I love ships, love boats, especially old ones. Love wharves and shipping yards, even today when they are little more than towers of containers and acres of imported cars. Love living on an island so every time I go to town I have to take the ferry. There are dolphins sometimes, and Orca, and on Friday evenings the yacht fleets are out for the twilight races, scattered across the harbour.
I don’t come from one of those hearty boating families, all Swallows and Amazons and high tea on the high seas. I didn’t learn to sail until I was 40, but I learned in Sydney Harbour, which made up for the wait.
But I was born in a dockside working town (Port Melbourne), and my grandfather was a wharfie, so I guess it’s in the blood. If there was a big cruise liner shipping on the weekends, we’d go down to Station Pier and wave them off. If the Navy was in port, we’d get sneaked on board and shown around. You might wonder about security – it was strict, even in those days, but it didn’t apply to my grandfather. After he’d retired, the guards still waved him through those gorgeous old wooden gates: “Good onya, Bill. You kids behave yerselves, mind.”
Once there was a tall ship, a gleaming white naval training ship (I think it was Portuguese) and I fell in love.
So now, wherever I travel in the world (well, besides the desert) if there’s a ship or a boat, I’m on it.
I think that demands a post of its own.
In the meantime, here’s my dreamboat: the Star Flyer, on which I sailed from Istanbul to Athens, shot from the ramparts of the Crusader castle in Bodrum. Or did I dream that?
And you wonder why I write books about pirates…