Monday, 28 March 2011

The Saint Barths Bucket, growing old and how to murder an iPhone in spectacular fashion

For the last week I have been taking in the night draped vistas of Saint Barths reveling in the abundant moonlight and red cyclops glare from the multitude of Sailboats. Sailboats have a red light at the top of the mast when they are at anchor. When there are a lot of them they sway in unison almost hypnotically........... zzzz

Ooops where was I? ah yes the regatta, being the first regatta that I have attended I was quite interested to see what was going on. Given that I was awake throughout the night I did not get to see much racing other than tenders going to and from bars and boats. We stood out like a sore thumb being one of the few and very noticeable motor yachts. Quite why our boss likes to come here year after year is a bit of a mystery other than the social aspects. Maybe he enjoys knowing he has a jacuzzi and three jet skis on board. Most sail boats struggle to have running water(sorry James).

After the coffee incident I fell into a comfortable routine and after about three nights I was quite convinced I could do this for months, years even. After day five my body started to exhibit strange behavior. Upon rising for my 13 hour shift at nine pm I felt positively creaky. 5 strong espresso were required to elicit any kind of conversation from me. I also noticed my legs did not feel wholly my own. Being scientific I decided to use a pedometer for an evening. I charted 13,000 steps on an average night. This is over four floors and at times carrying large bulky items. This is considerable amount of effort at an odd time of the night when ones body should be asleep. It didn't feel this bad last year. But I am 34 now, maybe age is more than a number.

Part of our duties included taking the bosses son into town with his two friends so they could court the favour of young ladies(pull). Now you would think having a large multi million dollar yacht, servants and oodles of money would be quite enough to attract attention. It appears not. The problem with attending a prestigious regatta is that everyone has a large multi million dollar yacht, servants and oodles of money.

I enacted revenge upon our chef for the decaf coffee. He likes to go for a swim each morning. He also likes to throw egg shells and limes at us when we are off the boat. Inspired by the cricket world cup I looked in galley and found a cricket ball sized onion. Then, using a stair well for a run up I threw the onion approximately 30 meters across a 1-2 foot swell and hit our chef in the head. It was incredible and I do not think I could replicate it if I tried.

The next night I did something very regrettable, stupid and not at all cool. New Zealand was playing South Africa at cricket in the world cup. If there is one thing Yachting teaches you, it is that South African yachties are a plague and must be vanquished at all costs. If any opportunity arises when you can beat them then take it . Anyway I was sneaking looks at the commentary on on my iPhone. New Zealand were out for a modest score and there were yaapies crowing the world over. I kept the faith, checking at regular intervals . It was on the swim platform that the catastrophe occurred. I waas casually throwing cushions into our tender and the very last one got caught by a gust, missed the tender and promptly started sinking. Scrambling over the tender I removed my radio and dived in heroically to save the cushion. I must have been quite a sight. My head had broken the surface when I realised my iPhone had come for a swim as well.

It looks like people water damage phones all of the time. Various pages exist on stories of how water damaged phones have been bought back to life. Boats are full of wonderful items for resussiatating water damaged equipment. My method has used denatured alcohol to remove excess water and an exhaust fan from the engine room to dry it. I then had to swallow some pride and ask the chef for some rice with which to leave my phone in for a couple of days. I will let you know how this goes. The upshot to all of this was that New Zealand had a marvelous victory that I was able to dreamily savour as I watched cricinfo from my bed. Sacrificing my phone at such a critical time during the match was surely a noble and just cause.

There are many morals in this story. Take one which best suits your day.

If you don't see sunlight for 7 days you will start making rash costly decisions
If you throw onions be prepared to swallow one
Don't go for a swim with your phone unless there is a big game riding on it

I'm on day watch now. Can you tell? Life is better. We are heading back across the Atlantic in a couple of weeks. Probably to sunny England. Fancy that.


Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Night watch annoyance number 1

So I am on night watch for the first week of a two week charter. This time I am prepared. I have enough supplements to keep an elephant in tip top order. I have enough protein and legumes to get across the Atlantic and back. I have sleeping aids, fresh music and am in superb physical condition. Basically I am sorted. Bring it.

The first night goes a bit wonky. What is going on? At the end if my shift I start to discuss a theory of mine that time travels faster when it is warmer in the crew mess. I very stupidly assign the theory of relativity to Isaac Newton. My brain is suffering. Why?

I find out that our chef, bless him has substituted all of our instant coffee for decaf. The timing of this could not be worse. I rage, storm to bed cursing decaf coffee and it's inventor. Not in Einstein's league that fellow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Paradise Lost?

Amidst all of the cataclysmic turmoil taking place upon the worlds stage a small slice of paradise was found upon Saint Martin for Anna and I. We got an apartment. After a long and arduous courting stage with the French side of Saint Martin we were reminded once again that the French jigsaw is not one that we fit into. I have new grey hairs which are sprouting from the middle of my scalp.

Our new abode is modest, nestled in the gated and big dogged communities that Americans so love. The last tenant was here for six years so most things have been thought of. Walking to work takes about 15 minutes and things have been very peachy. Things have been so peachy, that on Sunday I was crowing very loudly to the immediate area much like a rooster would. The people upstairs thought I must have been watching a football game. Of course I was.... We don't have a TV.

The only problem?? Well it seems like we are going back to Europe very soon. I guess we all knew this was coming but it seems to have come about very quickly. If things go to plan we will be back in Barcelona in a month or so, hooray! My love affair with Spain can continue. El Fuerte will be on the same continent again. Uncle Phil will be freezing somewhere north of me. Order will be restored.

Still, I can't help feeling the essence of the Caribbean is still waiting to be distilled. Much like the scent of a rum cocktail the joy has been fleeting and at times dangerous. Maybe that is the essence. 

Monday, 14 March 2011

Deckhand: Subtitles included

For the past nine months I have been busy working on a side project. Many moons ago, when my hair was long and the nights were longer my friends and I delved into the netherworld of DJ'ing, party promoting, music production and the then very fruitless search for groupies. This was trailblazing stuff back in 1998, Vinyl was still king and we were using a lot of computers, midi keyboards, Fostex audio gear and fluorescent paint. Ultimately as someone who aspired to DJ the digital dream was still a ways off.

Six years later I dipped my toes and fingers again. Native Instruments had released Traktor, but you still needed two sound cards. Without a good controller system it was also still unwieldy. In 2010 I began to see rumblings that digital DJ'ing had matured. I would investigate things again.

My thought process was simple. I would invest in something easy to use, portable and cheap. I would try it out for a few months and if I was hooked I would get something more substantial. Practicing aboard boats is not without its challenges. During the med season I would take over the crew mess and plug into the boat sound system. During the Swedish Surfing Safari I played outside a tent dangerously close to the camp ground road. I dragged my mixer to the UK, it battled the English summer, sunbathed in Ibiza, danced across Spain, frolicked in France, indulged in Italy and then we got our current jobs.

Practicing aboard our new boat is nigh on impossible. Mixing sessions are often clandestine in nature. The engine room is good if the port generator is running. It has sound baffling, we have three generators in total. The laundry is good if it is the weekend. Hotel rooms are great but there is always that nagging feeling that we will have to leave soon. Late last week we moved into an Apartment and I was very glad.

It is worth mentioning at this point that Santa bought me a fucking incredible mixer for christmas. It is quite simply awesome and I am to this date using 2% of its capability. It is also worth mentioning that the fairy god mother presented me with a Mac book Pro for my birthday. I am blessed.

A good friend and one of the cooler chaps I have worked with in Yachting asked for a mix last year. So for the past 4 months I have been battling with fluctuating power, generator noise, interruptions, limited time and the most annoying problem. Putting together a good mix to a good standard is very challenging, time consuming and at times infuriating. Making things all the more consternating is I have a very fussy ear for mixes having listened to thousands of hours of them washing boats in the last two years.

Digressing slightly I have a bloody awesome DJ name Deckhand. Think about that for a few seconds. I can feel the admiration.

Anyway late last night, after another middling to my ears mix I had a revelation. With all of the energy I have been putting into recording a listenable mix I have forgotten these simple facts.

  • If I was going to be a DJ I probably would have been one already.
  • I am probably the worst self critic I could ever be.
  • DJ'ing is really hard.
  • Every hour I spend mixing could be an hour towards that elusive book which is probably more attainable than a perfect mix.
  • The mistakes that I can hear during this mix are like handwriting, they brand the mix as my own. No one else could make the same mistakes that I have.
  • I called the rise of Cowboy Trance the last time I was in New Zealand, there is Cowboy Trance inside
  • If someone gets really offended by this mix well I can write it off as ground breaking cyber terrorism.
  • Four months later is long enough to obsess about an offhand question. 
Finally I think I have something that selected people can listen too. It is what I would play to you if you were in the engine room, drinking bootleg rum and breathing questionably hot and contaminated air. If you want a copy drop me an email and I will send you a link. Matt do not ask me for a mix ever again! Well not this year at least.