Saturday, February 28, 2015

A MOMENT IN HISTORY

"This is a drawing of a very, very famous moment in New Zealands history (circa 1935) when a large piece of flotsam from a shipwreck that had been ravaged and carved by wind, sea and tide came ashore on New Brighton Beach in Christchurch. This moment was destined to be a 'Eureka' moment for a  local Kiwi inventor of Spanish parentage, one Sole Thongden who used this piece of flotsam as inspiration for the invention of the now famous Jandal - The rest as they say, is history.

The name 'Jandal' is a shortening of the appellation 'Jan darling' which was the way Thongden always addressed his much adored wife Janice. It was at her suggestion that this iconic footwear was so named.  With his fortune from the sale of Jandals, Thongden, in gratitude to his wife for the 'Jandal' name indulged his wifes passion for horses, namely race horses. She had much success especially with 'Flip Flop' and 'Thongie Thing' whose race track successes rivaled the great 'Phar Lap'. Race track commentators found 'Thongie Thing' too difficult to call so they shortened the name to 'Fongy', a horse that became a great favourite with the TAB betting public.

Not a lot of people know that when Jandals were first manufactured there were no 'left' and 'right' pairs - the profile of the sole of a Jandal was dead straight on the sides and rounded at each end. This meant that if you lost one Jandal you only had to buy one replacement, a saving of 50% as footwear is sold in pairs. People would often buy a replacement in a different colour which lead to a fashion fad called 'Janalizing'. Of course today these early Jandals are extremely rare collectors items and a 'Janalized' pair sold recently at Sothbeys auction in London for NZ$750,000.

 Sole and Janice both lived to a ripe old age of and are buried together in a grave marked with a  pair of  solid cast, original 'Straight' size 105 Jandals - 105 being the age that they both lived to. The cast Jandals have been  'Janalized' by casting one Jandal in Bronze and the other in Iron - both oxidizing over time into differing colours."

[ Extract from " The Last of The Shoemakers" Autumn 1981 ]

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

THE GULF OF BOTHNIA


The Gulf of Bothnia separates Sweden and Finland - countries that have two of the most amazing archipelagos in the world. I have known about them all of my life mainly because of two books belonging to my father that were written by that doyen of British sailing, the late great Adlard Coles. His triumphant transatlantic race win in his small yacht Cohoe 2 in the 1950s and his other sailing exploits are stories on their own; but the books that introduced me to Coles and sparked my interest in the Baltic are his books 'In Broken Water' (1925) and  'Mary Anne Among 10,000 Islands' (1938).


'In Broken Water' contains an account of a cruise from Bursledon near Southhampton, to Copenhagen and back. "The cruise along the coasts of the low countries and Germany and in the Baltic was about 1,600 miles in direct distances made good. In 1923, the voyage was regarded by many as hazardous, more on account of the yacht's racing character than her small size."


'Mary Anne' was a 10 ton Bermudian sloop which the author and his wife chartered at Helsingfors in the spring of 1938 for a cruise in the Finnish Archipelago and around the Aland Islands and to Estonia. This book is written in a delightfully straightforward and engaging manner giving a very interesting account of the sailing and navigation of the little sloop as she voyaged among the myriad of islands and skerries which margin the coast of Finland.


This first map shows the absolutely fabulous cruising grounds of the Finnish Archipelago.


This map (above) shows the amazing cruising grounds not only to the seaward side of Stockholm, Sweden,  but inland to the East. The number of inland waterways and lakes provides a wealth of fascinating areas to explore by small yacht, sailing dinghy or kayak.


In the mouth of the Gulf of Bothnia lies Aland (Alend) island. This map which I have photographed from Adlard Coles book shows the course of the little Mary Anne as she circumnavigates the island.

[The spelling of the island is interesting. My Google search shows it spelt two ways ALAND or ALEND (But usually ALAND). If I use the spelling ALEND and I rearrange the letters - it spells my Christian name - ALDEN. Perhaps I shall go there and tell the islanders they have made a minor mistake with the spelling of ALEND and point out how I can help them. I shall muse through my musing marine beard with one hand as my eyes look to starboard and skywards - "How does ALDEN ISLAND sound? !" I shall say smiling, nodding my head and punching the fine archipelago air with a definitive fist. Even now I can hear a collective "YES" as the whole islands population bursts into song in response to my genius and originality while at the same time they gift me a fine little Fir tree island all to myself from their treasured archipelago complete with a little house and its own little yacht jetty - and wonder upon wonder, a little yacht of good sound Scandinavian design for me to sail, moored at the jetty - All this given to me in solemn gratitude for solving a grammatical, syntactical, semantic and spelling problem that they now know has plagued them for centuries. I shall called my little yacht 'Norrsken' (Swedish) or 'Revontulet' (Finnish) which means 'Northern Lights'. In fact because ALDEN ISLAND is smack in the middle of the Gulf Of Bothnia between Sweden and Finland I shall paint 'Norrsken' on the port side and 'Revontulet' to starboard.

Although being continually fed, feted and watered with the ALDEN ISLANDERS equivalent of Oaken Barrel Aged Whiskey and asked to listen to ballad like poems about myself at a never ending round of public engagements - I am sure that these wonderful ALDEN ISLANDERS will allow me quite often to slip my moorings and sail off in my stunningly beautiful Scandinavian classic yacht around bewitching, enchanting, magical ALDEN ISLAND. ]



Bugger, they forgot the jetty.


Nah, that first island is for the gardener. This is my island. Cool eh! 
 

A short Northern summer would provide the impetus not to waste any sailing time.


Quaint red houses. The one on the right is owned by Sven Borgensveneson. The one on the left by Ingrid Ingridskudsenson and the one in the middle by Igmar and Lap Borenborensen. On the hill on the right lives Odin Odindagmarkenson. The boat in the foreground belongs to Bob, a distant cousin of mine from Dannevirke.


 Storm clouds on their way but Norrsken / Revontulet has reefing lines in her mains'l and a storm jib.


Working on the principle that "House guests are like fish, they go off after 3 days". I have requested that this little island be made available for them.


Some islands fall away quickly into deep water enabling close anchoring.


Don't forget the stern line.


Enticing, mysterious, enchanted, wild - wonderful - and utterly sailable.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn


I wish to spend as much time as possible at or on the sea, sailing, living quietly, independently, and according to a value system in which not economics but Simplicity, Openness, Curiosity, and Time are important. To honour this while being committed to and surrounded by the ones I love is my calling.

Monday, February 16, 2015

FACE LIFT

I guess one face change begets another. I think that the new format is an improvement for a number of reasons. I am now able to post YouTube videos and photographs without size issues and other complications. The typeface is now black on a white background which I feel is an improvement on the old arrangement of white text on a blue background. The new arrangement I feel is crisper and more readable.
Hope you like the new look Shipmates.

(The reason why I have such a satisfied smile on my face is that am crewing on Steinlager 2 in an Auckland Anniversary Regatta day race. Steinlager 2 is owned by the Auckland Maritime Trust. Day sails and longer are available to the public and trust members for a relatively modest fee - I got more than my moneys worth!) 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

'VIRTUE' - VERTUE CLASS NUMBER 61


This is a special example of the Laurent Giles designed Vertue Class. She is Number 61. Her name is 'Virtue'. (With the "i" rather than an "e" [ There is a whole story about that for another day ] ). The pedigree of the Vertue Class yacht is impeccable. (See Post Below 06/02/2015 ).

'Virtue' was built of Cor-ten Steel in the land where they are exceptionally good at building steel boats of all sizes (Probably because they have chopped down all the trees ).

I like this video for three reasons.

1 - The owner is obviously so very proud of his little ship. I can feel that. I understand that.
2 - I like the piano accompaniment.
3 - It proves that this anecdote (below) is not just some sort of urban (or marine) myth.

"One of my most vivid memories of a Vertue is of trying to catch a halyard that had come adrift and was just out of reach. "Here - use this!" said the helmsmen, and handed me the tiller as the boat sailed on. "

Friday, February 13, 2015

PARASKEVIDEKATRIAPHOBIA

Paraskevidekatriaphobia: Fear of Friday the 13th.

The word "paraskevidekatriaphobia" was devised by Dr. Donald Dossey who told his patients that "when you learn to pronounce it, you're cured!"

Sunday, February 8, 2015

FROM NEW ZEALAND TO SUNSET




This is a view of New Zealand from the International Space Station - (ISS).  I never tire of viewing film of Planet Earth shot from outer space. Earth always looks both beautiful and fragile. Lets all look after it Shipmates (take your weekend sailing rubbish home with you in a plastic bag, DON ' T dump it overboard!

To the left of Banks Peninsula, far out to sea (extreme bottom left) under some scattered cloud you can make out the Chatham Islands. In this fair land my friends ..........."We live and move and have our being".

Friday, February 6, 2015

VERTUE CLASS YACHT

Humphrey Barton's 'Vertue XXXV'

Well shipmates here is a little yacht with a remarkable pedigree and history. To date over 200 of these little boats have been built. The voyages these little yachts have made are the stuff of legend. She was designed by Laurent Giles, one of the great English yacht designers of the 20th century in the 1930s.

The yacht in the above photograph is Vertue XXXV. This design was popularised in 1950 when she burst on the yachting scene in a dramatic crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by her skipper Humphrey Barton and Kevin O'Riordan his affable Irishman crew surviving the battering of a category 4 hurricane along the way. It was thought at the time that such a voyage in such a small boat was very daring stuff indeed; but over the years the Vertue  (Not spelled Virtue) was to repeat these dramatic adventures time and time again.

Basic dimensions - LOA: 25’ 3” (7.69m),  LWL: 21’ 6” (6.61m),  Beam: 7’ 2” (2.19m),  Draft: 4′ 6″ (1.45m),  Displacement: 4.2 tons - So is smaller than my current little ship 'Mariner', but the displacement is the same - she's a real little pocket battleship.

LOA is yachtie talk for Length Overall - LWL is Length on the waterline.

This (above) is the fiberglass Mark 2 version built in the UK with slightly more beam.















A Vertue built in Corten Steel in The Netherlands. This is one of only 3? 5? that have been built in steel. This one named 'Virtue' (Vertue 61) is a lovely recently restored example.

Two Anecdotes:
By today's standards it is old fashioned with its heavy displacement, cutter rig, small cockpit, narrow beam, and such an anachronism as a bumpkin, but it has its virtues. It will run true as a dart, heave-to like an old duck, work its way to windward in relative comfort when the going gets tough, and sail itself beautifully -- characteristics that few modern 25 footers can boast. One of my most vivid memories of a Vertue is of trying to catch a halyard that had come adrift and was just out of reach. "Here - use this!" said the helmsmen, and handed me the tiller as the boat sailed on.
- Yachting and Boating Weekly

On the wall of the Harbourmaster’s office in Durban, according to Vertue myth, is a notice. ‘In winds over Force 7, no yacht may depart without my authority. Unless she’s a Vertue’
It is the kind of story owners of these modest little Laurent Giles designed 25 footers tend to take with a pinch of salt. Vertues have made pioneering voyages, survived savage storms and written themselves into sailing history. There is no need for myth. The reality is enough. Most extraordinary, perhaps, for a yacht whose wake has criss crossed every ocean, is that she was originally designed in 1936 to do no more than potter about the Solent on the south coast of England, perhaps cruise to the West Country and hop down to the Channel Islands.  - Vertue Web Site.
The Vertue class yachts were among the finest cruising boats of their tonnage ever built. In this design Laurent Giles developed all that was best in the traditional English pilot boat. The result was a really seaworthy small yacht with a performance under sail which could never have been approached by her forebears.

Over 130 Vertues have made long ocean voyages: Humphrey Barton's famous 'uphill' crossing of the Atlantic in Vertue XXXV (1950), Dr. Joe Cunningham's round voyage, England - West Indies - Newfoundland - Ireland in Icebird (1952-3), Peter Hamilton's voyage from Singapore to England in Speedwell of Hong Kong, in Salmo to Quebec, Panama, Tahiti and California; Bill Nances circumnavigation of the world including a Cape Horn rounding and of course in 1960 David Lewis sailed Cardinal Vertue in the single-handed race from Plymouth to New York, and returned in her to Shetland. Several of these little yachts have completed circumnavigations .... the list goes on and on.

"The most perfect small ocean going yacht that has ever been built" - Humphrey Barton's conclusion in his book "Vertue XXXV" on his celebrated crossing of the Atlantic in 1950.

'Tui of Opua', Despite its very New Zealand name resides in Australia. This beautiful wooden example of the Vertue is the cruising version showing the lower cabin top without a doghouse. 

'Speedwell of HongKong' is another cruising version of the Vertue.

'Speedwell of Hongkong' with her current Junk Rig and sporting a flash yellow paint job.


The UK Vertue 'Poppy' (Above) is the new improved version of Vertue XXV. The topsides have been raised about 8 inches and the cabin and doghouse redesigned. Another updated version by Laurent Giles in the 1980s for fiberglass construction had a slightly increased beam measurement to improve the accommodation and a few other minor tweaks.

This little delight called 'Poppy' is an example of what a restored and ready for ocean voyaging Vertue might look like.

NOW!! - 'Here's the thing' shipmates. What if there was a Vertue Class yacht lying close by as I type? What if she was for sale?

What if she needed the TLC of someone with boat building experience, preferably someone who has built a yacht. Someone who has a real heart for sailing. Such a yacht would need not so much a restoration as an enablement - she would need a complete refit to make her worthy of a long ocean voyage - now if such a yacht were available, just where would she find such a man?

ENDEAVOUR

Captain Cooks Barque ENDEAVOUR - A scale model by Ralph Sewell the builder of the Brigantine BREEZE.

Russell Museum has a one-fifth scale model of the Endeavour built in 1969 by Ralph Sewell an Auckland boat and organ builder by trade. Ralph Sewell wanted to commemorate Cook's first visit to New Zealand 200 years earlier. The construction of the model took 12 weeks and was based on plans from the National Maritime Museum Greenwich, London.
Sponsored by South British Insurance, the model travelled throughout New Zealand and Australia by trailer, being sailed in harbours wherever possible.
It was presented to Russell Museum in 1970 together with a purpose built gallery to display it.













RIPPLE




RIPPLE was launched in 1971 on the Okura River north of Auckland. She was to be a private yacht and part-time home for Ralph Sewell, his wife Alison and their three children, Peter, Janet and Robyn. Ralph was a professional boat builder with a huge interest in traditional crafts. Apart from boatbuilding Ralph built organs, steam engines, windmills and anything else which took his fancy. A true Renaissance man. Among the many craft he built is the Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum’s brigantine BREEZE.

Ripple's dimensions are:      Length on deck .....  39ft.        (11.29m)
                                          Breadth             .....  12ft.6ins. (3.81m)
                                          Draft                 .....    2ft.        (0.6m)
With the main hull built with single planked redwood, copper fastened, Ripple is virtually a replica of a 19th Century shoal draft trading ketch. Her accommodation is forward and aft, the midship spaces either side of the centre-board case were where the holds were located. The port side is still a hold, now with access through to the forecastle, while the starboard hold is the engineroom. She has comfortable berths for four adults and a child.

Ripple was special to Ralph, and he and his wife placed all his care and craftsmanship into her building while retaining a solid traditional working boat construction. He described her as “a little ship”; and indeed she is with decks you can walk around secured by comfortable bulwarks. And she only draws two feet!

Shoal draft boats were Ralph’s particular interest, and Ripple was his masterpiece. He died Christmas Eve 1999.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

BREEZE

 Brigantine 'Breeze' sailing in the Bay of Islands North Island New Zealand.

Nah, bugger that. Don't give me a pair of fussy focusing 8X40 binoculars to look at this little ship! Give me a monocular, long, straight, unidirectional tube with a lens in each end. Make it telescopically collapsible. Correct me if I call it a telescope and remind me that I am looking through the one eyed romance of a real ships spy glass! ---- Sometimes the old ways are best for looking at the spring in a sheer and the cut of a jib.

This is the good ship BREEZE. This  60ft (18.3m) wooden vessel was launched at Tiki Landing in Coromandel in 1981 by retired boat builder Ralph Sewell, who wanted to recreate a 19th century square-rigged ship that required traditional sailing skills and would encourage an awareness of New Zealand’s maritime history.

He stayed faithful to the shipwright techniques and materials of the time. BREEZE is built from locally-milled kauri and totara, copper-fastened and stiffened with carefully selected pohutukawa knees.
She is rigged as a brigantine – square-rigged on the foremast, and fore-and-aft rigged on the mainmast. Her powerful rig spreads up to 11 sails. Adapted for modern-day sailing, she is fitted with an auxiliary engine, and the main hold is fitted out as a cabin.

BREEZE was used by the Breeze Sailing Club to teach young people how to sail a traditional boat from New Zealand’s seafaring past. She is now owned and operated by the Auckland Maritime Museum and is available for public sailings. Watch this space shipmates.

'Breeze' -  Auckland Anniversary Regatta Feb 2015 - Photo Alden Smith 

WATER


WATER
Brian Turner

It has a language all its own, running water:
some of us can speak it well.
The Chinese philosopher who said
water never made an aesthetic mistake
knew more than a thing or two
about flotsam and jetsam, about 
curious currents,
rucklings, glides, flips and lips; about
the nuances of colour and distance,
the topography of sound.

And I know what's exquisite
about the hues in clear water
rushing over blue - grey stone
whittled and flicked off the Ida Range,
and as long as you don't stand
between it and the sun
it never knows you're there.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

THE OLD PLACE

THE OLD PLACE
-Hone Tuwhare-

No one comes
by way of the doughy track
through a straggley tea tree bush
and gorse, past the hidden spring
and bitter cress.

Under the chill moon's light
no one cares to look upon
the drunken fence-posts
and the gate white with moss.

No one except the wind 
saw the old place
make her final curtsy
to the sky and earth:

and in no protesting sense
did iron and barbed wire
ease to the rust's invasion
nor twang more tautly
to the wind's slap and scream

On the cream-lorry
or morning paper van
no one comes,
for no one will ever leave
the golden city on the fussy train;
and there will be no more waiting
on the hill beside the quiet tree
where the old place falters
because no one comes any more

no one


Elegy In The Clutha Valley

This beautiful, poignant and deeply affecting poem in memory of Denis Glover was written by Brian Turner, one of my favourite New Zealand poets.

[ Denis Glover's contribution to New Zealand Poetry is immense. The mere fact that he started 'The Caxton Press' in Christchurch helped New Zealand  Poetry at a seminal time. His own poetry is important, especially to old Cantabrians such as myself. His poetry about sailing around Banks Peninsular prompts wonderful memories of my own times of sailing this area with my dad and his shipmates. Glovers "Enter Without Knocking - Selected Poems 1936 - 71" that I have recently read shows the poetical development of one of New Zealand's most colourful characters and inspired poets. ]

ELEGY IN THE CLUTHA VALLEY - Brian Turner
(In Memory of Denis Glover)

Something we will never know
the reason for
or the answer to
woke me one November morning
and streamed through the half - open window
and made me feel it was timeless,
.
and I remembered a day
that will always be long ago
when I was older
and better able
to stride off over the rolling downs
in search of all the best reasons
.
in the beleaguered world
to do or not to do,
and to be in touch with oneself
wherever heart and mind
had come to agree
on where we should be going,
.
and let us think this
could be so. Then, the world's ill
flew from the shoulder
of the highest hill
around, and thereafter the will
took a bolder part in things
.
and my heart lept
to the blind mountain
from which scree flaked
and water bled all day long
to the downy valley floor
where, in the evening
.
I took my rod and my heart
to the river's side
and cast and cast
while water
ran red and gold
in the quickening dusk,
.
and the sedges
fleeing the river
were like ash
at my face and throat
and all the world
seemed to be timeless
.

IN FIRES OF NO RETURN - James K Baxter

Photo - Babette Page
IN FIRES OF NO RETURN - James K Baxter

While bluegum fables burn
To summer's ash
In fires of no return
Above the farms and crying folds
That house the doom of flesh,
To Barney's pulpit rock I climb
Where the sea aisles burn cold
In fires of no return
And maned breakers praise
The death hour of the sun.
To wave and bird I open wide
The bible of my rimrock days,
To salt-grey ngaio boughs that cross
The forehead of the west,
To Venus' holy star who smiles
Upon the lives she cannot save,
Man, beast, bird, lover
In orchards of a spring desire,
Hermit old on his wintry pyre,
All flesh wound in the bright snare,
In fires of no return
Wrung by the power of the prince of the air.

My country fathers laid
Under angel and cold urn
In fields of silence burn,
From folds of ngaio and strong fern
Turn their immortal eyes on mine,
Tell me this day the world was made.
I hear in frond and shell
The voice of the drowned sailor
Tossed on the black bar, with the winy breathe
Shout from the feast of Cana.
How love has raked the embers of his death.
And hermit from a holy cell
I watch my brother
King shag dive
Down from his windy
Rock to the humble tide
Where the sea poor, old crab and limpet,
Sigh to the ressurrection thunder.
Among night dunes the moony lovers
In lupin shade far and near
Twined under Venus' carnal star
Mock the power of the prince of the air.
Their doomed flesh answers an undying summer.

E HOA MA, INA TE ORA O TE TANGATA

It is hard to describe the supernova that explodes in the heart when a grandchild is born. It can be explained I guess in evolutionary terms. The clan / tribe ensures its success by taking care of the young. Individual parents and others help their own chances of survival into old age by having their young fit clan members there to look after them. From the continuity of life point of view, a child invoking benevolent emotional reactions in prime care givers must have some evolutionary advantage. So I guess in one sense there is a lot of self interest in all this malarkey.

Despite that, when I put this little one to bed for a siesta after feeding him his bottle and singing him "The Gipsy Rover" for the umpteenth time I sense something more than just self interest. There is something deeper here far beyond any sweet saccharine sentimentality or evolutionary self interest of ensuring the continuance of ones genetic code. There is a sense of connectedness that is deep and wide and this sense is driven more by intuition and a sense of transcendence than by scientific hypothesis or empirical data. There wells up from the depths a desire for the happiness and well being of this little one for no other reason than his happiness and well being. Love is sufficient unto itself, it is its own reason.

Is it too utopian an idea to hope that we could expand this concern and connectedness outwards in ever increasing concentric circles? What kind of world would it be if all the circles began to overlap and interact?

I guess a hope such as this is at the heart of the mystery and the transcendence of altruistic love. But this I  do know -  It begins nowhere else except here, now, within the good heart.

E hoa ma, ina te ora o te tangata
My friends, this is the essence of life.

SEA CALL - Hone Tuwhare

On The Track To Whale Bay Northland NZ - Photo Alden Smith 2015

SEA CALL - Hone Tuwhare

Let the radio pip and shudder
at each dawn's news

Let the weatherman hint a gaunt
 meaning to the chill
and ache of bone:
but when the new moon's bowl
is storing rain, the pull of time 
and sea will cry to me
again.

And I shall stuff my longing 
in an empty pack
and hasten to the secret shore
where the land's curve lies
clad in vermillion - and the green
wind tugging gravely

There let the waves lave
pleasuring the body's senses:
and the sun's feet
shall twinkle and flex
to the sea-egg's needling
and the paua's stout kiss
shall drain a rock's heart 
to the sandbar's booming.

If The Hat Fits

I smiled when I looked at this photograph. My dad is steering Mariner and I am working the mainsheet. Dad's wearing a woollen pom-pom hat. I guess I am chip off the old block. I shall undertake a photo search, there may be more to this than meets the eye.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

NO ORDINARY SUN

This poem No Ordinary Sun was an offering in Hone Tuwhares first book of poetry published in 1964 and has become a classic of New Zealand poetry. It cemented the reputation of Hone Tuwhare, one of Aotearoa New Zealands much loved Poets.

Hone Tuwhare was born in 1922 in Kaikohe, Northland. He belongs to Ngapuhi hapuus, Ngati Korokoro, Hgati Tautahi, Te Popoto, Uri-O-Hau. In 1937 he completed his formal education in Auckland, and was later apprenticed to the boilermaking trade. He began to write seriously in 1956.

I have been toying with blogging about this poem for a while and was finally prompted by the tree I saw and photographed for my blogpost (Bike Ride (1) ) on 1st February. I have a large tome of Hone Tuwhares collected works. He is an awesome poet, ( Sports journalists and other semantic extremists please note the appropriate use here of the word 'awesome' ).

In the foreword to this first collection of Hones poems the New Zealand poet R.A.K. Mason wrote, "In such a noble poem as No Ordinary Sun, in speaking against atomic evils imperilling our shores, he draws so profoundly from Maoridom that the source can be felt to lie in the depths common to all mankind..."

NO ORDINARY SUN - Hone Tuwhare

Tree let your arms fall:
raise them not sharply in supplication
to the bright enhaloed cloud.
Let your arms lack toughness and 
resilience for this is no mere axe
to blunt, nor fire to smother.

Your sap shall not rise again
to the moon's pull.
No more incline a deferential head
to the wind's talk, or stir
to the tickle of coursing rain.

Your former shagginess shall not be
wreathed with the delightful flight
of birds nor shield 
nor cool the ardour of unheeding
lovers from the monstrous sun.

Tree let your naked arms fall
nor extend vain entreaties to the radiant ball.
This is no gallant monsoon's flash,
no dashing trade wind's blast.
The fading green of your magic
emanations shall not make pure again
these polluted skies ...  for this 
is no ordinary sun.

O tree 
in the shadowless mountains
the white plains and 
the drab sea floor
your end at last is written.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

BIKE RIDE (2)

Not far from the tree (See post below) I was crossing the new Hatea River lifting bridge on my bike when I saw in the distance a small dinghy being sailed well. Take my word for it, it was being sailed well. Us old hands just know about this stuff; we know a boat well sailed just like an aboriginal tracker can see at 30 paces an animal spur invisible to untrained eyes.

So I turned my bike around and rode back to the top of the bridge. As she sailed closer I liked even more of what I was viewing. I think that this little yacht represents a great 'can - do' attitude. The little pram dinghy, only slightly less blunt in the bow than in the stern displayed some interesting features. She is a safe little vessel with buoyancy chambers fore and aft and as she probably doubles as a yacht tender she has a good all round fender to avoid damaging topside paint.

The rig is intriguing. The star on the mains'l gives its provenance away. It is obviously the top third of an international olympic 'Star' class mainsail with a new panel sewn in at the head. The gunter rigged mast and boom are rudimentary and homemade and the jib is a cut down sail of some sort; I can't place the red 'F1' on it. I like the way the mains'l  has been cut so that the end of the boom gives enough clearance for the helmsman.

The skipper and crew of this little ship who were obviously enjoying their sail as they skillfully tacked to and fro across the river saw that I was taking lots of photographs and as you can see from the photo gave me a friendly wave.

I liked what I saw because it showed me yet again that you don't need a million dollars or even many hundreds of dollars to enjoy sailing when you apply the old 'KISS' principle - Keep It Simple Stupid!

As the skipper waved to me, I waved enthusiastically back - I like to think he knew that I knew that he knew that I knew that they were having a Champagne sail on a small bottle of beer budget.
 Good on ya! shipmates, you're the real deal.

BIKE RIDE (1)



Yesterday while on a bike ride around the new Whangarei Town Basin loop track I spied this tree trunk behind a wire fence. Despite the fact that the tree had been well and truly chain sawed down; there in the trunk of the tree new life was doing its best to grow.

It prompted me to reflect on the tenacity of life, be it the heart of a heart attack patient being flown by emergency helicopter to Auckland hospital (i.e. Moi) struggling to pump life sustaining oxygenated blood, or the fine crop of barnacles and weed that grow on the bottom of 'Mariners' hull every year despite two coats of vicious, nasty poisonous anti-fouling paint.

Life is tenacious. Life hangs on. If you sail around the Northland coast or Banks Peninsula as I used to do with my old Dad in those golden days of long ago you will see land that has been farmed within an inch of its life, but here and there, there are deep ravines and little valleys so steep no sheep nor cow nor grass seed sowing man can go. There you will see little pockets of the old life, the indigenous natural life clinging to rock faces, cliffs and gullies. There you will find vibrant tenacious life showing a brave green face to the world and poised ready to invade its old territory if it ever gets the opportunity when the conditions are right.
I thought of all this as I looked at new life sprouting from this old tree trunk amongst piles of concrete in an industrial wasteland.

Good on ya tree - Welcome to the hanging onto life club. If I happen to forgetfully ride past without waving or winking or smiling don't be offended. I know you are there, and I feel strangely consoled by your presence.