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The Rock-itt : April 2010
HOBART TO HOLLYWOOD As we continue our series, Errol Flynn at 18 years of age is still managing a Copra Plantation in Papua New Guinea. But it's starting to appear that although Errol has now grasped the art of managing the plantation, and even has a young female companion to keep him company, he was becoming restless. Having researched our man through different sources it's not hard to fathom that Errol is the kind of person who is forever looking toward new horizons and beyond. Even at the young age of 18, Errol is not content to fall in line and just plod along. His lust for adventure and new exciting things is like an unnatural force pushing him forward, making him search for more than most men would bother to do in their lives. I'm sure if he was born in a different time, he would have sailed with Cook or Bligh, making new discoveries, and satisfying his need to seek out and conquer far off places. After a good stint managing the plantation, that itch to move on was creeping back stronger with each passing day. The thought came to mind, that why not start transporting the Copra instead of growing and processing it. He knew of a schooner being built in Kavieng by a Chinaman, but before the construction was completed the Chinaman had died, so now the boat would be up for sale. Errol had some savings from his plantation work but not near enough to purchase the vessel. About twenty miles further on from Errol's plantation of Matinalawa, two Australians were also working a plantation. Errol decided to pay them a visit in an effort to persuade them to go partners in a joint venture in the purchase of the new schooner and starting up the transport business. The two chaps were Dusty Miller and Simpson and when Errol put the proposition to them, Dusty Miller seemed interested and finally agreed to put up his half for the boat. The shortfall in funds would be made up from a loan taken out with a finance and shipping agency by the name of Burns Philps. Eventually Errol made the purchase and christened the schooner "Maski". This is a Papuan word, translated into our Aussie lingo, "I don't give a bugger, mate". And so it was that Errol's love with sailing boats and the sea had finally begun, a love that would stay with him all the days of his life. Having now acquired the "Maski", the next thing Errol had to do was make the new business start paying so as he could pay his creditors. But because of a lull in the copra industry, prices were at rock bottom and the plantation owners were sitting pat on their produce until the prices went up. This put Errol's and Dusty Miller's venture in a precarious position, as without money coming in, they couldn't meet their payments on the "Maski", which would mean Burns Philps would foreclose and take the vessel. To try to make ends meet, Errol began using "Maski" as a passenger and cargo boat, taking anything that needed to be transported by boat to different destinations within the area of the island provinces. Despite having no previous sailing experience and after quite a bit of bungling getting lost and going off course, and being ostracized by irate passengers, whose journey should have taken a few days but instead turned into two weeks, Errol eventually taught himself navigation well enough to be able to sail from one point to another. One day, as history would have it, Errol was introduced by one of Burns Philps' shipping agents to an American photographer by the name of Joel Swartz who wanted to hire Errol and his boat to take himself and a film crew up the infamous Sepik River. At first Errol baulked at the mention of the destination, as the Sepik was known for its inhospitable headhunting natives as well as being a malaria and crocodile infested region. The area was virtually unexplored with the exception of four days by boat from the mouth into the interior, so what lay further on was anyone's guess. But to the Burns Philps' agent, this meant that they would get a large chunk of the charter fee and put the