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David Andrews
August 25th, 2012, 10:33 PM
When "Coasting" was released, I couldn't resist distributing electronic copies to a raft of my old contemporaries, men who were at sea as the same time as the book was written. Some of them sailed with me at the time and teased me unmercifully as I pecked away at the portable typewriter with two fingers. I've been harvesting the result if that distribution over the last week, generally phone calls, long ones, but occasionally personal visits that turn into long sessions of laughter and reminisces of days gone by. The common thread is how accurately I captured the times and guessing games as to on whom I based the characters. With the exception of Cabbie Barker, the drug pusher, the accuracy of their guesses hasn't improved with time. A lot of men remembered the pusher who operated in the back bar of the Wollongong Hotel, some even knew his real name and what happened to him afterwards.
The ships came in for a lot of discussion, most recognized the Dargo under her real name and all had tales to tell about her control air system and its impact on their sleep. The Kooyonga and Ringbolt girls was another source of memories and, if we'd heard most of the tales before, it didn't stop our enjoyment at their retelling.
It will be interesting to hear what non-seafaring reviewers think of the tale, but none of them will elicit the genuine pleasure and pride I've felt over the last week.