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.


video

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.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Dargnabbit

In what can only be best described as an unfortunate incident I have started by first serious travel writing holiday in a while with a broken laptop.

With by wifes laptop safely stowed in board Allegro I will not be even punctuating with a pink keyboard.

Creativity is ignited by such challenges and I shall do my best to drizzle a saucy sweet concoction on this page for the next week. All by using French keyboards, begging for internet access on the street and a healthy dose of Dragons luck.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Sometimes the world moves in mysterious ways.

On Monday I was sunning myself on the Riviera living the life.

On Tuesday we made our way back to Italy. Our agent could not find us a berth in Imperia or Viareggio. We ended up in Livorno with no berth and we docked in the Commercial yard.



That is our boat sitting amongst piles of limestone and other useful metals.

I have had my second run in with our engineer. This time I was not as nice. I used a choice smattering of expletives and adjectives. I do believe I called question of his self esteem levels and impolitely told him to stay away from me and to limit further communication for my mental health.

Whether this will work remains to be seen. I will give our next heated interaction some thought.

I may make a show of head butting a stainless steel rail to signify the futility of our previous discussions.