Sunday, 31 July 2011

Mr Awesome and Cryptic Omens

After a couple of years of not really being busy during the med summer I have finally ended up being quite busy. Quite busy for us is not actually stupidly busy but the ramifications are  felt keenly by my dragon self who has had a couple of quite relaxed med summers in the past.

We picked up our second charter of the season on Tuesday the 12th of July. The main group of guests were friends of our owner. Our owner is quite a big deal in Hollywood and it was with some surprise when I did some googling of our guest list. It turned out that the principal guest was quite a big deal as well.

Even better was discovering that the principal guest was devoutly Californian and a delight to have on board. Interesting character traits included.
Not having a dinner jacket to his name.
The only pair of footwear he bought was a pair of flip flops.
Punctuating everything with AWESOME.
Asking if he could help out when the weather turned or things looked difficult.
Running into movie stars and inviting them back on board.

When I last left you I had just seen El Fuerte. This was a good omen.
Today I had a very strange omen. I had a half a day off the boat in Antibes. I had a lovely morning with my wife and we sat on the beach for a bit and had a nice meal. We stopped in at the hop store on our way back and I had a cider for the road. I entered the toilet at approximately 2:45pm and was surprised to find when I tried to leave that I was locked in.

Naturally I banged about cursed that I was not wearing my leatherman and eventually some help was found. Help was four french staff who took apart the door and slipped a fleshy magazine under the door for my perusal. Eventually they busted the door down to let a doubly relieved kiwi outside.

The jury is deliberating over this omen. I shall let you know how it pans out.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Legend of El Fuerte Lives on

I have been meaning to write about El Fuerte’s incredible blog which he types with his killer feet. You can read it here.

The really great thing about it if you are a Cowboy Espanol speaker like myself is that it translates quite well with Google translate. It is humorous and informative.

Of course I will not take any credit for his blog but it is a nice coincidence he is writing one now.

Speaking of nice coincidences we left for Nice to day to start our season proper. We will pick up some guests tommorow and be flat tack until September. I was determined to have a good day so when my mind wanders to dark subjects I have been forcing myself to start thinking positive thoughts.

This has worked really well, so well that who should appear on the boat next door as we were leaving? El Fuerte. This made Anna and I really happy and it was great to see him for a few minutes.

See you again El Fuerte!


He really is a super hero.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Cowboy Italian

You should know by now that I am quite enamoured with Italy. I love the landscape, the people, the decay and the shiny things. I have lived here for months aboard boats so it always feels like a homecoming  when I return. It was especially vivid this time after spending months in the cultural wastelands of the Caribbean and England (hohoho). I am also embarrassed to admit I have no ability for conversational Italian. What I have mastered through listening, peering intelligently at Italian newspapers and labouring through Italian TV is Cowboy Italiano. 

With a vocabulary which grows by words every week, I can create real sentences which make little sense but convey important messages. Thinking about it this is very similar to Cowboy Swedish and Cowboy Espanol.

Let us learn some Cowboy Italiano!

First things first you are probably going to need another drink at some point. However, I don’t know how to say one more. What I do know is how to recharge phone credit so I would say.

‘scusa possible ricarica gin-tonica

which is

Excuse me is it possible to recharge my gin and tonic

Secondly, if  you are working on a yacht you are going to need to clean some stainless steel. I don’t know how to say clean but I do know something pretty close

Questo lavenderia inox?

which is

This  stainless laundry?

Dinning in at a restaurant and need a spoon? Again I don’t know what spoon is but I know something else.

’scusa Possible scopah mangaro

which translates to

Excuse me is it possible to get me an eating shovel?

Is your beef steak undercooked?

try saying

’scusa Possible mucho grand incindeo fumare steaka?

Excuse me is it possible to make grand fire smoke steak  ?

See how easy Cowboy Italian is!

I will learn Italian at some point I promise I will. The question is when and which poor language will suffer my Cowboy ways next.

Ciao Bitches

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Santa Margherita & Portofino

Two weekends past we ventured out into the heatwave that had descended upon the Mediterranean and caught a train eastwards to the seaside town of Santa Margherita.  If you hadn’t surmised from my patently painted clues we are now on the Italian Riviera and Santa Marghertita  is the closest train station to Portofino.

The weather was oppressively hot and it was with some miss placed luck that we ended up in the first class carriage.  To the best of my knowledge first class carriages in Italy are full of second class ticket owners. The second class carriages are full of people with no tickets. The highlight of the trip for me was a little old blind lady walking past swearing at ghosts or some other spirits and swinging her cane in an erratic fashion. Maybe she was a witch . There was a moment of mild panic as we lost sight of the coast but a lovely Italian chap was kind enough to let us know we should get off at the next stop.

Santa Margherita was a delightful spot and with our stomachs growling we stopped at the closest restaurant we could find which happened to be a beach resort. With my bright coloured clothing and poor Italian accent the waitress translated Bira Moretti into Becks. E’gads I thought, I looked or sounded German. 


Scurrying out of the restaurant we descended a flight of stairs and walked around the salt water pool to enquire about renting a couple of sun loungers for the afternoon. The pool attendant informed us that this would cost 5o euros.  50 Euros is a princely sum to sit upon a lounger that is not even on the beach.

The scorching sun rendered me incapacitated. Anna went swimming several times and  I spent four hours debating whether I could move to the pool and skilfully adjusted my sun visor. I did not reach the pool but I did reacquaint myself with the powerfully refreshing cocktail that is Italian Gin con Tonica.


With the Sun still beating down we said goodbye to our loungers and caroused the town looking  information on how to get to Portofino. Santa Margherita had many charming qualities.


Parklike surrounds to sit beside. 


Fountains and statues.

It also had a prosperous and lively amount of gelataria. I had a very interesting combination of Kit Kat, pistachio, straciatella and tira misu. Yum. 

After a very unsuccessful bartering session with a taxi driver (35 euros no thank you I could sit on a sun lounger for that) we chose the more financially and socially appealing bus. Being a gentleman and wanting to soak up the bus experience I stood with the other late on the bus people and was immediately transfixed with the oddest of sights. Two rather large Italian chaps with hair curlers upon overly clipped hair.  

The bus ride to Portofino was a winding one and there were plenty of opportunities to look at the sea when  we were waiting for cars to pass in the other direction. I found myself almost wanting to announce to the bus that I worked on one of those large shiny floating vessels. The words escaped me(more about my Italiano later)

After such an interesting bus ride it was quite nice to stroll down the hill into the once sleepy fishing port of Portofino.




We walked around the port and spied a perfectly placed castle looking out over the bay from an epic vantage point . With scant regard to logistics we started the long climb up to see what we could see. What we found was our lungs nearly exploded climbing the hill. There was also a wedding on which meant we could not actually take a close look at the castle.

We did take some photos on our way up and down.







Not a bad spot eh?


I quite like this photo which has me in the foreground. It really captures the spirit of carrying a man bag for thousands of kilometres through beautiful places. When I am buried I want to be wearing a manbag with my wallet, phone and a chupa chup for old times sake.

We had a nice dinner in Portofino. Pro travel tip. If the restaurant has reserved signs everywhere just turn up 2 hours before it gets busy and look awesome. They will find a spot for you.

After dinner we were going to catch a taxi back to Santa Margherita but the charge us 40 euros to return. Naturally we were only too happy to climb aboard the bus and revel in the sunburned and mildly soozled ambience on the way back.

That was it. Portofino and Santa Margherita in a day.

Tune in next time for the Cowboy Italian Special!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Deckhands Log #13 The art of being seen and unseen,advanced towel rolling and the Battler

Putting it out there mode. I expect this will be one of the last Deckhands log posts. The last couple of months have provided me with plenty of motivation to procure a more technical and safer existence. 

Being a Deckhand has allowed me to work with my hands and feet in ways I would have never thought possible. Mum; I can varnish wood now, not just my finger nails. Being somewhat knowledgeable about medicinal, nutritional and recreational chemicals I am dismayed at the amount of  toxic substances I am exposed to on a daily basis as a Deckhand. In two and a bit years my hands have aged faster than the rest of my body. In addition my body has suffered a never ending carousel of pain and scars. Worst of all my brain seems to have lurched into a state of torpor. You can see this in the dwindling creative output on this very blog.
Anyway I am still learning things and it is time to do some sharing. During the last charter I mastered the invisible Deckhand skill. Basically a pro deckhand finds things to do away from guests and then magically appears the moment they need assistance. This is particularly important when the boss’s girlfriend is swimming in her bikini. Do you know how hard it is to watch over someone's life with out watching them?

Towel rolling is another dark art which at first glance is easy but takes some skill. A folded towel must be transformed into a presentable roll with the yacht logo easy to read. If you have space rolling towels is moderately challenging. A master Deckhand can roll a towel standing up. I will be happy to demonstrate my artisan towel rolling skills the next time I spot you on a beach or in a resort. Thailand.
In the last month we have been blessed with addition of an Australian in the deck department. After a couple of years of working with all manner of Europeans it has been quite nice to have a true blue in my midst.

I heard the Battler (one of his nick names) before I met him. He joined the boat on a Sunday night and proceeded to get familiar with the crew wine first and crew second. The Battler has the square jaw of Mr Incredible, the flowing locks of Prince Charming and the keen girl spotting radar of a practiced Lothario.

The battler works hard, plays hard and has plenty of great stories which he likes to share during our scheduled work breaks. He also has the mouth of an Australian shearer. Not since the days of Uncle Phil have I heard such choice cuss words sprinkled effortlessly across my work day. Some of his words are too racy to share on this blog for fear of censorship. Apparently I egg him into saying swear words. This might be true. I think he is just being a whinging Foxtrot Charlie.

More writing on the way. I am reacquainting myself with Bira Moretti and it seems to be loosening my fingers and brain quite well.