Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Well! I came back from the boat today, and have already been to the cafe for lunch. My mate George who likes to travel the world in his dotage has purchased a Tom tom vehicular GPS. if you knew george you would know why I am a bit concerned. He is the most compbox illeterate that I have ever known he is even worse than me (and thats saying something) > I have been trying to locate a company that would sell me a 200mm syuare piece of clear Perspex (plastic) for a job that I want to do on the boat. I called on george who offered to navigate me to a company using his new Tom tom system. What I didnt know was that he hadnt set it up yet and for him to do that we would take the trip in my car so he could set it up. Which we did however when he made a correct entry he expected me to help him sort it and doing that and driving at the same time wasn`t too good. We arrived at the company, to a breathy "you have arrived" from the box. I told George that another friend of mine (paddy) who has the same system had his car broken into the other day and the bracket stolen (which costs £50-00 alone) so he is now paranoid about leaving it anywhere and carries it around like a child. What a great system even when we tried to confuse it it calmly told us to either "turn around when next you can" or gave us directions to the next place to get us back on the right road again. I`m impressed. what a pity I hadn`t got that on my last run up the channel. I can see it now! "in 27 miles you turn half right and on into the princes channel" etc etc! perhaps not! I think I will stick with my independent Gps, my compass, charts, sextant and Radar :o))

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Sweety and "H" take a boating holiday

Let me start by setting the scene! both the people named above are real and lovely people they are however quite different from the everyday ones that one meets, Having been brought up in a rough part of the world I can relate to H and also having a lovely wife too, I can fully understand why a rough diamond like him loves his Sweety so much. I picked them both up at a quay in Surrey somewhere and went with them down the Thames and around to Dover. I assisted Sweety with the navigation showing her how and when to use the charts and how to plot a safe course out of the Thames estuary, I also gave H some tuition regarding pilotage and the safe use of a 600 hp chunk of floating plastic including ettiquette when passing other boats, rowers and fishermen. In return they got me up at 0200 to start the journey in pouring rain and forced me to eat large fried breakfasts prepared by sweety to standards higher than the Ritz. Copious tea was also on the menu, usually provide at the point when one was thinking that the weather couldn`t get worse than this! Sweeties constitution and ease at sea are now legiondary.

On the whole they were great students and are now really good friends. H has a very chequered past and is very easily recognisable he is also extremely ridgid about not having his name in print or any photos taken of him. Sweety is lovely and looks like an older version of Haley Mills, she has a beautiful temperement with "nothing being too much trouble", I can see why they both get on so well togeather.

On the way down the Thames we encountered thick fog in the estuary which followed torrential rain and a small swell. The GPS packed up as we were about to enter the Princess channel and left us heading for the sand bank, a quick chart plot confirmed this and I opend up my computer programme in time to head south and into the correct channel Phew! (not as bad as it sounds).
We had been sitting on the fly bridge controlling the boat, as H doesn`t like to be inside for any lenght of time (something to do with his past) and were sitting under a plastic sheet to keep some of the rain off our waterproofs (dont ask why) and make things a little more "comfortable" every five minutes ( possibly a small exageration) the hatch would open and sweety would present us with another cup of tea or a bacon sandwich! I`m beginning to like this crew and the cruise.

Given that we started the trip in the dark and with rain, the dawn was now quite appealing even though fog was now present. I told them that it would soon burn off and kept an eye on the Radar for large and small ships. Three hours later it was still foggy and we were turning at the Margate bouy heading for Ramsgate to fuel up before it finally lifted. The whole trip so far was an education for S&H and there was a lot of carefull inspection of my facial expressions to see if I was really concerned or just making out that I was really quite at ease with the situations presented to us during that leg of the voyage. I guess that progressing slowly with a cautious eye looking, usually unseeingly, into the fog and with the punctuating wail of the fog horn as an accompanyment came as a strange experience to them. We approached Ramsgate where we were going to get fuel but as we arrived long before the fuel berth opened, we tied up on the inner pontoon for about 30 seconds as every other berth was taken, unfortunately the swell was too much and we crashed and bashed about and decided to attend the Dover 24 hour (we thought) fuel berth.

Our route took us around the Goodwin sands on the shoreward side, so the swell was a little less, being protected, somewhat, by the sands themselves, as we approached Dover we hailed the port control on the RT and were asked to wait for a few minutes for a Sea cat (Known by the staff as a superseasick! and yes I have had a go on the wheel of one) to enter after which we can enter. The sea state by now was roughish and turning broadside to the sea during our entry was fatal as Sweety spilled a cup of tea whilst hanging by one arm to the flybrige stairs, only toimmediately go back down and get another one. we hit calm water as we passed the harbour wall in the west entrance and proceeded to the fuel pontoon. We gassed up and left for our destination, Brighton. We called up port control and gained permission to leave and turned into a sea that was confused and about a force 5, passing Folkstone and approaching Dungeness which H commented looked like a larger version of Belmarsh prison as seen from a custody wagon??? We rounded Beachy head and passed Newhaven which was presenting us with various lights (it was now dark again and about 21-45) I asked Sweety to confirm from the chart that the lights were correct which she did (I cheked later) and we passed them about a mile off. we were now heading for Brighton proper and a whole lot of lights presented themselves. I checked the lights at the entrance of the Marina and we approached at about 12 knots half what the vessel does at full speed. I asked H to scan the many lights and see if a green or red flashing light was present to which he replied I see it its red now green oh! its amber now! no its red. He then looked at me and we both started to laugh as he had been relaying the sequence of the local traffic lights te he! we fell about and then sweety appeared with a salad sandwich for us both wondering what was going on. She had been quietly plotting our course as we went along having now mastered the GPS and honed her plotting skills. Eventually the correct lights became evident and we turned in and having contacted the Marina, crept to our berth. S&H have friends in the marina not to mention me and they came out to take the lines. The berth that we were allocated was a foot larger in beam than the boat and H made a fantastic job of berthing it. We all had a cup of tea and turned in for the night.I had arranged for a Yachtmaster Instructor, I know, to take them both out for a couple of days and assess them and their boating skills with the intention of certifying them to a suitable level of RYA standard.and he was due in the next couple of days which gave me enough tome to polish and hone the skill that they both already possesed. The next day we went out and practiced bucket overboard drill and with much reading of the manual they conqured the Williamson turn which H now calls the Wilkinson turn. Sweety was magnificent and a natural at this she showed no sign of stress and once told how to do something she did it time and time again without any problem. H and I spent some time on the navigation and course plotting which he mastered immediately and I proclamed them ready for the assesments.On the first morning of the assessment they both asked me if they would get the ICC international certificate of compitence, to which I replied that I thought that they would do better than that, they said that they would be happy with the ICC if they indeed got it. I left them alone after the examiner arrived and two day later in the afternoon they came along to my boat jumping for joy and shouting, I got a big hug from Sweety and a life threatening handshake from H and was told that he obtained the Coastal skipper and that Sweety obtained the day skipper and that they were "over the moon". we celebrated that night and prepared for a trip to foreigh parts within the next couple of days. H & Sweety attended the Casino a few times and I believe lost a lot of money, a rare thing according to H, he said that he "couldn`t pick a fight let alone pick a number" They generally enjoyed their time in Brighton and I returned to take them to foreigh parts (Hornfleur was the destination but the weather had been bad and it was decided that Boulougne would suffice and it held memories for H??) . We departed in calm weather having an uneventful trip across the shipping lanes, arriving in force 5 winds. We settled onto a berth in the Marina yacht club and duly went to the supermarket for the usual chese bread and pate. I could smell diesel during the crossing and H said that he was finding it in his bildge so we decided to investigate that and couldn`t find any obviously real reason for it. I decided that we should call into Dover on the way back and ask my mate Nigel the Marine engineer to look at it. We left Boulougne at about 11-00 and passed Cape Gris nez in a force 7 with confused seas. I had both H and Sweety looking at me with eyes like saucers asking me if this was rough and looking for reassurance to which I replied yes its rough and uncomfortable but the boat and crew will deal with it admirably! but would they like to call into Calais which is only another 8 mile or turn and cross the shipping lane for Dover as planned approximately 21 miles, to which Sweety replied without hesitation, go for it! Im not bothered and H agreed. As we left the vicinity of the cape the comfused sea calmed down a bit and the wind dropped a little and we crashed on our way to Dover. We were met by Nigel who diagnosed a damaged anti surge diaphram on the starboard diesel pump (always the most awkward to get at being between the fuel tank and the engine block). Being late on friday we could not obtain one and would have to wait until monday morning. We tried and exhausted all the sources that both I and H had gathered over the years even Volvo didn`t have one in stock (according to theior computer). On monday I located one in Broadstairs and we taxied over to get it (It also turned out to be a friend of Nigels too as it happened). In the evening Nigel fitted it and at 0600 the next day we departed for Surrey via the Thames estuary. Sweety and H decided that they would like to go back via the four fathom channel, which has sand banks on either side. H chose the time of departure so that we could enter the channel on a rising tide which we did. Sweety navigated and took photos of seals on the sand banks and we passed Wapping police station where a friend of mine works (much waving from her) we didn`t stop and carried on under Tower bridge to Hammersmith bridge which we passed under without having to lower the Radar arch, we progressed up to the Richmond half tide lock which was just opening as we turned the corner at Scion reach, and into the Teddington lock. H had really sorted out the tides well, with no stops or waits for tiday anomolies etc. we arrived back at their berth at about 1800 and I was duly sent home in a taxi. Much enjoyment had by all parties. I am so proud ot those two having obtained their certifications achieving much more than they really thought they could do. I was treated like a king, and they were so grateful for my assistance that they doubled my fee!

Obviously I have flitted through the trip without as much detail as there was, but hope that you enjoyed reading it as much as I did taking part.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Todays the day for a swim!!!!

I have been sitting on my boat in Brighton for a while awaiting a call to move the delivered boat farther around the coast, Tomorrow we are off to Hornfleur in the Seine estuary. This is as a part of our return to their Thames Mooring at Shepperton. I am sitting in the internet cafe net-riding for something to do. I have decided that whan I get back I shall take my boat out and moor a couple of miles off and swim for a couple of hours the sea is great and the sun is hot and I have nothing else to do.Yaaawwwnnn! what a Life?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Who`s got new memory then??

Not me my compbox! it goes like an express train and no more Blue screen crashes (so far that is).

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Blogspot is getting tiresome

Why oh! why does it take two days for me to get a blog published these days???? "Why I Blog"

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Why do I Blog now

Every day that I arrive at home I immediately check out my Blog and my e-mails. Often I am disappointed and have no comments or mails to read. I thought today was going to be one of those days, in fact it started off like that so I mailed a couple of people that I hold in very high esteem and received an immediate reply, so things were looking up!

I have been asked to skipper a luxury motor yacht for a few days and look forward to joining her on Thursday in London. During the last week I was also tentatively offered a job teaching sailing to non sailors and may consider that for the rest of the season. I am told that I am a good teacher, but who knows. I would have thought that as a single hander, mostly, my qualifications should have included a little bit of client relations as well too, but who knows maybe they are right.

I find that blogging is a great way or bringing together all that you have done and rationally re analysing just what sort of person one really is For example I have a great deal of experience in life as do most people of my age and take great pleasure at being able to assist where given the opportunity. On other occasions I obtain great satisfaction reading about others adventures half thinking to myself at the time “I should have done that in my youth” perhaps I still will?!!!!!!!!!! in the meantime its back to my task of checking charts and tidal heights as I have to get the vessel under a couple of Bridges and through a few sandy channels before I get her to the open sea (without going aground!)

I guess that I have become one of the many that can gain enjoyment by living through others eyes, by reading about their experiences and relating them to my own. I really hope that in the meantime I don’t become a bore and will try my very best not to do so and I do apologise if I already am.