Author(s): John Young
John Young first left England, at 10 days old, for Sierra Leone with his missionary parents in 1934. Thus began a life of adventure, travel, and zest for new opportunities. After a childhood spent between Africa, the Yorkshire moors, and English boarding schools, he set off at 17 alone for New Zealand to be a forester and then to university, paying his way with an assortment of jobs from boatbuilder to wharfie to postman. Pursuing a career on the stage was somehow combined with completing an MA degree, as John energetically threw himself into working out where to live, what to do, and who to love. Marriage, a return to England to take a degree at Oxford, and starting a family, were followed by a move to South Australia and an academic career.
Through all this, there were always wooden boats. A leaky skiff held together with pitch, old rope and a father's love. Summers spent making himself useful to owners of other boats. A boat to sail
as a young couple in New Zealand; a sloop built in the backyard and sailed amongst the Fijian islands mapping ancient fortifications; the 100-foot sail training ship, One and All, built with community perseverance and now gracing the waters of South Australia. Boats built with unique Tasmanian timbers, after John and his wife moved to Franklin to establish a school of wooden boatbuilding and helped a town recover its remarkable maritime identity.
At 85, John looks back on the many choices made and turns taken in his life with some pride in his achievements as well as regret at his failures--and still wants to build another boat.
Dr John Young is the author of Australia's Pacific Frontier (1967), Adventurous Spirits (1984), A Touch of Magic: The Building of the One and All (1984), Sustaining the Earth (1990) and numerous articles on New Zealand, Australian, Maritime and Pacific History, environmental issues and the educational value of wooden boatbuilding.