Friday, March 30, 2018

Drug Boat Dreams and a Savage Way to Sail

A shout-out for two sets of sailors met at the Delos meetup back in February.

First up there's the Drug Boat Dreams otherwise known as Targ and Teeps. They bought at a government auction the yacht Golem (as in Jewish folklore) which had been trying to smuggle £120m worth of drugs to Europe. It had to be pretty much torn to pieces inside by the National Crime Agency to find all the packages of cocaine, so it went for not that much but has required a lot of work to get it back together. Recently the mast was put back in and rigged.

You can follow their adventures on Instagram here: note the emphasis on cobalt blue, which fortunately exactly matched the colour of my macarons:

Then there's a Savage way to Sail, a solo circumnavigation being planned by an ex army sailor to raise money for charity. There's a web site here which describes the route and yacht and also a MyDonate page here for those wanting to make a donation. The yacht chosen is Coralle a Camper & Nicholson 40AC.

One of the charities is Turn to Starboard which offers sailing as a means of re-engaing and re-habilitating ex-servicesmen from the UK's military.

Good luck to both Golem and Coralle and the crews of both!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Boat Race 2018 - a video

Rather than taking stills, this Boat Race decided to shoot only video and put the result on YouTube, as can be seen above.

Must admit can see why the BBC has 30 plus camera and a mesh style radio communication network to pass video up and down the Thames: the rowing eights are going so fast you only get to see a snapshot of the race.

However in this case it was all over by Hammersmith Bridge so got to see the most important thing.... Cambridge ahead!

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Boat Race (and spring) is coming

Spring seems slow in coming this year but one sign of it is already here, namely the Oxford - Cambridge University Boat Race.

Traditionally held in early spring it is scheduled for tomorrow and this afternoon there was a trial run complete with cherry pickers, a helicopter and two rowing eights.

Winter is going.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The beast from the east returns

Blighty is currently being hit by another cold snap, a few weeks after the last one which was dubbed by the media "the beast from the east".

However the temperature is still above 0C so the snow is melting rather than settling, hence its not very photogenic. Instead here's a photo from Geneva showing one of the marinas frozen over, something which hasn't happened to the Thames since 1814 when an "elephant was led across the river below Blackfriars Bridge".

No chance for an Elfstedentocht here on the Thames. If you haven't heard of this its a 200 km ice skating tour / race held in Friesland in north Netherlands whenever the ice is thick enough, which apparently is not very often.

You can get a feel for it (and the intense cold) in this Public Service Broadcasting (the band) video:

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Remembering Stephen Hawking

There's been a lot in the media about the sad news of the death of Stephen Hawking and it made me remember my old Cambridge days.

He was a familiar sight then and I often saw him sitting in his wheel chair zooming along the streets of Cambridge, zipping across roads with an alarming speed.

While I studied in the same department as him - the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP to its friends) - he didn't teach us undergrads.

One of my post-grad friends who was lucky enough to have him as a lecturer invited me to the senior common room for tea when Hawking was there - not sure if that's enough for me to claim to have had tea with him but it was certainly memorable.

He wasn't always right and like all humans he had his failings. But he asked the big questions about the universe and came back with some big answers. He made science accessible with a recurring role in shows like The Big Bang Theory. He stood up for what he believed in politically.

And he showed that humans are defined by their mind more than their body: despite doctor's early prognosis he was to live a full life.

It reminded me of Charles Darwin who it is often forgotten was ill for large parts of his life. Darwin also noted that "Even ill-health, though it has annihilated several years of my life, has saved me from the distractions of society and amusement".

But Hawking seems to have enjoyed those distractions of society and amusement as well as doing great science:

Friday, March 09, 2018

Icy conditions for Lake Geneva Swimmers

There were no swimmers with polar bear blood to be seen trying out the steps down into Lake Geneva above, and none climbing onto the basking platform below.

There was little need of the no swimming signs:

I've swum in the lake before but not this trip!

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Ice Sculptures of Geneva

The boats in the previous post were not the only things covered in ice in Geneva down by the lake.

According to Wikipedia, Lake Geneva suffers from something called the Bise, which is a cold wind coming down the lake from the north-east.

The Bise was really was rather dramatic: it felt like a wild animal had taken over Geneva, with lights swaying wildly, creating pools of light that swirled in the dark, and gusts thrusting against one, as if trying to push over or whisk away into the night.

It also flung up spray from the lake which froze in dramatic fashion into ice sculptures (above)

Walk-ways  were covered in a smooth layer, causing dangerously slippy conditions:

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Frozen Boats! Frozen Boats! Frozen Boats! .... in Geneva

I've been off in Geneva again, struggling with a cold and the cold, rather than posting.

It really was rather chilly, and the wind thrown spray froze on boats down by Lake Geneva, as can be seen by these three examples:

Actually, not sure if this one can still be classified as a boat, as it seems to be acting like a submarine: