This is a romantic story of shipwreck hunting, with pieces-of-eight, Dutch ducatons, German talers, Burgundian crowns, and Spanish silver dollars lost and recovered from the sea floor.
Edwards has been recognised as the ′primary finder′ of the wreck of the Batavia, upon which his best-selling book Island of Angry Ghosts is based (and upon which Peter FitzSimons′s new book is based). Edwards′s Batavia book has been published by Angus and Robertson/Harper Collins since 1968 (16 reprints), and on its release won the Sir Thomas White Memorial Prize for ′best book by an Australian′.
Along with a close look at the Batavia and other Dutch East India Company wrecks found off the WA coast, the chapters of this memoir include shipwreck adventures in the Mediterranean, Cambodia (where he was ambushed by Pol Pot) and expeditions to the Falklands and Ascension Islands in the Atlantic, where Edwards recovered the ship′s bell from William Dampier′s 1701 Roebuck.
An expedition to the shell-battered wreck of the 1914 German cruiser Emden in the Indian Ocean makes an interesting contrast with the sunken Greco-Roman city of Apollonia in North Africa with a Cambridge University expedition.
Another exotic venue lay in the South China Sea where the great Chinese junk Tek Sing had 2000 people aboard when she struck a reef off Sumatra in 1822. Only 250 people were saved in the Tek Sing tragedy, and the death toll of 1750 unfortunates was higher than the losses from the more famous Titanic in the Atlantic in 1912. When they dived on the Tek Sing in 1998, Hugh′s team raised 350,000 pieces of Chinese porcelain, the world′s greatest porcelain salvage.
Edwards says: ′A man may be considered lucky to be associated with one treasure in a lifetime. I have been fortunate enough to have been involved with four treasure ships with perhaps another one to go. Somewhere behind an Abrolhos reef off the WA coast are three tons of silver coin in iron-bound chests. Fingers crossed there!′
PB 304 pages