Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Dragon Star Sign August

This is perfect. Bring on the monkey month!

This Monkey month is just up your street! Dragons are enlivened by the antics of the Monkey who, bye the bye, approves of the you and admires your majesty. There's nothing you and your ego like more than having your majesty idolized... so this month promises to be a high point in the year for you. Work should be moving ahead swimmingly as you may be taking the lead on new projects and seeing them through. You ought by now to have settled into something of a routine and got used to the rapid pace which flummoxed you at first. The most telling thing about this month of August for you Dragons is the huge hint that you will be sent on a smashing voyage somewhere exotic and brand new to you. Could be your work will take you to Dubai or Singapore or even to some mysterious venue you never thought you would have the chance to visit in your lifetime. Could be temples or medieval castles or wild animals will be present in your August 2009. The signs are there. You will travel- and it will be exciting. At the start of the year when you were keeping such a low profile and not having much walloping fun, I don't think you expected the year to evolve as favorably as it has. Much of course has to do with your superb ability to make things happen, not lose face or confidence and carry through on the promises you make.

Get your Chinese star signs here.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The Dock Party

A cornerstone of yachting the world over. The dock party works like this. A chef or two are coerced into cooking a BBQ on the dock. Fridges are raided of alcohol. Plastic cups are appropriated. Neighbouring crews are invited.

We had quite a good dock party last night. It started at about 3pm and finished when it started to get dark. I slept very soundly and was very sluggish this morning. It must have been something I drank.

The dock party

Of course I do feel like I am bragging a bit. My poor Wife is struggling through a heavy charter season and I am lying around in Sun loungers and having bbq's. My only real explanation for this is that my Dragons luck finally has kicked in. It was lying dormant for a good portion of France but is blazing away in Italy.

Here be Dragon.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Friday Night in Viareggio

A follow up to my Friday night in Livorno pictorial.

We are looking after the boat tonight. Let us see what we can do.

That looks pretty good but it could be better. To the galley!

A concoction of some merit.

Much better

Uh oh we have run out of this cocktail.......

A clock work orange. Hastily amended the "Five O'clock work Orange"

Tastes pretty sweet.

On a slightly serious note. Apparently yachting is not as cool as it used to be.


Friday, 24 July 2009


Please be patient. The doctor is busy. He will be with you shortly.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

A good old fashioned

Brain spasm. I have had myriads of magnificent musings rolling around in my head for weeks now but none of them have had enough substance to carry off a blog entry........

Until now. Being the sole creative talent, management and marketing of this enterprise I call the shots. Lets get messy with words.

There is a lot to be said for drinking wine with lunch. Just one glass mind. I have been listening to a mother lode of old Captain stories and I will be tapping this vein for as long as I am on board. Did you know the lumberjacks in France used to be paid with wine? Imagine that. Swinging an axe all day and swigging from a flagon of wine. Did you know lumberjacks had a high fatality rate? Fancy.

The Captain is a wily devil. We have an American broker staying with us until the boat sells. The Captain tried to starve him out by not buying groceries. He then tried to thirst him off the boat by not replenishing the alcohol stores. The American was quite happy eating pistachios and drinking Scotch for dinner. Sacre bleu!

Washing boats is a lot more fun when you are packing an iPod. I invested in one because I was not that keen on seeing my iPhone disappear into the sea. iPhone overboard!

There is no word for average in Italian. This explains how things are always either brilliant of abysmal. Average is a dirty word.

Opening an offshore bank account is a pain in the ass. Lloyds TSB made me feel like a criminal even though I did everything listed on their very own application form. Now I am left with opening an account in Uruguay or keep getting paid in cash......

I have been eating a lot of Gelato. I think I am becoming an addict.

I think I miss my wife and I started to miss her in such an unromantic way. I was washing the pots and pans after lunch and maybe more than one glass of wine because it was the weekend. I had a little moment where I thought to myself this is familiar. I always washed the dishes in our nest. I turned to make a funny remark and alas she was not there. I did call the American a Canadian though.

Beaches are not as cool when you don't know anyone.

Buying bottles of beer at the beach is cool.

If and when the boat sells we are going to spend a month cruising the med then we will head to Turkey for a section of winter. Bring on the kebabs!

Today is the first day I have not taken pain killers since I ruined my thumb.

We have a large sail boat beside us. There are two major differences between Sail boats and Motor Yachts.
  • On sail boats the crew smoke all of the time on the boat.
  • On sail boats the deckhands can make rope swings for the kids to play on when they have guests.
It sounds like we will be going back to France at some point. I think I have been away from France long enough to be excited about going back. We have these neat elastic bag shoe covers for guests that I might wear in the streets to make an elegant point about the dog refuse.

That is better I can see clearer now the writers blood rage has gone from my vision.

Tally Ho!

Friday, 17 July 2009

My First Italian Medical

Medicals are not generally hilarious. But I just had a genuinely comedic medical.

Medicals are an important requisite of commercial shipping. They let your captain know that you are healthy and are an insurance of sorts. The standard sailor medical is called the ENG1. We always planned to get one right before we started proper jobs but our evacuation from France meant we missed out on getting them. You can not get an ENG1 in Italy.

You can however get an ENG1 equivalent so tonight I went to get one. My trip to the doctors was pleasurable. I did have to ask for directions and a lovely old man pointed me in the right direction and patted me on the back.

The doctor was running late. He eventually turned up and ushered me into his room. I made the mistake of saying Bona Cera(Good evening). This marked me as being fluent in Italian so after a lengthy spiel and subsequent readjusting of communication mediums we sat down to fill out my medical.

I write fill out because that is exactly what my medical was. Let me transcribe the conversation. The doctors words are in Italics.



[fills out my details]


1.86 meters


82 kilograms

Blood pressure?

Sorry I do not know my blood pressure.

[Doctor makes like a Doctor and takes my blood pressure]

Do you wear glasses?

Yes I do. Here they are.

What is the colour of my pen?


What is the colour of my sellotape holder?


Sign this

And that was my Italian medical.

Incredible? Incredulous? Inconceivable?

Just another day in Italy.

Thursday, 16 July 2009


If Italy was ever serious about conquering the world again they could achieve it easily with Gelato.

What is Gelato?

Gelato is the fresh made ice cream which is found in specialist stores on every street.

The ice cream is extraordinarily good. It seems to use less water than normal ice cream so is less icey. It is also kept at a perfect cold/soft temperature which means it must be eaten quickly.

There are several staple Gelato flavours but each store will have speciality flavours.

It was in one Gelato store that I noticed you can attend Gelato university and get a degree. Now that is education I could get behind.

Now getting back to my plans of world domination. I would like to export Gelato makers to strategic destinations. I will then wait until the local populace is hooked and then I will halt Gelato production until my demands are met.

My demands?


Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Sea Legs & Sea Hands

A couple of salty tales from last week. Before our sea trial we had some serious winds hammering Livorno which were making our Yacht lurch quite a bit in dock. I felt the lurching strangely comfortable at night time but I did notice at lunch on Thursday that there is an art to eating food when you are in such conditions.

On Friday we left Livorno to commence our sea trial. This was a water shed moment for me because I was violently ill in Thailand when we were in rough seas. I have glossed over this memory in my official capacities because no body likes to admit to being sea sick. Unless they have a cunningly crafted blog.

Thankfully I was not sick during our sea trial. However in what was Jackass tribute week I did capsize carrying a large fender.

Not quite that large.

The great indignity is that I fell right in front of the bridge which was full of people looking after the sea trial. I am 100% certain that if I had had full range of motion in my right hand thumb I would not have fallen.

So here I am on my day off desperately wanting to venture outside, sheepishly si prega di non incidenti.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

100% Pure Success

Well its been an uphill struggle but I now have a job in the Super Yacht industry. Three long months of blood, sweat and tears. On the lighter side there have been more than a few cheers.

I would like to take a moment to congratulate myself on my perseverance.

Thanks to my lovely Wife who helped me stay on course when I contemplated busking in Paris or going to work on an organic bee farm.

Thanks to everyone that has read my blog and messaged me with support.

The good news is now some of the pressure has gone from my cranium I will be able to enjoy the wonderful world a little bit more and write all about it.

Work wise we moved ports yesterday to Viareggio. It is beautiful here and I look forward to going for a ride on one of the Yacht bikes when my thumb is not so scared.

Thursday, 9 July 2009


job-shocked or job·shocked (job'shŏkt')
  1. Suffering from job shock.
  2. Stunned, distressed, or exhausted from a prolonged unemployment and possible employment

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Crash Bang Aqua?

Today started off a bit differently. I needed to return a set of keys to town. I lowered the gangway and hopped on board my trusty steed (bicycle). There was a formidable wind blowing at my tail as I sped off down the port road towards Livorno.

I had almost slipped past a large truck when the drivers door opened causing me to pirouette neatly through the air landing on the friendly tarseal gouging my leg in multiple places and spraining my right thumb.

From what I can make out the driver was very apologetic. But instead of offering me bandages, pharmaceuticals, money or a portable nurse he offered me aqua(water). Given my pain this tickled a long dormant bug bear. What is water going to do in a physical emergency? Hydration is not a priority when you fall off a bike. The final indignity was the bicycle chain had come unattached.

Water is not always the answer plainly.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009



–adjective sad or depressed from a longing for friends while away from them for a long time.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Pro Travel Tip #12

I had a spontaneous brain wave yesterday whilst I was waiting to meet some long lost friends in Livorno. When you are in a foreign country arranging meetings can be troublesome, land marks can be vague, road signs can be miss leading, friendly locals might have ulterior motives.

That is why I suggest always meet at the local McDonalds!

For those of you who can stomach reading on. Please enjoy my shrewd logic.

McDonald's are everywhere.
McDonald's are better signposted than everything else
McDonald's have free wifi for you to use while you wait
Enjoy using a McDonalds's and never eat a crumb

This travel tip was proudly brought to you by McDonalds and Nick & Jaqui

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Where am I?

It appears some of you may have lost track of where exactly I am. Now that my wife is leaving me for the foreseeable future I thought it would be prudent to pin the tail on the boot as it were and show you exactly where in the world I am habituating.

There is no drama in my wife leaving me by the way. She has got a three month job contract which is wonderfully timed as my temporary job finishes on Friday. The next little while promises to be very character building. Which is a shame as I have always thought I am a wonderful character which has never needed further building just the occasional spring clean or spring break.

Getting back to my map. You can see to the north Viareggio which was the scene of a horrific train crash on Tuesday morning. Inland is Florence, Lucca and Milan they are both tantalisingly close and deserving of my eyeballs. Sadly they do not have ports to speak of. But I do have it on good authority that Milan has a large lake.

Lucca is important to me because it is where Caesar created his first triumvirate. It is sadly easy to forget the overwhelming history which is only a train ride away. Which brings me to my next point. There startling lack of statues of Caesar in Italy! Unfortunately during the Roman empire statues where designed to have removable heads for changes in power. So whilst there are plenty of Octavian and other emperors real Caesar statues are hard to come by.

The search for a job and Caesar continues......