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How a Townsville library book travelled the world, finally returned 33 years late


A book by America’s Cup-winning skipper John Bertrand borrowed from a Townsville library in 1987 has found its way back to the returns box, having sailed around the world for 33 years aboard various yachts.

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The book, Born to Win, was passed from one westward-bound skipper to another until it recently returned to Australian shores, according to Julie Zacchei from CityLibraries Townsville.

Zacchei said the book was mailed back to the library by a woman who found it on board the Tasmanian yacht Roama.

“We have a lot of books that travel a lot of places, but this one I think is going to take the cake,” Zacchei said.

“It has travelled for about 33 years to about every port in the world… people have read it, loved it, put little comments in it, and eventually has come back to us,” she said.

The book’s round-the-world journey appears to have been suggested by a reader in September 1987, who wrote on the inside cover that it should be passed to any westward-bound yachties.

The proposition also included a note to library staff indicating the return journey could take some time:

“To the Librarian, We are sorry that this book is a little overdue but we have all enjoyed reading it. Thanks.”

Looking at the notes left inside the cover, the book has travelled to locations including Kastellorizo Greece, Palha, Spain and Gothenburg, Sweden.

Around the world in 33 years

Born to Win is Australia II skipper Bertrand’s account of Australia’s 1983 America’s Cup victory.

One of the many yachties to read the globe-trotting 1985 edition was Simon Adams, who wrote inside it in July 1989, while aboard the Roama.

“Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to get this book back to Townsville and Thuringowa Library Service.”

Mission completed.

The book’s water damaged and sightly mouldy condition means it can’t go back into library circulation, however staff are considering using it for a display.

“I think its story still continues and needs to be told,” Zacchei said.

“There are certainly a lot of interested people who are looking at it and asking about it.

“I think it is a tale that we will be telling for many years to come.”

The original borrowers will be happy to hear that CityLibraries Townsville does not enforce late fees.

– ABC / Nathalie Fernbach

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