Wednesday, May 30, 2018

History of Navigation Conference at the National Maritime Museum

After my visit for an update on progress on the Painted Hall restoration last week, I went to the main reason for my trip to Greenwich, which was a conference on the History of Navigation at the National Maritime Museum.

Jolly interesting it was too. Over the next one and half days heard 14 or so talks about subjects as varied as:
  • How to become a Hero
  • A Heroic Pirate? William Dampier’s contemporary reputation and historical legacy as a navigator
  • Lady Franklin in the Victorian Canon of Naval Heroism
  • The weather, failure and success on Cook´s third voyage
  • “It’s all Fake News!”: James Cook and the making of an 18th century media hero
  • The Validity of Replica Voyages
  • Charisma and Routine in Nineteenth-century Hydrography
  • A century of pain and gain: chartering and opening the Torres Strait in the nineteenth century 
  • ‘Plane-tabling Mitcham Common is hardly sufficient’: Instruments in the Identity of Exploration 
  • A History of Navigation in the Western Desert prior to the GPS age
  • Hero or Villain? The conundrum for the military in using GNSS as an aid to navigation
The one I was most interested in was of course William Dampier, that being a favourite topic of mine, and had a great chat with the author, Katherine Parker, afterwards about whether his later failings were due to drink or some tropical disease.

The most fun was the one from Vanessa Collingridge about Fake News and James Cook's voyages in which learnt a lot about the cut-throat world of journalism in those early days of newspapers in the UK.

A special mention goes to the author of the Lady Franklin paper, Alexa Price, for managing to bring the Princess Bride into her talk (in context).

There were a bit too many old guard duffers and rather a shortage of fluent men, apart from Neil Dicken, who also, in his talk on GNSS, referenced Tristan and his natural navigation techniques (in the context of urban navigation without GPS).

Thanks to the National Maritime Museum for organising it and I will keep an eye out for future conferences they arrange.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Restoration of the Old Royal Naval College Painted Hall: Update

Last year I visited the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Navel College in Greenwich to see the work being done to restore this fading masterpiece. Last week I was in Greenwich visiting the National Maritime and decided to pop in for an update.

At the time of my earlier visit, the conservation work had just started and they are still hard at it (above) a year later but the end is in sight. Much of the surface has been completed and you can clearly see the changes from my photos of the eclipse graphic from last year to this year:

Last year:

This year:

All those pealing paint has been touched up and its definitely looking cleaner though there are still the odd patches that are work in progress.

Some features that had become too faint to be seen were now visible, like this face blasted by the sight of Medusa:

I think the time table is to keep working until the autumn and then there'll be the long exercise of taking down all the scaffolding (apparently it weighs as much as the Space Shuttle) before the whole thing will be revealed in 2019:

Looking forward to seeing it then in all its glory!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Distant Shores at London on Water

Also at London on Water I met up with Paul and Sheryl Shard who are the Canadian couple behind the TV / Vimeo / YouTube show Distant Shores.

If you haven't caught Distant Shores here is their trailer:

They were both super nice and photo at the top shows their new yacht which they're about to sail off in for their next adventures. Distant Shores III is a Southerly 480 with lifting keel and below deck had that lovely new yacht smell with everything looking immaculate.

They also have a YouTube channel (of course) and you can get a flavour of their voyages through Scotland to Norway here:

They've even managed to put together a video of their visit to London:

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Henry from Kraken & sailing to Svalbard

Also at London on Water and much more enjoyable and running a lot smoother was the talk by Henry from Kraken Travel about a trip to Norway and up to Svalbard.

If you don't know about them its worth checking out their web site to discover some of the most interesting sailing trips around, including some to those arctic destinations I do so love visiting.

I have actually booked one of their trips but won't say which as don't want to jinx it after last year's bad luck in getting sick at the wrong time.

Anyhow, lots of good stories from Henry about sailing and skiing including a hot tub at the top of a mountain which sounds just brilliant plus great photos (alas the one above has nasty reflection) but you can get an idea from this blog post.

Had fun just chatting about sailing to the far north and people we both either knew or had heard of.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Jimmy Cornell talks about the North West Passage, again

The first of the talks at London on Water turned out to be one that I'd already seen and heard before at the Cruising Association 18 months ago, so check out the post for more details.

Two things stuck in my mind from that earlier presentation. Firstly, Cornell came across as a bit fussy, worrying about things not being right, from the lighting to the microphone to people eating away, and secondly that as skipper he said he couldn't "afford to be nice all the time" which sounded a bit ominous for the crew.

This talk didn't really add to this, though it wasn't helped by technical issues with the laptop and microphone, background noise from the bar of people chatting, the sound of rain on the tent and people eating too close to the table where Cornell had his books.

There was something appropriate about hearing this talk at St. Katharine Docks as Cornell's voyage started and ended by going through the nearby Tower Bridge.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Boats! Boats! Boats! ... in Windsor

A couple of years ago I went to Windsor to see the castle and the Thames. It was a lovely day and went home looking forward to checking out my photos. Alas there was some sort of memory card issue and there were none.

So I went back a bit later but alas it was grey and raining. There weren't many boats out on the river and none of those nice wooden classics had hoped for:

While this weekend it is much nicer, with blue skies and warming sunshine, I do not intend to go back as understand it might be rather busy there today, for some reason.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

London on Water gets wet

Over the weekend there was a boat show called London on Water in St. Katharine Docks. I'd been to the one last year and been slightly underwhelmed, apart from some rather nice cars, though it had been a nice sunny day.

Alas the one this year was rather bucketing down though there was a bit more to see:

There was a floating pontoon area with stands, a bar (which of course Buff went straight to), an area for talks and more boats including one of those long distance offshore rowing boats (above) which I can never quite see why people sign up for.

Technically it was ticketed but in practice there was no one checking at the door onto the pontoon (and anyhow I had a guest ticket aka reason to get my email).

But I went to two interesting talks and met another of those sailing round the world making videos couples which will post about next.

With the cancellation of the London Boat Show 2019, if there is another London On Water next year it could end up being London's only boat show.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

AIPAC declares all dead on Titanic "terrorists"

Today representatives of the America Iceberg Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) declared that all those that died in the Titanic disaster were "terrorists".

"The iceberg was just defending its borders" said the AIPAC representative. "So what if some of those that died were children - they should have been at school! There were no 'passengers' - the iceberg focused only on targets of terrorist activity".

Donald Trump was declared the best ever friend of icebergs when he said that "the responsibility for these deaths rests squarely with those terrorists on-board". He said he fully supports the "great" iceberg as it was "big, powerful and white - just like me!"

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Tudor Pull: Gloriana, Stela and a photo-bombing heron

Over the weekend there was something called the Tudor Pull which is a one of those historic maritime pageants which us Brits seem to revel in (and I've posted about before).

It's an annual ceremonial for Thames Watermen's Cutters organised by the Traditional Thames Rowing Association, involving the Royal rowing barge Gloriana (above) and others (below) in which "the Stela will be given in to the custody of the HM Queen’s Barge Master to be transported under oars to HM Tower of London."

Stela according to this web site is "an ancient piece of medieval water pipe made from a hollowed-out tree trunk which symbolises the Thames". I so (to quote Sassi) want to have a look at that hallowed object sometime.

Anyhow, there was break on the voyage of Stela from Hampton Court to the Tower at Richmond timed just nicely for a spot of lunch and then everyone set off again.

In this case the photo managed also to snap a heron doing a flyby:

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Ait Benhaddou and the Atlas Mountains

As part of the trip to Morocco took a day trip from Marrakesh to the fortified village of Ait Benhaddou (above) which was used as in the series Game of Thrones.

It was pretty impressive, just south of the Atlas Mountains. It was noticeable how the scenery changed, becoming dryer as we headed over the pass:

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Ships of the desert

Recently was in Morocco and did a quick trip south of the Atlas Mountains to see one of the locations used as sets in GAME OF THRONES (might post a pic of that later).

The site was visiting was a fortified town on the camel route between the Sahara and Marrakesh and it was amazing to see that camels are still used as means of transport even to these day.

The camels are known as the ships of the desert (listen to David Attenborough talk about them here) and there were some touristy places offering rides on them.

I wasn't tempted as they are known as being rather bad tempered though I was tempted when a hawker offered and old navigation instrument used to cross the desert, though not enough to buy it.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

The return of Tillerman!!

Hi Guys!

So Buff gave me this assignment to write about the return of Tillerman who apparently "used to be into lasers but now is into aeros" or summit...

Ed: What!!! Sassi: I told Buff to write that article himself! He's actually met Tillerman!

... which is a bit weird.

I mean I like an aero an' all:

but then how cool are lasers and how many gigs have been made, like, EPIC because of lasers (see top pic).

So why has Tillerman got this sweet tooth? Buff also said he's into cold things (what was it? eating snow? biting frost?) which is, like, way freezing and not in a cool way:

And then something clicked! Maybe it's the mini-heatwave (looking soooo good, summer outfit, nice bit of tan, glass of Pinot Grigio straight from the fridge) it suddenly hit me - ICE CREAM!!!

Apparently you can make ice cream from aeros!! How yummy is that!!!

Whereas lasers plus ice equal some sort of explosions, I guess, and you can't eat boffin's lego or whatever lasers are made of.

So it all makes sense: Tillerman's no longer going to gigs but having a nice aero ice cream!! Summer living!!

...ooh... just spotted the aero JP got for the photo.... baggsie!! hmmm.... yes, Tillerman, you're right, aeros are absolutely FAB!!!

Welcome back Mr T! We've missed you!!



Monday, May 07, 2018

Working boats! Working boats! Working boats! .... in Rabat

Ok, looks like a local kid photo-bombed this pic by diving into the river between Rabat and Sale.

But in the background you can see one of the rowing boats that were ferrying people across:

At the stern one chap seems to be taking the opportunity for a bit of a nap:

Others were heading out for a day's fishing:

They did like the colour blue in Rabat

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Boats! Boats! Boats! ... in Rabat

Recently was in Rabat for work and didn't have much time off but saw in the distances a couple of dinghies out from the marina across the river in Sale.

I think Tillerman would approve of this one:

Or maybe that is the old Tillerman, for there is now a new blog, not about Lasers but instead Aeros (not the chocolate)

On the beachfront under the Kasbah les Oudaias there were these Hobies but not out on the water: