Sunday, December 14, 2014

Some sound thinking from John Vigor.

I have often wondered about the usefulness of a mast head light for the very reasons John expounds on so well..

Best place for an anchor light

ALMOST EVERY CRUISING SAILBOAT I see has an anchor light perched on top of the mast. What a silly place for an anchor light. What’s wrong with sailboat designers and builders? Have they never crept into a crowded anchorage late at night and nearly run into some yacht whose anchor light is hidden among the stars high overhead, instead of down low at eye level where you can see it?

There is nothing in the rules that says an anchor light must be the highest thing on a yacht. Rule 30 (b) of the international navigation rules says a vessel of less than 50 meters in length may exhibit an all-round white light “where it can best be seen.”

It used to be the fashion in the last century to run an anchor light about one-third of the way up the forestay, and often that light was a kerosene lantern (which is still legal, incidentally). But for some reason boat designers took it upon themselves to place a electric anchor lights atop the mast, about as far away from the battery as it’s possible to get. That meant extra-heavy copper cables running back and forth, cables that slapped against the interior of an aluminum mast at night when you were trying to sleep.  The cables were heavier because it was necessary to avoid the voltage drop occasioned by the long electrical circuit.

My anchor lights have always been suspended over the aft cockpit, slung beneath the boom. This is a more sensible height for the light — right where the eyes of a helmsman approaching at night would be focused. Some of the light splashes over the cockpit coamings and the adjacent cabin top, too, which is useful and also enables you to check on the anchor light from down below.

I don’t know of any official statistics that prove a low anchor light prevents more collisions that an anchor light set on top of the mast, but I can offer the circumstantial evidence that I have anchored in scores of busy places and never been hit. You may say that’s obviously because there’s someone up there looking out for me; but I wouldn’t go so far as to claim that. I don’t think I’ve been good enough to deserve special favors from above.

With thanks to John Vigor a man who knows his own mind!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Gallipoli 1915 - 2015

Getting close to the centenary of the Gallipoli landings in which my Grandpa took part as a trooper signaller in the 6th Light Horse.

Unfortunately he passed away before any interest I might have had could be answered.

In May 2012 I was able to stand on the beach at Anzac Cove and see what he would have seen all those years before,and in my case without the risk of getting my head blown off.

We can't imagine what it would have been like but Ion Idriess through keeping a diary and later writing  The Desert Column does a pretty good can be downloaded here and makes for a great read

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Thing of Beauty Is A Joy Forever

Changeable Weather

It never ceases to amaze just how completely the weather can change from this:

To this....overnight!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Amazing Adventure

Kev Oliver and Tony Lancashire

In a post-exploration world, two relatively ordinary blokes, serving Royal Marines, decided they wanted an extraordinary 21st century adventure. In this refreshingly honest account they re-live the highs and lows of sailing and rowing a tiny open boat, completely unsupported, through one of the most iconic wilderness waterways on the planet—the Northwest Passage across the top of Canada.

They describe battling with an Arctic storm miles from land and being caught in the worst sea ice for more than a decade. At one point they are forced to drag Arctic Mariner, their seventeen-foot boat, across ten miles of broken pack ice to reach open water.

Their story is enriched by the Inuit people and the incredible wildlife they met along the way, including all-too-close encounters with both grizzly and polar bears. And they relate with honesty how the isolation and stresses of the high Arctic shaped the bond between their two very different personalities.

This is neither an exposé of global warming, nor a detailed study of Inuit culture. It is not particularly long on the historical quest for the Northwest Passage. It is quite simply the tale of two blokes, up north.

... this expedition was to try something extremely difficult, perhaps not possible, but if we always flinched from attempting the difficult things in life then humans would never have progressed ... we are living in an increasingly risk-averse society, but risk is what makes the adrenalin flow, brings spice into our lives and shows others that risks are part of living. Far from being discouraged it should be supported.—Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Norfolk Broads

A couple of years ago I fulfilled a longstanding wish and sailed in the Three Rivers Race on the Norfolk Broads. While being a native of the UK and living on its East Coast, I never managed to sail on that wonderfully magical stretch of interlocked rivers and broads until that marvellous experience.....and oh how I had missed out!

I encourage anyone who gets the chance to experience this beautiful wild place to grab it with all haste.

Here is an example of the beauty...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Slow Sailing Manifesto

Whatever your craft, whether a rowing boat, or a luxury yacht, it’s your relationship with your boat and the sea that matters. Regardless of length, price and equipment, your craft isn’t just another of your many possesions but rather an agreeable travelling companion with whom you can learn about the sea and, more importantly, about yourself.

Spend time aboard your craft even if it’s just tied up in the harbour. Make the boat part of your living space. Do little jobs aboard, this will heighten your sense of ownership and will strengthen the ties between you and your craft.

Leave your hurries and worries on the quay when you go sailing. Go without a set time to return, as if you were leaving for a long journey. Forget your watch and let the sun guide you. If you take speed and time out of the equation you’re left only with space: the sea.

Sail without a strict course or destination. Let the wind and sea take you where they will. Don’t think about miles covered or those still to go. Don’t go anywhere, just sail and enjoy the moment.

Disconnect the electronics and sail like they used to. Learn not to depend on your instruments. When was the last time you took a bearing? Or a sun sight? Find your position and mark it on the chart. Forget the windspeed indicator, feel the wind on your face. Learn the art of sailing, become a real sailor.

Disconnect the mobile and turn off the music. Cut your ties with the land. Listen to the murmuring sea, the bow wave, the flap of the sail, the breathing wind.

Don’t hog the helm. Let somebody else take it. How long has it been since you stretched out on deck or sat at the bow? If you’re sailing alone, tie off the tiller, balance the sails and let yourself go. Trust in your crew and in your boat.

Write a log book. Detail your sailing trips and note down your feelings. Then go back over your notes and re-live the experience. Share your experiences with others in what ever way suits you best.

Race, if that’s what you like, but don’t go for the prize. Go to learn about the sea, your boat and yourself. There’s no more stimulating prize than this.

Don’t desert your boat, she’d never desert you. (This is a play on a famous Spanish campaign to stem the amount of pets that are abandoned by the roadsides in Spain, particularly during the summer holidays.)

Contemplate the sea for a while each day, let its energy flow into you and take it wherever you go.

 By Joan Sol via Ben of the Invisible Workshop – where you’ll find some great videos of Ben sailing the Western Mediterranean in a boat not unlike my Walkabout. Thanks Joan and Ben.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

John Welsford sailing his SCAMP design on Hamilton Lake

As good a way as any of starting my first blog post of the New Year with a photo of John Welsford sailing his delightful SCAMP on a summery Lake Rotoroa in Hamilton, New Zealand.

John had just completed the boat for a customer and this was its maiden voyage.

Fortunately I had phoned John to wish him compliments of the season and been invited down to take some photos and have a sail.....I can't stop smiling, these little boats have that effect on you!