Converging Paths

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A few years before the US blundered in uninvited into South East Asia,  harsh lessons had already been learned by the ‘US military advisors’ when the fighting between the Vietnamese and the French finally ended and they left France’s former colony of Vietnam forever, giving the US and her allies the excuse they needed to take on the role of crusaders for democracy, to stem the spread of communism throughout South East Asia.

Despite all, there was one lesson that the ‘brass’ seemed totally incapable of comprehending; the toughest enemy is the one defending his own home.

Now the western nations allied to the US in the Pacific were back once more not only fighting the VC and regulars of the North Vietnamese Army, but also the jungle, trench foot, diarrhoea, leeches, homemade booby traps and the strength sapping humidity.

Any reconnoitre patrol the VC encountered contained two primary targets; the officer in charge and the radio operator and his equipment. Killing the officer would not stop the patrol. But kill both and the patrol was rendered impotent…

~~~

The sun was shining and yet we were all soaked to the skin thanks to the constant drip, drip, drip from the jungle canopy above us. In other words situation normal given the country’s geographical location in South East Asia. The time was the late nineteen sixties; the location was a few clicks north of Saigon.

On our last patrol up country seven days earlier, we had lost our latest officer in a surprise ambush. It was his own damned silly fault. The young fool was fresh out of West Point, gung-ho and bristling with attitude, not prepared to listen to far more experienced men like our sergeant, and therefore a liability not only to himself but to the rest of us.

Anyone with a modicum of common sense, or in our case, six months on the ground, soon realized that the non commissioned officer in charge always knows the lay of the land far better than most. Plus he is fully conversant with the way ‘Charlie’ fights, as well as how to keep his men relatively safe while getting the job done, unlike the damned greenhorn 90 day wonders sent out as replacements on an almost weekly basis.

Despite having had this simple fact drummed into the stupid jerk’s brain by his instructors back in West Point who told him and his class mates to always take their NCO’s advice in the field, he refused. Consequently he died on his first operational day.

For the purposes of this tale, I have changed the names of those involved out of my deep respect for all concerned.

~~~

Gomez was on point, he preferred it that way. Like all of us Miller was once again exhibiting the thousand yard stare. He was understandably on edge with just seven days of his second tour to go before he rotated back stateside. Greaser shifted his light machine gun from his shoulder to across his chest. Our new ‘LT’, the latest FNG to join the patrol, followed nervously behind him. God he looked like a baby compared to the rest of us! None of us wanted to get to know him. What was the point? If he survived his first patrol, all well and good. If not…

The truth was that apart from the sergeant, we were all around the same age as our new LT. Apart from everything else like all war zones this place aged you prematurely. In all cases your thankful to make it back to base after each patrol.

Sarge followed the LT with me close behind weighed down with the extra belts for Greaser’s  30 cal, plus my combat shotgun and its extra ammo in twin bandoliers across my chest. My own reason for being there was my Prick 25, or to give it its official name – the AN/PRC25 backpack field radio and battery.

For a few short months, while the US military could guarantee to send out new junior officers, it was not easy to find radio operators. So the armed forces of the US’ allies were trawled for replacements. I was fine with normal radio communication, but hopeless when it came to reading incoming Morse code. Which is why I was volunteered. At the time I was a well-built Australasian eighteen year old fervent anti-communist. That was six months ago in another time and place. Now I was muscle, mixed with a little body fat, sinew and bone held together by skin, and fighting fit.

Joe Johnson alias ‘Mutt’ was following behind me watching our six. Our hackles were rising, something was not right. With the exception of our new LT we all sensed it. Ever since we entered the jungle after being dropped off by the Huey, the insects had stopped singing and the birds had ceased their chirping.

Gomez froze. We all automatically dived to either side of the trail and crouched, safety catches off, ready for what his eagle eyes had spotted. Sarge went forward as Gomez indicated the problem ahead, something that wasn’t here before – converging paths. The original path we were sent to patrol yet again, now merged with another consisting of recently trodden undergrowth. A decision had to be made on the spot. Clearly the new path was made by Charlie. Or worse, perhaps the NVA, even though there was no unequivocal intel to indicate their presence this far South, only unsubstantiated rumours.

Where did it go and for what purpose? Unlike his predecessors our new LT, used his common sense and asked the sergeant for his advice, in the process earning himself brownie points with all of us. And so we began probing the new path. We followed it for about two hours before the Sarge held up a clenched fist, the universal signal to stop.

We all took the opportunity to drink and eat something from our K rations while Sarge and Gomez went forward to check out the lay of the land. Within twenty minutes we were once more on the move. We all stepped carefully around what Gomez and Sarge had marked out as potential traps.

Unfortunately for me, I trod on one they had both missed –  a waist deep hole full of punji sticks. To say the pain was indescribable before I passed out would be an understatement despite the morphine Mutt had pumped into both of my legs.

My right leg was opened up from knee to groin by one stick, while a second had gone through the same leg behind my kneecap, with a third firmly lodged in my rectum. As for my left leg it was sitting beside my at a forty-five degree upward angle, meaning my left hip had been dislocated. While the woven mat of vegetation and sticks covering the pit had not given way from anyone else standing on it, because I was carrying the combined weight of man, radio, its battery, plus extra 30 cal ammunition was all that it needed.

The next thing I remember was waking up in hospital. Once any and all infection had been cleared up and I was fit to be moved, I was invalided back home.

To this day fifty years later, every time I climb out of bed in the morning and put on my jeans, or take a shower, those damned ugly scars are a constant reminder of the few months I spent there, along with my permanent limp…

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Stuff is just stuff…

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Bearing in mind that since the late nineteen-fifties I’ve moved from the Northern to the Southern Hemispheres and back four times so far, I’ve learnt how not to become attached to stuff. Especially the kind you can always replace at your new destination.

~~~

Unlike myself, most people aspire to owning their own homes raising a family and acquiring life’s bric-a-brac along the way. Look in most garages, garden sheds and in the loft and you will be confronted with a pyromaniacs dream. Unwanted sofas, that sneaked photo of prim and proper aunt Maud when she wasn’t looking, showing her Edwardian style knickers tucked into the back of her cotton summer dress at the beach, failed do-it-yourself projects, dust laden cobwebs, wasp or hornet nests, pieces of string and dozens of labelled boxes, all sharing the same space as wiring, exposed here or there thanks to mice gnawing on the insulation, plumbing, rusty broken gardening tools, broken bicycles that needed to be fixed or thrown away twenty years ago, and that absolutely indispensable pile of spares from your first motorcar before you were married, long since disposed of at the scrap yard. We all do it, we’re loath to give or throw away anything either for its sentimental value, or simply because it may be needed again in the future.

Yeh right, pull the other one. It’s got bells on it!

When you move house – many do so at least eight times in their lifetime, instead of being merciless by throwing the stored lifetimes detritus into a skip or getting rid of it at a junk shop or car boot sale, we take it with us to our next abode. Why hang on to the stuff? I’ll tell you why, because of familiarity and fond memories! Childhood memories of happier days, family holidays, ideas that were brilliant at the time, embarrassing gifts given by friends and family for birthdays and Christmas, and impulse buying, all contribute to the obligatory pile of junk that doubles the weight of your home on the fragile surface of our planet.

Each time you move you tell yourself that you’re going to have a good clearout and what happens, you end up having heated arguments over what can be classed as junk and what can’t. In the end to preserve your marriage and your sanity, the whole shooting match winds up in the moving truck stacked around your precious items, on its way to its new home.

Why put yourself through all that agony? What possible good can come from shifting rubbish and a potential fire hazard from one house to another?

Go on, be brave. Pick up that pair of brightly coloured, lovingly hand knitted bed socks of differing sizes from grandma, and throw them away! There that didn’t hurt too much did it? I’m watching you, don’t you dare try and retrieve them out of the garbage bag, put them back at once!

Of course if you really want to stand out from the crowd you can always do what I’ve always done and leave half of what you own behind each time you move on, but then again I’m much braver than you are. When I move, I don’t move to another part of the county or country, I move to another country entirely!

Now I wonder where I put my nineteen-seventies voice activated tape recorder; I saw it five years ago. Ah there it is, in that box marked ‘might come in handy someday’…

😉

The post that started me blogging back in the day

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Have We Had Help?

 You have to begin to wonder just how much fact there is among the vast amount of disinformation, fantasy, and accounts of sightings of alien life forms in this day and age. Thanks to the paranoia mainly created by the hidden agendas of various governmental groups in countries like the United States, Great Britain, France, and Germany, as well as the former ‘Iron Curtain’ countries, it becomes increasingly more difficult to sift out the truth.

Have you ever stopped to think how quickly we have advanced since the turn of the twentieth century? It wasn’t all that long ago, we were reliant on the horse and cart, candles, and sailing ships; the list is endless. Since the end of the Second World War, we have experienced a technological leap beyond the normal rate of progress for mankind.

Over the past 25,000 years, man has slowly but surely advanced towards a state of civilisation and self-worth in keeping with man’s ability to learn by trial and error, enabling us to find out what works best in any given situation. And yet since the late nineteen forties, we have advanced beyond belief in all areas of technology. We now have the ability to leave this beautiful planet of ours, to extend our natural lifespan via various means, and to create weapons of mass destruction. Are you willing to accept this accelerated advancement without questioning just how it is we have achieved so much?

The most implausible explanation can be made plausible if it is uttered from the mouth of someone in authority. I simply do not, and will not, believe that we have made such rapid advances on our own. For this to happen, someone must have given us a hand in all this, but at what price for mankind. Since nineteen forty-seven, people around the world have reported various phenomena, alien to our way of life. The various branches of the news media have tended to trivialise most of the reports by categorising them as ‘flying saucers’ or ‘little green men’ ably encouraged by governmental agencies who frankly scare the hell out of me! While a lot of phenomena witnessed by people from all walks of life, all racial groups, all political persuasions, and all religious beliefs, can be satisfactorily explained away, there are a growing number that cannot!

As we move away from beginning of the new millennium, just how many of the prophecies in books like the ‘Old Testament’ for example are going to be fulfilled. While it must be remembered that the people who originally wrote the basic text of religious books like the Old Testament were by today’s standards considered primitive, and had a far less sophisticated use of words, they never the less give us a rudimentary history of their times. If they are to be believed, then they/we have never been alone, they were helped by people not from this planet. Are we now experiencing the same kind of assistance, are we being advanced? If so to what end and why?

Throughout the history of mankind, we have had our failures and successes. We have learned, and at times unlearned, as in the so-called ‘Dark Ages’ which were anything but dark. We have seemingly done this on our own, at our own pace. But now we seem to be aboard a runaway train, from which we cannot get off. Why are we experiencing such rapid advancement in technology, medicine, and at what cost?

Why is it that mankind seemingly advanced from Neanderthal to Cro-Magnon in a relatively short space of time? To transform from an almost apelike creature to a life form, which could pass you in the street without drawing attention, seems remarkable to say the least! And yet it happened. Why, if the historians are correct, were there relatively advanced groups of humans in control in days gone by, like the ancient Egyptians who bear no physical or racial resemblance to the people they ruled over? Where did they spring from? Where do they fit in? Why do ancient peoples like the Maya speak of pale blond gods who set the pattern for their lives for centuries before the first white men arrived on the South American continent?

Why does a man miraculously arrive on the scene in ancient Judea via ‘virgin birth’, perform miracles, change man’s way of thinking, get crucified, get buried then completely disappear? Why does that same man according to legend then appear a few months later in northern Japan and supposedly live to a ripe old age in anonymity?

If we are being helped once more by non-humans, then it is incumbent on the governments of the more powerful nations to come clean. If however, as many believe, we are paying a price in human lives for technological advances beyond our present capabilities to fully appreciate, let alone invent for ourselves, then the price is far too high! Whether you believe, as I do, that we are not the only sentient form of life in the universe or not, the fact is that some outside influence is at work, and has been for the better part of sixty years or more! We are kidding ourselves if we believe otherwise.

If, as a growing number of people believe, and I number myself in this group, we are being ‘helped’, what are the government agencies afraid of? Why don’t they admit to non-terrestrial beings living and working alongside us? If they have a hidden agenda for mankind as some sort of subservient species designed to be a slave group, or worse, as a food source, then we must be told the truth! If there is nothing to hide, then where’s the harm in admitting the existence of the various groups of non-terrestrials? If they are benevolent or not then please say so and don’t keep us in the dark anymore!

Being kept in the dark is far worse than knowing the truth. At least if we know the truth then we can prepare ourselves one way or another for what is to come. By not telling the people of this beautiful planet what is going on, the governmental agencies are preparing the way for mass hysteria if the non-terrestrials are going to do anything harmful. After all, we receive warnings for things like volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, and tidal waves that enable us to take steps to protect ourselves.

If, however the non-terrestrials are so advanced that there is nothing we can do to protect ourselves against whatever they may have in store for us then we must be told now!

On the other hand if there are no non-terrestrials, as the governmental agencies would have us believe, and the secrecy surrounding the brilliant leap in technology in the last sixty odd years is solely down to mankind, I say show us incontrovertible proof! Throw open the doors of places like ‘Area 51” to groups of responsible human beings from various nations around the world who can once and for all put an end to all the speculation and rumour surrounding such places. If it’s good enough to send teams of people to inspect various situations around the world like Iraq’s so-called armament factories, or the former Yugoslavian countries various hell-holes, then its good enough for agencies like the United Nations to send similar groups to places like ‘Area 51’, and the so-called underground bases like ‘Dulce’. We’re not asking the various military groups to publicly expose their military hardware. All we want to know is whether or not it’s all our own work!

If it’s not then why not say so! Bring the non-terrestrials out in the open for the entire world to see. Let them address the world via the UN; let them tell us their intentions towards mankind once and for all! If it’s their intention to somehow or other assimilate us then we have the right to know! If however they are here merely to help us advance from a warlike race to a peaceful one, then let them say so!

By neither confirming or denying what is going on, the governmental agencies are reinforcing the commonly held belief by people not only in the US, but around the world, that they have a hidden agenda regarding aliens. Are we approaching Armageddon as prophesied in the Old Testament, or are we experiencing an unprecedented time of accelerated technological advancement?

The questions raised in this article can only be answered if we all demand to know the truth once and for all. The time has come when we can no longer remain complacent! Whether you believe in the existence of alien life forms or not, there is enough happening around the world as we enter the  new millennium, for even the most sceptical among us to begin to wonder what is really going on.

 

Want to take part in an experiment?

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My passion has always been the written word, ever since I read my first book out loud to my parents as a four year old.

Thanks to the kindness and generosity of some good friends back in New Zealand in 2003, I had a roof over my head for a short while. In that time, I wrote a couple of science fiction novels – Turning Point and Onet’s Tale, plus a mixed bag of short stories.

The reason why we become Indie writers is because nobody in the establishment publishing world wants to know novelists other than their own, unless you find a small press editor to take you on as was the case for me in 2010. Even though I thought I’d cracked it, we soon parted ways. Being dictated to by a total twat was not why I signed a contract with him. So it was back to square one.

I once sent away a short story to an Irish internet science fiction/fantasy/horror magazine. After a while you get used to the bog standard message I received back from them saying ‘sorry it doesn’t fit in with our publishing list’.

Unless you’re someone famous, you don’t stand a chance in hell of being published, bearing in mind that most of the books purportedly written by the rich and famous are actually ‘ghost written’ for them.

My first attempt at getting into print happened a few years ago, when I had an article published in a New Zealand outdoor magazine for the princely sum of NZ$60.00 – divide by three if you live here in the UK to see that it was no big deal financially! But at least it was a start…

Why should we be prevented from wanting to follow our dream, does anyone know? Where do I and thousands like me go from here, now that we can no longer rely on our books selling in their thousands the way they did a mere two years ago?

Talking to my good friend and fellow Indie Derek Haines yesterday, we both agree that the reason all Indie book sales through Amazon started to slow two months ago, and have now ceased altogether is because another deal has been struck behind closed doors, this time between the Big Five publishing houses and Amazon to bury all Indie books, thereby removing the competition. And yet Amazon Marketing Services are still sending out emails to all Indies to participate in paid promotion. Why????

Prove us both wrong if you can!!!

To give you an example, according to Kindle Direct Publishing its been twenty-five days since anyone bought or read any of my books.

At least I’m still being read by a few loyal people thanks to this blog. The other good thing is that the number following my posts is building on a daily basis; not just here on my blog but also on Twitter, and to a lesser extent on Facebook. What does that tell you?

In the last two months the number of books written by Indies like myself has disappeared from the public’s view since Amazon ceased all free Indie promotion without telling us.

So how do we as writers get people to at least look at a book, even if they don’t want to read it?

If all five hundred and seventy-six of this blog’s followers collectively spend just five minutes checking out my books, using either of the links below, it might be enough to start Amazon’s algorithm sensing that people are actually interested in my books. It’s the kind of activity that always forces Amazon to take note…

Interested in taking part? If your answer is in the affirmative, click on the link(s) below. It’s no use just a dozen of you participating. It needs all of my blog followers to take part in this experiment. Remember, you must spend at least five minutes perusing my titles…

Click here for my books on Amazon.com

Click here for my books on Amazon.co.uk

😉

Profit or Quality?

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Silly me, what a stupid question! Of course it must be profit. No large corporation gives a toss about quality.

I’ve spoken of this in the past and been taken to task by certain individuals who I’d swear have shares in Sony, for spelling out the mistake of incorporating obsolescent technology with bad design in the end product, all for the sake of maximizing profit to the detriment of quality.

While they have spent a lot of time, energy and money to produce their latest gaming console, the PS4 still retains the same mechanical defects of their previous consoles and controllers in the form of a dust attracting disc drive and internal fan, and a controller with physically operated buttons and springs instead of a touchpad, and mechanical joy sticks. Which begs the question, why spend hundreds on a games console that you know will stop working.

Fact – from new, the internal disc drive will last a month at best before the dust attracted to it every time it spins up will stop it functioning, which means having to get inside the console (if you know how), just to clean it.

Fact – the Sony controller will give you 730 hours, or a month’s continuous use, before it also succumbs to one of several defects.

These are as follows:

1 – it will simply stop working.

2 – it will suddenly decide to turn itself off. I have two controllers with this defect.

3 – it will cause your game to begin to veer off to the left on your television screen. I have two with this defect.

4 – your controller will simply fail to respond to any and all of its buttons and joysticks. I have one with this defect.

Unless or until Sony decide to design and manufacture a quality product in the form of a game console that has no moving parts, specifically designed to download games from Playstation Network instead of relying on games discs manufactured out of cheap plastic which crack thanks to the internal heat build up of the current consoles, I will not be investing in another.

In the meantime at least I can still download games directly to my old PS3. But I still cannot find a controller no matter the manufacturer, that will last longer than a month’s continuous use.

The battery in the controller I bought recently from China lasts for two hours. Sony’s battery maintains its charge for at least two day’s continuous use.

With zero quality control by the games console manufacturers these days, the end user simply cannot win.

PS – The divisions within Sony could not be more different, I don’t have any problems whatsoever with my Sony Vaio laptop. So maybe the PC division should to take charge when it comes to designing and manufacturing games consoles? They at least produce a quality product…

😉

A cautionary tale

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The following is a true story from my younger days

~~~

After getting my car license aged twenty-two, I bought my first car – a secondhand bright red 1966 Morris Mini, 850cc. I already had my motorbike licence. But I needed a car for when the weather was inclement. Plus back then the parents of any potential girlfriend regarded any young bloke turning up on a motorbike to take their daughter out, as trouble. At about the same time I also sat for and got my firearms licence.

Before I move on, I should say that I had received excellent firearms training during my military service. But as you will see, despite that training, in this particular instance stupidity ruled.

My first recreational firearm in civilian life was a French Gevarm .22 calibre, semi-automatic rifle, perfect for shooting rabbits, hares, and especially possums.hqdefault Because of the silencer fitted to its relatively short barrel, you would be hard put to hear it from fifty feet away, especially in the thick undergrowth of the bush. The Gevarm is a gas recoil weapon with a fifteen shot magazine. Each time you pull the trigger, the gas generated by the explosive force of the round, automatically throws the firing piston back, compressing its internal spring, while expelling the spent shell casing and replacing it with a fresh round in the chamber. In other words, you only need to cock it once. After that all you need to do is keep on pulling the trigger each time. The only way to make it absolutely safe is to first remove the magazine and then pull back the cocking slide to empty the chamber.

At the time I was working as a surveyor’s chainman, employed by the Lands and Survey Department’s Hamilton office in New Zealand. One of my fellow chainmen – Barry, shared my youthful and impossibly idealistic vision of ridding the countryside of those pesky unwanted Aussie imports – the possums. New Zealand is overrun with them. At last count their numbers exceeded sixty-five million despite poisonous 1080 baits being laid by the farmers, Lands and Survey, Forestry, Department of Conservation, etc, etc. They were and probably still are slowly but surely destroying not only the young trees by chewing the new growth, but also the native bird population by eating their eggs.

Barry and I had decided on where we were going to do our bit to rid a tiny section of bush north of the west coast town of Kawhia, on the coast road to Raglan.

The mini ate up the miles with no difficulty; we were in high spirits as we drew ever closer to our destination. Eventually we turned off the main gravel road and halted about a half hour from the specific area we wanted, deep inside the coastal bush that still grew there. We knew we had to wait until dark before we began our hunt as the possum normally lies up during the hours of daylight, preferring to conduct its destructive rampage, especially regarding the nesting birds, at night when they are roosting. Armed with our rifles and a torch each, taped beneath the barrel, we began our ‘stalk’.

Barry and I between us put paid to more than twenty of the furry vermin before calling it a night, happy that it would be a while before more possums inhabited this precious piece of bush. Both of us were tired, but content as we headed back to the car for the journey home. Our lives were about to change as I unlocked the driver’s door.

Call it sheer stupidity – I did, and still do to this day. Without thinking I dropped the loaded rifle across the back seat of the Mini as I leaned over to open the passenger’s door for Barry. I heard him yelp in pain. The simple act of dropping it caused it to fire off a round that went straight through the side panel of the Mini and into Barry’s knee.

I got him into the passenger’s seat and wrapped a towel around his thigh to act as a tourniquet. The drive back home was a one-handed affair as I used my left hand to alternatively change gear and apply pressure to his knee. That little Mini positively flew as the miles between where the accident had happened and the A&E department of the Waikato Hospital slowly reduced.

When we finally arrived at the entrance to the A&E, the last thing I remember was seeing Barry being wheeled inside. The next thing I knew, I was being offered a hot sweet cup of tea by a pretty young nurse. I had collapsed in the car park, overcome by the whole ordeal. Because of my stupidity, my friend had been wounded.

A few days after the incident, I went round to Barry’s home to apologise to his parents for what had happened. That was by far the hardest thing I ever had to do; to publically admit my stupidity and to place myself in their hands. Barry’s father did something I was not expecting. He shook my hand and said that by coming round to their home and apologising and admitting my stupidity, both he and his wife would take it no further. Thank god the police never got to hear about it, thanks to Barry telling his parents his side of things. All parties realised it was tragic mistake on my part. Quite frankly I know I got off lightly. Despite the accident Barry and I remain friends.

Needless to say, within a few days I took the hacksaw to the Gevarm, chopping it up into tiny pieces, destroying it forever. Since that time I have owned many firearms – a Pedersoli replica Kentucky .45 calibre black powder long-rifle and a Ruger 30/30 Winchester action carbine to name but two.

Never again would I leave a weapon loaded, nor would I treat them as casually as I did that terrible day when my friend was shot in the knee.

Never leave a firearm loaded!

😦

In my opinion, the greatest ship and boat designer of them all was, and still is…

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Colin Archer (22 July 1832 – 8 February 1921). He was a Norwegian naval architect and shipbuilder from Larvik, Norway. His parents had immigrated from Scotland in 1825. He was known for building safe and durable ships including possibly the most famous of all the ships he ever built, the Fram, specifically designed to get the polar expeditions of Fridtjof Nansen, and later Roald Amundsen, safely through the treacherous ice fields surrounding both the Arctic and Antarctic. Because of her strengthened multi skinned rounded hull, and with no keel protruding, she was deliberately designed in that way so as not to be trapped whenever the ice threatened to crush her. Instead she would merely be pushed up out of harm’s way.

When I was a good deal younger while still serving in the merchant marine, at the end of one particularly long voyage I had the great good fortune to be paid off in Oslo, Norway’s capital. fram-dogs

Fram

While there I made a point of visiting the Fram Museum located on the Bygdøy peninsula and was able to get up close with the might Polar ship herself. On my eventual return to New Zealand, the first thing I did was to join a local group of like-minded individuals with salt in their veins, who love traditional boats and boatbuilding methods as much as I do. I bought an old carvel planked seventeen foot double ended wooden ship’s lifeboat, which I converted to sail in my spare time.

While I was in the process of looking for ideas when it came to her reconstruction, I came across a book containing all of Colin Archer’s designs. I fell in love with one in particular. Archer was commissioned to design a boat specifically as a rescue vessel for the coastal waters of Norway and beyond. What he came up with was the most beautiful double ended sail boat ever – the Redningskoytta (see below).

2b5744afcac2938dbe96e3b12ff7478dWhen I set eyes on her graceful lines I fell in love.c66fe2f1772e66dadd2732c3a672bf58

No sailing boat then or now has ever comes close to her in terms of perfection of design or build quality.

~~~

The only other ship designer and boat builder to even come close to Colin Archer’s genious was the American, Nathanael Herreschoff. The youngest of three brothers, he was born on March 18, 1848 in Bristol, Rhode Island. Like Archer, Herreschoff was a maritime designer and engineer. His company became known for designing pleasure boats for America’s wealthy elite such as Vigilant in 1893, pictured below, and my last sailboat 800px-jsjvigilant

in New Zealand – the Buzzard Bay 14. Unlike the version pictured below,

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with an open cockpit, mine had a cuddy cabin that covered three-quarters of the interior. She was all I could afford at the time. Despite her small size (14 foot waterline), she was a pleasure to sail. Being the smallest fully trailorable keeler, meant that I could tow her literally anywhere in New Zealand.

But she wasn’t the sailing boat of my dreams. I would still give – I was going to say, my eye teeth, but they fell out decades ago – to own one of Colin Archer’s legendary Redningskoytta, even now as I approach my sixty-ninth birthday. A boat like that is more than capable of sailing safely through the roughest waters known to man. But unfortunately, to buy one, let alone maintain one, was and still is well beyond me financially…

~~~

I once took an old friend of mine sailing off the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand in the Buzzard’s Bay. He had pleaded with me to take him. Normally I always sailed alone. But against my better judgment I agreed.

Seeing a giant of a man blubbering like a baby while curled up in a ball on the cockpit sole is not a pretty sight. We had barely cleared the entrance to Whitianga Harbour and turned north to head towards the northern tip of the Coromandel Peninsula and on towards the Hauraki Gulf, before we felt the Pacific swell slide beneath her on its way to the land. At that point he pleaded to go back to dry land. Not wishing to have my planned ten day return voyage end then and there, I put him ashore at the nearest beach from where I left him to walk back to Whitianga and hitch a lift back home. Not surprisingly from that day to this I’ve heard nothing from him. If I was to name him, anyone who knows him back in New Zealand would give him a hard time. But I’m not that cruel.

So now you’ve found out a bit more about me you lucky people. In this instance my passion for sailing and the sea.

😉