Thursday, 19 August 2010


As I mentioned in the previous post, I've been doing some reading on sailing recently. I've managed to read three books on circumnavigation, two of which were non-stop. A non-stop circumnavigation seems to be more of a challenge and a test of one's limits rather than a recreational experience. What struck me most was the two totally different approaches towards it. I read Bernard Moitessier's "The Long Way" after reading Webb Chiles' "Storm Passage". These two books tell a totally different story and it's interesting to compare both the authors as well as their methods and characters.

Webb Chiles' story is full of agony, despair, stubbornness, ambition and delusions of grandeur. It seems to me that Webb Chiles had the right mix of ingredients to get into trouble. In comparison, Moitessier's account is about experience, harmony, humility, patience, anticipation. In practice, I believe the main difference came from the authors' attitude towards their task.

Chiles set off trying to conquer the sea, set records and prove himself. In doing so he chose a fast yacht that was not at all ready for the long hard journey he set off to complete. He pushed his boat to the limits and paid the price. He risked his boat and his life to try to set records. He was not at peace with the sea, himself and the boat. Nevertheless, his stubbornness and perseverance is what got him back alive. The last few weeks of his trip are just full of agony and a good example of what you may have to go through if things go wrong.

On the other hand Moitessier seemed to be more at peace with the elements, himself and the boat. He understood the weather and prepared for it. He was given the chance to set records and receive more fame and dismissed it. While he was not at peace with the modern world, this did not really affect his seamanship. 

To be fair however, Moitessier had a boat that was ready for such a passage and had been sailing since he was a child whereas Chiles had only about 10 years of experience and had done no long passages. Chiles was repairing his sails every day whereas Moitessier did not have to do any repairs at all. And one big difference was that Chiles's boat had a crack in the hull.. I'm not sure whether that was a design fault or one that developed due to Chiles' choice to press hard. Also Moitessier admits that the weather had been, in general very kind to him during his months in the South seas. Although I believe that Chiles' way to go about his task is not the right one, one must admire his courage and his feat was by all means remarkable. I do think that Moitessier was the wisest of the two though.

Most of you may have read Moitessier's book as it is considered a classic in sailing and is full of very useful information, tactics and advice. But I would also recommend reading Webb Chiles' account to see the striking difference between the two.

The other book is the one I mentioned in the previous post, James Baldwin's "Across Oceans and Islands". This is   also about a circumnavigation but not non-stop - in fact one with several stops that were very much part of the journey itself. This is the type of journey I'd prefer to do..

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Isolation & Inspiration

I've been in home-confinement for the past week having only been out to go to the hospital and to get an MRI scan for my knee. While I'm still working from home and trying to deal with insurance claims and the NHS over the phone, this confinement has offered me a good opportunity to catch-up with myself and the sailing endeavours of people that I do not know but I feel so close to and to re-ignite the spark of inspiration that every-day life is so good at suppressing.

Reading James Baldwin's on-line book "Across Islands and Oceans" has been a great source of inspiration. I have found so many words in there that I can relate to that in some cases I felt that I could have written these myself. The following is just one of these, which pretty much sums up my feelings about travelling and sailing round the world:

"Compared to a simple boat, a backpack and my boots, the thought of fussing around with airlines, taxis, buses, hotels, restaurants, and all the other trappings of tourist travel leaves me as uninspired as a purposeless voyage."

To do list

These are the jobs I'll have to do next time I visit Ting-a-Ling:

  • Check shaft diameter, buy & install shaft anode
  • Inspect cutlass bearing
  • Inspect stuffing box (may need to take out propeller shaft)
  • Inspect sink & engine intake thru-hulls & seacocks
  • Sand s/b side of hull
  • Inspect rudder & fittings get feed

Monday, 9 August 2010

And yet some more..

Finally, after more than a month I was able to do some work on the boat! After some hassle trying to find a ladder to get up the boat and trying to find the keys to the boat, I inspected the toilet seacocks that the boatyard installed. They look good and safe. However, the chap who repaired them told me they were completely unsafe before and recommended that we check the other ones too. Maybe I'll do that myself as I'd like to find out how to do it.

Then I went to the local chandlers and bought some antifoul paint. I went for Flag Cruising black which was quite cheap at £30 per 2.5lt.I also wanted to buy a new anode for the propeller shaft but I didn't know the diameter so will do that next time.

Then I started sanding the hull to prepare it for the antifoul. I started doing it by hand but quickly gave up as it was quite tiring and I resorted to my bosch multitool which did a pretty good job although that wasn't easy either. It was very messy and I ended up with a lot of blue dust on my clothes. I managed to do the port side only as I had to get back to London and would go back next day to do the rest and then apply the antifoul during the week.

However, things rarely go to plan.. On that night I had an accident on my motorbike and injured my knee. So now it will have to wait at least for a couple of weeks if not longer. Needless to say that I'm quite disappointed.. get feed

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

More grief but I got a working toilet so it's fine

I had asked the boatyard that carried out the coachroof repairs to try to get the toilet seacocks unstuck as nothing I've tried has worked.. They said they would and I persuaded them to do it for free as I thought it would be pretty straightforward and easy. They said OK. Yesterday I got a call from them telling me that it was quite a bit more complicated as the mounting bases were all rotten and that they needed to replace these and that did incur some cost - they have not told me how much that cost but they reassured me that it would not be "astronomical" - I am a bit worried as even £100 right now seems quite astronomical to me.

Anyway, the end result is that I'm feeling a bit let down by myself for getting into this whole situation, starting from buying the boat to giving it to the boatyard to repair it. It seems that the situation has got a bit out of hand money-wise and I need to get on top of it soon, seeing as though I have paid lots of money and have yet to get a days' sailing this summer.. I am frustrated. get feed