Sunday, January 30, 2011

A sailor, not a hunter

Yesterday I went on a shoot.

I had my doubts and reservations, but decided to give it a try to support friends and family that had organised the event. While I admire the ethical position of vegetarianism I continue to eat meat, an act which inevitably involves the death of animals. So would it be inconsistent not to be prepared to do the key task myself?

In the end my aim was so poor that I have no pheasant's life on my conscience.

It was interesting to see who else was there and why. The main group were locals taking the opportunity of this, the last weekend of the shooting season, to enjoy a traditional countryside activity as a community event. They typically wore checked shirts and ties and were all ages down to boys the height of their guns but already dead-shots and quietly polite.

Then there were the experts who choose this activity, those who'd go off to Africa to hunt large animals, who had the gear and practice to know what to do, who'd ended the day with a decent tally.

There was much advice from both groups as to how to improve, such as to spend time clay pigeon shooting, for like all skill based occupations the way to improve is practice, practice, practice.

But I don't want to get any better: it is not a skill I want.

I am a sailor, not a hunter.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Buff speaks out!

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

JP's just stepped away from the keyboard for a moment so its time for a spot of Buff's wisdom. As you will know, get a cold beer or two in my hand and you're in for a treat.

Just some of my words of wisdom are:

"The art of winning is not in winning, but in winning so that the rest of fleet are pleased you have won"

"It will give an idea of my approach to sailing when I say I measure distance in bottles of liquor"

"Training accumulates. It's like money in the bank"

"Let this be your motto - Rely on yourself! For, whether the prize be a ribbon or throne, The victor is he who can go it alone!"

"Success is simply the extension and utilization of an an entire series of failures"

"Starting a boat in a large fleet is like playing Russian roulette with five bullets instead of one. One mistake and the finish is very quick"

"In life, as in surfing, there are waves that if you dare to ride them will kill you, and there are waves that will give you the ride of your life... All we are really doing in our short time on this big round ball is paddling around trying to figure out which ones are which."

"If there is one characteristic which all winners share, it is impatience with, and intolerance for, losing"

"I had been sailing for years before I realized that most people with boats are liars"

"Oh what a luxury it be how exquisite, what perfect bliss so ordinary yet chic to pee to piss to take a leak"

How about that! Those are truly words of wisdom from your's truly!

That's Buff - over and out!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Not so Happy Australia Day

First of course Happy Australia Day!

I was a bit worried I'd missed Oz day but according to my iThing it is still Wednesday in Perth so I've just got in under the wire. But all is not happy in the land of the bouncy 'roo and shrimp loaded barbie, for us poms are in the dog house again.

Not content with taking the ashes home we've got our grubby mits on the first map to call the land down under "Australia".

It was so named in the drawing (above) by Captain Matthew Flinders who circumnavigated the continent back in 1801-3. He made it while imprisoned for six years by the dastardly French in Mauritius and now it rests unseen within the UK Hydrographic Office in Taunton.


Hence this campaign to bring the map home.

Anyhow put away those wee drams of whisky, get yourself a cold tinny and raise it the lucky country!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gastro quiz

A gastronomic quiz relating to the picture above:
1) What do you call the three things on my plate?
2) What are they made of?
3) Why should you eat them today?
4) Which one can't you import into the USA and why?
5) Would you eat them?
6) What do you drink with them?
7) What toasts should you make?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Panel finds Blackbeard innocent

Today were published the findings of the official enquiry into the raiding of several ships off Charleston by Blackbeard, which concludes he was totally innocent.

The panel decided that he and his crew were "placed in a situation they were not completely prepared for and had not anticipated" and this led to loss of life.

According to Israel Blackbeard several of the merchant crew terrorists attacked him by reversing onto his sword - not just once but five times. Some even managed this while they were lying on the ground!

While the attacks happened in international waters it was legitimate as Israel Blackbeard was at the time undertaking a "completely legal" blockade of Gaza Charleston. This city - described by the pirates as a hostile territory - had shown its terrorist nature by resisting Blackbeard and crew. "God has told us all the gold in Charleston is ours" one crew member said.

Apparently some in Charleston and surrounding colonies have been seeking independence, a clearly hostile act.

"There has never been a country called the United States of America and there are no such people as the Americans" said pirate spokesperson Ms "Gold" Meir.

The panel did not interview any pirate crew or merchant sailor terrorist, instead basing its finding on the statements by Blackbeard.

Despite that it rejected calls from international lawyers that there was "clear evidence to support prosecutions" against Israel Blackbeard for "wilful killing" and torture committed when its sailors stormed the ships.

"We conclude by saying that these critics of Blackbeard are clearly biased against pirates" said a spokesperson, a Mr "White" Wash.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Buff's Official Apology

Today we are joined by a (rather scary) representative from Leech, Vam, Pire & Partners lawyers who is to make an official statement.

On behalf of our client, Mr Buff Staysail, we would like to make clear our regret at the incident at the London Boat Show.  Our client is willing to accept without reservation that he is not the "Original Buff" and that he in no way had any hand in the creation of this brand. Furthermore he accepts that his statement that "it was all my idea" was completely without substance.

Mr Buff Staysail regrets grabbing handfuls of the product and throwing them into the watching crowd. Also after closer examination he agrees that the statement "I don't need one I'm not going bald" was factually incorrect. In addition he sincerely regrets trying to demonstrate on the sales woman his theory that the headband could be used to support other parts of the body.

In conclusion he willing agrees with the request to remain at least 50 m from any Buff store and accepts that his behaviour was in part due to a long session in the Boat Show bar.

With this statement we suggest that the incident is hereby considered closed.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Some boat shows pic

Some pics from the boat show. Above and below some of the humongously big plastic things that Italian PM Berlusconi would use to entertain his "friends".

This rather neat display showed cruising shoot hoisting with a bank of fans to create wind and a boat that could be rotated round to simulate gybes etc.

There was also this indoor arena where you could try out standup kayaks, dinghies etc.

Alas Buff didn't behave himself that well and got into trouble......

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Geoff Holt at the London Boat Show

One of the highlights of the London Boat Show was hearing Geoff Holt, winner of the 2010 Yachtsman of the Year, talk about his experiences.

He described his love of sailing and how he thought it was to be his life. All was going to plan and he had many thousands of miles under his belt, including several crossings of the Atlantic, when his broke his neck in a hasty dive into the deceptively shallow waters of Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVI.

Geoff is a good speaker, relaxed and fluent, and from many a retelling as a "motivational speaker" tells the story well. It is indeed inspiring to hear how even a quadriplegic can achieve great things like circumnavigate Britain or cross the Atlantic. It reminded me a bit of my encounter with Jamie Andrew last month.

Maybe it was because of this I went up to him afterwards with a question that had come to me after talking about Jamie with a friend: it can it be a bit daunting for those that have mobility issues to hear about those that have been so successful despite their greater problems - what would he say to them?

It wasn't a question he'd expected, and we were distracted by photographers. But he made good points: firstly that everyone's path should be the one that is right for them, and that doesn't mean doing what Geoff or Jamie did. What is important is to gain in confidence and the best way to do that is to feel independent.

For Geoff that meant sailing again, to feel the boat react as he hauled on the main sheet or pushed the tiller over. And he was open about how hard it was, taking a long time to rehab - its now 25 years since his accident.

But there have been good things too: he met his wife in hospital where she was a nurse and they now have a son. Geoff might not have been able to play footie with him, but nothing was going to stop him learning to sail - as in the pic above.

He has also achieved much to help the disabled sail as part of his work for Sailability and last year 25,000 of them went out on the water. Good deeds like those give him a warm feeling, of doing something of value, and recognition too, with an MBE in 2010.

Geoff invited us to look at the names on the Yachtsman of the Year award, and there were many that I recognised, like Eric Hiscock, Francis Chichester, Robin Knox-Johnston, Chay Blyth, Pete Goss, Ellen MacArthur and Samantha Davies.

Those names have something in common, something that hopefully Geoff will have too, for already he is thinking of the next project - to be the first quadriplegic to sail around the world.

I certainly wish him well.

Monday, January 17, 2011

London Boat Show 2011

After seeing the Gauguin at the Tate I went on to the Boat Show. Between the two spent rather a long time walking and had time to come to an important conclusion: people walk too slowly.

I mean really, do you want to spend an hour more than you need to wandering the isles of the cavernous ExCel?

Of course each year have wondered if its worth going at all, but this year thought it might help with the problem of choices, choices posted on earlier.

Many of the options could be ruled out, starting with the shiny new and hence expensive yachts. Indeed I'm not sure that ownership is right for me apart from that gleam in the eye for an inflatable kayak, especially when there are so many sailing schools and holidays.

Again some like the Fastnet and Clipper require far too much time than work will permit, but that still left many possible alternatives.

But not just sailing: the boat show was combined with two others, the outdoor show and something to do with bikes (push bikes that is), and some of those trekking holidays looked pretty good too.

In the end that's probably the best reason to go to these sorts of shows. Unless you have something specific in mind what is interesting is what you find interesting.

As the ancient Greeks put it: know thyself.

Or at least try to.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gauguin at the Tate

Gauguin was a bad boy and he paid for it, dying of syphilis aged just 54.

You see him in this self portrait with one of his classic paintings in the background. In it a naked young girl is observed by a devil like death - or is she is dreaming of it? Gauguin excused himself as so many have done in the past: he is a genius and it is for art's sake.

But what does that make the gallery visitor? As you enter the Gauguin exhibition currently on at the Tate Modern you find yourself face to face with this very picture, the Manao Tupapau or Spirit Of The Dead Watching.

It is a disconcerting image on many levels, but that is something that Gauguin would have relished. Often in his paintings he seems to challenge the viewer. Rather than just paint a still life of fruit there'd be a mischievous face to one side, watching.

Many of his pictures are from his time in Tahiti. He imagined it to be unchanged and unspoilt since the first westerners arrived on HMS Dolphin, where the sailors were warmly welcomed by the local girls. He was depressed to find a land changed by French colonialism and Catholic missionaries.

Gauguin, though disappointed, seems to have replaced the reality by layers of imagined or reconstructed myths taken from sources as wide apart as Greece and Easter Island. Though surrounded by the most beautiful of blue water it rarely appears in his paintings. There are just the odd boat, not very good ones at that.

For his eyes were most definitely on land, and on those young girls in particular, and you could see the resignation in their faces.

The exhibition leaves a disturbing picture of a man with many demons of his own: I did wonder whether the devilish figure in the picture above was Gauguin himself, aware of his own mortality and the path that would take him to his death.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Buff's America's Cup Bid

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

Psst! Keep this one quiet will ya, got a wheeze to make your's truly loaded - and you too if want in. Buff Staysail is putting together an America's Cup syndicate. I've seen how there's big dosh to be made and I want some of it, and what's more I know how.

That Larry geezer missed a trick and Buff Enterprises is going to clean up - it should have gone to NY! This is how we make it work:

1. Mooring rights

Larry's first mistake was to go for real estate, 'cos that's limited by spare space, and there ain't much of that in the big apple. But you've got lots of water front, and just think of the money you could get by lining it with Cruise ships converted into appartments!! We're talking $$$ billions - and that leads me to the 2nd part of this scheme:

2. Short the property market

Now yours truly (actually holding company Buff ScrewU Inc) will create mind-blowing complex financial instruments that go short on what used to be NY waterfront properties that now just have views of our ships. When their value hits the floor our bank balance goes mental!! Of course it'll be routed via Mid West Main Street Family Bank so if it goes belly up the tax payers coughs up. But it won't cos of the next bit:

3. Radio Spectrum

What's worth more than property? Nothing! And the radio spectrum is just that - thin air! If NY want us there're going to have to give us 2 x 30 MHz spectrum to be taken from those lame-street broadcasters. With re-sell to the telcos we make billions and enter the high rollers and my yacht is bigger than yours. The final component is then:

4. Social Media and Marketing

It's all the buzz today, and we're going to tap in, by giving away all media - TV, games, web site, the lot - to anyone who subscribes via LinkedIn, Facebook, iPhone or Android app. And our app will suck all your connections and private data to Buff ScrewU offshore data farm (safely out of legal reach) for processing. With (say) 5 million users, each with 20 contacts we've got our mitts on 100m of the world's top people's inner secrets, and lets remember Facebook values each at $ 50 per user - that's serious money!


Ok, we've got to get those ducks in a row. My biz plan says we can flog the AC for several billions, so our campaign budget will start at $ 500 million. But according to those lawyer folks we got to start the game rolling now. We need not just a wholly owned NY yacht club but one that has held at least one race a year over two years to pass Go, so we need to get cracking.

Here's the plan: we get together, set up a NY based yacht club, hold a race (Tillerman vs Adam will do, just 100 m then back to the bar) and we're in business. Bit of VC raising, do the rounds of Wall Street (they're going to love this) and we're in the money. IPO say 2014, laughing it in 2015.

Who's with me???!!!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Choices Choices

Tillerman has recently posted about his decisions... which was an impressively long list and all to be resolved within a week! No wonder he retired to bed to think them through.

I've been wondering about something too: what to do this year? More offshore racing? More kayaking? More dinghy sailing? More power boats? More motor cruisers? More putting my feet up and watching others?

An unpredictable work life means I find it quite hard to plan ahead except to say no. So when was prompted to have the annual "shall I do Antigua week?" thought it only lasted as long as it took me to work out it would be just as a project we've just started on is planned to go live. Hmmm.... that might not impress the client.

Then when was asked whether would be interested in going skiing the answer was of course yes, until worked out it was the week of acceptance testing. Hmmm.... that might not impress the development team either.

I guess it will be another of those wait and see years.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Classic Yacht Kayak World

Today I got another invite from a magazine company suggesting I subscribe to their publication: this time "Ocean Paddler". Alas their sales and marketing department are going to be disappointed.

But it gave me an idea. These sorts of magazines worked best back when information was hard to get and so those interested in niche subjects had a relatively easy to meet requirement. There might only be a couple of articles per edition of interest but the lack of alternatives increased their value.

My problem - and I can't believe I'm alone in this - is that I'm sort of interested in a number of a topics and in each case there is now a free alternative, the web.

But that doesn't mean there aren't articles that would interest me from each publication. So from Classic Yachts it might be a report of the Fowey Classics while from Ocean Paddler an interview with Audrey Sutherland (as per Bonnie's suggestion). Good journalism is always worth reading, and finding it is getting harder not easier.

So maybe there's a new subscription model in which you can (say) read in an iPad app 100 articles from any water sports related magazine per month for $ 10 and after that (say) $0.5 per article. It would be a bit like your mobile phone (cellphone) contract: you get a certain number of minutes in the basic contract and after that it'll cost you.

Of course you'd call it something better than Classic Yacht Kayak World, but it would represent a half way house between single magazine subscriptions and high granularity pay per read micropayments.

If a publishing house like IPC Media with a decent portfolio were to use such a model it would be an awfully more attractive than each one of their publications on their own.

Maybe I should move quickly before the Buff Staysail Publishing Empire grabs the idea!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Subscription time

Over the holidays I did a bit of tidying up of the piles of paper stacked up on my home desk and uncovered a letter from Yachting World reminding me to renew my subscription, which I had forgotten.

What was interesting was I hadn't really noticed it had lapsed and for several months at that. That made me pause and question if it was still right for me.

Couple of possibilities sprang to mind. Partly its the overload of information that comes from the web: there's so much to read that filtering becomes really important. The web is also mostly free, more up to date, more varied both in content and also type of media.

Of course there is an App for that, but even the wonder tablet iPad has not proved so far to be the saviour of the publishing industry. Take this article on the Guardian Media web site which describes the low and falling iPad subscription rates.

But it makes me wonder whether the model itself is wrong: the very concept of an organisation packaging for us the readers a set of articles and then charging for the complete package. We live much more in a pick and mix environment, and want to select which articles we read for ourselves.

But of course that's still for the future. For the next few editions I'll be browsing in the newsagent, checking out the index before deciding to put my hard earned £ 3.90 on the counter for a copy.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Buff's Horoscopes 2011 - Part 2

G'day all! Buff Staysail here, Buff by name and Spiritual by Nature!

Yup, it's the second half of Buff's horoscopical (JP - is that right?) review of 2011!

Already there's been HUGE interest and ol' Buff is going to mint it with the Buff Astrological Hotline - so call NOW on premium 486284. It's easy to remember: think BAH premium HUMBUG!!

Anyhow, here goes:


July the 1st, that's the date, big things expected star wise with eclipses, great crosses, you name it!! It all means  you'll have itchy feet, wanting to dance those nights away or swim the wild seas. It's a time for new acquaintanceships with your social life going bonkers - so see you at the bar!!


If you're thinking of entering in a competition this August then BEWARE!! According to the stars you should watch out for a dark man calling for "water" at the windward mark!! Doom will be yours if you do not listen to this warning!!


Uranus will be retrograde this month that will be as painful as it sounds. Yup, its the month to be careful of injury: duck your head low when the boom heads over, keep that lifejacket on and check the kayak spray deck has that handle thing the right way up.


Pisces is joined with Aquarius for a rare conjunction this October and that can mean just one thing: you should make sure sea food is on the menu!! The ides will be good for scallops at some New Jersey restaurant, so swim over there and follow your nose!


The nights are drawing in and Saturn is retrograde which all sages know means one thing: time to get those oars out for a good hearty row. Just make sure you don't catch any crabs - they should have been eaten LAST month! - geddit!!


It's the end of the year and Sagittarius is rising like the pong wafting up from the Thames mud banks. Look up to the silver moon, watch its light reflect in the waters and remember the year and all the good things it in.

Yup, that's a wrap, 2011 in a nutshell!

Remember for a full update call BAH premium HUMBUG!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Buff's Horoscopes 2011 - Part 1

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

That's right, Buff's gone all spiritual like, having had an appiff.... a revelation after a major style booze up over Christmas. Yes, we are all one, dreamland style, and to start ol' Buff on his celestial journey here are your stars for 2011!


The third moon is rising just by the horns of the Ram, and following the holistic connections we are led to the Ram brewery, home of the famous Young's Special London Ale. So the stars mean you to stay indoors, down a pint or two, maybe go to a boat show, potter in the shed fixing things.


The planet Venus is in the bedroom constellation as Feb's the month of lurve. So don't go out in the cold alone, go with another. Leave that single handed plastic contraption ashore (Tillerman you know what we mean), give up that solo kayak (Bonnie we mean you) and go double handed for the month.


It's the spring equinox and we know what that means! Yup, times are a changing! Expect the tide to be strong and your life to head off in a new direction. Keep your charts to hand and updated with all those notices to mariners - you're going to need them!!


Pluto is crossed with Mars - tricky financial negotiations involved. Maybe you'll be coughing up for a new bit of gear, broken rig or new paddle, whatever! Thing is there'll be battles about budgets. Ask yourself whether you really need it in carbon fibre?


This is the month of Gemini, the twins, and that means you'll be conflicted. Are you into sailing or kayaking? Are you into racing or cruising? The answer is BOTH - yes you're in Gemini now baby!!


Strewth, half way round the year already. Time for the summer equinox and what better way of celebrating the great circle of life than sailing round an island. If you are the organiser of a major sailing event involved in racing around an island on the south coast of England, this is a great time to schedule it!!

Still to come: your stars for July to December so keep it locked to the Buff Astrological Hotline!!!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Inflatable Kayaks?

Ok, a question for you out on the interbloggy web: what do you think of inflatable kayaks? Also which models and brands have you tried out?

I've been doing a bit of Googling on them as they deflate to a size that could probably fit in somewhere which is a big issue to those of us living in apartments, plus of course easier to transport.

Having one could give me the ability to go paddling where and when get the urge - or, more importantly, get a break from work.

No big urgency as this fair weather paddler happy looking out at the water for a few more months.

Monday, January 03, 2011

The return to work

The holidays are winding to a close and tomorrow the work treadmill starts again, so I feel a bit like this yacht here (from the 2010 Sydney Hobart).

Yesterday was Uncle JP entertaining the nephews and nieces with Wall-E and brownies made from this mix which was very good but didn't last long enough to be photographed so will instead give this picture from Three men doing something or other in Scotland instead:

Batten down the hatches, 2011 is about to begin - here's hoping for smooth sailing not a white water ride.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

Happy New Year to one and all and hope you have a great 2011!

Thanks for my mince pie reading - in particular Tillerman's dozen and Carol Anne's best from sounds like a far from best year.

Can't think of any resolutions so far - is "think up a New Year's resolution" acceptable as a resolution or is a self-completing resolution?

Unsurprisingly Buff has yet to make an appearance so I guess he had a very wild night, but no doubt will turn up with that "never drink again" resolution for which the only uncertainty is how long it will last

Updated: a fab review of 2010 from Bonnie - a good read so head over here.