Graeme Cocks. Through Darkest Seas. Motoring Past Vintage Publishing, 2023
465 pages. Includes B&W photos, maps and engravings, Glossary, and Index.
Reviewed by Peter Manthorpe
I am not ashamed to say that reading this book brought back to me a flood of memories and left me with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.
Graeme Cocks, in this superbly well written book, tells the story of adventure and achievement that spans the centuries. The story of Duyken, the first known European vessel to visit the Southland and link the 3 modern nations of Australia, The Netherlands and Indonesia, is one that is not well known in popular history, being somewhat overshadowed by that of James Cook and Endeavour. Building the replica, and then taking her on 2 momentous voyages has brought that history to life, has set the ship firmly in her proper place in that history - and this book tells that story. But it is modern history as well. The trials and triumphs of those voyages, and perhaps most important of all, the people that were involved - the visionaries, board members, shipwrights, crews, support crew, riggers, volunteers, shipkeepers, and endless others that made this story what it is. I was supremely privileged to sail first as Mate and then Master of what is probably the greatest little ship in my 43 year career at sea. That ship, and those people have had the most profound effect on my life and career and have given me a wealth of stories that I am still telling. In this book Graeme has captured many of those stories and the personalities of those that were involved, and I, for one, are grateful he has written this record, it needed to be told.
If you are a sailor , a historian, or indeed just interested in a great story about an Australian adventure, you need to read this book.
At sea. January 2024.