Remarkable Bare Green Patch and Other Favourite Places

Maritime undertones with a hint of windy weather

An acquaintance last weekend with a pleasing bottle of pinot got me thinking about how evocative and meaningful place names can be, reminders of people and places we’d like to go back to. The vintage in question was a pinot noir called Storm Bay, made of course from Tasmanian grapes.  Reg and I, having both sailed past that exact spot on the South East corner of Tasmania numerous times, had to pass over less imaginatively named (and priced) wines on the list and have a taste. Funnily enough my memory of the place and the taste of the wine, whilst both wonderful, were a bit mismatched; the wine being refreshing and light, and the place more wild and windswept, perhaps more suited to a boisterous shiraz!

Making his way along uncharted waters along the coast of Australia, Captain Cook and his crew must have had a lot of fun coming up with suitable names for the bays, headlands, landmarks and hazards they encountered. Whilst many tell a story about the voyage itself, others just state the blinding obvious. I imagine for Aboriginal people these names seemed superfluous given most of these places had names with significant meaning already. For me they are reminders of my travels and the people I shared them with. Here are a few of my favourite location names on nautical charts:

 “Remarkable Bare Green Patch” which is indeed a remarkably bare patch of grass on the cliffs near Diamond Head on the northern coast of New South Wales.  It reminds me of a Sydney to Southport race when we were becalmed and had time on our hands to ponder the origins of names on a chart.

 “The Wrigglers” a group of rocks not far from the Lizard Point in Cornwall. This is a favourite just because it sounds silly and makes me think of home and the Cornish tendency for unusual place names (think Mevagissey and Ventongimps).

“Sow and Pigs” on Sydney Harbour, because, well it really is a pig if you hit this one!

“The Iron Pot”, a landmark hailing from Hobart’s whaling days which stands at the entrance to the Derwent River in Tasmania, signalling the end of a cold wet voyage and the vicinity of a well earned and welcome rum!

What’s your favourite place name (nautical or not) and what does it remind you of?

Books on Boats and Things That Float

My Old Man and the Sea...

Whatever it is in life that floats your boat, is there anyone who doesn’t enjoy a couple of hours fossicking about in a book shop, flicking through the pristine pages of books on your favourite topic?

Over the years I have gathered a bit of a collection of nautical books, which when combined with Reg’s collection is the beginnings of a maritime library. When it’s cold, wet and windy outside, and for whatever reason you’re not at sea, what better way to while away the afternoon than with your nose stuck in K Adlard Cole’s classic “Heavy Weather Sailing” or a big colourful coffee table book showcasing the best of Beken of Cowes marine photography? It is for this very reason that Reg refuses to part company with twenty years worth of Yachting World, Australian Sailing and Offshore subscriptions. I have a dream that one day I’ll be able to dedicate an entire room of the house to boat books, a sailor’s drawing room if you like. Yes, I’m a boat book geek.

Step inside...if you have a few hours to spare....

This afternoon, in the absence of such a refuge, I indulged in a couple of hours of blissful arm chair sailing when I popped in to Boat Books in Crows Nest. If you’re a sailor, boater or a fan of anything remotely nautical or of a coastal inclination and you haven’t heard of Boat Books then keep reading.

Established for over thirty years and now with shops in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as a comprehensive online catalogue, Boat Books is the one stop shop for marine literature, charts and chart software. The thing that strikes you most when you browse through the shelves is the volume and variety of marine related books in stock. Far more than you’d be able to locate at the biggest general book store (5500 items in stock to be precise). Everything from the practicalities of repairing and maintaining diesel engines, mending sails, building wooden boats and plotting a safe course, through to seafood cookery books, marine and naval history, novels, marine photography and poetry, would appear to be available. There is something for everybody and if not I’m sure enquiries could be made to source what you are looking for.

Natural history meets Navy

Boat Books is also an official agent for Australian, British Admiralty, New Zealand and Fijian charts and offers a correcting service for charts you may already have. You can also purchase your digital charts and navigational software here whether for commercial or recreational purposes.


A tea towel for the galley?

With titles like “Do Whales Get the Bends?”, “Dinner with the Fishwife” and “If Matthew Flinders Had Wings” it was a miracle I came out empty handed on this occasion. The only thing missing from the Boat Books experience was a nice cup of tea to sip whilst flicking through the pages of my next Christmas, birthday, anniversary present etc. Next time you are stuck for a gift for a boating enthusiast check out the online catalogue. In the meantime the gallery below will give you a flavour of what’s available.  Boat Books will have a stand at the Sydney Boat Show at Darling Harbour where Jessica Watson will be signing copies of her new book: True Spirit.

My trip to the book shop got me thinking about whether there is an absolute all time classic boat book. Perhaps its Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World or Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons? What’s your all time favourite?


Boat Books Australia

Sydney  International Boat Show

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