The 20:20 vision !

See what i did there ?

Cruising plans 2020.

The 2020 blog and projects.

The Opsimath series.

Blog , real time : as i write it’s a very dull , grey and overcast afternoon but thankfully a dry one and the last one of the year.  In a couple of days time i’ll be putting out the first post (non sailing) of the year which is the first in a series of ‘different’ posts which i’m working on , one per month and the first of which takes on the idea of Christmas/Yule and incidentally how i spent my day on the 25th of December.  Today i spent most of my morning in a hole in the back passage ; careful how you read that ! with my arm as far as it will go up inside the slate drain under the house : a bit like having my hand up the back end of a constipated cow except nastier and much more smelly !

In case you haven’t picked this up from other posts our house is one of a small terrace of 4 ex miners cottages and by all measurements and appearances built by them while they were off their tits on rough scrump and mine gas .  I still haven’t found a straight line anywhere in the cottage although i always felt completely at home on the floor which, walked across quickly, was a bit like being at sea…..until we had it leveled and screed over that is.  The drain problem in our ‘back passage’, actually the shared back path but you get the joke hopefully, is that it’s 19th century technology in the shape of a slate drain that runs under the cottage and was almost completely occluded at it’s entry by about 2 years of mud, anoxic sludge, moss and 2 dead rats !…..nice job.  When i finished yesterday i had one wash outside at the outside tap, one at the kitchen sink and then a hot shower and i still felt dirty.

Blogs and jobs.

I seem to have got right back into the flow of doing the heavy and dirty jobs that needed doing here : we’ve done a huge garden clearance so that looks better, if a little bleak at this time of year, the Leylandi is all down as are the neighbour’s conifers and now i’m up to my armpits in the drain job out back. For the drain iv’e got to construct some sort of sump that we can pump out during very heavy rain and then iv’e got to fill the existing pit and re concrete the path while leaving drainage gully’s each side.

Doing the heavy work at the cottage as a priority has meant that jobs on the boat have been put on the back burner for now : i am going to build the new sprit, the engine box and possibly the new bow fairlead but most of that will have to also wait until iv’e sorted out the workshop…..again !

Last year i thought i was being smart when i lowered the second bench in the workshop and fitted the pillar drill : well, it’s a great drill for smaller jobs but because of it’s position i can’t get longer pieces….like the sprit components, under the chuck because there just isn’t enough length.  Iv’e putting-off and putting-off the total re-organisation of the workshop for several years but that laziness is now getting in the way of my ability to work on larger projects, ok the workshop is a small and awkward space but at least iv’e got a working space.   This time i have to move all the storage to the low side of the structure as that’s the side i don’t really ever use except for using the drill.  It looks as though what iv’e got to do first is build a total storage solution on that side and then build a new bench on the high side which would include the pillar drill and be accessible from the door.

Plan : move drill , build storage this side.


Plan : remove all storage from end and right side, build new bench right of picture.

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Blog , Vlog and Flog !

Iv’e just been looking at my blog statistics for the year : 88 posts, 183,000 words, 34,000 views and just under 14,000 visitors !.  I know that’s very little when compared with the top sailing channels, especially the youtube ones but it seems far more than i expected when i tentatively published my first post just on 3 years ago.  I’m going to continue for now with the writing and photography based blog because iv’e just about learnt how to do it fairly quickly although my main challenge for the year is to produce one video ‘vlog’ per month and one sailing video for each month that i sail once i get back on the water.

In the blog itself i’m re tagging and re categorising every post with new labels and a new blog menu so that posts are easier to find : i do a few every day and iv’e only got around 250 left for the next rainy days session !.  My other writing work has suffered a bit because of the amount of time i spent on heavy work outside during the autumn, i’m going to get back into that straight away in 2020 and also have another go at breaking into mainstream sailing journalism writing : i wrote the draft of an article for one of the sailing magazines in December but so far iv’e had neither it accepted or rejected….which i think more likely although it would be polite of them to at least let me know.  That, by the way was my response to the comments i received via the blog suggesting i try to monetise the blog in some way.  Writing for the mainstream yachting journals seems one way of doing that, that would give me more views and traffic and that might allow me to then release the book project maybe as premium blog content rather than as a print.

The Opsimath series.

That brings me onto the Opsimath series of posts, i wrote an entire introduction post which should have been this post but when i came to edit it before scheduling it as the first post of the year i was so unhappy with it that instead of tinkering with it i started the new one (this one) and binned the first version.

My new series of posts is nothing to do with boats, sailing and the sea, except that having drafted the first 2, that i’m writing the essays from the perspective of a sailor and all-round outdoorsman.  Iv’e been challenging myself to do something like this for a while now, had a few tries at this kind of thing in the past but my ambition has always over-matched my technical and creative skills as a writer.  This time iv’e taken Dr Peterson’s words of advice on writing, which is to do it ‘fast and dirty’, get lots of material down and only then try and make it logical and cohesive : the intended content and creation comes first even though it’s pretty raw.  My first post in this series is a bit of a warm-up and iv’e taken as my theme Christmas (Yule) and what i did that day ; it’s done and on the schedule for the blog although i’d really like to find a wider audience for the series.

Strong words and hard plans 2020.

I ended the blog in 2019 with some strong words that i found on a scrap of paper tacked to the door of the loo down at the yard and here’s a fragment of that again :

The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience.  Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.”

A few nights ago i was watching some footage from the start of the 2019 Sydney-Hobart race and then by sheer chance just happened to be online to see the live feed from the finish as the super-maxi ‘Comanche’ ghosted up the Derwent river towards the finish line.  A long time ago it seems now, in fact half a life time now, i was at the helm of Nuclear Electric also ghosting towards the finish of that leg of the BT race.  I was thinking that while it would be fun to get a ride on a super-maxi like Comanche for a few hours i’m neither fit enough and agile enough now for the foredeck and nowhere near skilled enough a driver, trimmer or navigator to be in the afterguard on a boat like that.

Time thunders by…..i did my big boat sailing almost exactly halfway through my life as it stands today and i’m glad i did it when i was young, fit and stupid.  For a while i thought that was the end of my major sailing adventures because i failed to make the jump onto the top class boats ; i just wasn’t that kind of sailor and i’ll be honest here…i’m not that kind of sailor, to start with i’m just not competitive enough in that way.

Now though iv’e found a different kind of adventure with boats and i don’t see what i do now as any less interesting and challenging as helming a big boat across the Southern Ocean : being at sea in the channel, all on my own, keeping watch and sailing the boat solo for 30 hours is just as mentally tough as a 6 hour watch in a big boat with a strong crew.

Last year i made a hard passage early in the year and then had a very good time cruising down to southern Brittany , this year my plan is to stay on the English coast unless conditions for a channel-dash are more ideal.   My hard plan is to go east straight away unless we get a bout of early season easterlies in which case i’ll make a quick board down to the west country and try to film some of it…it’s good to do a shakedown of self and boat at the start of the year.  My main idea is to go east this time and with a goal of getting to the east coast or the Norfolk coast and over-wintering there next winter.

WABI”’ is an ideal boat for the east coast, in fact that coast would suit her much better than the west country with it’s bigger channel waves and bold coastline. So, my little boat is an ideal boat ; not so big that i can’t manage it on a micro budget and not so small that i can’t live aboard her and be comfortable.  To be honest the boat doesn’t need to be at all ‘ideal’, it just needs to be a boat that will do the job and there’s lots of small and capable ones out there at very little start-up cost.  If you want an example then go and watch Dylan’s early adventures with ‘The Slug’ and see how much he achieved with a totally crap boat : i can almost forgive him for the Centaur but that’s only because it’s new years eve and ‘peace to all men’ etc applies.

Iv’e never really been to the east coast proper other than my voyage with Inanda a couple of years ago….it doesn’t seem that long ago but it really is !.    In a few months i’ll be 62, most likely i won’t sail in the southern ocean again although i might very well make another voyage to southern Brittany and beyond : i’m still good for an ocean voyage as well !.  Like most of us i’d quite like a bigger boat, and incidentally also a smaller one too as i’m cooking up a plan for a voyage with an open boat that iv’e yet to build……which cycles me back to needing space in the workshop…..time goes by !

Plans and goals then : plans i know can go awry, the military say something along the lines of “any plan of battle only lasts as long as contact with the enemy”, fair enough but maybe it’s better to have a plan that not.  I did set out last year with only a vague plan and basically sailed my year by sticking a finger up in the wind and making the decision on not going in that direction !.   It’s good to make actual plans though and not just vague ones like so many of the new years resolutions that won’t survive the first month.  My ‘hard’ plan is to be back on the water by the end of March or as soon as Chris the boss clears the slip and can get me back in.  All of my jobs will be based on that and if anything doesn’t get done it can wait until later in the year.

The strong words for 2020 come from poet Walt Whitman :

“Make voyages…..attempt them !”


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