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Local adventurer, Anne Millen launches new book

By Alistair Gray 


Anne Millen, a recently retired, well-known Bribie Island physiotherapist, has just launched her second book, Tripping over the Ocean. This time, a fiction extravaganza follows the adventures of Aria Stihl in what was supposed to be a simple delivery voyage between Auckland and Suva when events change all that. When you read it, hold on tight because you are in for a treat. 


Anne is no stranger to writing and storytelling, having written her first book More Than a Thousand Dawns in 2014. A non-fiction book, it’s a memoir where she tells the story of her five-year circumnavigation of the world in a yacht, with her then-husband Robert and two young children. While living in the Middle East, she spent 10 years editing Gazelle, the Dubai Natural History Group newsletter, wrote for Cruising Helmsman and Arabian Wildlife magazines and wrote regularly for the Gulf News tabloid. In her first book, Anne acknowledges the influence of her father, who was a great storyteller, having grown up with Aboriginal people who would sit and tell stories with them, embellishing freely to much laughter.  


“Telling a yarn is a much-valued skill,” she said. “We all aspire to it, so I cannot help it. I tell anecdotes.”  


Born in Australia, Anne was educated and grew up here before heading to New Zealand and marrying a Kiwi. Her husband worked as a Ministry of Works engineer, building the Maui pipeline, which meant they moved north as the pipeline was built, creating many opportunities for sailing. 


Robert’s love of sailing saw them have a boat built in Whangarei. However, the shipbuilder went out of business thanks to Muldoon's luxury tax so they finished the boat themselves. As a result, they ended up sailing around the world with a temporary head, temporary engine controls and temporary floors. The yacht was called ‘Rehuata’, meaning morning mist. It was Robert’s dream to sail around the world. Anne said she couldn’t even swim, but eventually, they ended up back at the Opua.  


“I absolutely loved the experience, every single moment of it,” Anne said.  


Other than the circumnavigation, most of her sailing was done in New Zealand. On their first ocean crossing from Auckland to Suva, they experienced a tropical revolving storm, called that because it was outside the summer cyclone season. 


“Bob was a very intuitive sailor who could feel the sea,” Anne said. “I was never really afraid. I was sometimes afraid that things would get worse, but I was never afraid of what was happening at the time because we did what was appropriate and didn't take any risks. So, what magic? Oh my goodness.” 


The kids adapted quickly to life on board Rehuata, doing their schooling via the New Zealand correspondence school which was excellent, requiring very little input from their parents. As time passed, Anne and Robert were concerned they may be impacting the kid's education, enrolling them in school in England for a year, only to find the kids were a year ahead with their schooling.  


“So much for screwing up their education,” Anne said.  


Their experiences of visiting different countries and cultures were instead enhancing their education.  


Besides being an author, Anne strongly advocates for ‘Clean Oceans’, removing plastic waste and pollution from our seas. She is an active supporter of recycling and cutting unnecessary waste. 


I took the opportunity to ask Anne why she wrote this book. 


“Well, I just wrote it for the joy of writing about sailing because I love writing about sailing. I feel like I am out there in my heaven. There is nothing like it, just such a feeling of freedom,” she said.  


Then Anne went on to recount a funny story.  


“I was pitching Tripping Over the Ocean to a New Zealand librarian and she surprised me by asking, why did you write and what was your motivation for writing? I was completely taken aback and stunned by the question. I didn't hear her clearly. And so, I gave a frivolous answer. I said ‘oh, it's my protest against the modern novel. It has no sex or swearing in it’. The librarian replied ‘oh, it is a children’s novel’.” 


In her quiet way, Anne Millen has a delicious sense of humour and a way of bringing her stories alive. I am loving reading some of her work. If you are looking for a good holiday read, check out Tripping over the Ocean and More Than a Thousand Dawns, readily available on Amazon.com



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