Monday, 31 August 2009

RIP EEE

All good things must pass and my faithful EEE has been put out to pasture. It lived a chequered career taking over as my predominant computer after a large four computer stable. It travelled through out Asia saving me from accommodation touts on the Mekong and returned home to catalogue my fruitless unemployment and subsequent trip to Europe.

Unfortunately it developed a drinking problem in Antibes and its keyboard met its match in a sickly concoction of coke and loud music. This led to a mental illness and frequent focusing problems as its F11 key developed a split personality.

Thankfully my benefactor and the person who completes me arrived this weekend to help me purchase a new computer.

Good bye EEE hello HP.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Deckhands Log #5 The Search for Friends.....

So it turns out I have not been leaving the boat enough and I need more friends. This sagely advice was administered with out prescription and I am beggared to know what I did to procure it. The advice came from our new chief stewardess and although I welcome advice most of the time this particularly riled me.

Without further waffle let me begin with my defense.

I actually really enjoy my own company. I can talk to myself for hours and quite enjoy hanging out with myself. I never run out of things to think about. This blog is proof, 303 posts and counting. Ad revenues of 5.34 US dollars so far this month. Mind boggling.

I am living on a 1o million Euro Super Yacht! I have hatches to go up and down. Do you know how satisfying it is to go up and down a hatch? Do you know how much people pay to charter these things? I am living on one and we don't have any guests. That means I get to pretend I am a guest when I am not working.

I have a lot of friends. Sadly most of them are in a different hemisphere. But the force is strong within me. I can tap reserves of friendship at will. I have incredible memories that you don't just go out and make willy nily with out good legal counsel and consulting astrological charts.

I have made a few friends since being here but the really poor thing about Yachting is that these new friends leave every three or so days. It is very transient. In the last two months two of my friends have left the Yacht I am working on. Alberto leaves next week.

I am also flying solo at the moment. My life partner is working incredibly hard and call me a part time puritan but I feel a bit poorly enjoying myself too much when she is slogging it out. I am also spending a fair bit of spare time reading my huge book of sailing knowledge and debating finer aspects of global politics with the Captain.

Everything Making friends around here seems to revolve around alcohol. Whilst I do enjoy a good tipple I did have a realisation on Wednesday morning that I have been drinking a bit too much. Going to sleep in port holes is not normal.

So with all of this floating around my head I did venture out today for find some friends and leave the serenity of the marina. Alberto was on board and I had a lake to discover.

Lake Massaciuccoli sits south of Viareggio and I had vague directions to follow on my bike.

Viareggio is unique in that it has pine forests, a large lake and beach all reasonably close together.



This little section is dotted with restaurants which serve up great food.

My sole instructions were to follow this road straight until the lake.



And follow it I did.



With gusto!



I did start to wonder at this point. I had been riding for close to an hour...

Luckily I was soon met with the most unwelcoming reminder of the world we live in. An advertisement for McDonalds. From here it was a sedate scurry to the lakes shore front and the home of the Festival Puccini.

/wikipedia mode

The Festival Puccini (Puccini Festival) is an annual summer opera festival held in July and August to present the operas of the famous Italian composer, Giacomo Puccini

/Daniel McConnell mode

Not being a fan of women warbling at the best of times I was more taken with the views of the lake and some medievalishness.







Feeling content and sated I rode back slowly to Viareggio mulling over this very blog entry.

I know I did not make any friends but I did make some nice memories to write about.

PS....

At the risk of being incendiary and nice at both the same time. My friends back home are all very good looking and hilarious. Pickings are slim here amongst the English speaking refugees. Dragons demand the best.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Deckhands Log #4 You would read about it

Right here. You are reading about it.

So the two vessels next door have the exact same name and the same owners. The tale behind the names and owners is quite saucy. Do not adjust your screen.

An American couple want a Super Yacht. Yacht is ordered and mostly paid for. The couple walk on board. Wife decides she does not want it. Shipyard are left to take care of Yacht and the bill. A new Yacht is ordered.

Husband and Wife turn up to start a seventeen day charter on the new Yacht. Wife decides she hates the new Yacht. She then decides she hates the crew. She wants to fire all of the crew but seems to lack the cognitive reasoning that a crew less boat is not much fun at all.

After finishing her charter. she fires all of the crew and guess what......

She deicides she likes the first boat again.

What is really funny is the sea gulls all line up every morning to shit all over her Yacht. They seem to leave everyone else alone. Clever birds.

On a lighter note. Tuesday was our long suffering Engineers birthday. From the original crew he is the last remaining and should be leaving us at the end of the month.

My first experience of Alberto was my very first night on board. I was sleeping in his cabin and had popped off to sleep. I soon heard him. Alberto is a formidable snorer. Luckily we had a full stocked arsenal of nespresso for me to demolish the next morning.

A couple of weeks later I started dismantling the CO2 detector in my sleep. This set off a ship wide alarm and Alberto came to the rescue. Everyone that meets Alberto thinks he is a top guy so we went to town for his birthday.

I got up extra early and decorated the aft deck.



We then had fresh fish for lunch and some fantastic Champagne.



A lovely day for a lovely bloke.



Alberto.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The most useful thing I have learned this month

Continuing my month of mosts theme. On Friday I learned something incredibly important.

How to fill the Jacuzzi.

Jacuzzi's on Yachts are interesting. They have large spill ways to counter act the rocking motion of being on water. Long time readers will be pleased to note that I have filed this information for the still active hover spa project.

Starting up our Jacuzzi means firing up the diesel generators. Our power converters can not draw enough current from the dock to power the Yacht air conditioning and the pumps, heaters ect that the spa has.

The actual filling process takes about 3o minutes. We drain both of our boilers so the water is already warm when the Jacuzzi is full. The heating process takes about 2-3 hours.

Exciting stuff but sad as well. Having spent a lot of times in spas in various states of mind. All I could think about was what a shame it was to be filling a Jacuzzi with water and not friends.

A not so serious guide to getting a job on a Super Yacht

Why not a serious guide? Well if this was a serious guide I would have to charge money for it. That being said you are more than welcome to donate money if you find this guide interesting. The not so serious information in this guide should be easy to identify.

Historical Background,

From the turn of the millennium the Super Yacht industry experienced incredible growth. This growth created a job and Yacht shortage and up until the middle of last year it was quite easy to get a job; if you were well presented, in the right place and keen to learn.

The recession caused a rationalisation of the workforce and owning of Yachts. A lot of the sub 40 metre yachts were owned by people who probably should not have had one. World wide job losses meant a lot more people were looking for work than in the past.

Yachting was also quite a transient industry. In the past it was quite easy to work for 6 months, go travelling for a few months and maybe squeeze a ski or dive season in as an instructor. It is still possible to do this but the catch 22 is that you will need experience.

If you are trying to get into this industry experience is the holy grail. There are a few things that can help you before you leave home though. This is my list of regrets. Please heed them.

-Go and visit your local marinas going into summer. New Zealand has quite a few marinas. We even have Super Yachts. I could have probably got some day work before I left New Zealand.

-If you can't get day work at home. You can practice deck work pretty easy.Rinse, soap, scrub, wipe, shammy, polish, window clean, spot clean and tooth brush clean your car every day for a week or so.

-If you are keen on interior work. Get some hospitality experience. Make some cocktails. Drink some cocktails. Practice smiling.

-Captains want people who can do anything so to really make yourself a catch. Take apart your entire car. Reassemble it. Wash it down and then clean out the inside whilst making a coffee and then serve yourself a cocktail.

-It is worth noting that Engineers are in constant demand. Engineers are gold. Any practical engineering experience will help vastly.

Basic Seamanship

Invest in a good pair of wrap around sunglasses. Get a nice polo and boat shoes. Practice some knots. Get a hair cut.

Advanced Seamanship

Learn port and starboard. Learn to work with a murderous hangover.

I can not stress this enough. Yachting is a very conservative industry. That being said everyone drinks like there is no today and tomorrow. The first thing you will find after walking out of a marina is a bar.

You will drink a lot and you will need to work the next day. The good thing is, sitting in an office with a hangover is a lot worse than working outside. Also a lot of people eat lunch really quickly so they can have a nap afterwards. This is a benefit of working and living in the same place.

Dock walking (dock whoring)

Dock walking is a useful way of making contacts and getting day work. Unfortunately this season there were so many people doing it in France it was largely a waste of time.

If you want to practice dock walking at home. Put on your polo, boat shoes and wrap around sunglasses and start walking up to people you don't know and try and create a conversation. Also ask them for a job at the end of the conversation.

It is best if the people have been annoyed by about 100 other people already that day.

I found dock walking terrifying.

I think I actually drank some Gin and Tonic before one afternoon dock walking session(British courage).

The good news is. If you are really dedicated and want a job there is a job out there for you. The bad news is that you will probably spend a lot of money getting that job. Which brings me to my next point.

Running out of money is a good thing. We were literally down to our last 2oo Euros before we moved to Italy. Being broke makes you resourceful. The other great thing about Yachting is that you will recoup your money very quickly.

Advice.....

Everyone will have some advice to give you. Some of it will be conflicting. Take peoples advice carefully.

Some of the best advice I have been given includes.

"Before you get really drunk, head back to the boat"

"Anyone can clean a boat. Not everyone can fix a computer"

"Slowly slowly, safely safely"

"Don't wear denim"

'The longer you can stay in a job the stronger you will be for it"

And of course this whole guide is all advice really.

My last advice. Think long and hard before committing yourself to a career in Super Yachts. It is not something you can do forever. There is also a lot of odd stuff that goes on. Interested????

Keep reading my blog.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

The stupidest thing I have done this month

The title of this blog entry was initially going to be "The stupidest thing I have done this year". After some deliberation it was decided that this might be a tad grandiose and short sighted. I have done quite a few stupid things this year and we still have a few months to go.

Anyway I had enjoyed a splendid bottle of French champagne, gorged myself on a 600 gram steak at a fabulous restaurant only to be gleefully coerced into a quick night cap or three at a pub. I then walked a lady of high blood alcohol levels home to her yacht. Feeling full, noble and more than a bit tipsy I retired to my cabin. It is worth noting at this point that I had not drank much water in the previous eight hours.

It is here where deductive reasoning must step in because my memories are a bit hazy

At some point during the night I went to the toilet. On my return to bed I noticed that the blankets were missing and the bed seemed an odd shape. After an uncomfortable period I finally twigged that I was not in my bed.

I had climbed into the bathroom porthole.

How I managed to do this is quite remarkable.

Please enjoy these illuminating photos.



Bed



Bathroom porthole

When I finally woke in my correct bed, my sheepish brain was quite happy to write the experience off as a bad dream.

Sadly the toiletries discarded on the floor of the bathroom were ghastly evidence of me trying to make the porthole comfortable.

Truly a story to tell my future Grandchildren about.

Deckhands Log #3 Limbo Rocks

So the deal for the Yacht didn't happen in a timely fashion. This means we are not going to be cruising this year. We may scurry up across to Monaco for the September boat show but that is about it. Naturally this is a bit disappointing but you know? life is pretty good.

I have a job.
I am earning good money and not paying tax.
I don't have any expenses appart from cheap internet and gin.
I have reacquainted myself with the wonders of Amazon.com .
I have met some pretty neat people.
I am learning a lot.
I eat quite tasty cuisine every day.
I have embarked on a journey of wine tasting.
GELATO

Limbo does rock.

The only negatives are that I miss my wife a lot and I miss friends and family back home.

The wife should be finishing her contact at the end of September I look forward to seeing her again.

My friends tend to get txt messages when I have over budgeted on my gin consumption.

My siblings read my blog .

My parents get emails and phone calls.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

An Italian Fairy Tale

Cast

Me = Hard working lumberjack
Linda the Swedish First Mate = Princess Goldilocks
Captain Olivier = Prince Charming
Gaynor the Stewardess = Fair Maiden
Owen the Saffa = The Villain
The three Italian divers = The dwarvish miners

Once upon a time a hard working lumberjack was telling tall tales to a fair maiden after work. An evil villain interrupted the conversation and asked the lumberjack why he was not wearing a wedding ring. The lumberjack replied "I swing axes all day and my ring would get damaged if I wore it in the forest".


The very next day the lumberjack made a point of wearing his wedding ring to spite the horrible villain. After work the lumberjack sat outside with a fair maiden and Princess Goldilocks. The fair maiden commented on the lumberjacks sparkling ring and Princess Goldilocks who was engaged to Prince Charming removed her ring to inspect it and it fell down a hole.

Princess Goldilocks was nearly moved to tears. The hole was very dark and murky and no one dared enter it at night time. Prince Charming did not think the ring would ever be found again. All the gang could do was go off to a conveniently timed beach party. The wise lumberjack said "Don't worry Princess Goldilocks something good will come of this".

The next morning three dwarvish miners turned up to recover the ring. Princess Goldilocks had a piece of string with a weight hanging down the hole in the exact spot where she dropped the ring. The first miner went down and after a while came back up the hole with no ring. He asked Princess Goldilocks to pull up her weight. The string came up slowly and then attached to the weight was the engagement ring which was thought to be lost.

Everybody celebrated and they all lived happily ever after! Except for the villain.

Authors note, If that makes no sense please excuse me I am being self indulgent for others.

Linda did lose her engagement ring into 5 meters of very murky water. Three Italian divers turned up the next morning and retrieved it for her with some typical Italian flair. I made the mistake of listening to a South African.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

In Case You Did Not Know

Revealing information about clients is a big no no in this industry. However after contacting my legal team it appears there is a loop hole.

Revealing other peoples information is fine. So it is with great pleasure that I can inform you.

Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs is a knob.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Deckhands Log #2 The Limbo Continues

I have come to the conclusion that sitting in one place is not very conducive to the ramshackle vagabond writing that I am accustomed to producing.

God knows, God knows I want to break free

Instead of tall tales circumnavigating sea serpents and discovering lost treasure I am left syphoning reconstituted shit from our Yacht broker. Let us commence.

This is our third week in Viareggio. Let me explain our circumstances in a bit of detail.

The current owner desperately wants to sell the Yacht and not spend any money.
The management company desperately wants to not spend any money.
The boat manufacturers desperately want us to go away but are left honouring the warranty. Oh and they desperately don't want to spend any money.
The Yacht broker who has been on board for a month desperately wants to sell the boat and might not have a home to return to if he can't sell the boat.
The potential buyers are incredibly cagey and will not commit to spending any money.

What a hot sexy melange of wants and will nots.

Anyway the marina and ship yard have been busy moving our boat every other day with sea trials and working on it. Over the weekend we undertook a major oil change of all of the stabiliser hydraulics. We were told on Saturday that we would have to move again on Monday morning.

The Yacht broker had a brain wave! He would blackmail the port by saying we were not moving until other important warranty work had been completed. In his favour we could not actually move the boat under our own volition as we had no engines.

Blackmailing Italians is not smart. On Monday morning we had a very angry ship yard manager turn up with two tug boats to move our Yacht for us. The Yacht broker managed to conveniently disappear.

Anyway maybe I am being to hard on the Yacht broker. He has gone to some principality of Switzerland to put the finishing touches on the deal. Hopefully he will not come back with out a signature.

Post deal. We have two weeks to get everything in order and then we will cruise down towards Greece. Here is a map I prepared earlier.



Crossing my fingers!

PS Suzanne come back! (Chief Stew who left on the weekend for a more certain unknown)

Monday, 3 August 2009

Baffling Mens Wallet Designs

I hope I am not alone in this but I do have a confession to make.

I find most mens wallet designs woefully inadequate. The crux of the problem is not in the note storage, personal identification compartments or even business card sleeves. The problem is all in the change.

Typically mens wallets have a small pocket which after you have a few business cards and coins becomes hard to access and takes the skin off your fingers if you try to find a coin. Exacerbating my plight are the helpful shop keepers of Italy who are always trying to get coins out of me so I can keep my precious notes.

Work arounds include carrying coins loose in your pockets. Carrying loose coins in your man bag. Carrying loose coins in your hands. This is not ideal. To this end I propose.......

The man purse!

The man purse is shaped like a small shopping till. Its large calcuator front allows you to punch in your desired legal tender. It then dispenses the notes and coins with the grace of a well oiled bank teller.

Sound outlandish ?

Good.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Deckhands Log

We are still in the port of Viareggio. Italians master of excellence Benetti are still wading through a list of warranty items. We have had a Yacht broker on board for a month. Hopefully he will go home soon. He is a pain.

Our possible could be might be owners seem nice enough. I have been hard at work getting to grips with the crazy Mexican set up entertainment system. There is a lot of redundant hardware and some practical kiwi engineeruity has come in handy ensuring that I can listen to flight of the conchords or my favourite DJ on any part of the boat.

Perish my ego but learning seamanship has been quite a learning curve. All of the can do attitude in the world can not make up for time at sea. My Captain delights in telling me to do things and expecting me to automatically know how to do them. This is usually when we are docking, manoeuvring or something mission critical.

To fast track my soon to be all encompassing knowledge of everything nautical I bought a huge book from Amazon.



The Chapmans Piloting & Seamanship book is a weighty tomb. I only wish it was full of magic spells.

Which brings me to my next segue.

I found a magicians hat in my cabin last night. Rest assured the wizards robe and hat ensemble on a Super Yacht photos are coming soon.

Speaking of my cabin I am going to have to share it soon. We are going to have a replacement first mate in the next week. With some mild face book stalking I have discovered he can spin tunes. We will get on just fine. I do not know where we are going to fit decks in our cabin though.