One of the blessings of being a writer for a boating magazine like this is that you write mainly about heroes – heroes at the helm, heroes at the design board and heroes on the tools. Tony Armit and his crewman Tig Loe are two major heroes. With very limited previous boatbuilding skills, Tony built Marco Polo, a 28ft ketch he had asked Bert Woollacott to design, in a Newmarket yard. He and Tig then proceeded to sail west-wise right around the world, the first Kiwis to circumnavigate.

Marco Polo is the brilliant story of that circumnavigation. It embodies the overwhelming passion for yacht-building and sailing offshore that swept New Zealanders starting in the Depression years of the 1930s with heroic impecunious battlers like Johnny Wray and Dick Wellington and their Pacific adventures in Ngataki and Seaward.

Tony and I grew up in the same patch (Auckland’s North Shore), went to the same school (Takapuna Grammar) and sailed and hung out with the same people (Ma Sutherland of Marangi included). But I was totally unprepared for the quality of his story-telling and the effective simplicity of his prose style. It is so engagingly written that it’s a very hard book to put down.

Tony’s Marco Polo easily ranks alongside Johnny Wray’s South Sea Vagabonds and will be a classic of Kiwi adventure writing for generations to come. BNZ – Reviewed by Harold Kidd.