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Leonard Robertson The Whangaroa & La Bella

by Jack Churchouse

Hardback, 1st edition 1982, 162 pages, good condition, small wear/tear in jacket

For Leonard Robertson his experiences in the sailing ships that once graced these and trans-Tasman waters around the end of the 19th century were always a high point of his interesting career. Indeed nothing gave him greater pleasure than to yarn about the ships, seafarers, ports and the life now part of an era all but forgotten. Fortunately these experiences were recorded, thereby allowing a fugitive glimpse of this challenging and adventurous life. Among the first sailing ships in which Leonard Robertson served was the three-masted topsail scow Whangaroa, built in 1893 and abandoned in mid-Tasman in 1911 when her bottom fell out. The career of this colourful scow has been pieced together from newspaper reports of the day. The steel barqentine La Bella, in which Leonard Robertson was second mate when she was wrecked in tragic circumstances, was a typical inter-colonial trader. What sets her apart are her owner's business records which have survived, thereby allowing a fascinating insight to be gained into ship-owning in that era. Little has been written about New Zealand's sailing ships and so this volume fills an important gap in our maritime literature. It is richly enhanced with numerous beautiful photographs as well as documents, making the book a treasure in itself."

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