Friday, March 21, 2008

Forthcoming Cruise?

It's Good Friday 21st April and there's a blustery, bitingly cold wind while the forecast is for snow flurries. There are yet ten days to go before my proposed start to a cruise along the south coast of England. Most likely I shall set out from Burnham-on-Crouch on or near 1st April which will give me a month and one week to reach Plymouth before the start of the Artemis Transat Race on 11th May; not that I shall be a participant except in spirit, rather I want to watch the spectacle and share the experience with Al who plans to accompany me from that point in his Paradox sailboat. Our boats are almost identical apart from for their colour. (For details visit

Only God knows how this cruise will pan out. I can prepare and do all the planning, but I cannot predict the weather nor any event which may affect the cruise; indeed, it may not even get going. I have intentions of setting out with optimism, and yet I know that achieving my first objective of reaching Plymouth in time for the start of the Artemis Transat Race will mean considerable effort on my part. I hope that in the main I shall have an enjoyable cruise, but from experience I've learned to be a realist who realizes that there will be testing times, but that's what makes it worthwhile – meeting and overcoming challenges. There will be moments when the sun shines and times when there will be rain; there may be storms, there may be calms and if Providence graciously provides, there will be fair winds, wonderful things to see, interesting places to experience and fascinating people to meet.

If I have the stomach for it after the start of the Artemis Transat Race my second objective will be to sail to the Scilly Isles along with Al in his boat for company and our intention after exploring the Islands will be to return to Plymouth to watch the start of the Jester Azores Challenge Race on 31st May. Such a cruise on its own would normally present a considerable challenge for me in my tiny boat, and if I am still fighting fit at the end of it I may attempt a third objective which is to sail back to the East Coast. Regarding the three objectives there are many unknown factors which will be revealed in time and only then will I know if what I believe is feasible is indeed the case. Hillary and Tenzing knew that climbing Everest to the summit was feasible and they proved it was possible. I wonder if I have found my Everest.

Monday, March 17, 2008


This is the first time I've been successful in accessing a hotspot for access to the Internet. I am in the food hall of Lakeside which is a large indoor shopping area at Thurrock, Essex, UK. I had tried previously from advertised Hotspots such as at MacDonalds, but with no success. Having the ability to access the World Wide Web via WIFI through Hotspots means that I'll be able to upload my boat log to this blog whenever I arrive at a port of call.

I am hoping I'll be able to set off for an extensive cruise in my Paradox sailboat along the South Coast in early April. Because of my success at logging on through this particular Hotspot at Lakeside, I'm hopeful you will be able to follow my adventure, albeit, several days in arrears, assuming I'll have success elsewhere.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Rules and Around-in-Ten

‘Rules are made to be broken’, so the saying goes, and yet we all live by a code of conduct, either consciously or unconsciously; we set our own moral and ethical standards or accept those we choose. I suppose the first rules we learn are those given to us by our parents; afterwards we may accept guiding rules taught by our teachers; we may also accept rules adhered to by our peers and in the long term we may adopt rules set by those who would want to influence us. We discover that virtually every situation is dependent upon a set of rules, perhaps imposed by our fellow beings or by Nature; for example, we cannot drive our cars or ride our bikes along a road without being subject to ‘The Highway Code’, and if we choose to ignore the rules within it we run the risk of injury or death either to ourselves or others, and if we ignore the rules of Nature we’ll most likely suffer the consequences.

Maybe the most well-known set of rules are the Ten Commandments as found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, where the first 5 commandments give us a guide for our relationship with God, and the others stipulate how we should relate to humankind. Such a framework of rules can provide the basis of other rules; indeed, in the past many of our English laws determined by Parliament were influenced by the precepts of the Ten Commandments.

I’ve been following the gradual formulation of race rules for participants of the forthcoming Around-in-Ten Race, which will be a gruelling feat of endurance for the competitors as they circumnavigate the globe in 10’ sailing boats with the aim of being the first to complete the circuit. A fundamental rule was set at the outset when the race was proposed - namely boats must be 10’ in overall length. Other rules by necessity have been added, such as the starting date for the Race, a definition of the start line and the naming of compulsory ports of call. More rules are currently being formulated by the ‘Racers’, i.e., those who have declared themselves as committed entrants to the Race. Outsiders can suggest rules, but they do not have voting rights. Only the Racers can determine final rules by majority votes. There was much discussion on whether multihulls would be allowed to take part, but according the wisdom of voters, they have been barred. I believe discussion is still taking place about a possible cut-off date for the acceptance of proposed new Racers, and as each day passes before the start in 307 days (as I write) the urgency for a decision increases.

If he is to succeed each Racer must formulate for himself rules for survival, the basic rule being to ensure he drinks and eats sufficiently well to maintain his health. He must as far as possible according to circumstances have a routine for sleep and have sufficient of it to maintain himself in a state of alertness when awake for the efficient running of his boat. He would be wise to adhere to a daily timetable for such things as updating his position, preparing and eating his main meal, enjoying periods of relaxation perhaps by reading, solving crossword puzzles or listening to music; he might also have a daily communication with home by satellite phone.

The preservation of sanity by a Racer in such a tiny boat would be high on the agenda, and rules designed for this very purpose should be formulated. I am aware of what happened to Donald Crowhurst who was put under enormous self-pressure to win the Golden Globe Sunday Times Race in 1968/9, and as a result he lost his sanity which caused him to take his own life. The crux of the matter arose when Crowhurst realized his boat was not suitable for the Roaring Forties and he decided he would break the rules of the Race by holding station in the southern Atlantic until the other competitors arrived on the scene, at which time he would follow them to the finish line, not to win, but to have public acclaim for finishing the Race, but one by one, with the exception of Robin Knox Johston boats fell by the wayside. Crowhurst realised that on arrival at Plymouth his ship’s log would come under scrutiny and it would fail the test.

Some of us may believe rules are made to be broken, but watch out if we break them, because we may have to suffer the consequences.

Web site for The Around-in-Ten Race: .