In memory of John Ivimey, founder of Boat Books

John was part owner of Hornblower for more than 20 years before ‘going bush’ to Tamworth
Rob Cruse
John Ivimey, the founder of Boat Books Australia, the Crows Nest-based specialist nautical bookshop and Admiralty chart suppliers, has died after an extended illness at Tamworth, to where he retired some years ago.

John, who was aged 79, ran Boat Books for more than 30 years, extending it to Boat Books in Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth, later opening the popular Cookery Book bookshop above his store in Crows Nest, the northern Sydney suburb. This also extended interstate.

During this time at Boat Books, John expanded it to become Australia’s largest specialist marine bookshop and chart agency, supplying both the professional and recreational sides of boating with topics ranging from boat building to yacht racing, navigation and world wide cruising.

He also encouraged Australian authors such as Alan Lucas and promoted the publication of their books, as well as actively supporting adventurers such as Ian Johnson and Cathy Hawkins in their round-the-world voyage in their little trimaran Twiggy.

John became an active harbour racing yachtsman, joining friends Fred Adam and Peter Campbell in having the Bonbridge 27 Hornblower built 33 years ago, fitting out the boat themselves.

John and Peter raced Hornblower in partnership for 20 years on Pittwater and Sydney Harbour until John retired from business and ‘went bush’ to Tamworth with his wife, Susan.

'John thoroughly enjoyed sailing on Hornblower and the crew always looked forward to the wonderful lunches he always provided for us all,' his longtime friend Peter Campbell said.

'He will be remembered for his great contribution to recreational boating by establishing Boat Books, especially by those yachtsmen and yachtswomen who bought from him books on navigation and the meticulously updated Admiralty charts as they learned to pilot their vessels around Australia and, indeed, the world.

'John loved life and his daughters tell me he was still enjoying a glass of whisky almost to the end of his long life,' Peter added.

At Tamworth, John lived an active life, contributing to the community through radio operations at the rural bushfire brigade, often working an eight hour shift at fire control and rising to the rank of Senior Deputy Captain before retiring. He also lectured on cryptic crosswords at the local U3A, 'a mind-stetching exercise that still gives me a thrill when I get all of a cryptic out and can mentally say I’ve beaten the computer,' John wrote recently.

In Sydney, he was a member of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia for many years and was very active in the Crows Nest Rotary Club.

John is survived by his wife Susan and daughters Beth, Jennie and Linde.