Monday, June 27, 2005

When I look around me!

Sitting in the relative luxury of my boat tied up on my pontoon at the weekend, I looked around me and suddenly I was launched into the real world. The world of "others" the unfortunate and the very fortunate, the happy and the un happy the rich and the poor!

A while backI read in the paper that an old man ( my age) was found dead in his home and had been like that for a week. The autopsy ( his stomach contents) showed that he had been gnawing at a piece of fire wood to gain sustainance, possibly to prevent his eventual demise, this is not a fitting end for a proud man! Is this the real world? didnt anyone care?

Yesterday some friends of mine set off on holiday (the first since they got togeather six months ago) they duly worked hard to prepare their boat and on the day of their departure, duly gassed up and started down the fareway towards the marina entrance keeping to the correct side of the fairway. A passing vessel one and a half times the size of theirs rammed them whilst going astern and pushed them into a moored vessel who fortunately had the presence of mind to quickly place some fenders between the two boats. the larger boat realising their folly shot ahead and turning at the same time dragged their safety rails off their vessel (the dingy and outboard caused the damage). The ensuing discussion I am informed wasn`t pleasant and they limped back to their mooring. The bigger boat said that it was their fault for being in the correct position on the fairway and that he was the better seaman! Having made some covert enquiries it appears that the bigger boat, may have lost control of their directional control system but I guess that they will try to get away without paying for the damage, which really Pisses me off my friends being financially challenged too !

What absolutely bad luck. they are not wealthy and indeed live on their boat, their jaunt that was going to be in the way of a belated honeymoon has now been cancelled indefinitely and they have to go through all the rigmarole of sorting out who pays what, and getting the work done.

Even when I visited them today they were quite positive and getting on with life. in fact their attitude is that they now have some more freetime (being off work for a couple of weeks) to get on with some more work to their boat, what rotten bad luck.

Well the trauma of helping them back to their berth and calming them down started me thinking that some day I may find myself in a similar situation either the crash or the somewhat tragic death situation.

Isnt it funny how something like that starts you to examine your own situation. Well Iv`e decided that the crash isnt worth thinking about and the tragic death can be resolved by " going out loudly so when I decide to end my life you will all hear me going from where you are at the time :o))

Yes you are right I`m bored and my post is a load of crap but there you are, for what its worth! you could psycho-analyse for me!

Friday, June 24, 2005

An Explanation Of Life?

On the first day, God created the dog and said, "Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years."The dog said, "That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?"Surprised, God agreed.

On the second day, God created the monkey and said, "Entertain people, do tricks and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year lifespan."The monkey said, "Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. Suppose I give you back ten like the dog did?"And God agreed.

On the third day, God created the cow and said, "You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years."The cow said, "That's going to be a hard life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?"And God agreed again.

On the fourth day, God created man and said, "Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years."But man said, "Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back and the ten the dog gave back; making it eighty then?""Okay," God said. "You asked for it."So that is why the first twenty years we eat, sleep, play and enjoyourselves. For the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain thegrandchildren, And for the last ten years we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

What a great day!

Today is still hot and sunny here in the UK south of England. I would prefer to be on my boat in the channel but , there you are I can`t always do what I want to, even though I am retired. We returned home about an hour ago and alreadyI have cut the grass and am now getting ready for the fox`s feed time, if they are still alive that is? I can`t wait to visit Madison Clare tomorrow and see how she is progressing.

On the way home we stopped at a small restaurant in a garden centre which I believe was a small cottage originally, I have to say that the food was brilliant as was the service. There appeared to be only one person on duty (the owner) and she produced and served the food herself. I will certainly be visiting there again.

This weekend the Festival of the Sea starts at Portsmouth and there will be a thousand vessels on display from Square Riggers to small sculls, and I am going to visit it for a day next week. I have however been invited to crew a motor boat down to the venue and stay aboard for a few days at the festival but i havent made up my mind as yetso I dont`t know if I will or not . I am tempted to take my squeeze box and blues harp and busk for something to do but I can`t playthem that well so maybe I will save the other visitors the pain :o))

Monday, June 13, 2005

Well here she is six hours into this world Madison Grace. Boy I thought a grandson would be expensive wait until I get to grips with this one Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Weathers great !

The Weather is great! its just boat weather, I could get loads of those jobs done, jobs where you can wear bathing shorts and work away un hindered in the sun, and what have I got to do??? visit the bloody hospital :o(( Oh well!! Winge over. Get on with it!!!

The engineer finally got a stuck injector out of cyliner three on my starboard engine. I tried to get it out in my usual manner but it was firmly stuck in. I had released it and could turn it by hand but couldn`t pull it out. The engineer purchased a "puller" and using it to its fullest he finally winched it out, right up to the last decimal of an inch of its shaft. (so it was well and truly coked in & I now don`t feel so bad about not being able to get it out myself).

Boring bits done with and now on to the better bits. I have just read another bloggers "things she misses from childhood", and I have to say that it was the most beautiful piece of writing that I have ever read. Its amazes me how a normal housewife ( her words not mine) and mother can write such a lovely item.

Another blogger who`s site I visit is about to go off to Mexico and start the next phase of her life and whilst I wish them well in their adventure, I will experience a void in my web life, in much the same way as when another friends computer is broken and they can`t write for a while. I do hope they will still write now and again. Mind you! I give no thought to when I take off and can`t write, but I guess thats because I feel that I am not missed as much (if ever! :o(( )

Gnasher has gone to the farm today with his nursery class, and is still suspect on the biting front. Some days he`s good and others he bad. His nickname has now changed to "Hanniball" worrying eh! I had an Ourang-Outang baby that used to bite, so when she took my finger and placed it into her mouth I did the same with hers and she screamed the place down (I didn`t bite either! honest) but she never attempted to bite me again, mind you I couldn`t begin to guess where her hand had been prior to my placing it in my mouth!! I said I couldn`t begin to guess OK! OK! Eugh!!!! I feel sick at the thought. I guess that I would be arrested if I tried it with "Hanniball" Oh well! he`ll grow out of it???.

His mum was out shopping today and I bumped into her she is looking well and convinced that she is carrying a baby boy and that its due on Tuesday or Thursday next week (yes she is pregnant and its due around then) whilst she is carrying it "all out front" I still feel that it is a girl it may be wishfull thinking but I have this feeling that it is a girl. We`ll see, anyway she is well and fit, so next week ish I become a grandfather again. Another reason for Hanniball being cured of his habit sooner rather than later.( just how many babies are you allowed to eat before you get chastized? :o)) )

Monday, June 06, 2005

Away for the weekend !

Once again I have just got back from a weekend away at the boat. I went down on Saturday so that I could attend a local boat-jumble early on Sunday, and buy lots of bargains.

I decided that I would visit Asda (a large supermarket situated in the marina) and buy myself something for my dinner, however a large iced "bun round" with cherries on the top, looked good so I purchased that and eat every scrap. Well I had a great nights sleep on saturday and awoke nice and early, refreshed. I spent the morning looking for bargains which I found (lots of "must haves" at right prices) and on the way back I visited a friend who has chosen to end his days in a holiday trailor park. He is terminally ill and so he doesn`t see himself living in grandeur until the end comes.

He was in great spirits and pleased to see me, we chatted and had several cups of tea and I departed for the boat at about 17-00. My friends who own the same style of boat that I do invited me to dinner but I declined as I prefered to eat alone. They are situated on the hard at the moment as they are doing a lot of refurbishment work to their bottom and won`t go back into the water for a couple of weeks. I went to a restaurand in the marina and enjoyed a lobster tail salad and a rather large banana split with Vanilla ice cream and toffee sauce, Yummmmmiiieeee!!! and then I went back to a very comfortable bed and oblivion.

The engineer arrived in the morning to remove a leaking injector on my starboard engine but was unsuccessful as a result of not having an injector extractor so he will visit again tomorrow and finish the job (hopefully). I closed up the boat. changed the bedding and left for home.

Now I can`t wait to get back. I love being on my own there and being able to please myself as to what I do and when. There is nothing better, for me, than to have a tiring day "playing boats" and then after a shower climbing into my bed and falling asleep. I guess that I don`t do enough long "lone sail" journeys anymore. I think I will have to redress the balance. Boy am I lucky being able to retain my space????????

I am hoping to visit Warsaw in Poland next month with a friend of mine. he was one of my entertainments managers when I was working and responsible for the employment of various acts and a circus. Which we employed for well over ten years. In that circus was a very talented engineer Chestov and his wife Danoutta and we became good friends. We have both promised to visit them in their home country for ten years now and so it is about time that it happened.

My friend is about to book the flights and I am really looking forward to meeting them once again. They have two children and during the five years that they spent in the UK they all learned to speak perfect english as well as their children going to school here for the same period.

They loved England and boy! did we try to get them a permanent visa but to no avail. Now of course it wouldn`t be a problem, Poland being a member of the EEC now? I really am quite excited at the thought of meeting them again.

Friday, June 03, 2005

And so to Dunkerque!

We left on a fair tide after having to Jump start the Starboard engine. Later I discovered that the Refigerator had gone open circuit and had drained the starboard bank of batteries and the port bank had insufficient power left in them to start the starboard engines as well so Ho hum! the generator was started and while it was charging the batteries, I jumped the engine. As I said previously our course to Dunkerque took us first to Dover and across the shipping lanes to just off Calais and then after a turn north, up to Dunkerque. We Arrived in Dover three hours after leaving Brighton for a journey of 63 nautical miles so the fair tide helped us immensly. We settled in to a pontoon berth on the tidal basin and went off into town to shop for some bits (updated flares to name but one item! Oops!). our friends joind us after a couple of days as he had to finish his teaching commitments, and off we went. The route we took, went straight across the shipping lanes at 90 degrees from the south Goodwin light ( the Goodwin sands being the famous graveyard of many boats) towards Calais and then turned north through the inshore bouyed channel past Gravelines and on to Dunkerque. There were no incidents and I had only to clip past the stern of a couple of freighters and tankers, so as to clear the following vessels without incident we arrived in Dunkerque and called into the marina Grand Large and awaited the opening of the transit lock in to the inner basin and Port de commerce. We only waited about twenty minutes and the Trystram lock started to open and so we entered and went on to the lifting bridge (Pont de universite) which lifted as soon as we approached and it was deftly around to the starboard and our Marina berth in the Marina de Maritime.

The staff in the Marina were magnificent as was the marina itself, they directed us to our berth and helped us tie up. The facilities including a commercial style laundry for patrons use and great and very clean showers and wcs, were second to none, and by far the best that I have come across in a foreigh country. I do however have some reservation about the water on the floor of the shower room as it seemed to go nowhere and laid under your feet, making it dangerous to try to "Palais glide" should one wish to!! Te He.

The town of Dunkerque was getting ready for its referendum vote and thus the D day celebrations were brought forward (0r back) to the Saturday and the town was at full tilt getting ready for the vote. (Well done France! and thanks for your support! If we are ever allowed to vote we will join you in a Non!!!I am sure).

Having settled in to our berth I popped back to the Grand Large marina ( a couple of miles away) on my fold-up bike and met with the rest of my boat club which were coming from London via Ramsgate, they all made it without much incident.

I failed, previously, to mention that I came across their convoy (doing about 4 knots) just outside Gravelines and went across to show my colours as it were before continuing on to Dunkerque.

We went out in the evening for dinner and had a throughly enjoyable time, returning to the boat at about 23.30 for Horlicks and bed. our friends stayed up chatting and devoured a further couple of bottles of red wine before bed hence they surfaced a little late having also throughly enjoyed themselves.

in the morning I rose early and shot off to the croisant shop (boulangerie) and carried a selection to my friends of the boat club, as they have a couple of miles walk to get there and stayed for a cup of tea. When I got back to our boat we all walked around the little ships and spoke with many of the owners. Unfortunately the weather was a little too lumpy for the small ships to, as is usual, go out into the "poppy drop"area where the Herculese aircraft (usually the Lancaster with a spitfire and Hurricane on each wing tip) does the drop of a million poppies) was to do the drop. Most people made their way to the drop area for the service and watched the drop when the service had finished .

For myself I had a quiet moment at one of the smaller "monuments to the fallen" on the sea defences just behind the sea front. We all commemorate in our different ways, Mine is for all the fallen in the futility of war, both sides that is.

On the Monday we arose early 05-50 and joined the small ships for the trip through the pont de universite and into the trystram lock, held back until all the little ships were in the lock and attempted to enter and was told that there was another 20 to come still, so we pulled back out and waited for the twenty. Where upon the lock closed and we were directed to the main commercial lock where the warship accompanied by her tug , The steam tug, and the RMVa vessel Appleby, were waiting. the twenty missing small ships had by now materialised with their accompanying Lifeboat from Ramsgate, so once again we held back to be the last to enter but made sure that we got in this time. The prop wash from the Warships tug caused us to be pushed a little over as we berthed along side a small ship but with little problem other than that ! We had a successful passage through the lock.

As the last in we were the first out with a few exceptions and so we again waited for all the small ships to exit Dunkerque before we followed the lifeboat (who was having races with its equavalent service manned by the pompiers de sauvatage? for someting to do!) we followed them out into the inshore channel and headed off on our own course just outside the channel and past the Little ships. we turned at out transit point off Calais and at the very same time the GPS signal ceased so it was back onto paper charts once again (so don`t let anybody tell you that it is safe not to use GPS in conjunction with charts because it isn`t) fortunately I had the course duplicated on the charts so it was simple to measure the mileage covered and the course made good and about an hour later we arrived at the south Goodwin lightship and turned for Dover.

We dropped our friends off and Bunkered with fuel (cheaper than in Brighton, isnt everything?)
we were going to stay for the night in Dover but as the weather was predicted as closing in, we decided to continue on. By the time we had got to Dungeness the weather had closed down and I recorded 38 knots of wind (and rising) over our deck and the sea state was very lumpy.

We made Brighton within a couple of more hours and tied up in our home berth glad that we were out of the now force 8 gale.

We had a great time and even my wife who is not a great sailor enjoyed herself. Thankyou Dunkerque and its populace for your hospitality

A look back at the muninciple building of Dunkerque itself Oh! and a couple of boats of course :o)) Posted by Hello

More pictutes of a steel barge that took part in the D day troop rescue, Gainsborough Trader which of course it was, a trader! Please not the beautiful undercut stern on the second boat out Posted by Hello

The old 102 torpedo boats. The plyed their trade (of death) around the English Channel sinking many enemy vessels. Their speed allowed them to go out at night and up close to the vessels discharging their deadly cargo in range and turning fast for home. these craft were often skippered by junior officers and seen as expendable. The tubes mounted on the deck (one each side) contained the compressed air driven Torpedoes. A story related to me by and ex torpedo boat shipper was that as they turned for home the fog came in and the only way that they could get back into their respective port was to follow the contour lines of the bottom of the Channel until they found a break( irregularity in the bottom) and then turn up into the relevant river/harbour. One has to remember that they had no Radar which we mariners take for granted today Posted by Hello

A view looking from the topmost point of the steam tug. I think that Sir Robin (name dropper) is still just visible on the deck. whilst up there my friend, a ships engineer, gave the whistle a quick "Kick" and I still can`t hear as a result. Posted by Hello

Two early Lifeboats that used to ply their trade around the british coast. The inshore one (on the pontoon) is a steam driven one. these little ships were often launched off the beach from a horse driven cradle, One record relates how the boat from a cornish town was, one day, carted over the headland by its horses and carriage and launched from a beach many miles nearer to the casualty and thus save "steaming " time, hence lives. Posted by Hello

Note the beautiful church spire in the background, and the warp leading from the camera to the steam Tug! Who volenteered to pull them off the wall as the wind was pushing them on? The vessel behind the steam tug is a Thames barge ( Greta if I remember correctly) which origionally carried grain and sugar from the Thames to Ipswich and beyond> These craft were sailed by a skipper and an apprentice. The lee boards so called because they were deployed on the leward side of the craft to reduce "lee way (seen here like great horizontal paddles) would pivot and hang down into the water. They were often used to dig into the mud bottom and help the boat to turn sharply (Pivot around them) Posted by Hello

A whole mass of "little Ships" and owners who come to Dunkirk to pay their respects to the fallen of the last Worl War.  Posted by Hello

The famous face on the left sitting on the hatch on this rather lovely old antique steam tug, is Sir Robin Knox Johnson. So its true, that really famous and worthwhile men of the sea do associate with "Stink Pots" and believe me they couldn`t get more "stinky" than this old girl! Posted by Hello

Beachy Head you can see the light house on the beach, we passed this in flat seas and at about 20 kts Posted by Hello

Home is the sailor home from the sea!

Well were back from Dunkirk!
We had a great time, our friends really enjoyed the trip although they only went from Dover across to Dunkirk and back. (we caught the bad weather on the way from Dover back to Brighton) I have included a photo of a landmark we passed on the way! namely beachy head (the lovers leap of the south coast) where many "lovers"and others commit suicide even today?