Monday, November 21, 2016

______________________ MARINER'S DINGHY (11) _______________________

I spent some time thinking through the construction of the centreboard case. It's a job that needs to be done once and done correctly. I don't want it to leak or to be susceptible to failure due to flimsy construction - so I have made it pretty robust.

It was good to use my heavy workbench during completion work on the centreboard seat. The workbench now has a new and renewable plywood top and a new metalworking vise. This vise has come in very useful and makes redundant my usual dodge of putting steel fittings etc into (and often damaging) the soft wooden jaws of a woodwork vise.

I made a slight mistake with the length of the centreboard seat but solved this by gluing an extra piece of wood around the perimeter of the seat. The new arrangement is more in proportion with the overall look and I am happy with the way it looks.

We have come a long way since bringing Mariners dinghy home for a repair and repaint to the current stage of the whimsical decision to turn the dinghy into a little lugsail rigged sailing dinghy and I am very happy about how it's all turning out. The speed of progress is a little slow - but shipmates, us retired blokes need time just shooting the breeze as much as we need time building and preparing to go sailing in it.

Friday, November 18, 2016

_____________________ AN ANTIQUE SOUND SYSTEM _________________

In recent times cell phones and other small devices have been invented that will store and play a zillion soundtracks downloaded from the internet. There is something very useful about stereo phonic sound that you can put in your shirt pocket............ the trouble is what do you do with all the old technology? Well this bloke has installed his antique (or is that classic?) technology in his work shed. 

Only three of the original five speakers still work, but luckily they are the two main speakers and the centre speaker. I have mounted the centre speaker above the window and one of the main speakers high up in one corner of the workshop. The two small rear speakers won't be missed.

The other main speaker is at the opposite side of the shed along with my set of classical music tapes. These 'Tape Recordings' are an old system which records music onto spools of magnetic tape. Tapes superseded an even older complicated system where music was transferred from a metallic 'die' onto circular black plastic discs of varying sizes. The music was then picked up and relayed to speakers by an armature with a 'needle' on it which picked up the sound from grooves on the black disc ( I kid you not !!!!!!).

I do have a set of what's called 'CDs' (A more recent invention) which you may have heard of. I rotate these with my classical music tapes. When I want to listen to old popular music I listen to 'Coast FM' which plays all the old classic pop songs from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. If I wanted to raise my blood pressure for fun I listen to talk back radio.

It's nice to work away in the carport and listen to music. It's not something that I have done a lot of over the years. As a teacher for over 40 years I found that when I got home from work the last thing I wanted was noise of any sort. So it's nice to have the time now to catch up a bit.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

____________________________ MEDITATION ___________________________

Deliberately, I have never had a dedicated meditation room. My thoughts have been that if I just meditated around the house in a peaceful place where I wouldn’t be interrupted for 15 - 30 minutes then I would become adapted to meditating just about anywhere, and this has pretty much proved to be so.

But lately I have taken to meditating in my small ‘Can’t swing even a small cat’ workshop. It’s cosy and cave like and I am surrounded by simple familiar tools and the happy memories of boat construction projects and modifications.

My simple blue topped meditation stool is almost as old as I am being an heirloom from the family home of sixty years ago. It’s monetary value is about NZ$10 but of course it is priceless. I remember sitting having meals on this stool from the age of five. The block of wood in front of the stool raises my upper legs so that they are parallel with the floor. The lack of a back rest on the stool means I have to sit without support and keep my spine nice and straight.

This morning when I arrived early, dressed in my boat working clothes I liked the familiar smell of wood shavings. Fifteen minutes meditation was a nice way to start the days work. This evening the setting sun shone through the window warming my back as I concluded the day with another fifteen minutes.

My meditation is pretty simple really. It consists of concentrating on my breathing and letting go of the endless chatter of the mind. It’s called ‘Calm Abiding’ meditation. I like the words ‘ Calm Abiding' and I like meditating here in my little room.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

_____________________ DEMOCRACY TRUMPS ITSELF __________________


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it 
Reel shadows of the indigant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Friday, November 11, 2016


 Practising in marginal conditions increases a sailors skill and safety on the water.
(Optimist sailing dinghy enjoying some rugged weather)

Last week I arrived at the yacht club punching the air with 25 knot optimism and very eager to race my boat. I had been watching the weather forecast and this was going to be my day again! Twenty five knots and increasing! But the sailing for that evening was cancelled.

I know why it was cancelled and fully support the people who made the decision. With an evening race series the light is slowly fading. The lee shore in the strong SW wind was rocky with only a couple of small beach landings, but more importantly there was only one boat, the start boat, available with a crew. There was no dedicated pick up boat in case of capsizes to help crews requiring assistance. So the decision to cancel was wise and sensible - good seamanship.

But, if a dedicated pickup boat had been available I would have strongly argued for racing to take place, even if it had been blowing harder than it was. It is in these marginal conditions that much is learned. If you don't sail in near storm conditions and get used to how it feels and how to handle your boat then you are unprepared if for any reason you get caught out when the weather changes for the worse ........  and the weather, particularly in New Zealand, can change very rapidly indeed.

I can remember a time when most small racing dinghies all had a row of reefing points in the their mains'ls. They didn't get used much, but from time to time when the wind was approaching 30 knots a reef was tucked in and young skippers got an exhilarating ride of their lives among the wind and waves. We need this 'can - do' attitude and a couple of reef points in our mains'ls again in our club racing. Of course in marginal conditions it requires a race start boat and one or two fully crewed 'pick up' boats, this is only sensible. But to not allow young sailors the opportunity to take risks, we restrict their ability to grow in confidence, independence and sailing skill. We all need a bit of Cape Hoorn in us every once in a while.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

__________________________ RACING A LASER ________________________

Grant Cooze is the centreboard dinghy racing organiser for the Onerahi Yacht Club a job that he does very well indeed.

Grant is a real inspiration. He is an amputee with one leg. He launches his Laser, takes off his prosthetic leg, ties it to the Lasers beach trolley and then off he goes sailing. Remarkable.

This week my respect for Grants plucky character and sailing skills grew even more. On arrival at the club for the usual evenings race series I got to talking Lasers with a few of the Laser skippers. Grant suggested that we swap boats for the racing. He would sail my smaller Starling and I would have go with his well set up Laser.

It was blowing quite hard. At the risk of becoming too profane let me simply say that Lasers are tricky little beasts.

In the first two races I blew the starts as I became a bit of an uncontrolled menace to the Laser fleet. I got in irons right on the start line, couldn't get the Laser to go about, got tangled up in the ropes, pulled the wrong control lines and pretty much blundered around. In the third race I sorted myself out and won. I am pleased about this win because the idea of a bigger boat has been an issue for some time, meaning that if I bought one of these boats there is a chance that I might be reasonably competitive.

Sailing back to the clubhouse after the racing I reflected on just how demanding and tricky sailing a Laser is. They are not docile boats, especially downwind in a big breeze. They respond instantly, accelerating very fast in wind gusts requiring balance, skill and a certain amount of good luck to keep them upright and sailing fast. Sailing upwind in strong winds they need sustained hiking to keep them flat and sailing fast and they are very sensitive to any sail control adjustments. They are not a boat for the faint hearted ......... which brings me back to Grant. How the hell he sails his Laser so well I really don't know - he's a bloody legend.