Monday, 28 December 2009

Mass Tangents In Transit

Caution the wild tangents contained in these tales were created at high speeds. To the untrained reader it might be an uneasy ride.

I have a worrying infection. The symptons have become very real in the last 24 hours. Please read my diagnosis.

Yesterday we took five hours to pick up our rental car from the Pisa airport. This usually would have only taken 1.5 hours. Our usual highway route was closed and blocked off by a police car. Our first thought was possibly an accident or roadworks. We headed back towards the Autostrade and the thoght of parting with some money for tolls.

The Autostrade was also closed. At this point we thought it could have been roadworks. Italians would have no problem closing both possible routes to Pisa on a public holiday. I actually thought this would be pretty normal for Italy.

GAZOOOKS. The weird and downright frustrating craziness of Italy has become almost comfortable.

It turns out that there was in fact a flood which had taken out both roads. The detour took us all the way to Lucca and down to Pisa and back again.

We did pick up a fantastic rental car. It is the best rental car we have ever had. It is not Japanese, Korean, Italian or French.


It is German and blue.

Why did we need a rental car?

Well we are driving to Prague to watch Avatar(Prague has a thriving ex pat community that supports full English movie theatres. Something that is not lost on me as I sit in a German hotel listening to documentaries about gumboot factories and a German cooking show).

From what I have read Avatar is a movie where a human lives in an alien world and then becomes quite fond of it and falls in love with a blue thing. Hold this thought.

This morning we started our drive to Prague. We had GPS, 12 gigabytes of music and the zeal which a well deserved holiday provides. For the McConnell Lemans, myself and my codriver would take 2 hour shifts. The co pilot would be in charge of photography, audio, GPS programming and autogrill spotting.

The nine hour drive to our current location in Germany was an adventure on four wheels. Things progressed to plan until my old enemy snow started to show his face. Wearing a cunning disguise I found myself taking photos of him unwittingly and perhaps unwisely.





Thankfully my camera ran out of battery before I damaged my retinas.

Remember Avatar. A shocking revalation awaited me when we visited a petrol station in Austria.

I went into the Petrol station expecting Italian. I found myself thinking in Italian. Promptly got very confused hearing German. Walked outside to the car in a stupor.

THE ALIENESS THAT IS ITALY IS MY HOME!

Thankfully the breakneck craziness that is the Autobahn took my mind off my illness. The Autobahn is insane. I actually thought it was everybody get in a car and drive as fast as you can national holiday. It wasn't, it was just the AUTOBAHOMENESS.

Another interesting observation was the huge city of Ausfahrt. Appart from the incidental hilarity of the name, we actually thought there were 10 different exits to this megacity. Sadly after twenty exits we deduced that Ausfahrt means exit. Doh.

We made it to our current location Regensburg safely. We found a long lost love. Thai food. We have not eaten Thai since we left New Zealand. The Thai was incredibly good.

Tommorow we will peek around Regensburg a bit before we take the 2 hour drive to Prague.

Stay safe



Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Pondering Prague

With a week up our sleeves over New Years, Anna and I have decided into venture to Prague in the Czech Republic.

Initially we were going to go to Vienna. This was probably a foolhardy choice. I listened to a very dodgy looking yard worker who has Love and Hate tatooed on his fists. He said Vienna was very picturesque and all of it's people waltzed after the clock chimed in the new year. While this sounds very romantic and did pique my interest it is worth noting I can not waltz to save myself as guests to my wedding can attest.

Anyway. Everybody on our boat said go to Prague. The benefits are numerous.

We will never visit Prague on a Super Yacht
It is a Mecca for beer drinkers
It is the centre of the ancient Kingdom of Bohemia
It has a lot of history
It has an incredibly diverse night-life and club scene senza waltz dancing
It has the largest castle in the world
It has the seventh best zoo in the world!

We are going to drive to Prague. We will get to drive through/over the Alps and through a section of Germany. How cool is that?

Bring on the Prague!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

And the Horse you rode in on.....Snow

I am not fond of snow, cold weather or getting a cold bottom. This morning I woke up to all three. The temperature of Viareggio hit a balmy -8 degrees last night. The snow which everyone in England has been hysterical over, had made an appearance.



We had so much snow, ice and assorted not cool stuff that one of our out door furniture covers had slipped off under the sheer weight of it all. I was sent to put things right. The most direct route was not available to me.



My second choice was an icy trail of doom . I mounted the trail with the well timed leap of a sleek Jaguar. I was soon clambering down like a disabled Orang-outang delivering a nice shock to my posterior.

I regrouped inside and was told I could take the elevator by the Steward. The Engineer warned that the elevator needs repairing but he would be on standby if I needed rescueing.

The evilvator worked fine on my trip up and I shoveled half a ton of ice off the cover with my foot. On my return to the crew mess the evilvator decided to have a holiday and I sat inside stranded.
If it had not been for my Wife wondering where her chief annoyance was I could still be sitting inside that infernal evilvator with a cold bottom.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

An alternative and some what incomplete history of Sweden

A surge in popularity of this blog in Sweden has me enthralled. This previously untapped market deserves more pandering too and it is with great pleasure I present to you an alternative history of Sweden with some factual content.

It is worth noting without the sagely advice and clandestine interviewing of Uncle Phil my entire knowledge of Sweden would be the Swedish chef, computer gaming and lewd videography.

Pre Sweden History

Sweden's ancestors the Vikings conquered all of the earth. They even ventured into space on giant oar powered rockets leaving all of the planets of this galaxy barren and pillaged. At some point they became bored and gave up the reigns of the earth to sit back and drink mead.



The beautiful women of Sweden can be attributed to the Vikings stealing the finest women from other countries and taking them home. They were so successful at taking England's women that the English are to this day quite ugly.

Vikings were hairy like bears and liked castles.. If you were to translate the name of Sweden's most famous sports person Bjorn Borg into English you get.....

Bear Castle.

If the Vikings had discovered New Zealand it would have been named New Valhalla.

Swedish Achievements

Whilst sitting back drinking mead and latterly beer the people of Sweden embarked on an impressive inventing streak which included.

The ball bearing
The safety match
Dynamite
The adjustable spanner
And THE ZIPPER!

Funnily enough,

If you added the mobility of a ball bearing, the spark of a safety match, the explosive force of dynamite, the versatility of an adjustable spanner and the sheer sexiness of a slightly opened zipper you get...........

ABBA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




Swedish Linguistics

To the untrained ear Swedish does sound like the Swedish Chef.

I pointed this out to my Swedish Captain, he was quick to point out that the Swedish chef was in fact modelled on someone from Denmark. I do not believe this for a second.

The first white person to see New Zealand was Abel Tasman. He was from Holland(old Zealand), People who speak Dutch can not understand Swedish. I can not understand Swedish but I can babble in a manner that could pass as Swedish in New Zealand.

Swedish customs

Many Swedish customs revolve around alcoholic substances.

Each year during summer, proud Swedes gather outside to dance and sing around mid summer poles mimicking frogs in traditional dress.



To the untrained eye, Swedish customs would seem like an excuse to drink. This is not the case. Drink merely improves traditions. Something that is not lost upon this writer.

IKEA

Ikea is Sweden's most devious invention yet. A profitable company, it allows Swedes to eat meatballs and drink Swedish beer abroad everywhere one opens.

Ikea furniture also makes everyone that tries to assemble it feel incredibly stupid and frustrated. It is the ultimate hard sell and is Sweden's one fingered salute at all of us.

Afterforewardthought

I began this history as a birthday present to Uncle Phil. What began as a light hearted look at Sweden and its people was eye opening for me. Sweden has only 9 million people but its contributions to mankind can not be made light of(except by me).

I look forward to sharing more of Sweden with you all. It seems like a decent place.




Wednesday, 16 December 2009

And the horse you rode in on

A lack of resources truly does encourage creativity.

Like a popular hora it appears I do my best work on my back. I have not been comfortable with a laptop that burns my legs and is much too ungainly to use in my bunk bed. On the weekend I set about repairing my EEE.

My EEE is like a faithful guitar. It has seen better days, and probably deserves retirement but it just feels right to be strumming upon my lap.

If you have noticed more cuss words and edgy tone creeping into my writing I have a theory of sorts and will be doing my best to channel this unforseen windfall.

I can proudly point my fingers at Sweden and in particular Uncle Phil.

We swear a lot on deck. This was noticed keenly on Sunday when we attempted to stop swearing for a day because we had an important visitor.

Most of our swearing is harmless. For example we can say good shit in four different languages.

Some of our swearing could be dangerous if it fell into the wrong ears.

When you are learning or belittling new languages it is easiest to start with swear words and work your way back.

Croatian has some delightful turns of phrase. Some for example explain the logistics of intercourse with small rodents of the Disney variety.

Which brings me to one of my favourite sayings.

Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.

It is largely nonsensical, but strangely satisfying. Uncle Phil is a fan of this saying so on Sunday we abreviated the saying to 'And the horse you rode in on' as a clever work around for our predicament.

Today I learned and promptly forgot the Swedish translation. Google informs me that it is,

Och hästen du red in på

My Swedish accent is probably worse than the horse you rode in on. My Swedish accent is so bad that the new guy who has been here for two weeks and comes from Spain can speak better Swedish than me.

' him and the horse he rode in on.

I do have a point to all of this.

Tune in tommorow.



Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Lines Photos

I got asked on Facebook to show some photos of me lifting our new lines.

The first photo is of me lifting as much as I can whilst still looking cool in a pair of sunglasses even though it is 4 degrees here.



The second photo is showing how much my body is contorting holding up these frigging black anacondas.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Black Lines....... Blowing through my mind

Nautical tid bit of the day.

When a rope joins a boat it becomes a line. All ropes on boats are called lines.

On Wednesday we took delivery of our mooring lines.

To say our mooring lines are stupidly huge would be a grossly negligent understatement. For the less salty of you I will try and give you some frames of reference.

If our lines were normal sized, one person could move/drag one with a bit of effort.

Ours are enormous. they are 56 mm thick and ridiculously heavy. They are larger than the lines used on the biggest Super Yacht in the world. Our second Engineer was happy to announce they are larger than what they had on his last cruise ship. They would not look out of place on a super tanker.

Naturally the deck department was really excited to receive them and start tossing them about like shoe laces. After some practice we can move one line from one end of the boat to the other in about half an hour. It is a four person job and we have to do it in stages like a big fuck off rocket.

What is also astounding is the sheer length of lines we have. We have close to a kilometre of mooring lines. Right now there is a rope salesman that has retired and is probably planning a trip to out of space with spare change from the commission he made selling these lines.

One of our lines weighs 300 kilograms. This is our towing line. Our towing line could capsize/sink a small boat if it was dropped on it.

Our lines are so heavy that I dropped one in exhaustion at a critical moment. Luckily they are so heavy it didn't matter. They take a long time to go anywhere and they do not move in a hurry.

Our lines are so huge and tiresome that only now I have had the strength to raise my arms long enough to type.

Fuck we have awesome lines.

Monday, 7 December 2009

All Aboard

Momentous occasions a plenty this week as our crew took possession of RoMa. Would you believe the only thing stopping us from moving on board was a set of mattresses that would not fit? All of the crew mattresses were a couple of inches short(I am feeling imperial) and our loving yard assured us that this was for safety reasons. Safety is a great catch all when explaining odd things about sea vessels.

Anyway you imagine a Yacht that has not had a chance to be cleaned properly for about six months is pretty filthy. So it was with great expectations that the deck squad attacked her over the weekend. We have a new member in our crew from Spain named David. David is a nice guy and seems very softly spoken. That being said Rush Limbaugh would have a hard time talking over the hot and steamy melange of Croatian, Italian, English, Maori, Latin, Swedish and German soup that is served up all day long on the deck here.

One of the funnier things that happened on our first day of washing down was a certain crew member getting stranded on top of the mast platform. I have promised not to name names. But his parents are reading and I am sure they would love to know how brave he was when faced with sliding to an uncomfortable death wedged between us and Giorgio Armani's newest Yacht. I offered words of encouragement and amputated a door handle trying to find an alternative escape route. In the end after much laughter and the promise of a story the deckhand who shall remain nameless slithered down to safety and some gentle ridicule.

One of the more glamorous jobs as a deckhand is taking out the rubbish. On Thursday we unwittingly perfected the Baklänges rubbish run. After dutifully taking out a large amount of rubbish we were told we would have to recover some of the rubbish we had thrown out. Imagine explaining to dock security that yes you are taking rubbish back on board fished out of a skip.

We are going to be here for Christmas. If you missed our Christmas card.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Deckhands Log #9 Zombie Lockers and a Tender named Rocco

I do not like admit it but sometimes moaning and bleating on the internet gets results. Things have changed dramatically during my one week hiatus. Late last week we were given the go ahead to start organising the crew area on board for habitation. The enormity of this approval was not met without disbelief. Three of our crew have been waiting to move on since April.

So this weekend past we commenced working aboard. Italians it seems have a deep seated allergic aversion towards working during weekends. So weekends are a highly desirable time to work when you do not believe you can in fact work on board.

Naturally the cabin divvying out was an exciting part of being on board. With a little bit of good luck Anna and I have got our own cabin. Our cabin is relatively huge and has one very important feature that none of the other cabins have save one. It has a computer desk. Naturally I am quite chuffed about this and have been doing my best not to be too smug towards Uncle Phil.

We have engaged in some very satisfying coffee drinking. We have a remarkable coffee machine which takes beans and turns them into espresso. It grinds them, processes them and with a bit of witchcraft makes very tasty coffee. All with the press of a button. It is like a new age holistic Nespresso. Far out, the Nespresso website has some very porno music. Bit early for the porno segue, read on.

Uncle Phil has been teaching me a bit of Swedish. We have another Swedish lesson ready to upload but it needs vetting by the local Swedish embassy. My favourite word learned so far is baklänges

Baklänges is Swedish the word for backwards. It is pronounced bar-clangers and it is probably the noise you would make if you were wearing a full suit of armour and rolled down a hill..... backwards. I erupted into a fit of laughter that lasted at least 15 minutes on learning this word. Since learning it I have been trying my hardest to use it at least every five minutes.

We will all be living on board soon and engaging in weekly drills. I am concerned about a lack of zombie contingency planning. I have asked our Ship Security officer and he has assured us we will fit Uncle Phils cabin with a Milla Jovovich for battling zombie pirate attacks.

Which brings me to this afternoon. We actually spent an afternoon working on deck. We were readying our wash locker for washing. I noticed that some of our mitts and brushes could be easily misappropriated so feather like do the synthetic materials feel. I am sure Phil had his mind on one micro fibre cloth and Milla. We also noticed that the shammies had some interesting marketing photos. Can you imagine exiting a pool and reaching for a shammy to dry yourself? Some crack cocaine addled mofo in Fort Lauderdale did.

Our wash locker is quite small. But it is very secure. In the event of a ship paralysing Zombie outbreak you could theoretically quarantine a Zombie inside it. Which is why it is now called the Zombie locker.

We have two tenders. The large BEAST like Austrian tender has been named the Terminator after Arnie. The smaller white inflatable Italian tender has been named Rocco after the Italian porn star Rocco Siffredi. Naturally we have practiced a few common tender conversations.

"RoMa this is Terminator. I will be back"

"RoMa this is Rocco I am coming"

Ah it is nice to be on board again. It is even nicer to have people to talk with.

Baklänges!.






Sunday, 22 November 2009

The Why I have not been Writing Regularly Razzamataz

In one of the oddest periods of my life I followed our school debating team in a support role. I sat in the mini bus earnestly on long trips and during the debates I had an official capacity. I was the bell ringer. Bell ringing is not for the faint hearted and through my time I learned this important fact.

The best debates are one sided.

So gather round and read why I have not been writing very much. What must happen before I can and the very little that has been.

There shall be no interjections, no points of order and no bell ringing other than my own.

Well as I forebode we did not start our trip to the Maldives on the 20th of November. This is disappointing but the scary thing is it is impossible to tell when we will be leaving.

We do have one line in the sand. The Dubai yacht show in March.

Add hotel fatigue to my list of fatigues. We are not living on board at the moment. Hotels are nice for a change but living in the same one for a month wears thin.

Given the situation of the still being built Yacht we are not really allowed to do much on board at the moment. Thankfully our inventive superiors find us tasks to do which stave off suicide.

In the last weeks I have engaged in.

  • Carpet cutting
  • 3m hook hanging
  • Bicycle seat clamp installation
  • Roster board painting
  • Plan measuring
  • Ikea table building
  • Box transporting
  • Towel counting
  • A lot of sitting looking attentive and keen

Suicide is probably a bit harsh. We are making the best of a bad situation. Things will get a lot better when we move on board.

Until then I have the guilt of not updating my blog as frequently as I would like to. Have you written humorously about counting towels?

Travelling is a great way to find things to write about. Witness Rome. Unfortunately trips to Rome eat up a lot of money. Money that I should be saving for my retirement.

Drinking heavily is a time honoured creative kick start. Unfortunately escalating feats of stupidity have led me onto my annual month long detox before Christmas sobriety scooter. Good to know things are the same in both hemispheres.

I know from the past when I get to this low point in the sine wave of creative endeavours things start to happen.

So things start happening!

Please.

Ding Ding.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Rome in a Day and When we was In Rome

You do not know how ecstatically happy it makes me to mash those two very popular sayings together and commence with this commentary from the depths of the eternal city.

Our journey to Rome was not without scandal. Our usual touring party had two extra members selected on merit. A Swedish national (Uncle Phil)who can do a semi convincing impression of a Roman Gladiator and a Croatian Princess whose pigeon Russian would prove useful.

While waiting at the Viareggio train station. We drank six coffees and assorted condiments at a café. We took it upon ourselves to plug my laptop in to watch movies. The café owner was mortally aggrieved at this remedial action and promptly told us off. Three members of our touring party proceeded to deface a sugar container and liberate a glass and spoon from the tyrannical café.

The train journey was thankfully smoother. Uncle Phil is a keen riddle player and stumped us for a good portion of a trip with a combination of mind bending puzzles.

First impressions of Rome is that it is a busy place. The locals are used to the swelling rise of tourists that swamp the place and they have developed a variety of natural defence mechanisms that I will share with you later.

Personally wanting to contrast Rome with Naples we soon made ourselves to a McDonald's. I can say with some authority that the McDonald's opposite the Roma termini station is the most corrupt, devious and down right dangerous place I have been in. There was a constant stream of dodgy looking characters who would enter, scan for targets and then stroll menacingly outside to confer with other unsavoury types. I took some solace in the solitary security guard until I spotted him greeting several of these gangsters in turn with welcoming arms. I was also impressed with the staff members who have seemed to twist and mangle the tried and trued formula of fast foot into something truly Italian. Well done.

Scurrying to our Hotel, we slept soundly with the promises of Rome bouncing in our heads. Our hotel room was quite nice. It was certainly better than our travelling partners who were happy to announce that their bidet came with an assortment of hair and they may have had a dead mouse decaying somewhere in their room.

Starting off early is a must in Rome. We were on the road by 8:00am and made our way to the Vatican city and St Peter's Cathedral. Our timing was impeccable having no queue to speak of we were soon marvelling at the largest church in the world.

Pausing beside this statue Uncle Phil took time out from his busy schedule to give a small Swedish lesson.



Leaving the square behind we headed off to engage in a lengthy queue amongst the other tourists and wait patiently to see the Vatican museum. One very large and possibly important lady pushed in front of all of the queue. I do believe my doppelganger may have yelled at her.

The Vatican museum was good. Although I must confess a little museum fatigue. I wonder how much of ancient Egypt is actually left for me to see when I get there. It seems a lot of it is in Italy, France and the UK.

There was an interesting room full of animal statues.





This sacrifice depiction had a scorpion attached to a very compromising part of the bull. Uncle Phil may have had a photo taken with it and could have been chastised by a very matronly Italian madam.

The long walk to the Sistine chapel was accentuated by various facades, mosaics and elaborate art works.






The Sistine chapel was very busy. We did get to share in some of the neck straining effort that Michelangelo must have laboured through. The chapel had an impressive array of ushers making what could have been a very enlightening Swedish lesson impossible.

From the Vatican Museum it was a quick jaunt across town to the Castle St Angelo.



By this time our intrepid and somewhat ill gang decided it would be best to eat and put our feet up for a while. We were all suffering the effects of the cold I wrote about here.

We found a magnificent Argentinean restaurant.



Ristorante Argentino can be found on Via Cavour 315.

Sated and less weary we made the pilgrimage to the Colosseum. A world heritage site, the Colosseum is well, colossal. For the thrifty people who intend to visit Rome on a budget we have a tip. The Colosseum is actually a lot more impressive from the outside.



If you do venture inside there are plenty of nice photo opportunities and this excellent quote to be found.



Outside there is an abundance of locals dressed as gladiators ready to pose for photographs with you and charge the earth for it.

There is also a lot of people who enjoy tooting car horns. I do not know if this is common place but it is inane.


`
With the loss of our solitary map we decided to circumnavigate the Roman forum looking for an entrance, this proved largely fruitless. Daylight was diminishing as was our vigour. After a session of information gathering we decided to take a walk to an interactive movie venue which amongst other things promised a seat inside a theatre.




There were some technical difficulties at the theatre and we were given a generous discount and offered to visit the souvenir shop first. Uncle Phil took it upon himself to fit himself in the garb of a gladiator and scare us with his Gladiator face.




An interesting event to record would be dressing a hero in gladiator gear and sending him to fight the Gladiators outside the Colosseum. I wager the fighting would be very amusing.

Naturally dressing up as Romans is not something you do every day. So we all got in the spirit of things.




I am naturally a Senator. Uncle Phil was not keen on carrying my fasces of office. I do not know why.

Special thanks to Maria who acted as an ad hoc Russian tour guide for some random Russians on our tour.

I am naturally a Senator because during the interactive movie which included a fight inside the Colosseum I fell asleep.

It was now dark. Retiring to our hotel was on the cards. But not before we discovered a very Roman behaviour in the subway. It seems nobody in Rome has grasped the core concept that people need to get off the subway carriages before you can enter one.

A bout of hotel card playing commenced and a very tired quartet slept soundly until Sunday morning.

Sunday was our last day in Rome. Our by now somewhat ragged and slightly haggard ensemble decided to visit the Spanish steps and the delightful fountain Trevi.




Yes that is water in the background. No that is not a tourist at the end spoiling my masterpiece.

After some mild shopping, people watching and sporadic fits of laughter it was decided we should eat again at the Argentinean restaurant.

Never mess with Success!.

The other diners meals were middling compared with the heights of the day previous. But I managed to order prime pork cutlets on a bed of mashed potatoes with prunes and and apple sauce. Divine.

What followed is the only disappointing part of our trip. Our group was split by gender. The girls went to organise an earlier train ride home as we were all feeling pretty rotten. The boys were to bus to the Colosseum and spend a couple of hours at the historic forum.

I am sad to say that Uncle Phil and I deviated wildly from the forum and were soon being ferried through previously unheard parts of Rome and there was not a tourist in sight. We were happy to burrow into a handy underground terminal and emerge at the train station albeit a bit sheepishly.

In closing, Rome is a fantastic destination. It deserves more than a weekend. Its charm is in its slightly chaotic exterior. It is both ancient and childlike at once. I would like to go back when I am feeling better. It is surely more beautiful at night.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Crew Bio #1 Uncle Phil

With not much travelling on the horizon for the immediate future I thought I would write a series of illuminating and hopefully funny mini biographies on the crew on board our new Yacht.

Filip or Uncle Phil is the person I spend most of my time with. He is the other Deckhand so we naturally work together. He is our youngest crew member and without sounding like someone who reads a lot of football magazines he is a lot of fun to hang out with.

Some interesting facts about Uncle Phil.

He is a self professed Ski bum/ Yacht bum.

His eyes pop out of his head when talking about Swedish meat balls.

He likes to snus

We were both given lucky charm nuts by our local restaurant. We promptly ate Phil's one over some beers. We didn't know it was lucky at the time and it tasted like shit.

He would make an excellent bicycle mechanic or Ikea assembler.

He loves Europe but often prefaces other nationalities with expletives.

He likes to tout Sweden as the origin of all worthwhile inventions, pop culture and art of merit when he is bored.

He seems to be quite photogenic.




I don't think this will be the last you read about Uncle Phil.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The Season of Horror

A growing sense of unease has been building over the last couple of weeks. It has been getting cold. Daylight hours have been shrinking. I have bought gloves unwittingly and confess to hiding behind placards to stave off devilish winds.

This morning I arose to an uncomfortable sensation in the back of my throat. I have gone two years without a Winter bug, I do believe Winter has caught up with me. This was not part of the plan.

My arch nemesis snow has draped the perfectly good looking Apuan Alps ruining my now familiar panorama.



I blame snow and the grey skies for making the water look murky as well.

I did not sign up for this. I do not know what I signed up for or if in fact I did sign anything but it surely is not this.

I blame the change of seasons for a gradual slow down in my blog production. I blame not being near my Scorpio kith in the season of Scorpio for feeling suitably restless. I am angry and to this end.

I am going to Rome.

Friday, 6 November 2009

For the propellor heads

There is an article in the latest Yacht report about the ship yard and Yacht that we are working on.

I have hastily scanned them and you can view them here.

Roma Article


Please excuse page two. I think the office was rolling.

The extra observant amongst you might notice that Roma was in the very same dry dock my last Yacht spent a couple of weeks in.

My first crew bio will be up this weekend. Ciao.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The Italian Hair Job

It has long been a belief of mine that the greatest differences noticed travelling are observed during the most mundane of tasks. With this in mind I ventured off in search of an Italian hair cut. For over a year I have proudly cut my own hair in the fashion that suits a warmer clime. Unfortunately all of the blue sky and olive oil in the world can not hide that it is getting colder in this part of the galaxy.

I had vaguest of directions to find a hairdresser. This suited me just fine and I meandered towards my goal through the streets of Viareggio until I saw a ladies hairdresser and then a more manly coiffure. Once again I was struck by my less than rudimentary grasp of Italiano but luckily the scissors finger sign is universal. The hair dresser also knew one universal word. Ok. He motioned me to sit down and I sat down on a wide bench to soak in the male bastion of resistance that is a barbers shop.

The hair dresser was busy. He was an accomplished shaver and was also running a betting league or other testosterone induced syndicate. Routinely men would come with envelopes of cash and he would provide them with tickets or letters which I could only guess at the function of.

At one end of the bench was a small shrine to the football team Juventus. Various team photographs, autographs and mementoes were arranged above a large stack of football magazines. I have made a habit of reading Italian news papers in the faint hope my subconscious will learn Italian. After reading a couple of football magazines and looking at the pictures I fear prolonged reading would render me homosexual.

Feeling odd it was with a jump that I was ushered into a seat for my hair cut. The hair dresser took the very clever initiative of unzipping my jacket and folding it down upon on itself and fitting me with a large cuff before placing on a sheeny robe.

Again we used sign language to describe my hair style and it agreed upon with two thumbs up. The hair dresser was an artisan. He quickly shaved the sides of my head with two different electric razors. He then prepared a razor and set about tidying up the edges.

The only scary part was my face. Throwing caution to the wind he shaved across my eyebrows and set about going inside my nostrils. I did not have time to even make a British cough of disapproval it was was over so quickly.

Soon after the hairdresser snipped the top of my head. He was a very energetic snipper. After agreeing my haircut was good, he took the time to style my hair and spray my entire head with some perfumed water concoction which I have never smelt or seen the like of.

The price was right. The hair cut was good and I had something to write about.

It is not every day you get your eyebrows shaved and you are awake to see it.

My nostrils do feel a bit violated.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Busy Busy Busy Busy

There was an internet story of sorts written by myself that may have lead to rumours spreading I had set sail for the Maldives and was therefore out of internet coverage and I was never to be heard from again for at least twenty days.

Let the records read the following.

I have a new Wife. Well I don't actually have a new Wife but when you spend three months away from your spouse and then start living in a hotel and working together its as good as having a new Wife. I am sure Anna would agree with my sentiments. In fact I would go as far to say if you fancy having a new marriage for at least a week try doing what we did.

Mileage may vary between marriages. Please wear a seat belt.

Our new Yacht is far from finished. Remember my bold map and plan? Well this was before I had actually talked to the crew for any length of time or looked at her seriously. The Yacht is very solidly built and sea worthy but the Devil is truly in the details. Her sister ship is almost ready to sail and started being built six months before Roma therefore...... we might not be going anywhere in a hurry.

This is ok. I have new crew to learn about and more importantly write about....because we have a large crew and our Captain is all for socialising I am learning a great many things. If you want to get inside someone's head go ten pin bowling!

On Monday night we made the somewhat enthusiastic and tragic mistake of going ten pin bowling after drinking quite heavily. We descended upon the Viareggio bowling alley like a pack of half drunken alcoholic wolves. Bowls were hurled and a curious cacophony of German, Swedish, Croatian and Nouveau Zealandish swear words and bravado was heard ringing amongst the white pins falling. I look forward to sharing mini biographies of our crew. I just need to take some clandestine photos with consent of course.

There is also the rigours of learning to look busy again with new people. Because our Yacht has not been signed over to its new owner and we are not living on board we are not particularly welcome on the Yacht as it is swarming with work people. In fact on my very first day we had a breakfast meeting where we were told that we would not be going on board for the first couple of days. We were on strike.

There is something scrumptiously satisfying about starting your best paying job ever with a first day of hard striking. It tickles my corpuscles. I am sure immediate and not so immediate members of my family will also enjoy this irony.

Back to the boat, well it is big. I am all for perspectives for example on my last Yacht I could clean the whole thing by myself in two days and spend a third day doing detailed polishing and window cleaning. What did I do for the rest of the week? Good question.

On this new beast, estimates range from 5-7 days of cleaning a week with five deck crew.

Jeebus.

On the plus side today we spent a good couple of hours testing the tender and jet ski. Or Yetski if you are from the northern hemisphere. I am reliably informed our Jet Ski can do 70 knots. That is really fast. Like really really fast.

I have been leaving my camera out of my bag a lot recently which has been very annoying given all of the new things I can take photos of. I am going to make a new months resolution of taking my camera everywhere. Which reminds me.....

The new month coincides with Halloween. I have a carefully crafted and transported AWESOME costume that I will be unveiling this Saturday in Italy.

Back to corpuscles. Anna and I have joined the local gym. It seems well run apart from its insane opening hours. Fancy a Latin American dance class at 9:45 pm? This gym can help you out. Want to work out before 9:00 am ? No can do.

Si Si Si.
I have been very busy.
Don't you see?

Monday, 26 October 2009

Deckhands Log #8 Just Desserts

So Friday was my last day on my first Yacht. It was not without excitement, drama and the stuff of which Deckhands logs are written from.

Our mission for the day was heading out to sea 13 miles so important paperwork could be signed changing the ownership and name of Allegro. 13 miles is well into international waters and the transaction would be safely out of the grasp of Mr Tax Man.

I started my day as I often do with a stiff coffee, banana and some muesli. I watched the CNN weather report and felt my eyebrows lift at the promise of isolated tornadoes for Italy. Today would be like no other.

With a kick off of 11am I busied myself tying down outside furniture and tidying up after Italian contractors. By 11am our boat had two temporary crew members and two temporary deal makers on board and we were on our way out to sea.

As is often the case when Allegro moves anywhere she decided to be stubborn just outside the port entrance. Sauron was called to the bridge and lost the plot at the Captain in what would be a final verse in his swan song.

I have devoted a few words to Sauron the mental engineer. I did think that this would finish with me moving on but Sauron commanded another story. The rest of the voyage went to plan. We got home safely, tied up and the deal makers set about firing Sauron.

I do not think I could have engineered a dish of karma so sweet if I sat on top of a mountain of nirvana rubbing a huge Buddha sized tummy. Sauron was woefully upset. He did tell me he had been fired.

"Dan I am leaving tomorrow"

"Cool"

So with my conscience doing gleeful little cartwheels I got to listen to Sauron furiously back-pedalling explaining his behaviour. It was actually quite pathetic. Not much else to say about that.

It is the second job he has been fired from this year and he will have a hard time securing another job in a hurry.

Which brings me to the moral of this saga.

It doesn't matter what you know, or what you think you know. If you are a fuck wit the universe will catch up with your sorry ass.

In closing, before that glorious time, If I cross your path. I will blog about you.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

20 Days at Sea

It is with mixed emotions as I sit astride the last week of my time aboard Allegro. It has been fun here. I have met some neat people and some not so neat people. I have immersed myself in Italy and have learned a bit more about the world.

Some would say I still do not know much about Yachting I have actually learned quite a lot. I am Knots McConnell arrrrhhh. It is said your first job on Yachts is your worst. I think I got a pretty sweet deal.

Looking ahead is exciting. I know my last attempt at a map came to nothing, but let me mangle another one.




That thin black line is where our new boat will be going before the end of the year. It is a twenty day trip which will take us past Egypt, real live pirates in Somalia and then to some of the best diving in the world in the Maldives. Did I mention we have a dive compressor on board?

It is a huge distance. It is almost half of the way home. Imagine that. I am going to take 20 days sea sickness pills along just in case.

Anyway this weekend we are going to hire a car and play tour guides for a day and maybe head back to Florence.

Sweet.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

London Revisited

Five years ago Anna and I made the long journey to the UK for a three week holiday. 1.5 weeks were spent in London. I liked and still like London. Five years on many things remain the same however living in a non English speaking country for the last six months has allowed me to look upon London with a fresh pair of eyes.

We caught the Euro-Star from Paris to London. Before we left the Mediterranean we were able to enjoy two of the finest products Italy and France have to offer.



Italian Acqua Frizzante and French baby baguettes.

English passport control was as frightening as last time. Thankfully within 10 minutes of being on the train we were able to sample good produce from the motherland.



On to London.

Do you know how odd it is to have to start thinking in English again?

To be able to eavesdrop on other peoples conversations again?

Which reminds me.

One of Prince Malcolm's funnier jokes when he was not going on about Sailing Yachts.

Q:How do you stop an Italian from talking?

A:You chop his arms off

This is probably why I have managed living in Italy when I don't really know what people are saying a lot of the time.

After such an exile I was struck by advertising of all things. Advertising loses a lot of its impact when you can't read it so I gladly gazed at news paper bill boards, taxi banners and read the contents on the back of chip packets for at least five minutes.

After such a homecoming for someone who is quite fond of the English language it was great to get in Jacqui and Nicks VW and head to Putney!

Putney is a locally described haven for antipodeans. Like most places in London it seemed positively dreary when it was raining but had a bit of charm when the sun was out.

One of things I enjoy about Britain is that the English know they are shit at making good food. Hence there is a excellent array of international restaurants catering to every whim and fancy. Its positively international and makes you really feel part of a rock orbiting a fiery mass inside a galaxy. I even spotted a Swedish fast foot restaurant. What do Swedes eat? and what do they eat when they are in a hurry?

Borrowing previous big city writing I will now drape some photos across the page and write some suitable comments.



The very English/ Lord Nelson square. Actual well dressed wombles/moles out enjoying the sun shine.



Interesting performance art space that you could perform in. Unfortunately this person was not much of a performer. She could have been writing a book!



Some clock. It was out an hour. In Italy anyway.




One of the more affordable streets in London. It was quiet in the cheap streets.



Winter Pims. Great invention.



Interesting juxtaposition of things.

That is a wrap. I do have other things to write but they can wait for that elusive book I am writing or for the next time I go to London. Sometimes things are best left unread.

Emmas

Some of you may have read me writing superlative after energetic adjective describing the wonderment that is Gelato. Emmas in particular makes fantastic Gelato.

Now with glorious technology I can bring you what greets me every time I walk in.


YAY

Well it took us six months but we finally have a job together on a Super Yacht. To give you all an idea of how zany Yachting can be please enjoy the following timeline.

Sunday: Anna is homeless and jobless. Karina and Darren take pity on us and put us up for a few nights.

Tuesday Karina tells Anna of a new boat that needs crew and advises Anna to call on Wednesday.

Wednesday: Anna calls and is told to come in for lunch with the crew.

Mad rush to print off Anna's CV. I take a chance and print off a copy of mine.

I do an expert iron of Anna's polo shirt.

I am two glasses down an excellent red and I get a phone call to also come and have lunch with crew.

Meet Captain and his Wife. We are told they do not like to employ couples but......

Captain begrudgingly tells me the boat is a computer with two rudders and two engines.

I rub my hands together.

We get a tour of Yacht on Wednesday night. More about that later.

Thursday: We have new jobs. Anna starts today. I start as soon as I can get out of my contract.

So what about the boat? Well it is brand new. 62 metres in length. It has an on board gym and lap pool. It has really good crew areas which is good as the Captain likes to cruise and not sit about in port. It is full of technology and I can stand up in the engine room which is a novelty.



We will be leaving Viareggio on the 20th of November for the Maldives and Egypt. We will then go to the Dubai yacht show.

Life is good.

PS Interested devils can enquire here for chartering our work place. No pirates allowed.

Monday, 12 October 2009

My Chronicles of Paris #2

Continuing where we left off.

Having slummed in the Riviera for two months, yachtied in Italy for four months I am well accustomed with watching people watchers and in particular tourists. Paris really refined some of my personal theories on how to get more out of your time and lower your idiot footprint TM

Let me quickly explain the idiot footprint theory.

Think of carbon footprint. Then think of all the stupid noise, pollution, mess and down right crazy things Tourists do to ruin a place.

Parisians have a reputation for being rude. We found them them lovely, why? because we did not look like tourists.

Here is my idiot proof lower your idiot footprint guide to Paris.

-Do not carry a camera around your neck.

-Do not say wow, ever.

-Carry a copy of Le monde or a local news paper. Do not worry if it is not in your language.

-Do not wear a bum bag. Do not wear a day pack. Sure you might have to carry your valuables in normal bag but guess what? you will not look like a tourist and an easy target.

-If you have to carry a map, smuggle it inside that news paper you picked up before.

Now for some quite specific rules.

-Don't fall on your face outside a restaurant into your Chinese lunch and then loudly blame the sloping floor outside the door which don't exist in America, apparently.

-Don't compare public transport systems with the rail system in Pennsylvania.

-If you have to talk really loudly, actually just don't.

See how easy it is!

Anyway, back to Paris. On Tuesday we took the liberating trip outside of Paris to visit the Palace of Versailles.

Versailles was the French royal palace for about 100 years from 1682.

It is an incredibly large monument to royal excess, grandeur and I do believe I said wow a few times.

The weather was a bit iffy which was a bit disappointing but it put us in good stead for London. More on that at a later date.

Please enjoy my photos and comments.


Section of Garden.




Section of Garden with handsome sense of scale device in foreground.



Section of Palace from outside. Camera could not fit it in.




Swarming revolutionary horde of Tourists. See how few have read my guide!



Excellent chandelier.




Quite a tasty alcove.

I rate Versailles.

The Big Issue Scam

Having not been knowingly scammed in a while I was surprised and pleased to be hijacked outside a pub in London.

I was sitting peacefully minding my own iPhone. A man came along purporting to be selling the big issue. a magazine sold by homeless people in London) feeling charitable I gave him five pounds. The man assured me he was homeless and promptly walked off never to be seen again.

For the Australians in my readership he was supposed to give me a copy of the magazine that he was carrying. The big issue. Maybe he only had issues.

Let the reader beware, I was told to stay away from homeless Big issue salespeople by our gracious host Jacqui. A couple of glasses of merlot may have affected my judgement.

Back Home?

After the crispness of Paris and the bi-polar blast which was London it is nice to be back in the still balmy Italy.

I have quite a few travel tales to tidy up over the next week. I also have to reapply for my job as we have a new settlement date for the boat.

The good news is we are now 200 metres from the best Gelato in Viareggio.



photo has nothing to do with Gelato but is awesome all the same.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

My Chronicles of Paris #1

Last weeks serious natural disasters did not leave me unscathed. Friday was a neat cataclysmic coupling with me losing the remnants of my thumbnail, squashing another finger and the death of my laptop.

Naturally I was quite chuffed at this and I have been skulking the streets of Paris, taking notes with my ruined hands and trying to carry off the unimpressed air of someone who now calls Tuscany home. Well on Facebook anyway.

Without further dilly dallying here are my thoughts on Paris.

I love Paris. I love it a lot. I could see myself living here with little coaxing. Its a beguiling place which seduces you quickly and leaves you sad to walk away. I am not going to pretend I have even nibbled the ear lobe of Paris. It is a vast place full of wonderful things to write about. Let me just write about what we did, what we enjoyed and what I would do to improve time spent here.

Statue Bro?

Not being much of an fine art aficionado I find the statue avalanche that confronts you at every turn in Paris absolutely awesome. Give me a statue or sculpture over a painting any day of the week.





My first Caesar. Does anyone else see the irony that I had to go to France to see my first Caesar and I saw my first Napolean in Italy?




Actually some paintings are pretty awesome

Now that ends my iPhone photos. We now own a HD camera/video camera combo unit. Expect more video and nicer photos. Thanks iPhone. I look forward to using you for more phonely pursuits haha, whatever.

Sitting down. Paris has been designed well for the pedestrian and for the most pedestrian of pedestrian. Forget the cafes. Walk anywhere and you will find chairs, benches and all manner of things to sit down and just enjoy time off your feet.

Cuisine. Paris has great food. The constant deluge of tourists mean there plenty of scope for the enterprising restaurateur. You can find every type of restaurant in good supply for every price range.

Pro tip. When you are feeling overwhelmed by the Frenchness of it all. Go to the Mexican themed Tex mex restaurants. The burittos are fabulous.

An interesting thing I noticed about Paris is that it was all strangely familiar just on a grander scale. Why is this? Because I visited three French colonies last year. Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Want an example?

Contrast this



exhibit a Laos Vietenne

with this




exhibit b some famous thing in Paris that I dare not spell incorrectly and hide my embarrassment behind some words as is often the case.

More to come. In the next instalment we shall look at the finer art of palace running, Parisians, music and how not to appear American or English.

Footnote,

On the third day of my laptops death it rose again with a broken backspace key. I shall type very carefully from here on in.