BOOK REVIEW | Curious Voyages: A Collection of Astoundingly True Tales

This is a delightful book. The author has a particular talent for re-presenting well-known stories, in a very readable, interesting and entertaining way. He has been ably assisted by an equally talented artist in Andrew Murray whose simple paintings bring the author’s prose vividly to life.

The voyages described in this eclectic collection go back to 530 AD with St Brendan’s trans-Atlantic wanderings that are widely believed to have included North America. They are a mixture of mostly Australian-focused maritime history leavened by some very interesting global yarns.

Your reviewer’s favourite is the story of Captain Robert Miethe and his German nitrate clipper Pitlochry. After a record trip from Chile in 1894, the ship was waiting off the mouth of the River Elbe for a pilot to take it up to Hamburg to unload. The pilot was unavailable. Not surprisingly, as a hurricane was forecast.

On a lee shore, Captain Miethe had nowhere to go other than up the Elbe. Under bare poles, effectively, he achieved that in record time, just managing to round-up, luff and anchor before colliding with a fleet of waiting steamers. A brilliant combination of seamanship and luck.

Author: Russell Kenery

Available from Love the Pen, Red Hill, Victoria, Australia.


Neil Baird

Co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Baird Maritime and Work Boat World magazine, Neil has travelled the length and breadth of this planet in over 40 years in the business. He knows the global work boat industry better than anyone.