Wayne Patfield has saltwater in his blood and a passion for the maritime history of the Hunter Valley.
The Paterson Historical Society will publish the first of a series of his books about shipping in the Hunter titled "Sailing Vessels on the Paterson River 1804-1912" .
Wayne's book is based on two decades of painstaking research and interviews. He had so much information on the subject he has had to split it up into several books.
"I was quite surprised really when I started putting it together, I didn't realise there were so many ships that came up here," he said.
"It was just phenomenal. They went right up to Gostwyck and you can't even get a canoe up there today."
The Paterson River became the heart of the first century of European settlement in the area.
Sailing vessels brought in much needed supplies and then shipped the Valley's produce to market via Morpeth, Newcastle, Sydney and beyond.
Wayne is a retired supervisor at Port Waratah Coal Services and his ancestry explains his enthusiasm for ships in the Hunter.
His great, great grandfather Samuel Patfield (who is buried at Paterson) worked as a deckhand and Samuel's sons in turn were ships' captains and crew members.
His great grandfather Alfred was a former bootmaker at Dungog before becoming involved in shipping.
The book will be sought after by those interested in colonial vessels, their builders, operators and agents and is set to become a definitive reference for anyone wishing to understand the river trade, the people and their vessels.
"The books will tell you the size of the vessel, who built it, what it was built out of, the registration of owners so it will be good for family historians looking for anyone involved in shipping as all the names are in it," said Wayne.
The community is invited to a book launch at the Woodville School of Arts (beside Iona Public School) at 3pm on Sunday, December 1.
The Hon John Price AM will officially launch the book. John is former Deputy Speaker of the NSW Legislative Assembly and former Member for Waratah and later Maitland. He has a lifetime association with the Hunter and Newcastle, working as a maritime engineer building ships in Newcastle prior to representing the people of the Hunter for over 23 years in the NSW Parliament.
Afternoon tea will be available in the Hall from about 2.30 and Wayne will sign books before the launch. Admission is free, but for catering purposes, please RSVP at sailingvessels.eventbrite.com.au
The book will be available from McDonalds Bookstore in Maitland, Paterson Post Office, Paterson CBC, and on Sundays at the Paterson Courthouse Museum or online from the Society at patersonhistory.org.au.