Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Alexander helms the good ship Mariner on Whangarei Harbour.

Yesterday I went sailing with my son Alexander - it was a good sail with the breeze building over the day to about 20 knots. It is good for dads and sons to do things together and yesterday was one of those kind of days.

This poem by John Masefield is one that I remember from my childhood. I remember it impressing me greatly at a time when I was an avid, obsessed small boat sailor. I well remember riding down Bexley Road in Christchurch NZ and seeing in the distance the shimmering, flapping of sails of yachts rigged ready for sailing at the Pleasant Point Yacht Club - I remember pumping the pedals on my bike and pulling the front wheel of my bike off the ground and into the air in anticipation and excitement as I rushed to rig my own little P class 'Elusive' and go sailing - to be part of the wonder and excitement of it all.


I MUST down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

John Masefield


Dan Gurney said...

Thank you for taking your winter-bound blogging friend along for the trip round Whangarei Harbour. We're in the midst of a chilly winter rainy spell; it did me good to imagine the fun you and Alexander had today in 20 knots.

I love that poem, too, and like you encountered it as a lad. I sailed a boat similar to the P class: the El Toro. Pram bow, not quite 8 feet long, so as to avoid California registration regulations.

Alden Smith said...

Ah yes, the El Toro, similiar, in fact almost exactly like the Sabot pram sailing dinghy. The El Toro is about a foot longer than the 7 foot long P class and looks from my Googling to be a great little sailer. Did you do a lot of racing when you had your El Toro? I spent most of my time racing at the local yacht club - I think at the time I was actually too over competative for my own good but what I liked about racing then and later when I raced my keeler is this .... Racing gets you out in all sorts of weather conditions where you might not be bothered unless you were racing - so the racing increases your experience in a range of weather conditions - which is most important for your overall seamanship.

Glad to help my very good winter bound friend Dan, and I shall continue to do so - summers sailings only just warming up!!

Dan Gurney said...

I raced the El Toro, but was too big to do really well. When I moved up to 505s and Lasers I did much better. In Lasers I got pretty good...local champion several times and a solid regional competitor. I once got lucky with a great wind shift and beat the reigning Laser North American Champion in a race. Got only 9th in the regatta, though.

Now that the kids are up and grown I'm back into Laser sailing and racing as long as I can keep cheating the nursing home.

Alden Smith said...

Good for you Dan, keep up the sailing it will keep you out of the nursing home - which is my plan and I am sticking to it!

Delwyn said...

Happy days my old friend
may the new year bring you joy and calm
love delwyn

Alden Smith said...

Happy New Year Delwyn, I hope that the shifting went well and you are now settled in your new abode. Was Jim a Brighton boy? - There is a very good book out at the moment by Bruce Ansley called 'God and Little Fishes' - all about growing up in New Brighton. Its a book I identify with - I am sure if Jim grew up in Christchurch he would identify with the surfing aspects of the book.

muhammad faiq said...

Great blog!

m.faiq at

日月神教-向左使 said...