Category: Photography

The mists of the mind

Those inner voices inside our heads!

The photograph below is the yacht that I lived on for 5 years, from 1987 though to 1992. My base was Larnaca Marina in the Greek ‘sector’ of the Island of Cyprus although I cruised over much of the Mediterranean during the warm summer months. (Long-term readers, you poor souls, will realise that this isn’t the first time I have spoken of sailing and Tradewinds…)

Songbird of Kent
Tradewind 33 – Songbird of Kent

As I explain over on my ‘author’s’ blog:

During this period Paul became much more aware of the importance of marketing strategy, becoming a Chartered Member of the British Institute of Marketing, and the raft of competencies that deliver entrepreneurial success. In 1986, Paul accepted an offer to sell the Dataview group of companies. (Regrettably, this period also saw the failure of Paul’s marriage to Britta and their subsequent divorce.)

Again, chance intervened in that an Autumn vacation in 1986 to Larnaca in Cyprus resulted in Paul meeting a couple who wanted to sell their yacht, a Tradewind 33, and return to England. Thus very early in 1987, Paul left Essex and became a full-time ‘yachtie’ living on that Tradewind Songbird of Kent in Larnaca marina. Paul was then exposed to the life of an ocean-going sailor returning to Plymouth, Devon via The Azores onboard Songbird of Kent in 1992.

I purchased this Tradewind 33, designed by Englishman John Rock by the way, because somewhere in my soul was a dream to do some solo ocean sailing. Probably inspired by reading too many books written by famous British solo yacht-persons. Such as Robin Knox-Johnston, Chay Blyth, Naomi James, Ellen MacArthur, Pete Goss and the king of them all: Sir Francis Chichester who was the first person ever to sail around the world single-handed.

But it remained a dream for almost all those 5 years. Reason? Because at the start of the summer cruising period each year I slipped out of Larnaca and sailed along the southern coast of Cyprus, up the Western coast and then the open sea crossing to a nearby Turkish harbour, such as Anamur or Alanya. At the end of the summer I would repeat the solo trip in reverse. But I still haven’t said what the core reason was for not being braver and planning a solo ocean voyage.

Because that sailing voyage twice a year, that took me about four days to accomplish, and was undertaken alone, really scared me. I mean scared with a capital ‘S’! For it was impossible to accomplish without many hours of solo sailing at night!

Fast forward a number of years and one day, when I was living on Songbird at Larnaca Marina into the vacant berth next to me came a new visitor to Cyprus. His name was Les Powells and he very quickly explained that he was on his way back to England on his third solo circumnavigation of the world!

imagesInevitably Les and I got chatting over a couple of beers during our evenings together and Les asked me about my sailing ambitions noting that I lived on a yacht that most people purchased for ocean sailing purposes.

I explained my miserable experiences each year going to and fro between Cyprus and Turkey.

Les heard me out and then threw his head back and roared with laughter.

“Paul, what you are experiencing is the adjustment from a land-based life, as in living here in Larnaca, to a water-based life.

I suffer just the same adjustment stress as you have detailed.”

My face conveyed both my amazement and my yearning to learn more.

“Yes, Paul, every time I go to sea solo the first three or four days are hell! I hate them! I only stick with it because there is always a point, (Les really emphasised the word always) usually under a glorious night sky, when I truly become attuned to the life of a solo yachtsman far out from the nearest land and wouldn’t swap it for anything”

“You have to trust this and set out on a solo voyage of more than, preferably much more than, four days sailing.”

Thus in time that’s what happened.

In the Autumn of 1972 I returned to Plymouth in England, via the Azores, sailing solo on Songbird of Kent. Indeed, I was going to republish an article about lighthouses in Oregon but I’m changing tack in mid-stream; so to speak!

I am going to close today’s post by republishing an experience of being alone on the Atlantic Ocean that first graced these blog pages in October 2015. Lighthouses will have to wait.

ooOOoo

There is a place in my mind to which I can so easily travel; a memory of a dark night out in the Atlantic. But first let me set the scene from almost fifty years ago.

The call of the open ocean

Those first few hours were utterly absorbing as I went through the whole business of clearing the yacht harbour at Gibraltar and heading out to the South-West hugging this unfamiliar coastline of Southern Spain. It was tempting to move out to deeper waters but the almost constant flow of large ships through the Straights of Gibraltar soon quashed that idea. Thankfully, the coastal winds were favourable for me and my single-masted sailing yacht.

After such a long time sailing in the relatively confined waters of the Mediterranean, it was difficult for me to imagine that in a few hours time the southern-most point of Spain would pass me by and the vastness of the Atlantic ocean would be my home for the next few weeks.

Soon the city of Tarifa was past my starboard beam and the Spanish coastline was rapidly disappearing away to the North-West. The horizon ahead of me was already approaching 180 degrees of raw, open ocean.  There was just a flicker of a thought that whispered across my mind: “Oh Paul, what have you gone and done” as slowly but persistently the coastlines of Spain to the North and of Africa to the South became more and more distant and fuzzy.  It was at 15:30 that I made an entry in my yacht’s log: “No land in sight in any direction!

Now was the time to make sure that my bunk was made up, flashlights to hand, and my alarm clock ready and set. Alarm clock? Set to go off every twenty minutes during the night! For this was the only way to protect me and my yacht from being hit by one of those gigantic container ships that seemed to be everywhere. It took at least twenty minutes from the moment a ship’s steaming lights appeared above the horizon to crossing one’s path!

It was in the early hours of my first morning alone at sea, when once again the alarm clock had woken me and I was looking around an ocean without a single ship’s light to be seen that more of Les’ words came to me. I remembered asking Les: “What’s the ­appeal of sailing?” Les replied without a moment’s hesitation: “It’s the solitude. When you’re out at sea on your own, there’s no government or bankers to worry about. You’re not ­responsible to anyone but yourself.

Yes, I could sense the solitude that was all around me but it was an intellectual sense not an emotional one. That would come later. Inside, I was still afraid of what I had let myself in for.

Remarkably quickly however, the pattern of solo life aboard a thirty-three-foot yacht became my world. Frankly, it staggered me as to how busy were my days. Feeding myself, navigating, trying to forecast the winds, staying in touch with other yachties via the short-wave radio, keeping the boat tidy and a zillion other tasks meant the first few days and nights just slipped by.

But it was a sight on my fourth night at sea that created the memory that would turn out to remain with me for all my life. The memory that I can go to anytime in my mind.

That fourth night I was already well into the routine of waking to the alarm clock, clipping on my harness as I climbed up the three steps that took me from my cabin into the cockpit, scanning the horizon with my eyes, checking that the self-steering had the boat at the correct angle to the wind and then, if no ships’ lights had been seen, slipping back down into my bunk and sleeping for another twenty minutes. Remarkably, I was not suffering from any long-term tiredness during the day.

It was a little after 3am that fourth night when the alarm clock had me back up in the cockpit once again. Then it struck me.

Songbird was sailing beautifully. There was a steady wind of around ten knots from the south-east, almost a swell-free ocean, and everything set perfectly.  Not a sign of any ship in any direction.

Then I lifted my eyes upwards. There was not a cloud in the night sky, not a single wisp of mist to dim a single one of the million or more stars that were above my head. For on this dark, moonless night, so far removed from any shore-based light pollution, the vastness, yet closeness of the heavens above was simply breath-taking. I was transfixed. Utterly unable to make any rational sense of this night splendour that glittered in every direction in which I gazed. This dome that represented a vastness beyond any meaning other than a reminder of the magic of the universe.

This magic of the heavens above me that came down to touch the horizon in all directions. Such a rare sight to see the twinkling of stars almost touching the starkness of the ocean’s horizon at night. A total marriage of this one planet with the vastness of outer space.

I heard the alarm clock go off again and again next to my bunk down below. But I remained transfixed until there was a very soft lightening of the skyline to the east that announced that another dawn was on its way.

I would never again look up at the stars in a night sky without being transported back to that wonderful night and the memory of a lonely sea and sky.

ooOOoo

Dear, dear Les is still alive and still living on his yacht Solitaire in an English marina. A very close mutual friend, Bob Derham, arranges to visit Les on a very regular basis and take him out for shopping trips and a leisurely pub lunch.

Bob follows this blog and I hope will have the chance to read out today’s post to Les. For my closing sentence is directed to Les, and Les alone: “Dear Les, thank you from the bottom of my heart for the gift you gave me. For it is a rare night when here in rural Oregon when I go outside at the end of the evening and above my head is a clear, black night sky, full of stars, that I am not transported back to that night alone in the Atlantic ocean. I am still rendered speechless in awe of such night skies.”

The deep, dark, wonderful mists of the mind!

Picture Parade Two Hundred and Twenty-Nine

Yet more incredible photographs.

Will simply repeat what I wrote last Sunday:

But these are not from Tanja but from Graham; an online friend back in England. When I queried about republishing them here Graham simply said that they came to him when he was just “doing the rounds”.  So, hopefully, publishing them in this place is not trampling on the photographer’s copyrights. If this does represent a copyright infringement then the particular photograph will be removed immediately – just let me know!

oooo

oooo

oooo

oooo

oooo

oooo

oooo

You all have a very good week!

Once again, thank you Graham for sending these to me.

Picture Parade Two Hundred and Twenty-Eight

More incredible photographs.

But these are not from Tanja but from Graham; an online friend back in England. When I queried about republishing them here Graham simply said that they came to him when he was just “doing the rounds”.  So, hopefully, publishing them in this place is not trampling on the photographer’s copyrights. If this does represent a copyright infringement then the particular photograph will be removed immediately – just let me know!

oooo

oooo

oooo

oooo

oooo

oooo

oooo

Stunning! Hopefully more of these photographs in a week’s time. Thanks Graham!

Picture Parade Two Hundred and Twenty-Seven

Guess what!

More taken from here. Spoiling us all for today there are nine of Tanja’s incredible photographs!

oooo

oooo

oooo

oooo

oooo

oooo

oooo

oooo

You do realise good people that at some point I will come to the end of Tanja’s fabulous photographs! But worry about that when it happens!

Winter games

As seen through the eyes of an Australian shepherd dog.

Slowly perking up each day, so thought it would be good to share this short, delightful video with you all. As presented on the Mother Nature Network site.

ooOOoo

Australian shepherd loves to go sledding

NOEL KIRKPATRICK    January 3, 2018

When you think about dog sleds, you may think about a team of huskies pulling a sled across a snowy and icy landscape.

Perhaps you should change that image to an Australian shepherd confidently riding a sled down a hill.

Secret, a 3-year-old Aussie shepherd and the canine companion to 17-year-old human Mary, took advantage of there finally being enough snow to get some sledding in. And by “some” we mean around 50 shots down the hill, according to Mary’s Instagram caption. Secret drags her sled all the way to the top of the hill, hops on and gets her own snowy version of zoomies on as she slides down the hill. Once at the bottom, it’s right back up again, sled in mouth.

If only every day were a snow day for Secret.

ooOOoo

Well done, Secret. Gorgeous!

Surfacing to a new world!

Slowly returning to normal!

As many of you read, last Friday I was discharged from the PeaceHealth Sacred Medical Center in Eugene, Oregon and returned home around 4pm.

It was quite a week as these photos demonstrate. (The background to the event is here and here.)

How I looked still in ICU on Boxing Day. Photo taken by neighbour Dordie who came up with Jeannie to visit me!
General view of a very happy chap!
Photo taken on last Wednesday after I had been transferred to the Department of Neurology.

So!!

It is important that I take it very gently and that means, inevitably, that my blogging is going to be very ad-hoc. Possibly for a few weeks!

The next important step is returning to the hospital this coming Wednesday to have the staples removed and a further cognitive check.

But I shall be OK and thank you all for your interest and concern in my escapade!

All of the dogs, especially Brandy and Cleo, are watching over me! (Over and beyond being loved beyond measure by Jeannie!)

Brandy – as pure as it gets!
Cleo living, and sleeping, in the present moment.

A Very Happy New Year to you all!

Continuing those easiest breeds!

Part Two of those breeds!

ooOOoo

11. German shepherd

German shepherd | iStock.com/pyotr021

The German shepherd is another intelligent and active breed. Though German shepherds are large, the AKC reports they have a medium energy level. And the organization characterizes the German shepherd as “a loyal family pet and a good guard dog, the ideal choice for many families.” The AKC notes with a German shepherd (and other breeds), “Training is one of the most important responsibilities you have as a dog owner. Basic obedience training will make your dog a better companion and strengthen the bond between the two of you.”

Poorly trained German shepherds can develop behaviors, such as excessive barking, digging, and food stealing. But this dog breed responds well to training. According to the German Shepherd Dog Club of America, your German shepherd needs “you to be the leader of the pack, providing structure and guidance.” Another way to bond with your dog? Regular grooming. The German shepherd’s thick coat requires weekly grooming.

12. Italian greyhound

Italian greyhound | iStock.com/Rauluminate

Don’t be intimidated by the Italian greyhound’s speed or graceful looks. The AKC reports this breed is “generally easy to train and prefers to spend most of his time with his owner. They like attention and affection, and are a peaceful, gentle friend to adults and children.” If you have large dogs or active children, you’ll need to make sure your Italian greyhound doesn’t get injured by rough play. But for the most part, this dog breed will be happy to run and play — before curling up with you to be a couch potato.

Because of their small size, Italian greyhounds can live happily in an apartment just as well as in settings with more space. The breed generally stays quite healthy. And because these dogs have a short coat, they need only weekly grooming with a soft brush. In fact, the AKC characterizes them as one of the easiest dog breeds to groom. They love to cuddle and don’t want to be ignored. And in general, they’d prefer to chill in your lap or on your bed, rather than on the floor.

13. Labrador retriever

Labrador | iStock.com/manushot

America loves Labs. So it probably doesn’t surprise you to hear these adorable dogs are easy to own. Labs can learn just about anything that you throw at them. The AKC reports Labs are friendly and outgoing. They make great companions, show dogs, hunting dogs, guide dogs, and service dogs. Labs also make great family dogs because they get along easily with children and with other pets. Plus, they have a short coat that requires only occasional grooming.

So it’s no accident the Labrador retriever is the most popular dog in America. They live long and healthy lives. They have playful personalities, and they want to entertain and help you. Plus, they’re good companions for athletic people and can even train as canine athletes themselves.

However, Labrador retrievers qualify as what the AKC calls a “very active” dog breed. So don’t expect them to lounge on the couch all day. “Don’t confuse his laid-back personality for low energy,” the organization warns. “The Labrador retriever is extremely active — he’s never met a backyard he didn’t like.”

14. Maltese

Maltese | iStock.com/Laures

Another people-pleasing dog who will be easy to own and spend time with is the Maltese. According to the AKC, the Maltese is a “classic lapdog” who’s “somewhat active.” These dogs like brisk walks, playtime, and learning new tricks. However, the organization warns that Maltese are “highly intelligent and know very well how to use their charm to get their way. If given the chance, they become easily spoiled. This isn’t a problem for dog-savvy owners, but many pet owners will give in, often resulting in a pet with poor manners.”

Though they’re energetic and playful — which makes them great family dogs — many breeders don’t sell them to homes with young children. As a tiny puppy, a Maltese can be seriously injured if stepped on or dropped by a child. However, the Maltese is known as one of the few small dogs who aren’t susceptible to any major genetic ailments. So if it’s important to you that you choose a dog likely to stay in good health, the Maltese might be a good match for you.

15. Miniature schnauzer

Miniature schnauzer | iStock.com/Elen11

The miniature schnauzer is a fast learner. The AKC characterizes the breed as “friendly,” “obedient,” and “smart” — three characteristics that many pet owners want in a dog. Another desirable trait? According to the AKC, the miniature schnauzer is “highly adaptable.” He can “make himself at home anywhere as long as his people are close by.” This small dog breed has a moderate energy level. And because these dogs crave human companionship, they are “obedient to commands” and can be trained for all kinds of activities.

According to the AKC, this dog breed is “small enough to adapt to apartment life but tireless enough to patrol acres of farmland.” The breed is generally healthy and long-lived. They have outgoing personalities and will stay loyal to their family. Just keep in mind this terrier likes to bark. So proper training will play an essential part in helping him to curb that behavior.

16. Papillon

A young papillon | iStock.com/Bigandt_Photography

Unlike many other small dogs, the papillon has a big appetite for exercise and activity. The AKC reports this dog breed has a medium energy level and generally needs to stay “very active.” In fact, these dogs “love to play outdoors but they can be easily entertained and exercised indoors as well.” This dog breed is very intelligent, but the AKC promises these alert and friendly dogs are “easily trained.”

Plus, Animal Planet characterizes the papillon as “one of the most obedient and responsive of the toy breeds.” Though some can be timid, they are often friendly toward strangers and other animals. And the papillon also makes a good family dog because the breed likes children. They have a medium-length coat without an undercoat, though they still require regular brushing.

17. Poodle

Many people know the poodle is a highly intelligent dog breed. And even though intelligence doesn’t always ensure a dog responds well to training, the AKC promises that the poodle “excels in obedience training.” Although some poodles can be stubborn, proper training mitigates that trait.

The AKC notes, “There’s the old stereotype of poodles as a foofy velvet-pillow dogs looking down their long noses at us. Not true. Poodles are eager-to-please, highly trainable ‘real dogs.’ They like to work closely with their humans and can master all kinds of tricks and dog sports.”

Modern Dog Magazine reports of the standard, miniature, and toy poodle, “All poodles are lively, fun-loving, affectionate, and intelligent, and many owners say the breed has a sense of humor to rival Seinfeld’s.” The miniature poodle can be shy around strangers. But the standard is outgoing. They have a medium energy level and enjoy walking, running, and swimming. Just be aware this dog breed’s long coat, while somewhat hypoallergenic, does require regular professional grooming.

18. Pug

Like the bulldog, the pug has a grumpy face that might make you think he’s not so friendly. But don’t let looks deceive you. The AKC characterizes the pug as “even-tempered, charming, mischievous and loving.” These dogs aren’t natural athletes, but the AKC advises that “they do have strong legs and endless curiosity — exercise both.” These extroverted dogs love children and adults alike. And according to the AKC, “Pug people say their breed is the perfect house dog. Pugs are happy living in the city or country, with kids or grandparents, and as the family’s only pet or among other animals.”

This dog breed has no problem making friends with complete strangers. PetWave calls this dog breed a “shadow” because pugs “love to glue themselves to their owners’ sides and stay close to the action.”

And though some people think they’re more difficult to train than other dog breeds, that’s largely because they’re easily distracted. The pug sheds but needs minimal grooming. And you will need to monitor your dog’s diet to keep him healthy because, according to the AKC, “pugs live to eat.”

19. Rottweiler

Rottweiler puppy | iStock.com/Carmelka

The AKC also recommends the Rottweiler as one of the smartest dog breeds. This medium-sized dog also has a medium energy level, according to the AKC. But let’s just get this out of the way: A Rottweiler won’t be one of the easiest dog breeds for you if you can’t give him two solid workouts each day. But their need for daily exercise is at least somewhat offset by their minimal grooming needs.

PetWave reports though this breed has gained something of a reputation as an attack dog, “this is not their true nature.” The publication explains that for Rottweilers “to be vicious, they must be trained that way.”

Often, dogs who spend their days isolated from people are the ones who develop unpleasant traits. The AKC explains, “Obedience training and socialization are musts” for this dog breed. “Rottweilers love their people and may behave in a clownish manner toward family and friends, but they are also protective of their territory and do not welcome strangers until properly introduced.”

20. Shetland sheepdog

Sheltie | iStock.com/lgerghi

The Shetland sheepdog also has a reputation for intelligence. But that won’t work against you with a Sheltie, as it can in other dog breeds. According to the AKC, this dog loves “learning new tricks. Shelties are easy to train and are world-class competitors in obedience, agility, and herding trials.” And the AKC advises, “The Sheltie will reach his best potential [as] a companion when given training in basic manners at the very minimum.”

PetWave characterizes the Shetland sheepdog as “an all-around family dog.” They like indoor and outdoor activities. And they get along well with children, as well as with other pets. These small dogs can live in an apartment if they get daily walks and regular opportunities to run. Shelties have a dense double coat and need weekly grooming.

21. Mutt

A lovable mutt | iStock.com/suemack

Not everybody wants to buy a purebred dog from a breeder or search for one at the local shelter. And you don’t have to pick a purebred dog, even if you’re a novice dog owner just hoping for a pup who will be easy to train and care for. The AKC, of course, notes you can better predict a dog’s traits if you know his lineage. But you can often make an educated guess at which breeds are in a mutt’s genetics. And there are some very good reasons to choose a mixed-breed dog instead of a purebred.

For one, the incidence of many genetic disorders is higher in purebred dogs than in mixed-breed dogs. Plus, by staying open to adopting a mixed-breed dog instead of a pedigreed dog, you’ll be able to adopt a shelter dog who needs a home, not just a puppy who was specifically bred to be sold for top dollar. Additionally, purebred and mixed-breed dogs show no significant differences in terms of their trainability. So a mutt is just as likely to learn to be obedient and attentive as a pedigreed dog.

ooOOoo

What better way than to close this short series with a Mutt!

And welcome to the Winter Solstice!