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.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Stopping London

If you decided to plan a terrorist attack in London you would certainly stop the city. However the consequences and ramifications could be a little bit messy.

On Wednesday the 10th of June at 1212 Xplore was able to do just that, stop the traffic in central London, when Tower Bridge opened up to let Xplore under full sail to navigate through this historic land mark.

As part of the 100 year anniversary of Sir Ernest Shackleton, Xplore visited London to promote the up coming expedition with the UK joint Services team who's expedition we will be doing next January in Antarctica and South Georgia.

Moored at HMS President the view up the Thames to Tower Bridge was magical, everyone at the Navy base were so welcoming, our time there will certainly be well remembered.

A further highlight of the week here in London was the visit to Xplore of the honourable Alexandra Shackleton, grand daughter of Sir Ernest Shackleton who is greatly enthusiastic and supportive of the Antarctic Endurance expedition which we will be doing.

I was pleased to have presented her a signed copy of one of the Xplore hydrographic "Crafty Charts" showing that the spirit of discovery and adventure is still very much alive.

Xplore will remain in London for the next few days participating in a Polar code conference at the Royal Geographical Society, organised by IAATO as the new regulation in polar shipping will effect all vessels in Antarctic and Arctic waters.

Well worth doing if you visit London is a visit to historic St Katherines dock where Xplore is now moored, this picture perfect old world marina is such a fantastic location is central London.

Stephen Wilkins

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Drying Out

Well, for once in my life I decided to "Dry Out", normally I do this when I go to sea, but as we had been in Brest for so long I thought it was a good time to give it a try for once whilst on land.
Quite an interesting experience for me, as it was a "First time" and I was quite nervous about how it would go............... but with luck and a few prayers it all went very smoothly.

Of course I am talking about the boat !! yes not me (god help me if I stopped drinking, I think that would kill me )

We tried for the first time here in the commercial port to use the large tides and a good place next to the old stone wharf, safely tied up, the tide went out and low and behold Xplore was sitting on her One Leg, happy as can be, it didn't even lean into the wharf, but sat there on her keel for the day whilst we did the next stage of the Bureau Veritas out of water survey.

Shortly after the tide had disappeared we commenced works under the hull, there was a small classic timber boat in front of us which was drying out also, we were busy disconnecting the shaft when we heard an enormous bang, my heart nearly stopped as we saw the timber boat fall over on its side in front of us ! there we were under Xplore and the thought of 38 tons of boat falling on top of us was a nightmare too grave to even imagine.

In removing the propeller shaft for inspection, I found that the hull cutlass bearing needed to be changed, so with a rush, I luckily had a spare on board (yes all my crew laughed that I had one in stock) we cut out the old one and had the new in place before you could blink.

The tide returned and we floated again, survey completed and with a clean bill of health for the external hull and equipment, we now move on to the 3rd and final stage of survey in the next week.


Friday, April 3, 2015

Corsican thoughts in soft rain

If the feelings of despair, of wasted emotions and the struggles of great endeavors could be captured and caged, then cremated, we could possibly sleep easier.
Each day that passes I am frustrated if nothing has been achieved, gained or moved forward, with work, life and relationships.
I must remind myself constantly whilst I go through this period of banishment that this time is for reflections, a time to grow in different ways, to change and to see things in a light I have never experienced before.
When I re-emerge, that is the question ? will I be stronger, wiser, better prepared for the next? and what is next?
From past experience the right and next step will present itself, sometimes is appears boldly, and sometimes as a subtle shadow that once seen grows in light, strength and clarity.
Exterminate the demon thoughts that trodden the paths into cavernous gutters that can trap us for days before we can slowly climb to the ridges where some perspective of our surrounds can be evaluated.
Short cuts or bold steps can't be taken without perspective and hindsight. But we also need energies when these openings appear.
God give me wisdom, strength, determination in all of my convictions, beliefs, desires and plans.