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A marina full of space age technology. cast in the form of pleasure craft. stretches before me; millions of dollars worth of monopoly money tugging gently on nylon leashes. My attention, however, is diverted from these state-of-the-art maritime fantasies to the iron-ribbed skeleton of another era, the barque James Craig, rescued from dereliction in Recherche Bay, Tasmania, now in the process of loving restoration by Sydney maritime buffs. On display in an effort to drum up the necessary restoration funds, she is a proud reminder of our sea-faring past, when wood and wire and rope and iron and canvas were alchemisted to poetry by Naval architects and craftsmen untrammelled by test tank computer science.
Skeleton though she be, there is about her enough to conjure up the past of fast passages, the wool and timber and general cargoes, the gales and the calms, and the sweat and blood of ordinary seamen who drove and laboured to make her come alive. And for me she still has a curious cargo, a psychological one of vague associations with the byways of Australian education history, literature, socialism, and Kylie Tennant.