Tuesday, March 31, 2015

____________________ SVERIGES FRISHA VINDAR _____________________


My eyes lit up when I drove past this little Swedish yacht less than two minutes from where I live here in Whangarei NZ. I thought when I saw her, " I bet twelve bottles of 'Speights Old Dark' beer that she is the same design as that sweet little boat in that Yachting World Annual I have in my bookshelf."

Sure enough, I found her story  "Sveriges Friska Vindar" (Fresh Winds From Sweden) in a 1971 edition of the Yachting World annual. Apparently she was the object of some derision when she turned up as a competitor in the Quarter Ton Cup, the other competitors being shallow hulled yachts with separated fin and skeg rudders. The yacht in question "Allegro" soon wiped the smirks from faces as she out sailed the opposition in both light and heavy airs. She finished a creditable 5th overall in the race series.

 'Allegro' is a Swedish 'Koster' design by Las Norlin. The question is - is this the same "Allegro"? or is this one example of many that were produced in fiberglass? I bet she was produced in fiberglass as this is one great little cruising design.

When I next drive past and see some activity on this little gem of a boat I am going to swing in and check out the veracity of my detective work - I am so sure about the design part of the facts that I have already bought the beer! LOL.

Postscript:  To be continued...................


Monday, March 30, 2015

______________________ IT'S A SMALL WORLD ______________________


This photograph (Above) is from the Blog of 'Bursledon Blogger' in the UK, who recently blogged about this boat which is currently berthed close by.    http://bursledonblog.blogspot.co.nz/  

I was immediately interested because I recognized the design instantly. There are currently two identical boats to this design currently berthed in Whangarei. Coincidentally the other day while on one of my regular walks I watched one of them go under our new lifting bridge.


These designs are interesting because the two boats in Whangarei have crossed the Pacific to be here in New Zealand. I must go down and find out exactly where their respective home ports are. I am assuming that they are voyaging together. The hull design is long and lean making their voyaging relatively economical. I am sure there is more to this story, so now that my curiosity has been caught I will try and find out more.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

_______________ A THING OF BEAUTY IS A JOY FOREVER _______________

'Constance' built by Fabian Bush enjoying a sunny summer breeze.
'Constance' was built to the "Wenda" design of Albert Strange:

The "Wenda", designed by yacht designer and artist Albert Strange in 1899 as a "Fast Cruiser Canoe Yacht" has the following dimensions: LOA 24'9"; LWL 19'3"; Beam 6'5"; draught 2'3"/5'; Sail Area 295sq ft; displacement 1.5tons ; ballast keel 12.6cwt; and steel c/board 1.5cwt. She was intended to be built very lightly. Carvel and clinker planked versions have been built.

The boat was not built, and the plans survived only as incomplete drawings in the 1906 edition of Folkard's "The Sailing Boat". These drawings intrigued many yachtsmen and designers for years and eventually WoodenBoat Magazine asked Phil Bolger to draw up a full set of plans - staying as faithful to what was known of the original "boat-to-be" as he could.
Several boats have been built using these plans, with some variations in approach and final result.

THIS IS MY MODIFIED VERSION OF THE RORSCHACH INK BLOT TEST

 My modified version of the Rorschach Test

RORSCHACH TEST  |ˈrôrˌ sh äk|:  Noun Psychology.

A type of projective test used in psychoanalysis, in which a standard set of symmetrical ink blots of different shapes and colors is presented one by one to the subject, who is asked to describe what they suggest or resemble.

ORIGIN 1920s: named after Hermann Rorschach (1884–1922), Swiss psychiatrist.

You can apply the test to yourself. Look carefully at the cartoon and let ideas and images well up from your subconscious. What is the catalyst of Leunigs image releasing from your mind?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

_______________________ TRANSFORMATION ________________________

This is the 23 foot yacht 'Crewcut' (Note the painted barbers pole mast and boom! ) She is a notable little John Hakker designed yacht that was designed and built during the 1960s in New Zealand. She completed a successful solo trip to the Pacific Islands by her builder and owner that was featured in 'SeaSpray' magazine. Hakker based the hull on the famous Laurent Giles 'Trekka' that builder John Guzzwell sailed around the world in the 1950s / 60s. This Blogpost is to show how a sistership to this design has been transformed into a different approach to sailing.

These photographs of 'Crewcut' show a successful and very recent restoration. The hull is a displacement hull of modern form with a separated keel and skeg rudder.

The yacht pictured below, 'Ocean Partisan' is a sister ship (same design) to 'Crewcut'.

A comparison can be made between the completely restored 'Crewcut' and 'Ocean Partisan' which has been transformed to facilitate a different approach to sailing. This approach is within the tradition of Blondie Haslers 'Jester', Roger Taylors 'Ming Ming', Annie Hills 'Fantail' and many other small yachts of this genre that often feature in the famous 'Jester Challenge' - being a solo transatlantic yacht race in yachts less than 30 feet overall.

'Ocean Partisan' has been made completely watertight by the addition of a sealing hatch built around a new entrance way that shortens the length of the cockpit. An unusual addition has been to the top of the cabin trunk which provides for standing headroom in the main part of the cabin. Smaller more seaworthy windows have been fitted in the trunk cabin sides.

The biggest change is to the rig. 'Ocean Partisan' has been fitted with a free standing Junk rigged mains'l. The advantage of this rig is its very easy handling, with all control lines leading back to the cockpit. Many of the skippers of these small boats control the whole boat standing in a hatch in the top of the cabin trunk.

There is no hatch in the foredeck. She is still being rigged and many sheets and controls still have to be fitted.
'Ocean Partisan' is fitted with a self steering vane. The tell tale outboard fitting tell us she doesn't have an inboard engine. The stern hatch has been enlarged, which I guess is where the outboard motor is stowed.

The large stainless steel chain plates bolted to the hull at the stern are for attaching a 'Jordan Series Drogue' to. This is probably the best form of drogue for holding a yachts stern to huge seas in survival conditions.

This is the very famous yacht 'Jester'. She is a converted 'Folkboat' design that has been competing in most of the solo transatlantic races since the early 1960s. Her owner the legendary Colonel 'Blondie' Hasler (Of 'Cockle Shell Heroes' fame) set 'Jester' up for singe handed sailing with a Junk rig. Despite the compromise of a Junk rigged hull ( Smaller sail area and compromised windward performance) Jester has always competed well against more traditional rigs in transatlantic races, sometimes finishing ahead of them. It may be that the ease of handling is a significant factor in terms of fatigue and the ability to sail a boat competitively over long distances.


So here she is almost fitted out. Although similar by way of her Junk rig to all the little single handed yachts that have gone before her, this little yacht is unique. Here she waits, keeping her own council, awaiting her ships sailing orders. I will await with interest news of how well she sails and what adventures are in store for her.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

______________________ ANIMATED WEATHER ______________________

This would be the best real time weather animation I have ever seen. This photograph really doesn't do the animation justice, you really have to see the moving image. I used it a great deal during Super Cyclone 'Pam' that hit the East coast of New Zealand a couple of weeks ago. The New Zealand Herald newspaper also used it and a similar image to the one above was used during this stormy time on its front page.

I have an icon link on my desktop which takes me directly to this site and I find it very useful. During Cyclone Pam I found it very accurate indeed. One of the interesting features is that you are able to forward the real time feed you are getting in 3 hourly intervals which gives you a predicted pattern - great if you are watching a possible destructive storm and need to know its possible direction.

The image of the Earth is manipulated in a similar way to how its done on Google Earth. It doesn't take much time to become proficient. I highly recommend taking the time to go to this site and get yourself set up with a powerful weather watch on your computer.

- Click on the image of earth to rotate it.
- Use your fingers on the touch pad to enlarge.
- Click the letters in the lower left hand corner to obtain the map key / tool bar.
- Click the word 'English' for an English version of the key.

Go to this site:

http://earth.nullschool.net/jp/#current/wind/surface/level/orthographic=127.95,12.17,216

Sunday, March 22, 2015

THE PARADOXICAL SIMPLICITY AND COMPLEXITY OF MAKING CHOICES



VENDEE GLOBE SOLO ROUND THE WORLD RACE

Raphael Dinelli, standing on the deck of his yacht ALGIMOUSS shortly before it sank. He was later rescued by fellow competitor Pete Goss sailing AQUA QUORUM during the 1996/7 Vendee Globe solo round the world race.

What is very interesting is that in the midst of this 'In Extremis' situation both Goss and Dinelli made interesting decisions:

Pete Goss made a moral choice. Raphael Dinelli made a choice about what mattered the most to him.

GO TO THIS LINK AND WATCH THE VIDEO -

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A VOICE FROM THE PAST - AND A VERY PLEASANT (POINT) VOICE INDEED

My P Class yacht 'Elusive' being built as part of the PPYCs boat building programme circa 1964
.
Today I received this email (below) from Ray O'Brien who in my early sailing days in Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand, was something of a mentor / inspiration for me as a young sailor. He was instrumental in the background, in getting the Pleasant Point Yacht Club to sell me this new P Class yacht (above, which I named 'Elusive') for fifty five New Zealand pounds, rather than running a raffle for the boat which was their original intention. I think Ray could sense my absolute passion for sailing and also could see my frustration at having an old, heavy, rotting, leaking, P class (aptly named 'Panic') that I had bought for five pounds. He saw me struggling with an old tub with a broken king plank in the deck that resulted in the deck buckling and the rigging going slack every time there was a decent sailing breeze. His intervention made all the difference to me and for that I am very grateful.
.
Hi Alden,
.
 I thought you might like to see one of the P class that we were building when your one was produced in fact it could be yours. Do you remember the club member that acted as your Manager on that trip to the Nelson Contest, John Sinclair. He is the chap in the white overalls. In the photo he is building a Cherub. Last time I Heard of John he was teaching at a Private School in Switzerland. Much has happened since I wrote the Club History. You probably know that the club has gone from Rat Island, it was under water at every high tide. Through the quake the Estuary tilted one half a metre, down on our side and up on the Mt Pleasant side so the club which is now situated in the South Brighton domain has deep water, this gives  the boys  an extra hour and a half for sailing. They at present are using 4 large containers for club rooms, mainly for storing rescue boats etc. Unfortunately last week they were broken into and a 15 hp motor (new) was stolen along with three hand held radios. After the Quakes the membership dropped from around 250 down to 32. This was brought about because the club had no facilities to use. With a lot of hard work they now have the club membership back up to 140 +.
.
Re this photo, I came across it when we moved from South Brighton. We didn’t realise we had collected so much stuff over 54 years. Our house had $2,500 worth of damage and though they were going to repair it, they were looking at 2017 before they would start, so after a lot of thought we decided to move out of Chch and are now living in Onerahi . I think I may have mentioned we had a son in Opua, well he has now sold his business there and brought a house in Hospital Rd Whangarei. It’s a long story but we came up for a holiday last Christmas and he took us house hunting, found this house which Nola liked and here we are . Unpacking recently I came across a box of photo’s and this one was in it. I thought it might bring back some of the times you had at P.P.Y.C.
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Regards Ray O’Brien
.
..... So after more than 50 years, an old friend now lives just around the corner from me - pretty much the same distance he lived from me in Christchurch - life often contains interesting events  that go full circle.

Friday, March 20, 2015

__________________ MILFORD SOUND DURING A STORM _______________


Ben, the bottom photograph is the one I was referring to. The top photo is in a different area of Milford Sound and at a different time. Both show the effect of storm force winds on waterfalls. It would be pretty spectacular to see this up close.

In this now famous photograph (Bottom photo) by renowned NZ nature photographer Craig Potton gale force winds whip spray back up a waterfall's route down the rocky bluffs of Milford Sound during a storm.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

____________________________ CATALYST ____________________________


Why do I love small yachts, the sea and sailing? It is because they have the capacity and power to make me think the things I like to think.

An interesting article about this little Phil Bolger yawl can be found here:
 
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~fassitt/canoe_mirror/ply_canoe_yawl.html 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

SWIRLEY WORLD IN PERPETUITY

This is the small 5.2 metre / 17 foot plywood sloop Swirley World In Perpetuity. She is owned by a colourful character, Kiwi musician (Band 'Mockers') and radio personality Andrew Fagan. He has written two books about voyaging in this diminutive boat.

In his first book Swirly World - The Solo Voyages Andrew Fagan tells of four voyages. The first in 1987 to Sunday (Raul) Island about 650 nautical miles northeast of New Zealand. The second and third voyages to and  from Auckland to Wellington down the North Islands west coast, and the fourth voyage (1994) as a participant in the Trans Tasman Solo Yacht Race from New Plymouth to Mooloolaba in Australia.

In his second book Swirly World Sails South, Andrew Fagan writes about his ambitious and successful circumnavigation of New Zealand which includes a detour deep into the stormy Southern Ocean to visit the sub Antarctic Auckland Islands. In all a trip of over 3000 miles (around 5000 km) - all this, including a force 10 storm along the way.

Considering the fact that I had read both of Andrew Fagans books it was with a smile of pleasure that I spied his little boat when I went to Auckland recently to see the relaunching of the old Ngataki (Moored in the above photo behind Swirly World).

This photograph (immediately above) is interesting, and a bit of a mystery. If you look carefully you can see that the yachts inner forestay pierces the bottom of the little orange dinghy. Also to the left of the inner fore stay there is a circular hole in the bottom of the dinghy.

The logical answer is that you put your hand through the  big hole to release the shackle or whatever device is holding the inner fore stay. Of course launching the dinghy and plugging up two holes in the bottom in the event of an emergency could be problematic.

One solution would be to do away with the inner fore stay and add some forward lowers on both sides of the boat in front of the cap shrouds or have two inner fore stays each which are fastened well out towards the sheer of the boat so as to accommodate the dinghy. This arrangement would certainly assist an emergency dinghy launching.

Andrew Fagan writes with an interesting and amusing writing style as he describes the trials of "sail changing in high seas and howling gales, sea sickness, soggy food and saltwater madness". He finds unique satisfaction, even ecstasy, in being alone on the ocean, testing his mental and physical mettle against the elements - great stuff!

MY SHIP IS COMING IN

                                Photo 'Sail Amsterdam 1995' courtesy of the owner of this beautiful little Vertue class yacht, bow on, to the right.

MY SHIP IS COMING IN
By Harriet. E. Banning 1902
 
My ship is coming in at last,
My ship that sailed afar,
With spreading sail and favoring gale
She’s sailing o’er the bar.

She’s coming in, coming in,
Over the harbor bar!
She’s coming in, she’s coming in,
My ship that sailed afar.

With ice bound hull and storm rent sail,
All battered by the sea,
With windswept deck, almost a wreck,
She’s coming back to me.

And when she’s anchored safe in port,
With all her sails unbent,
And ended the long uncertainty,
Then I shall be content.

Monday, March 16, 2015

ROUNDING CAPE HORN

From:   ROUNDING THE HORN
By John Masefield

Then came the cry of " Call all hands on deck!
The crew knew its meaning; it was come:
Cape Horn, that tramples beauty into wreck,
And crumples steel and smites the strong man dumb.
Down clattered flying kites and staysails; some
Sang out in quick, high calls: the fair-leads skirted
And from the south-west came the end of the world ..............

Sunday, March 15, 2015

____________________________ HAMMERED __________________________


East Cape, North Island, New Zealand took the brunt of super cyclone 'Pam'. They have been hit pretty hard. Another part of New Zealand, the Chatham Islands to the east of Christchurch in the South Island were also hit very hard, with many people in low lying areas and close to the sea finding shelter on higher ground.

Mercifully Northland where I live got off relatively lightly.

Vanuatu, in the area close to the equator where this category 5 storm originated wasn't as lucky and sadly today it is an area of death and utter destruction. This was the most powerful Pacific storm in recorded history. Aid is on the way.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

OBSESSION

Whangarei Yacht 'Masina' built by Noel Barrott, crewed by wife Litara won the coveted Blue Water Medal for a her voyaging including a high latitude circumnavigation.

"If a man or a women must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most. A small sailing craft is not only beautiful, it is seductive and full of strange promise and the hint of trouble. If it happens to be an auxiliary cruising boat, it is without question the most compact and ingenious arrangement for living ever devised by the restless mind of man--a home that is stable without being stationary, shaped less like a box than like a fish or a girl, and in which the homeowner can remove his daily affairs as far from shore as he has the nerve to take them, close hauled or running free--parlor, bedroom, and bath, suspended and alive."
~E. B. White

Friday, March 13, 2015

TROPICAL CYCLONE - AKA HURRICANE - AKA TYPHOON

There was I congratulating myself on the fortuitous coincidence of booking a day out on the Brigantine Schooner 'Breeze' this Sunday 15th March and finding out later that not only were we going for a long days sail, we would be out on the harbour seeing off the Volvo Ocean Race. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself and really looking forward to it all. Then this big monster starts forming up by the equator. I have had an email from the 'Breeze'. The trips cancelled. Bugger.

Some weather experts are calling this "Bigger than Bola" - Cyclone Bola, that is - and that's saying something, AND, a bit scary. I remember Bola well. I had gone down to check my yacht 'Mariner' in her marina berth. I had to wade out through a metre of water that was covering the jetty to get on board. By the time I had secured everything with extra ropes the storm surge had raised the level of water so high I couldn't get ashore. So I spent the night on 'Mariner' in the Whangarei Town Basin yacht harbour 30 kilometres from the sea as storm surges and a high tide washed driftwood up on Riverside Drive to the roar of a demonic wind. I remember there were unprecedented waves generated in the inner harbour and the combined tide and surge was so high I had to rope the yachts either side of  me away from being impaled on their mooring piles. What a night!

Since Bola we have had a few of these close encounters with Tropical Cyclones. All of them have created havoc. Looking at some of the weather map projections, New Zealands East coast from North Cape at the top of the North Island to Canterbury in the South Island are in for a rough old time.

The photograph shows Cyclone Pam heading south between Vanuata on the left and Fiji on the right. She is a Catergory 5 super storm and she is coming our way - fast.

Batten down the hatches Shipmates.


"NEW ZEALAND WAITS
As Tropical Cyclone Pam bears down on Vanuatu, New Zealand is sitting tight to see where the super storm will head next.
All eyes are on the potentially devastating weather system, which was upgraded to a category 5 super-cyclone early Friday morning, causing Vanuatu to activate its emergency plans.
Category 5 is the strongest in a five-point scale for storms - with winds of 250kmh or more.
MetService has issued a severe weather watch for northern and eastern parts of the country as the storm nears New Zealand.
The watch was for the possibility of severe gales in Northland and the Coromandel Peninsula, the Eastern Bay of Plenty and Gisborne, and heavy rain in Eastern Northland and the Coromandel Peninsula, Gisborne and Northern Hawke's Bay.
Gale force winds were expected to develop in the north on Sunday evening, moving down the east of the North Island before easing Tuesday morning.
In Northland and the Coromandel, rainfall could exceed 80mm in 18 hours starting from Sunday evening, while in Gisborne and the Hawke's Bay rain would become heavy from early Monday, possibly exceeding 100mm in 24 hours.
"There is some uncertainty as to how close to the North Island the eventual cyclone track will be," MetService said.
"However, it has the potential to be a significant event, with strong south to southeast winds and rain expected over much of the North Island during Monday."
Local authorities and Civil Defence groups in the North Island have been put on alert for the storm, which is expected to track towards the East Cape on Sunday.
It will transform into an ex-tropical cyclone as it nears New Zealand, but the storm's power could still be even greater than that of Cyclone Bola, which caused more than $82 million in damage in 1988.
"At the moment it's bigger than Bola, and it looks like when it reaches here the barometric pressures will be even lower than what Bola was," Gisborne Civil Defence manager Richard Steele said.
"The lower that goes, the bigger the potential for more storm surges."
The exact path of the storm was still unknown, Steele said.
"The uncertainty's a pain in the bum. We're preparing as if it's going to have a significant impact on us, we can't do anything less."
Gisborne and Bay of Plenty Civil Defence on Thursday issued warnings urging residents to be prepared for high winds, large sea swells, rain, coastal erosion, road closures and power loss from late Sunday.
Meanwhile the fifth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race from Auckland to Itajai in Brazil was due to start on Sunday, but organisers decided to delay the departure race until Tuesday because of the storm. A final decision on on whether the yachts will depart on Tuesday afternoon or evening is yet to be made by organisers. "

Saturday, March 7, 2015

______________________ON NEW BRIGHTON BEACH____________________

From a store of a million or more, let me share a few memories from the place where I grew up.

On the right of this photograph is New Brighton Beach, Christchurch, Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand. There in the distance is Banks Peninsula. Whenever I ever traveled the short distance from our home in Pages Road to the beach and as I walked out towards the beckoning sand and waves I always instinctively turned my head to the right to gaze towards this massive peninsula with its twin volcanic cones and its long and rugged coastline.

My eyes would scan the soft brown tussock covered hills and then look at the line where the sea met the peninsula. I was always hoping to see a little white triangle. To see such a shape was to know that out there was a little yacht having an adventure as she made her way around the bays and harbours of the peninsula. This was my fathers weekend yacht cruising and racing ground. Many, many a time I eagerly accompanied him. So to see a small white triangle of sail was to know, feel and envy what was happening on that horizon.

Sometimes on the weekend I would go for long walks to the south on New Brighton beach towards these old hills with my father. Although the distance and the route there and back on the beach might vary, one ritual always remained the same. We would, without fail, find on the beach long, straight, sturdy walking staffs. My father would cut them to length and trim the ends with his wooden handled pocket knife. Sometimes I would use his knife to strip off the bark from a likely looking staff. But the staffs I liked best were those that didn't require stripping. They came ready made by the action of salt, sea, sand and sun. They were bare, bleached and smooth to the hand. I just loved doing all this with my dad.

I still have that old pocket knife that belonged to my dear old Dad. I keep it on my yacht 'Mariner'. Sometimes I just take out the old knife and stare at it. And remember.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE PEG

People who are not fully enlightened have only one use for a peg - yep, you got it.
But when you are not quite two years old and your mind hasn't yet been corrupted by the imperatives of a system that feeds peoples minds to the industrial corporates conglomerates that are conspiring to destroy the world you find some interesting uses for a peg.

First you learn to open it and watch it snap shut - that's exciting. (Exploration stage).
Then you attach it to your finger, find it painful, yell to grandad and get it removed.
Grandad then has a peg attached to his finger, he yells very loudly, because he knows about this stuff and takes a wider and more expansive view of experimentation and knows that solidarity amongst protagonists pushes the boundaries of confidence. Out of earshot of his young protegee he would be called a cunning old bastard.

This is a wise move by the C.O.B. Solidarity and standing staunchly together in the peg trenches evokes a plethora of 'pegging' ( Pegging with intent stage).

A peg is pegged to a towel hanging on the line.

A peg is pegged to the young peggers T-Shirt.

A peg is pegged to the young peggers shorts.

A peg is pegged to the young peggers sun hat.

A peg is pegged again, with sound effects to his and grandads fingers. (Return and practise stage).

Handfuls of pegs are thrown from the clothes basket trolley all over the lawn, as the full pure exhilaration of interfacing with pegs is celebrated. (Celebration stage).

Pegs are very carefully attached to various things around the back yard - toys, chairs, bucket, spade, grass, grandads shirt, the bottom of grandads shorts, grandads finger again (what loud music and sense of power), plants in plant pots, large green thingies that poke through the fence from next door and plants in the garden. (Mastery stage).

We then sing the peg song:

"Twinkle twinkle little peg,
twinkle twinkle little peg,
twinkle twinkle little peg,
twinkle twinkle little peg,
twinkle twinkle little peg."

Yep, shipmates that's correct, the size of the font indicates the volume.

When he is older and can talk at a level above his current wonderful, marvelous Proto - Language we will have a big adventure together working on the lyrics to the peg song. Experiences need to be worked on and developed over time, that's part of the fun.

Shipmates, I just love being a grandad, best job in the world.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

MEDITATION

Yesterday I went to my first meditation class at the Himalayan Trading Post, this being the commercial enterprise which supports the Buddhist monastery on Mount Parikiore just north of Whangarei. Introductory meditation lessons are undertaken in the shop amongst a range of 'Trade Aid' type retail products, many from Nepal and India which provide a suitable Eastern setting.

There were 15 people including our Meditation teacher. We sat in a circle on the ubiquitous green plastic chairs with a cushion at our feet giving us the option once we started of two sitting positions.

Our teacher whose name I have embarrassingly forgotten ( which explains the state of my mindfulness and the need for instruction ) took us through three guided meditations after some discussion about what each of us wanted to get out of the session.

The first meditation was a relaxation meditation where we concentrated on relaxing different parts of our bodies in succession. This is an old technique, known I am sure to hosts of people.

The second was the standard form where we concentrated on our breathing. The technical name for this meditation is Samartha or 'Calming Meditation'. The inhalation and exhalation of breathe is watched and concentrated on. If any thoughts interrupt this rhythm and focus they are let go and the mind returned to the breathing.

The third was a guided visualization meditation. This is called Vipassana Meditation where a subject or concept is used as a focus. We were asked to choose something that we would personally like to improve on within our lives. Suggestions given were Compassion, listening, kindness, forgiveness etc etc. We were then guided to imagine this quality as a shining white ball of light. This steady light was  imagined to envelope our whole body and in progressions envelope the room / street / town / country etc until the whole world was visualized as a shining ball of light personifying the quality that we personally wanted to work on.

I found the experience of meditating in a group a powerful experience. I wouldn't use the words, esoteric, transcendental or exotic to describe what happened, rather I would call the experience  practical, calming, focussed and complementary to the literature on 'Mindfulness' and 'Awareness' that I am currently reading. For some reason being with other people  helped focus my meditation practise. I especially enjoyed the visualization meditation and can see the worth of guided meditation sessions. I can also see the advantage of finding a teacher with whom I can obtain ongoing instruction.

When these introductory lessons are completed there is the opportunity to join a weekly meditation group. I look forward to that. In the meantime I am happy to participate in what is an enlightening and satisfying experience while extending my own personal meditation experience.

Monday, March 2, 2015

THE SONG OF THE BIRD

New Zealand 'Tui'

THE SONG OF THE BIRD
- From 'SONG OF THE BIRD' - Collected Stories by Anthony De Mello

The disciples were full of questions about God.

Said the master, "God is the unknown and the Unknowable. Every statement about him, every answer to your questions, is a distortion of the truth."

The disciples were bewildered. "Then why do you speak about him at all?"

"Why does the bird sing? said the master.

[ "Not because it has a statement, but because it has a song. The words of the scholar are to be understood. The words of the master are not to be understood. They are to be listened to as one listens to the wind in the trees and the sound of the river and the song of the bird. They will awaken something within the heart that is beyond all knowledge.

In our quest for God, we think too much, reflect too much, talk too much. Even when we look at this dance that we call creation, we are the whole time thinking, talking (to ourselves and others), reflecting, analyzing, philosophizing. Words. Noise. ----- Be silent and contemplate the dance. Just look: a star, a flower, a fading leaf, a bird, a stone ...... any fragment of the dance will do. Look. Listen. Smell. Touch. Taste. And, hopefully, it won't be long before you see him - the dancer himself!

What was that you said? You have heard dozens of birds sing and seen hundreds of trees? Ah, was it the tree you saw or the label? If you look at a tree and see a tree, you have really not seen the tree. When you look at the tree and see a miracle - then, at last, you have seen! Did your heart never fill with wordless wonder when you heard a bird in song? " ] - Anthony De Mello

Sunday, March 1, 2015

SCANDINAVIAN BEAUTY - Klassieke boot Scherenkruiser


Ben. This is the yacht that you reminded me of, the 'Scherenkruiser.' In many ways (despite her lines being a lot finer in the bow) she looks somewhat like a slightly bigger version of the old Olympic 'Dragon' class. But she is definitely prettier than the Dragon. A yacht such as this is a very good example of economy of design. Given the parameters ( A weekend cruiser ) she has everything - looks, speed, and a cosy little cabin that would have sitting headroom. For exended periods of time it would be more like camping than commodious living in such a confined space - but if you want to live year round on a boat - then you require a much bigger design.

The Scherenkruiser is a purests sailing yacht - more Ferrari than a Volkswagon Kombi van, more Ballet Dancer than Weight Lifter - and no doubt the apple of its owners eye.

A little yacht like this would also be relatively inexpensive (if you can use the word 'inexpensive' at all when it comes to hand built wooden yachts). She would make a really nice little coastal weekend cruiser for the Northland coast here in New Zealand. So many splendid little yachts Ben!! So little time!

P.S - I see (Google 'Scherenkruiser) that this particular yacht is Te Koop (For Sale) at the moment for 27, 500 euros. She will make a very nice weekend cruising / racing yacht for some lucky Northern sailor (s).