Friday, November 29, 2013

Sailing Movies: we hear from arnold the cockroach and others


A few days ago I suggested to my readers that we have one of our group writing projects, this time on the topic of sailing movies. What is the best sailing movie? Or what is the worst? Or what is the "insert your own superlative here" sailing movie?

The idea was that folks would write blog posts on this topic and I would post links to them here. But my readers are such independent spirits that many of them decided to "work outside the box" and attack this topic in different ways.

arnold the cockroach chose to leave a comment on a totally different post saying he would enter the writing contest but he has never seen a sailing movie

ye gods

where is o docker when we need him

Dan and the ubiquitous "Anonymous" left answers in the comments to my original post with a whole list of movies that they like.

Doc Häagen-Dazs pointed out that he hadn't seen All is Lost so he's not sure if he likes it or not but he had already written a post about it at Intensity. Hmmm

Oh, and if we are allowed to enter posts we have already written, I would like to point out that I wrote a movie review post last November HIDE AWAY: Most Realistic Move About Cruising Ever.

Thank goodness some people put more effort into this project than I did...

Part of the inspiration for this project came from @wetpantssailing on Twitter who had suggested that I should write a post on Top 10 Annoying Sailing Movies. I didn't do it so he spent 10 minutes to do it himself on his blog. Check out 10 Top Worst Sailing Movies.

And Pam who writes with her husband Doug the excellent Improper Course blog says she hasn't seen many sailing movies so she made a Sailing Movies Shopping List of movies she would like to see this holiday season.

And there you have it. As Forrest Gump almost said, a group writing project is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

So now it's your turn.

The project is open until Thursday December 5th.

Full details of how to enter at Best or Worst Sailing Movie Ever.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

19 Things I Am Thankful For

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for...

Sea breezes

The number 43

Boston Public Radio




Duct tape

My teachers

Fred A. Mabbett

Extra legroom seats

Whoever invented Laser Masters sailing

Dropkick Murphys






Little people

That I'm not a turkey

Happy Thanksgiving

What are you going to be eating for Thanksgiving?

We are going with the traditional Tortoise Cheeseburger again.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hello Baby

A sailor in the 1940s meets his baby for the first time after fourteen months at sea.

Photo courtesy of @Luggeryacht on Twitter.

Corrected caption:  After fourteen months of sea on Her Majesty's frigate Whitby, seaman Anthony Bennett meets his baby for the first time.  Photo originally appeared in 1987 book, LIFE Smiles Back - More Than 200 Classic Photos from the Famous Back Pages of America's Favorite Magazine. HMS Whitby was a Whitby-class frigate launched in 1954 and sold for scrapping in 1978.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Rudolph the red-nosed tortoise
Had a very woolly hat
And if you ever saw him
You would even say, "WTF is that?"

All of the other tortoises
Used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolph
Join in any tortoise games.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say: 
"Rudolph with your hat so gay,
Won't you guide my sled today?"

Then how the tortoises loved him
As they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the woolly-hatted tortoise,
You'll go down in history!

No sailing today. Had to do something.

Best or Worst Sailing Movie Ever

It's been a while since we ran one of our famous group writing projects.

So here is a challenge for you.  Tell us, in your opinion, what is the best (or the worst) sailing movie ever made and why.

This particular challenge is inspired by a couple of posts on Charles Doan's Wave Train blog...

and HOLD FAST: Best Sailing Movie Ever?

As it's been so long since our last group writing project, let me remind you of how to participate..

1. Write a post on your blog about what you consider to be the best (or worst or most annoying or most anything you like) sailing movie ever. Tell us why you think your movie deserves that honor. 

2. Once you've posted your entry, let me know about it by sending an email to including a link to your post. If you don't have a blog just email me the article and I will post it here. Please let me know about your post, or send me your story, before Thursday Dec 5th.

3. Please give your post a unique title, ideally similar to those used my Mr. Doan, with the title of your movie and an indication of whether it is the best or worst or most whatever sailing movie ever. I don't want 20 posts all titled "Best Sailing Movie Ever." That will just confuse people. 

4. I will post here two links to your article. Every day or so I will write a post listing any new entries in the project. Then at the end of the project I will provide a summary post with links to all of your articles.

No prizes. It's not a competition. Just a chance to show off your movie criticism skills to the other three readers of my blog. I look forward to hearing from you.

Spoiler Alert: As you may know ALL IS LOST is the new Robert Redford movie about a man lost at sea. Mr. Doan's blog post describes 17 things that annoy him about the movie, mainly because "pretty much everything that happens to Mystery Man (the Redford character), and everything he does, is inexplicable to anyone who knows anything about ocean sailing." I haven't seen the movie yet, but my guess is that those 17 things cover almost everything of any significance that happens in the movie. You have been warned.

Thanks to @wetpantssailing on Twitter who originally suggested that I should write a post on the Top 10 Annoying Sailing Movies. So, being both perverse and lazy, I changed the terms of his challenge and then took the easy way out by delegating the task to you, my readers.

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22, 1963

50 years ago today.

Just another Friday afternoon concert by the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

But the BSO music director, Erich Leinsdorf, had some news to break to the audience.

Listen to the audience's reaction...

Read more at the NPR music blog.

Tortoise on Fridays

Hey, I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but the stores are filling up with Christmas crap and everyone seems to be putting up Christmas trees.

Why shouldn't tortoises - and knitters - get in the spirit too?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Duct Tape Boat

My 7-year-old granddaughter, Emily, is very crafty.

No, no, no! I don't mean she's crafty in the sense of being devious.

She is crafty in the sense of being creative and artistic and talented at all kinds of arts and crafts activities.

For the past few weeks her passion has been for "looming" - the latest craze among girls of her age. Her other grandmother bought her a Twistz Bandz Rainbow Loom, with which she makes bracelets and all sorts of other creations out of rubber bands. According to her mother...

She looms first thing in the morning, when she gets off the school bus and before dinner. She looms on the weekends and before she goes to bed. She has found some amazing YouTube tutorials to learn new designs. After one quick tutorial, she’s a pro and up and running with new varieties. At seven years old, she quickly picked it up and is now even able to create her own designs. She’s damn good.

Of course she is damn good. All my grandchildren are damn good.

Anyway, I hear that Emily has now moved on to the new craze among crafty girls of her age... duct tape.

Yes, duct tape.

Apparently little girls have discovered duct tape and are making all kinds of crafty things with it.

Duct tape doesn't come only in gray, any more. It comes in all kinds of colors and patterns, and little girls are making flowers and bags and purses and bracelets and beads and hair bows and belts and god knows what else... out of duct tape!


When Emily's father was her age I bought him his first sailboat, a wooden Optimist.

I wonder if Emily knows that she could make herself a real sailboat out of duct tape?

It's true.

The Mythbusters did it.

And here are some detailed instructions on how to make a Duct Tape Boat.

Emily's birthday is coming up later this month.

So now the only question is whether it is appropriate to give a girl for her 8th birthday, 20 rolls of duct tape, 200 zip-ties and some hog paneling.

I know she likes sailing.

Why not?

Friday, November 15, 2013

12 Reasons to go to Bitter End Yacht Club

This winter is brutal. One day this week I saw some snow flurries. And yesterday, when I went for my run, the temperature barely got out of the 50s.

I can't stand it any more.

I need to escape to the sunshine.

So today I booked up to go to the Bitter End Yacht Club in the BVI in December.

Here are the top 12 reasons why I need to go to the Bitter End Yacht Club. And so can you.

  1. BEYC is one of the top 9 sailing destinations on the planet
  2. Mimosas, callaloo, rum grog, a hammock, weird sailors
  3. Tillerwoman will sail with me at BEYC
  4. Snorkelers do it through a tube
  5. The out of bounds experience
  6. Hobie Wave racing
  7. Length matters
  8. Classic Lasers
  9. Laser sailing
  10. Laser racing
  11. Rum
  12. Because every year counts

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The End of the Graf Spee

I was looking at the map in yesterday's post about World War 2 Shipwrecks and my eye was drawn to the places on the map that seemed to have no shipwrecks marked.

South coast of Australia? West cost of South America? I'm no real student of naval history but those seemed plausible.

The southern part of the Atlantic coast of South America? Argentina, Uruguay, southern Brazil? Wait a minute.  What about the Battle of the River Plate? My Dad took me to see the movie back in the 1950s. That's one piece of naval history I do know. Anthony Quayle led a force of three Royal Navy cruisers against the German pocket battleship Graf Spee, which ended up with the Graf Spee being scuttled in the estuary of the River Plate off Montevideo on 17 December 1939.

I was reminded of it only the other day reading Brent Burrows' blog because he was just entering the Rio de la Plata (as it should be called) on his way to Buenos Aires.

Yes there was definitely a WW2 shipwreck down there between Uruguay and Argentina that's not on the map, although it sounds as if a salvage operation to raise the wreck was started in 2004.

Here is the full story of the Battle of the River Plate on Wikipedia.

And here is the video...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Second World War Shipwrecks

This week's Monday Map comes to you courtesy of Amazing Maps on Twitter and it purports to show the location of all World War II shipwrecks.

I have no idea of its original source or accuracy... although it's probably no more misleading than most of the stuff on this blog. Somebody called R. Moufis apparently created it in 2004, but I have no idea who Mr or Mrs or Ms or Miss R. Moufis is or was, or how he or she found the data for this truly amazing map.

Being serious for a moment on Veterans Day, it's horrific and sad to think of all the sailors who lost their lives at every one of those dots on the map.

Being not serious for a moment... WTF happened to the eastern Pacific? Did it get lost in the war?

And as an afterthought... here is a quiz for you. I didn't have to look at this map for very long to realize that there is one very famous and very well-documented WW2 wreck that is missing from the map. What and where is it?

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

I Hate Scrapers

A fellow sailing blogger drew my attention to a certain sailing website this morning. It's a very slick website full of lots of great sailing content. It also has masses of ads.

The only problem is that much, if not all, of the content is material they have "scraped" from other sailing websites and blogs. But there are no attributions as to where the material came from, or links back to the original websites.

I see they have copied a lot of stuff from Sailing World.

They have also copied all the recent posts from Proper Course.

Now, I don't usually mind people reusing my blog posts.  Fellow bloggers and newsletters like Scuttlebutt only do that occasionally, they even sometimes ask permission first, and they almost invariably provide a link back to Proper Course.

But this new site is working on a whole different level. They are taking EVERY new post I publish. (Even ones that have nothing to do with sailing. Ha ha!) And they have so many ads it's clear that the whole venture is a commercial operation to take other people's content and make money from it. They even have the cheek to claim copyright for all the content on their site!

I have reported what is going on to the relevant authorities.

And, as I think the scraper may be taking the content from my RSS feed, I have modified the feed so that it only publishes the first few lines of each post. Anyone who wants to read the whole content of any post can click through to the blog. I'm sorry if that is an inconvenience to any of the readers of my RSS feed, but this kind of blatant, automated, large scale content scraping for commercial gain needs to be stopped.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Sakonnet Point Paddle

I have written before about the joys of Laser sailing at the mouth of the Sakonnet River, whether launching from the west side at Third Beach or from the east side at Little Compton.

On Saturday the winds were very light but there were still some good swells coming in from the south. It looked like perfect conditions for the kayakers from the Rhode Island Canoe and Kayak Association to have a paddle to Sakonnet Point.

There's some rock play and surfing towards the end of the video after the 5 minute mark.

Hmmm. I could have gone sailing on Saturday if there had been any wind.

Maybe I should take up kayaking?

5 Amazing Facts About Pufferfish

1. The Pufferfish is highly maneuverable, but very slow.

2. The Pufferfish can change its color and the intensity of its patterns.

3. The Pufferish's defense mechanism is to fill its extremely elastic stomach until it is much larger and almost spherical in shape.

4. Pufferfish can be lethal if not served properly.

5. The Pufferfish toxin deadens the tongue and lips, and induces dizziness and vomiting, followed by numbness and prickling over the body, rapid heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and muscle paralysis. People who live longer than 24 hours typically survive, although possibly after a coma lasting several days.