Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gannets Play and Ocean Spray

Oh such fun, those dopey young gannets, their mother fly's and guides them to a boat, we cut and break the water, a good way to find easy fish.

But the young, are the young, no matter what species, and its better to have fun, never know, mum will help with the food when the tummy gets run down.

They are such silly things on wings, flitting and diving between the back draft from the sails, they get lifted and knocked as the boat and sails rise and fall with the ocean swell.

What's those funny things sticking up out of the boat they say ! Oooo, come on lets try and bite them on the fly, it will be fun any way.

They float on the wind, and concentrate on the movements of the boat and its bits, opps forgot there was others around as they bump into each other, and give a squawk in mid flight at other who they just knocked about.

To be young and have wings, the world is in front of them all.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A time, The time

Sailor's are a funny bred, I not talking about your "weekend warrior's" as they are quite often refereed to as, I am referring to ocean sailors, and there is a difference, not putting any slight on the WW's its just that days, weeks and months and years at sea creates a different type of sailor.
There are many principles that we all share in common but there subtle differences that you see and recognize in the two types, but this is not about comparing the two.Sometimes I wonder what will become of my knowledge and skills when I become so old and wrinkly that I cant hoist the sails any more, hang up the Henri Lloyd wet weather gear for good and only use my sea boots for the garden, god help me, I hope that's still a long way away !But I often think about how to share the key essence of what I have learnt and experienced along the way, what would be the words that I would say to a young budding sailor who wanted to know my keys tricks of the trade as I lie there on my death bed. So my time at sea has given me a bit of time to think about those words, they would have to be short and succinct (don't know how long I will keep breathing for) so here goes, this is my practice run.Patience, recognizing change, trust your gut feel, know what to do with change, action, and finally what is applicable to everything we do is....... attention to detail.Hmmm, so what do you think ? do you think I could get those words out, and say them with conviction.I hope before that day comes I do get to share those, and many more insights to what it takes to be a good, sea worthy sea dog. Stephen

Monday, April 16, 2012

One day I went for a sail

One day I went for a sail
The boat started flooding with water
Opps, someone's left the toilet water valve wide open

One day I went for a sail
It was blowing real hard. then the mainsail split in half
Opps, it must have done more than a 100,000 miles

One day I went for a sail
It had been a tough 48 hours, but we found the forepeak all full of water
Opps, the on deck hatch hadnt been closed hardly at all

One day I went for a sail
Emergency below, someones vomiting blood and bits of red foam
Opps, too many drinks the night before a stonking run down to the Horn

One day I went for a sail
The day was fine, and the spinnaker went up
Opps, it had to come down real fast as it was upside down by the ass

One day I went for a sail
Flying along with the sails wing on wing
Opps, quick call the skipper, the spinnaker pole has just broken in half

One day I went for a sail
Ocean days with really bumpy seaways, somethings banging on deck
Opps, one forestays broken in half, and is flapping up round the mast

One day I went for a sail
Someone went to the heads and is really taking their time
Opps, bit hard to pump the centre of toilet rolls down a small tube

One day I went for a sail
Nice smooth day for a sail, the boats moving well, how could this be so, it
was meant to blow
Opps, smart ass crew changed the course by 60 degrees

One day I went for a sail
There was a thump and a bump, then the blood started rushing out.
Opps, someone forgot to do up there bunk lee cloth and their heads taken a
great knock

One day I went for a sail
With a wave and a cheer we pulled out from the pier, then a bigger cry was
then heard
Opps, forgot to unplug the shore power electricty

One day I went for a sail
It was calm and it was clear, a gently breeze came through the trees
Opps, no opps for us this day it was just perfect

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Watch your back

Its quite rightly so that sailors are looking in the direction f the wind, the clouds and the sea, its not often that they worry about what has passed or what's behind them........ but there are exceptions !
South Pacific sailing and anchorage's are stunning, and lull you gently like the warm trade winds and the incredible pacific blue waters which cant be compared with other oceans.Whilst at anchor off Pitcairn Island which is not always renowned as being one of the favourite and relaxed anchoring locations as it is an open roadstead (meaning that there is no harbor or protected anchorage), Xplore swung at anchor with a light easterly wind. The forecast was for the winds to turn to the north in the morning, so I slept with ease and the boat to myself and that doesn't happen very often.In a half dreamy sleep I heard that the wind had picked up a bit, but it was the swell that had really changed and the stern of Xplore was banging up and down with the waves, and then I heard Ga sploosh.Within milli seconds I knew what had happen because the torrent of water that squirted through my open hatch window wiped away anything of those warm and fuzzy dreams that I was having. F........k I heard myself say, a subconscious reaction to the enormity of what had happened.Being at anchor normally means that a boat lays head to the wind and the seas, its normally a smooth feeling, and a time that you can open up the boat and get some breeze inside, especially in the warm tropics, but tonight at 2.30 in the morning it didn't seem like such a great idea at all.I had instantaneously reached over and slammed shut the hatch opening which is not very big but the remains of the wave were still coming in. I reach up to the ceiling close at hand and flicked on the light switch and that bloody F word came out again.The rest of the night I spent wiping, cleaning and drying everything and anything, the fact that water comes into the boat is always an annoyance, but salt water is another thing, being salt, anything that is left with salt water then becomes hydroscopic, meaning that it will always attract moisture, so if for example you leave a mattress to dry out with salt water on it , it will always feel damp and becomes wet very fast if there is a lot of condensation or moisture around in the air.Possibly the lost disturbing and tiresome part of the night, was that I had next to my bunk a pile of about 200 paper navigation charts for all around the globe. not needed at the nav station, I had them safely tucked up in my cabin so they didn't get damaged, Derrrrrrrrrr who's the silly duffer.In the light of day Xplore became a colourfully Chinese laundry, with red, white and blue flags spread from one end of the boat, bow to stern.So watching your back now takes on a whole new meaning to me and Xplore.
 Stephen at Pitcairn Island


Since I can ever remember, when ever one leaves on any voyage, trip, drive or hike there is always someone who is asking the question "are we there yet"
Its amazing that so much focus is on the arrival, the date, the time and even the competition that goes along with the game of who can pick the time closest. As a skipper who has had a few voyages in his years, I now just about cringe when I start to hear people analyzing to the most minute detail as to what the arrival time will be.
I am nearly at the point of superstition that when I hear these conversations that I think it will put a jinx on the passage.
But some things you cant change too much, especially on a sailing yacht, we are governed by the wind strength and its direction, the state of the seas, and also by the ability of those on board to endure.
There has been many a time when we have slowed the boat down or changed our course and direction to make it more manageable for those who aren't taking it so well.
But the arrival is inevitable, a bit like wanting to go to the toilet, the more you want it to happen, the harder you make it for yourself, and the longer it seems to take, is the constipation made by our minds? and is the arrival slowed by our constant nagging of wanting to know when ?Our voyages are also our lives, the destination and the end result is known right from the time we depart the dock, like the day we are born, but why rush the experience, lets just sit back and relax, make the most of the experience and enjoy the ride along with some of the most amazing sights and

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Are you trim ?

Trim Trim Trim, is what Sir Chay Blyth told everyone when they joined the BT Global Challenge, and I used to say to my crew that "A flappy sail is not a happy sail" so do something about it !
It is often said that you are only as good as your last voyage as a sailor, and I can honestly say that after 5,200 nautical miles to bring us here to the French Gambier Islands in the South Pacific that I am happy with my sailing, my crew and the boat ( what anybody else thinks, well I just don't
care)We sailed like this boat was designed for, fast ocean miles in comfort and safety, thanks Andrew and Chay, top boat for yet again some ocean magic.We travelled fast from New Zealand, doing the run to Pitcairn island in just 16 1/2 days, only 2 days slower than the cargo ship that visits from NZ 4 times a year, giving us a daily average to Pitcairn Island of 179.2 nautical miles each and every day. I am happy with our weather routing, our magic
Skyeye antenna gives us brilliant weather info that I wouldn't go to sea without. We were testing out our new head sail the Yankee No2, and boy we gave that a test or two, from 0 knots to sustained peaks in the mid to high 50's I can honestly say that I "will" feel at ease taking it much higher into the 50's 60's and 70's (god help me, I don't feel like that today) on every point of
sail we gave it a great initial test and the cloth and heavy weather design characteristics are brilliant. So whilst the sun was rising at a calm Pacific anchorage this morning, with a turtle swimming by, we prepared for palm Sunday, it's the start of Easter after all and the French catholic community can sing like angels as we joined in with the walk to the renovated cathedral in the town centre.I hope the rest of the world is at peace like we are here today.Stephen