Thursday, March 22, 2007

Master and Commander

I've been a sailor for quite a few years now - but, recently, really a lapsed sailor, with only the occasional afternoon on a rented dinghy. Well, I've been shore-bound long enough - so, this latest equinox, I left the office to do a little bit of shopping. Just the one purchase: her length overall is 21ft 10 inches, she is beautifully curved; slim and low, with just 435 kgs of ballast in a bulb at the bottom of a knife-like fin keel, boats of her type have a reputation for being weatherly (and wet!). In six weeks or so, I'm hoping to float her down the river, get the rigging up, and sail her to her new home.

My 80s-vintage Pandora on the hard

Lots of work to do first, though. This little boat has always been a racer, but I have ambitions of spending the occasional weekend on the water (fantastic cruising grounds lie all around the cove she'll be moored in), so before the season starts, I intend converting her to a pocket cruiser. She'll need a head and a simple galley, navigation lights, and maybe an extra instrument or two (although I'll probably not go quite so far as the owner of her sister yacht, the Arabella).

Today, her sails are filling the boot of my car; they have a damp and salty smell that gives me intoxicating daydreams of the passages we'll make in her. Lots of work to do and money to spend, but I really can't wait. Adventure is definitely beckoning again.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Red Moon Rising

Yes, really. Astronomically inclined readers will probably have seen this for themselves - the first total lunar eclipse in several years (and the first I've watched for quite a bit longer than that).

When I saw my first eclipse, it was through a very crude telescope - a toy, really. This time, we were armed with C's digital SLR and a 550mm telephoto lense - much lower magnifying power than my old telescope, but a much sharper picture. Which we can share. Wonder what we'll be up to when the next one rolls around?