Don Silk built his first boat, the "Patsy Jean", with a book on boat building in one hand. Constructed from specially milled Northland kauri, it was launched at Opononi, on the Hokianga Harbour, and in 1959 he set off for Rarotonga with his wife and baby daughter. Scarcely more than a decade later he was the co-owner, with Bob Boyd, of the highly successful inter-island shipping company Silk & Boyd, based in the Cook Islands. At their peak in the 1970s, they operated a fleet of three vessels and moved thousands of tonnes of cargo around the South Pacific, as well as to the various international destinations. This work recounts Silk's adventures in the Pacific over nearly four decades. During this time, vessels were bought and sold, rebuilt and wrecked; cargoes of coconuts and corned beef, pineapples and pearl shells were transported, along with crazy English beachcombers and Mormon missionaries complete with bicycles. The excitement of hurricanes and shipwrecks, stowaways and drunken sea captains was matched by the challenge of outwitting officialdom, as Silk endeavoured to explain, on one occasion, a shipment of arms and, on another, a cargo of liquor worth more than a million dollars.
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