Friday, August 31, 2012

Opening of the Paralympics

I was left bewildered after watching on television the first part of the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games. By the time the parade for competitors had reached the letter ‘B’ I was ready for bed. The next day I thought I would try to make sense of what I had seen by surfing the Internet to learn more about the event.

The Mail Online published excellent photographs, each with pertinent captions, and Charlotte Higgins for the Guardian Online tried to make sense of what happened, majoring on how the show may have played a positive part in changing our views of the rights and roles of disabled people.

For me there were disturbing images, such as the 43 foot reproduction of Marc Quinn’s sculpture of pregnant Alison Lapper, and an enormous apple upon which a paraplegic sat in her wheelchair; then there was a huge revolving book portraying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I found these images rather confusing as they represented different aspects of overlapping themes: Reason and Rights, the age of enlightenment or intellectual revolution between 1550 and 1720, science and the Higgs particle. To confuse issues there was a story based on William Shakespeare’s Tempest with Sir Ian McKellen playing the part of Prospero narrating Miranda’s journey of discovery. Interwoven with all this stuff there was a series of songs and music that clashed, such as the singing of the National Anthem by a choir of 430 deaf singers and Caroline Parker belting out the lyrics of ‘I am what I am’.

Rather feebly Professor Stephen Hawkings suggested we should remember not only to look down, but up at the stars and be inquisitive. For him the ‘big bang’ was the beginning, the big breakthrough in our understanding of the universe. Centre stage, he was an example of what can be achieve by disabled people. 4,200 paralympians from 166 nations were to prove it too. Strangely all 62,042 spectators were given Gala apples for biting on simultaneously to make the biggest ever apple bite. Then there was the large symbolic umbrella covering a multitude of books representing knowledge and wisdom. Hundreds of dancers swirled umbrellas during choreographed routines. People were suspended by wires and lighter than air balloon-like apples floated around.

I was left wondering what it was all about, except for one thing; I am much more conscious of the difficulties disabled people have in overcoming their handicaps and of being accepted as normal people, no different to those who think of themselves as being normal. 


Mail online

Guardian Online

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pioneer 9 for Sale

Two days ago I was walking beside the River Crouch at South Fambridge when I saw a Van de Stadt Pioneer 9, mentioned in a previous blog*. I couldn’t resist taking a photograph of her because she looked attractive and because she brought back memories of my own Pioneer 9, ‘Aziz’.

Here’s the beginning of an account of a cruise I had with ‘Aziz’ in 1997.

Cruise of the ‘Aziz’ a Pioneer 9 Part 1

Out of curiosity I’ve discovered there are at least four Pioneer 9s for sale in the UK, one them being the Fambridge yacht at £5,500. She’s been on the market for at least a year, and I guess the owner may be open to offers. If she were as cheap to keep as my West Wight Potter I would be interested in having a look at her. A Pioneer 9 is a joy to sail because of being responsive to the helm and being well-balanced. If I have any criticism, I believe she should have more ballast on her fin keel to make her more stable.


*Pioneer 9 ‘Aziz’



Pioneer 9 for Sale £4,000 – Ancasta

Pioneer 9 for Sale £5,200 – Boatshed.Com

Pioneer 9 for Sale £5,500 – Western Horizon Yachts

Pioneer 9 for Sale £5,500 –Apolloduck (Sale agreed)

Pioneer 9 for Sale £8,950 – Network Yacht Brokers

Pioneer 9 for Sale £10,000 – Boatshed.Com

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dredging for Oysters?

Yesterday, 28th August, 2012, for a bit of exercise and moments of quietness, I took a walk beside the River Crouch at South Fambridge. This is my favourite place for walking. There I saw something that I had not seen before, two motor fishing boats dredging, possibly for oysters. Technically, the season for dredging oysters begins on 1st September and continues for months containing the letter ‘r’, although Native (local) oysters can legally be sold between 4th August and 14th May.

There has been some concern* that the oyster population is close to collapse through over-dredging, and a ban has been agreed between the Essex Wildlife Trust and the Blackwater Oysterman’s Association, ratified by law. The Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority has placed a prohibition on the taking of Native oysters (ostrea edulis) from an area defined in their website. (See note below.) As far as I interpret the banned area, it includes the Rivers Roach, Crouch, Blackwater and Colne.

I personally do not have a penchant for oysters, but I am startled by the fact that an Essex oysterman has claimed** to have sold 20,000 Rock oysters a week and 200,000 Native oysters a year.  


Here’s an extract from the Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority website:



Notice of Closure

The Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority has implemented a prohibition on the taking, removal or disturbance of any Native Oyster (ostrea edulis) from within the following defined area under its Shellfish Beds Byelaw.

The closed area is defined as the area enclosed by a line drawn from a position on the coast at Clacton 51.47.223N 01.09.325E, connecting through points at: 51.43.853N 01.09.178E, 51.41.969N 01.08.367E, 51.40.021N 01.05.053E to Foulness Point at position 51.37.206N 00.57.475E and thence following the line of mean high water along the Essex coastline and returning to a position on the coast at Clacton 51.47.223N 01.09.325E.

This prohibition comes into effect from 28 May 2012 and will be reviewed by 27 May 2013.


*Essex estuary oyster population 'close to collapse'

**The world (or a little bit of Essex) is our oyster as Britain heads for a bumper season (2009)

Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority

Fisheries Action Group

West Mersea Oyster Dredging Match

Fishing Dredge

Oysters of the River Crouch and River Blackwater


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

August Bank Holiday Dreaming of Oceans

What do you do on a bank holiday? Well, I suppose there are a thousand and one things you could do, but if you were a yachtsman at Hullbridge you would want to be on the water. This bank holiday the tide was out for most of the day, but a keen sailor could have taken the morning ebb for a sail towards Burnham before returning with the help of the incoming tide. However, yesterday afternoon, when I walked along the footpath at Hullbridge, it was clear that most yachts never left their moorings. The forecast of morning showers and evening rain may have had something to do with it.

Early in the afternoon the sun shone briefly between parting clouds. I took this as an invitation to go for a walk. Down at the river by Hullbridge public slipway, a mother and her daughter were feeding swans; two dads and their kids were crabbing, and the Anchor Pub’s outdoor area was crammed full of chattering people. A number of walkers, some with dogs, were ambling along the waterside footpath, and I joined them. The majority were interested in the grandiose residences overlooking the river, whereas my attention was focussed on the yachts.

In turn I posed the same question to each of them, “Are you fit for crossing an ocean?” My imagination ran riot.  I recalled the recurring dream of my youth, which was to sail my own yacht across the oceans of the world to foreign lands where I would meet fascinating people, learn of their ways and see wonderful things. That unfulfilled dream is now overshadowed by a new reality, for Youth has passed me by. She briefly flirted with me, and now she has gone. My mind dreams on, but my body tells me there is but a faint chance that I shall ever sail across an ocean alone, and yet a glimmer remains. Maybe, but can I find the will? Was it ever truly there? What’s wrong with dreaming?


Monday, August 27, 2012


Paul the Apostle in the concluding verses* of his letter to the Philippians exhorted his readers to meditate upon things that are lovely.

Yesterday, I was amazed at the beauty of flowers and plants in my garden. Later in the day I was almost as amazed at the taste of barbecued food. The appearance of the food was not beautiful, but its flavour was mouth-watering. I take my hat off to the chef who took his time, ensuring that each item was cooked to perfection – at least, that was his aim. Apart from the outer crust of the potatoes, nothing was burned. Inside they were deliciously sweet and creamy, so as to melt in my mouth before being swallowed. Soft green and red peppers dipped in olive oil readily slid down my throat, and the juices of pork chops moistened the pink flesh of well-cooked chicken that also followed suit. This was a meal to savour and for which to be thankful.

Those present at the table said little as they satisfied their hunger, which was not hunger in the truest sense. No doubt we were mindful of millions who lacked food for whatever reason: drought, war, famine or poverty. We could only be more grateful for our lot and enjoy what was laid before us. It would have been a sin to let sadness override joy:

‘For what has man for all his labour, and for the striving of his heart with which he has toiled under the sun? For all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity.

Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labour. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.’ (Ecclesiastes 2:22 – 24) 

*Philippians 4:8

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Garden Flowers

A wonderful thing about a modern digital camera is that it can capture instant images in great detail. My Sony 7.2 Mega Pixels camera has an inbuilt flexibility when it comes to focus. Set it to ‘easy’ mode and there’s no need for adjusting the lens to obtain a sharp focus. Light settings are automatically sensed, and if a flash is required, the camera will do that too. Receptivity is so very fast the camera will instantly freeze images of moving objects, revealing detail of infinitesimal moments in sharp detail.

This afternoon, before preparing a barbecue in the garden for an evening meal, I had a look at many flowers and shrubs that are so tenderly cared for by my wife, and I was enthralled with their beauty – especially of individual blooms, each one sustained by its mother plant. Without roots, without stems, and without leaves, these plants would not exist. Without nutritious soil, without rainwater and without sunshine, they would have no life; neither would they propagate without the unwitting help of bees, insects and birds that pollinate them.  The four seasons play their part too by providing necessary conditions for the plants to flourish. Set these organisms in a desert, a rain forest, or on a mountain top, they would perish.

What a privilege it is to have the gift of sight to see such beauty, and what a blessing it is to be able to smell nature’s free fragrant aromas. This is a time for me to be thankful and to rest on the Creator’s bosom.*

*John 1:18, 13:23  

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Leather Capping Piece for ‘Sandpiper’s’ Transom

My days at Poole Harbour revealed a couple of minor shortcomings with ‘Sandpiper’;  the most annoying was a sharp edge to a piece of aluminium screwed to the top of her transom for protecting it from being damaged by wire strops that help support the engine when in the lowered position.  As I lowered the engine I would catch the underside of my forearm on the aluminium, causing it to bleed. The first time this happened I didn’t realize I was bleeding until I saw drops of blood on the lid of the stern locker; then I noticed there was blood on my trousers and on the front of my shirt.


I’m obviously a slow learner, because twice more I was injured when lowering the engine.  Today I had an opportunity for covering the aluminium with a leather capping piece.

Friday, August 24, 2012

‘Callidus’ – A Classic Wooden Yacht

In October, 2009, I took a few photographs of the 40’ wooden, classic yacht, ‘Callidus’, at Tichmarsh Marina, where she is based. Her owner, Richard Wells, a certified Royal Yachting Association instructor, uses her to give his students hands-on experience, putting into practice what they have learned during shore based RYA courses.

‘Callidus’ was designed by the Essex yachtsman Norman Dallimore, and she was first launched in 1952 on the River Orwell at Pin Mill, where she was built by Harry King and Son. The 60 year old yacht is in fine fettle, which is a testimonial to her builders for their  craftsmanship, quality materials, and to the yacht’s owners who have cared for her over the years.


Classic Wooden Boat

Callidus Sailing Courses

Thursday, August 23, 2012

‘Dualin’ for Sale, a Duallist 32, part 2

Come on chaps and lasses, you are missing a great opportunity to grab yourself an absolute bargain. Just under a year ago I drew attention to a Duellist 32 that was for sale at £19,950. She is now going for £16,950 – a ridiculous giveaway! Don’t think about waiting another year, because by then the market may have picked up; even if it hasn’t, the owner would be mad to sell for less, and I feel sure he won’t.

Just have a butchers at the Clarke and Carter website (link below) to see what you would be getting - a fine cruising and racing yacht fully equipped and ready to go. Having two double berths and two singles, she’ll even take five other crew members if your mates or family want to come along. If they don’t, she’s fitted for single-handing.  She’ll sail to windward efficiently, drawing no more than 3’ 7”. When her plate is fully down her draught is 6’ 3”, and there are few yachts that will outperform her. She’s pretty stable too. Think of that standing headroom throughout - what a luxury. Talking of luxury, look at all that beautiful wooden panelling with bags of locker space; sink into her upholstered settee as you dine at table.

Full instrumentation will make navigation a snip. Even the Missus would like her gimballed two burner gas cooker with grill and oven, not forgetting the cool box. There’s nothing missing; she’s got a liferaft, two lifebuoys and a Danbuoy.

Seriously, if I had the dosh, I would buy her without hesitation. I certainly would not be advertising her here. 


Clarke and Carter – ‘Dualin’ for Sale £16,950.00

‘Dualin’ for Sale – a Duellist 32

Alan Hill – designer of the Duellist 32


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Maritime Ipswich Festival, part 4

What influences the atmosphere at a boat festival? It’s a success when there’s a buzz at an event, brought about by those involved and the vessels on display, activities, and not least the weather, which can make all the difference. The Maritime Ipswich Festival this year was blessed with sunny days. Bright sunshine always puts a smile on people’s faces. Everything is more colourful, and if there’s a gentle breeze, so much the better for cooling those who may be feeling the heat, even while in the shade under improvised awnings made from sails draped over spars. Fluttering flags and bunting sooth the ear, and rippling reflections from the water entertain the eye.

Each event is a subjective experience. I certainly came away from this year’s Festival feeling invigorated, not in the least tired; even though by then it was dark, save for street lighting and stars above. I had enjoyed the company, the general chitchat about boats and nautical things. It had been a time for sharing experiences, exchanging ideas and for learning from what people had to say. I was encouraged by many youngsters taking part with their parents, all having a great time. From what I saw, classic boats are far from dead; they live on, and they are much cherished by their owners. Wood is still a preferential building material for those who can afford to have a wooden yacht, as was made evident by newer vessels at the Festival and the extremely fine Spirit yacht berthed not far away. 


Ipswich Maritime Festival

Spirit Yachts

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Maritime Ipswich Festival, part 3

Yesterday I mentioned that I had taken photos of 17 entries at the Maritime Ipswich Festival. To date I have posted photos of seven of them. Here are a few more.

‘Kelpie 11’, is a pretty double-ender designed by Pain-Clark who also designed ‘White Moth’.

‘Mollie Cobbler’ was designed by Paul Fisher on the lines of a Mevagissey Tosher.  She was not the oldest boat at the Festival, since she was built by the East Coast boatbuilder, Fabian Bush in the year 2000.

 The 23’ gaff cutter, ‘My Quest’ was built by Ernest L. Woods in 1930 at Horning, Norfolk. Her home port is Woodbridge.  

I know very little about ‘Snoopy’, but she’s an attractive pocket yacht with bags of character.

‘Crow’ is a one-off.  In the words of her owner, she is the result of a lifetime’s sailing experience built into his ultimate yacht. I must say she has a functional appearance. I was particularly interested in her pivoting staysail boom, complete with control lines for running and for self-tacking.

 The lines of 'Kajan’s' hull were copied from Joshua Slocum’s ‘Spray’. She was built by John Brown at Gillingham. Her current owner cruises her along the Kent and Essex coasts. He says she is ideal for creek crawling because of her shallow draught and flat bottom that enables her to sit upright when dried out.

‘Bona’ is an immaculate 36’ Bawley built by Aldous in Brightlingsea in 1930. I note that her port of registration is Southend.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Maritime Ipswich Festival, part 2

'White Moth'

I hadn’t expected I would have so much fun at the Maritime Ipswich Festival. The mood among participating yachtsmen was infectious. Enthusiasm for their boats was evident by responses to my questions. Here was a group of individuals united by having a common passion for maintaining and sailing their diverse vessels. I didn’t see an identical yacht. Yes, there were similarities between a few of them, notably the Smacks, but even they differed in hull form and sail plan.

I took photos of 17 entries to the Festival, and as I mentioned yesterday, my favourite yacht was ‘White Moth’. The 1927 gaff yawl, ‘Charm’, built in Dublin to plans according to Albert Strange came a good second. A. Richardson built her for the marine artist Robert E. Groves. She was almost identical to ‘Sheila 11’ sailed single-handedly by Adrian Hayter to New Zealand. He documented his voyage in his book, ‘Sheila in the Wind’, a thoroughly entertaining and instructive account I highly recommend.

Here are a few of the photographs taken with my iPhone, including another of ‘White Moth’, and one of ‘Charm’. (Above)


'Gollant Gaffer'