Friday, August 31, 2007

Invasion - FRANCE! Part 2

It has not escaped this chap's notice that my blog is approaching it's first anniversary. I notice this not because I care about the slow passage of time on my ever weakening frame - but because I started it when I last visited my 'chap' in Burgundy.

There are a couple of key differences which stand out as a stark contrast between 'then' and 'now'.

For starters neither myself nor my Arch-Conspirator with whom i travel so much to share in the fruits of Bacchus, smoke anymore.
In times past we could connect with our cousins from across the La Manche not in the fact we could communicate - but in the fact we would share a spot of mundungus with the fellows. Normally over ridiculously strong coffee.
A Gauloise alone could secure the temporary camaraderie of a Truck Driver, farmer or (in cases when I have attempted to wheedle my way out of a speeding ticket) a Gendarme.
(I must point out that in France the possession of French cigarettes has one one sole occasion saved me a 10,000 Franc fine - but in Switzerland it was my friend's possession of a camera that saved me from deportation for taking the old Triumph at just under Mach one outside San Moritz)

But we prepare with care.

Flask of coffee - check
Parsnip and Cabbage sandwiches - check (and yes - I know now I shouldn't eat bread)
18 CD version of 'The Thirteen Gun Salute' check
Wet Wipes - check

The key difference this time is as thus.

2004 was an indifferent year. We stocked up on the best we could scrape from the Crus of Beaujolais and the Premier Crus of Beaune.

This year is very different.

I mentioned earlier that 2005 is special.

Very special.

Everything I have read from sources other than the vignerons themselves is that I should sell my unborn for this year. 1944 isn't a patch on it.

Now - I don't buy wine as an investment. I buy it to lay down, commune with and ultimately consume with glad rapture.

This year is special. Not only will i be loading the car to the gunwales, but we shall be making two, possibly three trips.

A vintage like this comes once in a lifetime.

We may yet upgrade from parsnip to smoked salmon. The Patrick O'Brien CD may be upgraded to 'HMS Surprise' as well.

Watch this space.

Quick! Everyone's looking!

Route to fame:

1. Get name checked on Iain Dale

2. Blow dust off two articles that have been languishing in draft about wine and Boris.

3. Pretend vaguely that you do more than write about your sailing holidays and complain about the RYA.

4. Watch those hits soar. Not.

Chap sticks - where two's company and three's a readership.

The only reason why I love the EU

A title that would enrage the Devil himself, but my wits are not so discombobulated in laudanum - for I have one very good reason.

Now - I don't buy all their statist laws, the CAP is a joke, their fishery policies have plundered our waters, their socialist federation dreams are a nightmarish reality and their directives display an ever growing evidence that we are slipping into a hell of their making.

No - I have a singular and what I believe the best possible reason to love the EU - or especially - France.

In 10 days I am trundling over to France courtesy of Mr Peninsula and Mr Orient and driving to a little area south of Dijon known locally as La Bourgogne. It has a reputation for decent plonk.
Now personal taste is one thing - and whilst it can be a little inaccessible (and this is likely to stir up a heated debate more than anything else) I believe a decent Burgundy will knock the spots of all but the finest Bordeaux.

In the past Nanny has decreed that we can't bring home too much as we will make ourselves poorly and Gordo won't get all that lovely duty. The revenue men would stop, search and on the merest whim take away one's hard earned vino.
Now one can whine on about limits and the like - but this is the bit I like.

I can move freely into France from this sceptered isle and buy as much decent plonk as I wish, and not a red cent will go to the British Government.
I can bring it back in tranches of 10 cases (I reckon three trips will do it) and still not give anything to Gordo. If I personally have less than 10 cases at a time it is construed by customs to be personal (which, of course, it is).

This is just as well - because (And you heard it here...) 2005 is being heralded as the Best Vintage probably ever.

I shall be selling a kidney to ensure I have enough of this incredible year to enjoy far into my old age. I shall open every bottle safe in the knowledge that not one red cent of my enjoyment is going to the Government here.

It's not as good as free - but free from the clutches of the Whitehall Thieves is the next best thing.

Thank you France.

Where's Boris?

With all the goings on over the Brown bounce and Dave either being on the ropes or showing everyone what for on Newsnight - it all seems to have gone terribly quiet over Boris and the Mayoral campaign.

I do have an observation to make about the arch-chap though.
His Telegraph columns are becoming more and more focussed to what could be described as London issues: transport, street disorder and bike theft and the like.

Is this just me - or has his column become his platform - or was it always thus?
In which case - most of us who read you Boris already would vote for you - you need another outlet!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Aegean Mission Part III

Nisos Kos to Nisos Plati, 12 miles.

I have chosen to gloss over the first day at sea.

It is traditional for a few minor items to go awry and it would be ungallant of me to dwell to much on the minor items. Suffice to say First Mate and I had some opportunity to practice turning in a seaway and collecting items.
With the boat hook.

It is worth mentioning the first night however - for tired as we were, I was particularly pleased with the results.

I have commented previously that some of our Med-based cousins effect their anchoring with much in the way of shouting, hullooing and use of mobile telephones - both First Mate and I - and quite rightly - reflect upon their behaviour and wrinkled our collective noses at such nonsense.

We are British, sons of the waves and as such better than these johnnies - for it is by our standards that one judges 'a high notion of seamanship'.

With this burden of responsibility weighing upon us, we hove into view of our first proper anchorage.

'Nisos Plati, Good holding weed and sand, anchor in 5-10 metres' says Dear Roderick.

There was in residence already a large Gin Palace, in the middle distance a large 50' in Italian colours, some other yachts including a Frenchman plus a bum-boat at the small church quay in the bay. A few goats for company ashore.

As any yachtsman will tell you anchoring or mooring is stressful not necessarily because they are difficult to achieve, but because everyone is watching and judging you.

We had better get it right first time for an audience was there - gins in hand, binoculars trained ready to suck teeth and shake heads at the slightest slip.

One boon - as is typical for the waters in this part - they are spirit clear and we could easily survey the bottom and pick a suitable patch of sand to lay our ground tackle.

We idled the boat in at half a knot with First Mate peering over the pullpit for just the right patch. She chose well, for on her call I knocked us gently astern while she lay down the cable - putting a third of it down.

The cable laid out and astern we chugged until we jerked nose down satisfactorily and swung gently either side of the cable.

We both held our breath. Slowly, the boat took the tension on the chain and we eased up to wind. Unconsciously we both selected different transits ashore and watched for dragging.

We had not only bitten cleanly, but bitten first time. A third of our 60 metre chain and a clean bite in 7 meters.

Text book.
The First mate had clearly been hiding her skills under a bushel. Clean anchoring and using transits no less.

A swim down afterwards revealed an image straight out of the RYA Dayskipper book - anchor cleanly in the sand, with a clean catenary of chain.

Not only were we able to feel smug about our skills - but it augured well for the week - for ahead lay the sternest test yet - Patmos!

Patmos - a complex entrance, narrow moorings in front of jeering crowds, contrary winds and a part of the Aegean where the Meltemi blows it's hardest. To top it all, the glass was dropping slowly - it was going to come on to blow.

But tonight we could rest easy, for soon we had gins in our hands and the entertainment of an American catamaran attempting that which we had achieved - but oh so gratifyingly -with somewhat less success....... and a free light show from the perseids to boot.

Next Installment: Episode IV - A lesson in The Weather Gauge and our second brush with the Kriegsmarine.

New entry for next year's bounders contest

This fellow would have done well at this year's Chap Olympics - especially the bit about crashing through the enclosure and leading her and three others off into the jungle.

Jumbo Romance

Thanks to Kate for the link!

Gosh, is that a spreadsheet you're using, or are you pleased to see me?

I have often wondered what we used to do before the Internet or E-Mail when we wanted to look like we were working. (My first office job involved memos, telexes, carbon paper and the like)

There is also a whole generation for whom a Kalamazoo ledger, NCR paper and trimphone are complete mysteries…but I digress.

I also recall that we all used to trog out at lunchtime to Travel Agents and the like - a task we all delight in nowadays thanks to the Internet, as it is a) accessible from our desks and b) we can look like we are working at the same time.

I raised this matter with someone over email today - pondering that we all like playing travel agents nowadays - whiling away those quite moments - so what do Travel Agents do when they are pretending to work?

She rather wittily replied that 'They pretend to do stuff in Excel Spreadsheets- for the Glamour'.

If you combine that with the High Octane world of PowerPoint and the Dangers of MS Project - I clearly lead the life of some international playboy.

Well - compared to your local branch of 'Tommy C' anyway.
Witty quote: copyright bagelmouse 2007

Cracking Headline!

More light blogging today, despite the fact I'm in T'North and in my fave hotel.
I did see This though!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

All quiet on the Western Front

I have more things to come on the Aegean Mission, but the swine who pay me to run on the wheel a demanding more amperes.
The next post is particularly long and is terribly I need a bit of a run up at it.

UPDATE: This is my second century post....forgot to mention, but not that I'm going for quanitity over quality.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Monday, August 27, 2007

Can you eat Seagull?

We we languishing in the dunes on Sunday contemplating our current situation. Barbecue number two lit, second bottle of rosé cracked and we (or rather I was) speculating on the meteorological situation unfolding above us.

Clouds were forming over a sea breeze front which was developing over us. We had watched some birds merrily thermalling in the distance whilst I bored the company with the shape of the thermal and how the said birds found the best lift. We watched them gain height, then swing over to the dunes to carry out a patrol along the shoreline.

I may have pointed out that sailing and gliding makes you the very worst form of weather-wonk.

The birds were using the ridge lift over the dunes to maintain effortless flight - allowing them to soar along the ridge and scan the various beach users for scraps.

They were Herring Gulls.

Great soarers are Herring Gulls, if a little sarcastic. They spot you joining a thermal with them, and fly off leaving only your seat of your pants and your instruments to find the core of the thermal. Other birds are more gracious with nature's free flight, and will happily share with you. (More on this to come)

However, we clocked the Herring Gulls on their patrol and the inevitable conversation cropped up: Are they edible?

There have been many articles in the Yachtie press as to the suitability of the Gull as a source of dinner.

We concluded - after much discussion - that whilst theoretically you could one should ask if one should?

Pelagic or littoral Gulls would have dined on nature's bounteous table - and whilst fishy in flavour should be wholesome. Gulls that dine ashore - in our landfills and our bins along busier beaches or marinas should almost certainly be avoided. Apparently they taste somewhat like Crows do: bitter and stringy.

None would certainly be suitable for barbecuing - but possibly for slow cooking.

Seagull Stew.


We would have to be very desperate, or very drunk to consider such a meal.

Even my chum who sailed the Pacific did not stoop to such horrors - despite the fact he confessed to consuming three sacks of onions during his crossing from the Galapagos to the Marquesas.


I have been doing my Jonathan Livingstone bit today.

An hour's soaring in 4 knot thermals. Utterly delightful day, even if they were breaking up before cloud base at 3800 feet.

Aviation has moments of terror, muck-sweat hard work and very occasionally moments of totally sublime beauty.

I joined my first thermal at 900 feet from the winch over the local village - the instability kicked off by a combine harvester.

Twenty yards in front of me there was a Red Kite.

He was circling in the core of the lift - so I had only to follow him to sit in the core of the lift. From my position I could see his feathers curling around the wind as he moved his head and flew in a relaxed circle. I trimmed the aeroplane to as slow a speed as I could and held station behind him as best as I could, at least trying to stay below him. At one point he was above my canopy from around ten or fifteen feet.

I followed him to about 2500 feet, when another glider barged in and came up behind me.

Two gliders were clearly to crowded for him, and he peeled off. I held the thermal to 3800 feet, and had another two climbs off the source later - but my day was complete. I have never been this close to a bird when solo - and it was a magical experience. Akin to sailing with Whales.

Not many of us get a chance to actually fly with the birds - I am privileged indeed.


Article in the Times thanks Kate!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Just call me 'Jonathan'

Well, this chap's sun dappled temple veins have throbbed their last for this week, as one slowly spools down from a furious week hamstering at the wheel.

What awaits this 'sunny' bank holiday?

Well other than spending Saturday acting like a superannuated Ravy Davy Gravy while I sweat out my latest mid-life crisis to the strains of Hernan Cattanéo (He is rather good, mind you) - I shall be luxuriating on a British beach (not the deck of a yacht) while compatriots spoon feed me Rioja and under done sausages

But the bank holiday itself?

I have Important Work on Monday.

Yes - I shall spend the day being a better seagull.

No breakfast flock mayhem for me, oh no.

Nothing quite like pseudo drippy-hippy 1960's mysticism wrapped up as an excuse to play with toys aeroplanes.

Velvet Brocade Bordello Pants

To the Gentleman or lady who googled ''Bordello Pants' and so came unto my site:

Welcome, you are among friends - even though I strongly suspect I know you already.

Mine's an Earl Grey with a snifter of Gin, please.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Aegean Mission Part II (a)

An observer's guide to Yacht hiring in the Dodecanese - how to spot nationalities…...

No 1. British Yachtsman
Normally a couple or two couples, with loads of sunblock.
Under provision on food, over provision on beer.
Tend to sail a little over reefed.
Give plenty of swing room in anchorages and lays ground tackle with care.
Approaches stern-to moorings with discretion, care and at a walking pace and deploys lines with accuracy.
Observes inshore etiquette to the letter, including lowering of colours at sunset.

No 2. French Yachtsman
Lone elderly man made of tan shoe leather.
Load no food other than sea-weed, but flagons of rot gut wine on the foredeck.
Sails carry no reefing points, as the lines tangle around the solar panels.
Anchor with the minimum amount of chain, lays ground tackle with a shrug
Never moor stern to, instead anchor in the roads to glare at other boats
What etiquette?

No 3. Italian Yachtsman
18 people on board in speedoes and bikinis, all talking on their mobile phones.
Spend two hours arguing in the supermarkets with ten trolleys of food and then clear out the shop of retsina, while talking on their mobile phones.
Sail massively over pressed at all times with entire deck talking on their mobile phones.
Deposit sixty metres of chain in 5 metres of water, then swing wildly, over everyone else's anchors, while talking on their mobile phones.
Moor stern-to in a place too small for a mirror dinghy at full astern, involving the entire crew arguing over how it should be done. Repeated three times - with mobile phone breaks.
No flag etiquette.
Time in harbour spent hiring scooters and talking on their mobile phones.

Sausage Savagery in Salford

Pork snack anarchy hits Britain's streets!

Nice to know the CPS has nothing better today in the glorious peaceful streets of our green and pleasant land!

Economy Blogging

A refreshing view from Boris on HE today:

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Aegean Mission part II

I never lose the sense of anticipatory romance from arriving at an airport in the dead of a scorched night and having to walk across fuel spattered tarmac.

Jetways are great, but you get a sense of the real achievement of the engineering you have encountered when you descend the steps and glance back to giant turbines, red strobes and hard hatted erks scurrying around the belly of the beast in which you flew.

It connects you with the reality of it - and as an aviator one's self, you feel the connection between yourself (who is used to wire controls and propellers) and the chap perched 50 feet above you in a white shirt with a clipboard in his cockpit.

In someways it helps for those who fly not well to have the experience sanitised. Jetways and soft lighting removes one far from the harsh reality of flaps, ailerons and landing gear.

Sanitisation, though is vital when one is to be whisked away from chav-city-luggage handling to one's Yacht.

It is far better to be carried off far from the madding chavs in their charter airline finery, then to cope with public transport at 4 am in a foreign clime.

And thus we found ourselves in the back of a car that awaited our arrival.

Cheeky chappy cabby he was, having had Bill Clinton, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston in the back of his cab.

Yachtie heaven was a short slink away. The First Mate and I grinned with anticipation while the strange banter wafted over our heads.

And so to SY Athena.

My First Mate has clearly be brought up with noble austerity, for she was suitable impressed by the yacht. I found her a little on the small side (Last time I was here, I rented a Dreadnought) and listing to starboard - but the Cream Leather sofas, cooling fans and Ice box worked their magic and soon we were established aboard.

One needs no reminding at this juncture, that a boat grows a foot shorter everyday.

The first day is always handover. The Boat chap (In this case an ex-KriegsMarine Petty Officer) comes along and runs through the controls with us, indicates the location of various items of kit aboard, goes over the sailing ropes and ticks off an inventory.

We met shook hands firmly and we exchanged knowing looks.

'Where do you sail Herr D--?'

'English Channel, old boy.'

'Ach, you know they say there is no seamanship East of Gibraltar!'

'Indeed, one must watch out for rogue Italians!'

'Jah! We understand each other!'

The check out took five minutes. Being a nautical cove, he clearly saw the cut of my jib and that of the studious first mate and reckoned we were right seamen. (In the non-gender specific sense of the word)

Now - a quick reflection - when one hires a boat in the UK, the owner comes aboard and counts the teaspoons. One gets charged for every chip, scratch and scuff on the plates.

In Greece they understand the commercial realities, and treat one with some respect. In other words, he didn't count the teaspoons, which considering his Teutonic nature was rather gratifying. When one has handed over the thick end of a thousand Euros in cash, a ten cent spoon or fifty cent wine glass does not break the bank.

Like the UK, Greece has a glut of charter boats. The difference is, in Greece, they treat me as a customer who has chosen their business. In the UK, one gets treated as a nuisance who should be punished for the smallest transgression of cutlery.

Renting a boat in blighty is somewhat akin to taking rooms off one of those sorts of 'landladies' who seemed to exist in the 1950s. They come along afterwards and check the pillows for stains. There may be more boats than crew in the Solent, but while they are largely run as tax sinks to escape Gordo's thievery, we will scant see the likes of service I enjoy from my chums in Greece.

It is afterall cheaper to fly to Greece and hire a boat for week than it is to do it from Scotland.

PS: I have a photo of the barky, but she's going to require upload and editing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Been busy today, but:

There was a bit on the Radio this morning about the Gdansk shipyards facing large cuts because of EU competition regulations - on the grounds of their massive state subsidy.

Story Here

I'm not bleating a position either way on this, but it would be ironic that the birthplace of the Solidarity movement which heralded the lifting of the freedom of association restrictions in Poland - heralding the decay of Communism there - would fall foul of another Superstate.....

Or that it only survived the fall of the wall with massive state aid......

In other news....the Beeb has yet again leapt to the aid of Gordo by publicising some data errors in a Conservative Briefing. One wonders why they didn't castigate Patsy (remember her...?) when she pumped money into marginal constituencies, or is there any in depth investigation as to who appointed all the denying chief execs - and just what Millbank's hold on them is.

To be honest when faced with shaming their lords and masters, they will all close ranks, won't they.

Hat tip to Kate for the source for the second one.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Aegean Mission - Part I

Every Journey, they say begins with the first step.
Ours was a faltering, drunken and yet dignified saunter to the Gate.

I took the liberty prior to starting the trip to ensure that the journey was to be as comfortable as possible. To that end I had procured access to the Business Lounge in Gatwick.

'Why bother?' I hear you ask.....
Well - we could only acquire flights on a charter airline.

This meant we were to be delayed by about three hours.

Therefore - what better to soothe away the ills of public transport than an unlimited free bar, with pretzels.

I calculated we spent the cost of the facility in mixers alone before we had completed the first hour's delay.

Value for money was achieved when they had to change the gin bottle.

It is a shame that they no longer call you for flights at Gatwick anymore. There is a certain something to reclining heavily imbided in nectar awaiting your name to be read out along with words like:

'Final Call' or,

'Your flight is waiting'.

More to follow soon.....


I can see it is still the silly season, and I haven't missed much.


This is going to be one of those viral ones that runs and runs, isn't it.

As Emma Hamilton said: 'Could it Possibly be...?'

Yes, I am returnéd.

A week of ploughing the sea, contemplating the wonders of the deeps, escaping the mighty Kraken and quietly pickling myself in only the very finest crown-capped retsina.
As my wits over the many years have been roundly addled by years of pharmaceutical and alcoholic abuse, I have kept a log, a journal as it were - not only of the matters maritime as one should - but also of the thoughts and observations of the environ and the crew.

They make for revealing reading as to the character of the trip.

Circumspection means that they are currently in for editing - for in their raw un-distilled and un-matured state they make for a heady brew of high adventure and even higher living - and some of the topics in their pure form may be too strong a liquor for my readership. (And I dare not risk the wrath of the First Mate who has a far better memory and who has kept an alternative, lest my delusions of grandeur soar too high).

I will publish installments as the week wears on - and I get the hamster wheel back up to speed.

In the mean time - I now have skin of the appearance of old shoe leather and everything tastes vaguely of pine disinfectant - or is it retsina...?

I may even hazard a peek at the news and general current affairs - but I fear it is as a disgusting a sight to any sea-farer as the one that beheld me on Saturday - that of the yacht I had sailed for a week being equipped with an American flag on the port crosstree the very moment I hauled down my colours. (Well-wishers will be pleased to know that their eye was truly wiped when they sought my counsel on the appropriate application of chain as an anchor warp in Aegean waters! Even my First mate was moved to join in the discourse - and she is most taciturn under such circumstances.)

But anyway - I am back. Tales of derring-do, drinking and debauchery abound.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Offline for a week

The Beloved and I are off the the Med being nautical for a week..

Hopefully she won't kill me and throw my body overboard.

Feel free to amuse yourselves!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Rum, Sodomy and the Lash

My time of late is precious and I have little of it to spend afloat, what with my Aviating commitments. I have not even been able to lurk the tents and steal egregiously from the barbecue at the Corrie at the Pimms-fest that Cowes has become..(Fowey week - much nicer)

This has caused grief among the Regular Crew.

'Oh Captain, you are leaving us!' cries one of my lesser spotted and rarer crew members. (Dulux, as it happens - why is she called Dulux? You know that dog in the paint adverts....?)

Even more remarkable was Scotty the Engineer promising me the earth:
'We will all line up and salute you, and wear matching uniforms with the boat name on them for you! And call you Captain all the time...'

Gloria Stitts even weighed into the debate:
'Oh will you hoist your pennant on our boat?'

How can I refuse such offers?

My message to you all is: Fear not, most loyal, desperate and misguided crew - we shall cruise the waters of the chops of the channel and harry the enemy shipping again - and I shall hoist my pennant aboard.

My fee - the usual. First go in the barrel and a double ration of salt horse.

Assistant Heads wiper fourth class reporting for duty, sah!

Non Chappy serious point

This cartoon from today's only half decent newspaper kinda sums up my view of this current shower running the show.

Risk your life for this bunch of failed social workers and poisonous trade unionists? Don't expect anything back. But attach yourself to a cause celebre of the left wing media? Expect plaudits and laurels.

Livingstone will probably have a parade for them.
UPDATE: Add homeowners to the list.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

It's Amaizing!

Man gets lost in own field

Couldn't make 'em up.

Chapsticks - two's company and three's a readership.

Tis to glory we steer!

I am delighted to report that the Beloved has seized her duties as First Mate on my Aegean mission with both hands. She has been poring over the Greek Waters Pilot with vim, vigour and verisimiltude.

However, she has taken over the packing of the medical chest.

Her exposure to the Good Books are limited - a cursory flick through M+C being the best she has managed so far.
Therefore my demands for Coca Leaves, 200 pints of Laudanum, Steel Bark, Blue Pill, Slime Draft, Portable Soup and a Trephine Saw have been met so far with at best her Gimlet Stare, and at worst The Steely Silence (Chills the blood like a banshee's howl, dontchyerknow.)

Even more worrying were the things suggested for 'My Own Good.' Gone was the Rhubarb cure, replaced with things like Immodium. (I mean - if I get liverish, is it not the Captain's duty to sweat and strain on his seat of ease?)
Sunblock? I mean, what on earth am I to do with SP30?
How am I to maintain my raffish weathered looks if I apply sun cream? At best Castrol GTX, at worst Zinc Oxide.

Still, revenge shall be mine when I superglue Uffa Fox into the boat CD player.

In parallel to this, She has been arranging her return of the cultural exchange by a trip to the English Lakes.I have been reviewing her notes on this and I am already planning the most nonchalent set of cufflinks to be seen in 'O'er Dale'.
Despite all the activities she has prescribed seeming rather healthy and chappy, it does give the impression of being dangerously close to requiring that modern evil 'Gore-Tex'.
Tradition when faced with this would be to take her to the local steeple and demand that I am shown the real 'North Face'.

I do have one reservation: we seem to be accompanied by a northern sounding cove called Wainwright.
I am disturbed as she is claiming that we will be 'doing some of him' - a reference I sincerely hope is not some gruesome troilistic ritual.
My First Officer, at Nautical school.

Just say PBO

I will not be converting to Practical Boat Owner.
It is the Yachting equivalent of 'World of Shed'.

Monday, August 06, 2007

I need a Holiday

Blogging has been both light and of a slightly less Chappish quality of late. I put this down to the fact that the hamster wheel is threatening to come of it's runners (a source of consternation) and that I am in need of a vacation.

From this weekend I am off to the Greek Islands with the Long Suffering Beloved in tow. She has gracefully accepted the role as First Mate and Chief Muse for a whole week.
I shall either return refreshed and with tales of derring do - or she will have mutinied on day two, and my remains will be washed up on the shores of the Levant in a number of months.

If you don't hear from me in two weeks, you will know it is the latter.

Sailing Rant 2

My little heart used to skip with joy when I received my Yachtie-Porn (Yachting Monthly).
I used to pore over it with glad rapture when it came through the post and I used to disappear into the heads at home and serve my IBS as I read it from cover to cover.

But nowadays it has gone downhill .

5 pages of news - but nothing new......(even the article on Drinking and Sailing seemed strangely familiar)
3 Columns from the usual columnists - Libby Purves turning hers into the Sailing equivalent of watch with Mother, (though in this case half the article is about a box of fog, and doesn't seem terribly original...but her closing argument, I buy)
Nigel Calder on about sea-sickness remedies (which Libby wrote about two months ago) and Tom Cunliffe about why he is brilliant. (No change there, then)
3 pages on Dinghy explorations - Swallows and Amazons revisited.
A couple of articles on long distance cruising....vaguely readable ('No shit, there we were, thought we were gonna die'... or 'Oh The Majesty of what I have beheld')
1 article on cutter rigs with a scant 6 columns of copy....little about the dynamics or what it would do to your insurance.
The requisite article from Rod Heikel
2 boat reviews - which are slightly too toadyish to the manufacturers
A couple of bog standard reviews (Which lifejacket/flares/compass/bucket..)

The sailing skills is a rehash of the same articles they always publish.

The reviews are no different to any article you get in any geek-mag from Running shoes weekly or Lightbulbs monthly. (Fluorescent tubes - we try the best!)

The rest? Page after page of standard chandlery adverts, with a couple of pages at the back on Classifieds, which we all read online anyway.

There is more to this noble sport than this. We all rant to each other about the best restaurants in this Haven or that, the gouging of marina fees, the scant regard for hygiene that anyone who has used the showers at Cowes Yacht Haven will have suffered or the threat to red diesel.
We postulate on training techniques, which school is good, etc.
We fulminate at the standards of seamanship exhibited in harbour and on the water.
We then Shudder at the water quality on the Medina.
We complain about the quality of beer in the many hostelries - and the standard of welcome given to people who should be their stock-in trade.
Observe the wildlife - or lack of it - and talk about the threat to our oceans and hazards to navigation.

Where are these written up?

Chaps - if you are reading this - time to raise the game. Time to get your teeth into the issues that affect us part of the 3.5 Million water sports participants.

We want to see the south coast marina monopoly challenged, poor service and rip-off sailing confronted, Government disdain campaigned against at the highest level and the RYA taken to serious task about it's general cosiness with the powers that be.
We need articles that reflect the experience of all of us, not the same people all the time collecting their £500 fee for another 'what I did on my Holiday you paid for'.

In the mean time, sorry chaps - your mag is now formulaic and tired.
I have cancelled my subscription.

UPDATE: Have re-read the article about cutter rigs and it is actually quite good -shame about the rest of the mag......

Saying that....


Writers Block

Feeling particularly uninspired at the moment.
I look at the news with despair, nothing worthy of comment.


Friday, August 03, 2007

Aviate, Navigate, Communicate

Right now, I don't even feel like basic paperwork, far less dashing about the clouds in the Sopwith.
However - Duty may be it's own rewards, but command is a bitter brew.

I have standards to maintain.
I will, despite the most pleasing and fragarant of destractions (who will no doubt do her commanding best to retain my presence), firmly don the flying tweeds and sully forth to the Club.
There, I shall spend the afternoon being lantern jawed and commanding with a couple of radios, biro and requisite clipboard.
Plus some shenanigans with the flights roster (launch marshal's boon, dontchyerknow) I shall have an aeroplane to fly on sunday with a working variometer.
It is, for the first time in months, looking vaguely soarable.

The soft soothing words of the beloved and her perfumed embrace will have to wait.

This Chap has a rendezvous at five thousand feet.

With a Cloud.

Light Blogging Alert

What does a chap do, when faced with long hours, stress and a challenging lifestlye?
Does he
A) rest well, and awake refreshed for the morning?
B) get blind drunk with his lodger rant about the workings of the royal mail and awake with a grade IV eye twister of a hangover?

That's right - B!
Too fragile, feak and weeble to post any meaningful diatribe.

Attached a picture to soothe my battered nerves and my aching liver.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

For none are so free as the sons of the waves?

This chap, dear reader, has a very strong streak of libertarianism in his veins. I detest Big Government interfering with my life and spreading it's evil tendrils of legislation into my life.
As you know I take part in two sports which are currently out of the reach of the Nanny state. Gliding - which the Campaign Against Aviation doesn't touch (regulated by the British Gliding Association) and Sailing.

Sailing is what my rant of today is all about.

It is currently (still) my god given right as a free Englishman and subject of her Maj to take to the water in any personal vessel I choose and sail where I want to. I need no permission, ticket, licence or examination to do so. If I wish, I can go and drown myself. The chief rescue organisation is a charity RNLI (to whom I lend my financial and one day physical support).

The onus on safety is a personal one. I am not obliged to wear a Lifejacket, crash helmet or even waterproof clothing. One's awareness of the fact that the high seas are a dangerous place means that there is a natural selection process at work. Should I wish to be able to carry out the sport with a modicum of personal safety or comfort, then the onus is entirely on me to seek out competence training. Again, this is administered by another charity - who also receives money off me The RYA.

The small overlap we have with the world of legislation and government is in buoyage.
But even then, one doesn't get their photograph taken for passing a port hand marker to starboard. The onus is on you to be aware, awake, know what you are doing and know where you are - so that if you chose to leave the 'Jack In The Box' to port on the way up the Lymington river - it is your fault and your fault alone that you spend the rest of the afternoon waiting for the tide to lift you off that rather spectacular mud bank. An Ignominy that no amount of cheerful bonhomie or two water grog will quench.

It is self controlled, and regulated. Peer pressure of standards of behaviour mean a stern look from the Harbour master if your crew are rowdy is as sufficient a reproach as the pressure of a drunken attempt at mooring costing your GPS antenna, next door's pushpit rail and the capital crime of damaging the paintwork - committed in front of an entire marina laughing at your feeble skills.

The traditions of the sport have been so deeply entrenched that they have outlived the current concept of democracy - after all we have had a Navy since Alfred burnt the cakes - and these waters run deep. Blood is the same salinity as sea water, we sons of the waves stand by our traditions of behaviour, honour and care for one's self. The epitome of a society freed from the yoke of state legislation.

Sea faring Libertarians - if you will. Sail and let sail.

OK - to make a vessel work requires leadership - but it is a contract entered voluntarily - and to make it work requires more self discipline than anything else - we need each other's mutual skills to make the thing work. Ask any racing crew who is the most important member of the crew - and they will all answer that it is everyone but them.

There is a cloud on the horizon, scudding towards us like a line squall.

We live under a very illiberal government. The regards 'us' as dangerous. Our views and behaviours are a threat to their approach to running our lives.

The fact we are aspirational enough to carry out the dream to work hard to earn a slot on a vessel - either by accumulating wealth enough to buy the smallest bilge bucket - or by working up the skills to earn a slot on a race crew….

We represent all the things they hate.

We are self reliant, self disciplined, aspirational and require no law to show respect to our fellow sea farers.

We must therefore be stopped.

The full pernicious forces of the Nanny State are being turned on us. The legislative Guns Of Navarone are being trained on us, while the vile officers of this movement load the shells and powder to batter us into their ways.

As the interweb's heir to David Niven (don’t laugh) this Chap needs to draw the attention to my audience to the first triffidesque tendril, the ranging shot from Nanny to our way of life.

They are a cunning foe. They use the full armoury of the Left on us.

The poisoned apple? Their trojan horse?

Good Old Health and Safety

It is for our safety. The Safety of others. How can we argue with that? Well buried within the lines - there are dark forces demanding the very things we fear.
The old chestnut of creating a problem, then being seen to crack down on it is the other tactic.

Drinking and Sailing .

Hold on, you cry, all they are suggesting is that you chaps shouldn't be pissed on the water. Well, by and large we aren't.

Is it for our safety?
Well, the Marine Accident Invesitgation Board only reported about 24 fatalities on leisure craft for 2006-2007 - out of half a million users. Less than half of those were alcohol related
(Link via RYA website)

Even RoSPA and the Coastguard say:

"The members agreed that the current statistics that were available from MCA, SEAREM and INREM were all unreliable as a source for accident statistics for watersports." -

So - we have a problem that doesn't exist. So why legislate against us?

I have a theory - this is a perfect reason to enforce compulsory licensing of craft and the testing and licensing of their skippers.

Why? If you have pulled someone over for drinking, the sanction will be to take a way a licence. You can't imppund the vessel - it probably doesn't even belong to them.

Right now we don’t need one - as I mentioned before the sort of person who takes up sailing is the sort of person who wants to know about it and is prepared to learn.

So, cue government issued sailing licenses and tests and permits (with test centres etc) as well as water-fund licenses. The sea will be nationalised….how long until charging a tax on mooring or anchoring in British waters?
All To be paid for, by us - the sailing public. Yet another stealth tax.

'No, no,' you say - 'they can't mean that - there must be another sanction'…. Well - here is what they are saying:

The Act also enables the Secretary of State to designate additional classes of people as 'marine officials' with the power to detain a vessel if they reasonably suspect that a person who is or may be aboard the vessel is committing, or has committed, an offence, pending the arrival of a uniformed constable to administer a preliminary test. - Stephen Ladyboy

Hmmmm…..bit of hole in this - most boats are rented, making that a form of piracy. Red Herring I reckon.
But in there was another sinister line.

'Marine Officials'.
A waterborne police force with powers to stop and check, take you off your yacht and off to the rozzers for a breath test?

So - will they tow your vessel? Will they know how to sail? What about your crew?

Anyway - have a read of what the Chaps at the RYA have to say.

But what of the motive behind this? More people die changing their duvets (probably) than have booze related accidents on the Solent alone. Good sense and self preservation take care of that.
Well, we are currently out of their reach - what better way to crowbar their way into our lives than under the pretext of our safety?

Us 'rich' yachties are a prime target for legislation. With legislation comes us handing more money over to the government to employ busy-bodies to come and tell us what to do.
It is a way of levying stealth taxes on us, and if we complain - we can easily be lableled as 'rich' and they can stoke the fires of resentment against us.
But what else to come?

Compulsory lifejackets? More standards and inspections…….

Compulsory lifelines and jackstays? Again - standards and inspections…...

Full Commercial DfT standardisation of every vessel - think of all the extra public employees!

Inspectors, visitors and scrutineers - all to be paid for by us - the so called Have Yachts. The bitter nannyists must be licking their reptilian lips in delight at all of this.

Lets get things straight - most yachties are like me. We scrimp and save so we can access a boat. Not all of us are footballers (They have scumseekers anyway). Our boats are shared amongst many and are slavishly kept going well past their sell by dates out of love. You can go sailing for under a grand a year.

Ultimately - this represents another attempt to shift of our liberty into the hands of the state. We can only go out and play if Nanny licenses us to do so. And then we must play to her rules.

Interestingly, the legislation is also rather poorly thought out. It is full of holes - meaning it will be open to abuse. In all sorts of amusing ways.

"I am satisfied that in bringing in an alcohol limit for non-professional mariners and in setting the exclusion limit at 7 metres and 7 knots we are providing the best balance between improving safety and avoiding unnecessary regulation.
Stephen Ladyboy at it again.

Interesting that a 5 metre RIB with a 200hp motor is exempt, yet an 8 metre unpowered skiff is not. Which is more likely to be a risk?

How will they determine length and Maximum speed?

Anyway - feast your eyes on the background.

Final thought - and this alone demonstrates that the landlubber who dreamt this up is the very worst form of window-licking mouth breather:

Jet skis will not be included in the regulations for now because the Court of Appeal has ruled that jet skis are not ships and are not therefore within the scope of the existing legislation I intend to consult on extending the legislation to them in due course."

You would have thought that the most annoying and unsociable things on the water would have been targeted, wouldn't you.

Despair shall drive me to my tincture.


It seems that a mention aside to Mr Dale has blown up in my face.


Sorry dear!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Not satisfied with infesting my bathroom with unguents, festooning my lounge with scatter cushions or threatening to rearrange my boudoir - the girls have started getting united.

The warning sign was the other evening - Donna-Da-Lodga and My Particular Friend were found giggling to themselves on my sofa when I entered the room. A few days later a ghastly image of me appears on her blog - one that Da-Lodga had taken in jest.

Now I discover they have opened a popular front - and are emailing each other.

Lord alone knows what fripperous trivialities they swap. But one thing is certain - like the displacement of my dettol - this could be the thin end of a another grisly wedge.

They must be stopped.

Something must be done.

Up With This, I Shall Not Put..............

Vote! Vote! Vote!

Now dear reader - time for me to shamelessly self promote myself have fun and gain kudos as well.
Thanks to My Girlfriend - I have got 1 vote for Iain Dale's list for this year. I would like to make it 2.

Last year Top Tory blogger - Iain Dale published a list of the Top Political Blogs in the country.

Political blogging has come a long way since the early days - there are even people like me involved.
To be honest - Mr Dale is also vicariously responsible in a convoluted way for my current nauseatingly chirpy 'hullo clouds - hullo sky' demeanor, as I may have followed a link last year which set off a chain of events too disturbing to report. (Yes, it was from Iain, not Guido, dearest, fairly certain)

Now I have emailed Iain this list, and I will shamelessly ask you to do the same thing - except with my name at the top. (Told you it was utterly shameless... :-))

I will get around to blog rolling my more regular reads, of course, but I am still a tad busy.
It is worth noting, that no serious or high minded journalist, or proper blogger would dream of actually referring me - as what I write is generally good natured garbage - but this is a piece of fun.

Mr Eugenides
Dizzy Thinks
Devil's Kitchen
Archbishop Cranmer
Boris Johnson (even if it is mostly his Telegraph Columns)
Order Order
Spectator Coffee House
Iain Dale
Reactionary Snob
Natalie Solent / Biased BBC
Chase Me Ladies
Beau Bo D'oR
Dr Rant
Chicken Yoghurt
Right For Scotland

Add to your email list and send it to: with 'Top Twenty' in the 'about' section.

Vote For ME! If I make the top 1000, there will be a pint in it for each one of you who votes for me. There - shameless bribery - I could run for mayor.....

PS: I don't have time to put links in.....

PPS: I already owe you a pint on this Kate

Statto Porn

Just installed the Google analytics.
I can now found out where on earth everyone comes from - other than googling 'Velvet Brocade Bordello Pants'.