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Beam Ends by Errol Flynn

Beam Ends

by Errol Flynn

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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 sea strait to New Guinea.

Flynn is in his early twenties, still penniless but he has already quiet 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 quiet 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".

Boys will be boys. ( )
6 vote Macumbeira | Sep 19, 2009 |
I was digging in a box of books on a card table at a flea market along the National Road, somewhere east of Blaine, Ohio last Saturday. Not really expecting to find anything. But, bibliophile to the core, dig I must. There at the bottom of the box was a musty, water warped 1937 hardcover copy of Errol Flynn's Beam Ends. The dust cover looking as ragged and patchy as a flag from a Revolutionary War battle. But for this tale,which ended in a shipwreck, after many near reef groundings, the weathered binding was perfect. The copy looked like it could have been the ship's surviving log book.

In 1930, Flynn was an undiscovered actor and knocking about the South Seas as a jack of all trades. The tale begins with him waking after a debauch and being informed that he had swapped his stake in a gold mine for a 44 foot storm-beaten schooner, that could barely stay afloat in a harbor. Always the man to rise to a challenge, or find one, before long, Flynn found he had enlisted three friends on a 3000 mile journey from Sydney, Australia to Port Moresby, New Guinea. The theoretical two month journey - along the North Coast of Australia, past the Great Barrier Reef, and across the Coral Sea - stretched out to seven months with all sorts of picaresque interludes, from sheep stealing, to opium running, to riding giant turtles, to falling in love with a beautiful virgin. Flynn was a true swashbuckler, long before he was Captain Blood. And was a damn fine writer too. Imagine Robert Howard writing a sea journal and you get the idea. You probably won't find a better summer beach read than this book, presupposing you can find a copy at all. But if you just remember Errol Flynn and smile, that might be relaxation enough. ( )
20 vote Ganeshaka | May 31, 2009 |
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