Sunday, June 28, 2020

__________________________ WINTER SERIES _________________________

All rigged up at the Onerahi Yacht Club today and ready for the second set of 3 races in the combined Whangarei yachts clubs winter sailing series. When sailing last week at the Parua Bay Yacht Club my placings were a fourth and two first places. Today I scored two first placings and a second - these results have me leading the winter series by one point. I am encouraged by these results because the winning margins were a lot bigger than when I previously (pre-renovation) had the odd win and also it means the last twelve months spent doing a restoration on the boat has been time well spent.
The crucial factors that have contributed to better performance are:

- The boat now weighs 59kgs down from 64kgs - a weight saving of 5kgs. A light boat is a fast boat.

- New carbon fibre foils are half the weight (3kgs) of the old wooden foils (6kgs) and are a very accurate commercially produced aerofoil shape. The boat steers better, points much closer into the wind and the feel on the helm is light and balanced. The small bucket I felt we were always towing has vanished.

- The hull has been repaired and faired, capturing the true shape of the hull minus any corrugations and imperfections.

- An adjustable mast step allows various raking angles to suit various wind conditions.

- I am now using a 'TacTic' digital compass which makes the detection of wind shifts a doddle. I should have had one years ago. The tactical usefulness of such a compass cannot be emphasized enough.

- Adjustable hiking straps makes fine adjustments during or between races very easy ensuring more comfortable hiking positions.

There are a few more tweaks that I will do to squeeze out a bit more boat speed. Overall I am pretty pleased with the performance. I haven't produced a super yacht, rather I have produced a level playing field. Slipstream is now as up to date as any of the other 'flash Harry' Zephyrs racing. The winning difference will now depend on the nut holding the tiller, time on the water and a fair old wodge of luck.

The next race in the series is in a fortnights time at the Marsden Yacht Club - I'll be there.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

_________________ THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT TREES ________________

Pohutukawa tree at Onerahi North Island New Zealand

...........  And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.

From 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting 
the Banks of the Wye during a Tour - July 13, 1798 - By WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

Ancient Pohutakawa tree at Algies Bay North Island New Zealand

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

________________________ TIME TO GO SAILING ________________________

 This is how the boat looked at the time of purchase.

This is how she looked half way through the renovation process.
 This is how she looks now, all dressed up and ready to rock and roll.

Yesterday the lowest Covid 19 emergency level (Level 1 of the 1 to 4 levels) came into action in New Zealand. This pretty much means that life goes back to normal except that the borders are still closed. Any special entry exceptions have to go into isolation for 14 days before fully entering the country.

I have spent a good amount of the Covid 19 lock down time finishing my Zephyr sailing dinghy 'Slipstream'. The last job has been setting up the sail controls and adjusting the rigging. Today I rigged the boat and checked everything - it's now time to go sailing.

Monday, June 1, 2020

__________________ A LESSON IN PAYING ATTENTION _________________

Note the bucket floating like a blue duck on 'Scout Lake' and the water cascading from 'Scout Waterfall' in the foreground.

Well shipmates, it happened like this. Just before a large low pressure system dropped billions of tons of water on Northland I removed the cover on Scout, took the bung out of the back, drained a small amount of water out and left the cover off to air the boat. Later the deluge began. Rather than run out and put the cover back on I thought that I would just leave things as they were and let the rain give 'Scout' a good clean AND yes shipmates you have guessed it already. After draining the boat I REPLACED THE BUNG. Well, today, after a week of continuous rain I went out to take a look behind the shed and put the cover back on and the rest, as they say in all the small dramatic stories is history. It did make me smile to see the blue bucket floating around and hear 'Scout' say to me "Pull the bloody bung out you dickhead and try and be a bit more aware in the future". "Sorry Scout old mate" I muttered, "I just wasn't thinking". It doesn't pay to wander around on autopilot.

Friday, May 22, 2020

__________________________ HIGH SUMMER __________________________

High summer - looking north towards Little Barrier Island from the coast near Leigh

Summer in Northland is special. It shines with a scintillating razor sharp  brightness. If you look really closely you can see the halo of it all and hear the air sing. We are heading into winter here in New Zealand. I don't actually mind the hunkering down nature of Winter. It is a season with its own ambience, activities and pleasures; part of which is looking forward to Summer again. What would Summer be without Winter?

Sunday, May 3, 2020

______________________________ STORM ______________________________

 Maurice Griffiths old boat 'Storm' at Honeypot Island, Walton Backwaters, Essex, UK.

(Yes shipmates, honeypot indeed - for those who know, apart from the above caption, there is not much else that one can say.)

I am using this lock down in the time of Covid here in NZ to read again some of my favourite authors. One of these is the late great Maurice Griffiths (Author, yacht designer, editor for 40 years of the 'Yachting Monthly' and Sailor - 'Sailor' rather than 'Yachtsman' - he liked to make that distinction.

To date the books I have re - read are the classic 'The Magic of the Swatchways' and:
- The First of the Tide.
- Swatchways and Little Ships.
- Round the Cabin Table.
I include in this enjoyable journey the thumbing through and musing over all of Griffiths design books, his biography and autobiography and the viewing of various designs I have of his.
To supplement the flavour of this East Coast coast and its rivers I have included the inimitable Charles Stock ('Sailing Just For Fun' & 'In Shoal Waters') and Tony Smiths 'Sea Country'.

Also the book 'Swin, Swale & Swatchway' by H. Lewis Jones first published in 1892 and re-published recently by Lodestar Books has again given me a very interesting historical background to Griffiths, Stocks and Smiths writings.

Adding to the list, as always that legendary publication 'East Coast Rivers - Cruising Companion' (19th Edition - Wiley Nautical) by Jane Harber has been a truly excellent crew member on a journey such as this.

I found this very interesting information about 'Storm' from the OGA site (Old Gaffers Association).

"Storm was built in 1910 by Bundock Brothers at Leigh on Sea, and when built she was originally called "Lady Myra".  Myra was the wife of the first owner, Mr C Horstead.  In the 1911 & 1912 local newspapers Lady Myra was reported doing very well in races.  She was sold in about 1912, and sold again before 1914.  The third owner was Norman O Searle, and architect, who also designed a similar boat "Ripple" which was later owned by the marine artist Fid Harnack, who later illustrated Magic of the Swatchways, and the Yachting Monthly, for editor Maurice Griffiths.  By a co-incidence, Norman Searle was then part owner of Charity (see entry in OGA Register) 1924-26, then a gaff cutter but now bermudian, and owned by the sister of East Coast Gaffer's Clare Thomas.  Lady Myra/Storm was built as a yacht but with the scantlings of a shrimping bawley, but was never used for fishing. After the first World War she was sold again, had her first engine installed in 1920, and relocated to Burnham, and later West Mersea where she was found and bought by Maurice Griffiths, who re-named her Storm.  She was owned twice by Maurice Griffiths, past editor of Yachting Monthly, and he describes her in his books, in particular 'Magic of the Swatchways'. In 'Dream Boats' he describes her as 'My little 7 tonner Storm was built as a miniature bawley yacht, but with somewhat finer lines, and I always regarded her as one of the most endearing little craft I have ever owned.' He had to sell her and vowed he'd buy her back which he did six years later.  The owner between 1924 and 1930 when MG bought her back, was a Mr Eustace Mason, who founded the Claygate Cement works.  MG sold her again in 1931, and she was re-located to Poole, to take part in races organised by the Parkstone Sailing Club.  The owner then was a Col J M Hulton, a veteran of the Boer Wars, the First World War, and the Irish troubles in the 1920's.  There are records of her not doing too well in the 1935 round the island (IOW) race.  Storm drops out of the Lloyds Registers in 1937, and the next record I have found was the hand written receipt included in her paperwork, when the then owner John Derrick of Fareham sold her to David Cade in 1962.  John Derrick appears to have been an actor in the Portsmouth area, but the record is cold between 1937 and 1962 - I would love to find out where she was in those years.

David J Cade passed away on 17 July 2002, when serving as OGA President having owned Storm from 1962. Badly damaged in a northerly storm after the 1975 Solent Race in Cowes it took David Cade 18 years to rebuild her. Alison, his widow kept her on until her death in 2014.

Much of Storm is still original, although the cabin has been lengthened/the cockpit made shorter by about 18".  I have found and had restored a "Jack Tar" stove, the same as MG had, the elderly Kelvin diesel replaced with a more modern Beta, and gradually planks have been replaced, the hull re-fastened, the usual on-going process for an old boat like Storm."

So there you have it shipmates - Lock down in the time of Covid has its interesting diversions.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

____________________________ METAPHOR ____________________________

Photograph taken by our son on the streets of Ponsonby yesterday.

Up Covid creek without a paddle, or water, or in fact a creek.
Let's make Solidarity as a community our canoe,
 Common sense our creek,
Self distancing our water,
and our brains as our paddles,
Let's all pray for the nurses, doctors, care givers and all others who are working in the eye of this storm.

Friday, April 24, 2020

_________________ A POHUTAKAWA TREE AT ALGIES BAY _______________

Algies Bay is a place of good memories.

 The Pohutakawa trees that line the shore are big, old and beautiful. If they could talk, what stories they would tell.

This old one is called Mr Very Big Tree which I thought was an original name.

I asked Mr Very Big Tree politely and he let me have a whooping, swooping good swing.

Monday, April 20, 2020

__________________ TWO INTERESTING VISITORS ______________________

Onerahi Airport is 7.8km from where we live and 11 minutes away by car (Thank you Mr and Mrs Google for that precise information). As you can see it is only a small provincial airport. The runway is too short for the bigger provincial carriers such as the Boeing 737's which fly between the big main centres. So I was surprised when out and about one day in January of last year I saw a C130 Hercules heading for the airport. Then I remembered that one of the attributes of the C130 Hercules is its ability to make short take offs and landings.

I am usually neither a train nor plane spotter, but at the time of the Hercules sighting we were leaving a friends house who lives down harbour on a hill at a very high elevation. The Hercules thundered past at a height that was level with us and in a direction that indicated that it was in full landing approach mode. We got to the airport too late to see it land but stayed long enough (along with all the other local rubber neckers) to watch the impressive short runway takeoff of this large aeroplane. And impressive it was, as it headed directly back to Australia.

C130 Hercules of the Royal Australian Airforce landing at Onerahi Airport.
The story behind the landing was that the Hercules had flown direct from Australia to 'Medivac' out an Australian tourist who had fallen ill and was being treated at the local Whangarei base hospital. The general consensus at the airport among the assembled rubber neckers was that it must be an Australian politician for all this trouble to be taken. A later press report confirmed this speculation.

About one month later when outside at home I heard and saw an interesting sight in the sky. It was the unmistakable shape of a Catalina flying boat. I was pretty sure where it was headed, so I jumped into the car and took 11 minutes to drive the 7.8 km to Onerahi airport. Unfortunately I was too late to watch it land and as I had other things I needed to do I didn't wait for it to take off again. I was satisfied with just taking a few photos while wistfully thinking that Yes! I should have purchased that new camera with its razor sharp mega zoom lens. Again there were a number of people from the local area all gathered to take a look at this unusual visitor to the airport.

In many ways a Catalina flying boat is somewhat like a Mallard duck, it can walk on the land, swim in the water and fly in the air. I am not a great fan of flying but I am convinced that if I was to purchase an aeroplane it would be something like this with its Mallard duck like qualities. It's a yachtees aeroplane having the ability to land on the water inextricably interwoven into its structure, something that is an extremely sane and sensible capability. Any pilot come sailor worth his wings would want to land on the water from time to time to kick back, open the thermos for a cup of tea, eat a few pre packed sandwiches and put his or her feet up to have a bit of snooze before flying onward.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

_________________ NOT QUITE SURE WHAT'S GOING ON _________________

I am having problems with my Blog. Photographs seem to disappear on various postings. I have removed the second to last posting because of this. Brief online Googling points towards possible interference from a malfunction in my Avast antivirus or I have a serious computer virus problem. I have already repaired about 4 different postings by re-posting photographs that have disappeared which is a pretty tedious process. If this continues I may close down the Blog. If anyone has any advice regarding this please let me know by posting a comment.

19/4 - I have uploaded and reinstated photographs on the River Crouch post and also completed some computer tweaking which I think may have been giving me problems with Blogger - time will see if I have been successful.

I would appreciate it if anyone who sees anything unusual when viewing this Blog and/or has photographs blocked from view to post a comment on this post.

Friday, April 17, 2020

___________ CAPTAIN COOKS ENDEAVOUR - A PHOTO ESSAY ____________

On the 3rd of November last year a replica of Captain James Cooks Endeavour visited Whangarei. The boat was open to the public so I took a ramble on board and took some photographs. As the old saying goes "A picture is worth a thousand words" I offer this as a photo essay.