Friday, July 31, 2015

Had an Excellent Sail with ‘Pike’

It has been a very full day which couldn’t have been better. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll do a write-up. At the moment I’m very tired, and it’s far too late for thinking straight.

Goodnight, and thank you for your interest.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

‘Pike’ Ready to Go

Preparing 'Pike'

Ready to go

The time has come for a trial sail with ‘Pike’. Tomorrow’s forecast looks good, and high water at Burnham-on-Crouch should be at 13.18. There couldn’t be a better opportunity; therefore I’m planning a fairly early start for having several hours on the water before returning home.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to report back tomorrow evening with an account of how things went.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Keter Borneo Storage Box

There are still a number of things that require doing before everything in the garden is in order. One job that was on the list was ticked off this morning after I assembled a Keter Borneo Storage Box that arrived yesterday, courtesy of Amazon, only one day after ordering it!

I was amazed how well the components were manufactured. All the main parts precisely slotted together to form the box, and the lid was attached with two self-assisting piston operated hinges to aid its opening and closing. Forty-five minutes after removing bits and pieces from the packaging, the box was assembled. The only tool required for doing it was a Phillips screwdriver.

I can recommend the box for watertight storage, as enthusiastic Amazon reviewers confirm that items within their Borneo Boxes have remained dry and well aired. A few reviewers say that care should be taken when opening the lid after a heavy downpour, because water can lodge in crevices on the top of the lid, and it may trickle into the box as the lid is opened.

After assembling the box I was able to do three more jobs, and there are no pressing ones to be done. The forecast for the next few days is looking good. Therefore, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to take ‘Pike’ for a sail - most likely on Friday, when high water at Burnham-on-Crouch will be at 13.18.



Keter Outdoor Storage Boxes

Borneo Storage Box

Phillips Screwdriver

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Finishing Touches to the Patio

I finished building the patio a few days ago. Today, my wife and I gave it the finishing touches by adding six solar lights, a candle lantern, a hanging basket, a cordyline plant and a dwarf palm tree.

The solar lights were designed with short supports that could be stuck in the ground, but I mounted them on metal rods that I attached to the patio wall. This makes them more visible, and dare I say it, more attractive. At night, the light they emit gradually changes, simulating the colours of a rainbow, i.e., red, orange, green, blue, indigo and violet.

I made their supports from chromium plated hanger rods - the sort you find in wardrobes - and I fixed them to the wall with homemade aluminium brackets. My wife arranged the hanging basket, and she planted the cordyline and dwarf palm tree in large, square-topped pots. She also put a decorated candle in the lantern.


Cole and Bright (Manufacturers of the Solar Ice Orb Light)

Solar Ice Orb Light – Black Nickel

Monday, July 27, 2015

Crewsaver Buoyancy Bag

Before I can take ‘Pike’ for a sail I must check that her stern buoyancy bag does not leak. When I bought her I found that the bag was deflated, and I presumed it leaked. It is a 1998 Crewsaver 27 kilogram (60 lbs), 760 mm x 230 mm polyurethane nylon, pillow-shaped bag that is held in place by two straps.

The cheapest new replacement would cost £33.50 from, including free delivery.  Altogether I looked at nine online chandlers, and I thought that Seamark Nunn would be the cheapest, but when I added the delivery charge of £4.99 it worked out at £35.90. The most expensive was CrewSafe at £38.45.

I tested the bag for leaks by submerging it in a bath of water and I couldn’t find any escaping air. Over the next few days I’ll monitor the situation to see if it gradually deflates.


Sunday, July 26, 2015


I’ve just purchased the ‘Ship Finder’ AIS App for my iPhone which works a treat. There’s a Dutch yacht named ‘Cine Mara’ in which I have an interest. She’s currently stormbound at Alderney awaiting better weather, and with the App I shall be able to track her, know her speed and course, her exact location and destination if programmed by her skipper, along with her ETA. All of this information is updated every 3 minutes. At just under £3 for the advertisement free iOS App, I think this is good value for money. The free version has limited information, and it is spoiled by intrusive advertisements.

An advertisement free live chart showing the positions and movements of vessels may be had by visiting the Live Ships Map – AIS on a computer. (See Link below)

Note: All photos are of ‘Cine Mara’.**


Live Ships Map - AIS



Automatic Identification System

**'Cine Mara' - The Galway hooker: Dutch and Irish connections

Saturday, July 25, 2015


There’s an alcove between the garage and the shed which is large enough for an outdoor storage box, and as I had a number bricks left over after building the patio, I thought I would use them to make a suitable surface for supporting a storage box. A Keter Borneo Storage Box would fit quite nicely, and it could be used for storing the garden furniture cushions.

The photos illustrate what I was able to achieve today. I shall have to buy thirteen more bricks to finish the job.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Charlie Pitcher – Part 2

When I first heard that Charlie Pitcher was to attempt a solo row around Great Britain I realised what a difficult task he had given himself. I’ve sailed quite a bit along the coasts of these waters from as far north as Peterhead, south and west through the English Channel to Western Ireland and I’ve come across some very difficult situations on account of bad weather. Therefore it was no surprise to me that Charlie would find the same, especially as he would be relying on his own strength and willpower to overcome adverse weather and many obstacles along the way.

Without a doubt Charlie is a very brave and selfless man who takes on the most difficult of challenges for fundraising and for testing his own resourcefulness and endurance. His ‘Day Thirty-One’ blog* tells of his disappointment at having to postpone continuing his row around Britain, but sensibly he put his family and business first, since he set himself a time limit for the row and was far behind the planned schedule. He says it has been the most difficult challenge so far, and that’s after rowing the Atlantic twice, completing a Scottish Ultra Run, doing a hundred-and-fifty-one mile Sahara run, plus several marathons.

Charlie is a hero of mine, and more so for taking on the most difficult challenge of his life. I wish him success at completing the row around Great Britain which I believe he will attempt to do next year.

Well done Charlie.

*Day Thirty-One Blog

Other Links

Charlie Pitcher Rows Great Britain

Charlie Pitcher

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Patio Completely Finished

At long last my labours on building a patio in the back garden have come to an end. I can look at it with some satisfaction. I know that it is far from perfect, since I lacked the skills and knowledge to bring perfection about. However, what I did was my very best, and the finish was satisfactory – good enough to make my wife happy.

At the outset I was a complete novice, having never built a patio before, and I can honestly say I never want to build another. Give me wood as a medium, not bricks and mortar, for which I have little sympathy. Shaping wood with sharp tools is pleasurable, but mixing mortar and applying it with a trowel - there is no comparison.

Take if from me, that is not the last job to do in the garden. A garden is as demanding as a boat, and it can be just as costly to maintain. Talking of boats, I must get around to having a sail with ‘Pike’.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Finishing the Patio

When something is to be created, preparations are required beforehand. Nothing can be made from nothing. Firstly, one must acquire materials and tools to do the job. From that point, one is able to start creating what is to be made, but what is made will not be complete until it has been given a finish. Finishing must take place, because without a finish, whatever is created is incomplete, unless one deliberately builds into it an unfinished effect.

My patio requires finishing.

When building it, I found it impossible to prevent the mortar from spilling over onto the slabs from the gaps between them. My priority was to ensure that there were no voids, and the only way I could achieve this was by compressing mortar into the gaps. Afterwards I scraped away any surplus, but that left stains on the edges of the slabs.

Today I have been trying to remove the stains by scraping and wire brushing them.

Tomorrow I may be able to complete the task.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

‘Pike’s’ Boathouse

At last, ‘Pike’ is at home in her boathouse that had been occupied by new garden furniture. The latter has been moved to the patio. It is much more comfortable than the old plastic stuff that has been relocated further down the lawn. We shall be keeping it there, at least until next month, because we shall be having a family gathering, and if the weather is fine we shall find it useful.

Now that ‘Pike’ is under cover, I can see to a few jobs that have to be done to her before I take her for our first sail.

Monday, July 20, 2015


The first move towards building the patio was taken on 29th April when I ordered paving slabs from B&Q. Shortly after their arrival on 1st May I started demolishing the old patio to make way for the new one. My first mention of it here was on 6th June.* At that time I had dug a trench for the retaining wall, and I was levelling the ground in preparation for hard core.

Two months and twenty-one days after ordering the slabs, the job is finished - apart from tidying the joins; therefore I am jubilant, especially as my wife likes what I have done.

When the joins have been tidied and I have disposed of all unwanted hard core, unused bricks, plus old sand and mortar I shall be able to concentrate on ‘Pike’. There are a few things that require doing to her before I take her for a sail. She’ll take up residence in the ‘boathouse’ as soon as I transfer new garden furniture from it to the patio.


*The Patio and ‘Ladybird’

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Distraction – Part 2

The patio didn’t get a look in.

The whole day was spent with the youngest grandchildren. I could hardly call the experience relaxing or restful, but it was fun and quite noisy.

This morning there was a special service of thanksgiving at the church for God’s provision and faithfulness to one of our elders who has stepped down from eldership after many years of dedicated service. Afterwards, and into the afternoon, we enjoyed a fellowship meal. The children, along with others made their own entertainment by happily playing together in a separate room.

Before returning to their home, we took them to the local fire station where there was an open day with supervised activities for youngsters. They loved having a go with a fire hose and dressing up in fireman’s clothing.

Back at their home I played lawn football with them. Needless to say, they ran circles around me and I had to pace myself so as not to get out of breath. They also played with their toys and they had a game of Monopoly. A final meal and a bath brought their activities to an end, at which time they were reunited with their parents.

I’m glad it went that way, because I had a good break from building the patio, but there are a few more bricks to be laid, and tomorrow might see me in action to bring the project to a close.


A Distraction

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Distraction

I’ve been very attentive to finishing the patio, but this morning my wife wanted me to take her to the National Flower Show at Hylands House, and of course, I obliged. I love flowers, particularly roses, of which there were few. The fine weather must have encouraged many people to come along, because even by the opening time of 10.00 am there were thousands there. We stayed for most of the morning and we saw practically every stand. I was amazed at the variety of exhibits, but even more by lots of rubbish, including garden gnomes and so-called garden sculptures.

I was pleased to be on my way home shortly before mid-day, and by one o’clock I was back on the job of mixing mortar and laying bricks. There can only be less than a dozen to lay, and the job should be finished, except for tidying joins between the slabs.


National Flower Show Hylands House Chelmsford

Hylands House

Friday, July 17, 2015


Anything built without a firm foundation is likely to fall. Architects know full well the structural importance of having a sound base upon which to build. I recollect that when I was on holiday in Cyprus a good many years ago, one thing that took my attention was the depth of trenches for the walls of new buildings. They went down to solid rock. I can only assume that in that part of Cypress at Agia Napa, the terrain is composed of rock upon which there is a deep layer of reddish soil.

Today I made the foundation for a single course of bricks that will act as a retainer where the patio adjoins the shrubbery border. In addition to preventing the escape of sand from under the otherwise exposed edge of the patio, the bricks will match others at the top of the wall adjacent to the lawn.

Parable of the Two Foundations – Luke 6:46-49 Principle verse 48: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on a rock. And when the flood rose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.


Geological Map of Cyprus

Ayia Napa (Agia Napa)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Nearly There

I’m nearly there - nearly where? - Almost at the end of the patio project.
Necessity has caused me to temporarily deviate from working on the final part of the patio which will be a brick edge that will separate it from the shrubbery border. It will match the visible top part of the wall on the lawn side.

My deviation of necessity today was to attend to a bay tree that was impinging on the pathway to the patio. It had grown so large that it almost completely blocked the pathway. I hadn’t cut it for a long time because blackbirds had nested in it and I’ve been occupied with building the patio.

Because of being so preoccupied I let things slip in the garden and at this time of year the growth of plants is prodigious. The lawn at far end of the back garden looked a bit like a hay field, especially in the vicinity of the pergola. In part this was due to running out of line for the grass strimmer, which meant I could not attend to trimming the grass. However, when I was at B&Q the other day I bought a packet of line for replenishing the empty spools of my Qualcast strimmer.

Now that the bay tree has been attended to and the lawns cut, the gardens look attractive once again. There are still more jobs to be done, but they are not so pressing, which means I can focus on finishing the patio.


Jobs Nearly Done (Info about my Qualcast strimmer)

Bay Tree (Laurus Nobilis)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Patio Nearly Finished

All the patio slabs have been laid, but to give it an attractive finish I’ve decided to build a brick edging where it adjoins the shrubbery border. When that is done and I’ve tidied all the joins between the slabs, the patio will be truly finished.