Wednesday 29 April 2015

April - where did it go?

April is the time of year when change is in the air. Daylight saving time means light evenings, it's a time of big tides and almost every day trees and flowers are starting to awaken from the winter rest.

 Our family April was much the same, we started the month with a very cold and overcast visit to Bruges in Belgium. It's a lovely city with much of the center still retaining it's many medieval buildings. Hats and gloves were the order of the day and a stop off at a cosy coffee shop for hot chocolate and cakes was definitely in order.

We were passing through Belgium on our way to an area of Germany called the Sauerland, a fantastic area in North Rhine-Westphalia, in parts heavily forested, low mountains and lakes.

 We were welcomed with clear blue skies but at 400+ meters above sea level it was still a case of winter woollies.

However by the end of the week and just in time for a 6th birthday, the mini heat wave that we've all been enjoying recently had made it to the Sauerland. Young Darth Vader was a bit hot wearing his new birthday present but there was no way he was going to take it off.

On the way back we stopped off at the beaches along the Belgium coast, south of Oostend , the beaches stretch for miles as does the promenade complete with modern tram. There was a sea breeze blowing off the channel so it was a little cool in the early evening when this picture was taken. I had no hand in building the magnificent sand castle which we discovered while walking along the beach.

Back at home the fine weather continued and despite some strong winds we managed to get out sailing in near perfect conditions.

For my part I had to rush off on a business trip for a week, which was good, but I've come back wondering where all the time in April went. It was a great month, lots of family time but it all seemed to go by a little too fast.

Monday 27 April 2015

They just can't help it

Three motor boats going up a narrow channel on a peaceful pleasant evening, one to savor and enjoy.

But no they have to race up river three abreast trying to overtake each other.

Please excuse the poor photo quality I was rolling round in the wash they left behind.

Saturday 25 April 2015


One of my favorite boats on the river Rula is a Norske 35, I've written about her before.

Back on her mooring with some fresh paint and varnish, looking really good and ready for the season.

Thursday 23 April 2015


I took the rare opportunity between meetings to walk along the Thames South Bank and although I've seen HMS President before, it always makes me smile.

Built in 1918 the ship originally HMS Saxifrage, was "camouflaged" by the artists Norman Wilkinson and Edward Wadsworth, the latter one of the vortist movement. The idea was to confuse rather than hide the ship, the graphic and modernistic forms will be instantly recognisable by anyone who studies art and design history, ironically described as modernist despite being 100 years old.

The modern recreation was carried out by Tobias Rehberger

Monday 20 April 2015

Fly fishing on the Hamble

Not something you see that often, but it seemed like conditions were right an a glorious spring evening down at Swanwick hard.

I'm not sure why coastal fly fishing  not more popular here, I've even seen fly fishing for big fish out in the Caribbean, imagine trying to land a 100lb Tarpon.

Sunday 19 April 2015


We were away over Easter but returned to a nice surprise, Joseph had won a giant Easter egg in the local charity raffle.

It was an egg of serious proportions, which was delivered while he and Erica were away visiting grandma and granddad, so it was quite a while after Easter before it was time to crack the egg, and of course it required a hammer of equal proportions.

Saturday 18 April 2015

Just one more

I know I've probably done folk boats to death, but this one just looked fantastic in the evening sun.

Thursday 16 April 2015

Floating Voter?

Boats for votes or votes for boats?

Presumably the Green Party would be in a rowing boat?

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Danger signs

This sign always slightly amuses me.

It would have been helpful if they had been a little more specific.

Sunday 12 April 2015

Waiting for the tide - Oyster Quay

Dolphin Quay is a good place to dry out, in fact that's the normal state of things, the tide only floating the boats at the top of high water.

It's a long way from open water, but home to some good sized boats.

The access channel goes past some waterside homes complete with their own moorings.

The owners of the immediate shore side buildings which used to house Dolphon Quay boatyard have applied for planning permission to develop the land into houses and flats, although I'm not very up to date the harbour authority were fighting to keep the moorings last time I looked.

Thursday 9 April 2015

Water's edge

I've been rolling my rowing boat Gato Negro the 400 yards or so down to the river at Swanwick (500 yards when the tide is out) and I'm not alone.

I met another local sailor wheeling his DIY modified barrow dinghy down to the hard a few short yards from his house, off to check on his yacht as a gale had passed the previous night.

It might look like a wheelbarrow but I'd take it over gardening any day.

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Bamboo Viper

I spotted this harbour launch, not only is it lovely but it's immaculately kept.

Bamboo Viper is a venomous green tree species found in south east Asia.

Monday 6 April 2015

Easter Celebration

We're staying in Attendorn, a small town in the Sauerland region of Germany, surrounded by the Ebbe and Rothar mountains.

To celebrate Easter teams representing the four historic town "gates" go out into the hills to cut down a tree. Having hauled the trees on hand carts to the square outside the main church, amidst friendly competitive rivalry the trees are measured for length and girth. The winner was over 30 meters in length and was celebrated by some beer drinking and songs.

Each of the four trees are taken out to surrounding hills where each is erected by hand to form a giant cross. On Sunday evening at dusk fires are lit and the locals gather to light burning staves. They are wood staves, roughly three inches diameter and about a meter long with one end split, allowing it to burn quickly in the fire and is used as a giant sparkler,

The health and safety brigade would be going apoplectic, but it was all very good natured with children and adults joining in, no police or officialdom and more than a few litres of beer being served.

At 9.00PM the cross on top of the church down in the town was illuminated, at which point the flaming brands were thrown onto the pyre at the base of the cross which immediately went up in spectacular flames. On four hills around the town the trees which were felled the previous day can be seen burning, in the picture you can see another one in the distance, across the valley.

The celebration goes back centuries and is enthusiastically followed today, with a real sense of community.

Saturday 4 April 2015

The Camber

The Camber docks down in old Portsmouth is home to the local fishing fleet and has been a commercial port for centuries. On a cold winters day it's a nice place to wander around the back streets and take in the sights around Portsmouth harbour.

Across from the entrance is the modern development of Gunwharf Quay, designer shops, restaurants and bars, home to the Spinnaker Tower and some very expensive yachts.

The old Camber dock is getting pretty congested, twenty years ago it was possible to lay alongside the wall for the night even on a busy summer weekend.

Across in Gosport the old light vessel Mary Mouse provides showers, restaurant and bar and an unmistakable entrance to Haslar Marina.

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Latest tech - drone to replace masthead wind indicator

First there was the masthead Windex which replaced the burgee, then we all became familiar with masthead sensors connected to visual displays either below or in the cockpit giving clear and accurate readout of wind speed, direction apparent and true. Later refinements are internet connected versions so that you can check wind conditions remotely from your computer or mobile phone before you left home.

The problem with all these devices are they only measure wind conditions where the boat is not where it's heading. As every racer knows anticipating wind shifts and changes, especially in light airs can mean the difference between being at the head of the fleet bringing up the rear.

Some innovative local sailors have harnessed drone technology to solve the problem. Simply the Tactical Integrated Wind Transducer is a lightweight miniature drone, which is programmed to fly on a semi circular arc up to 200 meters ahead and above the boat. Sensors send wind data back to an app which displays to the helmsman or navigator (both android and iOS are supported) giving early warning of changes wind conditions.

There is some debate over the legitimacy as using the technology clearly gives users an advantage over those of who constantly scan the water surface for signs of wind shifts.

The diminutive size means the device can be used by dinghy sailors. Equally it's also a slight disadvantage since the makers state that it's only suitable for up to wind speeds of Force 4 , although they claim to have developments in place which should allow the device to fly in winds to F6.

Investment requests to put this into production will be up on Crowdfunder soon, No pictures yet but see sailing anarchy for details