Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Speaking about books

We have been invited on several occasions to deliver lectures based on our books. Our anchoring book was actually born from a lecture. When people wanted to buy our book after the talk, we said, "What book?" That's when we set out to write Happy Hooking.

Now we have Cruising the Wild Atlantic Way of Ireland, and as it turns out, British yacht clubs need speakers to talk about subjects of interest to their members. Ireland happens to be of great interest, especially since the Troubles are still in the collective 'recent' memory of retirees with the time and resources to go off cruising.

We have spoken now at the Cruising Association in London and Manchester Cruising Association. We'll be doing webinars for the US contingent over the winter months and presenting at the Ocean Cruising Club AGM and Awards weekend in Henley in the Spring. Last week in Manchester we had a good response again, but book sales are slow. It's an expensive book to produce with 4-colour photography throughout. But it's fun to meet new people and see new places with expenses paid.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Manchester Cruising Association talk on Cruising in Ireland

We were invited by Manchester Cruising Association to deliver our talk on Cruising the Wild Atlantic Way of Ireland.  We were met at the airport by Roy Conchie, Commodore, and dropped off at the Brittania Ashley Hotel in Hale, Cheshire.  He and his delightful wife Susie took us to dinner later and made sure we were settled with our plans for the day.  Roy was a very accomplished photographer in another life. Susie an accomplished accountant. They were just back from Barbados.

Amazingly sexy BMW hybrid. 
We noticed three things in Hale: loads of restaurants, as many hair salons, and the most amazing upscale cars ever seen in one small town. I mean the newest of the new models of Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Porche, Tesla, Range Rover, Mazeratti, Rolls Royce and Bentley.  We were drooling at every street corner. No Ferraris. Quite a few Minis and Ford Focus.

As we had time in the morning to do some sightseeing, we took the tram into town from Altrincham to Manchester city where we visited the Museum of Science and Industry and the Ryland Library. What a great morning!

The Museum has a collection of machinery that transformed the world during the industrial revolution. You could see Alex's wheels spinning as he tried to envision how it all worked. Manchester was of course at the centre. The cause was the perfect storm of science and technology merging with invention and industry, which continues to this day.

My favourites:

  • All the cotton machines that revolutionized fabric making
  • The first electron microscope
  • Some of the first airplanes and engines
  • Some of the first cars and motorcycles -- Ford and Rolls
  • Graphene -- a new material that is one carbon atom deep in a hexagonal configuration
The story of the Russian Nobel prize winners at the Univ of Manchester who discovered how to separate graphite into its graphene layers with sticky tape was fascinating. Graphene will soon be at the center of the next technological revolution. Porous to water but to few other elements, it makes a great filter. It is conductive and makes a good material for electronics. 100 times stronger than steel. I think this is the most exciting discovery of our century. Who would have thought that the lead in pencils which is graphite (not lead) would end up one day transforming the world once again? Watch this space and see. I have a feeling it will be really transformative in many industries including sailing. 

The Ryland Library on the other hand was a step back into the distant past of man's knowledge. Stacks of books, rare manuscripts, an Eagle printing press, cutting edge exhibits on astronomy in the Middle East and how it was rationalized to support Islam, a tiny piece of the original bible of St. John, and so on.  So much history preserved in the most beautiful space, not unlike the library at Trinity. We loved it. 

Then it was time for our talk. We had about 50 or 60 sailors in attendance and we gave a 1.5 hour talk with a 15 minute break and 15 minutes of questions. We received many compliments. Most professional presentation ever. So interesting! Beautiful photography!  Lots of interesting stories from the past surfaced of people's own experiences sailing in the west of Ireland. Like not being able to change £ into € even at the post office. Stopping at Skellig Michael in the 1970s after a transatlantic crossing and climbing to the top two by two so that someone was always with the boat. Good questions about weather and other factors. Book sales were disappointing, however, and we returned with a few unsold copies. We thought it may be because the audience was older and perhaps not sailing as actively as perhaps they would be if coming to Ireland. But it was a nice experience overall. 
And talk about a small world. Two new OCC members were in attendance having had to deal with emergency surgery for appendicitis.  And John who is editing the east coast of Ireland for the CA Almanac was also in attendance. It was great to meet a fellow editor on that front.   

All in all it was a fun trip. The return journey through Manchester airport and landing at Knock in Ireland is another story. 
The tallest building in Manchester

The Museum of Science and Industry aviation and motor hall

Early computer

Machine tooling

Early Avro plane

Cotton making machinery

Early Rolls Royce

Christmas market

Way too early!


Ryland Library

On display, plate of Darwin as monkey

People working in the library

Lovely ceiling

Librarians at work

The lower floor

The old railway storage facility

Manchester airport lounge

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

We're in Manchester Thursday, 10th Nov

We've been invited to present our talk on Cruising the Wild Atlantic Way of Ireland in Manchester on Thursday of this week.  More information is on the Manchester Cruising Association web page. We look forward to seeing you there.

If you can't make it there, perhaps we'll see you at the OCC Awards weekend in Henley on the last Saturday in March. We'll be presenting the same talk there at Greenlands (Henley Business School) for the Ocean Cruising Club.  Details to follow.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Aleria is put to bed

Benbulben in Sligo

On Tuesday of this week, November 1, Alex and I drove to Killybegs to offload Aleria's sails, cushions and other stuff. We brought a trailer along this time and loaded the car and trailer full. It only took 2.5 hours to drive up ... into blistering sunshine the whole way.  We were very efficient this year and got almost everything done in 2.5 hours.  A quick lunch break on deck, and we were on our way home ... into blistering sunshine the whole way.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Delivery of Aleria from Clew Bay to Killybegs: Day 2

It was a lovely morning and we were soon underway, thinking we might stop in to Inishmurray if the forecast for a calm day proved true. At this point, it was not. Once again we were soaring up the North Mayo coast in a SE. Then we realized it was almost 70 miles to Killybegs. That's a long day. We'd have to go straight there.

We passed inside the Stags on a perfect course heading for Teelin doing more than 9 knots with the current; we couldn't make Killybegs on our current heading as the wind had backed to ESE and we were hard on the wind, trimming sails to the shifts as if in a dinghy. The chop was surprisingly uncomfortable out there. It was going to be a long trip bashing into the waves  on a beat all day.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Delivery of Aleria from Clew Bay to Killybegs - day 1

We had a fine weather window that coincided with the astronomically high spring tide. If we left with the tide on Tuesday afternoon, we could sail to the Inishkeas or Black Sod Bay the next morning, spend the night there, then continue on to Killybegs Thursday and haul out on Friday. Unusually, there was a high centered over Scandinavia just above us that was extending all the way down to us. We were to have light southeasterlies and clear skies after strong easterly winds on Tuesday. Meanwhile, a succession of lows plunged across below to Spain and a slow moving hurricane Matthew was plaguing the US East coast.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Digital fix or digital detox

Connected below deck during a gale

On our voyage to Spain this summer, one of the things I was really looking forward to was disconnecting from the digital world for a period of time. There are two places where one can still disconnect: under the sea and in the middle of it. We'd be out of range of mobile signal, and therefore internet access, for days at a time since we sold our SAT phone. When crossing the Bay of Biscay, we could be unplugged for 4 days.