|CLASSIC DIVE BOOKS
Sailors and Sea Travel.
Please note: The books are listed for interest only, and not offered for sale.
MILLION OCEAN MILES
Sir Edgar Britten, Commodaore of the Cunard-White Star Commander of RMS Queen Mary.
Hutchinson & Co., London. 1936.
Hardcover, dust jacket, 274 pages plus 32 pages of book advertisements, several interesting mono photographs, no index.
From the fly: ‘This glowing autobiography tells how young Edgar Britten first went to sea in a barque, the Jessie Osborne ; of his ten years in ‘sail'; how he achieved his master's certificate in sail and steam ; and of how he gradually rose from post to post in the service of the Cunard. During the War he was carrying troops or commanding hospital ships, and the fact that his ships were singularly free from mishap displays only too clearly his fine seamanship. Staff Captain of the Lusitania, he has commanded at various times the Mauretania, Aquitania, Samaria, Laconia and Franconia. In 1931 he succeeded Commodore Sir ArthurRostron as Captain of the Berengaria, continuing in her command until the proudest moment of his life saw him taking the great Queen Mary to sea. Sir Edgar Britten has figured in many dramas of the sea, and his story of these, together with the numerous thrilling events of his career, makes enthralling and vivid reading. These reminiscences were fortunately completed shortly before his tragic ending.'
I did not enjoy this book. I could not warm to the man, and his writing style was annoying to say the least. The annecdotes have not weather the decades well and appear purile and insignificant. The only redeaming feature, to my interest anyway, was the description of some of the navigation and communication equipment used during these early decades of the 20th century. I have the impression that the good commodore was a pompous ass, but having not met the man, what would I know. His one hour after Sunday church services in his cabin with his senior crew sounds like a terrible ordeal for the senior officers of the ship, and right on the hour they were ushered out of the cabin to leave the commodore with peace and quiet. Doesn't sound like good PR to me. Like Gattidge in his excellent biography, Britten tells insignificant tales of the rich and famous on board but always in a positive way - there is no criticism and if a passengers causes attention because he is drunk, his real name is never mentioned. Damn, there is no scandal! What particuarly annoys me is that the captain's tales are about the good ship Berengaria; he only took command of the great Queen Mary for one return voyage I think it was, before his death by natural causes, a stroke. Yet the book is promoted on the skirt of the great lady. Its the Queen Mary on the cover - and no photo of the Berengaria within the book. What a disappointment. [ps]
ANGELS AND WHALES
A Record of Personal Experiences Below and Above Water. Robert Gibbings.
First published in 1938 by Penguin Books; revised and enlarged in 1946. Printed by The Travel book Club, London, 1947. Hardcover, 114 pages, nicely illustrated by the author.
This immediate post-war period must have been an exciting time to travel and dive the world. The author visits Bermuda, the Red Sea, Ghardaqa, Tahiti and other mysterious places as they would have been in those days. His diving equipment looks like a letterbox with shoulder straps and a hose attached and is described as " a helmet, alength of hosepipe and an air pump". Had he bent over, he would have lost the helmet. The noise of the pump was horrendous, and he had som difficulty keeping his negative buoyancy until someobe suggsted he wear a leaded-belt!!! His observatioons of mrine lif, and expereinces above and blow water, are worth reading.
The scanned cover (left) of "Blue Angels and Whales" is the 1938 paperback which is still complete with the DJ, even on a paperback. [pt]
PS comment: my copy of the 1938 paperback edition does not have a dust-jacket. There is no indication that it is not a British printing.
Some Naratives of Sport and Adventure in the Modern Mrchant Service.
Tinsley Brothers, London, 1883.
Hardcover, quarter-bound in leather, 288 pages.
Preface: In recounting the following experiences, my desire is to illustrate life among the junior officers and seamen of the merchant services of to-day; using, at the same time, a certain sporting element, together with a nautical style of phraseology, as my vehicle. Pompous ass! How an author can write nearly three-hundred pages of drivel beats me! Chapters include Shark Killing; How Sailors Fare; At the Helm: A Sailor's Grave; A Plea for the Shark; On Board a Britisher; My Largest Shark; In The Roaring Forties; Under a New Flag. But give the man his due - he believes, against common opinion of the day, that "I am compelled to believe that on a few rare occassions sharks have attacked and devoured living human beings". Okay, maybe he does not wrote drivel, but the style is most off putting. I guess it's simply its age that makes thios book interesting. [ps-in need of restoration]
EARLY ENGLISH VOYAGES OF THE SIXTEEN CENTURY
Walter Raleigh, Professor of Englsih Literature in the University of Oxford.
James MacLehose and Sons, Publishers to the University, 1910.
Hardcover, no dustjacket, 206 pages, index, no photographs nor drawings.
When I first saw this I thought it was by the great man himself, but alas, not so. But then, I can see why the good professor would take on such an interest in maritime history. He does of course mention his famous namesake, indeeds lauds him as ‘the greatest adventurer of them all'. Much of the book is taken up with the works of the prolific maritime chronicler Richard Hakluyt. A book more for the scholar of British maritime history rather than the casual reader of maritime matters. [ps]
- A Voyage To Rio In A Four Masted Barque.
Hilary Tunstall –Behrens
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1956.
Hilary Tunstall-Behrens had left Oxford and was teaching at Salem in 1951, when his imagination was fired by the sight of the two great four masted barques, Pamir and Passat, in the harbour at
Lubeck, fitting out for trading voyages to South America. He enlisted as a member of the crew. It was an astonishing crew – English and German cadets, refugee sailors from East Germany, and a U-boat commander trying to rediscover the foundation of a way of life. The author of this book helped in the training of the boys on Outward Bound principles at a country estate in Germany, and sailed from Hamburg soon after Christmas for Rio De Janeiro. The whole enterprise was not merely an exciting voyage and a remarkable social adventure, but a rediscovery of the ways of sail. The author writes with gay enthusiasm, an infectious mixture of schoolboy and poet. The story of the voyage from the German winter, through a stormbound spell in the channel while the Margate and Walmer life-boats stood by, moves through the calm of tropical days at sea into a happy chapter on a sailor's life ashore in Rio; and the long voyage home. In this book we learn the songs, stories, irritations and dangers of such a journey and such a crew. It is a valuable record of great fascination and integrity.
OF THE SEA. A Book of Shipwrecks and Escapes.
Published 1924 by Philip Allan & Co., London.
Hardcover, 204 pages, mono photographs. From 'The White Ships' of 1120, to the Titanic in 1912. Includes the Royal George (1782), La Tribune (1797), Medusa (1816), Rothsay Castle (1830), Birkenhead (1852).
Hardcover, no dustjacket my copy, 294 pages, eight mono plates, 18 chapters, covering shipwreck from 1120 (the White Ship), to the loss of the Titanic in 1912. Within these dates are the losses of: Wager 1740; Phoenix 1780; Royal George 1882; La Tribune 1797; the Medusa 1816; Kent 1825; Rothsay Castle 1830; and Birkenhead 1852. Other chapters : The Strange Voyage of Piertro Quirini 1431; the Last Voyage of Sir Humfrey Gilbert 1583; the Casting away of the Tobie 1593; the Wreck and Redemption of Sir Thomas Gates 1609; the Story of Occum Chamnam 1686, the Shipwreck and Slavery of Saugnier 1783. [ps]
Also listed as: 1928 reprint of the 1924 original, No. 3 in the Nautilus Library series; 254 pages, cloth cover, gilt device on front cover, gilt title on spine, with dustjacket (as shown), 17.4 x 11.5 cm.
DAYS The Tales of Adventure.
Published by John Lane The Bodley Head Ltd. Date not known.
WAS A BUSINESS.
Cyrus H. Karraker, author of The Hispaniola Treasure.
Richard R. Smith Publisher, Inc 1953
Hardcover, dustjacket, 244 pp, illustrated with old maps and drawings.
For, indeed, there was a time when pirates swarmed all over the world....This volume makes a noteworthy contribution by emphasizing how consistently the merchant and politician were in league with the pirate and how valiantly those who hated piracy fought to eliminate it from the high seas and from the coastlines of every continent. The author describes the pirate's various exploits ~ their terrorizing, plundering and wrecking ~ and their fabulous kingdoms and societies such as those on St. Mary's Island, Madagascar and in the Caribbean. Highly fortified against unwanted intruders, these island strongholds were the storehouses for enormous amounts of loot and treasure. Merchants traveled great distances to obtain these stores in trade for rum, ammunition and provisions. In these pages we learn of the true personalities of those "romantic" buccaneers we have all known, in a vague sense, since childhood. Meet Blackbeard, Bartholomew Roberts, King Adam Baldridge and the whole parcel of lesser lights as they really were. A pirate book to be read with consuming interest by both general reader and scholar.
My Early years at Sea.
Sir James Bisset.
Ex-Commondore of the Cunard Line.
Angus and Robertson Ltd, London, Sydney. 1958. Reprint 1959.
At fifteen the author went to sea as an apprentice in the three-masted barque County of Pembroke, plying its way from England to Australia, New Zealand and the west coast of Amrica. For six years he served in ail making four voyages around Cape Horn. He ended up commanding the great Cunard ships Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary.
A Book of Sea Adventures.
Published in 1933 by Eyre and Spottiswoode, London.
Hardcover, 340 pages, mono photographs.
Sixteen chapters covering a number of themes - Drifing to Death, Ordeal by Fire, Perils of th Deep etc.
(My copy signed by the author, as a gift to a Sewell Wells, Christmas 1933.
Published in 1932 by George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd, London, Bombay and Sydney. 284 pages, mono photographs. Reprint July 1934.
Anything by Villiers is interesting and original. In fact, he mentions that anyone can write a sea book - just 'buy copies of the other sea books already written, and then ... compile a book that is more or less your own'. Quite so. He was already an accomplished author when he wrote this volume.
A Narrative History of Some Survivors from th Dangers of the Sea.
Robert Carse. Published by Robert Whiting & Wheaton, London, 1966.
Chapters include those on Alexander Selkirk (the 'original' Robinson Crusoe), William Dampier, Job Hortop, John Byron, Willen Barents, Francis Sparry and Goodwin, Herman Melville, Mary Bryant and Alfred Russel Wallace. Hardcover, dustjacket, 240 pages, index, bibliography.
CRUISE OF THE CACHALOT.
Round the World after Sperm Whales.
CRUISE OF THE MARCHESA TO KAMSCHATKA AND NEW GUINEA
With Notices of Formosa, Liu-Kiu, and Various Islands of the Malay Archipelago.
Published in 1889 by John Murray, London.
Hardcover, no dustjacket, gold embossed on blue cloth boards, with image of vessel, and title in script lettering (quite attractive); 460 pages, 'with maps and numerous woodcuts'.
The copy I have is the Second Edition. It appears that the First Edition was in two volumes, and included two hand-coloured plates of birds. More of an anthropological study, it gives a detailed description of the flora and fauna of the islands mentioned, the poeple, and the geography. An important work.
There are several excellent fold-out maps, and the engravings are quite superb. The Marchesa was an auxiliary screw schooner yacht of 420 tons, under Captain C.T. Kettlewell who was also the owner, built on the Clyde in 1881. In January 1884 she set sail on a most remarkable voyage, returning home to Southampton in April 1884. The author's descriptions of the flora and fauna, the people, the geography and environment, the climate, and the seas is quite extraordinary. It centres more on the fauna and flora, not unlike Darwin's Beagle voyage a half century before. [ps]
DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA
Published 1959, by Jonathan Cape, London.
Hardcover, dustjacket, 382 pages, charts, mono prints.
I gather this is a major work on th subject.
REMARKABLE STORY OF ANDREW SWAN.
Being A Record Of His Experiences, Of His Shipwreck, And Of His Many Escapes From Death During Forty-Four Years Of Wandering Adventures By Land And Sea.
London, Hodder And Stoughton Limited, 1933. Hardcover with dustjacket, 8vo;254 pp; free map endpapers.
STORY OF THE SEAMAN
Being An Account of the Ways and Appliances of Seafarers and of Ships From the Earliest Time Until Now.
John Forsyth Meigs.
Published in 1924 by J.B.Lippincott Co, Philadelphia and London.
In Two Volumes. Hardcover, no dustjacket, title and author lightly embossed on cover and spine, 675 pages (total), several mono plates, index.
A very imporant work as it describes how the ancient (and modern) ships were manned and manoeuvered; there use in trade and war.
This is heavy going - only the most dedicated of maritime students would have the constitution to wade through so much information. The text is small and tireing to read, but the content is remarkable, fascinating, so much knowledge crammed into two heafy books. Volume One takes us from the very earliest documented mariners, the Phenicians; the early battes five centuries before Christ; the wars of the Greeks and Romans and Persians, and how they operated and manned their ships; the ships of Christ, from five centures before his time through to five centuries after; the ‘round ships' of the Esat from 500AD to 1500; and the development of navigational skills and the use of the astrolabe and compass, and their voyaages. Volume 1 contaains 28 mono illustrations. Volume Two continues the chronological theme, with the ships of the Crisades; the ‘throwing machjines' and use of gunpowder in war; and the ships in the more recent half a millenia. The final two centuries of our existence are barely covered - Cook and Dampier and Magellan and a few others are mentioned, but the author apparently leaves their voyages for other writers to document. Volume two is illustrated with twenty mono plates.
For the student of ancient maritime development, these volumes are invaluable. [ps]
WRECK OF THE DUMARU
A Story of Cannibalism in An Open Boat.
Published in 1930 by P.F.Collier & Son Corp, New York by special arrangement wwith Doubleday, Doram & Co, Inc, New York.
Hardcover, 270 pages, mono photographs.
The steamship exploded when near Guam soon after the end of World War 1 (from what I can gather), with some fo the crew managing to escape in two boats. It was all downhill from there - the boats floated off into the Pacific, and in a twenty-eight day journey which saw terrible depravations, and cannibalism, made the Philippine islands.
"The wreck of the Dumaru, with its nightmare tragedy, was indeed an episode too dark for this century, the twentieth. The things that came to pass, with an excess of terror, horror, and pity, might appear to have small part in the circumstance and chances of modern life at sea. They belong rather to an older and eviler day on the than to these times of wireless, skilfully scues, better construction and equipment of vessels, and regulated precautions of have to deal with an idea which for long centuries had its ominous place in life at sea, in the notions the people of the land held about the sea. It was the ultimate and culminating disaster which might befall those who venture afar upon the waters. Indeed, you might classify the wreck of the Dumaru as a monumental example in classical tradition."
Note: Lowell Thomas is the author of the acclaimed biography of Count Von Luckner, ‘The Sea Devil'. [ps]
GO THE SHIPS
McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1928
Hard Cover, dustjacket (with sailing ship on front); 293pp.
Twelve nautical stories of Bluenose sea captains and ships. These are the hardened skippers of Nova Scotia.
Publishers and Distributors
303 Commercial Road, Yarram, Vic 3971, Australia
Phone (03) 5182 5108 International 61 3 5182 5108
homepage, link on graphic.