Passage progress and the Dockyard Lament.

Aye Aye Landlubbers
What a difference a day makes eh? 24 hours of a steady 25 knots of North Easterly wind and our previously serene passage is now interspersed with regular slappings that shudder through the vessel every few minutes and leave us gently bouncing, as 26,000 ton of blunt bowed steel plods into what we would consider as only slight seas (say between 1.5 and 2 meters).
It is a mild irritant as opposed to anything to be really bothered about. I am keeping an eye on the main deck and the movement of the big crane in its boom rest because we have just had 900 ton of steel inserted into the hull as extra strengthening for when we fit the new 2200 ton crane and I need to make sure that our structural integrity is as good as it ever was and that our movement (flexing etc) is about the same as it was. It is the big rig (heavy lift crane) drivers (Jake and Dave) who often can provide invaluable feedback on that, because they see the deck from a different perspective to me on the bridge. They are also right astern so will detect any difference in her “movement” not usually noticeable to me, but I reckon we are more bouncy / bendy. The rig is in its rest now for the night so I will find out manyanna when they top the big rig again to see if they have detected any discernable change in her movements. We have ballasted her right down during the day to reduce the slapping but she feels more “lumbering” now. Less “hipster” and more “arthritic hip”
On ships that have a proper ship’s hull shape, that movement and slamming is hardly noticeable, but on this vessel, which has been designed more for keeping location rather than long passages, we often feel every wave.
It reminds me of about 5 years ago when we did a trip back from Papua New Guinea to Singapore that took us 31 days and we were badly beaten up by rough seas for over half of that. Day after day of slamming and bouncing was exhausting, as even when off watch there was little prospect of unbroken sleep. To give you a better idea, imagine every 3 or 4 minutes someone slamming you bedroom door and jumping up and down on your mattress over and over again all night. Sweet dreams eh?? arf arf
Please don’t misunderstand me as I am not moaning, and this is nowhere close to some of the 6 and 7 meter seas we encountered on that trip (the average roof height for a standard two story house is just over 7 meters to give you an idea), I am just reporting the day to day changes in conditions and allowing myself lyrical license to wander about within the realms of a life at sea.
The breeze is still lovely and warm the outside air temp is 28 degrees at midnight, so none too shabby it has to be said.
So our midnight position is 9* 28’N 110* 53’E we are heading NE the wind is NE 25 knots (don’t forget in nautical terms wind comes from and current flows to) seas are between 1.5 and 2 meters, Sky is part cloudy. The sea temp is 30 degrees and the air temp is 28. And we are in 3150 meters of water which is about 2 miles deep.

To make things easier I have now a chart for you to check progress and put things into perspective.

I hope this works ok

voyage 16

I am working on a short story for tomorrow so for today you will have to put up with a sad poem I wrote in the later part of the 70’s sat in Millwall docks, on one of the last proper commercial ships to use it before it closed to be redeveloped into the trendy gaff it now apparently is.
At that time the writing was on the wall for general cargo vessels and the docks that they used due to the onrush of containerisation. It wasn’t just in the UK and historic old docks like Millwall, but all over the world that shipping, and the dockyards they played their trade in, were being moved away from near the centers of the great cities of the world, and relocated in ugly desolate isolated industrial complexes miles from any gallivanting and seediness that were traditionally part of the seafarers life, and one that I had always embraced and enjoyed.
The once vibrant dockyards were dying and this was my lament.

Water dull green and unhappy.
Clouds form to reform and unleash rain.
The wind restless chasing.
Forever chasing a restless wind.
A face in a window looking,
but not seeing.
Not feeling.
Not knowing.
Not caring of the history lost.
A fish corpse among the oily flotsam.
Murky grey light dead in the water.
A ship sirens lonely blast.
The dockyard’s lament.

Love and Peace

Sea Passage.

Well shiver me timbers and all that malarkey, here we go on a 2500 mile trip from Singapore to Ulsan in South Korea.
Strange that I had to double take on Ulsan as I thought it was the blue stuff that you put down a chemical bog but that was Elsan.
Now we are in 2016 it is hard to imagine that from 1969 to 1972 I lived in a house that had a chemical toilet because we had no flushing one nor mains sewage. Nor did we have hot running water and used to bath in tin bath in front of the rayburn. (ha ha I can feel the startings of a monty python sketch there)
Eventually we had septic tank fitted and even though the bog was outside it was still a joy not to be having to dig a hole once a week to bury the contents of the chemical in, which was never a pleasant task I can assure you.
I guess that’s why when we had the dunny going in France (up till last year) I was always chuffed with it because it was self composting and just used wood ash and sawdust to break itself down.
It would be a bit tricky to have inside a house I will admit, but it is so simple if you have the space outside and dont mind the journey there and back in the winter.
Anyway I seem to have meandered off up shit creek there for some reason, so back to the here and now:-

It is 0001 hours on the 19th April.
We are at 07* 05′N 109* 04′E just coming up to Vanguard Bank on our Stb side where the water rises from 500 meters to about 30) in the middle of the South China Sea, or if you prefer we are 225 miles SSE of Vung Tau on the southern tip of Vietnam.
We are steering 035 and making 7.6 knots. So far we have travelled 454 miles since leaving Singapore with 2055 to go.
The sea is near enough calm, there is a beautiful balmy NE wind blowing at about 14 knots and the temp is about 30 degrees.

It is always good to leave the anarchic cauldron of noise that is a dry dock or repair yard, the banging and clanging, the bashing and crashing, the burning metal smells from welding and oxy-acetylene cutting, the sirens hooting or wailing, the grinders sparking, machinery running, fans blowing, radios squawking, people shouting, sweating, swearing, skiving and smiling, cranes lifting and lowering, scaffolding going up and down, the feel of sand blasting grit in your nostrils, the stench of spray paint curing, the relentless cacophony, the unsubtle and unclean symphony of heavy industry.
There is a satisfying and palpable release of tension as the final office whallah heads down the gangway, the ropes are let go, and once more the ship comes under the stewardship of the marine crew and the project crew who are preparing their kit for the job ahead.
You are back to an environment where everyone knows their job and the result of everyone doing their jobs is a smooth running harmonious vessel where each cog in the wheel is respected for their own part in the team.
All of us can only do our jobs because of those around us are doing theirs. It is an often unspoken but tangible camaraderie. It is why I love what I do for a living and why I particularly like being on a sea passage.
It is such a satisfying and pleasing routine of plotting our progress on the chart, and checking the course and the predicted weather against our own barometric and wind readings and the state of the sea and sky.
It isn’t quite the romantic ideal of an open deck and being able to foresee the weather changes by your own senses, knowledge and experience, but it is an enjoyable process none the less.
I went for a walk on the heli deck this afternoon and had a big grin on my face as the warm breeze brushed over me and as I walked around I could see nothing but sea in a 360 degree unbroken horizon.
Make no mistake that I miss beyond measure the greatest pleasure of my life, which is tucking up on the lee side of bum island with MrsB, and just being with her, and also spending time with my children and learning of their busy interesting independent lives, however being out on the deep blue sea is about as an enjoyable way to spend our time apart as there is.

This is us sailing

At sea

I will be trying to write something everyday of the passage, sometimes fact sometimes fiction and I will also be offering a music track each day I write for your listening pleasure.
Here is a very apt first one but you will need to copy and paste it to get it to work

Love and Peace

What’s The Weather Like There Bentley?

What’s the weather like there Bentley?
A balmy 7 knots of south westerly tropical breeze, that an hour ago was 53 knots of snarling, biting, mauling squall. The sort of sudden vicious storm that has tigers in it.
Heading towards us from the the horizon a new boiling frenzy of fresh storm front is already preparing to let loose the prowling, growling beasts, whose twitching tails are whipping the water into a welter of razor edged foam.
If you stare into the seething mass of clouds, just as lightening spurs it to a greater malevolence, you can see the big cats crouching yellow eyed in the squall, ever eager to pounce and unleash their full furious magnificence.

So you want to know what the weather is like, well there is a squall coming and it has tigers in it, apart from that it’s fine.

Love and Peace

Have to write each day

Aye Aye,
Not a lot of point in carrying around loads of stories and ideas in my head if they dont end up on paper (or on screen)
This little simple nugget of wisdom came to me after reading an article of tips about how to get writing again if you have stopped.
It said each day have 2 5 minute sessions of “sense” writing in other words what can you see, hear, smell, feel or taste for where you are sat or stood. Once you get into the habit of that you then add a 15 minute daily rant about anything you like.
So the following series of daily musings will be a mix of sense writing and rants (I think I will enjoy the rants more arf arf)

Been too long.

It’s been too long, considering I usually have so much to say, however I shall attempt to put that right over the next few weeks.
There are several subjects that I need to express an opinion or three on including, but not limited to The debacle of and disastrous future the UK now has due to , the tory robber barons gaining a majority at the election,the mistake people make when confusing a lust for power with religious activity, the disgusting spectacle of a publicly funded royal family in the 21st century, the danger of plutocracy to peoples ability to make informed decisions and to their well-being and security.
It is difficult to know where to start, or which subject causes me the most angst, however they all need an airing if for no other reason than to make sure I am thinking along the right lines. To save it becoming too intense and ardent I shall intersperse my political and anti religious outpourings with some lighter moments of reflection.

Love and peace

At first I thought it was alright but…

Aye Aye Landlubbers
It would seem that Mr Russel Brand has been causing a bit of a stir with his “revolution”.
Its a new booky wook by all accounts, and from the bits I have read it has some excellent, articulate rhetoric which one has come to expect from Mr Brand, but he has (it seems to me) stopped short of reaching a proper conclusion when he calls on the young and dissatisfied not to vote.

He seems to have had a bit of a recent transformation from “ex junkie-shagartist-comedian-film-bloke” to a bit of a revolutionary thinker and although I cant fault the sentiment in his reasoning, (and enjoy his “trews” podcasts (google it) his call to arms, through people not voting, shows a bit of stunted development in his journey of academic and politicalised learning.

I believe Mr Brands considerable and commendable communication skills would be better employed encouraging young people take part in the democracy so hard fought for by so many over the years.

We all know (or should know) the tories are trouser stuffing scum doing all they can to further disenfranchise the working man, and we all know that the appalling Nu labor abomination were just tories with red ties, and the less said about the vacuous lib dems and the gormless jingoistic ukip the better.

We also know (or should know) that between labour and tory over the last 40 years they have created the “fuck you I’m alright Jack” mentality that infests the society of the UK like a soul sucking virus, along with the now so called (and much vilified and easily blamed for the UK’s woes) “underclass” of lifelong benefit claimants.

We know (as has been proven in the last 4 years) that the lib dems will suck the rancid cock of either of them if it means they can get their noses in the trough for a while and we all know (or should know) that the ghastly ukip are a bunch of turncoat, jingoistic chancers and political pygmies, with unfortunately a superb PR team who have actually managed to get them inordinate amounts of airtime for what are basically are at best one trick ponies.

Tragically for UK politics they (ukip) are getting enough airtime to have actually convinced some of the more gullible members of the public (who if they spent a few minutes thinking about it for themselves, would surely or at least should know better) that they would be a good alternative to the others!!!
Come on for fucks sake, use you brains and check out “who” is funding this tosh and more importantly try to work out “why” they are funding it. It is a con trick to sell you the same shit with yet a different coloured cover.

However there are alternatives that are worth voting for, such as well meaning independents, and to some degree the Greens, if only they could manage to drop the crusty-hippy-shit image they trail around, although I know they are trying it is proving to be a very difficult hand-wovem, tie-dyed, hemp blanket to shrug off. Of course they don’t have all the policies to solve all the ailments of the UK but they do have ideas that would solve some of them, and that’s not a bad place to start. At least it is a start.

You cant make change happen if you do nothing, and it will takes years, decades even to achieve any meaningful change but please Russel Brand don’t ask young people turn their backs on the democratic process in the vain attempt it will make change happen, because all you will do is give the foul bane of toryism a massive hard on and make their goal of returning the populace to serfdom that much easier and quicker to achieve.

The Alabama Three made great song where they wrote “Mao said Revolution comes through the barrel of a gun” but dont for one minuite listen to the nhotgheads that think this is an option in today’s society in the UK or the states etc, for the simple reason that 99.9% of any effective weaponry is owned by the governments paid protectors, ie the police and army, and they would not hesitate for one second to unleash live rounds on the street if they thought that the size and ferocity of the protest was such that it might unseat them from their lofty roosts.
Plus the fact of look what happens when people are left alone for a few days to run riot!!! what do they do???
They start looting and burning their own neighbourhood. That’s how fucking dense and dumbed down and consumer-junkie vast tracts of our societies psyche’ have become.

The next few years are absolutely crucial for peopel to get politicised if for no other reason that in my hopefully 30 years left I dont want to die knowing that this generation of youth will be remembered as the generation that threw away what few tattered shreds of freedom and human rights we still have and that uor forefathers and ancestors fomr all walks of life fought so hard to obtain.
Selfish of me I know but I am an idealist therefore I hope, nay! I “expect”, better.

Don’t forget that in order to make a change you have to be in a position to be able to effect that change and the best way to do that is by getting stuck right into the current mechanism and changing it from within.
If lots of the star struck fans of Mr Brand take him up on his wobbly incomplete conclusion that “not to vote” is the way forward you will quickly find that it is in fact a massive step backwards as far as your liberty and rights as individuals go.

I write this a someone who has shunned voting since 1997 (and have argued against it myself until quite recently) because it seemed that all I had were three different coloured sacks of shit to choose from, that when you opened them up were just full of the exactly the same shit. As the expression goes you cant polish a turd, but you can put glitter on it which has been proven time and time again over the last few decades by politicians on all sides of the house.
I have reached the conclusion that I have been wrong not to vote, (thanks Mr Brand, your revolution has stirred me back to the ballot box) because refusing to vote not only dismisses, with one idle petulant wave of the hand, the untold sacrifices people went through for me to have it in the first place, but my non-vote is one step closer to the finishing line for some corporate sponsored tory hell bent on shoving yet more of the nations assets into his and his chums back pocket at the expense of all others. And that disgusting blight and fetter on society has to be stopped.

Love and Peace

(ps I welcome any comments on my bloggs as long as they are addressing the message as opposed to just taking petty pot shots at the messenger)

An interrupted but fruitful session

Ahoy there landlubbers, back onboard after a one week journey to get here and unfortunately three weeks ahead of time. I feel like Dr frigging Who and it has been a clusterfuck of a ten days.

The leave started with great promise as MrsB and I sorted out emptying the kitchen ordered the glass for the eyebrow windows (lead in time 5 days) as well as the whole back window /door assembly (lead in time 6 to 8 weeks) and the Warmsler 1100 cooker range and boiler (lead in time 6 weeks) We also laid out where the tractor shed wall was going to go and dug the footings and laid in the shuttering for it.
I have to say that walking more than 50 meters was a bit of a pain with the dodgey knee and so I will admit that perhaps clambouring onto a ladder rested on the dorma roof (so I could waterproof the planned lounge log burner flue) was probably not a great plan.
When my good leg got cramp and my iffy one slipped off the rung the project nearly came to an abrupt end.
With my tail between my legs (not an easy task on a ladder I can assure you) I eased myself down to terra firma and “had a word with myself” In fact it was several words and most of them were sweary.
When MrsB dropped me off at Rennes airport after a week at home I was relieved to think that after the keyhole OP (removing a bit of damaged cartilage) the next day it would herald an end to several months of increasing pain and decreasing mobility. I had put it off as I rather “blokeishly” hoped it would “just sort of get better” with rest but all that happened is that it became worse and I piled on 5 kilos as I couldn’t exercise it off.
As I stood at the auto ticket machine trying to work out how to retrieve my ticket, someone shoved a gun in my back and demanded my money!!!!!
I did what any normal person would do in that situation which was to turn round and say “Fuck right off matey”.
It is not that I am some sort of super hero with special kung fu wonder skills or that I consider myself to be a “hard case” or that I have a death wish, it was just that I recognised the voice of my nephew Will (we had big hugs and laugh at my slight flinch as I felt the gun/ finger in my back) who was just back after a weekend in Hamburg on the lash with his mates and had arrived at the same time. I tried to organise getting him over to do a weeks work with the renovation and we parted at Dorch where he got the 31 bus (top deck front seat) to head back to bridders and I had the pleasure to attend the SkaBQ organised by Mark and Claire Hymas, where I had great time reminiscing with old friends listening to some great music and having a few beers.
At 11.30 on the morrow, off to the knee clinic I did go.
At 1pm they put me under and I limped out at about 4.30 with a gert big bandage on one leg and white surgical stocking on the other (toenails resplendent in their usual summer livery of “Cherry red”) and caught the train up to the Southampton airport hotel and flew back to Rennes the next day.
I must admit when the local anesthetic had worn off it did sting a bit but what miffed me the most was that my earlier understanding that I would be able to get some light work done after a week or so proved to be what I ‘wanted’ to hear as opposed to a reality. The scary reality was that I would need at least 4 weeks before I could bear any great load on the knee and worse still 6 weeks before larking about up ladders and scaffolding, but that was from the nurse, physiotherapist and surgeon, so what do they know huh??

After a week of hobbling about, being a crap patient although succumbing eventually to the tender administrations of MrsB nephew Will arrived and he started by fitting the windows in the eye brows and then moved onto making all the frames for the work surfaces as well as constructing the window bench that will hold the gas bottles for the gas hob. Later the next week son Zak turned up sporting a beaujangler of a beard and with his new van that he is converting to live in. he got stuck into the last bits of insulation with his Ma and then helping out wherever needed in between bouts of working on his van and the gadding off sailing and gliding with Will.
Realising my knee was taking longer than I had planned I convinced Will to stay for another week so having them both there would help move the job along and then out of the blue on the Monday morning comes a call from my company “Can you come back asap”
And here I am, plans and logistics in tatters but Z & W and MrsB put in a sterling effort and we actually managed to achieve quite a bit. WE have several deliveries waiting in the wings such as the Warmsler 1100 Cooker range/boiler, a Neff 5 burner LPG gas hob, a large Neff electric fan oven and a double fronted stainless steel catering fridge that has a 250 liter capacity but is “under the counter” design. We have tender out for the stainless steel tops for the work tops in the kitchen and we have the main parts of the rest of the plumbing including 250 liter expansion balon, 300 liter hot water twin coil (solar and thermal store) immersion, laddomat units and various pumps and piping and three way valves and other stuff associated with plumbing, (and two gorgeous old school industrial /maritime spot lights) all paid for and waiting in the wings to be delivered so so its just case of sorting out the logistics for when I get home in early November and installing it all.
Big days and big leaps forward ahead.

Love and Peace

My knee

So on Sunday I had a quick jaunt across to Dorchester to do a small comedy stint at my mates Ska BQ which was great fun then on the Monday I hobbled my way to the private hospital for a quick knee op. Keyhole thingy but the gave me general anaesthetic and were les than chuffed when I came round and said I was getting the train up to Southampton airport for night in a hotel and then flying today to Rennes. I had to be a bit les than truthful when I said I would stay in Dorchester and my nephew would come and keep an eye on me. Well suffice to say that the trip to soton and today’s flight passed without incident and I am home with a fairly sore knee but on the way to recovery. So much to do this leave and being crooked is a pain but I have been carrying this injury for nearly a year now and it wasn’t getting better by itself. I will post up some more when more happens.
Love and peace

Home of the Renovation Blog

Aye Aye My beauties
As some of you know I started this blog on an obscure French interest site called Total France which subsequently became French Entree and the the blog of Jilly and my exploits on the build attracted about 40,000 hits over the last 5 years.
It is no longer available on that site due to a fit of pique by the admin/moderator team, therefore all future updates will only be available on here so if you are enjoying the story and think others would too then please feel free to spread the word and share the website address to those you feel would enjoy it.

If there is any technical aspect I might have missed or anything you think I am not doing and should be then fill your boots and make a comment and I will answer if I can

Love and Peace

End of an Era

Aye Aye landlubbers, well it had to happen in the end and if I am being honest I am surprised I lasted as long as I did.
My time spent posting on FrenchEntree has been bought to an end.
For those of you not in the know it is an obscure website for people who have some sort of connection with France, and is often a useful mine of information about the various day to day foibles of living there.
I spent most of my time on the site in the chatterbox section which is a sort of open forum.
There are a few interesting and intelligent people who post occasionally and enjoy a good argument or discussion about most subjects, but, as with any society, there are few grudge bearing arseholes as well. The sort of people who if you disagree with take it as some sort of mortal wound and for evermore harbour ill will to anything you say about any subject.
Over the last year or two there has been a subtle changing of the forum demographic and general dumbing down along with a bit of an exodus. Unfortunately several members have begun displaying far right tendencies and there has been an increase in those with rather delicate sensibilities, who have an attack of the vapours whenever they are disagreed with. Rather than argue their point they usually resort to petty pissy knickered schoolgirl personal abuse or crying about how beastly everyone is, ever keen to shoot the messenger rather than confront uncomfortable truths of the message.
Looking back I have been like fox in chicken coup for ages and by being evicted fomr the site has done me a favour and it is time I stopped wasting my time and moved on to concentrate on my own writing.
I dont mind that my forthright and uncompromising manner of posting is no longer suited the “blanding” of the site, but what has raised my hackles is that I started the renovation blog on there which has had 40,000 hits, and in a weird and unpleasant act to sanitise me from the site (or ethnically cleanse me ha ha ) they took the thread down so that all the people who had been following it (on there) wont get to see the continued story, unless they know this blog site address.
For some bizarre reason they also took down the creative writing thread (like a miniblog) I had started which also had thousands of hits.
It is a vindictive and paranoid act by a moderator or two who appear to have become carried away with their little bit of power, but their behavior is even more strange and duplicitous given how I have often been vocal in my support for them and the site.
I will miss a slack handful of the members as they were always good for banter and chat, but as to the rest “fuck em” the bunch of petty minded backstabbers.
Had the bunker-minded and rather vengeful ‘powers that be’, in their desperation to get rid of me, just left the renovation thread with link to “myrusticview” intact (but locked) I would have just shrugged my shoulders and buggered off without a backward glance, but due to their unnecessary malevolent behaviour they have unwittingly unleashed a bit of mischief for a while.

The big bonus for me is that I can spend more time writing on here without getting sidetracked and bogged down arguing with the sort of people who (and I kid you not) are of the opinion that:-
most young people who are sexually abused bought it on themselves,
that it is perfectly acceptable to justify the wholesale slaughter of women and children just as long as it is israelis doing the killing,
that the royal family deserve to be lauded financially supported,
but that anyone else on benefits are lazy scam and should get jobs,
that churches are good for people,
that the death penalty is a good thing,
that thatcher deserves to be made saint,
that free market capitalism really works for the benefit of everyone,
etc etc etc

The reason I rail (and always will) against foul shit like that is because if no-one does argue voraciously against it then more people will take the easy “follow the herd route” spewed out by the popular media and come to think of it as being acceptable.
It isn’t.

Love and peace