Wednesday, January 18, 2017

London Boat Show 2017: Emma Bamford & Casting Off

The next author I chatted too was Emma Bamford (above), author of Casting Off and Untie the Lines.

She used to be a journalist writing for The Independent then in her 30s, faced with friends settling down to start families plus feeling there must be more to life than this, she changed direction for crewing yachts sailing in exotic places.

With a number of different boats she sailed from Borneo to Sri Lanka and then on to Oman (in the first book) and later sailed in places like the Caribbean and Texas (second book). She also did some superyacht work. In most cases she found places using resources like Crew Seekers.

It wasn't as huge a switch in lifestyle as that introduction implies - I learnt that she sailed a couple of legs on the Clipper race as journalist including across the Atlantic so had a good grounding.

Full review of the first book to come (its on that stack) but the prologue flew by so looking forward to that one.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

London Boat Show 2017: Chris Eakin & A Race Too Far

One of my favourite haunts of the London Boat Show is the book shop where there opportunities to meet the authors, and this year was no exception.

First up was author and journalist Chris Eakin who's written a book called A Race Too Far about the 1968 Golden Globe Race which has also been made into a film, The Mercy, due to be released later this year.

Its a dramatic - and tragic - story and Chris's book tells the story not just of the race but what happened next to each competitor and their families. Full review to come once I've read it.

We had a brief chat about sailing - he sails a 34-foot Hallberg-Rassy and we ended up discussing high latitude sailing, where he has considerable experience, having done the NW passage with none other than Jimmy Cornell.

I mentioned the talk by Cornell I went to at the Cruising Association and how he mentioned he'd become a sterner skipper, saying he can't "afford to be nice all the time". At this Chris gave a wry smile - from what I gather it was a difficult voyage and several crew actually jumped ship unable to take the pressure.

We also had a good chat about writing in general and life as a author.

I have quite a stack of books post-Christmas but this one must be high up the pile.

Monday, January 16, 2017

London Boat Show 2017: Monty Halls

As mentioned in the previous post, Monty Halls was on Saskia Clark's team of the Question of Sailing event.

I first saw Monty on TV in a series of programs about him leaving the city for life on a Hebridean croft, with a large focus on the wildlife of that beautiful part of the world. The scene stealing star was his dog Reuben.

Since then he's done a number of similar shows plus travel to more exotic locations for marine wildlife and diving explorations and TV programs.

I had a brief chat (above) about what's next and he's off to the Pyrenees and Alps for a TV program about the escape routes used by Allied airmen in the war.

Then he got distracted by his kids playing on the RIB in the background of this photo and I wandered off myself in the direction of the book store...

Sunday, January 15, 2017

London Boat Show 2017: A Question of Sailing

Saskia Clark and Mark Covell were back later on the first Saturday of the London Boat Show in a Question of Sailing hosted by Alec Wilkinson. They were joined by Monty Halls (more on him in the next post) and three attendees of the boat show.

I rather liked Saskia's name card:
There were sailing related questions, such as identification of flags, and tasks, such as racing to get into life jackets including inflating them (fun).

There was also a "what happened next" round with series of clips, and anyone that follows Sailing La Vagabonde might recognise this one:

The scores entering the final round were remarkably even - suspiciously so, as Monty Halls pointed out - with tie breaker a hornpipe dance off task:
After those high kicks it was clear who the winner would be: Saskia's team!

Updated: another high kicking photo -  pretty impressive angle!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Sleaford Mods going down like B.H.S on the Thames

Just spotted this video recorded at Chelsea Harbour here on the Thames by the band Sleaford Mods in which they sing about going down like B.H.S.

For those wondering what this TLA (three letter acronym) means, its a reference to British Home Stores which went into administration in a way that become a bit of a national scandal here in Blighty-land.

The previous owner, Philip Green, took hundreds of millions out of the company, ladening it with debts and leaving a huge hole in the pension fund, and then sold it for £1 just before it crashed to retire to the Med on this £100 million yacht:

I don't think the Sleaford Mods approve.

More background from the Guardian here (which is also where the photo came from).

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

10 reasons why sailing is SAD

Our new top correspondent Boris Staysail has been interviewing the topest persons and has come up with this Top Trump list of 10 reasons why sailing is sad.

1. Water sports are sad. I know nothing about water sports so don't know what they are but know they are really sad

2. Colour. I've seen those Aeros that some sad sailors go on and on about but you can't get them in gold, and gold is the only not sad colour

4. All good things can be done in one of my hotels, if you can't do it in a hotel then that is SAD. And you can't sail in a hotel so that is just sad

5. One sailor I have heard of is John Kerry and he is a Democrat and they are sad so sailors are sad

6. I am the smartestish of all but haven't won the America's Cup, so it must be sad, so sad. I feel sorry for it!

7. I was told that the Vendee Globe was a big sailing race but when I went on to the web site to watch the virtual regatta I noticed they were all fake, not real - FAKE - that's sad

8. My friend Putin doesn't sail, so it must be sad

9. America is the topest nation, greatest at everything - so why didn't America get the most sailing gold medals in the Olympics - it must be that its FIXED against America. Its FIXED! We should build a wall otherwise against these SAD sailors

10. The main stream media reports about sailing and they are just garbage, so biaised, its SAD. So SAD!

Olympic Gold Medallist Saskia Clark at the London Boat Show

After Sailing Uncovered's Alec Wilkinson had a chat with Mark Covell it was time to meet Olympic Gold Medallist Saskia Clark who came complete with her medal.

It's fair to say the home crowd were pretty tickled pink to see one of the heroes of Rio in person and it was enjoyable and interesting to hear her stories.

There was a short video clip in which she and Hannah Mills tested their knowledge of each other, asking crucial questions like who like chocolate the most (I think that was a draw) and who was most likely to forget their passport (alas that was Saskia).

Saskia received an MBE in the new year along with the other sailing golds, namely Hannah and Giles Scott (in the Finns). There was a great story about how they weren't allowed to talk about it (seriously, you are NOT to say anything to anyone) and yet they needed to as Hannah forget to reply saying yes and Giles lost the letter so Saskia had to do a bit of very off the record prompting.

Afterwards there was a chance to say hi, get a selfi and feel the gold medal, which was indeed very heavy and apparently mostly silver with gold plating.  She was very open about others holding it - suspect I'd go a bit Gollum and start talking about my "precious".

I had a chance for a brief chat and found her really nice:

I asked her whether she might switch to offshore sailing as some sailors do switch, such as Mark Covell in the Volvo, but she seemed to prefer remain inshore, maybe large yachts. She was also interested in increasing awareness of sailing in the UK which sounds like an excellent idea.

It must be tough for someone to be top of their game, genuinely the best in the world, and then be faced with starting again, but if anyone can I'd say she could.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Sailing Uncovered and Mark Covell at the London Boat Show

I've mentioned before that for me the high point of the London Boat Show is almost always the people you meet or hear from and this one was no exception.

The organisers seemed to be recognising this with a series of talks across the 9 or so days that the show is open.

The one I went to was hosted by Sailing Uncovered's Alec Wilkinson (above left) and first up was Mark Covell (above right).

Mark Covell won a silver at the Sydney Olympics in the Star class along with Ian Walker. The photo above is of their sail back to the beach knowing they'd won a medal. The Union Jack is actually upside down but the waves were so bad that Ian Walker refused to return to the foredeck to flip it over.

Since then Mark has gone on to build a career in sailing on and off the water. He was part of an America's Cup team (as grinder), was a on-board reporter on the Volvo Ocean race, managed the Boat Project (blogged here) and commented at races such as the America's Cup and Olympics.

He was full of interesting stories from those many years including how he ended up towing a Volvo Ocean Race yacht the hard way across the equator:

Up next was Olympic Gold Medal winner Saskia Clark...

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Happy New Year!

Last night went into central London for a sideways look at the fireworks, joining the crowds on the Thames mud-banks by MI6.

Initially I had this great clear line of sight then spotted the tide was coming in so moved to higher ground, deciding it was better to be dry than worry about having the odd head in the way.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

My boat is bigger than yours

There were a lot of very big boats on display in the marinas of Barcelona.

It might indeed give some inferiority complexes, sailing in front of such a line-up of mega plastic- fantastics; gin-palaces rising like a layer cake.

But worry not, for the owners of these up-market caravans were dwarfed by this:
This was Abramovich's super-duper, mega-hyper floating HQ, Eclipse, all of 163m long, making all the others look like toys.

But even he has to accept its no longer the longest in the world, a prize taken by the 180m long Azzam.

According to Wikipedia, both yachts are official available for charter (though maybe not), noting that this is because they aim "avoid European taxation (charter yachts are exempt from property tax)".

Extremely rich people avoiding tax.... to misquote Casablanca:

"I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling tax avoidance is going on here"

Monday, December 19, 2016

Tall Ships, Barcelona

While waiting at Gatwick for the flight to Barcelona I spent a long time reading up in the Lonely Planet guide as to what to look out for.

My eye was caught by the description of the chance to sail on the three-masted schooner Santa Eulaliarestored by the Maritime Museum. So I pinged off an email and was a bit surprised to get it returned with address not found.

A bit of searching and translating later found the following message: "for maintenance and repair work, the schooner Santa Eulalia suspended all sailings and tours to the public until the end of the year".


It was not to be the first time that I was to find that the Lonely Planet had got things wrong, such as:

  • Park Guell: free, just turn up - wrong! Timed tickets required
  • La Sagrada Familia: "once inside € 4.50 will get you into lifts that rise up to the towers" - wrong! Timed tickets also required, pre-booked online.

But at least the harbour had lots of other nice boats to look at, such as the one above.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Maritime Museum Barcelona

Barcelona quickly became one of my favourite places for a weekend away from London.

There's lots to see and eat, and I just loved walking around the old quarter listening the buskers and soaking up the atmosphere before finding a good place for some tapas.

One afternoon was spent in the Maritime Museum and I'd certainly recommend it to any boaties visiting that city. For one thing, the city was crazy packed but the museum was an oasis of calm.

They have a number of interesting boats on display including this full sized replica of Don Juan of Austria's 16th century galley (above).

There were lots of other boats, both working and leisure, on display, plus exhibitions on specific topics (photography and toy boats when I was there).
The recently restored building itself is lovely, the Barcelona Royal Shipyards, where boats were built for hundreds of years.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Boats! Boats! Boats! .... in Barcelona

Recently I was in Barcelona and had a chance to head down to the beach and go for a swim and of course take some boaty pictures....