WABI’’’ real time : late September and sitting on the mud in the mouth of Church creek, one of the creeks in the river Fal and this one is just downstream of the delightfully named ‘Maggoty bank’. Right now it’s raining steadily out of what feels like a warm front from the south-west and once again i’m getting ready for another session of heavy weather : this one will be the 4th in 10 days so i’m not doing much sailing so much as sprinting from shelter to shelter in the quieter patches.
All is well on the boat though ; WABI’’’ is sat upright on nice, thick but rather smelly mud….not as smelly as my old and very wet trainers though which have been banished to the anchor well !. Jax and i had a brief spell of surprisingly good weather at the start of September so we cruised down to the west country for a couple of weeks, visited the Helford river and most of the Fal river creeks : Jax has gone home now and i’m continuing to cruise solo but as i say….not sailing much at all because of a succession of depressions and gales that are blowing through.
This post is in way of an introduction to my autumn series of shorter blog posts which i will schedule for mid October onwards ; i can’t get them out much before then because i just can’t get access to the internet where i am. I did try getting right up the river to Truro last night with a plan to hang out there for a few days and get some posts uploaded, but the tidal barrier was closed : my Fal river usefully shows the barrier and says “see note”……except of course that there is no note. There is a visitors pontoon up there which i was hoping to use and if necasary i think i could leave the boat there and catch the train home for a few days…..no luck though so it’s back to Maggoty bank for the night.
Truro tidal barrier says no….
Iv’e been running Dirtwetdog for two and a half years now as a writing and photography blog, had a couple of tries at getting into filming and producing video but with little success. I still think that video is the way to go to catch a younger and larger audience but i’m beginning to realise that blogs like mine (and Steve’s for that matter) are up against a hard limit because of our material, our genre if you like, and to an extent who and what we are….essentially middle-aged blokes writing and filming small boat adventures…..not a bikini, coral reef or bare bottom in sight ! : in short just not young enough and sexy enough for the mass audience that needs that kind of escapism and titillation.
My good friend ‘Big Al’ from NZ was over recently with his partner Nina….both excellent all-round practical people and boatbuilders too . Between them and our sailing friends from Falmouth, just about to break into the bottom end of superyacht work, hardly drew breath from talking for the days they spent with us. Al was very kind to tell me that my writing has come a long way, improved from when i started the blog although as i say myself it couldn’t have been much worse. What i have deliberately done for the last 2 years is to write much longer blog posts which give me the space to put across what it is i’m writing about. I recently checked to see the word count per blog and some of the longer essay style posts are 2500 to 300 words….that’s quite a lot and maybe too much.
This is one of the main things that Steve Parke and i talked about in the cafe those few weeks back….what works…what makes for a sucsessfull blog and what doesn’t. It’s most likely the case that most people don’t have the time or inclination to read long blog posts although conversely i think people might spend a lot more time watching longer video pieces. I tried quite deliberately to make short, 5 minute, video segments to go with my Friday 5 minute series and they hardly get looked at ever….my problem there is that video work is enormously time consuming to film and then produce/edit the result and even then a 5 minute video can take up to 3 hours to render and upload to youtube ! On the boat, although i could film some nice material i could only edit and produce the final product at home and that would be months later. With my written blogs even in France i could blog in close to real time.
So anyway….the new series of ‘shorts’.
A few weeks ago i was laying on the ground underneath WABI’’’ at Calstock boatyard scraping and sanding all the old antifouling off her hull….lovely work if you can get it !. One afternoon i’d arranged with the lovely Steve Parke, who runs his own blog : Arwen’s Meanderings ‘, to meet at the yard and have a brew in the honesty cafe while we talked ; mainly about my writing project. I think you can well imagine what i looked like after several hours of power sanding directly underneath where i had to work, and very close up to the work as well….most of the paint flakes , dust and grit was either on my face, in my hair or working it’s way inside my overalls….and it was old black paint ; you get the picture. Luckily the honesty cafe is only one step removed from the tea shack i remember at Dickie’s yard all those years ago : it’s a bit more posh with a proper kettle and Julia’s excellent cakes in the kitchen , a couple of old sofas and a pile of old yachting magazines but it can easily take a ‘Dirtywet(sea)dog’ or 2 !
Steve is a fellow blogger and much more succesfull , and much more competent you-tuber who built his own cruising Dinghy ‘Arwen’ in his garage and now sails her locally, producing excellent short video’s about the whole experience. It was good to meet up and fascinating to find that we’ve had similar career paths although in completely different professions. For my part i’m hoping to use part of Steve’s story as a first time boatbuilder and his perspective as a dinghy ‘micro-cruiser’ for my book project…..but we also got to talking a lot about other blogs, youtube channels and creating engaging content for others : like mine, Steve’s channel and blog is public and free to access and it sounds as though we attract a very similar audience.
So anyway….for the autumn series i’m going to do something different : i’m going to stick with writing and photography but i’m going to produce much shorter blog pieces that should be 5-10 minutes reading rather than an hours slog. For my own enjoyment i’m still going to write the occasional long essay firm post about subjects outside of small boat sailing…like the Chernobyl post for example. The autumn series of blogs is going to be all about my solo cruise around the west country before i have to get WABI”’ ashore and start on the job list.