Monday, April 30, 2012

Blogging the Olympics - or not?

This summer is of course the Olympics and I have a couple of tickets to the sailing.

It will be great to see the world's best sailors compete together on home waters (and hopefully see blighty win a few more golds) and then blog about it afterwards - or so I thought.

Apparently the following warning is being printed on all Olympic tickets:

"Images, video and sound recordings of the Games taken by a Ticket Holder cannot be used for any purpose other than for private and domestic purposes and a Ticket Holder may not license, broadcast or publish video and/or sound recordings, including on social networking websites and the Internet more generally."

Wow - that's really restrictive and backwards looking.

London is a tech centre, home of start-ups & media friendly, and the mobile operators are already boasting how much 3G coverage the Olympic site will have (and reminding everyone that Beijing only had 2G) explicitly to support Facebook and blog updates.

There have already been signs of back pedalling with Olympic organisers admitting that:

"The internet has changed the world and we’re not going to be silly. But the reality is that we live in an Internet world where Facebook downloads and uploads are happening every day of the week and there’s not much we can do about it."

Anyhow I'm going to go ahead on the grounds that reading the restrictions with a fine tooth comb the issue is mostly with sound and video while for photography it simply mustn't be commercial.

As you might have noticed this blog is advert and hence revenue free so there'll be no commercial gain, but it does seem a bit ridiculous.

This is meant to be the big world-coming-together-unifying event but we're not meant to communicate about it.

That's just crazy.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I want to sail in Scottish waters

So if the Solent isn't top of my list of places I want to sail, where is?

Well if the title of this post didn't give the game away hopefully the flag in the photo above will. For some time now I've wanted to sail the waters around Scotland.

I've visited the Highlands and Islands quite a few times on family holidays and just loved it. Wild moors with nothing but herds of deer, idylic sandy beaches, crystal clean waters, impressive mountains rising out of the sea, Gaelic culture, stone age remains, friendly locals, good sea food and air as strong as an iron girder forged on the Clyde.

But I've never sailed those waters apart from a couple of afternoons in a dinghy and the inevitable CalMac ferry (above) and yet the area seems ideal for yachts.

There's been a big push to "Sail Scotland" and facilities have been expanded, and while we were on Islay we saw them building a big marina. But usually looking out to sea you'd be lucky to catch sight of a single yacht, which is strange given its under an hour's flight from London, with no passport required.

What about the weather? you're probably thinking.

Well ok it isn't exactly the Caribbean, but it is surprisingly temperate, given its the same latitude as Hudson Bay and Labrador in Canada, places where icebergs drift and polar bears go wandering.

But Scotland is warmed by the gulf stream and typically is only a few degrees cooler than the rest of Britain, though it might indeed be a good idea to stock up with Musto base and mid layers before heading up there.

And on its doorstep there are all sorts of really interesting places: sail for just a few days and you're in untouched wilderness.

One day, hopefully soon, I'll find out for myself.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why the Solent isn't my top sailing destination

Oops, that might have come out wrong.

I do like the Solent, honestly. I've my favourites ports, like the Hamble, Lymington, Yarmouth and Cowes.

I've done my Day Skipper and Coastal Skipper (er, almost) there. I've moored at Cowes surrounded by legends during the 150th anniversary of the America's Cup, done a Round the Island, raced a Volvo 60 in Cowes week, sailed past the Needles at midnight, chute flying in the moonlight....

But I'm trying to answer Tillerman's blogging writing challenge - which is to say where do you want to sail most in the world.

And that's not the Solent, for me. I'm booked to sail there twice more this summer, but it'll be the Solent "again" and in summer it gets really crowded (above).

I want to go somewhere different, to discover new waters to sail, to push outside that comfort zone.

So where do I most want to sail? Ah, that will have to wait until tomorrow.....

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book Review: Furthest North

This book tells the story of the expedition to row to the North Pole - the magnetic North Pole that is, or at least where it was in 1996 (most famously once the destination for the Top Gear crew).

I blogged about them at the tail end of 2011 after watching a TV program about it and then googling the expedition's web site.

It was quite an amazing if chilly story about rowing across 450 NM of icy waters (and in this case I do really mean icy) to get up to 78.595°N. Six crew were crammed into the boat you see in the pic above which must have been a cosy fit.

Soon after watching it I was at the London Boat Show and who should I meet but the expedition leader, Arctic veteran Jock Wishart. We had a brief chat of which the only bit I really remember is the need for really good sleeping bags.

After that I bought the book and put to one side to read later, which I did just recently.

It's glossy and short but that's all good as it keeps it to the point. It covers not just the row itself but also the critical stages of preparation, in particular building a boat able to be withstand impact with ice floes and yet light enough to drag over pack ice.

I certainly enjoyed it and admired the story and photos of what is certainly a remarkable part of the planet, further north than I'm likely to go. The book includes a serious message about global warming's impact on the polar ice but at the end of the day its really about adventure.

A book to read somewhere warm with a glass of the sponsor's prize Old Pulteney whisky to hand.

Rather appropriately Old Pulteney comes from the far north of Scotland and calls itself "the genuine maritime malt".

Sounds like required drinking for polar explorers!

Updated: on BBC1 tonight and afterwards in iPlayer - see here

Photo from: Amazon

Monday, April 23, 2012

Nelson's Ship in a Bottle - Victory!

Its a good day for art and the National Maritime Museum (NMM)!

The Art Fund has successfully raised enough money to keep Yinka Shonibare's sculpture Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle for the NMM in Greenwich.

It looked good on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square (above) and it will look equally impressive outside the NMM and as a campaign supporter I'll be no doubt be down in Greenwich some time to admire it.

What's more it will be in place in time for the Queen to see it when she visits Greenwich for the opening of the Cutty Sark and the NMM's 75th anniversary on the 25th April, which is this Wednesday.

Updated: The Queen in Greenwich as reported on the BBC web site here.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

London Kayakathon 2012

There's so much going on in London its impossible to keep up.

Apparently back in 2010 someone had the great idea of having a kayaking marathon on the Thames on the same day as the London Marathon. This year was the third outing, but the first I've caught: no doubt the previous two either missed or pigeon holed as just yet another group out on the river.

It's called a "Kayakathon"  which to be honest sounds a little close to the "Jubilympics" of the wonderful "Twenty Twelve" docu-comedy just finished on the Beeb.

Anyhow congrats to all of those taking part and in particular well done for avoiding getting run down by Kingwood (above).

There is that little voice in my head saying that as the river is tidal the distance through the water isn't 26.2 miles but I've just told it to shut up its all about raising money for charity and I didn't see you heading out on the water!

"So its all good then!" (*)

(*) my favourite quote from Twenty Twelve which I'm rather enjoying using at random but vaguely appropriate moments

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Two Rowing Pictures

Two pictures of rowing for Chris of Rowing For Pleasure.

The Thames Rowing Club

I was walking the Thames path recently when I heard a familiar voice barking orders out on the river.

It was a cox of a woman's eight, out doing their training. The question was - as I don't actually know any coxes, how could it be familiar?

The answer was I'd recently seen this video of the Thames Rowing Club's women's eight winning the Head of River Race (HORR). But how could I be sure it really was the same person?

Then she used the catch phrase "stand up!" - which if you watch the video you'll recognise.

The TRC has also been getting the attention of the likes of the Telegraph and the Nautica marketing team, as in this article.

The article talks about getting up at 5 am and how the club includes Olympic rowers.

Maybe all that helps explain the HORR win.

Picture from: the Telegraph here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Preparations for the Queen's Jubilee Pageant

You have to treat rivers and seas with respect.

There's not just the sad story over on Never Sea Land of the deaths in an offshore sailing race, as you could drown right here in Thames. Of course there are things you can do to make the sport safer - like clip on or not drink over six units of alcohol, as in this collision report.

That's a valuable lesson for the Queen's Jubilee Pageant (blogged earlier) where there's going to be a 1,000 strong flotilla of boats packed into the narrow waters of the Thames.

It helps that of course they'll mostly be going the same direction (one hopes) but still I can see why the PLA would want to do a bit of rehearsals. At least that's what I think they were doing last weekend when there were 40 - 50 boats churning up the waters.

Most in the first of two bunches of boats were plastic production line models but there were a few more interesting ones in the second (above).

Further preparations can be seen towards Hammersmith Bridge where the first of the buoys have been laid:
BTW, the vacant lot across the river in this photo is where they're going to build the exclusive riverside development "Fulham Reach" with decoration allegedly inspired by Oscar Wilde as blogged here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

More photos of Merlin Rockets

There seemed some interest in those Merlin Rocket photos of the last post so here are some more - full size available on request.

Is it me or did the red boat go aground?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Merlin Rockets on the Thames

I was walking along Putney Embankment on Sunday in an iPod induced daze when a hull shape caught my attention. It was quite distinctive, wide cup like, and one I recognised - the Merlin Rocket - and there were about 15 of them, getting rigged up.

Its a design I'd like to sail: it hull shape is better designed for those of us with long legs than a Laser (sorry Tillerman) and looks like it would sail fast without requiring 49er levels of athleticism.

What's really interesting about them is the Merlin Rocket was designed by Jack Holt right here in Putney commissioned by a syndicate at the Ranelagh Sailing Club, based to this day on the Putney Embankment.

So it should have no trouble with the, ah, challenging nature of sailing on the Thames. It seemed to be an interesting race, starting just after 3 pm and heading way down river out of sight.

Just under an hour afterwards the first boat was seen returning (above).

The rest of the fleet took a lot longer, with this colourful group about an hour later:
Sailing on the Thames has a number of gotchas: the wind angle to the river varies as it wiggles, then the buildings and trees create wind holes and funnels, there are bridges, busy traffic, current that varies according to river depth and in places there are shallows of gravel banks.

Alas this boat lost a lot of places by heading to shallows on the calm side of the river:
Looked a lot of fun; something to add to the long list of things to do if only there was time.

Updated: more photos just posted here!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Titanic remembered at the NMM

Today is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, proving yet again that ice and ships are a bad combination.

Its one of those stories for which interest seems to grow with time rather than decrease, and so you have a choice as to which Titanic exhibition you go to.

One such is at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, which I visited when I was there for the Nelson's Victory in a Bottle meeting.

To be honest titanic is not the word I'd use, as its a single room show, concentrating on some of the huge amount of material gathered by Walter Lord when researching the incident for his book A Night to Remember.

On display are the very shoes that were worn by one of the survivors, Edith Russell, a fashion writer. Its a spooky connection to that fateful voyage.

There's also the telegram she sent to New York from the Carpathian telling of her rescue:
There's been a cold northerly wind here today, but that must have been nothing compared to the deadly icy waters that killed so many on that tragic night.

A sombre thought that makes me glad to be warm and safe indoors.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Buff's 50 Rules of Boating

G'day all! Buff Staysail here! Buff by name and Buff by nature!

Ok, I've got a beer in my hand, its Friday evening, and its time for Buff to let you into a few of the secrets of my success. How was it that I got my own shown on Queensland Community TV? You've got to know THE RULES!!

And here they are:

1. Obey the rules, but only if you want to. They're more like the pirate's code, i.e. guidelines. I mean you don't want to end up like my ma, do this, do that, "be home by 9 sharp or I'll lock the door". Jeez, I mean I was 27!

2. Lead by example - and I do, living life the Buff way!!

3. Guide the uninitiated - "mine's a beer, cheers mate"

4. Don't say you're into water sports; for some reason people will smirk.

5. BIFF - Boating is fucking fantastic fun!!! I mean all this baloney about HTFU, jeez, what have they got to prove? Buff doesn't need to play that game.

6. Don't sail a Laser - they're too small for an adult and yet too big to get the right way up when they flip over (which they inevitably will)

7. Don't go kayaking - the cockpits are always too small to squeeze into, you have to wear a skirt and for some reason I always flip over upside down, stupid bloody things

8. Don't row - you face the wrong way, it makes you feel sick, it tips over if you sneeze and rowers barf on about pain as if they like it

9. Do become an internationally renown sailing journo / tv celebrity as then you don't have to do any of the above

10. Never go out in bad weather - jeez, didn't you read my post on navigation? Weather should be like this:

11. In particular never ever ever go frostbiting. The only place frost should be is on the outside of your beer glass

12. The correct number of drinks is n+1 where n is the number of drinks you've had so far

13. A real sailor drinks beer

14. You can drink beer at any time - before sailing, during sailing or after sailing

15. You can drink white wine only when you've got lady company

16. You should order bubbly when you win the lotto or your lady company is rich

17. Red wine is for steak and chips

18. Cocktails are wonderful, but never admit to that as they're a bit girly, though of course lots of flirting fun to be with had with their suggestive names

19. Speedos are essential Buff wear - see figure above, ain't that fab! After all what is better to look at, a micro-bikini or an all-in-one cover it all up?

20. Don't bother with suncream, boring stuff for wimps. Red is a great colour

21. Oh, and if you've gone all red then definitely wear white, its a great combination.

22. Shades, yup, you want to keep these on all the time. After a night on the tile its mighty bright out there, plus you can doze off when you want to

23. Only buy lots and lots of pairs as you'll leave them all over the place.

24. Its really cool to buy gear from, say, the America's Cup, as people will think you were on the team.

25. Buying team stuff together with dropping into the conversation you're a TV star with his own shown and soon you're be considered a legend!!

26. Hats are a pain as they blow off your head in anything over a force 2

27. But they're just the ticket if, like Buff, you're commentating on the race from the shore

28. In particular hats are a must-have for those, er, a bit, er, thinner on the top if you know what I mean

29. Tan lines are great - women really appreciate it if you to ask if you can see theirs

30. Knee pads are essential for boats with wooden decks

31. SHOUT A LOT when in a race: it doesn't matter what or when. Try yelling out "starboard" and "water" even if its not the right moment (and jeez, who knows when is) as it will distract other sailors.

32. The race committee is filled with idiots who are as blind as a bat and usually get it wrong. I mean I never touched that buoy!!

33. Stickers are fantastic way to identify which boat is yours: Lasers all look the same to me.

34. Sailing at night is a must. Remember that yachting includes motor boats and motor boats include cruise ships and its easy peasy. Just take the ferry to Spain.

35. What happens on the towpath (*), stays on the towpath. Yes Tanya, I mean you!!

 (*) or sail locker, Hooter's bar, stairwell of Holiday Inn etc etc etc

36. Most clubs are full of officious types who like to do all the work so you shouldn't volunteer for anything

37. Peeing off the side of a boat is the sign of a man

38. Peeing off the side of a boat in the middle of a tight fleet of boats is a bit gross, I'll admit that

39. Peeing off the side of a boat when alone on deck at night is not a good idea (believe me, I found out the hard way!!)

40. Mates come first. Unless they're douche bags.

41. Mates understand if you have to ditch them for a hot shiela

42. Its not the size of your audience that matters, its the number of hours of TV you broadcast

43. No, YouTube doesn't count

44. TV is so much better than Twitter, FaceFriend or blogging!!!

45. Any race can be made more exciting by imitating Michael Jackson or other top celebs on Channel 16!!

46. If that doesn't work you could use your VHF radio for an emergency karaoke session!

47. Don't let your ma join you when you go sailing. It just spoils things

48. Keep an eye out for that special someone - you don't know when she might appear!!

49. Remember, it always seems a good idea at the time.

50. How difficult can it be?

So there you go!! Buff's rules of boating. I might have a ponder for a bit over another stubbie and see if they can be polished up.

This is Buff Staysail, rule master, over and out!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

London's changing skyline

This has for long been the image of London. Historic and imperial, valuing the traditional over the new.

But cutting into the skyline is the unmistakable dagger that is the Shard.
Modern and imposing, signalling to the world a city unafraid to find itself in the 21st Century.

It's a lovely evening to wander by the Thames opposite the Tower, sharing the view with hundreds if not thousands of tourists.

Welcome to London, 2012.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Tales of Buffman

G'day all! Buff Staysail here! Buff by name and Buff by nature!

You know I'm most at home in the bar, beer glass to hand, surrounded by friends.

Take last night: after the excitement of Saturday when I got the University Boat Race scoop, I wanted a spot of Buff-time, and after a couple of drinks, or maybe a few more, my mates got round to asking the key questions.

"Buff" they said "we know you're an internationally renown sailing correspondent with your own show on Queensland Community TV - but what about Buff the man? What about Buff and the women in his life?"

And so after another glass or two more I told them three sad tales from the days when Buff was younger.

First there was Olympia - ah, sweet Olympia, whose beauty made me swoon! I couldn't resist but declared my love and we danced and danced and danced. Alas then I sort of over did it and we spun off the club floor and it turned out she wasn't real but a manikin or a robot or something. Bit of a let down really.

After that I saw sense and fell for the fair Antonia. She had a voice that was as sweet as honey - I didn't have to listen to what she said just gulp down the sounds as if they were peaches and cream. Alas she had this weird disease and she sang and sang and then collapsed dead. Must admit Buff was a bit bummed by that.

So that's when I met Giuletta. Now to be honest she wasn't entirely the sort of lady me ol' ma would approve of, but play your cards right you'd be guaranteed a good night, if you know what I mean! Alas she drank poison and dropped down dead too.

I think that's right: must admit after more than a couple of drinks it all goes a bit hazy.

This is Buff Staysail, nursing a bit of a hangover, heading off to bed.

Ed: Oh dear, I think Buff's got a bit confused between last nights drinking session and a trip a few weeks ago to the English National Opera at the Coliseum.

A superb production of The Tales of Hoffman which alas has ended but if it returns is well worth catching.

Monday, April 09, 2012

The 2012 Devizes to Westminster Race

Along with the University Boat Race, Easter weekend also saw the annual Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race.

This races is 125 miles long and starts in Devizes, near Bath, from where the competitors follow the Kennet and Avon canal until they meet the Thames which takes them into the heart of London (above).

It is a very tough race with 77 portages and the weather didn't help, being grim with grey skies and lots of rain.

There are two categories: those that do it in stages over the long weekend and those crazy brave enough to do it non-stop.

To give an idea of how demanding it is: the non-stop race is the longest in the world and this year even Olympic legend Sir Steve Redgrave pulled out due to tiredness.

As you might have guessed, it was thought up in a pub.

Big "respect, mate!" to all those to have completed it.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Buff Staysail admits "I was the second swimmer"

G'day all! Buff Staysail here! Buff by name and Buff by nature!

Well there's been all these rumours about me and the swimming incident so lets get it all out in the open.

I was enjoying a quiet pint or four (maybe five) with my new chums Oz Clarke and James May (above) at the Dove pub, discussing our lives as leading journos slash media experts, waiting for the 158th University Boat Race to start.

They were very supportive and over the sixth pint kept encouraging me to be ready to report for Queensland Community TV - indeed I think Oz said "I really think you should go now" - when James bet me a bottle of bubbly I couldn't swim out to the boats as they rowed passed and interview the crews.

Yours truly of course rose to the challenge: after all, how difficult could it be?

So I pushed through the crowds to get to the waterline just in time to see the Oxford and Cambridge crews flash by - 'strewth they can sure motor!!

Fortunately there was that incident with the other swimmer so they stopped the race which gave me the chance I needed. Quickly I stripped down to my custom "Total BS" boxers and was down the landing ramp, into the water, ready to ask them "how do you think its going so far?"

Unfortunately due to some obscure health and safety issue at this point the local coppers came forward and said something on the lines of "you're nicked sunshine" and before I had time to get that scoop found myself sped away in the police boat.

I of course explained I was a famous journo, friend of the likes of Oz Clarke and James May, at which point this really scary lawyer from the BBC appeared who found some typo in the arrest warrant then made me sign something called a non-disclosure agreement, which I think means this story is a genuine exclusive!!

And that's all there is to it.

I'm sure many hacks were jealous that they hadn't come up with the idea of interviewing the crews mid race by swimming out into the Thames so refused to cover this story.

But I of course know the truth!

This is Buff Staysail with a boat race EXCLUSIVE, over and out.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Cambridge wins drama packed boat race

It's fair to say that I've never seen a boat race like that one - actually I don't think anyone's ever seen a boat race like that one.

It started off as a thrilling battle between two evenly matched boats and ended up like something out of those wacky races.

The start was clearly won by Oxford (boo) who passed Putney Embankment maybe a third of a boat length ahead.

But Cambridge (on the Surrey side) hung in there and pulled back so that by the time of the long Surrey side bend was inching ahead.

At this point they were out of sight so I was relying on the commentator (below) who's voice suddenly changed and he turned to the crowd below to announce "there's someone in the water!"

Then we learnt that the race had been stopped and for a moment there was chaos as no one knew what was happening, as officials and crews battled to get the boats back up river a bit, both lined up and pointing the right direction.

At one one point the police boat stormed by and there was some speculation the swimmer - much cursed by all - was on board, about to be detained at her majesty's pleasure.

After quite a wait the race was suddenly on again with Oxford again starting well but Cambridge fighting to catchup until another shock - their oars clashed and then Oxford broke an oar.

That was pretty much it and Cambridge's eight overpowered Oxford's seven to go on to win, despite protest calls from Oxford. Just as it seemed the drama of the day was over one of the Oxford crew collapsed!

It all took a lot longer than expected by the end the TV crews were marooned by the incoming tide upon their camera platform:
I look forward to hearing what Anna of Something about rowing makes of what was one of the most dramatic boat races ever.

Updated: watch the highlights on the BBC web site here. I've just seen the oar clash incident and you can hear the umpire telling Oxford to keep clear just before it occurred. I do feel sorry for the Oxford cox but she was aggressive all the way. Fortunately the Oxford crew member is conscious and thought to be ok

Update 2: as reported by the Telegraph, Guardian and Independent

Boat race day

It's boat race day and all eyes will be on Putney at 14:15 BST today.

Above you can see the paps getting their shots of the Cambridge crew yesterday though the papers this morning suggest that the other place are the favourites.

More all over the place but you might like to watch this guide to the course or Oz Clarke and James May's guide to eating and drinking (mostly drinking) between Putney and Mortlake.

This year the prize will be handed out by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. As Boris was at that other place I'm hoping he's going to be disappointed.

Good luck Cambridge!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Book Review: The Natural Explorer

What does it mean to be an explorer in the age of Google Earth? When, unlike Magellan or Amundsen, we can not venture into lands uncharted or unmapped but rather known with a sometimes deep history, how can we still explore?

Those are the questions posed in The Natural Explorer by Tristan Gooley, author of The Natural Navigator. In what will surely become recognised as a classic of the genre Tristan reclaims the word for all of us.

Tristan (*) approaches the word in two directions. Firstly by suggesting we appreciate more the journeys we take by seeing how even the simplest path interacts with layers upon layers of information and knowledge.

Keep you senses, heart and mind open to the world around you. Be aware of the plants, the animals, the soil, the coastline, the hills and mountains, the sky, light and weather, waters both still and flowing, trees, woods and forests, geology and history, humans, cultures, food, drink, possessions, language, religions, beauty, music, art and so see the richness of the world.

As an example of this philosophy Tristan offers us the great German explorer Alexander von Humboldt who relished this greater treasure and his writing was valued by many not just of his time, like Charles Darwin, but also today.

For Humboldt also shows a way forward for exploring, as an act of communication. Those that gained the label of great explorer are almost by definition those that told the world of what they found.

And the modern explorer can do the same, for communicating what he or she finds is actually more necessary as the amount of information we could possibly know becomes an overpowering tsunami.

Filter data for knowledge, select stories wisely to tell truths, these are the tasks of the modern day explorer.

Another great read, well written and thought providing.

(*) full disclosure: Tristan is a sailing friend of mine

Picture from: Amazon

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Sony DSC-TX10 waterproof camera design flaw

Hmmm.... pretty sure that's not meant to happen.

The Sony DSC-TX10 camera (reviewed previously here) may be waterproof and shockproof but the sliding mechanism it uses to open isn't alas as well built.


Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Is the "Pirate Captain" William Dampier?

On the Independent web site there's an interesting theory relating to fantastic new movie "The Pirates: an adventures with scientists" (pictured above) which I reviewed here.

This article notes that there was indeed a pirate interested in science, one who wrote books on meteorology and ocean currents, who dined with the likes of Samuel Pepys, visited the Galapagos islands and described many plants and animals in a best selling book.

This polymath was of course the famous buccaneer / pirate / slave trader / travelling / writer / scientist / alleged relative William Dampier.

The dates were very different, as Dampier sailed around the world in the late 17C / early 18th while the film overlaps with Queen Victoria and Charles Darwin, so must be roughly mid 19C - that is, very roughly. This film definitely lives in its own parallel universe.

But there is one thing would worry the Pirate Captain himself, which is the beard issue (or "beard-gate" as no doubt it would be called).

The Pirate Captain was most proud of his beard ("luxurious" he described it) but as can be seen by the picture below that was something that Dampier lacked:

But it doesn't matter: I'm happy to simply have an excuse to say hello again to an old friend.

Picture from: The Independent

Monday, April 02, 2012

The restoration of the Cutty Sark

I was down in Greenwich last Thursday for an update on the campaign to save Yinka Shonibare's Victory in a Bottle (newsflash - its looking good!) but my attention was immediately grabbed by the sight of three masts breaking into the evening skyline.

Yes, the restoration of that wonderful old tea clipper the Cutty Sark is nearly complete after a terrible fire almost destroyed it. The ship is now masted and rigged just like it was before the accident - but now there's an additional feature of a lower viewing gallery to see the hull.

You can sort of see it in this picture that shows its illumination but when its ready you'll be able to walk truly all around this amazing ship.

It's due to open later this month and no doubt I'll be down there soon after.

In the mean time there are some really good photos on the Telegraph web site here.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Build your own Cutty Sark!!

G'day all! Buff Staysail here! Buff by name and Buff by nature!

Now that the truth is finally out (see previous post) we can move this blog to a higher gear! And what better place to start than a build your own boat project to keep you busy now the evenings are getting longer!!

And Buff's got a cracker for you - nothing less than construction of a replica of the famous Cutty Sark!

Can you imagine the excitement you will get as you set sail for the first time in your brand new tea clipper! Watch your neighbours go green with envy as this three masted classic is put together piece by piece in your driveway!!

Over the next 3293 weeks we will be learning the key skills of boat building. To prepare you need just a few basic tools:
- hammer
- nails
- saw
- iron foundry
- rock elm wood
- pitch pine wood
- canvas (misc)
- tar
- paint
- brush

Sign up now!!!

This is Buff Staysail, master ship builder, over and out!!

Buff comes clean

G'day all! Buff Staysail here! Buff by name and Buff by nature!

Ok, there's something I've got to get off my chest. Thing is, this JP character is made up!

That's right, he's a figment of ol' Buff's fertile imagination.

It seems that it's just O'Docker that worked this out though surely it was obvious. I mean JP is too square to be real. And unlike Buff he doesn't even own a sail boat!!

But what does Buff own? I hear you ask.

Well have a look at the beauty above. I'm not sure what first attracted Buff to this day boat but she sure looks like a stunner! And you can see my lovely GF Natasha sunbathing on the stern!

This Captain Buff, for real, over and out!!