Book Review-‘To Sea in a Sailing Ship: A celebration of the Golden Age of Sail from the diaries and photographs of Mary Lang, girl sailor of the 1930s’ by Sue Vader (ed.)

By, published November 2020


Mary Lang was an adventurous young Australian who made two voyages as a passenger in deep water sail in the 1930s, both of them in Finnish four-masted barques. The first passage was in the L’Avenir, with Captain Nils Erikson, from Australia to England, during which she rounded Cape Horn, and the second was the return trip to Australia in the Parma, with Captain Karl Karlsson.

This slim book is illustrated with her excellent photographs and extracts from her well-observed diary. It also contains a sad love story, for she fell for one of the crew of the Parma, Able Seaman Knut Andersson, and there is a charming photograph of them dancing together on deck. Although she became engaged to him and went so far as to travel to the Ă…land Islands to visit his family, ultimately she was pragmatic enough to break it off. Many years later she was upset to find out that as second mate he had been one of the few survivors of the four-masted barque Olivebank, when she was mined and sunk in the North Sea a few days after the outbreak of the Second World War, only to be killed later in another merchant ship, still unmarried…

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Filed under: Interwar
Subjects include: Biography | Manpower & Life at Sea

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