Monday, July 20, 2015

It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll

It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll

Monaco 2015
ACDC, is Australian, and so am I, I heard them perform in Adelaide, in an enclosed concert hall, and I couldn’t hear properly for days after.
But those hard rock guys and I have a few things in common, and the same with the song.
When you want something so bad, when you dream, formulate and plan for success the road to the top is dam long, and hard.
I could never have thought, that when I first started going to Antarctica in 2003 and seeing this unbelievably pristine continent, that it’s poorly surveyed and charted coasts would be the reason why I am now here in Monaco in 2015, with my boat, and with a plan.
We proved, though we were told that it’s impossible to use a sailing yacht to conduct official hydrography using latest technology multi beam sonar. We were told that we are just playing a game, and that hydrography can only be done by official offices, normally the navy. We were told that post production and certification takes years, and on all of these cases we proved the critics wrong.
Yes we learnt a lot, but to every success there is lessons to be learnt, mistakes that were made, and improvements realised, but the underlying fact is there is a very real and proven story of success here, and that ships are already using new charts of Antarctica.
Now after two years of work, the continuation and a much bolder project of oceanographic and hydrographic endeavour sits on the table, it has been presented far and wide, to governments, technology companies, science institutes, marine manufacturers and benevolent foundations. There is a massive amount of support for this new project called “Fathom” a 3 year, potentially twin circumnavigation of the globe in both hemispheres that will collect high quality 3 dimensional imagery and data of the sea floor which can be used for official chart production and marine science research.
Sounds like a good project. With the backing and support of many, with 70% of all the equipment, vessel and technology, there is only one part left to find, The Money !
Expeditions to the corners of the world, for discovery have for hundreds, if not thousands of years have faced exactly the same issues and problems that we do, everyone will tell you how important and valuable your project is. But few will open their wallets and pay the small price that comes with new discovery in this world, discovery that will be remembered for the next hundred, well possibly thousands of years.
Monaco, may not be the first place you would think one would go to find funding for a serious project, well the Monte Carlo casino would be a gamble, but the reality is that the Prince of Monaco and through his family history, the Grimaldi’s,  have for over 100 years been supporting oceanography and hydrography.
There is now on the table our project for their consideration, and just maybe, possibly, we can get the support to continue the discovery of this world that we all very much take for granted as being known.


Star drops on the water

Star drops on the water
The evening is calm, more than calm.
The temperature is so mild, really comfortably mild.
No movement is to be found, not a breath or a sound.
The stars are around, all around, very soft is their surrounds.
They share their strength for the earth’s ground, by leaving drops scattered around.
Drops that sparkle by their own, on the surface of the sea , how wondrous nature can be.

Phosphorescence glistening on an oily sea by its self

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Touch me

Touch me
I smell you, but I see no sign, you touched me
I turn my head and your never to be found, you touched me
You whisper to me, so sweet is the sound, you touched me
I feel you now, right by my side, the sensation so real, you touched me
I want you complete, don’t hold back on me, you touched me
Let’s dance in this breeze, so free can we feel, you touched me
I want you so bad, let move forward with pace, my heart throbbing aches, you touched me
What! your not sure this is it, you promised me bitch, don’t stop what commenced, you touched me
I feel so in the dark, so helpless and stark, no longer with me, I’m broken in half, you touched me
Oh don’t play games with me, I have seen similarly, there’s more of your type, but you touched me
Yesterday seemed very  real,  woken complete from the dream, was it real, yes it seems, you touched me
It was great whilst it lasts, but today is a fresh start, another walk in the park, will you touch me
It’s a life, bitter sweet, keeled wishing at your feet, if our paths cross again, please touch me.

A sailor and the wind


Ship shape, shit out, or ship out

Ship shape, shit out, or ship out
It takes guts to write about one of life's sacred subjects, and it takes guts to make it.
For thousands of years the taboo subject has brought hours of discussions, and in many circles, hours of enjoyment, hard to imagine but true.
Lets start at the beginning, well not at the eating part, but historically. The origin of the English word "Shit" comes from a shipping back ground, when the early merchant ships that transported fertilizer, or manure across the oceans, found that this valuable product if made wet would produce a flammable gas which we all know as methane, well as the manure was placed deep in the holds of ships to keep the weight low, on a rough passage these old timber ships would leak, and the manure would sometimes get wet. Well you can just imagine the situation that a night watchman doing his rounds below deck with a candle lantern to check the cargo holds on a difficult passage would certainly have got more than he bargained for when on entering a hold space he would blow himself and the ship to pieces ! opps that was a bad day ! the build up of methane in an area became explosive.
So, after a number of ships went missing some bright spark, probably back at Lloyds of London who were underwriting  the ships realised the problem, and new instructions for shipping evolved. Any vessel transporting manure were instructed to place all cargo of manure above the weather deck (not in a confined hold) so that if it became wet, then the gas released would harmlessly go over the side. All packages were clearly marked " Ship High In Transit" and hence the word Shit came about.
But for hundreds, if not thousands of years our personal issues with shit, especially if you make passage on board any floating boat can be problematic. The fact that getting your sea legs also means getting your shit together can be a painful experience.
It's quite normal that the different movement of a ship and lack of experience of most humans when they first set off, strangely upsets the body clock and the internal plumbing, well the result is normally a few days of constipation and an uncomfortable, bloated or painful feeling.
During this period, well there are many a sailors jokes that come about, of course all in good fun, but those suffering may not be laughing quite so hard. Did you hear about the Irish mathematician who had constipation............? he worked it out with a pencil.
As a young lad, I was always told that it didn't matter how much money you had, because every ones shit stinks, and as a long term sailor who has taken many people of all walks of life to sea I can attest to this being true. So the reality about shit and the methane has conjured up some sayings over the years, like.."you have to move the mass that creates the gas" just one that springs to mind.
Most folk after a few days slip back into a daily routine and the problem is solved, however there are exceptions, and I can vouch for one bad case where the person who had over taken sea sickness tablets informed me after 11 days of their problem, 2 days later after no success we had to evacuate them.
But it can be a right old laugh in the first few days at sea, when the on deck banter is suddenly stopped by the sound of a "deck frog" the noise that a fart makes coming through wet weather gear, it's a kind of a Burrrrrrrrrrrt froggish sort of a sound, I suppose that why my Henri Lloyd sailing gear has reinforced fabric on the pants, god bless them for the attention to detail.


A well found boat that can travel the world, Oceans apart, continents so near.

A well found boat that can travel the world, Oceans apart, continents so near.
Sailing takes you to many varied and different places, when its good its like there is a rainbow in your life, when its tough and hard and you are so exhausted, a life on land and an office can be very tempting.
However, as a sailor you learn to take the good with the bad, prepare well for the worst, come through in one peace and relax and smile at the wonders of the world, when its clean, fresh and simple.
The world is full of so many countries and people. Every ones lives, just like in the animal world which I have seen many, are also very simple. We all want a comfortable place to live, good food on the table and a secure place to raise our families, not so much really.
On route to the Mediterranean, my team experienced the forces of nature in mixed balance of ways as we transited the Straits of Gibraltar, famous for many reasons, it is a land mark and the closest point from mainland Europe to Africa.
With a passage gap of only 7 nautical miles between the continents, it act as a funnel for the waters and the winds between Morocco and Spain (and a little bit of England, Gibraltar) like all waters of the world, on a good day its bliss, and when it's not its fierce, we had a combination of both all within an 18 hour period.
Wind hard on the nose and hitting 27 knots with a short and crappy sea we were heading for the Moroccan coast before taking to head into the Straits when we received a Pan Pan radio alert message. Not something that you receive every day, the message from Tangiers radio was a surprise.
The message that 12 people were in danger in an inflatable boat somewhere in the Straits of Gibraltar and its blowing a real stinker is not a nice situation to be in, let alone think about. I called the station to ask for more information, but the details were sparse but that we keep a look out on passage.
A sobering thought when you are safely under sail in a well found boat, I talked with my crew about the situation and ramifications if we spotted them. "My Crew" Rusty (Germain) and Madam de Gull (Alicia) were both there as it was watch change over and we talked about the immigrants that were so desperate to get to the north.
Apparently the estimated numbers of people in 2014 crossing from the African continent to Europe were astonishing, even more gut  wrenching is the thought that in that one year 300,000 people died whilst trying to do so, so how many made it safely?
We sailed on, and made land fall with calmer conditions in Gibraltar, "The Rock" but I still had thoughts in my mind.
I am proud and protective of my country, and only want the best for it, like I think most people are of theirs, but for the basic fundamentals of life its not a surprise that people do desperate things, when there is nothing to lose.
I know that each and every country has immigration issues, problems, racial tensions and political processes that make a complex spiders web, for the people within the country and those who seek out a better existence.
But aren't we all children of the world ? and when we are dead we will own nothing, and certainly no part of this world.
I can only wish that our politicians who's role and responsibility it is to form good policy, do it wisely and with the heartfelt empathy that human life is lost every day and that they could possibly be forming ways and options for those who just seek a simple and safer life somewhere in the world.
My kingdom, and the world is in a well found boat, long may she sail, I am very fortunate.