Written by Peter Campbell
07 April 2017
Blood, Sweat & The Sea: The Life of John Muir, who ‘winched the world from down under’
By Mike Swinson with Georgie Pajak and Nicole Mays
416 pages, 22omm x 290mm
One of the treasured and informative volumes on my bookshelf is a signed copy of Jock Muir’s biography, a wonderful record of the yachts that the famous Tasmanian shipwright designed, built and frequently sailed.
Now I can proudly put along Jock Muir’s book, ‘Maritime Reflections’, a splendid volume that covers the successful business life of his son John.
Not in boat building, but in establishing and developing an internationally renowned engineering company specialising in winches for huge pleasure yachts, defence craft and passenger ferries.
The title of this biography of John Muir, ‘Blood, Sweat & The Sea’ epitomises the courage and foresight of yet another of the Muir family.
Walkley Award winning journalist and magazine editor Mike Swinson has achieved an excellent result from researching, writing and obtaining many historic illustrations for the book.
A fascinating story of John’s sailing with his father is recorded in ‘Blood, Sweat and The Sea’: his recollections of the delivery voyage from Hobart to Sydney to Trevassa, built by Jock for Sydney yachtsman Russell Duffield.
‘Trevassa was abeam of Green Cape on the Australian East Coast, running with a tri-sail and storm jib before a waning south-westerly gale,’ John recalls. ‘The seas were big and lumpy.
“I was below….suddenly I felt the stern lift and looking skywards over the scupper boards I saw a humongous sea breaking behind us.
“Trevassa was standing almost vertical with her mast virtually horizontal to the water as she plunged downwards on what must have been a huge rogue wave…we estimated later was at least 60 feet high.”
From a humble beginning, Muir Engineering produced its first commercial winch, the Muir M2 hydraulic anchor winch, in 2003. The following year the Kingston-based company’s first VRC1000 hydraulic anchor winch was shipped the Nice Boat Show.
Today Muir anchor winches can be found on many of the world’s biggest and most luxurious pleasure craft, as well as police and military patrol vessels, fast passenger ferries and workboats.