Tuesday, February 9, 2016

We’re staying at a little hostel in Valparaiso, Javier the host is great.  A young man who came to stay at the hostel and liked it so much he bought the place, he’s made it a place of low cost and great character.  Its tucked into a tiny corner on a hilly street, two and a half stories high and wrapped around a tiny courtyard. Its simple, very basic, but cheerful and friendly.


 Casa "Los Gaviotines" (  a resting place for small fluttering seagulls,  Terns) is on a cobblestoned street up the hill behind the Navy offices in downtown Valparaiso, the buses stop just down the hill ( I get the impression that they're all driven by trainee racing car drivers on their last stage of training before trying out for Destruction Derby Stock car racing).  You can walk there from the bus in 10 mins or so and its within easy walk of the harbour and the many excursion boats.

FOR BOOKINGS  javiermilesi@gmail.com 



As you walk in through the door, rooms on both sides but you walk through the cool and darkened corridor into a brightly painted little courtyard, kitchen and rec room with computer on your right, heads and showers at the far end and rooms all around. Compact, but a happy place.

The courtyard from upstairs, my own room to the right.  
Casa "Los Gaviotines"  Is highly recommended if you don’t mind basic but clean and fending for yourself.  Breakfast is available, make it yourself but there is a wide variety of foods there.   Good place, just up the road to the left and behind the offices of the Armada de Chile. 
Thats Howard working down there, sometimes the interconnectedness of our modern world is a disadvantage when you're trying to get away from it all.

You’ll recognise it by the street art, that by the way is a real art form here in Chile, they’ve taken graffiti to a whole new level here and it adds much to to therwise plain and sometimes run down buildings.

I like it.  Great place so far in spite of warnings to keep our possessions close and safe, cheap, and full of cheerful helpful people.

Today we’re doing some filming, and then it will be back on the bus to Santiago.

As a by the way, and no she was too far away to get a photo, when I was young, pre teen that is, my dad took me aboard the four masted Barquentine “Esmeralda” when she visited New Zealand.  She’s berthed on the Navy berth here in Valparaiso, looking very good from the little distance we saw her from. A real credit to the Armada de Chile.



Saturday, February 6, 2016

On the ( metaphorical ) road again, heading for more small boat sailing adventures.

The brotherhood of the travelling boots.

Its occurred to me that the hikers boots that I’m wearing have been to seven different countries so far, they’re good friends the two of them, get along well even though they’re almost twins. One of course is a lefty and the other a righty but even so they seem able to co operate and generally arrive wherever it is that they’re going at about the same time.

I’m on my way again, this time to Chile,  will arrive in Santiago in about 18 hours.
Right now I’m sitting in Auckland International airport, within a few metres of the Percival Gull aircraft that Jean Batten flew from England to New Zealand in 1936, setting a number of aviation records on the way.  That flight took 11 days and 45 minutes to cover a bit more than 14000 miles. 
I’m going to be travelling in an aircraft that barely resembles that tiny single engined spruce and canvas plane.  In fact it would be no real problem to fit the “Gull” into the cargo hold of the big Boeing that I’ll be imprisoned within for the 13 ½ hour flight across the Southern Pacific Ocean. We’ll be travelling at around 590 nautical miles per hour, how different it is from Jean in her little light plane t125 mph.  I bet she didn’t complain about the cabin service in her tiny cockpit .


Jean Battens Percival Gull airplane, as I write this I'm sitting about 2metres away from the wingtip on the left of the picture, its a graceful little thing, but a real reminder of how much aviation has progressed since then, remember too that Jean Batten was with us until 1982, so most of this amazing progress has happened within the space of a long lifetime.

This trip I’m making is by the way the longest uninterrupted stretch of ocean that there is north of the five great capes about twice the distance that it is across the North Atlantic from USA to UK.

Which brings me to why I’m travelling.  I’m to meet up with friend and co teacher Howard Rice, and we’re going to be setting up for the big voyage of exploration that he is undertaking next southern summer.
That voyage, in a modified SCAMP, all of 11 ft 11 in long ( 3.575M ) will leave from Punta Arenas in the Straights of Magellan, carry him out through the channels and straights into the Pacific where he’ll turn left, and head south toward Cape Horn.
That latter is not necessarily the objective of the voyage, but rounding “The Horn” is a possibility.  The real purpose of the voyage is to explore the least populated and most rugged coastline on the planet,  riven with steep sided fjords, many with glaciers at their heads, backed by mountains, many un named as yet, and battered by the incessant gale force winds of the Roaring 40s this is an extraordinary place, and one which Howard will be exploring, and documenting.
There will be cameras on the boat, as well as within his support crew back at Punta Arenas, there is already some video “in the can” and the intention is to make a comprehensive video of the voyage, a video which will be available to anyone wishing to see the grandeur of the wildest place on the planet from the viewpoint of a small boat sailor.
There is more on the boat and the voyage in Howards Facebook page here


Yes it costs by the way, and if you’d like to support this, check out the directors website here. http://www.below40south.com.  There is also a lot of information on the voyage there.

  Any donations would be very gratefully received, we’re covered for the actual filming but the production costs will be significant and even a small amount would help to get what will be one of the great small boat adventures out where people can share it.

So I’m sitting here in Auckland airport with several hours to wait until the big silver bird roars down the runway and turns out eastward over the sea.
Its not boring, I’m in a quiet corner upstairs, this is one of the better airports that I travel through, and I’m alongside a glass wall where I can watch the people flow like a gently stirred anthill.  It’s the arrivals area just below me, and there are friends, parents, siblings and visitors arriving, it’s heart warming watching the enthusiasm and emotion with which they are being welcomed.

But I’m going the other way, I’ll be among that crowd downstairs in 20 days.




Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I've been out having little adventures.

Last week I took the ship out up to Kawau Island, about 2 hours away by sea, visited friends their then went to meet up with the beginning of the Kiwi Raid at Sandspit.
I was the “baggage barge” for the first day, baggage including camping gear for about 30 people was a good sized cargo but there is plenty of space in the covered cockpit aft so apart from needing four loads in the inflatable to get it all ashore at Martins Bay where they were to spend 3 nights at the motor camp while exploring the river at Mahurangi and the islands in the area, it was no problem at all.
I had the pleasure of the company of Roz for a couple of days, she is the organiser behind the Taweh Nugganah raid in Tasmania, those people being the bulk of the participants in our raid here.  Nice to meet you Roz, thanks for the pleasant time, you’re a great “deckhand”.

Raid progress reports here, I wish I could have stayed longer,  next year!
More Kiwi participants too, this is a fabulous event, well organised, well supported with escort boats, the campsites all arranged, food provided, well done all the organising team.

From there, it was Mahurangi Regatta time, the annual event for classic yachts held in the entrance of the Mahurangi River,  there are usually between 250 and 300 boats there and while I’m primarily interested in the small boats, and admit to being biased and wanting pics of some my own designs, this is a fabulous event and one that I hate missing. 

This time, with the aid of Denny on the helm I was able to get around the fleet, hopefully not inconveniencing any of the racers, and got some very good shots.

Waiting near the beach, this is Carlotta Ann, soon to be renamed Kairos, I dont have any connection to the original name and she was an opportunity not to be missed.  She's my most of the time home, big, comfortable and capable. I still have five other boats two of them with sails so I've not defected from the small boat fold.

Breeze, 65 ft on deck, operated by an Auckland Maritime Museum volunteer group, a lovely sight at the Mahurangi Regatta, she sails the course with all of the racers and adds much to the spectacle. Yes I've been up on that yard, while she's not a big ship its still a long way down.

Four of the St Ayles skiffs from the raid, all Tasmanian crews. Thanks for coming over people, great to meet you.

A sloop rigged Pathfinder,   http://www.jwboatdesigns.co.nz/plans/pathfinder/index.htm 
At this stage of the race  lying second to a boat that has won the event multiple times, local knowledge makes a huge difference on this course.

Rogue, slim, easily moved by that big sail. She finished second, well done. 
http://www.jwboatdesigns.co.nz/plans/rogue/index.htm

Saturday Night Special, designed to be a really quick and easy build for events such as the Texas 200, while not at her best in the very light winds ( the T200 is a notoriously windy event, there is an alternative larger sail area rig) she more than held her own among a fleet of very competitive small racers.   http://www.duckworksbbs.com/plans/jw/sns/index.htm

No excuses for just chasing pics of my own designs, the opportunity does not come up very often so I take it where it happens.  But I've more pics and will post again.

We took the ship up the river to Warkworth, the town at the head of the navigable part of the river, being a midday tide and a holiday weekend, plus the Raid boats were up there with John Dory their escort,  it was way too crowded and no space at the dock so I managed to turn us around in the smallest space imaginable without touching anyone else, a maneuver that I was very proud of, tied up at the kayak jetty ( not being used at the time) for an hour then headed back out.

Perfect weather, light winds, just enough to move the boats, sunny and calm, itrs a lovely venue and ideal for boatwatchers, birdwatchers as well, there was a big flock of Fluttering Shearwaters resting just off the point as we came in.

I’m back at my home dock now, have a few jobs to do before I catch the bus into the airport and fly across the Pacific to Santiago to meet up with Howard Rice to help prepare the way for his planned Southern Ocean adventure with his SCAMP.
Check it out here.   http://www.below40south.com
The fundraiser is to make a movie so everyone can share the adventure. The cameras are organised, the filming planned, it’s the production costs that we need to cover, even ten dollars will help.  Please.

I’ve not been to Chile before, New Zealand has strong trade ties with that country and quite a few Chileans live here, but this is a first on that continent for me.
I’m very much looking forward to it.

Watch this space for reports.



Thursday, January 21, 2016

Progress from Annie Hill, a report about SIBLIM.

A visit to the heaquarters of the SIBLIM club.

Credit to Paul Gilbert for the photos, much better than my own amateurish efforts.  Thanks Paul.

For those new to the acronym above, that stands for “Small is Beautiful, Less is More” and is the philosohy behind Annie Hills life, and the new ship that she is building herself.

I visited last week, had a look over the ship to see the progress since my last call at her shed in Norsrands Boatyard in Whangarei. She’s doing well,  all the framing is up, the skegs that will support the twin rudders are in place, these will enable her ship to stand upright on any reasonable surface when the tide goes out.  The bottom panel is dry fitted, some of the cockpit panels are in place, there is nice solid wood tongue and groove panelling on the main cabin bulkheads and she is working on wrapping plywood around that distinctly Junkish bow.


View from aft, the shape is clearly visible now and even some of the interior spaces are starting to give an impression of what they'll feel like later on.

A distinctly Junkish bow.  There is a lot of good thinking behind this, it will make lifting an anchor  and stowing its tackle much easier for someone who is not the strongest person afloat, being small of build makes it easy to get standing headroom in a smaller boat but there has to be thought given to things tasks which are easy for a 6 ft 6in football player.

Tongue and groove panel overlaying the plywood in the main cabin.  Nice!


The outboard motor will mount in between the skegs, in a well which makes it an "inboard", if you know what I mean.  It makes it easy to access, keeps it well protected, out of sight from people who might think that they deserve it more than the owner, and easy to service without having to dismount it.  Good option.

I collect woodworking hand tools, not as a collector of rare and “collectibles”,  but rather to rescue and bring back to life old, disused, and damaged second hand tools. I haunt junkshops and garage sales, will buy if I come across reasonable second hand ones, and have quite a collection tucked away awaiting a good cause.
Annie qualifies as a good cause.

Thats the model of the ship in the background, and we're looking over tools Annie and I. Your'e looking through the space between the twin skegs, good solid legs for when she's aground and strong support for the steering gear.

So I’ve handed over to her a Stanley number 60 bullnose plane, that’s the little short one handed rebate plane,  a straight spokeshave, a decent half inch chisel and a two sided coarse / fine oilstone.  The plane and the spokeshave will come back at the end of her project.

She’s bought a couple of Japanese style pull saws, and is finding them much easier to use and more accurate than the  old tenon saw that she’d been using,  and I noted that she had purchased a cordless impact screwdriver and a few other power tools.  These will speed things up no end.



Now keep that angle the same as you move the chisel back and forth, gradually work your way around the stone to keep the wear even, lots of oil, not too much weight on it ------

We went over the technique for sharpening hand tool blades, that’s chisels and planes, aome very basic stuff so she can get a decent edge without having to wait until Marcus can do it for her. He’s busy earning the bucks that will allow him to haul his Ferro cement 20 ft Flicka and do some work on her.

Great visit, Annie and Marcus are both good company, and it is a pleasure to have bread and cheese, fruit and a cup of tea with them.

I’m going to be away for a while, so it will be maybe two months before I’m back. I’m expecting to see lots of progress.

Work well Annie.