Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Storm Dennis and the Thames


Recently the UK has been hit by a series of storms, most recently Storm Dennis, and the Thames has not be unaffected.

On several days the Thames Barrier had to be closed to prevent storm surges and high tide flooding London. Even so, a BMW Z4 floated away from Putney Embankment, later found full of nasty brown water.

There also have been casualties amongst the trees, include the one above, rescued after floating down river. It could have been a danger to navigation so was extracted by the PLA and towed up river. One of the branches broke off:


But it was retrieved and also taken upriver:


Hopefully the next few weeks will be a little calmer.

Monday, January 27, 2020

The traditional dhow builders of Oman


I've just got back from Oman, which is a great country to visit.

One of the things I managed to do is drive from Muscat down to Sur and visit the last remaining boat yard in Oman. Here they use traditional methods to build the classic dhows.

No computer design used here, its all from memory and craft experience, with hand tools employed:


They also build models (which I did wonder if they use to test or document designs) and there's a gift shop where they sell things such as the classic ship-in-a-bottle:



Out in the creek there are many examples of the boats created locally:


Oman has a long tradition of sailing across the Indian Ocean, trading with India and East Africa. Its possible that the legendary Sinbad was an Omani sailor.

The oldest ocean going dhow is the Fatah al Khair (The Triumph of Good) which has been preserved for history:


There is probably a lot more I could say, but the Fatah al Khair site was closed (they are working on new maritime museum for which it will be the star attraction) and no one at the boat-building site seemed to speak English. Anyhow, try this and this blog posts for a bit more info.

Fascinating!

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Book Review: A short history of seafaring by Brian Lavery


This book does what it says on the tin: give a short history of seafaring. It's broken down into age, such as:

  1. The first ocean sailors
  2. The age of exploration
  3. etc.

and then within each section are a couple of pages of topics within that age, such as (for the first):

  • Exploring the Pacific
  • Seafaring in the Mediterranean
  • etc.

I'd be surprised if you know all about all these topics - I certainly learnt a lot. The bite sized approach means its a good book to dip into and put down. Sometimes it was frustrating that the page limit per topic resulted in missed details or limited the description to that from a single observer. Also, the maps  / charts for each ocean were slotted into specific ages but contained events from all ages which was a bit distracting.

But overall enjoyed it and would be happy to recommend it.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Happy New Year!


Happy 2020 everyone!

This is the view from Mount Sinai just before dawn, back in November