Saturday, October 31, 2009

1000 Days at Sea

Reid's Scnooner, 'Anne'
Reid and Soayna

Reid Stowe has been at sea for 920 days aboard his 70 foot 60 ton schooner with the aim of completing over 1000 days of self-sufficiency away from land. He set sail from New Jersey on 21st April, 2007 with enough food to last him and his girlfriend, Soanya Ahmud, for three years, but she became gravely ill and she was taken ashore at Perth through the assistance of the Royal Perth Yacht Club. She subsequently gave birth to a baby boy on 19th July, 2008. Reid continued the voyage alone in the spirit of Bernard Moitessier who had been his mentor. Moitessier became famous after retiring from The Sunday Times Golden Globe Race in 1968 whereupon he continued sailing to Polynesia, to complete a non-stop passage of 37,000 miles.

It took Stowe, along with his family and friends 18 months to build his Feralite and steel mesh yacht, which was launched in 1982. Although the yacht was not completed, he and his then wife, Iris and baby daughter Viva, sailed to the Carribean. While en route they worked on the ornate wood carved interior. After changing the name of his yacht from ‘Tantra’ to ‘Anne’, in honour of his mother, Stowe and a crew of eight sailed the waters of the Antarctic Peninsula, where they experienced winds of over 100 mph and challenging conditions when navigating through ice packs. In 1999 he married a new wife, Laurence Guillem.

One of Reid’s ambitions was to be at sea longer than the Australian, Jon Sanders, who sailed around the world three times between 1986 and 1988, taking 657. This Reid has achieved, but a major objective was to explore the depths of his spirituality by seeking God, peace and love. While in the Atlantic he deliberately sailed a course forming the shape of a heart. From the time of meeting Moitessier who practised Yoga, Reid has explored various forms of Yoga and he has been an avid eclectic of Eastern religions in his search for a spiritual dimension to his life.

Whatever view you take regarding Reid Stowe, you cannot deny his indomitable courage, perseverance and single-mindedness to achieve his goal. I truly hope that he will find the one and only true God, the God of the Bible.

Reid's Web Site

Friday, October 30, 2009

Solo Circumnavigation Record Attempts

Joshua Slocum
Joshua Slocum's 'Spray'

Joshua Slocum was the first person to sail around the world single-handed. After voyaging 46,000 miles during a period of 3 years, 2 months aboard his yacht, ‘Spray’, he arrived back at Newport, Rhode Island on June 27th 1898. Since then many others have sailed around the world by themselves, and in more recent times, astonishing records have been set for the fastest single-handed non-stop circumnavigation.

Robin Knox-Johnston set a new benchmark in 1969 by completing the first solo non-stop circumnavigation. Out of six entrants who crossed the start line at the beginning of the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, he was the only competitor to finish after taking 313 days.

In 2005, Ellen MacArthur held the record for sailing around the world non-stop faster than any other person by taking only 71 days aboard the 75 ft trimaran ‘B&Q/Castorama’.

An Australian by the name of Serge Testa still holds the record for sailing around the world in the smallest vessel – she was only 11 foot and 10 inches long, excluding the rudder. He finished his epic 3 year adventure in 1987 by returning to Sydney, via the Panama Canal, and after crossing the Pacific Ocean to Australia.

The current record holder for the youngest to circumnavigate is Mike Perham, an English lad who arrived back in the UK in August of this year. He sailed a 50 foot racing yacht named ‘Totally Money’, with the original intention of doing a non-stop voyage, but due to gear failures he stopped a various places to effect repairs.

At this moment, Jessica Watson, aboard ‘Ella’s Pink Lady’, a classic Sparkman and Stephen’s 34 foot fibreglass yacht, is attempting a non-stop solo circumnavigation; she’s hoping she will be the youngest to do so.

Abby Sunderland, an American 16 year old, has recently acquired an Open 40 ocean racing yacht with a view to beating Jessica to it. She’ll need to get a move on.

The latest attempt to create a new record for the smallest boat to sail around the world non-stop will be made by Alessandro Di Benedetto aboard his modified 6.50 Class ocean racing boat. I believe he has already made a start.

There seems no end of new solo circumnavigation record attempts being made and as technology advances, no doubt old records will be broken and new ones established.


Guinness World Records web site

Tesco deal for the Guinness World Records 2010 book

Wikipedia Article about Joshua Slocum

Serge Testa aboard ‘Acrohc Australis’

Jessica Watson’s Blog

Abby Sunderland’s Blog

Alessandro Di Benedetto’s web site

Robin Knox-Johnston’s web site

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Influential People

This is 'Faith', a Paradox sailboat, built and sailed by me.

Who is the most influential person in your life? That’s an important question, because a person of influence can affect the way you think, and consequently the things you do.

I suppose one man influenced me greatly when I was a boy between my 11th and 14th years, to the extent that I am still influenced by him today at the age of 75. He was the father of one of my friends. This man had a mission with children in their formative years to bring out the best in them and to develop their potential. He ran a Boy Scouts group where he encouraged youngsters to live by a code of conduct based on respect for others, service to those who could benefit from it and acceptance of responsibility for ones own actions. Try as he may, he could not persuade me to join the Scouts, because I had an individual, creative character that did not take kindly to group activities under authoritarian rule, but this did not prevent my friend’s father from finding a way to influence me for the better. He recognised that several children in the neighbourhood were similar to me, and to influence them he very cleverly informally organised us without us realising he was doing so. He had a garage that he transformed into a workshop with all manner of tools, work benches and even a lathe for turning wood. By contrast with the formal learning and group participation found in the Scouts at that time, he encouraged those who did not fit into that environment by setting up situations in his garage whereby individuals could explore and experiment by engaging in a wide variety of activities. These included things like making kites, bows and arrows, model boats, acid batteries, lead soldiers, pinhole cameras, crystal sets, moth traps, winter warmers and even fireworks! He helped us set up a telephone exchange between our houses, which was eventually banned by the residents because of interference to their radios. He challenged us children to have a go a making a bow that could shoot an arrow the furthest and he had us making Guy Fawkes effigies to burn on the village November the 5th fire. Today, some of these activities would be considered too dangerous for youngsters, and I must admit to nearly being blown up when my friend made a ‘firework’ from a piece of lead piping! Yes, that was dangerous, and it was done surreptitiously when we were not being supervised.

This wonderful man, who devoted a lot of his free time to children, encouraging them with their interests, greatly influenced me by introducing me to boating. He first made a model canoe out of a small piece of wood by using a gouge and a penknife. Then he equipped it with a propeller which he shaped from a piece of tin cut from can before soldering it to a wire shaft attached to a rubber band running the full length of the canoe. After winding up the propeller he placed the little boat in a bath of water and let it go. I was mesmerized as the vessel skimmed along the surface until it bumped into the far side of the bath. I just had to make one for myself, so he showed me how to use his gouge, and he provided me with the tools to do the job. To make my model canoe, I also had to use a vice, a penknife, a drill, shears and a soldering iron which had to be heated on a Primus Stove. Following on from the model canoe, he built a small canvas and wooden canoe for his son, and to cut a long story short, this led to me building my own canoe in my father’s garage. It was not long before most of my friends had their own canoes, equipped with homemade sails and leeboards. We built trolleys for transporting our canoes to and from the River Tone in Taunton where we paddled and sailed them. From that time on I was hooked on owning, renovating and building sailing boats, as well as sailing them, but the most influential person in my life today is the Lord Jesus who moulds my thinking and aids me with the things I do.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chance and Coincidence

Example 1)

In another entry to this Blog I described an accident involving my car when it collided with a dog. My daughter was driving at the time, as a dog ran through an open gateway directly into the near side of the front bumper. The impact caused major damage to the bumper and minor damage to the nearside doors. Fortunately the dog survived with nothing more than a bruised head, a small cut on his head and an injury causing the dog to limp on its hind left leg. What were the chances of that happening? The car had to be at the precise spot as the dog launched itself from the gateway into the road. The dog owner’s boyfriend had inadvertently left the garden gate open, so that when the owner opened her front door, the dog rushed past her from the house, ran down the path and through the gateway into the road, where it came into contact with the front bumper.

Example 2)

Greg Kolodziejzyk had started his circumnavigation of Vancouver Island with a crewmate aboard his unique pedal driven vessel, ‘Within’, and they arrived at a point near Denmen Island, just as the ferry was crossing ahead of them. To avoid a collision Greg backpedalled, and as he did so he heard a popping sound. The drive mechanism to the propeller had failed, but at that moment one of Greg’s friends who had been looking for him happened to arrive in his kayak and he was able to tow the boat to the ferry wharf. What were the chances of these events coinciding? The timing of the departures of all three vessels, their speeds and courses over the ground were critical in bringing about the coincidental actions of the participants. Misfortune was turned to good fortune, because had the weak fitting not been discovered until later, the failure could have occurred at a less friendly location. For it to happen when Greg is halfway into his proposed voyage to Hawaii from Vancouver, the consequences could be very serious.

Example 3)

What were the coincidences that made it possible for me to be born? How much did chance play its part? My mother told me I was an accident! Nevertheless, she loved me and I’m grateful to have been born. As a starter, my mother and father had to have the opportunity for sex together at a specific time in a particular place. A mature ovum with an ‘x’ chromosome had to be released at the right moment from her ovary which could have contained two million ova in the form of follicles when in their infancy. By the time they were mature, at least 4,000 would have been potentially viable, but due to natural processes only a total of 400 of them would have been released during the span of her menstrual periods. As my mother had me late in life, near her menopause, the chances of successful fertilization from my father’s spermatozoa were slim, especially as he was nine years older than my mother. Nevertheless, a miracle happened, but that was not the end of chance coincidences, because the particular spermatozoon that helped form me had to bear a ‘y’ chromosome for me to be masculine. Furthermore, the spermatozoon that successfully fertilized the particular ovum had to be uniquely one of possibly 400 million ejected at the time of intercourse from my father’s penis.


Need I give more examples of coincidences that determine who were are, what we do, and how we do things? I think not, but for the Christian, such coincidences are not by chance or random happenings, they are the workings of God’s decreed will, because He is the Sovereign God who created, sustains and controls the Universe.


Here is an article by Jordan, Greg’s crewmate for the around Vancouver Island attempt.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009



There are essential characteristics of a seaworthy sailing vessel; they are: 1) A sound watertight hull with integral keel. 2) A strong rudder with adequate attachments. 3) A trustworthy rig that includes a sturdy mast with rigging to match (if stayed), and good sails that will stand up to the winds for which they are designed. I would qualify the definition of seaworthiness by adding that the vessel should be suitable for the sort of seas where her skipper intends to sail her, e.g., a sailing dinghy on sheltered waters, or an ocean-going yacht surfing the huge waves of the Roaring Forties. My Seawych 19’ sloop, ‘Ladybird’, is intended for coastal cruising in fine weather, and under those conditions I would say she is a seaworthy vessel, but if taken into the Roaring Forties she would not stand a chance. She would be overwhelmed. I believe her mast, rigging and rudder would not meet the grade; neither would her large windows and fragile drop boards. Drainage for her large cockpit would be inadequate.

Now, there are occasions when a vessel may be tested beyond the sort of conditions expected, because of a rapid deterioration in the weather. It is then that the skipper starts praying, as he anxiously examines the hull for any weaknesses and leaks. He checks the mast, rigging, sails and the rudder. This is a time that no sailor seeks, and he berates himself for his lack of prudence by not checking the forecast, or because he took a needless risk. If there’s lack of sea room, and his yacht cannot make to windward off a lee shore, he hopes his VHF Pan-Pan signal will be heard. Later, as his vessel is relentlessly pushed nearer the rocks, he sends a Mayday to say his life is in danger, not just because of the rocks, but because the rudder has parted from the transom and the mainsail has shredded. By then it’s too late for the inshore lifeboat, and even the Coastguard rescue helicopter!

Because I plan to sail ‘Ladybird’ along the South Coast of the UK next summer, I am taking the precaution of checking everything before she is launched in the spring. So far I have looked at the rudder and its fittings and I have discovered water lodged under the polyurethane varnish. Therefore, as a precaution against rot, I stripped the rudder to the bare wood, dried it out and applied epoxy. This current, unexpected warm spell of weather is ideal for doing the epoxy which requires a minimum temperature of 15C.


Maritime and Coastguard Agency

UK Epoxy Resins, plus free small boat plans.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mini Transat 6.50 Race

Ruyant's Boat
Dalin's Boat

I did an earlier feature on the ‘La Charente-Maritime to Bahia’ Race for the 6.50 Class Mini yachts. At the time of uploading this post, only 7 of the Prototype racing yachts and 13 of the Series yachts have yet to finish. For full details visit:

First home in the Series Class was Charlie Dalin, and first in the Prototype Class was Thomas Ruyant.

Unfortunately Andrew Wood from the UK, in a Prototype boat, had to retire from the second leg of the Race because of trouble with his boat’s auto-steering system, but I recommend you visit his web site at: There’s a particularly good video of his at: showing what is was like for him on the first leg.

Here is Charlie Dalin’s web site: and here’s Thomas Ruyant’s web site: .


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Scattering of Ashes

This sounds like a morbid subject, but if we are not taken suddenly and we have time to consider what we want to happen to our remains after death, the subject can be uplifting. In death we are not going to feel worms eating our flesh as we decay in a coffin, but the very thought of it for me is unpleasant. I would far rather be cremated and reduced to the basic elements before the worms can get hold of me. I have discussed this with my wife and family and all are in agreement. There is sweet harmony here. Now where would I want my ashes to be scattered? For sure, I would not want them to be buried in the garden or left in an urn on the mantelshelf or in the garage! My wish is for them to be scattered on the waters of the River Crouch at South Fambridge. As far as I am aware, there is no law prohibiting my wish; even if there were, who would know, apart from my Maker and those who do the scattering?

To my mind, South Fambridge would be a wonderful place to rest, while waiting for the transformation of my body into a spiritual one when the Lord comes for His own. I have so many wonderful memories of sailing to and fro along this stretch of the River. There is little that can compare with it on a fine day when cotton wool clouds are reflected from blue waters, and at sunset vibrant warm colours are reflected from mudflats. There truly is a spiritual dimension to the place. Wherever you look, the sky stretches into the distance, and the expanse of it is a major feature of the low-lying landscape. When the wind blows there is a rustling of the reeds where the coot sounds his note and the heron stands alone at the water’s edge. Geese, ducks, redshanks and plovers take their turn, along with lapwings, and even the cuckoo and the lark appear in due season. Hares course the banks and give one a fright as they dart from cover, while overhead a hovering kestrel seeks his prey.

When I am called home to be with the Lord, at the water’s edge there will be no tomb or epitaph, only the sound of laughing waters and the touch of the wind’s caress, reminders of joy, gladness and of life. For those who scatter my ashes, Fambridge will be a place of shared memories, moments most precious; there they can be glad I am at rest by the River of Life. (Revelation 22:1-5)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Silver Gull’ and ‘Fafnir’


On Thursday, 22nd October my article was about my flirtation with Tom MacNaughton’s 19 foot junk rigged, ‘Silver Gull’. She is a graceful little boat with a waterline length of 13 foot, 7 inches and a beam of 6 foot, 6 inches. John Welsford’s perky micro-cruiser, ‘Fafnir’, has a waterline length of 13 foot, 1 inch and a beam of 6 foot, 2 inches. Silver Gull’s displacement is 1,885 lbs and Fafnir’s is 1,430 lbs; so both vessels are very similar in terms of essential dimensions. Waterline length determines maximum speed, and displacement coupled with beam gives an indication of the maximum sailing weight, inclusive of stores and crew, which in the case of Fafnir is 2,420 lbs – no doubt Silver Gull’s maximum sailing weight is similar.

At 19 feet, Silver Gull is far too long to be built in an average sized UK garage, and Fafnir, although short enough, with her beam of 6 foot, 2 inches, is too wide. The width of my garage is 8 foot, 3 inches, which only allows 1 foot either side; therefore building these boats in my garage is out of the question. A temporary cover would have to be erected on the front lawn, but that would not go down well with my wife or my neighbours, which means flirting with either of these vessels is a waste of time, unless a suitable, cheap and nearby location can be found. If my desire for one or other of these maidens is strong enough, I may find a solution. Meanwhile, ‘Ladybird’ and I still have a future together, at least for another season until we have enjoyed a West Country cruise, after which I may tire of her company and she may tire of mine.

John Welsford’s ‘Fafnir’

Duckworks Magazine ‘Fafnir’ article

Tom MacNaughton’s ‘Silver Gull’

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thorpe Bay

Before I moved to the East Coast, back in 1972, I had heard the place was bracing in winter. The coastline faces the North Sea, beyond which lie Scandinavia, Finland and the Northern European Plain. To the North is the Norwegian Sea, and to the North West is Lapland where winter temperatures can fall to – 35C, even to – 45C. Well, yesterday morning I took a stroll along the promenade at Thorpe Bay, between Shoebury and Southend-on-Sea. I expected a chilly North East Wind, but the air was still and warm, as a short-lived high pressure area moved eastward. Most of the Yacht Club boats were out of the water for winter lay-up, but a good many motor craft still lay to their moorings sprawled on the mud awaiting the flood tide. A fisherman was digging for lugworms, and in the distance I could make out the black shape of the Pier, famous for being the longest pleasure pier in the world - not that there’s a lot of pleasure going on their after the ill-fated fire from which it is still recovering. The Waverly paddle steamer paid a visit there a few weeks ago to take passengers on a sightseeing trip to the Thames forts. This was a reminder of the Pier’s grandeur in former times when pleasure steamers were regular visitors. Sandbanks and shallows abound, while in the dredged fairway cargo ships still ply their trade to the upper reaches, and across the River at Sheerness, passenger ships come and go. Thorpe Bay promenade overlooks a shingle beach with acres of mud beyond where the incoming tide can catch the unwary. Open to the South, the East and the West, moorings need to be substantial to combat wind and waves. It can be a fierce and very bracing place in a winter gale, the only cover being from low-lying land to the North.

The Paddle Steamer, ‘Waverly’

Port of Sheerness

Southend-on-Sea Pier

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Silver Gull 19

When I first saw the GIF image of Silver Gull 19 at Tom MacNaughton’s web site I fell in love with the little boat, but at the time I was betrothed to my Matt Layden Paradox, and I was committed to fashioning her to perfection for a long-term relationship. The trouble with fickle me is that I flirt with many pretty vessels and very easily fall in love with them, but no mistress likes sharing me with other beautiful girls. I can only have one love at any time if I am to devote myself wholly to her. That makes life difficult, because I am torn between the one who has my time and the one who cannot have it, because I am otherwise occupied. The truth is I want them all at the same time and share them equally, which is impossible.

Because of my lack of fidelity I sold my Paradox ‘Faith’ to the very first person who offered to take her unto himself! I admit, the offer was good, and I doubted such an opportunity would come again. Afterwards I had a pang of guilt that I had given her up so easily, but that underlines my fickleness. Every two years, or thereabouts, I look for the favours of a new mistress. Before ‘Faith’, there were a string of them over many years. Now, almost in my dotage, my zest for lovers continues, and early this year I acquired ‘Ladybird’, a Seawych 19’ sloop. She is a bit of a witch, a white one at that, but overcoming her spells has been my business. I think I have her under control. She no longer luffs into the wind at every gust, because I’ve sorted her balance and learned her ways.

I have plans for ‘Ladybird’ and me; we shall take a cruise together along the South Coast to the romantic West Country. We’ll enjoy the scenery as we skip and dance with galloping white horses. At Exmouth we’ll bask in the sun and lounge on the sands, while overhead whirling terns will squeal when tiny crabs scurry among the weeds. The sound of surf on the bar and the unique elixir of ozone will sooth us as we idle away priceless moments. It will then be time for the fair West Wind to usher us homeward past Portland Bill, St Catherine’s Point, Selsey Bill, Dungeness, South Foreland, North Foreland; then we’ll relish a fine reaching frolic across the tumbling waves of Thames’ gaping mouth, followed by a hard beat into the Crouch and our time together will be over. I shall abandon my love for yet a new beauty who will share with me precious moments before Father Time may toll the bell, and fickle love is no more.


I am eyeing Silver Gull 19 as a future mistress, but will she be too much to take on? I’ll need two years to fashion her to my fancy, and like all beguilers she’ll cost the earth.

Here are her shapely measurements:
LOD 19'7" LWL 13'7" Beam 6'6" Draft 3'0"or 2'8" Sail Area 95 sq ft Displacement 1,885 lbs.
Ballast 785 lbs

This is where she can be found, but she’s mine first! Hands off!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Extreme 40 Racing

Pete Cumming and his team - winners iShares Cup 2009

The Offshore Challenges Group consists of four companies united in their purpose to promote, sponsor, support and manage world class sailing events, such as the 2009 iShares Cup races for Extreme 40 catamarans. One of the aims behind this project is to make yacht racing a spectator sport, and to do this, these monster catamarans need to come close to thousands of cheering fans who can watch tactical combat between the world’s top sailors bringing thrills and excitement. Of necessity the courses chosen are at places where spectators can overlook a series of short races at locations not too far from one another within Europe, namely: Venice, Hyeres, Cowes, Kiel, Amsterdam and Almira. A similar series, ‘The Extreme Series Asia, is scheduled to take place between November 2009 and March 2010, but iShares, the financial investment firm, will no longer be the main sponsor, owing to new ownership.

Be under no illusions, the OC Group promote these races for their own financial gain. With events behind them such as The Transat, and the Barcelona World Race, you can be sure that less costly and more easily managed events such as Extreme 40 racing where spectators can exceed 200,000 over a series of races will be more lucrative, along with income from TV, film rights, the sale of books and magazines. Another aspect of the business is their VIP promotions where executives and owners of major companies, along with rich speculators can be given preferential treatment. Ellen MacArthur’s own team, including Nick Moloney and Sebastian Josse, stand to gain, along with Mark Turner, the CEO of the Events Company, and others involved. Sailors like Pete Cumming, the winner of the 2009 series, Yann Guichard, Loick Peyron, Shirley Robertson and Mike Golding will all benefit, not just in terms of publicity, but with money in their pockets. Without a doubt, initiatives such as the iShares series generates businesses, provides incomes, and brings jobs to those involved in the manufacture of yachts and associated paraphernalia.

Spectators are treated to excitement galore, as the 40 foot long, and 26 foot wide cats skim the water, often with one hull flying, while the crew hang on. Action, fitness, nerves of steel, split second judgments, tactics, brute strength, all of these, play their part in successful outcomes. When the wind blows strongly and boat speeds exceed 20 knots, it is not uncommon to see vessels colliding, taking to the air, pitchpolling or capsizing. This action-packed sport has been likened to Formula One car racing, both highly sponsored events with their champions who celebrate victories on the podium by dowsing one another with Champagne and triumphantly holding their trophies high for all to see.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jessica Watson (Again)

This sixteen year old Australian girl is in the headlines again, because after having to delay her departure for an around-the-world solo non-stop attempt she has at last set off. After crossing the start line at Sydney on Sunday 18th October she coaxed her 34-foot sloop, ‘Ella’s Pink Lady’ offshore in very light winds. Before her is a marathon eight month voyage of 28,000 miles, a time of testing that few at her age will ever experience. Unlike Joshua Slocum, the very first mariner to circumnavigate alone, apart from a goat for a short spell, she will have daily contact with those who will be monitoring her progress. By means of a satellite phone she will regularly update her Blog to inform millions of fans who will want to know every detail of events as they unfold.

During a shakedown cruise on her way to Sydney her yacht was in collision with a 63,000 ton freighter causing damage to the hull and mast. Having survived the experience and repaired the vessel she has installed a radar transponder that will warn her of nearby vessels using radar. She will depend on a wind generator and solar panels to power batteries for all the electrical equipment. Much of the steering will be done by the yacht’s Fleming windvane gear which does not require electrical power. The yacht, a Sparkman and Stephens 34 is well and truly tested; she’s not a fast yacht by modern standards, but with an average speed of 5 or more knots she should be able to cover the distance in the planned time.

Jessica’s Blog

Monday, October 19, 2009

October Flowers

While walking through my local village yesterday I observed that the Council had done their best to make the place attractive by mounting flower baskets on lampposts and by planting flowers around the bases of trees. Then, as I walked along the side streets I noticed many excellent floral displays in hanging baskets on the walls of houses, most of them by front doors, and in several of the gardens there were gorgeous floral arrangements. I hadn’t previously thought that October was a good month for flowers, but this year may be an exception. When I arrived home I made a special inspection of my own garden, which truly is more my wife’s, as she does the planting and tending – I simply maintain hedges and cut the lawns. I was surprised to see quite a number of beautiful flowers, some of which I photographed for presentation here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Why waste money on this sort of rubbish?

Halloween is like so many things that at first appear simple, but on investigation are more complex than you might think. There are as many views on Halloween as there are people, from young to old. Even with Christians there are different approaches to the subject. Some embrace the opportunity for putting on parties and making fun of the event, whereas others rebuke those who have anything to do with it.

I personally dislike having to suffer ‘Trick or Treat’ when you are held to ransom. Fortunately there are few unpleasant incidents such as when a car is daubed with paint, or latex cobwebs are sprayed through letterboxes, but you never know what may happen, and you await the event with trepidation. I’m amazed that parents support their children by paying handsomely for witch’s costumes, ghoul masks, pumpkins and toffee apples. Some even send their little ones out on the streets without supervising them, oblivious to what could happen on this night when the Devil claps his hands and things are made easy for him.

Yes, I do believe in Satan, demons and fallen angels (Romans 8:38; Ephesians 6:12) principalities and powers, and I’m not a fan of fictional films like Frankenstein’s Monster or the Mummy. I loath anything that promotes evil, horror, fear, the occult, ghosts, magic, witches of any sort, white or black, zombies, werewolves or goblins. There’s nothing pleasant, loving or kind to be said about them or activities associated with dark and sinister happenings. Why encourage children in learning about such things when there are far more worthy subjects to delve into? Yes, death and evil they will come across in due course, but things leading to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self- control are far better pursuits. (Galatians 5:22)

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Latest Great Grandson

During my Bible readings this morning I came across these verses from the Psalms:

Psalm 127:3-5

‘Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has a quiver of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.’

and Psalm 90:17

Let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands.

There are two main themes here:
1) God is the Provider who determines rewards.
2) He is the One who gives significance and meaning to our lives.

My heritage has been children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, all of whom have given me happiness. Because they have been provided by the LORD, what they do with their lives has great significance and meaning.

Friday, October 16, 2009

33rd America’s Cup

'BMW Oracle'

Pride, power, sport, competition, rivalry; what drives the America’s Cup? The trophy known as the ‘Auld Cup’ has been raced for since 1851, and it wasn’t until 1983 when Australia won four out of seven races that America gave up the cup until the next challenge. In 1995 New Zealand became the third holder of the trophy, only to lose to the Australians in the year 2000. In 2003 the Australians lost to Société Nautique de Genève who defended the cup in 2007 at Valencia against the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Now the Americans are hungry for the trophy to be returned to the USA and a Dog Match is due to take place in February 2010 in the United Arab Emirates, but I believe this location may be subject to litigation. An agreed change of rules has allowed multihull vessels fitted with power for running winches etc to compete, and the waterline length has been increased to 90 feet. The innovations as a result are quite amazing. You only need look at photos of the vessels to know what I mean. There’s the defending Spanish catamaran ‘Alinghi 5’ and the American challenger trimaran ‘BMW Oracle’, each costing millions to build and test.

Dirk Kramers, the designer of ‘Alinghi’ is not at all confident that the wave-piercing hulls will hold together in anything above relatively calm conditions, hence the Spanish team wants the United Arab Emirates to be the venue; neither is Kramers comfortable about the rigging because of the enormous loads that will be imposed on the extremely light hulls if the wind blows up.

Alinghi Catamaran

BMW Oracle Trimaran

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Today, 15th October 09

My Ford Mondeo is being repaired after an accident involving a dog. Meanwhile I have the use of a courtesy car which is a Chevrolet Matiz.* Today it has been of great help to me. Early I went shopping with my wife for the week’s groceries; then I took her to the doctor’s because she has a swollen foot. Afterwards I drove the car to Burnham-on-Crouch to finish laying up my little yacht by tying a tarpaulin over her foredeck. Afterwards I sat on the sea wall and had a sandwich lunch. The sun was shining and an egret was wading in the shallow water searching for small fry. Nearby a gull swam around clumps of floating egg wrack apparently looking for morsels to eat.

After lunch I set off for a walk towards Burnham Marina, but stopped for a chat with two guys working on a Hunter 19. They told me they were rebuilding the boat for a RNLI raffle to be held at the London Boat Show. Both were crew members of the Burnham inshore lifeboat and they were hoping a lot of money would be collected for a new floating boat shed and a bigger new lifeboat. I continued my enjoyable walk to the Marina where I looked at the yachts on the hard. A large concrete double-ender called ‘River Dancer’, registered at London, was being repainted. She’s been knocking around the River Crouch for a good many years and for the last two or three she’s been laid up at the Marina. I was pleased to see that someone was taking an interest in her, because boats left to rot are sorry sights.

Before driving home I chatted with an elderly gent who was retiring from sailing and he was re-commissioning his beloved Nicholson 32 with a view to selling her. She had been freshly sprayed in white paint and she looked a real treat. I’m sure he will find a new owner soon.

Back at home I cleared the garage of junk that was making it unusable. A lot of the stuff I put in my house loft, and grandchildren’s garden toys, things like tricycles and plastic tractors, I stored them in the garden shed. As the garden hose will not be needed until next spring I hung it in the garage out of the way and I lagged the outside tap to prevent it from freezing during the winter. I managed to do a few other little jobs around the house before the evening meal.

*Chevrolet Matiz

Reviews of this small car on the Internet tend to run it down, but I found it quite a nippy little thing. I suppose the biggest drawback for a sailing man is the diminutive boot, but the back seats fold down far enough to take an outboard motor and a fair amount of boat clobber. Basically, it is a cheap, economical, town car.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mini 6.50 Racing Yacht

'Rattle and Hum'

Last year, when I was doing a cruise in my Paradox sailboat to the Scilly Isles, I moored her at the Lymington Town Sailing Club where I sat out a gale. The members made me very welcome and allowed me to use their fine facilities. Adjacent to ‘Faith’ on the windward side of the pontoon there was a smart Mini 6.50 racing yacht named, ‘Rattle and Hum’. She was owned by Keith Willis who I met. He told me his main sponsor was the Lymington Town Sailing Club and he was concerned that the French more or less had the monopoly of the Mini-Transat Race, now called La Charente-Maritime Bahia Transat 6.50.* This solo transatlantic race for 6.5 metre yachts has a history stretching back 30 years with almost a total of 800 competitors.

I have been following the progress of this year’s participants who crossed the start line at Charente-Maritime on Sunday, 13th September on their way to Funchal in the Canary Islands to complete the first stage of the Race. Now they are on the second stage from Funchal to Bahia, and as I write, Keith is in 19th position, just about to enter the Doldrums, South of the Cape Verde Islands.

There are two separate classes in this race, the Prototypes and the Series. ‘Rattle and Hum’ is a standard Series yacht. The Prototypes are the faster, lighter, more powerful machines, differing in design, whereas the Series are almost identical. I believe there is only one other British competitor, Oliver Bond, and he is currently in 5th position, skippering Artemis, a series boat. These sailors need nerves of steel as their skimming dishes regularly exceed 12 knots. In the past, several famous racing sailors first made their names in this gruelling competition, including Loïck Peyron, Isabelle Autissier, Ellen MacArthur and Michel Desjoyeaux.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Boat Lay-up

'Ladybird' dreaming

It’s that time of year; Jack Frost placed his silver mantle on the garden lawn during the night, and the warm morning sunshine transformed it into a carpet of iridescent pearls. This brilliant greeting with red Robin’s call was a reminder that it’s time to cover the boat now that she has been brought ashore ready for her winter hibernation. Yesterday I took home her sails and bits and bobs after the end of season cleanup. Because she is small I didn’t have a lot to do, but I need to decide if I’m going to replace a seized seacock under the basin or block it off. I hardly ever use the basin, because I prefer a bowl which is much more convenient when placed on my lap for washing dishes or preparing vegetables etc. The seacock looks substantial, and I doubt it will leak or that the jubilee clips will fail, but I have all the winter to decide what to do.

With ‘Ladybird’ asleep under her winter covers, together we can share dreams of April showers, aqua seas, islands, estuaries, gentle summer winds and blissful, balmy days. In our slumbers we can leisurely cruise the South Coast Riviera to sunny Exmouth and glorious Devon, and if June and July bring good weather, our fantasies may become realty, but this will depend on my continuing good health and God’s wonderful providence.

Monday, October 12, 2009


I find that compartmentalizing my life is a convenient way of keeping things under control, but there are dangers that I need to be aware of, because there are important overriding and overlapping principles and beliefs that govern what happens within the compartments. The sort of compartmentalizing that takes place can fit into various categories like health, time given to other people, spiritual nourishment, play, outreach, teaching, friends, family, church, and the list goes on. I am comprised of mind, spirit and body and all three reflect my principles and beliefs which in turn govern what happens within the compartments of my life. Take physical health as an example; to be healthy I need nutritious food and drink, exercise and sleep. Each of these can be compartmentalized; for example, food is consumed at breakfast, lunch and evening dinner, with breaks between for coffee and tea. This is not a rigid routine because meals can be taken at other times according to circumstances. I monitor the amount and types of food I eat to maintain a balance sufficient for my bodily needs. Exercise consists of a daily 3 mile walk plus whatever physical effort may be required for doing things like cutting the lawns, cleaning the house, running errands etc. I need at least 7 hours sleep in 24 hours, but this is not always possible.

The danger of compartmentalization is fragmentation which may separate compartments, and while operating within compartments I may forget or exclude my governing principles and beliefs. As a Christian I have a strong principle of endeavouring to please my Lord who is Jesus. This I have failed to do on many occasions, but that does not prevent me trying. Therefore whatever compartment I am operating in, the principle of pleasing Jesus is uppermost. This principle comes through my belief and trust in Him. If I am with friends, family, church or whoever, I need to constantly be on my guard to make sure I’m being faithful to Him and that the principle is being demonstrated. On the face of it, this is a hard to achieve, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, it is not beyond my reach. If you’ve never thought of deliberately compartmentalizing your life, I suggest you have a go, but take it from me you’ll be able to manage it easier if you have overriding principles and beliefs that govern what goes on within each compartment. Christian principles and beliefs weld the compartments together so that they resemble a structured building with God as the foundation (2 Timothy 2:19) and Christ the chief cornerstone. (Acts 4:11)

Sunday, October 11, 2009


How do you measure success and what is it? The recent NASA mission to find water on the Moon was deemed a success, because the operation went as planned, except when the unmanned rocket crashed into the surface of the Moon there was no visible plume of debris as a monitoring probe following minutes later took readings before it also plunged into the moon’s crust. The readings need to be analysed to determine if there is sufficient water on the moon to warrant assembling a human base station there for further explorations into space.

Success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose, and according to this definition NASA achieved its primary goal. Ultimately the aim is to explore outer space from a Moon base station complete with life-support mechanisms, experimental equipment and machinery for producing materials that cannot be made on earth. These endeavours require extraordinarily detailed preparations and research before embarking upon them. Frank Lloyd Wright said, “I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to happen,” but I would add to that by saying not all success stories depend on the implementation of these factors, because the circumstances or the nature of the objectives may not be so demanding. Much depends on the nature of the objective, for example a young child learning to catch a ball for the first time has only to coordinate the muscles of his body with the perceived trajectory of the ball to achieve success, whereas a learner juggler with four balls has a more difficult challenge.

The supremacy of humans over animals has in the most part been due to man’s success at using tools. There are animals much larger and more powerful than humans, but they have not been able to utilize tools with effect, either because of their restrictive anatomy or because of their inferior intelligence or both. Another reason for man’s supremacy is his success at storing and accessing knowledge - in these times particularly through the use of computers. Man’s success is also due to his inventive, experimental and creative genius. His imagination allows him to invent or foresee scenarios so that he can prepare for eventualities, thus enabling successful outcomes.

It is said that success breeds success, but let us not think that success is the acquisition of material gains at the expense of global loss by stripping nature’s resources and destroying the very planet upon which we depend for our survival. Success is living a sustainable lifestyle that respects the whole of the natural world and respects all humankind. Arguably for some the greatest success story is the triumphant resurrection of Jesus after His death on the cross and His ascension to Heaven. (Luke 24)

Saturday, October 10, 2009


We have all done stupid and silly things wittingly or unwittingly, but our intentional foolish acts are truly stupid, nonsensical and utterly absurd. Such conscious actions are beyond reason and comprehension. We cannot justifiably reason why we do them and we cannot understand why we do them, and yet we deliberately do foolish things. Is it because we have somewhere deep in our subconscious nature, an innate perversity that emerges when particular situations arise, such as when we are under pressure, stressed or in the public gaze? These are the very times when we need to keep cool heads and remain rational, but we unthinkingly act foolishly.

I know of a man who has built a very small sailing boat with the original intention of racing her around the world in the Around in Ten Race, which, alas is no more, but could be resurrected. This sensible and apparently rational man designed his 10 foot sharpie-type boat without any rocker – that’s fore and aft curvature of the bottom – and she has a very pointed bow with little buoyancy. In my opinion, for a seagoing vessel this combination is a recipe for disaster. The boat is slab-sided with considerable top-hamper because of her raised cabin, and her draft is minimal, a matter of inches. I note that some sort of shallow keel has been attached to the underside, presumably to provide lateral resistance and directional stability. Although the Around in Ten Race didn’t materialize because none of the entrants turned up at the start line, this man still wants to cross the Atlantic from East to West.

As far as I can ascertain, he has never tried his boat on a lake or on the sea; therefore he doesn’t know for certain if she will float to her designed waterline, or if she will even sail, but he plans to transport her overland hundreds of miles to a port of departure for the Atlantic crossing. Commonsense would surely lead him to try the boat close to home, before committing himself to the expensive overland journey. To the rational observer this commitment and proposed course of action lacks wisdom to the point of folly where the chance of mishap could be great, even to the extent of the loss of his life. If he sets off and persists with his mission without fully testing his boat he may eventually regret his actions and realise the folly of his ways, but if he succeeds, people will say luck was with him and his bravery was vindicated.

Friday, October 09, 2009


Yesterday when I was on the lookout for litter I came across this primitive graffiti which had been skilfully sprayed onto a contrasting black wall surface. It seems that the person who illegally did it wanted to make a point by leaving a message or tag for those who understand the meaning of the symbols, some of which are in the form of alphabetical letters. As I am not initiated in the culture of tagging and graffiti I am in the dark as to the meaning. I can make out what I believe to be certain letters, such as a ‘K’ or a ‘T’ in the form of a cross and an ‘O’ and ‘e’; there may also be a ‘d’ and a ‘g’ plus the number 7. A small symbolic figure above the lettering could represent a walking man and below it, there’s a pair of upside down inverted commas.

In Chicago, gangs use graffiti to mark the boundaries of territories they control, and their symbols, signs and tags are well documented. Besides marking turf areas, their graffiti is intended to convey messages of defiance or denigration to other gangs. There, the sub-culture of graffiti symbolism is highly developed. In an effort to prevent similar patterns of ant-social behaviour in the UK the Government in March 2004 brought in legislation to counteract the spread of graffiti, but you need only visit some of the big cities to see that the measures have not been effective. London, Bristol, Exeter, Manchester and Liverpool all have this problem of anti-social behaviour.

Obviously there’s a difference between the sort of Chicago style, low-grade intimidating graffiti used by gangs or individuals, and graphic wall paintings that highlight a cause or make a poignant statement, political, social or satirical. In this category are the murals of Northern Ireland which were created to intimidate opponents and mark territories, both by Protestants and Catholics, but now they are considered as worthy Art objects for tourists to see. The Bristol artist known as Banksy became famous because of his prolific, unauthorized external murals on public and private buildings throughout the City. Only recently in June, Bristol City Museum organized an exhibition of his diverse Art, but a similar accolade was not given to Richard Foskett who was found guilty of targeting over 30 buildings in Exeter with his spray paint vandalism. The cost of removing such unwanted graffiti that blights neighbourhoods, public areas, train carriages, subways etc. is astronomical; therefore the expenditure and effort put into minimizing this criminal and unsocial activity can truly be justified.

Northern Ireland Murals

Thursday, October 08, 2009


While driving my car this morning I noticed the driver of the car in front of me throwing litter into the road, and I wondered why he couldn’t hang on to it until he arrived home where he could put it in an appropriate bin. Was it just thoughtless behaviour on his part, laziness or a deliberate act of environmental vandalism?

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England not so long ago set up an initiative called, ‘Stop the Drop’, with the aim of reducing the disposal of litter from vehicles. The existing legislation for a successful prosecution requires proof that a specific person is responsible for the litter, but a pilot scheme in London came into force in June which makes the registered keeper of the vehicle liable. It is estimated that up to 70% of litter on our streets is dropped from vehicles. Council wardens, police and community support officers have powers to issue fixed penalties of between £50 and £80 for infringement, but proving the identity of a litter lout is not easy, especially one in a moving vehicle. Councils are finding that CCTV cameras are helpful in the fight against litter.

During a walk around my local village this afternoon I took note of litter by the roadside, and by far, the most prevalent articles were beer and Coke cans; a close second were plastic containers and bags for takeaway food and drink, followed by cigarette butts. I was surprised at how little chewing gum there was on the pavements, but the shop where most gum used to be sold, closed soon after the start of the recession.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


There’s nothing quite so exciting for a new Mum as the birthday celebration of her first child. The tiny tot has little understanding of what’s going on while the candle flickers on the decorated cake and Mum and Dad sing the traditional, ‘Happy Birthday’ song. Guests join in, and at the end of the ditty there’s a loud shout of “Hooray!”

Such a child born today in the UK could well have a life expectancy of at least 100 years; the same goes for newly born children in the US. Improvements in health care and the application of new medical knowledge, along with healthier life-styles will bring about increased longevity. More of us will be counting off our birthdays while giving thanks that we still have a good quality of life. Less fortunate unhealthy people who in the main bring it upon themselves through smoking, excessive drinking of alcohol, over-indulgence of food, or lack of exercise, will not fully benefit from medical science and future care provision for the elderly. They will needlessly die before becoming centenarians.

For me there is nothing special about annually remembering the date of my birthday, except to keep it as a day when I can give thanks to God for the years given to me during this pilgrimage upon the earth. I like to think of my mother who bore me in her womb for nine months, and also my father, because they loved me and provided for me until I was of age to fend for myself. Apart from that, a birthday is nothing more than another day when greeting cards drop through the letterbox and people give gifts, but I am always touched by the kind thoughts and good wishes of those who remind me of my age by this annual ritual. I smile and say thank you and tell them how much I appreciate their love.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Mind Drifter

Herring Drifter

My pseudonym for this Blog is ‘Mind Drifter’, and by the evidence of my past ramblings, the title is most appropriate. When I was young I would have likened myself to a ‘Dynamo’ because I had so much energy I could live three days in one. With boundless reserves and abundant enthusiasm I felt I could accomplish almost anything. As age and the ravages of time have taken their toll, I find my reserves waning; my mind is gaining ascendancy over my body. Physical effort requires more energy than mental effort, and yet demands are made upon my body that have to be met. I cannot live in my mind alone; neither can I exist solely in my body. Each depends upon the other. Both my mind and body crave for simplicity – a life without complications and not too many demands; however, the world will not relent. The maze of life expands as paths are added daily with their twists and turns, offshoots left and right, each requiring choices, and those chosen unfailingly extract energy; others become quagmires, and more than a few are barren sun-crazed, clay cul-de-sacs. All unfruitful passages require the Maze Wanderer to retrace his steps until new options can be chosen. He who perseveres* along the Way+ may find the Centre where he can lay down his weary head. (Matthew 11:28)

*Revelation 2:10 + John 14:6

Herring Drifter ‘Reaper FR 958’ -

Monday, October 05, 2009

Classic Wooden Boat

Plastic boats are much of a muchness, but wooden boats are unique, because all their parts are mainly fashioned by hand. Unlike fibreglass boats, wooden vessels do not come out of moulds. Old classic yachts are greatly admired for the craftsmanship put into them by skilled shipwrights. A good many well-proven weather-worn vessels abound today after 40 or 50 years of faithful service. They have character and saltiness, and an organic quality akin to nature’s forms. Why else are graceful yachts likened to maidens? Just look at the photograph of the aft deck of ‘CALLIDUS’ showing her laid planking and curvaceous taffrail. Where else would you find such a shapely tiller, a fusion of metal and oak that has ‘evolved’ for fitness of purpose – for unifying a skipper and his vessel as she cleaves the waves while the rudder hums and the vibrating tiller says, “All’s well. She’s doing 6 knots Captain,” and, “God speed!” The varnish work and the teak-oiled deck may not be pristine, but they speak of sea spray, sunshine and happy days. Forget the toil, think not of gales, dwell not upon gripping fear, but remember star-studded skies, sunshine and showers, rainbows, comradeship, French wine and Cornish pasties! Hard-worn decks and crazed varnish tell of a good life, work done, dreams accomplished and much satisfaction.
The Yacht ‘CALLIDUS’ used for RYA tuition.

Sunday, October 04, 2009


When I was a youngster, along with my friends, I used the word ‘windy’ in an adjectival sense to describe someone who was afraid to do something that might be dangerous. The word can actually be used to describe a ‘nervous’ or ‘anxious’ person, but there is also a cowardly connotation to it. ‘Chicken’ is used in a similar way. Kids sometimes play the stupid and dangerous game of ‘Chicken’ which entails running across railway lines at the latest possible moment before oncoming trains or darting across busy roads. The colour ‘yellow’ has associations with cowardliness; consequently a ‘yellow’ person is a coward. A ‘white feather’ is a derisory symbol given to one who is believed to be a coward.+ The horrendous act of ‘Tarring and Feathering’ which entails pouring hot tar on a victim before applying white feathers may have connections with cowardliness. There was a tarring and feathering incident in Southern Belfast in August, 2007.*

None of us likes to think we are cowards, but if we are put to the test would we make the grade? Brave men and women in Afghanistan face the test every day. Jesus when He was in Gethsemane did not bottle out. (Matthew 26:36-46) He knew what lay ahead. (Matthew 27:35)

* 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers were executed in WW1 for cowardice. (Snippet) More than 300 British soldiers who were shot during World War I for military offences are to receive formal pardons, Defence Secretary Des Browne has announced. (August 2006) Mr Browne said he would be seeking a parliamentary group pardon for the men, executed for offences such as cowardice and desertion. It is believed 306 British soldiers were shot during the war from 1914-1918. + The Four Feathers novel by A E W Mason has the theme of cowardliness and bravery.

Saturday, October 03, 2009


Accidents happen frequently, and they always bring consequences. Yesterday, my daughter was driving my car at night along a narrow lane, when all of a sudden a dog dashed out from a driveway in front of the car causing an inevitable collision. Fortunately, there were no other vehicles in the vicinity that may have become involved. The owner of the dog had inadvertently left the gate to her driveway open. On seeing what had happened she apologised for allowing her pet to stray on the road. From all accounts she was more concerned for damage caused to the bumper of the car than injuries sustained to her pet. She admitted liability and stated that she would pay for the repairs. At that point her partner arrived home and made the bumper secure by using plastic ties.

I am now left with the chores of obtaining quotes for the repair, taking the car to the place where it will be mended, being without the use of the car while the damage is being put right, and collecting the car after the work has been carried out. Meanwhile the dog will suffer during the healing process.

As far as I can ascertain by searching the Internet, the same rules apply to pets as for farm animals that stray on a public highway. Their owners are liable for the payment of compensation – that’s if there’s injury to persons, damage to vehicles, private property or roadside appurtenances, such as bollards, traffic lights and signs. If a vehicle collides with a horse, cow, bull, ass, mule, sheep, pig, or dog, the driver of the vehicle must report it to the owner of the animal, or if that cannot be done, he must report the accident to the Police within 24 hours. It is advisable for the car owner to report the accident to his vehicle insurer with notification that he will or will not make a claim.

The full consequences of my daughter’s accident are not yet fully revealed, but in time they will be largely known by the parties involved and they are already ‘fully’ known by an omniscient God. (Psalm 33:13; 147:5; Acts 15:18)