Friday, May 31, 2019

Two sides of those magnificent flying machines

(Continuing yesterday's modern jetliner blog ...)
It's very tempting to imagine that these mighty A330 flying machines swallowing 300 and more passengers are so modern, surely they can have been conceived only in the last few years.
And yet, believe it or not, 'Development of the A300 began during the 1960s as a European collaborative project between various aircraft manufacturers in the United Kingdom, France, and West Germany.'

A surprise

The sixties!
This enormous surprise comes from Wikipedia's review of the extraordinary A300 air bus made by Airbus.
During the 1960s! Getting on for sixty years ago! 'Air France, the launch customer for the A300, introduced the type into service on 30 May 1974,' Wikipedia reports. That's 45 years ago. Many readers here won't have been present on the planet back then.
Probably the main reason for my incredulity is that the aircraft seem so modern and because flying enormous distances in them is considered to be so today.
Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Thoughts from the backseat of a giant jet

What's the very first thought that comes to mind when you step into one of our ultra-modern and enormous passenger-jets that seem to zoom round and
round the world non-stop?
I confess for me that first look is really my second.
The first comes close to the time of booking a flight.
Looking at the second thought first this week was almost as daunting as the revelation that came with the first thought.


Here I was committing my life to a Turkish jet that would take me non-stop from 41 degrees North to just under 35 degrees South. I am a nautical navigator, and a circumnavigator as well, but my maths is not exactly of Euclid's standard. Well, it's poor.
However, I'm pretty sure that the latitudes of the northern hemisphere added to the southern lot total 76.
Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Jeanne (76) turns the Roaring Forties corner for home

The Brit Southern Ocean superstar, Jeanne Socrates, has turned the circumnavigation corner and is heading for home, the US Atlantic coast. The plucky, highly-skilled 76-year-old sailed from Victoria, British Columbia, 236
days ago.
It means the lady has spent almost 34 weeks alone, surrounded by the sea, often foul weather and occasional ocean birds, like the beautiful albatrosses.
Jeanne has rounded New Zealand and now inches up the coast in very light and fluky conditions.

The 34th week

Jeanne's logs make it seem that the lady is doing well, but she has electronic problems, which is not unexpected as she and the equipment have been in a salt-saturated atmosphere for 34 weeks.
Jeanne notes, 'New blade is now in place on wind generator - and it's putting in a charge! Sat on top of the stern arch supports to do it and hugged the pole.
'Wasn't so bad and didn't take long. Managed it just as the wind suddenly started to get up, so only just in time.'
'11:15am Grey sky and NNW wind. We're underway, headed NE with mainsail hoisted! Of course, the halyard had got caught around some mast steps near the mast top but didn't take too long to free.

An albatross visits

Jeanne laments the loss of important electronics. 'Still have no plotter or speed/depth/wind,' she reports.
Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The poll to change the future - for five minutes

In a democracy we get out and vote whenever a poll is held, and I was certainly there queuing today for the poll to elect our representatives for the EU - even though Britain is almost certain to
have left Europe within a few months.
It means, really, that the poll is an expensive waste of time, because the elected may attend one or maybe two gatherings of the EU parliament, and then no more
That's because it seems the UK government will eventually follow the wishes of a narrow majority and leave the union.
It most probably is a waste of time and almost certainly a waste of millions of pounds. Well, not probably, it seems.


BBC News reports that the estimated cost of taking part in the European Parliamentary elections has been given as up to £109m.
Of a waste of time, astoundingly more voters coincided with my arrival at the booth today than I have seen before on any other poll.
The summons to the neighbourhood station was to vote for the political party, or individual, of our choice.
One or two parties want to remain part of the EU. The majority of those on the form want a departure.
So there I was queueing.
Eventually a pleasant person issued me with the oddest voting paper I've seen. I took it to the appointed private area where, after wondering about it, I could tick - 'mark with an X and nothing but an X' - my choice. The voting paper was not quarto nor fullscap but more like the sort of rolled up script a town-crier carries in a film of medieval times.
Below all the political groups named on the form, came a countless - they seemed almost countless - list of individuals putting themselves up for nomination.
Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at