in cramped conditions and home-schooling their kids making
tempers flare and putting additional stress on the family. But all
in all the journey turns out to be the experience of a life time.
PB 403 pages $29.95
RYA – Navigation Handbook
This has always been the best book on general navigation
written around the RYA’s Yachtmaster programme, and
this second edition aims to provide the reader with a
sound understanding of the principles of navigation as
well as providing insight into the ways in which electronic
navigation can be used to best effect. Some of the topics
include: charts, position fixing, tides and tidal streams,
course to steer and estimated position, pilotage and passage
planning. If you can master most of this easy to read book,
then you are well on the way to being a competent navigator.
PB 191 pages $39.95
Australia’s Highway of Lighthouses
by Garry Searle
published by Seaside Lights
RRP $99.95 (419 pp; 332mm x 243mm)
In May 2002 we reviewed Daniel Charles’ book, Lighthouses of the
Atlantic, concluding that it was one for the aficionado. Charles
wrote the commentary and the French photographers, Philip
and Guillaume Plisson, provided their wonderful collection of
photographs, including the triptych of Le Four lighthouse on the
French coast. A revisit to this book is well worthwhile.
And so we come to Garry Searle’s scholarly record of the
lighthouses of Australia. The title, First Order, references the lens
construction of a very large number of lighthouses constructed
in Australia, for the most part during the 19th century and then
into the 20th century.
The book includes 46 lighthouses constructed from 1818 –
Macquarie Tower, NSW – to 1950 – Point Quobba Lighthouse,
WA. A map shows the geographical location of all the First Order
lighthouses, including whether they are still operating with their
original lenses or whether the lens is till located in the building.
To prepare the reader for the excursion through these
structures, Searle shows us diagrams of the 22 different types of
first order lenses installed in our lighthouses, together with their
manufacturers and locations installed. Then comes a bar chart
showing the “Life Cycle and Movements” of the lenses, followed
by a page of terminology, another for the Glossary and the first
of many photographs showing the intricacies of the lenses.
By this stage the reader is ready to explore the subject of
the book, but Searle has more preparation to do by way of some
history of the development of the thinking around the need for
lighting the coastline.
Sydney Heads was the first to receive the benefit of a lighthouse
under Macquarie’s governorship with a tower designed by Francis
Greenway, constructed between 1816 and 1818 and manned by
the first superintendent, Robert Watson (after whom Watsons
Bay is named).
Sydney’s own major disaster, the shipwreck of the clipper,
Dunbar, underscored the general need for safety approaching our
coastline. In a touch of historical irony, Searle reveals that the
only survivor of the Dunbar wreck, James Johnson, later became
an assistant keeper at the Nobby’s Lighthouse, Newcastle.
But it was HMS Beagle ’s survey of Bass Strait in 1837 (after
the Darwin voyage) that showed the perils of navigation through
those waters and the wrecking of the ship Cataraqui in Australia’s
worst maritime disaster with the loss of all but nine of her 411
passengers and crew that gave most impetus to change.
From here the author takes us through the development of
each of the First Order lighthouses from Swan Island in Bass
Strait in 1845 through to the end of the 19th century when Point
Perpendicular, NSW was constructed in 1899.
Each lighthouse is discussed in detail, from the choice of
the particular site and construction to the manning by keepers
and their families. Each lighthouses evolution and current state
is summarised, together
with the changes in power
sources over the years.
A surprising statistic
is in the chapter on the Cape Byron Lighthouse which was built
in 1901 and is still operating with its First Order lens. Its six-wick
kerosene burner produced 145,000cd (Candela or candlepower).
Now, with its Tungsten halogen globe, 2,000,000cd is produced
quite a leap with modern technology.
While the Plisson/Charles collaboration produced a book of
great beauty in their work, Garry Searle has made Australians
aware of the history of our own great buildings in his book
First Order. Concentrating on function as well as aesthetics,
Searle’s writing and stunning photography provides a complete
commentary on his well loved subject.
First Order is available from Boat Books or the author at
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