Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Old Coins and their Worth

On January, 3rd I did an article about the pound sterling. Recently my wife reminded me that several years ago she had been given a collection of old coins, and she was curious to know how much they were worth. A quick Google came up with CoinQuest, which is a website for identifying and pricing collector coins.

I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to work out the value of my wife’s collection – roughly £540! That was not a bad gift. Of course, getting that amount for the collection would not be easy. If the coins were sold individually, or lumped together by country, one might sell them through Ebay. However, the hassle of doing it would hardly warrant the reward, because it could take months to dispose of the collection.

There are a few coins my wife would not want to part with, but she would possibly sell her 1914 [E] Buffalo five cent piece which is in very good condition. I understand a collector would pay 140 US dollars for a 1914 [D]. However, the [E] which my wife has is far less valuable. The person advertising a Buffalo [E] nickel currently on is asking for offers up to £144.99, which is 219.85 US dollars! I think that’s probably a bit pricey.

Well, I had a great time looking at my wife’s collection containing coins from many different countries. The oldest was a 1675 Great Britain Charles 2nd farthing, probably worth £40.


US Indian Head or Buffalo Nickel 1913 to 1938

1914 Nickel Value

USA 5 Cents 1914 D Buffalo Nickel Key Date Rare (1088B) (Buy it now £ 149.99)

1675 Great Britain Farthings at Ebay

The Pound Sterling

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Southend Pier and Lifeboats

Last Wednesday my wife and I took our grandchildren to Southend Pier for a ride on the train to the Lifeboat Station at the seaward end of the pier. The 1.33 mile long pier is reputed to be the longest in the world, but I believe it is, in fact, the longest ‘pleasure’ pier in the world.
The boys loved the train ride, but it was just as well that they were appropriately dressed for the bitterly cold wind they experienced when alighting from the train. The café was closed because of an electrical fault, and the only place where we could seek shelter was at the Lifeboat Station. There we found others sheltering from the wind until the next returning train.
A souvenir shop adjoining the lifeboat boathouse was a hit with the kids. They weren’t in the least interested in the Atlantic 75 and the Offshore D-class lifeboats that had recently been in action. Altogether, last year, Southend lifeboats were launched 137 times!
Since 1879 Southend lifeboat crews have saved over 2,000 lives. All the work today is done by a team of 40 volunteers, and they even operate a rescue hovercraft.
Southend Lifeboat
Southend-on-Sea Lifeboat Station
Southend-on-Sea Lifeboat Station
Southend lifeboat station named busiest in country in 2012
Southend Pier
Southend Pier
Southend-on-Sea | The Longest Pleasure Pier In The World
"Longest Pleasure pier in the world"

Monday, February 25, 2013

Four Very Different Sailing Vessels

'British Steel'

Cutter Yawl

Moody Sloop
Unknown Catamaran
Three of these photos were taken of yachts on the River Crouch, and the one of ‘British Steel’ was taken at Dartmouth.
If you’ve read my blog before you will known that I am fascinated with small sailing boats, and that I have unbounded enthusiasm for learning about any wind powered vessel.
The chances are that if you are reading these words you will be just as ‘nutty’ about sailing boats; so feast your eyes on the photos and satisfy your cravings.
Join the Club of Sailboat Fanciers – Dream, speculate, wonder, and be inspired. Who knows?  Your thoughts may translate into actions – if so, may they bring satisfaction and enjoyment.
British Steel
British Steel (Yacht)
Holiday on British Steel
Sir Chay Blyth
Longing for Open Waters
‘Ladybird’s’ 2010 Cruise Photo Selection – Part 2 (When I took the photo of ‘British Steel’.)
Upwind in Small Sailing Cruisers

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Food for Thought

Carbon footprint or healthy diet?
My wife and I regularly do our shopping on Thursdays. We stock up with provisions for the week. We don’t do a great deal of thinking before we purchase things we want. Mostly the stuff we buy is similar from week to week. We get the staples: bread, milk, cereal, meats and vegetables. If there’s any chore to it, the burden lies with my wife, because she devises menus and does the cooking; therefore, if anyone has to think, it is her.
I like a balanced diet, and I prefer freshly prepared meals to frozen readymade ones that only require heating in an oven or in a microwave. Processed meals tend to have far too much salt, fat and sugar in them, and as we’ve been hearing of late, they may not match the description on the label. Perhaps we’ve been eating horsemeat while believing it was beef. Most of us wouldn’t know the difference, and I suspect we have unknowingly been misled.
I am not averse to eating horsemeat, but I would prefer to be given the option through the correct labelling of meat. I understand that some French people eat frogs and horsemeat, but as far as I’m concerned I never want to discover I’ve been eating frogs when I thought I was eating snails! Please get the labelling right, and be honest.  In fact, I would not choose to eat snails, and in the same vein I do not enjoy eating mussels or cockles.
If I were forced to make a choice between being a vegetarian and a carnivore I would definitely prefer eating vegetables, especially as there is a proven correlation between those who eat large quantities of fatty meat and those who die with stomach or colon cancer. A happy balance is to be found in the omnivore who eats both vegetables and meats.
We only need look around to see that a quarter of the UK population is obese - a word that overweight, rotund people do not like, preferring fat, because it sounds kinder and less hurtful. The truth is, most such people would give their right arm to be slim, but it is beyond their ability to do anything about it. Mostly their condition comes about through bad diet because of eating takeaway foods that are heavily impregnated with saturated fats, sugars, and too much carbohydrate. Fizzy, sugary drinks add to the problem.
Ideally, we should return to eating local produce, preferably vegetables and fruit we grow in our own gardens or allotments. Today, the way we live in little boxes with no access to plots of land makes this ideal situation almost impossible. The next best thing is to buy from local markets, but there are few of them. Now there is little option, other than the supermarket. There we find food from all over the world, but at the expense of pollution through carbon emissions. Food bought at supermarkets is heavily packaged and often it is far from fresh.
This is the wisdom of man.
Recycling, Carbon Footprints and Survival
Garbage, Rubbish, Trash
Carbon Footprint

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Smacks Afloat – Part 2

Here are four more photos of smacks.
CK 105 and LO 262 were participating in the Colne Smack and Barge Race on 3rd September, 2011, and CK 21 and CK 210 were engaged in oyster dredging at the Mersea Dredging Match on Sunday, 4th September, 2011.
If you click the links below you will find more photos of smacks that took part in these events.
Colne Smack and Barge Race 3rd September 2011
Mersea Dredging Match, Sunday 4th September
Mersea Dredging Match, Sunday 4th September, Part 2
Mersea Dredging Match, Sunday 4th September, Part 3

Friday, February 22, 2013

Smacks Afloat – Part 1

Whenever I am on the water I’m on the lookout for boats to photograph. Conditions are not always suitable for taking photos, especially as I do not have a waterproof camera and perhaps rain is lashing down, or spray is being blown over the boat.
After I have taken photographs I usually transfer them to an external hard drive for viewing later on my laptop computer. If I’m at a loose end, twiddling my fingers wondering what to do, which is not very often, I can entertain myself by looking at the photos. Sometimes I am surprised by them because I’m usually not too fussed about getting things in focus or capturing specific views. Much of my photography is intuitive; I look through the viewfinder and press the button – that’s it.
Well, here are four photos taken before and during a smack race when there was very little wind.
Incidentally, if anyone would like a full size copy of any of them, please let me know. I’ll gladly email a digital copy.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The ‘Sedov’, the World’s Largest Sailing Vessel


Below there are a number of links to websites providing information about the 92 year old ‘Sedov’, a 117.5 metre Russian windjammer. Not far short of 100 years old she has a fascinating history. If you are interested, you can learn more about her by visiting the websites.
She recently stopped off at Hong Kong while on a 13 month circumnavigation of the world, putting into 32 ports.
The Tall-Ship “Sedov”
World’s largest sailing ship makes a stop in Hong Kong
Bark Sedov: 'travelling back in time'

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

“What do you see?”

Here are three photographs taken at Hullbridge by the River Crouch, Essex, England. They were taken on a rather dull and cold day in February, 2013, which I might say was quite typical at that time of year. I don’t think there is anything special about these photos, nor do I think they hold any artistic merit. They have not been cropped, or treated in any way. I took them on the spur of the moment with the camera of my iPhone 4s.
Technically they are snapshots, i.e., informal photographs snapped quickly, but what they have done is to record fleeting moments in time. They contain very little colour because there was no direct sunlight and the colours of nature were muted, so as to become almost monochromatic.
The question is, “What do you see?”
So often we look at something and we don’t see the whole picture. Our mind may be focussed not on what we are seeing, but upon what we are thinking. We don’t give our full attention to our field of vision. However, when we take time and examine a photograph we focus on what is enclosed within the frame. The images are frozen. We explore them in detail. This can be revealing and thought provoking. Stimulus from the images can fire the imagination; they can remind us of past associations; they can trigger artistic expression and they can move the emotions.
The visual image in the form of a photograph can be exceedingly powerful; once seen never forgotten. I am mindful of one of the most moving, horrific images ever portrayed on the front page of a newspaper, that of a tiny girl burnt and scarred by napalm, running naked from the flames that had engulfed her.*
“What do you see when you look at the photos above?”
I see beauty, love and contentment. I see harmony, life and the fingerprint of God.
Phan Thi Kim Phuc
Picture power: Vietnam napalm attack
The Historic ‘Napalm Girl’ Pulitzer Image Marks Its 40th Anniversary
God’s Fingerprint
Fibonacci - God's Fingerprint
Seeing God’s Fingerprints

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sheaffer’s Touchdown Craftsman Fountain Pen

‘The pen is mightier than the sword.’*
When I was at school, I sat at an oak desk that had a ceramic inkwell which required topping up. I would dip the nib of my pen into the ink before writing. If I dipped too deeply, ink would run off the nib and cause a blot. If I didn’t immerse the nib sufficiently, there would not be enough ink in the reservoir for writing more than a word or so, but when loaded correctly, I could perhaps write half a sentence.
This was about the same era ballpoint pens became available to the masses, but they were frowned upon by teachers and banned from the grammar school I attended. They were not entirely reliable, and often ink would rub off the paper onto ones hand. Getting it off was a problem.
The very first ballpoint pen was invented as long ago as 1888 when John Loud, an American leather tanner came up with the idea for marking his leather hides, but it wasn’t until the mid 1940s that the concept was developed and the manufacture of ballpoint pens became commercially viable. There were hiccups on the way, and the Biro brothers, Ladislas and George, suffered setbacks with the manufacture and sale of their ‘biros’, but eventually, in 1944, their perseverance paid off when people started buying their revolutionary pens.
 Sheaffers, the Fort Madison Iowa fountain pen manufacturer, realized the potential, and produced their first ballpoint pen, the RA-1 Stratowriter, in 1946. That was the very year their Variation 111 Touchdown Craftsman fountain pen sold like hot cakes. It was a low price, lever operated ink-filled pen fitted with a plain, gold style ‘Triumph’ pointed nib. My wife’s brother lived in India at the time, and he was given one of these pens as a present. Sadly the young man tragically died shortly after receiving his pen which now belongs to my wife.
The pen has great sentimental value for her; therefore she would not part with it at any price, despite the fact that a collector may perhaps pay in excess of £100 for it, not just because he desire it, but because the pen comes with its original box which is in good condition.
*The Pen is Mightier than the Sword
Other Links
Sheaffer Touchdown and Snorkel
Sheaffer Touchdown and Snorkel
Sheaffer’s Touchdown
Sheaffer Pens History
Ballpoint Pen
Ballpoint Pen
Sheaffer Pens

Monday, February 18, 2013


There is something beyond the horizon.
This was the belief of maritime explorers who sailed into the unknown - Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan were notable examples of those who reasoned the world was spherical. Prior to their voyages of exploration in the 15th century many believed the known world was flat, and that it came to an end, where oceans cascaded off the edge. They were fearful that ships venturing nearby would come to a sticky end.
When you are at sea beyond sight of land, you observe the curvature of the horizon. As you approach land you see more and more of it, until eventually you observe surf breaking on the beach or at the cliff face. There is no horizon and you are in peril. The land and all that it offers brings death and destruction. You must turn about and seek safety beyond the sea’s horizon into its circle of protection.
When I walk the paths beside the River Crouch I am awed with a sense of infinity, the incomprehensible enigma of unending space and time, horizon beyond horizon, apparently unreachable. There I meet with the One who created space and time.
I know that to know Him is to know the Eternal.
Those who seek Him earnestly can find life beyond the horizon; His love and protection within.
John 14:6 ‘Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”’
The Flat Earth Society
Christopher Columbus
Ferdinand Magellan

Sunday, February 17, 2013

IDEC and Francis Joyon

Francis Joyon has done it again! He has broken the record for sailing solo across the Atlantic in the least time. Having previously broken the record in 2008, he set off again from the Bay of Cadiz on Wednesday, 6th February, 2013, and after an astonishingly fast crossing of 8 days, 16 hours, 7 minutes and 5 seconds, his 97 foot trimaran, IDEC, crossed the line at San Salvador. For four of those days the huge trimaran sailed more than 500 nautical miles at a time. Altogether on the Columbus Route he sailed 4,379.5 miles at an average speed of 21.04 knots. Can you imagine what it must have been like?
Joyon already holds the record for sailing solo around the world faster than any other person; he did it in a time of 57 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes and 6 seconds. He also holds the record for the furthest distance sailed in 24 hours, a distance of 613.54 miles at an incredible average speed of 25.56 knots. And now he has the Columbus Route record, officially ratified by the World Speed Sailing Record Council .
It appears he wants to have a crack at the New York to the Lizard record, and he is making his way to the Big Apple where he will wait for favourable weather.
Francis Joyon
Idec 11
World Speed Sailing Record Council

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Charlie Pitcher’s Atlantic Record Rowing Attempt


I would appear to have an obsession with following Charlie Pitcher on his rowing adventures. I have mentioned or featured him in 6 previous postings! The truth is that what he is doing is amazing, and yet he makes it all sound so commonplace. Attempting to row across the Atlantic all by oneself and at the same time pushing hard to break the record for doing it in the least amount of time, is no mean feat. He has prepared well by training for the task in hand and by appropriately equipping his boat, which is probably the most technologically advanced for such an attempt.
Now, if you are interested, you can follow him daily by visiting his website. Via his blog he speaks the truth as it happens. He tells of not being able to keep his body clean because conditions haven’t been calm enough for him to have freedom to do it, and yet he knows how important it is to look after his body. At the first opportunity, when the sea is calm enough he will give himself a body wash and have a shave.
He knows how important it is to eat well and drink sufficient fluid for maintaining his health and for providing the energy required for putting in the miles. He knows how he must maintain a rhythm and pattern, and yet be flexible by adjusting his rowing schedule to fit weather conditions. Getting sufficient sleep is important.  His mental attitude is crucial for success. Just now he compares the present voyage with his previous Atlantic row and he feels lonelier. The striped fish and the bird that keep him company are of little consolation.
Having contact with the outside world by an Iridium Satellite phone is positively helpful, because being able to talk with others reduces his sense of isolation. Charlie greatly appreciates his weather guru, Andrew Wise. So far, everything Andrew has forecast has come about. Knowing in advance what weather to expect, Charlie can make contingencies for what the future holds.
Until recently the wind has been from astern, but yesterday it backed. This is not helpful because the boat is being set to the south, and Charlie has to work at keeping on track. However, he’s chuffed, because he is ahead of his theoretical position for achieving his goal of breaking the record.
If I wasn’t a Christian I might be foolish enough ask the ancient Greek god Zeus to look upon him kindly, but the real and only true God who dwells in Heaven, knows the whole story from beginning to end.
Proverbs 5:21 ‘For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He ponders all his paths.’
See also Acts 17:22-29
Transatlantic Solo
Charlie Pitcher to Row the Atlantic Again!
Topical Maritime Happenings
Boat Chitchat
 ‘JJ – Insure and Go’, Charlie Pitcher Atlantic Rower
Congratulations Charlie Pitcher, Atlantic Rower
 ‘Within’, Greg Kolodziejzyk