Friday, November 30, 2018

Stormy waters as Jeanne takes on the Roaring Forties

Wondering where courageous Jeanne Socrates, 76, and her yacht Nereida might be? 
The good lady is sailing at this minute into the notorious Roaring Forties, that's where, on the singlehander's latest attempt to sail round Cape Horn for a second time.
She's just endured a series of calms but is underway again, and sliding into the region round the world that sobered experienced mariners back in the days of sailing ships.

Brave gal

They named it the Roaring Forties for a very good reason, as I learned on my way to and from the Horn.
However, brave gal that she is, Jeanne's latest blog entry tells of her work getting the yacht shipshape. 'Made good use of time while hove-to,' she writes in her latest blog.
'Moved some provisions into the galley area, checked my lashings around the mast and used the topping lift to raise the boom end some more.'

Weatherwise and experienced

Weatherwise and experienced mariner that she is, she reports that she has been repaired leaks in the cockpit windscreen.
 'We'll be having plenty of seas washing over them in the rough weather to come. I'm hoping to have stopped any leaks into the cockpit.'
The ship's log shows she is no newcomer to the heavy seas of the Southern Ocean, and leaves little to chance. Pouring over charts of the approach to the Horn itself, she found waypoints plotted on her previous rounding in December 2012.
Unlike most Brit circumnavigators, Jeanne began the voyage on America's Pacific coast which means that she is in the South Pacific now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Thank heavens for blooming December

Let me brighten up your day with brilliant poet and friend Robert Graham's latest verse to encourage all of us to look to the bright side of a month that is
traditionally d r e a r – and very d r e a r at that.

December's about to happen, and up here in the northern hemisphere we know what that bleak month means.
A cold, wet and windy time with a noticeable absence beyond the back door of any pleasurable compensation.
December! It's been so grim over the centuries that humankind has even had to invent a fairy tale of a cheery, bearded shoplifter, or pound-shop manager.

Winged reindeer

The character is dragged about by winged reindeer as he doles out the spoils of his little ways or goodies from shelves that his shoppers won't squander a pound on.
Yes, we're nearly in the month when the wind blows, rain forgets to stop, and the garden is emptied. Or is it?
It isn't, prompts poet Robert who encourages us to look a little closer. Isn't that a bloom stretching awake in our wintry gloom?
From the window, the scene might be of low clouds, the slant of grey rain, and perhaps blotches of stained snow.
Yet through it all, the rose is there, shunning the dull chill to show beauty and to encourage us, as our poet, a great gardener himself, points out …

Compassion and December roses

About us both let's blow a bubble,
And in it, float away from trouble,
To where the dancing stars all play,
Along the silky, Milky Way,

For food we'll eat those rock cakes found,
Upon all near spheres cratered ground,
From long expired stars we'll squeeze,
The stardust dew and drink – then sneeze*....

Monday, November 26, 2018

The strict safety first culture up there at 35,000-ft

Gifted flyer Aaron Rodgers has been telling us about life as an Air New Zealand pilot on Boeing 777s way up there … 
Now back to the earlier question, 'Do passengers still applaud the pilots after landing?' Well, the answer is no - except maybe after a particularly hairy
landing into Wellington Airport on a gusty day.

Perhaps the real question is 'why not?'
With some exceptions, most modern airlines in the world today operate new modern aircraft.

Vital training

Most developed nations have pilots flying these modern aircraft who are trained in a system that engenders a Safety Culture.
Flight deck management practices ensure crews operate in a working environment that has little authority gradient.
The Captain always has the final authority, but pilots work in a space where everyone can speak up without fear of retribution or ridicule.
Pilots are constantly training, practising, and being assessed on emergency procedures in a simulator.

Fear of flying

This Safety Culture, combined with modern aircraft, has created a world where aircraft fatalities are largely relegated to developing nations whose culture has not caught up.
People's fear of flying has diminished and an expectation of arriving in one piece has meant that the humble pilot no longer holds the status of being skilful, courageous and bold!