Monday, December 31, 2007

Solar Power

Adam from Messing About in Sailboats has a New Year's resolution to do one thing every week to save the planet. These guys are already doing their part by sharing their boombox and using solar power to avoid using batteries:

Friday, December 28, 2007

Married to the Sea Cartoon

I am pretty sure that the folks who create Married to the Sea comics were completely unaware of the current America's Cup legal battle when they used Ernesto as a name in the cartoon above.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Fairytale of New York

After dating and eventually marrying an Irish-American girl (and her extended Irish family) I have a soft spot for Irish music. This Pogues song, which was apparently voted best Christmas song of all time three years running in 2004, 2005, and 2006 in polls by music channel VH1 UK, is a really good example of modern, Irish-influenced rock music. I rediscovered the song when I heard it played on WBCN earlier this week (listen at least to about 1:25 when the band comes in).

Unfortunately, Kirsty MacColl, the female vocalist in the song, was killed by a speeding powerboat while diving in Mexico. She was able to save her son's life by pushing him out of the path of the powerboat, but she was hit by the boat and killed instantly.

Fish on Friday

Crash of the Week: Princess May

The ship above is the steamer Princess May, hard aground on Sentinel Island, Alaska, in August, 1910. She was part of a fleet of passenger and freight haulers operated by the Canadian Pacific Railroad Company along the West Coast of North America at about the turn of the century.

The Princess May was built in 1888 in Newcastle, England. She measured 249 feet in length so was a formidable sized vessel when you consider what happened to it. As the story is told, she stranded on the island’s rocky outcrop on August 5, 1910, within full view of the lighthouse on the island. She was steaming at full speed in the early morning in heavy fog, southbound from Skagway, Alaska, when the accident happened.

The lifeboats were lowered and some 80 passengers and the 68-member were safely evacuated to the island. It was said that the ship also was carrying gold, which also was taken ashore for safe keeping. Then the tide went out and the ship was left high and dry, as it appears in the classic picture snapped by W. H. Case.

Believe it or not, the Princess May was salvaged about a month later by Captain W. H. Logan and his salvage tug Santa Cruz, from Seattle. Logan managed to get the steamer lighted and re-floated during high tide.

The other interesting thing about this ship was that it probably had more names than any other vessel that ever sailed the high seas. The steamer was originally named the Mei Shih when it was launched. Before it came to the American coast, the ship was renamed Cass, then Arthur. After that it was renamed Cass, then Ningchow and finally the Hating before the railroad company bought it in 1901 and gave the vessel its final and infamous name.

The May remained in service for nine more years before she was sold to new owners, the Princess May Steamship Company in the Caribbean. In the end the vessel was scrapped and then scuttled off Jamaica in 1930.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Dream Job (Almost)

Tracy Usher, the North American Chairman of the Laser Class, posted a link to a job on the LaserForum today. The job is ILCA Technical Officer, and I would be really interested...if my current employment situation were a little more flexible.

The Position

A Technical Officer, to fill a current vacancy, providing technical support to the International Laser Class Association (ILCA). The support will be in 3 main areas:

1. Manufacturing (including construction manual maintenance and compliance, quality control, material specifications, recommending and implementing policy) reporting to the Chairman of the ILCA Technical and Measurement Committee.
2. Measurement (including drafting of rules and interpretations, maintenance of the measurement manual, measurers communications, recommending and implementing policy) reporting to the ILCA Chief Measurer.
3. General Technical (including technical drawings and illustrations on various aspects of sailboat racing).


On a part time basis (50%). The function holder will be working from his/her home.
Administratively he/she will report to the ILCA Executive Secretary stationed in Falmouth, Cornwall, England.
Travelling abroad (several weeks per year) is inherent in the job.

The Candidate

The candidate will have a technical/engineering degree or similar qualifications. He/she will be highly proficient in written and spoken English and familiar with marine technical language. Experience in the manufacture of small GRP boats and familiarity with mast technology and sail making may be an advantage although training will be provided. The candidate should also be familiar with popular office computer software, technical drawings and CAD packages. Current involvement with small boat racing would be an additional advantage.

Applications close 31st January 2008

For further information (including a detailed job description) please contact:

The Executive Secretary
International Laser Class Association

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Party Like a Sailor

In honor of the "holidays" (as they are known here in the politically correct US) and the requisite "holiday" parties, here's a historical example of a remarkable party.

At an officer's party in 1694 (an officer's party, not an office party, but close enough), the British Lord Admiral Edward Russell commissioned history’s largest cocktail.

That's the Admiral above.

The "cocktail" used a garden fountain as a punch bowl. The concoction included 250 gallons of brandy, 125 gallons of Malaga wine, 1,400 pounds of sugar, 2,500 lemons, 20 gallons of lime juice, and 5 pounds of nutmeg.

A series of bartenders actually paddled around in a small wooden canoe, filling up guests’ cups. Not only that, but they had to work in 15-minute shifts to avoid being overcome by the fumes and falling overboard.

The party continued nonstop for a full week, pausing only briefly during rainstorms to erect a silk canopy over the punch to keep it from getting watered down. In fact, the festivities didn’t end until the fountain had been drunk completely dry.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fish on Friday: Fish Escape

Down on the fish farm, workers could not understand why the number of brown trout had suddenly taken a dive. But close observation revealed the reason - an aquatic version of the Great Escape.

The resourceful fish are leaping 3ft out of the water and into an eight-inch pipe which brings fresh water into the farm near Alresford, Hampshire.

Following their instincts, the trout, cousins of the Atlantic salmon, then swim against the flow for 30ft before finding freedom at the other end as they plop into a tributary of the River Itchen.

Simon Johnson, director of the Wild Trout Trust, said: "Brown trout do have migratory tendencies and swim upstream, especially in November and December.

"The water coming down from the pipe is oxygenating the pond and this could be kicking in their natural instincts.

"They might well think it is a waterfall and are trying to head up it to find a place to spawn."

Friday, December 07, 2007

Sailing Photo of the Day

This great photo of an Optimist was taken at Glacier Waterton National Park in Alberta, Canada by K. Chisholm.

There are many other photos of sailing in spectacular scenery at the photographer's Flickr page.

I wonder how the wind is affected by all those mountains...I'd better re-read Tillerman's Lake Winds posts.