01 August 2018

Where's my pirate flag?

Yes, that's right. Finally a friend was brave enough to bring her children aboard Boogie Nights for a few days. 

To avoid unnecessary anxiety for you dear reader,  I can confirm before you read any further, that both children left with all limbs intact. 

First stop: Marchwood yacht club to collect the kiddy life jackets. Thanks to Russell for having two children who grew out of their life jackets, which were then handed to Frank who has grandchildren who then loaned them in this direction. 

Then off to Newtown Creek on the Isle of Wight. It's a popular anchorage and sods law dictates that the anchor would set just a tiny bit too close to a neighbouring boat. But then, the electric windlass was not working due to a faulty button. So, nobody could be arsed to haul the chain back up by hand so it was left where it was and the captain knew she'd be keeping a close eye when the tide swung round later in the night.

Isabelle is auditioning for the new role of figure head. Think she might be higher maintenance than the current one though as she actually needs feeding and stuff like that. 

Before then though, there was a little logistical exercise of getting over to the beach. Ever played the game of Fox-chicken-sack of grain? Well. The little dinghy "Disco Biscuit" is only rated to fit 3 (2 adults one child) people and that's a squeeze. There's no engine, so one person has to row.
Two adults and two children... How to get all the adults and children to the beach? There was a fair bit of rowing involved.

Super strong woman. Everyone should have someone this awesome in their lives to row them around.  

A small space up front suitably sized for a bag of laundry or a small child. 

There was mud bathing in the creek as well as a BBQ. The team of four left nothing behind but footprints. 

A beautiful sunset and a little sundowner in the cockpit. Followed by bed. Except for Flashheart, she had a late one planned on anchor watch.

The hammock was rigged up front, warm layers on and some warm blankets too. The captain dozed a while until waking up to hear a noise nobody wants to hear. This woke Amanda up at the same time as captain calamity. (the one supposedly on watch). The boat that had been eyeballed thinking it was the close neighbour was actually a different one. that one missed Boogie Nights by a mile. But the one that hadn't been watched properly had their bow snagged on the back end of Boogie Nights. Whoops! After being manually and gently pushed apart, Boogie Nights swung through the turn and hovered in close proximity but looked safe. Everything was going well until breakfast when both boats ended up drifting alongside each other. Thankfully the now VERY close neighbour was a very nice chap. The fat fender was deployed and then both boats tied together.  By way of apology, the neighbour whose phone charging cable was broken was able to use the power on board Boogie Nights to juice up his phone.

watch out for things going clank in the night. 
The next stop after the close encounter in the anchorage was Yarmouth harbour. It was BUSY! Early arrival was needed to ensure a spot on a walk ashore pontoon. The heat wave meant both ships dog and Flashheart were hiding away from the sun. An easy day of chilling in the shade. The friendly neighbours who rafted up outside mentioned the salt water lido in Lymington as a good place to take children. 
A quick google search and a chat amongst the adults onboard and the following days activities were decided. Britain's oldest salt water lido lay just two miles north. 

A quick motor across to Lymington from Yarmouth the next morning. Not knowing which pontoon to land on, The captain opted for one that said "strictly no mooring". Even just to drop everyone off and then find a mooring elsewhere.  The harbour master came along and was super cool, really friendly with the kids and allowed us to pay for a short stay on the pontoon which is often restricted. The bonus was that it was literally right beside the Lido. Boogie Nights was visible from a deck chair in the screaming palace of salt watery adventure. 
If you've never seen a salt water lido in full summer holiday swing, then this place will surely boggle your mind. It is full of crazy inflatable adventure to slip slide and bounce on. There's something suitable for every age. A fresh water splash pool for toddlers, a smaller inflatables section for nippers and then the big-ass-inflatables like you'd see on "it's a knockout"

Image courtesy of  Shorefield
With two slightly tired children we set off back to Ocean Quay making lovely burgers on the way which we scoffed in the cockpit. All was well in the world. A MASSIVE thanks to Amanda for driving nearly 200 miles south to come and spend time messing about on the water and to her two lively and adorable little pirates, Isabelle and Christopher. 

The tally of things accidentally dropped in the water and retrieved

One monkey toy

One child

One fender

One clothes peg


02 March 2018

Is it cold in winter?



While the taps and toilets are all frozen on the land, the water is still running absolutely fine on the boat because the tank and pipework is far from freezing. The toilets can't be flushed on land but the boat toilet is absolutely fine as it runs on raw salt water. So that's 2 - 0 to the boat compared to land living. 

snowy cockpit
Exposed cockpit.
Most sane people who live on their boats
would have got this covered over
with a winter boom tent. 

snowy boat pontoon
Mooring the boat the other way round
would have solved the problem of
cold whistling though the vents and it
would be at least 5 degrees Celsius warmer inside. 

empty prosecco in snow
No problem for keeping drinks chilled though

It's a steady 8 degrees inside, which is 12 more than it is outside and if we take the wind chill factor into account, that is 20 degrees warmer. All things being relative, I'd say it's warm inside. (14/15C  inside the boat would feel the same as 21C in a house given the small space and low ceiling height.)  When it's 8C inside, this is warm socks/boots and a thick jumper conditions. Not unreasonable really. It's fkin cold outside. But  kinda ok inside. When the wind changes direction, it'll be cosy.

but for now... The thermal Buff is the gift of the gods.

The Polar Buff has been a winter/spring/autumn staple for the past 14 years. This Star Wars one is on my wish list.
Also wish they did a disco one for Boogie Nights.  I'd wear it as a boob tube in summer. 

I wrote (Can you smell that) last March... which gives a fuller explanation.

01 March 2018

Middle Sea Race

Sometimes in life we have to take our time to reflect. 

This reflection has taken a little longer than usual, due in part to being busier than bunch of shite hawks on the bins and in perhaps equal part to being rendered silent with apoplectic rage. I'll try to explain, but keep it as short as possible. It probably won't be all that short to be honest.

Last summer a good friend with an almost identical boat to  Boogie Nights asked me if I'd be interested in doing the Rolex Middle Sea Race. "Fershure", said I. "I'm up for that." 

As the weeks ticked off and the October race start date approached, the crew was assembled by a trickle down effect.

First there was Clair the owner, then there was me. Then Clair found a fellow interested sailor called Emmanuel (Manu) working in the same rented office space. They hadn't sailed together before but Manu had done plenty of sea miles years before with her dad. In turn Manu suggested someone she knew from winter ski seasons, called Mary, who apparently was quite an avid sailor too. That made four of us and everything was set. Between us we have all covered many thousands of miles at sea on various types of sailing boat. Some racing, some cruising.
Four keen Corinthians off to do a lap of Sicily. 
Approximate planned route. Ish.

Given my university work commitment at the time I could only take the time as part of my ongoing professional practice, ie, I needed to be working on media coverage of the race. After all, this was the first all female sailing team in the living memory of the race organisers.

I was collected from the airport by two of the most chilled out people. 

Race time rapidly approached and as I prepared to fly to Sardinia to help Clair and Manu sail the boat to Malta for the race start, apparently one more person had been invited, by Mary. The degrees of separation becoming ever more distant. Well, it's a small world and it turns out the 5th member of the team, called Lucy had married the winner of the 2012 Triangle Race, whom I had interviewed previously and bumped into on random occasions around the Solent area.
It's a small world.

I flew out to Sardinia. pent up with stress about the university pressures I had to still cover my commitments to students. Clair and Manu were pretty chilled, with their roll up cigarettes and bikinis and I felt like a bit of a pent up stress ball next to them. Sipping my breakfast energy drink and looking a bit like a pale fat friend in quite sensible clothes.  But it would be OK. We'd head to Malta, I'd get my work done, we'd do a race, yeah.
The journey to Malta was far more relaxed than I had envisaged. So relaxed that we called in to places that I could only dream of enjoying. Yet, my head wasn't in the zone for jumping in and swimming. I was thinking of NSS scores and disenchanted students and the stress of being seen to perform for them. Dammit.

it was the kind of water I dream about jumping into. But I never did. I need to go back without work stress. 

We were right there, in what can only be described as paradise. And there I was sweating over a laptop. 

We eventually arrived in Malta, I jumped onto the wifi there, conducted skype tutorials and then headed off to meet Mary who had flown in.
Wow. She's a bit full on. Like, FULL FUCKING ON. But seems kinda reasonable. though, really fucking full on, and a smoker. Jeezaz. That's three smokers and one asthmatic.
OK, but we're cool. We get the new code zero out Clair had made and went for a little test sail together.
Now, this Mary, she seems like a practical person. Gets things done. But still pretty full on. A bit loud. but you know, she seems alright-ish. Maybe a bit on the overly pushy side, not the kind of person I'm used to sailing with but it'd be OK.

Moored up, stern to, in Malta at the race village. 

The Rolex races are a bit of a trumpety fanfare event and they have owner parties and crew parties and it's all a bit much really. Anyway, after a bit of a night for the owners, the next night was crew party. I was saving myself. This was gonna be epic. I'd finished all of my work for two days.
It was just one day away from race start. Lucy would be flying in during the crew party. Mary had gone to find her and show her around. I drank away the evening meeting more people than I could possibly remember, eventually landing on a 40 something foot charter boat, which had been chartered by a lovely bunch of Czech blokes.

Google translate is a fekkin marvel isn't it. Only one step away from sticking a fish in your ear. 

The Deydreamer crew of five didn't really meet up to speak much until the next morning.
The morning after Manu and I had gone to bed at 7am having lightened the rum rations on the Czech boat.
It was around 8.30am that Lucy clanged into life and decided to speak loudly to Clair, who was snoozing in the saloon, about lightening the boat. I was sleeping in the saloon too. I WAS. Manu had masterfully tucked herself away in the aft cabin and closed the door. (like a pro)

the weather forecast went something like: "there's a big high pressure, which might affect you, it might not."

There was a few jobs on the snagging list to be crossed off, But Lucy made it her mission to empty the boat. What about filling the water tank? No, we'd have bottled water. She took most of the day to rearrange the boat and remove as much as she possibly could. Including a bottle of Clair's perfume, a slinky toy and a dream catcher.
The boat is called Deydreamer. Removing the dreamcatcher is like removing the glitter ball from Boogie Nights, or Yoda for that matter.
Nursing bad heads and wanting to give Lucy a wide berth, both Manu and I headed off to the shop to get the food sorted.
Clair later snuck back into the container to retrieve her perfume and the slinky which was then hidden on-board.

the face of a hangover and realisation that I'd have to spend another 4 days on-board with someone I really didn't like. I'm not good at my poker face. Need to work on that. 

It's a 600 mile race, so that's likely to be 5 days on an old Dehler 36 CWS.
The weather forecast was light, light, super light then rough as fuck. 
The spray hood had been taken off. I was not amused. Being fair skinned and enjoying protection from sun and motherfuckingwaves.

As food was stowed away, it was apparent that Lucy had really made some changes to the layout of stuff on-board. So much so that Clair had to keep asking where things were. Nobody had asked for this change but there you go. Oh and guess what... make that FOUR smokers and an asthmatic.
Oh what larks ay?

well, it didn't stop there.
No, I wish it did.

Let's fast forward to the race start. We've slipped lines and heading around the corner which is about 20 minutes to the start area. I've gone forward to sweat up the main sail while Mary takes up slack, but, the reef lines had been tied in the day before and the original method of the Dehler reefing can be a bit tight. This meant a bit of jiggery pokery was needed to pull them through so we could get the main up. Lucy mistook my inability to hoist the main as ineptitude. She stomped forward in her British winter sailing boots and racing smock, beads of sweat at her temples as she barged me out of the way to hoist the main. I tried telling her it was just because the reef lines needed pulling through, but she then took the opportunity to attempt to explain to me how single line reefing works.
You can see how this is going to end right?

Barking Nelson. 

It's roughly mid-day. There's Clair on helm, Manu on port jib sheet, Mary on main sheet, I've been asked to cover the starboard jib sheet despite trying to live stream the event and provide any commentary and there was Lucy. Standing like fucking Nelson next to Clair, barking orders.
Who the fuck put her in charge? Nobody.
She took it upon herself to assume superiority and assumed everyone else was a complete novice or had so little experience that everything had to be explained in a condescending manner.

SO, there we are, being barked at. I'm rapidly approaching the point where I'm prepared to jump off and swim ashore. I SHIT YOU NOT. I actually thought about it.
Instead I live broadcast that "everyone's a cunt" and immediately felt a bit better. 

Then it happened. You know when you have someone barking and someone trying to concentrate and then fast reactions needed. Well, another competitor tacked in front of us, we were stand on vessel still on starboard tack, but the other boat didn't react and it all got a bit contacty and scrapey and you know, bits of gelcoat were removed thanks to the other boats bow roller.

inspecting for damage after a coming together. 

Still, we were good to continue, albeit in need of some epoxy touchups.
The next two days were torture. Both in the sense that I really didn't want to be in the same breathing space as Lucy, but also because we were running out of bottled water. The weather was turning from nothing to everything and the tracker was showing boat after boat turn around and hide in various marinas in Sicily.

pretty sight of the spinnaker run to the first mark on the course. 

Skipper has a word. 

that'a familiar spinnaker isn't it. 

the weather turned a bit snotty.

note the mass turnaround of boats. They are all heading for safe haven out of the boat breaking conditions, thanks to Mistral winds.  

The weather hadn't beaten us but the fresh water situation was getting critical. The decision to pull in rather than attempt to bash through the bad weather was taken reluctantly. Dehlers are pretty good in heavy weather.

After a night in Messina, we headed out into the straight, pointed south, back to the start along with another boat of a similar IRC rating to us. It was blowing around 50knots of breeze but as we were running with it, it was actually a lot of fun.
Well, it would have been a lot of fun if I had been able to sit outside. Instead I confined myself below, handing food out to the others, because frankly, there was still a risk of more clashes with Lucy.

exciting seas

more exiting seas

The skipper always looks super cool, no matter what weather thrown at her. 

approaching the safe haven for the night. A small fishing village. 

The slinky was slinked sneakily when Lucy's back was turned. I sniggered like a child. 
Clair jiggled the slinky out of the cockpit cabin window. We giggled. Like children who'd slipped toad spawn into grandmas best vase. 

The one good thing that came out of this farce? Marina Foti had spotted us on the tracker and came to say hello while we were still moored in Sicily. I immediately liked the cut of her jib. (she arrived with fresh pastries and a flask of tea)
After linking up via facebook, when I got back to the UK, I sent her a link to the Triangle Race.

Would she like to have a go at this with me in 2018?

"Yes" was the reply.


Valuable Lessons learned from this Middle Sea experience:
  • Don't assume someone is good to get along with via anecdotal evidence. SAIL with them in person first before committing to more than a few hours on the boat together
  • Check if they are a smoker. 
  • Check if they are in anyway likely to be a fucking cunt. 
  • Lay out the aims of the boat/crew/race before setting sail. 
  • Assign roles to crew to establish some sort of teamwork. 
  • Never let anyone stand like fucking Nelson next to you when helming. 
  • If someone rearranges your boat without your permission, kick them the fuck off at the first opportunity. 
  • The Middle Sea race needs to be conquered. It's a challenge that needs completing.
  • Never take the sprayhood off for a multiday potentially offshore race. Sprayhoods are lifesavers for pale freckly people in the Med. 

20 January 2018

Fossil power & bad vibrations

15 January 2018

The bread knife of reasonable expectations un-met.

un-met expectations meted out metaphorically. 

A metaphor

The captain is in reflective mood as we march rapidly through the first two weeks of 2018. 

\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ caution: strong language throughout //////////////////////////

14 January 2018

First Time Boaters - 12 essential things you should know

Stepping onto a boat, any boat, for the first time can be daunting.

They're like something between a space-ship and a caravan with a pointy end.
Some bits within them will seem vaguely familiar while other things are positively alien.

A while back we wrote about how to date a sailor, but it was brought to our attention that advice should be given to those non-boaty types, or those giving it a go for the first time, on how to comport ones-self on board a boat or yacht. So for those of you deciding this is the year you're going to have a go, then get started with these 12 essentials.

alien caravanning on water. 

13 January 2018

Electric Friends

The chain of consequence effect. 

Back in the summer during the brief phase of Captain Flashheart having a really shit milestone birthday (it's mid June if anyone feels the uncontrollable urge to spoil her this year) the battery charger decided to shit itself. And by shit itself, what we mean is, put up some error light that meant it no longer charges batteries but sits there doing fuck all in a cupboard. Thanks to Xantrex, you useless-bag-of-four-year-old-shite. 
This means that plugging the shore power in will result in pretty much fuck all happening. 

30 November 2017

risk taking

Rebel Rebel
it's a risky business 

(7.5 minute read)

06 September 2017

A quick thanks to the sponsors...

This not particularly academic soul has been arm twisted into completing a bunch of academibollocks ( a Masters degree) in order to progress in the world of teaching the next generation of feature journalists at a very splendid university on the very worthwhile and noble South Coast of the UK. So while I've been working like anyone else, full time and flat out, I was doing this as well, and now it's done and it's September already. Damn. 

Sooo, figured it was probably a good idea to share it with y'all.

2017 summer has been one of those years where you look at it and wonder where in the flying fek did it go? It kinda went something like this: expect occasional strong language. 

January 2017 (we're 15 months into a 21 month course already, there's a major project and two other written assignments to go)

Deepest darkest phone signal deprived Cornwall...take some pics, meet fishermen, let's get this major project party started. (I'd already spent the previous summer reading and researching for it)

Dripping like a skate out of a fish box

05 September 2017

JOG to Alderney

A quick JOG race to Alderney was planned in June. It just so happened to be the first weekend after a milestone birthday for the Captain.

The boat came out for a scrub and antifoul and then came out again a few days later to skim the rudder bearing (again) there will be another post about that when I can be arsed

There was a terse verbal exchange during a poorly executed mooring by the crew, who we will call 118, who had asked if he could have a go at mooring up, when I suggested it was "obvious you've been sailing a long keel far more than a fin keel recently" he responded by calling the captain a "cunt", then told her to "shut it shrimpy" and promptly fekked off down below leaving captain calamity here to struggle to tie her own badly moored boat up.

Bravo for not putting a breadknife between his shoulder blades I say. Restraint of fairly high order.

01 September 2017

hold my beer a minute...

Now then, anyone with eyes and a vague interest in magazines over the years will have seen somewhere on those magazine racks is a whole smack of yachting and boating magazines. But open their pages and you're in for a limited world view. 

Recently a friend brought round a small bundle of yachtie rags and said "here, fill your boots with these"

my boots are filled - my cup runneth over

I'm pretty sure he didn't intend on releasing my inner feminazi, but here we go, "I said don't get me started", he said "looks like you already are, crack on" the engine is revving and I'm ready to unleash venom. Beware, liberal amounts of potty mouth coming up. 

Oh Yachting World. a world of yachting. Yachting. World. You promise so much with your big colourful covers and sporty looking design. That high gloss finish that repels water, you tempt me. But open the cover and I am not sure if this is a time machine, taking me back to the 70s or 80s when women knew their place. That place wasn't at the helm of a boat. Or anywhere doing anything much. Other than looking pretty.
Given the magazine has a female editor and a female deputy editor, it is surprising to find that neither are anywhere to be seen betwixt the glossy covers.


Instead we are treated to a singular cock-owners world view.
I actually really quite like men. I genuinely do like them. BUT, for FUCKS SAKE Yachting World, women are cool too. I want to be inspired by some of the most rocking, kick arse women there currently are, out there, in the world of fast yachting. They're out there, just open your prejudiced eyes.

give me fucking strength - and a pair of boobs, one for each hand. 

In the spirit of backing up my assertions and chagrin of mono-gendered magazine bullshittery, I did a bit of analysis and points scoring for the two visibly identifiable genders.  Here's how it works:

  • 5 points for a column
  • 1 point for each image of an identifiable person
  • minus points for gender cliche such as a woman in a bikini sunbathing while a man steers or woman holding a child or woman in a galley (these are cancelled out if a man is also sunbathing in his mankini, holding a child or also in the galley.) 

Yachting World May 2017 issue
Women 21 points (they lost 3 points for women gratuitously wearing bikinis)
Men 117 points. (none were found gratuitously wearing a mankini sadly)

this is two ladies gratuitously wearing hats and neck tubes. 

Yachting World July 2017 issue
Women 27 points (they lost 3 points for a woman holding a child, another used as a barely clothed model in circumstances that didn't require it and another was wearing a fucking swimsuit for no reason.)
Men 144 points (6 columns of manly guff compared to just 2 columns of professional lady-ness. Sad)

A man, in the galley. Gasp. He even looks happy. Double gasp.  

Yachting World August 2017 issue
Women 18 points (they lost 3 points for a woman holding a child again, a derogatory caption by a picture of a lady helming and another fucking swimsuit shite ad. )
Men 170 points. fucking-Americas-fucking-Cup. There's a lot of testosterone in this one. Boring.

A woman, working on an engine. Don't chip a nail with your delicate lady fingers there...

Yachting World September 2017 issue
Women 28 points (fucking get in, there's three columns by the women, yes three, I am almost beside myself with interest! Though they lost 3 points again, that Beneteau Oceanis swimsuit ad is back, you cunts, then there's another pic of a woman looking wistfully through a window while a man steers outside and why would you choose a group picture of the women all dressed for hula? I dunno. Surely there was better pics than that?
Men 94 points. No man was seen holding a child, working in a galley or staring wistfully through any window, or gratuitously mostly naked except for a small strip of white fabric covering his cock. Disappointed.

gratuitous pic of half naked man running up a beach. It has no relevance to the blog post really, I just wanted to share it again. Because ya know, he's a nice chap. (thanks Jerry for this enduring image)
This is the closest I can find to a man holding a child from my own archive. 

Out of those 4 magazines, there's a total of 8 female columns featuring expert views compared to 19 columns written by the blerks.

94 women visible compared to 525 men.
(of which 3 women were helming, one hauling a line and the other on a winch.)

Is that the best you can do YW? It's not good enough.
Sort your fucking pages out and get the content balanced up you cunts. You've got a female fucking editor for fucks sake. The myth that women don't sail fast or hard is perpetuated by the fucking media. We're out there, doing it. We aren't the exception, we are the rule.

let me just demonstrate what a woman helming looks like >>>

woman on helm

woman on helm - racing

woman on helm - still racing

woman on helm

woman on helm - woman on main sheet - double the danger
and when women aren't helming, staring wistfully out of windows, holding children or wearing swim wear in unlikely situations... women also do other stuff >>>

woman doing some proper sailing type thing - not staring wistfully through a window
woman climbs mast - fixes some thing up there

woman climbs in cupboard - fixes some thing in there

woman sorts out diesel fuel problem - didn't damage a lady nail in the process

woman goes swimming to clean weed off speed log housing

woman deals with burst holding tank -  no shit Sherlock

woman needs to sail through night on helm, double handed/solo. Survived unscathed. Must be voodoo

woman fills in log book with GPS co-ordinates, didn't get confused and feel the need to ask a man for help.

There's a Facebook group called Women Who Sail. There's over twelve and a half THOUSAND members. Strictly female only. (to avoid the blerks coming in and mansplaining shite and bollocks all over the place)
THAT my dearest Yachting World is more than your monthly readership.

gratuitous picture of a man jumping off a boat in swim wear (Sorry Luke, couldn't resist this pic again)

Occasionally a blerk does come on board and is able to helm, though he may need supervision.
Nobody wants to see this though do they. 

Search for a specific article