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Life in the shallows

Heritage and character have moved.#

The drawings and articles are now to be found at

Why Kelp Strewn.#

Kelp Strewn is a nom-de-plume, a name that a writer uses instead of his or her real name. There is a tradition of great female writers using noms-de-plume. The Brontë sisters, George Sand, and George Eliot are examples.

I first used this nom-de-plume decades ago when I was reading a lot of nautical history and associated sea writing.

As I recall it there were a series of links that led me to this nom-de-plume. It began with "The Totorere Voyage" which I found remaindered in a Devonport bookshop. This is a book in the tradition of Johnny Wray's "South Sea Vagabonds". It is about the work of Gerald Stanley Clark MBE who built an Allan Wright "Nova" design yacht himself. The design was much modified by Mr Clark, and included extra length and extra scantlings for strength.

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Mr Clark spent many years in the Southern Ocean counting seabirds as a retiree. The coastlines of the south of South America are a big part of this story and captured my imagination. At the same time I borrowed from my father-in-law a copy of "Byron of the Wager" an historical account of a wreck on the same coast.

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These things led me to accounts of the Yahgan, people who lived on the littoral edge rocks at the very bottom of the continent.

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The appeal of sailing as a sport or as a pastime lies partially in the literature that comes with it, a history that is not always positive. As I review these images I am struck by the strong presence of a "civilised" colonist world view, putting the locals and the men of the foredeck in their place.

A further reinforcing factor lies with my early childhood memories on the west coast of Auckland, where we used to fish off the rocks. The "cauldron" at Karekare beach was our spot, and this has a rock in its centre that trails kelp.

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This favourite image of mine, now housed in the boarding house at Whatipu, captures it.