See also Nautical Tales, Yarns and Biographies

  • Shipwrecked
  • Puriri Disaster
  • The Orpheus Disaster
  • Wake of the Invercauld
  • Island of the Lost
  • Batavia
  • Batavia's Graveyard
  • The Wreckers
  • The Shipwreck Hunter
  • Into The Raging Sea
  • Erebus. The Story of a Ship
  • Sir John Franklin's Erebus and Terror Expedition

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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 Ben Gibbs. Paperback, 0.07kgs, 155mm x 215mm, 50 pages, black and white, colour photographs. Published 2015
    At the outbreak of the war the Royal Navy (NZ Division) was in dire need of auxiliary vessels and experienced seamen to operate them. Small merchant ships and their crews were often requisitioned for Military purposes. Puriri was one of these, requisitioned by the Navy in November 1940 and fitted out as a minesweeper, she was commisioned as HMS Puriri in April 1941 and assigned to a flotilla sweeping mines in the approaches to Auckland Harbour..

    On 14th May 1941, 25 days later the HMS Puriri struck a mine eight miles off Bream Head. She sank very quickly with the loss of five crew.

    This is her story.

    NZ$20.00 + 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 .

    NZ$60.00 + 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$52.00 + 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$48.00 + delivery.

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    By Mike Dash. Paperback, 0.34kg, 130mm x 195mm, 446 pages, Published 2003
    The Dutch East India Company loaded the Batavia, the flagship of its fleet, with a king’s ransom in gold, silver, and gems for her maiden voyage to Java; the ship itself was a tangible symbol of the world’s richest and most powerful monopoly.

    The company also sent along a new employee to guard its treasure. He was Jeronimus Corneliszoon, a disgraced and bankrupt man with great charisma and dangerously heretical ideas. With the help of a few disgruntled sailors, he hatched a plot to seize the ship and her riches. The mutiny might have succeeded, but in the dark morning hours of June 3, 1629, the Batavia smashed through a coral reef and ran aground on a small chain of islands near Australia. The captain and skipper escaped the wreck, and in a tiny lifeboat they set sail for Java—some 1,500 miles north—to summon help. More than 250 frightened survivors waded ashore, thankful to be alive. Unfortunately, Jeronimus and the mutineers had survived too, and the nightmare was only beginning...

    NZ$32.00 + 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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    By David L Mearns. Paperback, 0.42kg, 130mm x 198mm, 400 pages,Colour Photographs. Small Format Published 2019.
    David Mearns has found some of the world's most fascinating and elusive shipwrecks. His deep-water searches have solved the 66-year mystery of HMAS Sydney, discovered the final resting place of the mighty battlecruiser HMS Hood and revealed the Australian Hospital Ship Centaur in the narrow underwater canyon that served as its grave. His painstaking historical detective work has led to the shallow reefs of a remote island that hid the crumbling wooden skeletons of Vasco da Gama's sixteenth century fleet.

    The Shipwreck Hunter is the compelling story of David's life and work on the seas, focusing on some of his most intriguing discoveries. It details the extraordinary techniques used, the research and the mid-ocean stamina and courage needed to find a wreck kilometres beneath the sea, as well as the moving human stories that lie behind each of these oceanic tragedies.

    Part detective story, part history and part deep ocean adventure, The Shipwreck Hunter is a unique insight into a hidden, underwater world.

    NZ$26.00 + delivery.

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    By Rachel Slade. softback, 0.29kg, 130mm x 198mm, 391 pages, Published (in small format) 2019.

    On October 1, 2015, Hurricane Joaquin barreled into the Bermuda Triangle and swallowed the container ship El Faro whole, resulting in the worst American shipping disaster in thirty-five years. No one could fathom how a vessel equipped with satellite communications, a sophisticated navigation system, and cutting-edge weather forecasting could suddenly vanish—until now.

    Relying on hundreds of exclusive interviews with family members and maritime experts, as well as the words of the crew members themselves—whose conversations were captured by the ship’s data recorder—journalist Rachel Slade unravels the mystery of the sinking of El Faro. As she recounts the final twenty-four hours onboard, Slade vividly depicts the officers’ anguish and fear as they struggled to carry out Captain Michael Davidson’s increasingly bizarre commands, which, they knew, would steer them straight into the eye of the storm. Taking a hard look at America's aging merchant marine fleet, Slade also reveals the truth about modern shipping—a cut-throat industry plagued by razor-thin profits and ever more violent hurricanes fueled by global warming.

    A richly reported account of a singular tragedy, Into the Raging Sea takes us into the heart of an age-old American industry, casting new light on the hardworking men and women who paid the ultimate price in the name of profit.

    NZ$28.00 + delivery.

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    By Michael Palin. softback, 0.34kg, 128mm x 196mm, 334 pages, Colour Photographs. Small Format Published 2019.

    The remarkable story of Erebus, following from its launch in 1826 to the epic voyages of discovery that led to glory in the Antarctic and to ultimate catastrophe in the Arctic.

    The ship was filled with fascinating people: the dashing and popular James Clark Ross, who charted much of the ‘Great Southern Barrier’; the troubled John Franklin, whose chequered career culminated in the Erebus's final, disastrous expedition; and the eager Joseph Dalton Hooker, a brilliant naturalist – when he wasn't shooting the local wildlife dead...

    Vividly recounting the experiences of the men who first set foot on Antarctica’s Victoria Land, and those who, just a few years later, froze to death one by one in the Arctic ice, beyond the reach of desperate rescue missions, Erebus is a wonderfully evocative account of a truly extraordinary adventure, brought to life by a master explorer and storyteller.

    NZ$30.00 + delivery.

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    By Gillian Hutchinson. softback, 0.56kg, 190mm x 245mm, 175 pages, Colour Photographs. Published 2017.

    In 1845, British explorer Sir John Franklin set out on a voyage to find the North-West Passage – the sea route linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. The expedition was expected to complete its mission within three years and return home in triumph but the two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, and the 129 men aboard them disappeared in the Arctic. The last Europeans to see them alive were the crews of two whaling ships in Baffin Bay in July 1845, just before they entered the labyrinth of the Arctic Archipelago.

    The loss of this British hero and his crew, and the many rescue expeditions and searches that followed, captured the public imagination, but the mystery surrounding the expedition's fate only deepened as more clues were found. How did Franklin's final expedition end in tragedy? What happened to the crew?

    The thrilling discoveries in the Arctic of the wrecks of Erebus in 2014 and Terror in 2016 have brought the events of 170 years ago into sharp focus and excited new interest in the Franklin expedition. This richly illustrated book is an essential guide to this story of heroism, endurance, tragedy and dark desperation.

    NZ$42.00 + delivery.

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