Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Deckhands Log #7 Back to the France

First off let me apologise for not having updated my blog in over a week.

I did take the precaution of loading up my internet key with 40 euros worth of internet time before we left Italy. Unfortunately the French resistance taxed my internet time so I ended up with following for my investment.

1 Email check
1 Small face book session
1 Internet banking session

International roaming charges are incurred at 2 euros a megabyte. That is quite steep.


For the last week we have been anchored about half an hour away from Monaco. The trip here was good in that I loaded up on sea sickness tablets and was not violently or even peacefully ill.

We have had two temporary crew members for two weeks. They are both from England and it has been nice to banter about in my mother tongue.

They are both characters and have earned a couple of nick names.

The first; Deckhand/Engineer has been named Prince Malcolm or the Deckhand formerly known as Prince.


He has an almost regal bearing. He went to school with the heir to the throne of Dubai and it is where Prince Charles was schooled.

Malcolm loves Sail Boats and loves talking about them. Almost all of his work place talk is peppered with the following conjunctions.

Sail boats are cool because.....

On Sail boats ......

We do this on Sail boats......

The second is our First Mate. We have named Hulk.

Hulk shares my cabin and has been a fount of knowledge. He has been very good at getting us organised and going to leave me a list of things to do when he laves. I think he suspects I am lonely here on account of all the talking I do.

The Hulk earned his nick name through a series of actions.

Firstly our stewardess noticed his pants are often almost falling down.


Secondly the Stewardess noticed he has been rupturing his trousers.

Thirdly he announced he had split his pants and he had no underwear on.

Quite the character is our Hulk.

Anyway our days have been spent getting the boat ready for potential buyers and ferrying people to the boat from ashore.

I have been taking a lot of photos whilst I have been working. Something the Hulk is secretly proud of.


Sunrise at Beaulieu


Children Sailing school

One of my cooler tasks this week was taking a swim in the pristine waters to scrap sea growth off our underwater lights and the swim platform.


I also had to swim to cut a line off a tenders propeller. I am getting paid to swim. I am a professional swimmer!

On Wednesday morning I went with our Captain to Monaco itself to get some mail and brochures.


The Monaco maritime museum


Shot of the Maltese Falcon. Check it out on Wikipedia. Quite a Yacht.


Leaving Monaco we followed a small Sub. All I could think was Nemo.......

Other highlights of the week at anchor were.

Spending half an hour coloring in a book with a little girl named Anastasia. She was quite the artist for an almost three year old. I am getting paid to play with kids. I am a professional nanny.

Being named Knots McConnell on my inability to perform knots in a timely fashion when my Captain is watching. That being said, I now know three more knots thanks to Prince and Hulk.

Going out for a couple of quiet Long Island iced teas. Returning back to the boat under the cover of darkness. Quietly drinking a couple of Gin and Juices and being called a herd of elephants in the morning by our illustrious Captain.

Learning a lot of new stuff including how to pay out an anchor using winches and a lot of useful deck tricks. Apparently working on a Super Yacht can make you OCD. Look out friends I am turning OCD!

Enjoying France not being unemployed, it is actually quite a beautiful place when you are not worrying about where you are going to sleep next week.

Currently we are in France. We are heading back to Viareggio tomorrow morning. Anna and I will be flying to Paris on Saturday. We are going to spend four nights there and three nights in London


Monday, 21 September 2009




The elation felt when you have vomited every single thing from your stomach.

The tale that lead to the discovery of this new word is just as stupidpendous.

My Friday night was relatively tame. I had visited the Red Lion for a pre dinner drink. Red Lion patrons, Vanessa makes a semi drinkable blow your head off gin and tonic. Kevin makes a take no prisoners annihilate your liver gin and tonic.

I met my crew mates for dinner. Sans Engineer of course. Dinner was middling or muddling. I do not remember my pizza. The waitress cleverly did not give me a menu so I would not embarrass myself ordering. We walked home stopping at the Red Lion. I just ordered plain tonic this time.

I slept a little too soundly and arose surprisingly chirpy. Today we would go to Imperia! The first few hours went well. We bunkered (took on fuel) tied up our tender for towing and were on the open sea by 11am.

Unfortunately the antics of the previous night combined with a very greasy english breakfast and sizable swell. I started to feel pretty rotten. I would have probably managed ok if I had not been on the bridge trying to fix a navigation computer problem. I wisely decided to exit stage left and try to recuperate.

We do have sea sickness tablets on board. I did take some of these four hours later than they would have been effective. They were seen soon after as I slid into the trance like state that accompanies a prolonged bout of forced stomach contents expulsion.

Never again.
When will it end?
Why me why?
I think I might cry.

Sheepishly I did try to return to navigation duties but I soon returned to my bathroom to reacquaint myself with my English breakfast and the barrel load of water I had drank.

But then the feeling soon came. I was vomitorious! I had nothing left to give. I could sleep soundly.

Never to drink again. Till next week.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


I woke up to an odd sensation this morning. It was dark, there was a strobe like pulse flickering in my port hole. I wrote it off as being an erratic hard drive or gadget that often nest in my habitats like birds in a tree.

I continued my morning routine and made a startling discovery as I went up the stairs into the crew galley. There was very little natural light. Upon opening the door outside I was greeted by the heavy falling of earth bound droplets of moisture (rain). The strobe like pulse had been lightning. There was also an awful lot of thunder.

I felt at home. It has not really rained here for 3 months. The last week though has been frequently cloudy and I must admit I have felt a little bit cold at some points. Having had four summers continuously over the last couple of years there was a rebellious part of me that wanted to pack my bags and head south. However it was soon curtailed by the prospect of wearing wet weather gear!

There is some deliciously satisfying about wearing a rain coat and gum boots and sloshing around. This has been my whole day, a smorgasbord of dampened delights. The weather has postponed our passage to Imperia so we will soak up a bit more of Viareggio before we get under way.


Monday, 14 September 2009

A short incredibly lost cousin

As opposed to a long lost cousin.

I have been away from New Zealand for quite a while. Interactions with genuine Kiwis in the flesh are intermittent. Australians wander the streets in packs, salivating and generally messing up the place.

Actual photo of Australians wandering the streets. Quite possibly salivating.

The solitary Kiwi walks a lonely path, sometimes blending in with the background noise, sometimes over powering it.

This is the story of the second type.

We had dropped our feet anchors at a beach club, paid for some delectable sun loungers by the pool and were waiting for the kitchen to open so we could feast on some fried seafood drizzled with lemon juice and pepper.

There was a shortish fiery chap of the red haired persuasion watching a rugby game on the TV at the bar. It did not take us long to hear him knowledgeably announcing that one of the teams was Bay of Plenty. Ahoy! we have ourselves a New Zealander.

We made ourselves known to him and what followed was an increasingly mad cap afternoon. Will as we affectionately came to yell at him was quite the character.

What we learned about Will,

He was a trained and certified helicopter pilot.
When drinking he had a five minute memory at best.
He did not drink and fly helicopters, obviously.
He loved to play fight.
His current Yacht was perfect for fighting.
On board they had a Captain nicknamed the Maltese Mongrel.
They also had a big Australian chef they called the silverback Gorilla who had a blow dart gun and was not afraid to use it.

Will spent the afternoon getting more and more drunk, forgetting more and more and gradually sliding into inebriation. At one point he made himself known to three really large Italian men. He tried to fire up a conversation and possibly a play fight. He got a bicep flex from one of them.

This was the first time I put my head in my hands.

Will was not a man of words. He was a man of hurts. He had many bruises and was quite keen to inflict some on anyone.

The crescendo of the afternoon was him leaping into the pool wearing my sun glasses and then trying to over turn me.

I had the pleasure of destroying his watch.

The watch was quite a tale in itself. It had been bought in Turkey, was a knock off of a 17,000 Euro watch named a U-Boat. U-Boat is another name for submarine. Wills watch was part submarine. It took on a lot of water once submerged and sat quite happily on the floor of the pool after I had wrenched the strap off it.

Will was a ladies man of some repute, apparently. After a poor attempt to encourage my wife to go topless he told us the sad story of a stewardess who really wanted to be with him but found his age a turn off. Not his voice, not his pelt of red hair but his age. Clever lady that one.

We almost lost Will at some point. He went to get 2 beers and a vodka orange, whilst he was away we turned our sun loungers to get some more sun. I did tell him we were under the first umbrellla. Half an hour had passed and Will was no where to be seen. Our second search party was sent. She found Will at a table with three rum and cokes. I am pretty sure he had forgotten who we were soon after he forgot what he was ordering.

All being said we did enjoy hanging out with Will. How good is it to say BRO and CHUR and be really understood? Also my Maori language campaign badly needed a captive audience. Will was certainly captive.

It was nice to wake up to a couple of bruises and the invitation to come over for a play fight when ever I want.

Good on you Will!

PS I did come across some great beer for Will to drink the next time I see him

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Current Plans

I have learned that making plans can be fraught with disappointment. However as of 09/09/09 our current plans are.

We are heading to Imperia on Tuesday. We will be there a few days before we go to the Monaco Yacht show.

The Monaco boat show is a big deal. A massive industry event and a lot of Yachts will be there. Only 2 percent of the Yachts there actually sell, a fact that is often glossed over. But it is a great junket: a lot of free booze, parties and a good opportunity to network.

Following the show we are coming back to Viareggio and our Captain wants to move the yacht closer to France for Winter. Something that we are not thrilled about, Viareggio is a good place for winter if you are a Yachty. It has a lot of ship yards and a lot of Yachts winter here so there are plenty of people about.

Anna and I are wanting to go away for a week at the start of October. We will take in a few days of Paris and return to London. Hard to believe it has been five years.

The future is a little bit murkier, we don't want to get cold. But I would rather be cold with a job than warm and unemployed. The Caribbean season gets started in December so we might leave Europe and head over there.

Compounding all of this is the mental engineer. I had blamed his lunacy on the full moon which happened last Friday. Nevertheless he started getting upset again yesterday. He goes off *shopping* for bits and pieces and we have caught him out sitting at the bar a few times.

I am sorry updates have been sparse and infrequent. Things are quite not cricket at the moment.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Deckhands Log #6 Fight Fight Fight Write

Its not all roses and caviar on board. On Friday night I was privy to my very first fight at sea.

I use the term fight loosely because technically a fight should have two protagonists. A healthy diet of Kung Fu movies and Dalai Llama teachings meant that I adopted the WTF pose and did not participate.

Fights on boats are weird. If you have a fight at home you can go to work. If you have a fight at work you can go home. Kind of stuck here.

I think the fight went pretty well. I got a story out of it and it was character testing.

Here is the odd tale.

I had turned in early and locked our crew door. I did make a mistake by leaving the key in the door but this was an honest slip up.

Our new Hobbit engineer that I have nick named Sauron¹ returned to the boat and could not get in. Instead of doing the rational thing and calling me he proceeded to huff and puff his way through our emergency escape hatch. This is usually quite fun after a few drinks I might add, I should know.

He then rang me from the crew mess. I went up to let him in and proceeded to get verbally assaulted, psychoanalysed, career advised, sworn at, belittled and generally made feel very stupid. I am childish and need to grow up!

My core character flaw is that I smile too much, I look like I am having fun and am not serious enough. I am not going to apologise for smiling or for trying to enjoy my job. It has taken 32 years of painstaking research to be as I am. I am hardly going to change because someone is a bit loopy.

Luckily I had the presence of mind to just roll with it. I made him sit down to discuss his feelings and using some of my chair side skills listened intently and let him get it all out.

I am a laugher not a fighter and a writer not a worrier.

It is worth noting that in the space of a week he has also verbally assaulted the Chief Stewardess and lost the plot with our previous engineer. Sadly our Captain is not around to deal with this miscreant. Whilst he has not attacked the Captain to the best of my knowledge; he did have the absence of mind to say Romanians make cognac comparable with French.

I may be stupid( I am plainly not) but I know it is a very slippery slope when you start arguing cuisine with a French man.

Within 30 minutes of the tirade I received my first apology. I received my second, third and fourth apologies the next day. It appears our new engineer has the following character flaws.

-He drinks heavily and gets angry when he drinks
-I suspect he is an alcoholic. It is not normal to drink beer with breakfast.
-He is also is mainline passive aggressive.

The really funny thing was that our air conditioning broke down on Friday night and guess who had to help the poor sot the next day?

Chief Deckhand!

The next really funny thing was being invited for a beer as the final apology on Saturday night.

Sorry dork. I may have to work with you. I may have to live with you. But I am not going to spend my free time with you.

¹He has the physique of a malnourished hobbit
His name is close to Sauron
He has a fearsomely bad temper
He has a failed marriage and has probably lost his ring

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Music from Viareggio

A trio of local musos Andy Corford, Alessio pangallo & Claudio rosetti. Andy is one of the first people I met in Viareggio. He came to do some day work the very first day we arrived here.

Nice tune chaps.

The taxi drivers name is Luca and is a bit of a character, if you know what I mean.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

New Zealanders are not bored or boring

For the second time in less than a month I found myself seething at the helm of a misguided conversation. The first slight on my dignitas was at a dock BBQ. We had an interesting group of people peppered with a few nationalities.

An Israeli Engineer raised my ire by making the blanket statement. "I have not been to New Zealand but I have heard that everyone is boring."

Naturally I spun about in my deck chair teeth gnashing. Wave after wave of barbed rhetoric left my lips. How dare someone call New Zealanders boring? After I had reached a pause to ready some more choice contempt the Engineer made a slight back pedal.

"Oh I meant bored"

"I have had friends visit and they said everyone was so nice it was as if they are bored and not much happens there"

I seethed, face contorted and eyes blazing. Drastic remedial action was taken and I retired to my boat to let my blood simmer. Israel has enough international incidents on its plate with out me verbally assaulting a national.

Fast forward to Monday night. I was having dinner with our new engineer a Romanian. He is nice enough but lacks the decorum to hold a conversation of any interest. Luckily the dinner was fabulous eating until.

"Not many people in New Zealand is there? Is that why you all travel so much? Must be boring"

Luckily I had had the Israeli incident recently. I was prepared. I filed the conversation so I could write this entry. I do have a few theories on why this boring/bored myth is perpetuated.

New Zealand is a big secret. If everybody knew about our flying cars, money trees and unspoilt beaches it would be just like every other tourist destination with flying cars and money trees.

People are ignorant.

New Zealanders are constantly bored by second class conversations with engineers and fall asleep.

When we are really angry we appear bored.

When we are really excited we appear bored.

When I left on this adventure I was hoping to learn from the rest of the world. It now appears I will have to start teaching as I travel.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

An Excellent Weekend

Please be warned. This entry will be bereft of brevities.

The warning signs were there early last week. My mind had entered a mild form of delirium. I was quite excited at the thought of spending the weekend with my Wife.

On Monday and Tuesday I exploded three bicycle tyre inner tubes in the fruitless pursuit of maintaining our cycle fleet. Needless to say we have three very clean bicycles. Only one is functioning. But they look very effective.

On Tuesday I also had the clumbisidity to spill rust remover on our teak deck. This left a series of largely conspicuous drip marks. I have cleaned them in vain and am yet to remove them effectively.

On Thursday I discovered a large hole in one of our cushions. Though I am probably not to blame I discovered it and like Christopher Columbus I shall suffer for it.

On Friday I felt deliciously light headed. So much so that I was babbling to imaginary friends and blabbering to real ones.

On Friday evening I sat in the train station grinning gleefully at the beach vendors, sun burned tourists and stray rubbish. My Wife would be with me soon......I am quite fond of my Wife. She is a perfect foil to my eccentricities and if anyone should be bequeathing me with advice it should be her. I was quite happy to see her off the train and into my arms.

After finding a suitable Hotel we visited one of Viareggio's many cocktail bars and drank good cocktails listening to incredibly bad live music. It was more akin to dead music. It would have woken up the dead and nearly killed the living.

We then went to the Library restaurant and dined on lobster. How decadent it is to dine on lobster supping on wine you can not pronounce outside a library? Convenient evidence you can buy culture.

We then swaggered haphazardly throughout the town. I swaggered with the knowing air of someone who knows Viareggio a little more than than my Wife. We did ride our bicycles to my local pub at one point. There was a reason for this but it escaped us when we arrived.

Saturday was a day of reflection. My reflection was particularly scary on Saturday morning. I am blaming it on the stupid amount of coffee we drank the night before. It had nothing to do with the cocktails. We did purchase two new laptops and my Wife had a massage.

Sunday was spent aboard my work place. We drank gin and juice in the sun, pretended we were guests and generally worked as hard as one does on a Sunday. No hip hop was listened too sadly. I was not feeling enough Puff.

Monday was a day of action. I hired a vehicle and we set off to to visit Lucca and Florence. This was a bit ambitious in retrospect but we will cover that off later. Lucca is a well preserved Roman town with a beautiful wall. When I settle down I will choose a place with a moat or decent wall.

We were in Lucca for 2 hours. We consumed a meal of some significance beside this interesting free standing sculpture.

Sadly with time encroaching we began our flight to Florence. We knocked off Angkor Watt in a couple of days, we could do Florence in two hours!

The machinations of a city under a constant tourist siege got the better of us. Early into our sightseeing it was decided that we should abandon all hope of seeing anything and go shopping. The shopping was good. I do enjoy lounging on an antique couch amongst a hippopotamus and chandelier whilst my Wife tries on clothes.

I was dismayed to see mannequins proudly wearing winter clothes.

I don't think they are very happy winter is on its way either.

The drive home to Viareggio was not without adventure. Our car decided it would like to squeeze in Rome. Rome was not seen in a day.

We had a good dinner in Viareggio. I now have a fresh objective.

"Stop fluffing about and write your book"

Not my words. But they might make it into the foreword.