Sunday, October 13, 2013

Festival of Golden Words to remember the life of RICHARD CARLTON

The writers festival set for March in northern Tasmania, will remember RICHARD CARLTON the veteran TV journalist who died on assignment while covering the BEACONSFIELD mine rescue in 2006.

Last week saw the launch of the Festival of Golden Words, a writers’ event to be held annually at the historic gold mining town of Beaconsfield in northern Tasmania. It will feature 70 well-known authors from around Australia including Nick Earls, Steve Bisley, Maggie Beer and Dr Philip Nitschke.
The event will also host the inaugural Richard Carleton address as a tribute to the journalist who died while reporting the mine disaster in 2006. Richard’s family will be present for the lecture.

Pic:Officially launching the event was Tasmania’s Premier, Lara Giddings, seen here with Mayor of the West Tamar Region, Barry Easther, and the Convenor of the Festival, Stephen Dando-Collins and his wife, Louise.
Pic 2: The historic mine with the latter-day shaft in the background. The mine is now closed but attracts tourists to its museum.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

ADMIRALTY ORDERS released in paperback

ADMIRALTY ORDERS by M.C. Muir is now available from and in paperback.
Book Three in the Oliver Quintrell nautical fiction series, sees Captain Quintrell facing life-threatening events over which he has no control.
Ordered to sail to Gibraltar in the late summer of 1804, his ship soon becomes hemmed in, not by Spanish gunboats or French ships of the line, but by the Quarantine Regulations which close the port around him. Unable to halt the loss of life from a raging epidemic, he strives to do his part to help save the Colony when it is at its most vulnerable.
This seafaring adventure, set during the Napoleonic Wars, is based on actual events which took place in and around Gibraltar between August and December, 1804, including a major sea battle.
It shows how ignorance and prejudice can exist in a ship, and presents a startling portrait of life at Gibraltar - a British settlement ruled by a military garrison where naval power was only an incidental force.

I took this picture inside the Windsor Gallery which was the original tunnel dug into the Rock of Gibraltar.
It is where the 32 pound cannon were installed to defend the Rock against the Franco/Spanish enemy.

The e-book edition of ADMIRALTY ORDERS is available from Amazon at $2.99.
The paperback is also on sale through

EUROPA looses mizzen topmast in squall off coast of Australia

In August, 2013, I joined the Bark EUROPA in Fremantle and sailed along the Australian Bight.
Choosing to sail in that latitude in winter was questioned by a few hardy sailors I know.
Low pressure systems and storms roll in from the west together with icy blasts coming directly from Antarctica.
Yet, despite the forecasts, the weather was perfect for the fleet of tall ships who were heading for Melbourne and later Hobart and Sydney as part of the Tall Ship’s Festivals and Races. It was cold, but there was little rain and the winds were coming from the right direction.
At times, EUROPA creamed along at 9.5 knots. It was an unforgettable and uneventful (as far as mishaps is concerned) journey.
Not so, however, the conditions which EUROPA and the other ships were confronted with when they crossed Bass Strait heading north from Hobart and neared the south east coast of Australia.

A ferocious squall blew in, bringing EUROPA’S mizzen topmast crashing down and breaking two booms on OOSTERSCHELDE.
Here is the report of the incident which appears on OOSTERSHELDE’S website.
1 October 2013 - Oosterschelde in a squall of coast of Australia.
We decided to wait for the front that was coming our way and then sail to Sydney with wind coming from the west. With a nice sun and barely any wind we lifted the anchor and sailed slowly to Gabo Island, the southeast cape of Australia. The ‘Europa’ joined us and together we passed by the cape. Slowly, because we prepared the ship by reefing all the sails. The dark sky behind us foretold the ominous change of weather.
The next thing we knew it was chaos. Out of nowhere a huge gust of wind fell over the ship. One moment we had wind from the northwest of 5 knots and the other moment it was southwest with 55 knots! Before we could say anything the preventers of the foresail and the mainsail snapped and with a big bang both sails jibed which caused both booms to splinter. The sea, even so close to shore, builds up quickly and with big waves we swing from side to side. Despite the broken boom we did not dare to take down the foresail. Luckily the sail did not tear and we all pulled together and managed to take away the main sail and secured what was left of the booms. With only the foresail we did 9 knots. The wind is now over its peak. We have a storm jib and a very small mizzen due to three reefs, the sun started shining and we are licking our wounds. No one got hurt and in the end it could have been worse, but we will have a lot of work to do in Sydney making two new booms.

Fortunately, despite the damage, all vessels made it safely into Sydney Harbour and arrived in time for the impressive sight of the arrival of 18 tall ships.
During the time in port, repairs were undertaken and two days ago the fleet left Sydney heading for New Zealand.
From there, some of the more hardy vessels, including the three Dutch Tall Ships, will set sail for the mammoth voyage to Cape Horn. After doubling the Horn they will sail to the Falkland Islands as part of their circumnavigation of the globe.
Bon voyage and a safe voyage to all the intrepid voyage crew on board.
Pics of Europa and of damaged ship from a crew member of Oosterschelde.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


THE CONDOR’S FEATHER is an unconventional historical equestrian adventure.
It features an unconventional protagonist.
And much of it is set in an unconventional location – the Pampas of Patagonia.

It has been written that this land was the last place on earth which God created. That he used all the pieces He had left over, the deserts, plateaux, mountains, rivers, lakes and glaciers. Not wanting to waste anything He threw them all together and created the tail end of the earth.

“This is just one of Margaret Muir’s evocative and memorable descriptions of Patagonia, a land about which so much has been written and repeated. Muir spends a great deal of time creating a sense of the Patagonian landscape in all of its beauty and, at times, savagery. She evokes the constantly changing colours of the Patagonian sky but also takes moments to cover the vast open steppe with its violent winds and sandstorms that rake the land, so the reader is left in no doubt of the formidable wild frontier that Patagonia once represented to most, even until the fairly recent past. She also clearly has a love for animals, vividly describing both domestic animals such as the dogs and horses that travel with their masters, and the wild guanaco, pumas, ostrich-like ├▒andus and condors that the travellers meet on their journey.”
From Amy Turner, Cascada Expeditiones/Cascada Travel, Santiago, Chile.

THE CONDOR’S FEATHER was first published in hardback by Robert Hale in London. It is now available as a kindle e-book for $2.99
(FREE for 5 days on Kindle on 10 Oct.2013)

Pic – Lady Florence Dixie whose real life adventure on the Pampas inspired this story.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Tall ship ENTERPRIZE replica

FLAX, HEMP and STOCKHOLM TAR used in this replica.
The replica ENTERPRIZE, which sails regularly on Port Phillip Bay, was constructed on the lines of the original. The 1830 Hobart-built topsail schooner was a bulk cargo ship that carried coal and other goods, however, in 1835 she landed the first settlers on the Yarra River. This was the establishment of the settlement that later grew into the City of Melbourne.
Aiming for authenticity, the latter-day builders insisted on using the same materials as in the original vessel. As a result, the sails are hand-stiched from flax imported from Scotland. The standing and running rigging is of natural hemp fibre imported from Holland coated with Stockholm Tar.
All the timbers are Australian and New Zealand grown or recycled. The tiller and windlass are examples of the fine craftsmanship that went into building this replica tall ship.
This interesting replica vessel takes passengers on regular day sails on Port Phillip Bay.
I photographed her during the Tall Ships Festival in September 2013.