Friday, September 18, 2009

Beam Ends by Eroll Flynn

Back in 1930, Erroll Flynn and three friends decide to cruise the north Australian coast on their 44- foot yacht Sirocco. Departing from Sydney, they intend to explore the great barrier reef up until Drake's passage, before crossing the seastrait to New Guinea.

Flynn is in his early twenties, still penniless but he has already quite some life experience. His glamorous future is still far away.
Thanks to his slim and entertaining book "Beam Ends", first published in '37, a journal of this odyssey, we are able to join these four friends on their adventures on and off the water. A very entertaining read! Especially in the harbours, their flirting and fighting, their scheming and stealing, their drinking and... drinking, offer one great laugh after another. Needless to say the boys are wild, but the towns they are visiting are wild too!
But not everything is always fun. Their sea-crossings on a leaking boat, not really fit for such an adventure, are dangerous and scary. They meet people who are so utterly down and out and lonely, it makes you weep. They witness the niceties and cruelties of the indigenous people and quite unexpectedly, tragedy in the end will strike the Sirocco too.

The book reminds me a bit of Moitessier's early escapes with his boat in the seas around Indochina, which he describes in his beautiful book "Tamata et l'alliance" and it reminds me of course of my own ocean crossing and my voyage along the Brazilian coast with my friends back in '88.
Boys will be boys.