Books reviewed by Paul Talbot 

The Best Australian  Sea Stories by Jim HaynesThe Best Australian Sea Stories

by Jim Haynes
published by Allen and Unwin
RRP $29.99
(326pp; 235mm x 155mm)

Jim Haynes has been a teacher, entertainer, songwriter, while gaining two Masters Degrees in literature and turning his hand to writing books on Railways, Aviation, Horse Racing and Trucking. After all that writing about land transportation, it was time he stepped up to the sea. He does so with the hypothesis that Australia’s history is best defined by the sea and, controversially, not the outback.

In his introduction supporting his hypothesis, apart from pointing to the vast wealth which the Clipper trade brought to Australia, Jim Haynes shoots down the ultimate Australian story of the first Melbourne Cup winner, denying that Archer walked to Melbourne to win his famous race, but simply boarded a steam vessel at Adam’s Wharf on the Shoalhaven River. What a shock.

In fact, The Best Australian Sea Stories is not all our author’s own work. He has compiled a book of his favourite stories to illustrate the timeline which he has included to show Australia’s great affinity with the sea. And each chapter is accompanied by an excerpt from some of the great authors of the last couple of centuries.

Authors such as our great poets and story tellers, Henry Lawson and AB Banjo Paterson are included, as well as such literary luminaries as Robert Louis Stevenson and Mark Twain.

Lawson’s poems The Days when the World was wide and The Ships that won’t go Down are featured, as well as his short story Coming Across. There are the Banjo’s short stories, To War with the Banjo and A Day on a Lugger. Stephenson writes of his passage from Australia to Samoa in The Voyage of the Janet Nicoll and Twain short stories are Voyage to Sydney and Cecil Rhodes and the Shark. Classic stories all, which bring back another era of many views of sailing in Australian waters.

Jim Haynes’ contributions show his own fascination with the sea and Australia’s history with his first chapter, It’s out there … Somewhere, the mystery story of the Portuguese mahogany ship, wrecked off the coast of Victoria. His other contributions continue to show his love of seafaring.

Among the final chapters is a fine piece of writing by an author named Jim Bendrodt about the journey to Australia of an English thoroughbred named Zaimis. It tells the tale of the transport ship caught in a cyclone, the horse and a young deckhand named Red – a beautiful story which Haynes collected and rightly included.

This book is available in paperback, as well as eBook format for $18.95.


Into the Storm by Dennis N.T. Perkins and Jillian B. MurphyInto the Storm

by Dennis N.T. Perkins and Jillian B. Murphy
published by AMACOM
(McGraw-Hill in Australia)
RRP $34.95
(272pp; 235mm x 160mm)

Into the Storm is a management book drawing significant lessons in teamwork from the experience of AFR Midnight Rambler, handicap winner of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart. We have read many books on the race, including Rob Mundle’s and G Bruce Knecht’s, as well as Peter Davidson’s heroics as a paramedic in his rescue of the Stand Aside crew.

The authors of Into the Storm have looked at the winner’s race to see what lessons can be drawn from the skipper, Ed Psaltis, and his crew. The result lists three crucial elements – Be willing to sail into the storm; Find ways to share the helm; and, Master the art of rapid recovery – among others.

Reading about the way Rambler’s crew prepared, sailed and combined as a team leaves little doubt as to why the smallest boat in the previous 10 years to win the race, overcame the odds as it did.