Saturday, March 17, 2012

HM Bark ENDEAVOUR - an ignominious end

After her voyages under Captain Cook, ENDEAVOUR was used as a Navy store ship, and in 1775, she was sold and her name changed to LORD SANDWICH. When the British occupied the city in the American Revolution, she became a transport vessel carrying German troops to Newport in 1776. In 1777 and 1778 the LORD SANDWICH was used as a prison ship to secure American patriots.

In July 1778 when the French fleet arrived at Narragansett Bay to support the American army, in order to avoid capture and protect Newport, Rhode Island, from the French fleet, the British burned and/or sank 10 Royal Navy vessels plus 13 transports (including the LORD SANDWICH ex ENDEAVOUR).

The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP) is engaged in a multi-year process to locate and identify the 13 British transports scuttled in1778. One of its aims is to positively identify the LORD SANDWICH.

PS: I'm looking forward to spending 3 days as a tour guide on HMB ENDEAVOUR replica in Hobart, and hope to learn a little more of the ship's eventual demise.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Where Wild Winds Blow - a review

Where Wild Winds Blow by Jack Binder is a remarkable true-life adventure of two modern-day explorers. It tells of a sea voyage in a home-built yacht, Banyandah, which takes Jack and Jude half way around Australia and through some of the roughest seas known to man.

Where Wild Winds Blow is written in Jack’s inimitable style – sometimes brash, often touching but always heart-warmingly honest. The author has a masterly way of seeing and appreciating Nature in all its awesome beauty, and an engaging way of describing the couple's connection with it.
The book’s pages exude the child-like enthusiasm Jack and Jude experience when investigating new places – windswept islands where few people have walked before them – and of the trials they encounter along their journey.

But Where Wild Winds Blow reveals more than the intoxication of a sea voyage in the company of dolphins, whales and sea eagles, it also relates to the pain of a perfect storm, of an encounter with modern-day pirates, of broken equipment, near beachings, the intense chill of Antarctic winds, and of course, the constant challenge and changing moods of the sea.

Where Wild Winds Blow is a great complement to Two’s a Crew and a recommended read for anyone who loves the sea.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Isaac Asimov on Writing - I can't agree

Isaac Asimov on Writing.
Thoughts from the maestro of science fiction

“There is a romantic notion that there is such a thing as inspiration – that a heavenly muse comes down and plunks her harp over your head, and presto, the job is done. Like all romantic notions, however, it is just a romantic notion.”

“If your grammar and spelling are rotten, you won’t be writing a great and gorgeous story. Someone who can’t use a saw and hammer doesn’t turn out stately furniture.”

“Writing is the most wonderful and satisfying task in the world, but it does have a few insignificant flaws. Among those flaws is the fact that a writer can almost never make a living at it.”
Posted in:
World of the Written Word
Reflections by Joan Druett, award-winning maritime historian, speaker, reviewer, and author

What do I think?
I would certainly agree with Azimov’s statements that ‘Writing is the most wonderful and satisfying task in the world’ and that ‘a writer can almost never make a living at it.’

But I disagree when he says ‘there is no such thing as inspiration’. Inspiration sparks story ideas, and inspiration ignites the words on paper. I believe I ‘suffer’ from visitations by the 'heavenly muse'. I certainly know when the muse is taking a week off.

Marlon Brando great performance as Fletcher Christian in MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY

Just watched MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (1962) Marlon Brando/Travor Howard version (Amazon $9.16 – 2 x DVDs).

For me this was a great movie, and Marlon Brando’s performance as Fletcher Christian far out-shone that of Mel Gibson playing the same role.

Apart from the acting, the 2nd disc has the story of the replica ship which was built in the traditional manner for MGM. It was certainly not a cardboard cut-out but a slightly larger version of the actual BOUNTY constructed from original plans bought from the Admiralty.

The ship’s own story from the keel up, to its voyage across the Pacific, to the making of the film and to its later trials and tribulations leading to it’s eventual restoration, are documented.

Friday, March 09, 2012

HM Brig ENDEAVOUR in Hobart March 2012

Having been accepted as a volunteer guide, I’m looking forward to joining HMB ENDEAVOUR for 3 days when she is berthed in Hobart at the end of this month.

It's about 10 years since I stepped on the deck of Captain Cook’s replica Whitby Cat. That was for a half day trip as a paying passenger. I'm really looking forward to the experience.

Will have my camera with me and take lots of pics.

Mary Patten - Captain of Clipper ship in 1856

Coincidentally, (International Women’s Day), I have just read, THE CAPTAIN’S WIFE the true, but fictionalized narrative, of Mary Patten who captained a great clipper ship around the Horn in 1856.
Sailing out of Boston, 19 year old Mary, accompanies her husband, Joshua aboard NETUNE’S CAR on a voyage to San Francisco which is expected to take about 100 days.

Before they reach the Horn, however, the first mate’s behaviour is such that he is locked in the hold and Joshua suffers a debilitating illness (possibly meningitis) and is only semi-conscious for much of the voyage. With a 22 year old second mate doing all he can on deck, Mary, being the only one who can use the sextant, must navigate and take control of the ship. The struggle to get around the Horn takes weeks but the ship eventually makes it to San Francisco after 138 days.

The author, Douglas Kelley, recounts an accurate picture of square rigged sailing under torrid conditions.
A good read.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Female sailor aboard the wreck of the Sydney Cove

In Max Jeffreys' narrative recounting of ‘The Wreck of the Sydney Cove’, in 1797 a handful of survivors sailed and hiked hundreds of miles over rugged terrain to get help for their mates who they had left on a desolate island in Bass Strait. During an arduous struggle along a cliff top, one of the young lascar sailors fell to the rocks below, and it was soon evident that the body was that of a young woman.

It was the First Mate, Hugh Thompson, who had picked up a group of lascar beggars from the streets of Calcutta and, favouring one in particular, had made ‘Pochari’ his cabin boy. Only after 6 months did he discover she was not a boy. But he told no one and no one suspected the truth.

The wreck of the Calcutta-built Sydney Cove, carrying a cargo of rum, is a remarkable true story of hardship and survival. I enjoyed Jeffreys’ re-telling, apart from the broad Scottish dialect of Captain Hamilton which, as the printed word, slowed my reading.