Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Ian's dream machine with a verse that tells all

Let me share this amusing and yet most informative and clever verse with you.
It was written by an admired friend, a great poet and a considerable yachtsman,
a boat-builder, a housebuilder, a man who very cleverly has found what must be Paradise, even if it is on our war-mongering world.
I met Ian Allen in Cape Town, who proved to be a source of great seafaring and navigational advice for that very tricky sailing region.
The Cape boasts sudden wild storms, a breeze-stealing mountain, and waiting beneath the keel - hopefully well below the keel - the notorious Agulhas Bank.

Perfect location

Ian, fortunate and wise man, has moved to God's Own, but not just anywhere in New Zealand but in the most fabulous part, at least in the estimation of this Cape Horner.
His gorgeous home faces Cook Straight, named after Captain James cook, of course, between the two main islands.
It stirs a pang in the breast to relate more about it, but if Ian looks to his portside, he is staring into the mighty Southern Ocean.
Look to starboard, and there's the Pacific. The air doesn't, couldn't, come cleaner anywhere else on our planet.
Ian told me, 'I was clearing out old documents on my computer and came across this.
'I was asked by friend Natalie to define gaff cutter, the rig of Tiptoe which I was in the process of building.' This was the brilliant fellow's definition ...   Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at

Friday, January 10, 2020

Dying to give birth

If ever males wondered if they were born as the favoured gender, here is some real proof – as if any proof were needed. I’ve long lamented the gross
inequality of the genders.
Born male and you get the best of life.
Born female, and what better excuse is there for leaping off a high cliff somewhere.
As one of the blessed gender, I don’t really have much of an excuse for doing myself in, apart perhaps from the often gross unfairness of our society.
But then the fairer gender face that public peril, too.

Humorous writer

That wonderfully humorous writer, Bill Bryson has a new book out that I’m recommending even before reading it.
The section I refer to here comes from Delancey Place’s sample from Bill's The Body, published recently by Doubleday.
Compared to the female lot, however, freshly reminded by Delancey’s excerpt from Bill’s book, I shouldn’t feel so bitter about serving eight years thanks to a crooked prosecution.
It only stole all I possessed in addition to that great lump of life. No actual torture, though.
The worst affliction for the fairer gender, in my humble opinion and from what I have witnessed, is what goes on all around us. Childbirth.
I watched my son being born and I could scarcely believe that in such a modern age we accept as normal that a woman should suffer almost countless hours of agony.

 Is modern life to blame?

 I‘ve seen many animals of different breeds giving birth, and it seems just about distress-free for them. But for a human! Is it modern life that makes us so unsuitable for so-called natural birth?
 Bill Bryson’s very moving story suggests otherwise – that there is certainly nothing new in expecting the aspiring mother to suffer. …. Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at

Thursday, January 09, 2020

All at sea for a Cape Horner bid ... and how

It’s the anniversary of sailing around notorious old Cape Horn back in, well, memory seems to suggest 1981. Could it really be so long ago?
The question happens to have been put to the bathroom mirror. It raises its eyebrows satirically and nods a wry at least that long ago.
I ask the book of the voyage, Loner, if this anniversary might warrant a bow? It seems not to hear.


Real problems began near the start. The vital wind-vane self-steering gear wouldn’t work, didn’t work, until far down the South Atlantic.
It’s quite likely that if the genius behind Autohelm hadn’t been such a generous friend and helper, I doubt that I would have navigated that mighty beast, Spirit of Pentax, as far the Equator.
And when I think back, all the way to those crazy days, I remember that it was the huge army of helpers who deserve the congratulatory pats on the back.
Gorgeous Lilian, such a brilliant supporter, packed the food for every meal for the 14 months the voyage might take (if a number of becalmings were to happen), and each in its own waterproof package, and every one with an encouraging message.
Artist Bob Abrahams worked on a smashing design for the yacht's appearance, and guided the painters.
I hoped, I expected, to circumnavigate in perhaps ten months, but seafaring always has the risk of a series of long calms.
The schooner had no engine, so a flat calm would mean being stopped still, even going back the way I had sailed if a malevolent ocean current dictated it.

Writing in haste

When I made it and arrived back in Plymouth, Loner, waited to be written and in a hurry because somehow or other I found myself entered into a round-the-world solo race from the US just six weeks later.
Writing Loner in haste was far from a good idea …
Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at ...