Sunday, 7 February 2016

Tony Stuart

Tony - never happier than when afloat
We were deeply saddened to learn that Tony passed away this morning. He had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2014 and had borne the news bravely. His passing came as a great shock. He was one of the nicest people we have ever met and he will be greatly missed. Our travels through the Ionian will never be the same. Our thoughts are with Gill and their children, Ben and Sarah.

Monday, 1 February 2016

50 years ago

In January 1966 a group of raw recruits arrived at the BBC's training department at Evesham in Worcestershire. This weekend they went back to Evesham to celebrate 50 years in the industry. The former training department is now a smart hotel. It was great to see everybody again and hear how we have all taken different paths over the decades.

The official BBC course photograph taken in 1966

Fourteen of the original twenty-one back at Wood Norton Hall after 50 years.
Back in 1966 the drink of choice was cider - mainly because it was cheap and available locally. In 2016 we had a cream tea. Age does terrible things to a chap.

After tea and a natter we moved to the bar and then dinner. After dinner some of the guys had prepared some entertainment - hardly surprising really given the industry we are in.

Nick Gomm, one of the BBC's most experienced music balancers and no slouch as a musician himself.

The evening's 'cabaret' was provided by Nick Gomm, Martin Fisher (Children's TV), Paddy Kingsland (composer BBC Radiophonic Workshop), Chris Lycett (Head of Production, Radio 1), Brian Stephens (Head of Production Radio 2) and Doug Prior (BBC TV Sound Dept.).

Paddy Kingsland, composer, on harmonica

Brian Stephens, Head of Production Radio 2, with alternative lyrics to a Gilbert and Sullivan classic

Chris Lycett, Head of Production Radio 1, had stories to tell.
Martin Fisher put our antics to verse
Nick, Doug and Paddy - all that remains of The Upton Snodbury Sound. The drummer took the pics.
Great to see everyone again but sadly I fear we won't be back in 50 years' time.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Atlantic crossing - update

Steve on the helm of Manx Goose
I've now spoken to Steve in Barbados and heard all about the Atlantic crossing. It was quite a trip! High winds, huge seas and surfing down waves at more than 14 knots. The good news is the boat, and especially the autopilot, coped really well. They crossed the ocean with one sail - a reefed mainsail. All that theory about twin headsails went out of the window (hatch?) because the winds were simply too strong. They had sixteen days on unrelenting high winds and huge seas. At one point the GPS was predicting a 19 day passage - insanely fast - but a lull towards the end of the trip added a couple of days but even so at 21 days it was still a fast passage. Steve caught a tuna which topped up the rations just as the larder was looking a bit depleted. They now plan to spend a month in Barbados before moving on. Great adventure but would they do it again, I asked. "Not sure." was the sobering reply. Maybe we'll stick to the Ionian.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Safely across the Atlantic

Atlantic Skipper Sweet
My good friend, Stephen Sweet, and his wife Ali have just arrived in Barbados having crossed the Atlantic in their 37-foot Prout catamaran Manx Goose. They left from the Canaries and arrived in Barbados just 21.5 days later - a pretty fast crossing. No passage details yet; how the boat behaved, what the weather conditions were like, if there were there any dramas ... that will all come in due course, right now they are in the Barbados Cruising Club consuming sleep and rum in equal measures.  It's a huge personal triumph for them and Steve now has bragging rights to be a real ocean going Blue Water sailor. Well Done.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Earthquake update

Earthquake? No, Greek builders!
If you are travelling to Lefkada next year the journey may take a little longer following the recent earthquake. Seismologists calculate that the island has moved south by 36cm thereby increasing the distance you'll have to travel from Preveza Airport. It is unclear whether local taxi drivers will be increasing fares to compensate for the extra distance run.

But perhaps more worrying for those afloat is the dramatic effect the earthquake is said to have had on the seabed contours, especially off the southern end of the island. Previous 'deep' water may now be quite shallow with some reports saying charted depths of 12 metres are now returning depths of 6 metres on electronic sounders. The advice from the Greek Hydrographic Office is to exercise caution when approaching bays and harbours as depths may be significantly less than shown on charts.


Tuesday, 17 November 2015

17th. November - Earthquake hits Lefkada

Two people died when an earthquake measuring at least 6.1 hit the Ionian island of Lefkada this morning. This is in the heart of our cruising ground and we know it well. Breeze is out of the water and stored in a boatyard just a few miles away. Earthquakes are not new around these parts - even the Lefkas clock tower is designed to be earthquake proof.

Lefkas's earthquake-proof clock tower