See also Nautical Tales, Yarns and Biographies

  • The Wager
  • SS Ventnor
  • The Lost Boys of Montauk
  • Worse Things Happen At Sea
  • Shipwrecked
  • The Orpheus Disaster
  • The Orpheus Disaster - HB
  • Wake of the Invercauld
  • Island of the Lost
  • Batavia
  • The Wreckers

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    By David Grann. Softback, 0.31kgs, 130mm x 198mm, 325 pages. Published 2023

    1742: A ramshackle vessel of patched-together wood and cloth washes up on the coast of Brazil. Inside are thirty emaciated men, barely alive. Survivors from the Wager, a British vessel wrecked while on a secret mission to raid a Spanish treasure-filled galleon, they have an extraordinary tale to tell.

    Six months later, an even more decrepit boat comes ashore on the coast of Chile, containing just three castaways with their own very different account of what happened. The thirty sailors who landed in Brazil, they maintain, were not heroes – they were mutineers.

    As accusations of treachery and murder fly, who is telling the truth?

    The stakes are life-and-death - for whoever is guilty could hang.

    NZ$30.00 + delivery.

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    By Keith Gordon. Softback, 0.55kgs, 155mm x 235mm, 316 pages, black & white, Colour photographs. Published 2022

    The 2013 discovery of the 1902 shipwreck SS Ventnor off the New Zealand North Island coast created major international media interest and controversy. The ship had been transporting the exhumed remains of 499 Chinese miners from New Zealand to China for reburial.

    In 2021, the bones of the lost miners were found entombed in the deep shipwreck. What is to become of these hungry ghosts of the deep is a question involving conflicting cultural beliefs and sensitivities. Artefacts recovered from the shipwreck created bureaucratic indecision and are cause for unprecedented Government legislation of a vessel lost in New Zealand seas.

    This is the full story of the author’s personal involvement with the search, discovery and exploration of a shipwreck of New Zealand national importance. The history of the lost ship, her discovery together with the story of the early New Zealand Chinese gold miners, is a tale involving New Zealand cultural and maritime heritage, daring record-breaking shipwreck exploration, and controversy involving Maori, Chinese and European cultures.

    Keith Gordon is a pioneer underwater explorer with extensive underwater and shipwreck exploration experience.
    He is an International Fellow of The Explorers Club and a past President of the New Zealand Underwater Heritage Group.

    NZ$45.00 + delivery.

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    By Amanda M Fairbanks. Softback, 0.33kgs, 155mm x 230mm, 313 pages, black and white photographs. Published 2022

    In March of 1984, the commercial fishing boat Wind Blown left Montauk Harbor- USA on what should have been a routine offshore voyage. Its captain, a married father of three young boys, was the boat’s owner and leader of the four-man crew, which included two locals and the blue-blooded son of a well-to-do summer family. After a week at sea, the weather suddenly turned, and the foursome collided with a nor’easter. They soon found themselves in the fight of their lives. Tragically, it was a fight they lost. Neither the boat nor the bodies of the men were ever recovered.

    Amanda M. Fairbanks examines the profound shift of Montauk from a working-class village—“a drinking town with a fishing problem”—to a playground for the ultra-wealthy, seeking out the reasons that an event more than three decades old remains so startlingly vivid in people’s minds.
    She explores the ways in which deep, lasting grief can alter people’s memories.

    NZ$40.00 + delivery.

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    By John McCrystal. Softback, 0.63kgs, 160mm x 240mm, 187 pages, black and white, Colour and Sepia photographs. Published 2021

    Bear witness to some of the worst nautical disasters in these fascinating, and endlessly engrossing accounts inspired by John McCrystal’s radio series 'Shipwreck Tales'.
    From heart-wrenching tales of survival against all odds to gob-smacking acts of foolish hubris.

    23 tales of Nautical Mishap, Misery and Mystery from New Zealand and Around the World, with some great accompanying photographs.

    Worse Things Happen at Sea will keep you enthralled from the safety of dry land.

    NZ$40.00 + delivery.

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    By Gavin McLean. Hardback, 1.2kgs, 222mm x 287mm, 248 pages, black and white photographs. Published 2019
    Shipwrecks litter the coasts and reefs of New Zealand. In the last 200 years over 2500 have been fatally wrecked on our shores, sometimes with horrific loss of life. Many more have been salvaged only after epic struggle.
    Historian Gavin McLean documented these tragedies and visited many of the wrecks over years of research. In Shipwrecked he explores some of the iconic disasters that wrote themselves into national history – the Orpheus, General Grant, Tararua, Wahine and Mikhail Lermontov - along with lesser-known wrecks of ordinary , everyday vessels, their ends all devastating no matter the scale.

    Shipwrecked is a story of terrifying storms, inhospitable coastlines, human error, the malicious hand of fate, and courtroom dramas. It is also testimony to courage, endurance and self-sacrifice, such as that of the stewardesses on the Wairarapa who saw to the needs of the passengers with little thought for their own safety.

    Disasters at sea are no longer the regular occurrence that led to drowning better known as ‘The New Zealand Death’, yet recent wrecks like the Rena show that perils persist. Concluding chapters show authorities and sailors have responded to the challenge of making our coasts safe, a quest that continues in the era of GPS and satellites.

    Before his untimely death in 2019, Gavin McLean had been revising his previous histories of New Zealand maritime disasters for this project. Edited for publication by historian Kynan Gentry, Shipwrecked provides the definitive history of the subject.

    NZ$60.00 + delivery.

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    By Thayer Fairburn. Paperback, 1.06kgs, 210mm x 219mm, 244 pages, black and white photographs.
    This book, originally published in 1987, was the first full and true account of New Zealand's greatest sea disaster. The book was the lifelong work of Thayer Fairburn. It is a monumental work in any sense of the term. He carefully and painstakingly researched every aspect of the wreck, following leads around the world through libraries and survivors' records. The journey was long, over sixty years of research and collation, resulting in a book with a wonderful array of maps, charts, illustrations and photographs never before seen in publication. The Orpheus Disaster is a tribute to a sea historian and his relentless search for the total picture that doomed the grand vessel that fateful day in 1863 on a massive sandbank just outside Auckland's Manukau Harbour .

    Was NZ$60.00 + delivery.
    Now NZ$40.00 + delivery.

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    By Thayer Fairburn. Hardback, 1.33kgs, 219mm x 305mm, 244 pages, black and white photographs.

    NZ$100.00 + delivery.

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    By Madelene Ferguson Allen. Hardcover, 198mm x 268mm, 256 pages, colour photographs.
    Robert Holding, a young English adventurer, was only 23 when in 1864 he was shipwrecked with 19 others on the windswept, inhospitable Auckland Islands in the sub-Antarctic Ocean south of New Zealand. By the time he was rescued a year later, only two of his shipmates were taken off the island with him, the rest having perished from starvation and exposure. This is the extraordinary story of how the three survived, and why their companions did not.
    It is also a gripping tale of discovery. Holding's great-granddaughter Madelene Ferguson Allen had her relationship to the sailor revealed when she was researching the history of her birth family. Subsequently she learned of the existence of his account of the shipwreck and enforced stay on the Aucklands, and she decided to retrace her forebear's footsteps.
    As the Auckland Islands are one of the world's last great "untouched" wildlife sanctuaries, getting permission to visit from New Zealand's Department of Conservation is no easy task. However, eventually the author was granted access and she conducted her research at first-hand on the islands in 1993 and 1995.
    In this wonderfully readable tale of adventure, wildlife encounters and life aboard a sailing ship in the roaring sub-Antarctic seas, Madelene Allen has brought an obscure piece of maritime history to life. Robert Holding's chronicle is interwoven with his great-granddaughter's story, as she visits the original home of the Invercault in Scotland, follows the young sailor's trail from England, through Australia, to the tragic encounter with the bleak Auckland Islands, and finally to his resting place in Canada.

    NZ$55.00 + delivery.

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    By Joan Druett. Paperback, 0.25kg, 140mm x 210m, 284 pages. This Edition Published 2019.
    Auckland Island is a godforsaken place in the middle of the Southern Ocean, 285 miles south of New Zealand. With year-round freezing rain and howling winds, it is one of the most forbidding places in the world. To be shipwrecked there means almost certain death.

    In 1864 Captain Thomas Musgrave and his crew of four aboard the schooner Grafton wreck on the southern end of the island. Utterly alone in a dense coastal forest, plagued by stinging blowflies and relentless rain, Captain Musgrave—rather than succumb to this dismal fate—inspires his men to take action. With barely more than their bare hands, they build a cabin and, remarkably, a forge, where they manufacture their tools. Under Musgrave's leadership, they band together and remain civilized through even the darkest and most terrifying days.

    Incredibly, at the same time on the opposite end of the island—twenty miles of impassable cliffs and chasms away—the Invercauld wrecks during a horrible storm. Nineteen men stagger ashore. Unlike Captain Musgrave, the captain of the Invercauld falls apart given the same dismal circumstances. His men fight and split up; some die of starvation, others turn to cannibalism. Only three survive. Musgrave and all of his men not only endure for nearly two years, they also plan their own astonishing escape, setting off on one of the most courageous sea voyages in history.

    Using the survivors' journals and historical records, award-winning maritime historian Joan Druett brings this extraordinary untold story to life, a story about leadership and the fine line between order and chaos.

    NZ$40.00 + delivery.

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    By Peter Fitzsimons. Paperback, 0.66kg, 153mm x 233m, 490 pages. Published 2012.
    In 1629, the magnificent Batavia - pride of the Dutch East India Company - is on her maiden voyage from Amsterdam to the Dutch East Indies, laden down with the greatest treasure to ever leave the Dutch Republic. She is already boiling over with a mutinous plot that is just about to be put into action when, just off the coast of Western Australia, she strikes an unseen reef in the middle of the night.
    While Commandeur Francisco Pelsaert decides to take the longboat across 2000 miles of open sea for help, his second in command, Jeronimus Cornelisz, takes over, quickly deciding that 220 people on a small island is too many for the scant amount of supplies they have. Quietly, he puts forward a plan to 40-odd mutineers to save themselves by killing most of the rest, sparing only a half-dozen or so women, including his personal fancy, Lucretia Jans - one of the noted beauties of the Dutch Republic - to service their sexual needs.
    A reign of terror begins, countered only by a previously anonymous soldier, Wiebbe Hayes, who begins to gather to him those prepared to do what it takes to survive...hoping against hope that the Commandeur will soon return with the rescue yacht.
    Extraordinary and terrible as it seems, it all happened, long ago, and it is with very good reason that Peter Fitzsimons has long maintained that this is one of the greatest stories in Australian's history.

    NZ$50.00 + delivery.

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    By Bella Bathurst. Paperback, 0.25kg, 128mm x 196mm, 326 pages, black & white illustrations. Published 2006.
    From the bestselling author of ‘The Lighthouse Stevensons', a gripping history of the drama and danger of wrecking since the 18th-century – and the often grisly ingenuity of British wreckers, scavengers of the sea.

    A fine wreck has always represented sport, pleasure, treasure, and in many cases, the difference between living well and just getting by. The Cornish were supposedly so ferocious that notices of shipwrecks were given out during morning service by the minister, whilst the congregation concocted elaborate theological justifications for drowning the survivors. Treeless islanders relied on the harvest of storms to furnish themselves with rafters, boat hulls, fence-posts and floors. In other places, false lights were set up with grisly ingenuity along the coast to lure boats to destruction.

    With romance, insight and dry wit, Bella Bathurst traces the history of wrecking, looting and salvaging in the British Isles since the 18th-century

    NZ$35.00 + delivery.

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