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.


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
The adjustable spanner

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...........


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 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.


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.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

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.