Saturday, September 13, 2014



Clone a dinosaur
I am starting to wonder if the saying “Survival of the fittest” is really that valid these days.
With modern technology, medicine and the wonderful operations that are now possible along with the drugs, have our life expectancies have been pushed far beyond what our bodies were originally designed for?
It seems that everyone can live to a “ripe old age” without too much bother. You don’t hear too often of people in their 20’s 30’s and 40’s dying unless it’s from an accident.
So as our societies and governments are adapting slowly to this reality that our populations are growing but not passing away so fast, this unleashes a raft of issues that need to be faced and dealt with if our planet is going to be able to accommodate the multitudes.
Social values are changing globally but not enough to stop or stabilise birth rates, same sex marriages slow the population growth a little, but histories of plagues don’t seem to come about so often.
Like so many forms within the animal kingdom there exists a food chain, it’s a well known and understood reality that the strongest, wisest do survive but most have another larger predators waiting in the wings for when the weak, slow, ill or silly to find themselves in the wrong place at the right time.
So where do us humans sit in the overall food chain? The top of course. We have created our cities and our protective measures to ensure that we are so well looked after that there is no real reason why we can be in danger, at any time. Look at the health and safety measures that we have created, look at the multitudes of signs showing dangers, cautions, instructions, they’re everywhere you look and all the risks are removed.
But if I look at the packaging I can’t seem to find the use by date for humans, maybe best before green should be stamped somewhere on us?
But the miracles of science could be brought to bear if they took the DNA of dinosaurs and cloned a few, not the really scary huge ones, they would destroy all of our beautiful parks and gardens, but maybe some medium sized ones could whip us all into line a bit, improve the fitness levels and reduce obesity a bit, and if we didn’t, well there would be some well fed animals next up the food chain. Quite an interesting thought?
Stephen

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Port Closed


The tide gates are locked tight and the draw bridge is down
There’s no wind in the air, not a rustle or a sound, no breeze in the lungs, just the smell of the town

The boat moves irrationally, the wakes of the boats all around

To ponder the journey will take some time, a few beers would be nice, but there’s sleep that is needed, if it can ever be found

Ahh the different sounds a port brings to your ears, the sound of kids and the tourist’s loud cheers, is this somehow real or just one of my fears

To touch land is needed, there are stores and repairs, to your brain and the spars, just have a look from deck to hounds

But to be locked to a port is something quite strange, you're safe but you're trapped, like a cat on a chain you can only go around and around

Please let the weed grow slow on the hull, may the city dust be washed clean by the rain, those beautiful white sheets, will soon be green like the fields

Your intuitive feelings, the weather and the sea, it changes and stops as the bustle of the world seem to envelop you completely from the top

Don’t let this time stay, there are waves just outside the bay, the ocean isn’t just about sailing it’s about living a very different sway

A sailor's way is not so deranged, the needs and the feel are all really quite real, they can never be compared to city life with its hustle or the compounds of the port.

Snooze



Snooze
I used to feel guilty, lazy and even irresponsible if I ever felt like I wanted to have an afternoon snooze.
There have been understandable times, maybe after a long weekend lunch, or when feeling illl that an afternoon snooze was considered acceptable.
Over the years of being so much closer with animals in the wild I have finally come to the conclusion even when I look around, even with our domestic animals that snoozing is not such a silly thing.
Count the number of times that you see you pet dog have nap during the day ? the birds sitting in the trees you can see them with their head tucked under their wings, maybe not for long but they are doing it regularly.
How does your cat react after half an hour on your lap when you get up to make a cup of coffee, you have woken them up and they tell you !
Because animals don’t have the structured society constraints that we do, they naturally do what their bodies tell them to do, rest, it’s not so silly. If they have been busy for some time using their bodies and their minds (god only knows what they are thinking about) but they do what they know is right for them.
To rest is to recover, to rest is to be able to maintain peak performance when its needed, no wonder us humans feel so tired by the end of the day and are not able at perform or to react when needed spontaneously.
So go and have a snooze and think about it !

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Living


Living

I started dying when I was born

But I didn’t start living until I realised and accepted that dying was an integral part of living.

Each cell of every living creature is in a continual state of new growth, cell multiplication and also death.

The balance between cell growth and cell demise is the key to the extent of our existence.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wave splashes to ashes, Wind gusts to dust


Wave splashes to ashes, Wind gusts to dust

I walked back along the pontoon dock, it was getting late, and the docks were calm and quiet. A small black dog came as to greet me as I headed towards Xplore.

The night had no wind and as I looked forward along the dock with this small dog closely following me I could see moored behind Xplore a small yacht that had arrived earlier in the day. On the dock stood a man and by his feet were two burner pots with a gentle flame flickering in each, giving a surreal glow to his boat and gentle shadows that moved and changed with the flames.

I came to pass him, and we said good evening, I could easily tell he wasn’t French, but from where I couldn’t say quickly enough. I commented at the robustness of his little yacht, it was a very smart and a well found boat. Our discussion on the dock as with most sailors do, turned to the design of our boats and were we had come from, and to where we were going.

He looked along the docked and asked about Xplore, and I mentioned that it was designed in the UK by David Thomas. The old man went quiet, I wondered if I had offended him in some way ? but he quickly continued with a smiling glee to explain that his yacht, just 24 feet long was also designed by David Thomas, small world.

Even though late, I invited him on board, as he was impressed with Xplore’s stature, we continued talking. I asked him why he was burning the two portable cookers on the dock and he explained that the stove fuel that he had bought in the UK was not good. It was alcohol fuel commonly used on small sailing boats, but the fuel he had, had additives so that people on shore wouldn’t drink it, but for him it was impossible to use for cooking as it filled his boat with strange fumes, so he was burning it off outside to get rid of it.

As a lover of dogs I had suggested that his small puppy visit Xplore as well, so as we talked and I gave him a brief tour of the boat, I remembered that I had bought a quantity of alcohol in South America before we departed, we use it a lot when we are cleaning and doing maintenance. As a gesture I offered him a spare bottle for his stove. He quickly removed the top and sniffed the contents, duss is zer gut, he promptly said, giving away his German back ground.

We joked and shared a few sailing stories as it came out that I had been sailing in Antarctica and the south for the last 11 years, I said to him that I have always jokingly say that when I get tired of sailing that I would become a dog farmer, that is to breed boat dogs, ones that are suitable and smart enough for a life at sea. His ears pricked up at this and he explained that his wonderful old little dog was just that, a breed of dog designed for boats dating back many years so as to be small enough and fast to be able to catch rats onboard ships. A “Schipperke” they are called originally from Belgium / Flanders.

I could tell that he was tired, and his burners on the dock were getting lower, but he insisted that I have a brief look at his boat. How could I resist, such an interesting boat, a junk rigged sloop and oh so small compared to Xplore, but you could tell that it was so well maintained and strongly built that it had in so many ways a similar feel to my boat.

We parted after exchanging names and addresses, but he asked me to visit the next day so he could write some details down to email David Thomas in the UK, he knew the designer quite well as client and as a friend. Back on board I wondered about this dear older man as I had a night cap of wine, where was he sailing to I didn’t know, but you could tell from our talks that he had done quite a lot of miles, sometimes from sailor to sailor you just know that.

Daylight streamed through my port hole window and another day commenced, time here in Brest seems to have become so busy in these last few weeks that I often feel its more relaxing and easier to be out at sea. But by the end of the day I walked down the dock with a cold can of beer to see him and to look at three of the Pen Duick yachts that had tied up in the marina.

He asked me to come on board his boat, named Golden Wind from a Japanese saying which matches very well with his colourful Junk sail which he has hand painted. He opened his journal book and asked me to write a note about Xplore, he had already glued my card in place and I wrote a short note. As I wrote he rummaged through a locker and explained that he had a small gift for me, I said that I didn’t need anything but he handed me a bottle of liqueur and explained that he was pleased to give me the gift as thanks for the bottle I had to him the night before. I smiled and thought how the two bottles had contents the same colour, clear fluid, one to drink and one to cook with, it was cherry schnapps.

I stepped out into the cockpit as we shook hands, he was explaining that he was sailing over to the United States as there was a foundation there that had been set up as a sail training base for delinquent youth and that he was going to donate his boat to them. I seemed surprise, but the words from his mouth flowed out to me without further a do to explain that he was dying, and he didn’t even know if he would reach there. The cancer he had, he knew would bring him soon to an end, and he hated the smell of hospitals and nursing homes, so he had transferred all is wealth to his wife there in Germany, and with her blessing he was setting off for his last voyage.

My eyes became watery, but the atmosphere between us was strong, I couldn’t argue with his logic, it actually made a lot of sense to me, one sailor to another, not much was needed to be said.

I woke early, earlier than normal, light from outside was barely visible as I heated the kettle for a nice cup of tea. I stepped out on deck, it was 5.30am and I strolled up onto the break water. There were a few people fishing, and a few youths weaving along the concrete, still saying Bon soir, as I was saying Bon jour, and there just outside the break water was Golden Wind, Hans was on deck making ready for sea, the light was soft with some clearing clouds. I called out loud his name and waved a farewell, bon voyage my friend.

Stephen

Golden Wind

Hans



Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Unknown

The unknown, and times of uncertainties can reveal opportunities. 

Success in all endeavors requires utmost attention to detail. 

Stephen

Monday, April 14, 2014

Stern lights in the sky

At sea when there are other ships around at night they all display navigation lights, depending on which angle you are looking at them, you will see different colored lights, but they are distinctive so that you can ascertain whether they are heading towards you, passing you, or going away. 

Even far off the coast, in the middle of the ocean there is always a chance of not only seeing other ships, but also of being hit by a ship.

Based on your height of eye on a sailing yacht, you can only see the horizon about 9 nautical miles away. So if you are traveling at 7 knots, and a ship is coming towards you at say 15 knots, then you have a closing speed of 22 knots, which means that from not seeing anything on the horizon within 20 to 25 minutes you could be run over, hmmm hence why we always have someone on watch, sensible don't you think ? 

Tonight is a full moon night here in the North Atlantic, and a clam smooth night it is. For days as we have headed north from Brazil's Fernando De Noronha, crossed the equator, slipped out of the crippling calms of the Doldrums and are now north of 20 degrees. 

The days are now getting longer as we head into northern hemisphere spring time, the waters are now getting cooler again, instead of the tropical blue's with bath water temperatures of 33 degree's Celsius, we are now back at the still pleasant mid 20's. Day times are still wonderfully warm, and the evenings are a beautiful cool, but not cold, well for some onboard ! (compared to Antarctic climates)

With every passage there is wear an tear along the way, which is to be expected, unfortunately on this leg north the only breakage has been a running back stay block, this for non sailors is part of the mast rigging, and needs to be tensioned and changed each time we make a substantial course alteration when the wind changes from one side of the yacht to the other.

Well dear Vincent was the very unlucky one to find this out the other day when we tacked. In applying the needed tension to the running backstay, the deck turning block that the rope runs through exploded. I was near by doing the main sail, when it happened, Vincent went quiet as I reached over to check on him. Luckily, but unfortunately he was hit on the side of the head, the blood that was coming from his head was not large, but I was concerned.

Audrey and I grabbed the medical kits after our initial examination of his head, and as Vincent has said he is a very lucky "Black cat". The wound needed two stitches, and this Vincent managed without local anesthetics and my initial slightly shaky hand (stitching sails are not as stressful).
Now two days later we removed the first dressing and inspected the wound, not too bad a job if I say so myself, and certainly Vincent is back in his normal form.

So tonight's full moon party at sun set had "cheers all round" as Credence Clear Water Revival was playing Bad moon a rising in the back ground. The stars are all out, and eventhough I am not so familiar with these northern sparkling lights, they do remind me of ships that have safely passed us by, because from that aspect you can only see one small white light.
Safe sailing, 1,106 nautical miles to the Azores. 

Stephen