Thursday, March 28, 2013

The spend a penny boat

Constructions workers, where ever they are, even on the Thames, needs facilities.

Great location for pensive sit.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dreaming of the America's Cup

After yesterday's trip on the old Henley, complete with over powering gas heater, my dreams were of something very different, namely foiling wing-sail super-cats.

Yup, I've started dreaming about the America's Cup.

I'd put together a syndicate (as must be a common dream) and Team JP had our own highly experimental craft dockside in San Francisco

It was a curious design, having borrowed concepts from the Mingming little cruising junk, with multiple wing segments that could be raised and lowered as a junk's sail, allowing reefing.

Alas the shore facilities were poor, and so at a bar Larry Ellison and I complained to each other bitterly.

"We should do something" we said loudly over our beers, "starting with a law suit."

Obviously, given he had a legal team all ready and waiting, I suggested that this could be something he could look after, and so it was agreed.

Out on the waters things were hotting up. The Team JP design was proving a winner as we led the chase to windward, but then things fell apart as we hit the mark.

What to do? How does one do a penalty turn in something souped up where the only way to stop seems to nose dive into wave?

Anywhere that's where the story ends, as puzzled by what to do next I woke up.

Apparently Buff has a tall story about what happens to experimental foiling wingsails outside America's Cup competitions & if there was any interest I could tell it

Have you any good sailing dreams?

Henley on the Thames

That's the vessel Henley, not the place.

Yesterday I had meetings in central London that were scheduled just right to get one of the last times that this classic 1896 vessel will be used for the Putney river bus.

Not that it won't be on the Thames as apparently it will be used for tourist trips further up river to Hampton Court.

Inside it was cooker warm with a a gas heater that gave me a bit of a headache and desire for fresh air.

I think that's what's known as character!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The River Action Plan

The improvements to the Putney River Bus posted yesterday are part of a wider plan to improve use of the Thames.

You can read all about it in the River Action Plan which includes the figure above that shows the growth of use of the various ferries, tours and buses stirring up these muddy waters.

There's even an interactive chart show new piers being planned and the sparkling new features we can expect:
That's right! We're getting Boris Bikes!!

So you can take the River Bus to Putney Pier and then bike onward upriver along the Thames path, just the thing for a warm summer's evening.

.... a warm summer's evening? It seems hard to imagine, right now.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Last days of the old Putney River Bus

This is the Putney River Bus, taking commuters into London on one of the rare sunny days this so-called spring. It will soon be a rare sight itself.

For there is a new operator taking over this route west, Thames Clipper, with their fleet of modern cats:
There will of course be benefits, with more frequent services and faster journey times.

But there will be less character, less history.

The Henley (at the top) dates back to 1896 and another of the vessels I've traveled on was one of the little ships that rescued our army at Dunkirk.

They will no doubt remain on the river for other events, sharing these famous waters with the modern upstarts, old and new together as so often happens in this great city:

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Brad Pitt and Noam Chomski go sailing!

Hi guys!

Sassi's got a story to warm your cockles even on this snowy Sunday - Brad Pitt has bought a yacht! And it's the sort that even JP would approve, something called a "schooner", a classic sailing boat 75 feet long.

Can't you just imagine it? The turquoise blue of the water off Cannes, and under a glowing sun along sails Brad, Jolie and their lovely children with perfect smiles, tans and haircuts!! I'm feeling warm all over already!

So why no photo of the world's most beautiful couple you ask?

Well of course it's all JP's fault. He found out that some old geezer called Noam Chomski (???) "loves sailing" and used to own a fleet of boats.

Then he found this picture of Noam Chomsky sailing with another bloke not on Sassi's radar, namely Norman Finkelstein and insisted that I put it up.

I found their books on JP's shelves and had a flick through and what a yawn!

Forget that: if Sassi goes nautical what she wants is Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen!!

Luv ya!

Sassi xxx

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Too cold for Pooh Sticks

Its been a cold and chilly week, ending up with a day of sleet and snow.


It's not helped that I've had a yucky cold which meant that had to pull out of last weekend's planned sailing photography course.

Its not the only thing to be the victim of the extended winter we're having (sorry O'Docker).

The Head of the River Race (HORR) was due to be held today and it was cancelled.

But it gets worse, nay, tragic, sadder even than me having to work this weekend.

I'm afraid to say that this year's World Pooh Stick Championship has been cancelled.

Come on spring!

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Solent from SPAAAACE

This photo of the Isle of Wight and the Solent was taken by Chris Hadfield, the man with the coolest job title both on and off the planet, namely Commander of the Space Station.

I think that one's not going to get on this would-be space cadet's CV, but will settle for the chance to get out on these waters and hopefully soon.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sassi ROCKS!!!

Hi guys!

OMG!! I am, like, soooo good at this blogging biz!! Natch or wot??!!

All it takes is a whoosh of Sassi magic and ol' JP's blog is a CELEB AUTHORITY!!! (official!!)

Yes, that's right, no more Cry me a river!!

Watch out London 'cos Sassi's out to get plastered!!

Luv ya!

Sassi xxx

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Matt Rutherford: single handed around the Americas

Red Dot on the Ocean - Trailer from TheSailingChannelTV on Vimeo.

Nearly a year ago Matt Rutherford sailed into the Chesapeake Bay to complete an epic single handed sail around the Americas.

The 23,000 mile voyage took him just around a year, in which he sailed through the North West passage and then South to the legendary Cape Horn.

I've only just heard about the story and seen the clip above of a film being made about it but would like to know more.

Luckily Matt is coming over to the UK to give a talk to the Ocean Cruising Club, and hopefully I'll be able to trek over to Docklands to hear about it first hand.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sailing and committment

Over the years I've tried my hand at many types of vessel, some of which are shown above. Sailing boats, big and small, classic and modern, plus the odd motor boat and not forgetting those kayak trips on the Thames and Wandle.

I have spent time recently wondering if I should buy rather than borrow or beg my place afloat. I see those other bloggers that have boats and ask whether I too should have something that was mine alone, to sail when and where I wished.

I can't help but be impressed at their dedication, out in all weathers to get that rolling gybe just right, or fixing that dodgy electrical system.

That takes commitment - a decision, that yes, this is the one for me, something I find hard to do.

Yes there are reasons. London is known for many things - concerts, galleries, architecture, history, restaurants, pubs and clubs, to name but a few - but marinas are not on the list.

But is that an explanation or an excuse? Is it a coincidence that the likes of Tillerman, who shows not just commitment but dedication to the art and science of the Laser, is accompanied to warmer climes with a Mrs T?

Is there character information to be gleamed from a sailor's choices - are those more likely be joined with a life partner also likely to identify and remain true to their choice of vessel?

Saturday, March 09, 2013

WEHORR 2013 plus another type of rowing

Putney Embankment was packed today for the Women's Eight's Head of River Race or WEHORR.

I couldn't of course send Buff due to the restraining order after the "pull fit girl" incident and Sassi, who would have been ideal, went drinking with her twitter chums last night and has only just surfaced.

But fortunately I was passing by on my Saturday run, though I had to slow down quite a bit due to the mass of rowers and their boats:
I wonder if Anna from Something about Rowing was there? Probably not, as her last blog post was about how she has become a bike racer instead .

While the WEHORR was running the river was closed, with a police boat standing guard. So it was good planning by this more traditional rowing boat that passed by earlier in the morning:
I wonder if Chris from Rowing for Pleasure can identify them?

Walking Wounded

Another walking song for Bonnie, also from EBTG, this time the title track from the brilliant Walking Wounded.

Not much actual walking in the video though.

BTW sorry had to set back on captchas - got bored of clearing out all the spam

Friday, March 08, 2013

Five fathoms

To add to Bonnie's songs of walking posts, here's Everything but the Girl walking the streets of London:

I walk the city late at night 
Does everyone here do the same?
There's a river in my head

Updated: I was wondering about the title of this song and my guess its a Tempest reference:

Full fathom five thy father lies; 
Of his bones are coral made; 
Those are pearls that were his eyes; 
Nothing of him that doth fade, 
But doth suffer a sea-change 
Into something rich and strange

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Bronze Age boat completed

The replica Bronze Age boat has been finished and launch, and yes, it steers just fine.

However according to this BBC news video it needed a little bit of bailing, though according to the "experimental archaeologist" (what a great job title) that's to be expected.

Doesn't look like the fastest of vessels but certainly solid enough - once the holes are caulked.

Image from: Independent

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Steve Reich's Radio Rewrite

I really enjoyed the Steve Reich concert yesterday, though it must be admitted it wasn't as amazing as the epically brilliant Drumming I saw two years ago.

The first piece was Clapping Music with one of the performers Steve Reich himself. There's a beautiful simplicity about this work, that must reflect millions of spontaneous creations from tribes sitting in a circle around fires on the plains of Africa. Half the audience seemed to struggling not to join in.

Then there was Electric Counterpoint, which is basically a single player on guitar accompanied by pre-recorded tracks of the same musician, which would make it ideal for a busker on the tube. I love its energy and drive, so this was my favourite.

The final piece of the first half was 2 x 5, which relates to the number of musicians rather than length. There was a certain mwah about it for me, and I wasn't surprised when the applause petered out.

After the interval was the world premiere of Radio Rewrite (above). It was based upon extracts, chords and variations on a theme from Radiohead's songs from the album Kid A, namely Everything in its right place and Jigsaw Falling into Place.

A key idea was that music has historically borrowed from contemporary dance and traditional music and its only relatively recently that the two genres have diverged. Reich is no stranger to cross-over, though most of the traffic has been from him to pop and in particular dance, that heavily borrows the minimalist ethos.

In a way there is precedent in Reich's work, in that the likes of Different Trains was based upon borrowed themes, in that case spoken phrases, reminiscences of the trains of America and Europe before, during and after the Second World War.

Its a different direction to the purer minimalism, with theme development, modification, variation and structure. These more traditional compositions sometimes seemed strained - maybe that's what was wrong with 2 x 5, but here the one initial hearing gave hints of layers and complexity that would reward re-listening.

The final piece was Double Sextet, which is more typically repetitive of some of Reich's earlier works, though actually relatively recent. While good stuff I personally didn't enjoy it as much as the Electric Counerpoint, which it must be admitted I know a lot better, but it got the most applause.

Afterwards there was a brief talk with Reich, who said that he felt that he and Glass were like cleaners, trying to fix the hole that the atonalist dug classical music into. He also admitted that he vigorous deletes material for self criticism, in moderation, is key for an artist.

A very enjoyable evening, and it was noticeable how much younger the audience was than most classical concerts. Given that both Reich events were quickly sold out I think there's two messages for those trying to get the next generation into the concert halls.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

World Premiere Quiz

JP's just been to a concert that included a world premiere and jolly good it was too.

As there were five pieces, here's a five part quiz:
1) Who clapped?
2) What makes the 2nd piece of music ideal for busking?
3) How long is 2 x 5?
4) Which kid did this one come from?
5) Despite the iPhone being a terrible camera, can you guess who is the man in the cap?
Bonus question: why was the method JP used to get home appropriate?

A clue to explain this obscurity here

Monday, March 04, 2013

Back to work

Raising children is hard and takes time.

As often happens even with the most uber of power couples, it really helps if one half of the partnership can take a breather from work to focus on the family. But there comes a time when the kids have grown a bit when its time to pick up the career again.

And so it is with billionaire Kirsty Bertarelli - yes, wife of the AC winner Bertarelli.

One of my favourite sailing trivia question has been what is the connection between the America's Cup and the girl group the All Saints, the answer being that Mrs Bertarelli wrote the group's song Black Coffee about Mr Bertarelli (as posted previously).

As this article puts it:

When the Appleton sisters sing, "I wouldn't want to be anywhere else," what the lyrics actually mean is "other than on a yacht with Ernesto Bertarelli".

Now Kirsty has returned to the studio to record an album called "Love is" which includes a duet with Ronan Keating.

So what is the boating angle you might be wondering? Well according to this article she said that:

“I write a lot on the boat although I don’t have a recording studio on it"

What boat is that, you ask? Well only the biggest motor yacht built in the UK, namely the 314ft long, six-deck, £100m Vava II:
So there's another benefit of boating: it helps you get creative.

What have you created onboard your vessel?

Sunday, March 03, 2013

The Tapestry of Life

After all that philosophy of sailing lark, can we work out what is the meaning of life?

I'm not sure we can fully know "the answer" which surely isn't as simple as 42. For one thing Godel's Incompleteness Theorems puts limits on what finite beings like us can be absolutely sure of being true. And we clearly only know about only a minutely tiny part of this huge universe, both in time and space.

My take on it starts with the idea in physics that space-time is one, a four (or more) dimensional structure. We only experience "the present" because that is what we are designed to do: in practice our past and future exist within the same space-time, with different temporal coordinates. Quantum mechanics does complicate the picture, but again the standard Copenhagen interpretation is that there is an "observation" within which potential alternatives collapse into a single reality, which then has a space-time locality.

So if the whole of space time is a single construct then even when we are gone our actions are still "there", fixed events that continue to exist even though they become the past for some observers.

It's a bit like walking along, looking at the Bayeux Tapestry (above). Once we have walked beyond the scene above it is still "there" even though we can't see it. Our "present" has moved on to another part of the story making this scene "the past".

Similarly our actions remain in space-time for ever, even though our part might have finished. We are like the threads of a giant tapestry which have a definite start and end, components of a bigger picture.

But if these threads are in a way eternal, in that space-time once woven is fixed for ever, we had better make sure our parts of the big picture are good, are right.

As to what is right and good, well that is for you to decide.

Image from: Wikipedia. Don't you just love the detail, such as the way the anchor man has tied up his tunic to stop it getting wet

Friday, March 01, 2013

How to make a Bronze Age boat

This amazing time lapse shows the construction of a replica of a Bronze Age boat by a joint team from the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth and the University of Exeter.

It is based upon the Dover Boat, said to be the world's oldest known sea going vessel, which has been dated to approximately 3,550 years old.

It had no sail but instead had to be rowed: given its stupendous weight that must have been a lot of hard work.