Friday 20 May 2016


image: daniel callen
Did I mention we got beat by Hannah last Wednesday evening?

image: daniel callen
image: daniel callen
Her brother Dan was sailing a British Moth in the same race. It was good to see him back out on the water again; the previous week he'd scored DNF (an acronym for "Did Not Finish" for any non racers / sailors than might pass this way) on account of his mast falling down. Unfortunate, but fortunately little to no damage was done to anything but his pride.

image: daniel callen
image: daniel callen
He scored DNF again this week, but possibly because he was concentrating less on the racing and more on capturing footage with his GoPro. He did post a very nice clip up onto Facebook yesterday evening (to be fair any video he posts is almost always of superb quality) which I think perfectly caught the mood and feel of the evening's racing.

image: daniel callen
image: daniel callen
He's kindly allowed me permission to post a few stills from the video up here. Naturally, we're the boat with the blue sails. Dan is the guy in the Moth.

image: daniel callen

Thursday 19 May 2016

Beaten by a girl

In what appears to be something of a now forming habit, Hels and I raced our Enterprise "Buffy" around the cans again Wednesday evening.

It was a blustery one, the heavy rains of the earlier afternoon now passed, but the strong winds that had accompanied them only ceding the evening somewhat gracelessly; definitely faded now, but still with the occasional punch held back in reserve to catch you out in an unguarded moment.  More than one of the single-handers took an unexpected swim over the course of the hour's racing.

It was an odd course set by the OOD. A fantastically good first beat down the entire length of the lake and then strangely, a dead run, goose-winged all the way back to the other end. We then rounded to starboard for another beat, albeit heavily influenced and interfered with by the wind bending off the bank, before we got the one decent, planing reach of the race followed by a gybe and another dead run back down to the last mark of the lap.

We had a mediocre start. Good enough, but arrived too early on the line and drifted most of the way to the pin by the time the gun went. It gave us clean air though, so we pulled well enough away from the rest of the fleet to be first to be able to tack onto port and cross them. A tactical mistake however, as that put us into the shadow of the bank where we were badly headed by the disrupted air. By the time we tacked back, Alan's Enterprise had clawed back the original distance we'd gained from our start and was first around the windward mark by a well earned boat-length or two.

We won it back before the end of the lap, but the race that followed wasn't one of our best; a bungled mark rounding that left the sails stalled, a moment of confusion where I over-stood the second windward mark by quite a length, thinking I was sailing to another one, and one memorable leg that saw Hels and I arguing over what leg of the course we were actually on. Hels won, and was proved right, I should add.

In the end , we did still finish first over the line in our class, but after adjustment for handicap we were placed 2nd overall. 1st place was taken by Hannah in her Topper. I did say before that she was one to watch.

Buffy is desperately in need of some TLC now. The varnish is peeling, bits are breaking, halyards are getting tired and worn. Time and opportunity are awkward fellows to grapple with at the moment though.

One of the breakages was the roller on the main halyard exit block at the foot of the mast. It disintegrated completely at the beginning of the year. I jury-rigged it with a shackle to enable us still to raise the main, and have tried to find a replacement block since, but the age of the mast have made it devilishly difficult to find a block that matches the dimensions of the original. I mentioned this to Dad at the weekend. Last night he told me he'd fixed it, turning a replacement roller out of nylon on one of his workshop lathes and riveting it back in to the original block housing for me.

We shall have to see how long it lasts, but I am, as always, terribly impressed by his clever ingenuity when it comes to fixing things. He's a very handy man to know.

I'm supposed to be crewing a two-man sailing sailing canoe "Green Bean" on a trip from Watermouth Cover in North Devon to Lundy this coming weekend. It was the main reason, albeit not the only one, I bought a new drysuit a couple of weeks back. Twenty-five miles of blue, open water to cross in a 15' canoe with outriggers, I've been really looking forward to it. The forecast has been playing the devil all week, suggesting F6+ for the weekend coming, teasingly slackening off, and then coming back on in full. Unsettled would be a modest description. We're at that tipping point of making the call as to whether it's a go or no.

I hate being in this position. If it all looked good and the trip was a definite, I'd be brimming with enthusiasm, all packed and planned by now and raring to go. Because it's looking so marginal, with odds on that we'll call it off, I'm instead feeling quite torn, quite behind in my planning and preparation and rapidly running out of time in which to address this.

This isn't a complain. It's just the way it goes sometimes.

Needless to say, I have a plan B if Lundy and Green Bean do prove to be a no-go this weekend. I shall not be landlocked.

Monday 16 May 2016

Under the Bridge

A friend from the sailing club lives pretty local to Portishead. He races a Laser on the lake at Frampton, so usually races in a different class to me, starting four minutes behind us but otherwise sailing the same course. He's pretty handy with that Laser of his; I typically count myself as having sailed a good race if I manage not to let him lap us before we're done. Which happens less often these days, but is still a measure to go by. I think Steve's got a fair bit of "big boat" experience, but gets most of his sailing kicks these days from kite surfing. That's something I've always wanted to have a go at.

Anyway, when he first heard we'd bought a yacht, he emailed me to say he'd found us a "boat warming" present. He duly presented us with a large white fender he'd found whilst beach-combing somewhere over on the Welsh coast. He'd even scrubbed it clean for us.

He and his girlfriend joined us for our trip out this Sunday. Whilst Steve has more yacht experience than Dad and I put together, Angela was new to the whole thing. But she was charming, enthusiastic and quite biddable; in other words, the perfect crew.

We locked out at 1330 in a very crowded lock with nine boats, ourselves included. High water was due for 1515, the tide very neap, so we planned a run up under the Bridge and back. This being Angela's introduction to both the Bristol Channel and yachting, we figured the Bridge is just one of those things you've got to do. We all get to drive over it an awful lot, but very few of us get to sail under it. It's quite a different perspective.

Stowing the fenders and lines was refreshingly quick and easy with two able set of hands to do the job, so it was done before we'd left the Hole and cleared the breakwater. We motored across the King Road to get to the other side of the channel and clear of a commercial vessel coming up to Portbury. We could see her three attendant tugs about half a mile away positioning themselves about her for the swing and close-handling into the narrow lock at the mouth of Portbury Docks. Passing the Denny cardinal marker, now clear of the channel, we put our nose head to wind, hauled up the sails and stilled the engine. Turning down wind, we then ran deep on the wind for the Bridge.

The morning had started off still, but the wind had built to about 10-15 knots for the afternoon. The little boat nipped along at a respectable pace, things relatively tranquil in the cockpit, the sea relatively flat, without the downwind roll of previous weeks that had made our newbies aboard quite billious. However, the genoa kept collapsing in the shadow of the main, so we gybed, hardened up a little and held it until we could gybe back onto a port rumb line that would take us through the centre of the bridge on a broad reach. As we neared the edifice, camera phones all predictably came out. We joked that if we somehow messed up and crashed against the footings of the bridge, at least the accident would be clearly documented for the subsequent inquest into our sinking.

Through the bridge and abeam of Chepstow District Yacht Club on the Welsh bank, little wavelets began leaping up vertically all about, quite a peculiar, improbable sight. There is a technical word to describe this kind of wave motion that I've read somewhere, but didn't note down and haven't been able to find it since, which is most frustrating. The surface agitation was being caused by the surge of the tide hitting the sands below. I haven't often seen it down this far, but you see it with almost every tide over Ridge Sands above Sharpness, further up channel.

The tide was beginning to slow and it was promising to be a hard beat back, so about a mile short of Chapel Rock we gybed, hardened up against the wind and began to beat back down channel against the last of the flood tide. Still under full sail, the little yacht was well pressed over to about 20 degrees, leaning still more in the gusts. She held it well however, the boat speed through the water just a shade over 3 knots, the sea state still smooth for as long as the tide still ran with the wind.

With the last of the tide against us our tacking angle was improbably wide, and it being a neap I didn't want to stray too far over the shallows. This made our effective channel quite narrow. However, tacking the boat with three able sets of hands was an absolute breeze, so we simply enjoyed the sailing in the building breeze, beating back and forth until we gradually began to win against the tide, and finally laid the Bridge on a starboard tack. It took us quite near to the huge concrete footing, all of us uncertain whether or not we'd clear it, but willing the little boat to climb through the wind just to prove that we could. It was close, but the tide was now running with us, so it was never uncomfortably so.

Out into the open water below the Bridge, the wind continued to build and the tide began to strengthen against it. Consistently heeled to 25 degrees or so, we put a few rolls into the genoa. More for the comfort of the crew and Dad's peace of mind than the actual need of the boat. It was the first time Steve, now at the helm, had sailed a bilge keeler, and he commented that she was surprisingly weatherly. I'd like to think so, but it could be he was just being polite. Close hauled, the wind was hard in our faces, but not especially cold, certainly not when the sun joined us through the cloud-broken sky, which was more often than not. Tacking back out from the Avonmouth shore the sea set against the tide was now beginning to build and the "Westerly slap" of waves hitting the hull between the bilge keels a frequent, percussive accompaniment to the surging of the wind.

We put the first reef in the main. Spray over the bow was liberally dousing the coach-roof now, and occasionally the occupants of the cockpit. But the old Griffon is an especially dry, comfortable boat. The odd bit of wet was more flavour than discomfort.

At about 1700, on the finally approach to Portishead Pool, we started up the engine and doused the sails.

Locking back in was a crowded affair. The Hole was full of boats waiting on the gate, so we held off outside in the Pool until they made their way in. I wasn't certain we'd fit, reluctantly accepting we might have another half hour wait for the next lock, but the marina office squeezed us in at the back, rafted up between a powerboat and another yacht of about the same size as us.

A shade over 4 hours underway, most of that under sail, and just a whisper over 17 nautical miles covered. Our average speed over the ground was a relatively humble 4.2 knots, so you could tell it was neaps. I did see the plotter register a shade over 8 knots at one point in the The Shoots the approach to the Bridge. Quite tame for these parts. Lovely sailing though, and it was nice pushing Calstar a little more than usual on the beat back. A liberty I'd probably not have been allowed to take had it not been for our guests aboard. Dad's usual rule is that I reef once the iPad is at clear risk of sliding off the chart table. Not unreasonably, he doesn't really do life at 20 degrees.

It's not like we need the iPad as I've got the Sony up on deck with me plotting our track and telling me where to go. But Dad likes his iPad, prefers the Navionics app and the admittedly clearer screen of the more modern device, and it's his boat, so his rules. And I really don't mind.

But it was fun having Steve and Angela aboard so that I could thrash the old boat about for a bit.

Access 303

Another typical weekend of sailing, gigging and sailing again. It's a hard life.

Saturday morning was spent on the lake helping out with Sailability. I say helping out, but actually I left the oldies to do all the heavy lifting and spent the morning playing in an Access 303 dingy with one of the newer Sailability members, a lovely guy called Peter, and then later on with my good friend Andrew, who I think has been a member of the club almost as long as I have.

The wind was light and fluky, with the occasional energetic gust just to keep us on our toes. The Access 303 is a small double-hander with a ballasted daggerboard with enough weight to make the boat self-righting, though I've never been allowed to test it. You sit side by side in a hammock seat with your fellow crew member, and steer with a vertical tiller, a bit like the stick of a small aircraft, but without the pitch control. There's no hiking involved; when the wind hits the boat is designed to heel against the daggerboard until the increasing stability puts enough opposite pressure on the boat to stop her from heeling further.

A bit like a yacht.

Got home that afternoon about the same time Nikki finished work, so we took Sam and the three dogs across town to Plock Court to give them all a good run before I set off for the gig that night, which was in Kingswood, just outside of Bristol. It was a great gig. Our usual drummer, Bean, was away with another band, but our friend Jake stood in for him so he wasn't missed.

Thursday 12 May 2016

After the rains have gone

I raced Buffy around the cans at Frampton with Hels Wednesday evening. The heavens had been pouring pretty much all day, but the rains eased and then ceased as I pulled into the Club around 1800.

We rigged, rushing as usual, and launched, making the startline on the far side of the lake just as the four minute preparatory gun went. The wind was a light, variable drift from the east. A class race, we were against seven other boats in the handicap fleet, including another Enterprise, but no Ghost. The ones to watch were a Mirror, an Optimist and, something that has been a pleasant surprise to see develop, a certain young lady in her Topper who has become rather quick on the water of late.

We nearly lost it right on the start. We arrived to the line early, loathed to fall too far behind in the flaky, unreliable wind, and tucked in under the Oppy, meaning to hold position for the last thirty seconds. And didn't notice Tony in his Mirror beneath our own sails, pushing us up and forcing us over the line early.

With ten seconds to go, and our bows clearly over, we bailed, but picking up a fortuitous, momentary increase in pressure pushed out, accelerating early over the line, tucking around Tony's bows then ducking back in and behind just as the gun went.

Already moving at speed, in suddenly clean air it was a simple thing to harden up and go. Pure fluke, but we took our chance, were first to the windward mark, and thereon in gradually left the others for dust over the course of the following hour.

It was the perfect Wednesday evening sailing. Light, shifty conditions, often little more than a drift but rarely failing completely, it made for a cerebral race, intense but almost meditative; a picturesque setting in the soft light that's peculiar to a broken, clearing sky after a grey, rainy day. We sailed to a backdrop of the rustling sails, the creak, slap and gurgle of many hulls on the water, and early evening birdsong.

We won, which might possibly be our first win of the season. The young Finn in his Oppy wasn't far behind on corrected time, and Hannah, keeping up her recent trend, took third in her Topper. Not easy in such tricky, light conditions.

Tony, who so very nearly spoiled our day on the start, didn't do so well. But then there is a certain lottery to any drift.

Monday 9 May 2016


I woke up aching and stiff this morning. It's been a good weekend.

Saturday 7th : Frampton-on-Severn : Oldland Common

Most of Saturday was spent on the lake at Frampton. A warm day, especially by comparison with the dramatic, unexpected chill of the bank holiday weekend previous, the morning started as a drift, but the wind veered and strengthened as the afternoon crept on.

It was the final day of the adult sail training course that's been running at the Club. The morning was due to start with a written paper on basics and principles; I think it's a daft idea making adults, some of whom won't have sat a written test in forty years or more, sit an exam that doesn't have a fail mark and isn't demanded by the curriculum, but I wasn't running the course so it's not my shout. I had a lie-in instead, and turned up late (albeit not without the agreement of the course leader, Pete) just in time to help them launch for the sailing assessment.

It all went well, everybody passed, as well we knew they would by that point in the course. It sounds trite, but one of the most satisfying things about being involved in the training at Frampton is seeing a bunch of folks, some of whom would have started not knowing one end of a boat from the other, progress to confident, enthusiastic and quite able dinghy sailors.

Saturday night's gig, The Dolphin in Oldland Common just outside of Bristol, was good. Nik, Arya and Sophie, the "Freefall Wives Club" bar one (Bean's wife, Laura, on baby-sitting duties I expect, or working), all came, along with a couple of other friends, and amongst the crowded bar other friendly, familiar faces could be seen enjoying the show. Afterwards, I got home happy but exhausted, but it was nearing 0230 by the time I'd had a night-cap and a quick, necessary bite to eat and my head hit the pillow for a few hours sleep.

The alarm woke me three hours later at 0530.

Sunday 8th : Portishead to Cardiff & back
(36.1 miles, 6 hours 59 minutes underway)

Since earlier in the week, Dad and I had been planning a run over to Cardiff for lunch and back with Calstar for Sunday. In the latter stages of the planning, he told me he'd invited a friend from the club, the incorrigibly named Boo.

Boo is a new member at Frampton, and joined this year not with the hope of learning to sail, but rather the aim of finding a small dinghy for herself and spending some leisure time rowing about the lake. I can understand the attraction and admire the motivation. Boo has a long history of being about boats, as far as I can tell, but is not a sailor. She'd expressed some concerns about sea sickness, and Dad had reassured her the little yacht had a bucket and a self-draining cockpit. Credit where credit be due, that seemed to pretty much settle her anxieties on the matter.

By Saturday night I'd started building some anxieties of my own concerning the forecast. For most of the week it had been promising warm weather, scattered sunshine and a benign southerly for Sunday, but by the end of the gig on Saturday night, the promise had developed into a southerly backing around into the east and predicting an uncompromising F5 gusting 6 by the afternoon. Numbers mean so many different things in the Bristol Channel. A F6 running with the tide is one thing, running against it quite another, and running across? Well, hard to work out; it still keeps me guessing after more than a year of bobbing around out there in all sorts of various conditions.

In the end, I think it was the sunshine that lured us. By the time we pulled into the marina car-park at 0800, the day already had a hint of warmth. There was a bit of a breeze, but not much to suggest anything nasty to come. High water at Portishead was expected for 0902, a big spring tide at 14.5m. The plan was to ride it down to Cardiff, lock into the Barrage and moor alongside Mermaid Quay for lunch, and then come low water Cardiff at around 1522, lock back out and head home to Portishead, aiming to get back in for around 2000 latest.

In the lock as planned for 0900, and it was an interesting inversion, locking up from the marina to head out into the Bristol Channel, when every other time we've locked down, sometimes quite some way down. The lock was busy, with five other boats leaving alongside us, most returning to Cardiff after a weekend spent away in the fleshpots of Portishead I imagine, such as they are. Leaving, we noted the tide had washed over the pier-head as expected, which had the added compensation that there could be no anglers lurking in ambush with their lines across the channel at the end of the pier.

Sails up, and the wind was building as forecast and filling in from directly astern as we turned west to run parallel down-channel alongside the King Road.  The sea was slight but roly with the the gusts, the little yacht yawing, twisting and lunching with each surge of wind and tide, a movement only amplified as the ebb began to run and the waters devolved into the usual roiling chaos of their spring tide turmoil. With the expectation that the wind would build further I left a single reef in the main, and rigged a preventer to the boom. Running deep, a half a fist-full of the main sheeted in so that, for the balance of the equation, it was sailing slightly by the lee, the genoa goose-winged in to windward in clean air, further stabilised with the run-off from the luff of the mainsail.

It was the first time I've used a preventer, and it proved surprisingly successful; being able sail deep with the confidence of not accidental gybing kept the genoa filled to windward and prevented the usual downwind run of slatting, cracking headsail, and the more balanced sail-plan dampened the rolling surge of the wind and sea a little.

A little, but not enough for Boo unfortunately.

Ashen face, she declined the offer of a cup of tea and, victim to the unaccustomed motion, soon retired below to the forecabin to close her eyes and entertain her own struggle with the demon seasickness.

It's not an area I'm any kind of expert in, although I'm told that the forecabin is one of the worst places to be and closing your eyes one of the worst things to do. However, from my little exposure to it so far, I've worked out that the best course for the unaffected observer to sail is one of minimal intervention unless otherwise invited. A bit of sympathy doesn't hurt, although it doesn't seem to do much good, but otherwise leaving them to get on with it and find their own way through to the other side seems to be best for all concerned.

It's a pity, she missed a cracking sail down.

Past Welsh Hook, we gybed the genoa back over to its natural side and de-rigged the preventer, then enjoyed an energetic reach across wind smooth towards Cardiff beneath a warm, cloud-hazed but rapidly clearing sky. At times, we touched 5 knots through the water. The only complication was keeping a good lookout and a near hand ready for the to the tiller to dodge the occasional fallen tree or other sundry flotsam and jetsam being flushed out towards the Irish Sea by the ebbing tide. As with any big spring, the sea was littered with it, especially across the stretch of water where the Newport Deep runs into the Bristol Deep below the Middle Grounds.

We made Cardiff for a little after 1200, Boo briefly emerging from below as we brought the sails down on the final approach, but retreating again until we were safely into the Barrage lock. We made fast alongside the pontoons on Mermaid Quay about half an hour later and went ashore to seek the reward of lunch and a pint in a pub overlooking the bay cunningly called "The Dock". More to the point, it wasn't Wetherspoons, and the food and the beer were fantastic.

My plan to cast off and head back when the tide turned at 1530 was thwarted by a bit of bad planning. Fortunately, the mistake occurred to me before we cast off, so I killed the hour it gave us resting in the nearby pub with a second compensatory pint whilst Dad and Boo wandered around the shops. I've taken to thinking of Cardiff as being accessible on all states of tide and it typically is. On all but the biggest of spring tides. Like this one. A phone call to Barrage Control at 1500 confirmed it. With some amusement, the man in charge advised we didn't have a hope of getting out unless we had a hovercraft, as there was nothing but mud out there at the moment. He advised that, for our draft of 1m, we'd have to wait until the 1700 lock to clear the entrance and make the Wrack Channel. About what I'd belatedly worked out for myself, but it was good to hear somebody that knew what they were doing back up my calculations.

Judging from the VHF channel, he was fielding a number of similar enquiries from folks calling him up to request a lock out. I couldn't help but feel impressed by the man's patience. And humour. Then again, the helpfulness and professionalism of Cardiff Barrage Control impresses us any time we have to deal with them.

By 1730 we were rounding the Outer Wrack mark and leaving the channel, hauling up the sails and stilling the engine. And drifting with the tide on a loose starboard tack up towards Newport, almost but not quite becalmed on a glassy sea. What little wind there was sat very south of east, softened further by the flooding tide. We'd departed Cardiff pessimistically expecting the maelstrom of an easterly F6 on the nose, so this came as something of a surprise. More annoyingly, the impeller of our speed indicator had snagged some random, inconsequentially small debris and had snarled up, so the boat speed read a mocking 0.0. The only indication I had that we were making any way at all, was the faint trail of wake from our rudder as we passed through the water without so much as a gurgle to mark our passage.

Rule of thumb: Calstar will cross the distance between Portishead and Cardiff in three hours with the wind, or four hours against. The sun was due to set at 2045 and wasn't much of a consideration in familiar, home water. The tide was due to turn off Portishead at 2122, and that most certainly was, as I had work first thing Monday morning so it wouldn't do to get washed back into Cardiff for the night.

An hour later we hardened up as the slight wind began to back and we passed North Cardiff to starboard. A little further on we tacked onto port. The wind built as it headed us, backing into the east, and soon enough we were heeled over, close hauled with a reef in the main, but pushing against both tide and wind in an attempt to cross towards the eastern shore. Across the next hour the wind strengthened further and I pulled more rolls into the genoa and the second reef into the main, at times playing the mainsheet to spill wind in the worst of the gusts. The plotter was erratic in its best guess of an ETA: on the favoured starboard tack, with the flooding tide, it optimistically foretold an early arrival of 2000, but back onto the less favoured port tack and pushing against the tide to try and win the distant Clevedon shore, it reassessed, gloomily predicting failure and doom and a post 2200 arrival home.

We stuck with it, enjoying the ride and the company; in the more direct movement of a beating sea, our guest Boo was making much better weather of it, and sat above deck, braced in the cockpit with us, all apparent trace of the previous seasickness that so dogged the trip out seemingly gone.

The sun was a bloody smear lowering in to a hazed, Welsh sky as we won the Clevedon shore and tacked back onto starboard for the final beat up the King Road to home. The wind continued to blow hard, forcing me to play the main and occasionally relieve the auto-helm as it hunted in the worst of the gusts, the little yacht leaning over to 25 degrees or more on occasion, despite the double reefed main and deeply rolled genoa. The sea state was relatively slight, all things considered however, sheltered as we were by a windward Somerset shore. And there was a distinct warmth in the occasional gust of wind, a foretaste of summer perhaps.

We struck sail early, abeam of the furthest outskirts of Portishead town but still another beat shy of Newcombe Buoy, and motored the last mile to ensure we caught the 2100 lock back into the Marina. The breakwater was again submerged by the tide as we rounded it into the Hole, the back eddy of Portishead Pool streaming hard through the upstanding pylons back against the still east running tide. The seafront was quiet, an hour relatively late on a lazy Sunday evening, but as we motored in, a little battered, dog tired but quite content, up on the sea wall a boy and a girl perched with their backs to the engorged, dying sun and took a photo of themselves set against the ruddy backdrop of a gloaming estuary sky on the girl's phone.

And then on skateboards they each slipped away. I saw the lad's face as he slipped past, casting an appreciative glance over our small boat as she slid home into harbour. I caught his eye briefly and nodded a friendly acknowledgement from where I stood, warps in hand, on our foredeck. As he nodded back, his face split into a warm, wide smile. Some days it's good to be alive.

Friday 6 May 2016

New shoes

these are NOT new shoes
Finally, I understand.

A little voice inside my head, the rational bit, is nagging, saying I probably shouldn't feel so excited about it. But I've just bought myself a new Gul Code Zero drysuit. It's to replace the old Gill drysuit I bought at the Dinghy Show some eight or nine years ago and that served me well through many cold winters. But the Gill had started to weep through the back of the legs, and there is nothing worse than a drysuit that isn't dry.

In a few weeks time, weather and chance permitting, I'm sailing to Lundy Island with Steve, a friend from Lydney Yacht Club, aboard his sailing canoe "Green Bean". Big waves, not much more than a hands-breadth of freeboard, and a good day's sail there followed by a good day's sail back. I figured I'd welcome a drysuit I could trust.

I probably should've thought ahead and bought it six weeks ago; it would've made running the capsize drills during the sail training at Frampton decidedly more comfortable and less toe-numbingly cold. But never mind. I'm sure there'll be plenty of opportunities to put it to good use in the year to come.

In any case, although I'm not normally the type to get any kind of buzz out of shopping, I do feel inexplicably excited. I might even head down the lake for a sail tonight, just for an excuse to wear it.

I suppose it is the first time in a long time I've bought anything to wear for myself. I'm not normally trusted to dress myself, let alone shop unsupervised. That's my wife Nikki's department.

This must be how she feels when she's bought new shoes. Never could understand it. Until now.

Tuesday 3 May 2016

The monastery of the sea

Two pictures snatched from the web this morning. An interesting "kink" in a friend's otherwise fine progress across the Tasman Sea towards the Coral Sea, the east coast of Australia and the first landfall of the next leg of his circumnavigation, having left New Zealand a little over a week ago.

And then, perhaps, the reason for said kink?