sailing the NorSea


WEEK 6 2011

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Saturday 12 February 2011
Saturday - not much going on. Trying to stay off the foot, so it's pretty slow. Not even cleaning out the garage...

I had recorded a show on The Voynich Manuscript, The Book that can't be Read, on National Geographic a while back, and got around to watching it. Interesting stuff, but like a lot of documentaries these days, a bit unfair with the viewer. They present the manuscript, how it was found, and then spend most of the time on the various theories of who wrote it. At the end of the show they have a scientist do a radio-carbon dating of a bit of it, which shows all the theories in the middle portion of the show to be false - the manuscript seems to have been made in the early 1400's, long before Leonardo daVinci or John Dee was born. The wrong theories were interesting, and worthy of being discussed, but the way this was presented was just dishonest.

One of the plot lines in The Wreck of the River of Stars is that the ship was originally designed as a "sailing" ship. Rather than solar sails it sailed on the solar wind - charged particles, using large loops of superconducting material, a magnetic sail. When the "Farnsworth" fusion motor becomes practical the sailing ships are doomed. I seemed to remember something about Philo Farnsworth being associated with TV (and is he the Warehouse 13 guy?), and of course it turns out that there is a Wikipedia page on the Farnsworth Fusor. Currently one can achieve fusion, but it takes more energy input than you get as output. People apparently do use it as a neutron source.

Friday 11 February 2011
Friday -  I hired some help today, and went and picked up some manure for my tomato plot. It's been a couple of years since I planted any tomato's, and a number of years since I had a load of s**t delivered, so the level of soil in the planter was down to nearly ground level. There was a place over on 20th West that advertised the manure for free, so we went there. There wasn't much, but most of what was there we took, though some was a bit "fresh".

It turned out that my help had a bum foot as well as myself, and I was grumbling about us having to wheel barrow it all to the back yard.

"If only I had a trailer,," I said, "then I could just pull it back there with the lawn tractor!"

At which Aaron said: "What about that one by the side of the house?"

I had completely forgotten that the lawn tractor came with a little trailer. And, despite a bad tire on one side, it did the trick. We had to remove the broken mower deck to use things, but that's a quick job, once you know what clevis (hair)pins to pull.

Even mixed in with a bunch of leaves the fertilizer didn't fill the plot completely, but it's better than it was. Last frost is a month away, so it'll have plenty of time to decompose. I also bought lumber for a second planter, but don't have anything to put in it...

tomato bed with tractor
Tractor, trailer, manure, bed and bags of leaves.

Thursday 10 February 2011

Thursday - I've been looking around and no one locally seems to sell a better kind of paint brush. Weird. You'd think that Lowe's or Home Depot or Ace would have something, but it's all just the typical polyester stuff. I was thinking of re varnishing the back door. I suppose it doesn't really matter for the non-finish coats.

Book #18 was The Wreck of the River of Stars, by Michael Flynn. This was an interesting book, a character study of the crew of an old tramp spaceship, essentially disintegrating under the stress of disaster and non-communication. Both the technology and science were well laid out, but the book was essentially a study of what happens when a captain collects the rejects and failures of society in order to help them, and then dies leaving them to carry on without him. Not well, it turns out... Recommended.

It's a long book, by the way, 544 pages in the dead tree edition.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Wednesday - I've been making a list of boat repairs/upgrades. There are a lot. Some I can do, others require external help - the running rigging requires a hydraulic press for end fittings for example, standing rigging doesn't. I'd like to replace the thru-hulls, and it's the sort of thing one wants to do one's self, because a bad install could cause the boat to sink.

Roxy and fireplace
My sister's cat, Roxy.

Tuesday 8 February 2011
Tuesday - still hobbling about. A Google search suggests that the pain in my heel is probably an inflamed or slightly torn Achilles tendon. The treatment is to keep off it, take an anti-inflammatory, and maybe a heel orthopedic of 3/8" or so, if one must walk. It heals very slowly, apparently, and failure to treat can result in the tear/inflammation getting worse, a bad tear or breakage, and possibly leading to very painful bone spurs even if it does heal. Bah.

It's very inconvenient. There is work coming up that I might not be able to do, in the field. My parents' house still needs lots of work. My house needs work - a garden needs digging right now. And I want to work on the boat...

Looking at the painting of the Corsair below, I can actually see a bit of the gaff boom, just above the square sail. It's out a bit, since it's a downwind run, but the top is just visible. I wonder if that could be the Iris, trailing?

For a rather unexciting book I seem to have spent a lot of time reviewing it...

Monday 7 February 2011

Monday - working away on this and that. Doing bills, starting to assemble stuff for the tax appointment in March. Creating a spreadsheet on expenses for the rental house, and other stuff.

Paperwork and it's unintended consequences.

There was a lot of loose paper on my desk, so, when Riley jumped up to harass me, he did a sort of  "Kramer Slide" across it, much to his surprise. He actually did this twice, during the day. Heh.

Less happily I spilled some Coke onto my laptop's keyboard. Not much, and it seems OK so far, but it was the tax work that caused it - generally I keep it (my glass or cup) on the other side of the external monitor & under the lamp, out of harms way. But there was so much paperwork on my desk that I set it not in the usual spot but on the only open place, right next to the keyboard where an incautious move caused the trouble. We'll have to hope for the best I guess.

Sunday 6 February 2011

Sunday - taking it easy, watched the Super Bowl, had lunch with friends.

Book #17 was A Yacht Voyage to Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, by William A. Ross, 1849. Several rich and titled Englishmen take a yacht voyage, fishing, hunting, and shooting pretty much anything that moves. Part of the books appeal is the sense of obnoxious English entitlement that oozes from the pages. From the "peasants" of Scandinavia to the servile crew of the yacht, the world and it's people's are obviously placed for the leisurely amusement of the three main characters. I don't know why I bothered to read past the first chapter, an inability to put things down I guess.

There was an interesting quote, which I bookmarked on the Kindle:

...for I do not believe it is in the power of any Government to discriminate properly, and reward the services of a particular class of the community. I do not think I am at fault when I say, that England has produced more great men, eminent in every department of the professions, politics, work and trade, than any other nation of the earth, and this superiority of mental, intellectual, and physical greatness, is to be ascribed to that timidity which the English Government manifests at all times to interfere with individual exertions or collective industry.

Very libertarian, and it hardly matches the obnoxious toadying to aristocracy in the rest of the book.

The author clearly has an eye for beautiful Scandinavian lasses, though in a discreet mid-nineteenth century way.

There is a description of Copenhagen, rather dismissive, pointing out that there is only a single pump in the whole city, in the basement of a palace. But rather more interesting is that the inhabitants had memorialized the bombardment by the British during the Second Battle of Copenhagen, under Admiral Gambier, forty years earlier, by leaving the British cannon balls embedded in the walls, and touching them up with black paint to make them stand out against the whitewashed walls. Some are still there-


No detail is given on the yacht, other than she is fast and beautiful, no real details on the sailing, other than she can sail places that the primitive local craft can't, no details on seamanship, other than that the British tars are better than everyone else.

 Looking for images of the Iris didn't result in any Google hits, but there was an scan from Amazon of the cover of the original hardback edition, and an image of her sister craft, the Corsair, on the web. They don't seem to really match, so I'd guess the book cover is more accurate. It is a big gaff rigged sloop. It could be that the painting is of a downwind race, with the square sail being the early equivalent of a spinnaker.

Found on the web.

From, a scan of the front of the hardcover.

Picture of the Week

channel islands harbor
Photo Notes: Another photo from Channel Islands harbor.

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