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Boat Heaven - Boat Heaven

Boat Heaven - March 2007

Concluding dinghy adventures

March 30th 2007 05:12
.Conclusion of dinghy adventures.
Have you ever been kissed by a rubber duckie? We boaters call most inflatable boats rubber duckies. Even the huge RIBs with two hundred and fifty horses on the back get this modest tag. Inflatable boats are handy, due to their being able to be deflated and stowed, light, durable and well priced. They can at a pinch be rowed, though it is a pig of a job to do. Most have small outboards that come off for storage.

Incidentally to avoid bursting a gut, try using the topping lift on your boom to lift the outboard in and out of the dinghy. Some I know are very small and light but you are still over balanced like a circus clown to do the job. Similarly the topping lift on the spinnaker boom can be a good way to lift your dinghy on to the foredeck. But I digress, lets talk about how to get kissed by a rubber duckie.


I was delivering a Catalina 32 from Hamilton Island to Sydney for the owner. He also wanted his inflatable dinghy to arrive with the yacht. There was room to have it on the deck but my crew and I decided to drag it behind us with the engine removed and safely stored in the hatch below. We had it on a fairly long painter and with trial and error managed to find the right distance to tow it. For the less experienced boater not all dinghies tow the same and even the one you are used to sometimes has to be adjusted to the changing conditions. We had not planned any trips ashore to deserted islands but if the opportunity to do so arose we would avail ourselves.

All through the Whitsunday group we towed and down the Queensland coast. Behind Frazer Island and through Moreton Bay and again out into the Tasman Sea form Southport to brave the southern swells. Oh so very well behaved the dinghy towed along behind.


It was night and I was steering with another crewman on watch with me. We had to hand steer this boat and it was hard grind after so many days and nights. We generally do not stop for the night and just keep sailing through. It was around 0100 hrs and the wind was picking up and the boat was racing along singing her own song to us which was a combination of sighing from the rigging and water gurgling down her hull. A true symphony of nature. Suddenly I had an eerie feeling that some one was peering at me. I looked toward my crewmate, but he was hunkered down in the doghouse taking a nap. I looked out at the star spangled sea and all I could see was the tops of the dark waves and hear the soughing of the rising wind.

The feeling would not leave me. I looked behind me around me and above me. Nothing unusual in that as it is part of keeping a look out at sea. Check for other boats and try to catch a glimpse of buoys on fish traps before you run them down. Just an eerie feeling of being watched. I let the feeling disappear after a while and all was well. Suddenly I felt a rush of wind against my face and a wet smack on the cheek. I looked over in time to see the dinghy falling off the back of a wave. Relief and a call to my crew for assistance and we soon lengthened the painter to stop the problem.

With the rising wind we also had rising seas. Not realising that the dinghy, being lighter than the yacht, would get up on the plane and surf down the waves. On this occasion it had surfed down and overtaken the next wave to sit up proud and point her wet nose out and plant a “kiss” on my cheek.
Well so endeth my tales on dinghies, thank you for dropping by. More boating tales soon.
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lost pinched escaped?

March 26th 2007 05:12
.“Lost, pinched or escaped, one dinghy”
Most boating magazines have a free section in their classifieds for ads of this description. Why? Because they realise just how important the dinghy is to the waterborne person. Just like in the old wild, wild west where the cowboy rode and loved his horse and any low down critter that stole it got ‘strung up’, no questions asked, so we rely on our dinghies. We don’t have the opportunity to “string up” a felon these days but anyone who pinches or uses a dinghy without the ok of the owner is certainly a felon of the worst kind.

Imagine this scene. One of my ex sailing pupils has bought herself a lovely 45’ steel sloop to go cruising around the world. The boat is safely on her mooring and the owner is on board doing maintenance and decides to stay the night to do more work in the morning. She leaves the dinghy, a lovely little inflatable with a 2 horse power outboard dragging off the back on a piece of rope. During the night she hears a power boat pull up behind her yacht and sticks her head up to investigate. She sees the thieves! “Hey, what are you up to” she bravely yells out. “Sorry luv, we are taking your dinghy” and off they go with her dinghy in tow.

A call to the police is without joy, “describe the villains and give us the reggo number of the boat”. Sure, what chance on a dark night? The water police incidentally are pushed to the limit by the government’s policy on anti terror on the water and are busy patrolling the busiest port in Australia and have no relief staff to do the day to day job they were hired to do. So the lady calls the local marina from which she hires her mooring and is ferried to shore in their dinghy. She is put off sailing for life and her boat is for sale. Bloody mongrel thieves, no wonder we hate them. To them it is just a matter of convenience to cut a painter and steal a boat. Sell it for a few bucks and bugger the owner they should have insurance. Makes me mad.

My sad battered old tinnie went missing from the yacht club one night. I searched high and low for it, spread out the word amongst the boating fraternity and took up the offer of free advertising of my loss through many boating magazines. One of the club’s sailors saw it pulled up on a grassy bank about three miles from the club two weeks later. I went to investigate and sure enough there she was, a very seamanlike job was done of pulling her onto shore and the motor was tilted up and only enough fuel to run from the club to this beach had been used. I decided that some drunk weaving their way out of the club had decided to avail themselves of a free ride home. Well I am glad they took care of my boat and I am glad to get her back. I am lucky in this respect but have not always been.
Part three follows.
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how's your dinghy?

March 25th 2007 05:12
How’s your dinghy?
Probably the most maligned and yet necessary part of our boating equipment is our dinghy. O.K. for some of us the dinghy is the only boat we have or what maybe we have to aspire to, but for the moment let me talk about the dinghy as an addendum to our yacht, cruiser, houseboat or whatever?

Firstly, despite what we would like to believe, it is not our lifeboat! No way Jose. Lifeboats and life rafts are dedicated pieces of equipment and should not be confused or de-rated. Sure the dinghy has been used lots of times in Mayday situations and has handled itself admirably, but it is not a piece of safety equipment.

The dinghy should be our means of transport to and from our main craft when it is on anchor or on its mooring. It lives on the davits on the back of the boat or gets unceremoniously dragged behind on a piece of string. For longer voyages it is hauled up and lashed off on the dolphin or duck board or better still has a designated position on the foredeck where again it is lashed down to be safe from the “Greene” that may wash over the deck.

At anchor or on the mooring it is again left to its own devises dragging to the tide or wind behind the main craft. Dinghies are almost as unique as their owners, no two seem to be the same. Sort of like fingerprints, they are very distinct and despite our blatant neglect we do fall in love with them. They are the quiet achievers of our water wonderlands.
Tomorrow part two:
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Reflections on Drake's big voyage 7

March 20th 2007 21:16
After just a little over thirty six months, Drake was home. He made his arrival in a quiet manner as his main concern was to find out if his queen still lived. He sent her a message and was eventually received at court. His stories of his adventures outgrew even his own bragging. And well could he brag. He had achieved everything he set out to do and then more. He proved himself to be a strong leader, a navigator without peer and a sailor that knew how to take care of his ship and men. He was a rogue by my standards but by his own standards and those of the time he badly wanted to be known as a gentleman and a well cultured man.

The treasure was beyond belief. Drake himself was allowed to take anything he wanted, even after he had his fill he was asked to come and take more. The national debt was written off and the queen could again spend as she wished without worrying how to pay. The Spaniards, bad sports that they were wanted it all back! Philip of Spain rattled his sabre and sent his ambassadors to do their work but as Drake had not actually declared war, nor had he actually done much physical violence not much could be done. In the end the owners of the loot were advised to go to civil court for restitution and as far as we know it could still be in court. The brother of the man Drake killed as a mutineer tried to get a fair hearing but that to was thrown out of court without getting a hearing.

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Reflections on Drake's big voyage 6

March 19th 2007 21:16
Drake was a great convincer of men. One man he could not convince was the pilot of the treasure galleon. He wanted the pilot to accompany him and lead him across the ocean. Colchera, the pilot refused and even when hung from the neck, from a spar, refused to help Drake in any way. Drake eventually let the man go free. This trick of putting a noose around a mans neck and then drawing him off the deck was often used with stubborn prisoners.

Maria, a black slave was saved from the galleon along with two other slaves for the use of Drake and the crew. Months later, big with child, she was left on a lonely atoll along with the other two male slaves. A blessing perhaps but though the atoll had plenty of food, the only water was on another atoll several miles away. There is no record if a boat was left for their use!

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Reflections on Drake's big voyage 5

March 18th 2007 21:16
[[COLOR=Blue]SIZE=4]Drake knew that Galleon was slowly making its way up the coast, picking up gold, but mainly silver ingots. Because there was a levy on all metals carried home to Spain to be paid, many mine owners had their loot carried as unspecified cargo to save this tax. I call it loot as the mines were worked by natives, who until recently were free to come and go as they pleased. Now they were slaves in their own land. By sailing out wide from the shore in his ship which he renamed THE GOLDEN HIND and in close to shore with his small pinnace, he covered a lot of ocean. From information he gleaned from local fishermen he found out he was only two days behind the NUESTRA SENORA DE LA CONCEPCION.

Finally the ships found their quarry. With only one man being severely wounded and the mizzen mast shot away the Spaniards were overcome. The Galleon was filled with Silver ingots, chests of silver and gold coin and an unspecified amount of gold bullion. Chests of jewels as well as silver and gold plate. Close to one million pesos of loot. It was not all going to be counted as Drake was also planning to do a little smuggling as well as piracy. What the queen didn’t know about she would not miss


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Reflections on Drake's big voyage 4

March 17th 2007 21:16
Raiding up and down the Peruvian coast was almost a comedy of errors for Admiral Drake. The Spaniards had no known enemy so they did not guard their ships all that well. They had little idea that a bold English corsair would find his way around the Horn with such an intense need to prove himself the master of the seas. Each town, village or port he came to, ships fell to his pirates. There was no need to board in the midst of powder an shot with blood curdling screams and brandished cutlasses. Just being able to sail up to his victim and fire off a few shots from the arquebus was at the time enough to send the men on guard scurrying away or allow themselves to be captured and put themselves at the mercy of “El Dracco”.

In one instance he was chased, by two ships, full of fighting men. They however were not keen to close with him as they were only armed with small arms, fowling pieces and the like. Drake on the other hand had cannon that could fire nine pound balls for long distances. In this competition he could conceivably stand off and batter his opposition to pieces. There is no account however of how well his men were practised in the use of the cannon.

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Reflections on Drake's big voyage 3

March 16th 2007 21:16
Whenever he could, Drake would land and clean his boats. He would also top up his food supply at every opportunity. At the bottom of South America, Terra del Fuega, he discovered an island so crowded with flightless birds that he called geese (because that is what they tasted like) but the Welshman in his company called them in their own tongue white heads or Pen Gwuins. Thousands of these birds were slaughtered and salted down for the voyage. I have in my repertoire of recipes some very good recipes for penguin, both fairy and giant. Of course I can’t release them until it is decided that they are Kosher to eat.

Again Drake lost men to the local natives. Living on the edge of the stone age the inhabitants of this land, so far south that only recently had white man been able to survive here, the locals were quick to catch up with the wicked ways of the soon to be conquerors and filled them full of arrows at every opportunity.

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Reflections on Drake's big voyage 2

March 15th 2007 21:16
Drake kept the plans he had very close to his chest. Only perhaps two other people knew what his eventual goal was. English Sailors had never sailed where he intended to go. There were no charts and few maps and the sea was still full of untamed monsters. Surprisingly each ship survived horrendous storms and sustained virtually no hull damage and little spar damage. It is a sign that Drake had spent a lot of the time he had waiting for permission for his mission buying up ships, stocking them with spares and manning them with the best of Devon’s sailors. Apart from the “gentlemen” who were on board every man was a true sailor. Even the bandsmen were sailors. Doubt of course about his slave but even he had many sea crossings under his belt and could speak three or four languages so it would be a small matter for him to also be a sailor.

The first man Drake lost on his voyage was John Fry. Coming ashore on the coast of the African continent he was duped by local warlords who managed to capture poor Fry and ride off into the sunset with him as prisoner. No point in going after them as Drake’s party had no horses or camels to mount a pursuit. Fry it turns out was well treated by his captors and for answering all the questions asked of him, he was delivered to the Mediterranean and put on board and English ship. He was the first contact and news England had of there soon to be hero.

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Reflections on Drake's big voyage

March 13th 2007 21:17
Reflections on the circumnavigation of Sir Francis Drake:

Drake’s big voyage around the globe, more accidental than intentional was a milestone in English history. Not until then had any Englishman done anything quite like it. They had the wars and battles and heroes. Kings and queens, generals and chivalrous knights but at the time of his achievements nobody from England had done anything “noteworthy” on the world stage. Sure there were philosophers and scientists as well but that is not the kind of stuff that makes a nation stand up and take notice.

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communication on board

March 5th 2007 22:44
.Communications on board;

What is your communication like on board your vessel? I guess most of you have something or another on board to use. Mobile phones of course are popular but there are more phones down there with the fish than there are on the boats. They seem to have a habit of falling out of your top pocket as you bend over to retrieve the anchor or wriggle out of your pocket as you climb on board or get soaked as a big green wave or spray sloshes over the deck. Costly isn’t it?

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.Using a Chinese steamer on your one pot:

As you may remember I am a glutton for one pot cooking as my boat is so small it doesn’t have room and I don’t often have time to cook in several pots at once. I am also only cooking for one and I like to keep the washing up to a minimum. Currently I am in a dormitory style of accommodation and again I have to keep my cooking simple. (No, I am not in jail.)

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Keep a log of your boating hours

March 3rd 2007 22:44
.Keep a log of your boating hours:

I have to say that sometimes when someone approaches me to crew on my boat and I question them as to their ability, I often get a rather vague reply. “Oh, you know, I have been around boats all my life, I love the water and I always mess around with catamarans when I go on holiday anywhere.” This doesn’t tell me anything other than I probably have a raw recruit to deal with. An experienced sailor will pull out his personal log book and show me the last few pages, filled out by different skippers, as proof of his prowess.

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How do you keep your beer cold?

March 2nd 2007 22:44
.How do you keep the beer cold on your boat?

One of our most ancient traditions has been trying to keep the beer (and wine) cold on board. I remember rowing along in an old timber, clinker row boat that I hired for a few hours with the express purpose of putting the virtue of a young lady of my acquaintance at hazard. I had a couple of bottles of Dinner Ale with me and tied them by the neck with a piece of string and dangled them over the side in the water.

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the foc'sl on my boat

March 1st 2007 22:44
The Focsle of my boat:

I was asked as part of the ship design & construction section of the mariner’s course I am doing to draw a freehand sketch of my current vessel’s focsle. I went ahead and drew what I thought was a fair representation of my yacht’s foredeck features. Shading in with pen and ink the drawing is an accurate and fair copy. Or so I thought.

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