A Boat on the Side

Cutting a Dash

I’ve done some pretty unusual jobs in my time, but this one was quite unexpected. A local wedding car businessman wafted into the yard with a gleaming black Bentley Mulsanne. The dashboard had de-laminated and was looking a bit sad – could I re-veneer and re-polish? Yes I could, I’ve done a bit of antique restoration work and while the thought of working on automotive royalty was a bit daunting, I set to work.

But first, in the privacy of my own bathroom later that evening, I practised some forelock touching and general bowing and scraping. I’ve got form on this – way back in the seventies I was fitting out a hotel in Doha when a panicked diplomatic person from the British Embassy asked me if I could urgently build a full-length hinged mirror for Her Majesty’s imminent arrival. The embassy people hadn’t read their instructions properly and while Phillip could make do with a hand-held mirror, the Queen could not. I worked night and day for a few days and delivered the job, jolly well done I might add, to the Britannic premises. With a flourish, I presented my exorbitant bill and departed hastily with a hot regal cheque in my hands. Days later I was duly summoned to the opening of a new English school where I had the pleasure of meeting the Queen and the Prince, I have to say they were charming and unpretentious. I momentarily thought of inviting them back to my hotel room for a few brandies but thought the better of it as I had to do some overtime that night.

So working on the (almost) Rolls Royce brought back some fond memories.

The dashboard was actually quite tricky, requiring sanding back, repairing de-laminated bits, veneering twice in burr walnut and painstakingly sanding, arrising and spraying (all twelve coats.) Finally I cut it back carefully with 2000-grit wet-and-dry and polished with 3M Imperial Compound. None of your ordinary compound on this job.

Here’s a photo and it was surprisingly difficult to show the richness of the walnut and the mirror finish of the lacquer but it will have to do. I must admit that it wasn’t 100% as good as the Rolls craftsmen could achieve, but close enough.


A Blokey Blog – PSST!

Yes it’s a quiche-free zone this week – power, speed, sex and testosterone (or PSST!) So all you sensitive left-wing meditating vegetarian men in touch with your feminine side can stop reading now. Wait a minute, that’s me!


Oh well, I’ll make an exception. First up cars and I took a short ride in Luke Hollis’s hot little Honda Civic Type R last week. I say ride, more like an adrenaline rush on wheels. Basically they are limited edition racing machines with a nod to road legality.

Honda has a proud reputation of producing beautifully engineered, ergonomically satisfying cars and the Type R comes direct from their track or treat department, their very own Joy Division.

The pocket rocket revs to nearly 9,000  and produces  254 brake horsepower from a 2-litre naturally aspirated motor, yes Mr V8 fan, a 2-litre 4. It howls like a banshee, rides on rails and has the useful ability to feel individual pebbles in the road. I’m still shaking.

Under this mild mannered exterior . . . .

I wrote recently about the world sailing speed record breakers  l’Hydroptère and pretender to the throne, Vestas. Both will hit over 50 knots under canvas or should I say under carbon fibre. I wondered what that was like on the water. Routine for some power-boaters I guess but for mere sailors, a big shock. My eldest has a 6.2 litre fuel injected V8 24-footer amusingly sold as a “family runabout.” We had a wonderful day out on the boat, cruising the magnificent Pittwater area in northern Sydney over the break.

With women, children and a nervous sailor onboard, we all kept the throttle a few revs over idle which still  pushed us along at a fair clip. Robin, however, couldn’t resist a few moments of full, fire-breathing thrust so he powered her up to just on 50 knots.

It was the fastest Annette and I had ever been on the briny and it was only my screams that prevented full on power turns and airborne activities. After a while I stopped whimpering and got out from the bilges. Good fun was had by all and I’m ashamed to say one of the grandchildren slept through it all. So the brave blogger survived another family day on the water . . . .

Robin has had his own fair share of hot wheels too, including a Ducatti, a M3, a Lotus Elise and an Ultima V8 but he’s calmed down somewhat these days and the bike’s for sale. One thing he’ll not be allowed to try is the new rocket powered “motorbike” land speed challenger featured in New Scientist last week. The beast aims to crack 640+ kilometres per hour, a fairly ordinary speed for a new Airbus but absolutely ridiculous for a motorbike. Check it out New Scientist 24/31 December “Jetting for Glory.”

Can I fit panniers?

Now I’m going to lie down for a bit otherwise I’ll get overexcited, misbehave and get sent to my naughty corner.

Oh yes, and the sex? - Sorry, it’s not allowed.



Organic Pest Control – our Echidna

This week we had a very useful visitor in our back yard. He (or is it she?) spent the afternoon digging and nosing out food – up embankments, over big rocks and logs – this little fellow can really move and it’s hard to believe he has so much energy from a diet of only ants and termites!


Festival Follies on the Brisissippi

A word of caution . . . .  . . Before you continue please read the following disclaimer:-

You may get the impression from some of my stories that life on boats is an unrelenting series of miserable fun-sapping sorties but nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that here in Queensland where the sky is an impossibly intense blue, the turquoise waters warm and clean, and the wind invariably a steady perfumed balm, sailing is an unalloyed joy. Of course there are not quite perfect days, especially when jet skis lurk in waiting but generally Queensland boating is a wonderful experience, especially in one of our beautiful boats. Now read on . . . .

The good Burghers of Brisbane City Council are not normally associated with frivolity but back in the ‘90s they threw caution to the wind and staged an event called the River Festival – a lighthearted celebration of all things associated with the city’s main artery.

In those days it was held in the delightful Newstead Park – the grounds of the graceful Newstead House, the governor’s former residence. This splendid mid 19th Century building had been mercifully spared the developers’ hit squads to stand, almost alone now, as mute testimony to an age of architectural eloquence. Soon, of course, all of Brisbane will showcase only the ugly collective outpourings of concrete angst from the current generation of aesthetically challenged “architects” – they who serve only their rapacious masters, men who bow before the great god Mynopia.

But I digress.

We took an active part in the proceedings, organizing the Scruffie Challenge – a fleet of Scruffie 16s helmed by local celebrities. First prize was the coveted “Golden Thong*” mounted on a polished red cedar pedestal. Good fun was had by all. Various socialites pretended they could sail and smiled for the cameras, a leading city councillor fell in the river and the mayor pouted and postulated.

We certainly enjoyed attending those early festivals, but soon the powers that be decided that the leafy bowers of Newstead Park were not good enough and the event was moved to the sterile expanse of the South Bank. So we joined in one last time, opting to launch our brand new Scintilla 24 at Newstead and enjoy a leisurely cruise up to the new venue, a round trip of about 20 klms – easy! We set off bright and early on a day that was to be etched into my consciousness as no other – a day so utterly vile that even now, after all these years, I can hardly summon the strength to write about it.

It started well enough, we motored off the ramp, under the low road bridge and out into the river, to moor at Newstead pontoon to raise the masts and await the crew. All aboard we were six in number – Annette and I, a customer who was about to order a boat, his wife who worried about him falling in, another owner and her teenage daughter. River calm, weather overcast but bright, wind light and variable, a flood tide running upriver at around 2 knots. We kept to starboard and began to make steady progress, the tide bore us along nicely. On a whim, the Potential Buyer – I’ll call him Bob – decided to take his ease on the foredeck. He took a step out but fate stepped in and back he fell. Without uttering a sound he gracefully slid into the river. For a split second we stared, his wife screamed. Up bobbed Bob, I put the boat smartly about and we dragged him back on board shocked, but none the worse for wear. Annette unpacked my dry set of clothes and he was hustled below to be dried and comforted by the womenfolk.

Meanwhile the fickle breeze died but the tide pushed us along nicely, all too nicely as it turned out. What with the man overboard incident, I realized we were now drifting perilously close to some smart new boats moored along the bank. I reached for the beautifully restored vintage outboard’s cord and pulled. Nothing. I checked the fuel tap and pulled again, not a squeak. The tide bore us relentlessly on, ever nearer to the gleaming white hull of a big shiny expensive motor yacht. The outboard spluttered, farted and yes!! No!! died. I tugged frantically at the stupid cord. We were headed straight for the big white one, no wind, no motor. I grabbed a paddle as Annette rushed frantically forward to fend off – whump! We rammed her head on. Not too hard mind but, shall I say, firmly enough to justify the torrent of verbal abuse that issued from one angry owner who appeared above us at the rail. I won’t repeat the worlds for fear of frightening the children. I apologized as best I could with feeble excuses of dramatic rescues and impotent outboards. Mercifully the tide bore us quickly away, the fading sounds of impending legal paintwork threats stinging our ears.

Subdued, embarrassed, chastened, mortified even, I tried the outboard again. It sprang immediately to life and settled into a steady smoky throb. “Look at me” it seemed to taunt. “Designed for commandos in World War II! Ever ready! Ever reliable! Just listen to my steady heartbeat!” I took it personally. We motor-sailed morosely on.

Under the Storey Bridge now and up the city reach. The outboard began to smell of hot oil and smoke even more than usual. It sounded as if it were straining  - it grew hotter and hotter, ominous grinding sounds issued from its ancient innards – it was as if the angry ghosts of commandos past were slowly throttling the life out of it. I turned the throttle lever down and it faltered, coughed and stopped dead, never to go again.

Meanwhile, the sun peeped through the cumulous blanket and a light breeze cheerfully piped up so we pressed on under canvas and soon we were moored at an allocated berth next to an old prawn trawler at the South Bank jetty. Question – when do you carry too many fenders? Answer – never. The battered, bloodied and barnacled trawler rolled hideously every time a city-cat went by. I fended off as the rust-streaked top-heavy abomination threatened to crush us like so much driftwood. The crew went ashore to sample seafood, listen to the band, drink wine, stroll around the stalls – that sort of thing. Another sleek new city-cat hurried past. I fended off the trawler, the rank odours of rotting fish assaulting me with every roll. The sun went behind a grey bank of cloud and the sullen river heaved. Now, the city-cat’s wash was specifically formulated to spread stealthily along the riverbed, gathering strength as it goes only to rise up near the banks to wreak havoc among innocently moored small boats. I fended off the iron monster as best I could. I re-set some fenders, checked the mooring lines and stepped ashore for a welcome break.

The Paddle Steamer's Captain Welcomes Passengers Aboard

But hardly had I taken two steps when a strident hooter announced a ship up river, a child shouted and pointed, I spun around and there she was - the magnificent paddle steamer Kookaburra, Queen of the mighty Brisissippi. Her multi-tiered gaily painted upperworks gleaming with bright enamels. Her brave pennants flying in the wind, her giant stern paddle wheel churning the brown waters to a creamy froth. She was headed our way! I leaped back on board, fearing the worst. Her skipper expertly eased her up to the wharf right next to us, bells rang, he gave her a mighty burst of raw reverse thrust. We were nearly sucked into those terrible vortices, such was the power of those chomping blades, but by now my fending skills were up to the task. She shuddered to a halt, lines were thrown, gangplanks run out. Ashore a motley crowd of poor share croppers in rageddy clothes gazed up at the magnificent machine. Bales of cotton, barrels of Bourbon and sundry cargoes were loaded on board to be stowed below by sweating barefoot stevedores in torn canvas trousers. Rich ladies, high and low in frothy crinolines and lacy bonnets boarded arm in arm with swaggering gamblers and gunslingers in fancy brocade waistcoats and big black hats. The piano started up, the roulette wheel clattered, the glasses clinked. Soon all the cotton was safely secured in the hold, the lines cast off, the whistle blew and she was away, quickly lost around a bend in the great river, bound for the delta and an appointment with fate.

With a sigh I fended off the trawler once more and the wharf fell silent. Somewhere ashore came the sounds of a deep dark basso profundo “Ol’ Man River, she just keeps rollin’ . . . . .” Eventually the crew, fed and watered, relaxed and refreshed, were welcomed pleasantly aboard and we cast off for the return trip. A cool breeze gave us just enough steerage and the tide, now ebbing, bore us along nicely so all was well. Well for a while, anyway.

Thoughtfully I steered a course closer to the Maritime Museum so the crew could get a good look at the ships there. Bad, bad move. The fickle wind failed and the remorseless tide drew us nearer and nearer to the museum’s imposing dry dock gates. We reached for the paddles and prepared to fend off but the current took us out again. Hooray! We smiled the smiles of those who cheat fate but no! We were being drawn back in some malevolent maelstrom – the black gates loomed ever closer, an Evil Eddy had us in its hooked claws! The gates towered above us, we paddled furiously to no avail, we fended off, we came around again, we paddled for our very lives. From behind the iron gates there seemed to come a sound of harsh mocking laughter. We were doomed to circle in this evil pirouette until the tide turned . . . . and then what? We took to the paddles with a frantic will – we had to break free.  Finally, finally we were out and into the stream again – we breathed a sigh of heartfelt relief, no-one looked back.

The Dock Gates - Innocent Enough from the Inside . . . . .

A lightish drizzle began. The crew retreated below. My flimsy summer shower-proof jacket was torn from my encounters with the trawler. The drizzle became a light rain, a persistent penetrating-every-nook-and-cranny kind of rain. I shivered, I ached, I was utterly demoralized and worn out. The grey gloom deepened, I was now soaked through. It was cold, unseasonably cold. “Queensland, beautiful one day, perfect the next” – bollocks! We drifted on interminably.

The crew were down below in the snug dry saloon, I could hear the occasional tinkle of laughter at some amusing anecdote. They were cosy and warm. Bob had all my dry clothes on.

A bit of breeze piped up, just enough to fill the sails and drive the rain into hitherto untouched body parts. Light rain became medium rain, I began to shiver uncontrollably

Eventually, miraculously, we docked at Newstead Wharf and lowered the masts. With no engine it was a superhuman effort to paddle the Scintilla even the short distance up Breakfast Creek to the ramp. I was utterly exhausted, numb with cold, bruised, battered and beaten.

We bumped ashore. I offered a pathetically grateful whimper of a prayer. It was nearly over. Oh no it wasn’t. I clambered over the side, the tide was nearly out and the steep ramp treacherous with slimy mud. Could this be the last straw? But I made it to the top without slipping once. NOW my troubles were over surely? What a day! What an absolute bastard of a day. I walked up to the car and trailer and stopped, frozen in horror. The entire front end was smashed in, the bonnet, bumper, grille and wings mangled seemingly beyond repair. For an eternity I could not move, I just gaped. Oh bloody wonderful! Oh bloody perfect! I was close to tears. There was a note on the windscreen “We saw a garbage truck reverse onto your car and drive off” the truck’s company and number were thoughtfully written down. Oh blessed be the bystanders!

We got the front doors open OK. We levered the grotesquely distorted wings away from the front wheels – they at least were free to go. One headlight, thankfully still worked. The engine started and I backed down to winch the boat on and strap her down. By chance one of the women had a bag of old clothes, destined for a charity shop. I dried myself as best I could with a small cable knit sweater and struggled into a pair of black skin-tight ladies’ leggings and a flower print poly-cotton top. Bliss! Warmth!

We bade farewell to the crew and started off on the road home to Tamborine Mountain, a mere hour and a half’s nerve racking drive away. Along the road we passed a parked police car, my spirits sank to previously uncharted depths. I pictured the scene. One distraught scruffy middle aged sailor in drag verging on hysteria and babbling on about black gates, one clearly unroadworthy wagon with only one headlight, towing one battered boat. “Look you won’t believe this officer but  . . . .” but at last the gods smiled, they stayed put and we drove on home.

It’s taken me over fifteen years to write about it but every word is true. We have witnesses.


The garbage people were really good. They repaired our wagon promptly, hired a van for us and did their best to make it right. Bob bought a boat and I started wearing men’s clothes again.

All’s well that ends well.

* Thongs in Australia are not saucy G-strings, they are flip-flops in England and jandals in New Zealand, but the trendy folk now call them havaianas, whatever that means – probably some obscure reference to a South American state’s epic post cold war socialist struggle


How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep*

Without doubt we live in a world of wonder and a world of sorrow. A world of marvels and a world of conflict.  A world of delight and a world of destruction. There are infinite pathways to depression and clearly signposted roads to despair. Surveys reveal over 80% of us are suffering stress. The braver souls among us will have assessed the global situation and found fear. Yet there is always a beacon on the horizon – ever a light in our souls. Where can we go to re-ignite that scintilla of hope? What can we do to make it all better?

We can go to the beach of course. We can be beside the seaside, we can be close to water. It’s part of our ancient heritage – we are drawn to water, we are intimately connected to the planet’s liquid soul. From wallowing in a scented bath to splashing in the shallows to wafting along a quiet river or riding a Pacific breaker. We are at one with water in all its forms. Our bodies are nearly all water and our yearnings are inevitably connected to water. Who doesn’t want to holiday on a tropical island? Or cruise the seven seas in an elegant white ship?

The admen cleverly use watery lures all the time from “crystal waterfalls” to “pristine paradise” – all those swaying palms, the white sand, the impossibly turquoise waters . . . When can we leave? I’m mentally packed already! Bear with me. Scientists will tell you the molecules of H20 are arranged in a four sided pyramid – a tetrahedron. We can use that. Researchers tell us that water is programmable. We can use that too. Mystics will speak of the River of Life, churches use Holy Water and I’ll tell you how to attune to the inner ocean, dispel the sorrows and get a good night’s sleep into the bargain.

We’re going to take a break now  . . . . .

This programme is proudly brought to you by Scruffie Marine, a world of guilt-free sailing fun, elegant yachts, sparkling blue waters and sunny days.

Welcome back  . . . . .

I taught meditation for many years, I taught people from all walks of life – saints, sinners, prisoners, developers, whores, builders and bankers. I even thought I’d have a go at lawyers but that was a challenge beyond mere mortals. The jailbirds were in some ways the most receptive, they were a captive audience (groan!) But these days we can’t call them jailbirds  nor lags or even crims, they aren’t even “guests” of Her Majesty anymore since the prisons are now run for profit by huge American correctional corporations and their “guests” have become cogs in the money machine that is Corrective Services. Along the way bankers became financial advisors and whores became sex workers. None of the lovely ladies I taught ever paid in kind either, in case you were wondering. But spare a thought for those locked away where sorrow and sleeplessness is epidemic. Not for them a warm cuddle at night, no their life is a cold hard clanging affair and  I thought why not try to help them out? Indeed try to help them stay out! So over many sessions a special meditation exercise evolved and crystallised into something like this. It’s most effective when you can’t sleep.

First get yourself comfortable and relax. Start by visualising a three dimensional triangle – a crystalline tetrahedron like the water molecules but large enough to sit, stand or lie in and strong enough to support your weight. Toughened glass mind camping, if you like. Not my original idea but a simplified version of one introduced by  Elizabeth Kruger – an effective foundation, especially at bedtime. We try to relax but tensions and worries often intrude so we’re off to the beach to chase them away and the triangle is the magic carpet.

Lie on your back, legs uncrossed, and relax all of your muscles, one by one, head to toe – as though you were melting into bed. Visualise the beach – it’s perfect and it’s all yours. Warm sand, blue water, waving palms, gentle breeze – it’s your sanctuary, your holiday island. Now concentrate on the waves rolling in and breathe with them. Breathe in as the waves build up, pause a moment and breathe out as they recede. It’s important to relax as you breathe out, paying particular attention to the neck and shoulders. Breathe at your own pace. Ocean breathe with the relaxing rhythm of the waves. Gently but firmly breathe away the sorrow, the worries, the tensions. No place for them in your tropical paradise. Of course they’ll keep coming back, these mischievous disturbers of your peace, but re-focus, re-align and relax them away. Be aware of body tension. What’s bugging you? Work, money, partner, relatives? Whatever it is, it’s likely you’ll feel it in tense neck muscles, tightening abdomen, hunched shoulders. Back to the waves – breathe away the sorrows just as the receding waves wash the beach clean. Keep the flotsam and jetsam of everyday clutter off your beautiful beach.

Now don’t push it too hard, the aim is relaxation and stillness, try too hard and you’ll just create more tension. Breathe until you’ve settled into an easy rhythm. Now you can begin to programme your life. What is bothering you? Politicians? Forgive them. Office bullies? Smile and forgive them. Wayward children? Smile, think of their good points and forgive them. State of the planet? Whoah – the big one! Just try to live mindfully and relax, realise that  you are but a grain of sand yet paradoxically a vital cog in the planetary machine. By breathing, relaxing, getting a good night’s sleep, being at peace with yourself you are automatically a better person the next day. That in itself helps because now your 90% water body is programmed to be healthier, more attractive and more forgiving and let’s face it, every little bit helps.  Treat this as a beginning, a step towards re-programming your future.

There are as many variations on this as there are swimmers in the sea of life but the essence is simplicity. Breathe, relax, breathe – shoulders neck – breathe, relax.

For myself, I sail a beautiful white schooner. I hear the waves playing around her elegant clipper bow, I feel the ship come alive as the South Pacific breeze fills her sails, I breathe as she gently rolls to each wave  . . . I . . . yawn . . . rarely fail to get a good night’s sleep.

Of course you have to avoid excess caffeine, too much alcohol, drugs. Yes I know, a shame, but there you are.

Finally, as you are dropping off you may want to turn over or sleep on your side. Breathe and relax again and visualize the crystal triangle around you. It’s your cocoon.

Ocean breathing, sweet dreaming.

* The text of this item originally published in Living Now magazine under the title “Water – Your Partner in Peace.”


Still Here Then?

This year, we at Scruffie Marine celebrate out 20th anniversary. It seems like yesterday when we started our first boat and here we are celebrating with over 300 in nine different countries.

I was talking to a future Secret 20 builder the other week. He’s a doctor specialising in ageing. There’s one thing, he said that stands out among those of his patients who live a long and healthy life, they all share the same attitude – they are passionate about their projects and never stop thinking about and making plans for their future. Well that’s good news I thought – I tick a lot of boxes there and having survived several near death experiences, I’m probably pre-disastered by now and look set for another couple of decades at least. For starters, I’ve fallen off horses and buildings and cracked my spine a bit. I’ve had a kalashnikov shoved in my ribs prior to spending a few frightening hours in a Middle Eastern jail.

North Sea Oil Production Platform

In the Seventies I took a formwork job on a North Sea oil production platform. These things were huge floating concrete storage tanks, built ashore in massive excavated basins which were then flooded and the whole edifice towed out to the deeper waters of the sea loch. Once there, several industrial strength ocean going tugs pushed and pulled them around while endless rivers of concrete were pumped into the steel shutters. The forms were pumped up ever higher to keep pace with the steel and concrete until finally they towered above the tugs. I was sent to the top to help set up the timber formwork for the cone shaped roofs. As I gingerly walked up the scaffolding to the top I noticed out of the corner of one eye that part of the safety barrier was missing. “That’s where they’re hauling the timber in” said my mate. We worked on. A light drizzle came in from the Atlantic. The form-ply was oiled. I stumbled. I slipped, I slid down the sloping roof straight for the only gap in the railings. I scrabbled for a grip. I heard the distant cries of seagulls wheeling far below that concrete cliff of death. I came to a halt on the brink, spread-eagled on the scaffold boards. I froze. I could only crawl to the lift cage where I huddled in a corner whimpering. Not a good look on a big burly building site. Not a good look when only days before a steel-fixer had fallen down on to some starter bars some of which had gone right through various limbs. He waved to his friends as the helicopter winched him up and away to the hospital. I worked ashore after that and quit shortly after.

“Don’t worry dearest, I’ll be back at the drawing board before you can say Stornaway!”

I nearly lost it during emergency surgery for peritonitis and on one memorable occasion a particularly virulent tick poisoned me to a state of near death. It was in retrospect a bit of a Fawlty Towers moment. Fighting for breath and rapidly deteriorating I was driven at breakneck speed to the doctor’s where emergency adrenaline awaited. I staggered in, supported by my then wife. The receptionist said sweetly “take a seat the doctor will be right along with you.” “Out of my way” I croaked, “I’m f****** dying!” and lunged for his door which he opened just as I got there. He half dragged, half lifted me on to the couch. Seconds’ later enough adrenaline was pumped into my heart to re-start the thing, along with various other drugs to keep me going. It all goes to show how vulnerable we are and why we must never stop planning ahead. So the birthday ambitions are pretty straightforward. Build better boats and a better business based on them and the greener the better. Raise awareness of the gargantuan environmental problems we face. Plant lots more trees. Generate good profits and plough as much as possible into our new projects which will surely leave the world a better place, most of all though, we must live our passions.

Simple enough.


A Less Than Beautiful Mind

On re-reading the last post I am concerned by how much sex and smut there is. While I come from a country obsessed with humour based on bodily functions and unnatural acts, I want everyone to know that I’m not normally like this (thank goodness! – Annette.) Well not often anyway. Actually I used to enjoy Benny Hill’s disgusting, childish and derogatory shows and Billy Connolly’s foul-mouthed humour nearly reduced me to tears on occasion. Of course Australia’s own Dame Edna’s gloriously offensive innuendo is a delight but well, OK, I admit I’m as bad as anyone else. What’s more I have a confession to make – some of the entries were really disgusting and had to be deleted. Here are a few heavily censored ones.

Ground Tackle – name given to … ….. … appendages .. ……. …. derogatory .. ….. .. short …. .. …...

Kicking Strap – a … ……… leather …. …….. ….. .conservative politicians ……… ….. disgrace.

Rigging Screw – when …… ………. ….. ………… ratlines …… …… …. halyards ….. ……. ………. ….. dangerous in a seaway.

Running Backstays – …….. ………. … …… flexible …… ….. ……..  popular among ……… ……… athletic …. … ………. …. “Carrick bend.”

Sheepshank – a New Zealand …….. …. ………. ……. …….. divorced …. …….. …. ….. outlawed in 1957 … .. … …. ……… …. farmers.

And here are a few entries Annette missed – probably down to my “stream of consciousness” form of “handwriting.”

Astral Navigation – attempting to plot a course while listening to early Van Morrison tracks.

Awning – an unconsummated and unsatisfactory partial yawning requiring an immediate repeat attempt.

Full and Bye – two drunks endlessly bidding farewell to each other. Also used to describe the protracted departure of dinner guests culminating in much waving and tooting as they drive off.

Futtocks – fairies’ bottoms.

Rights of Way – the cheese maker’s charter.

Trapeze – a special lubricant formulated for easing rusty trap door hinges.

Tumblehome – what a circus acrobat does after the show.


Ellard’s Landlocked Lexicon

Mankind’s maritime heritage is reflected in the dozens of nautical terms in everyday use – sailing close to the wind, loaded up to the gunwales, showing the ropes, to name just a few. Here then is a short summary of alternative landlocked meaning to words found in the mariner’s lexicon.

Able Seaman – a competent but uninspiring lover.

Anode – a poem to Anne.

Antifoul – tightly fitting incontinence garment.

Archipelago – any piece of dramatic music accompanying documentaries on modern architects, invariably utilizing cellos and bowed bass.

Barnacle – 1. an uncle who owns a pub 2. any drinker who cannot be prised from the bar.

Barometer – a device used to measure the volume of alcohol consumed in drinking contests.

Below Decks – an old fashioned euphemism favoured by Victorian mothers.

Bobstays – corsets for men.

Bollards – Nanook’s nuts (Eskimo testicles.)

Boom Crutch – 1. a walking aid used by people born in the ten years following WWII. 2. Circus clowns’ exploding trousers.

Boot Topping – a cursory brush of the shoes only where it shows.

Bosun – a young man with gay tendencies.

Bosun’s Locker – a special place where he hides his “special” magazines.

Bow Thruster – a sharp cocky and ambitious young office worker who uses excessive hair gel. (Stem Thruster – as above but gay.)

Bow Wave – an awkward move seen in amateur dramatics where a player attempts to simultaneously acknowledge both the applause and friends or relatives in the audience.

Bunting – actively searching for rabbits to kill.

Cape of Good Hope – a voluminous dark cloak worn to attract female Goths or vampires.

Capstan – a two-toned facial tan caused by the habitual wearing of baseball caps.

Careening – to sing a song of lamentation for a wrecked motor vehicle.

Carvel – term used by mechanics with limited English skills to denote that your vehicle is roadworthy – the opposite of carsick.

Catstay – a small cage in a boarding cattery.

Chart – any small pastry that is overcooked but edible when the burnt bits are broken off.

Circumnavigation – a Jewish sailor’s round the world voyage.

Clinker – a person who jiggles their money in an annoying way. Clinkers must take care to perform this act to the sides of the trouser pockets, otherwise innocent bystanders may misconstrue the movements.

Coastguards – armed forces who ensure that no-one steals the coast.

Companionway – a footpath where you can comfortably walk side by side.

Cunningham – a devious and unscrupulous actor.

Counterstern – a chartered accountant lecturing on one’s proliferate spending

Cruise Director – a policeman on points (traffic) duty in a red-light district.

Dan Buoy – historical character said to have inspired a sentimental Irish ballad.

Datum Line – the point in a single person’s life when he or she realizes that they are probably destined to live alone for the foreseeable future.

Dead Reckoning – karma.

Deadeyes – the look by which your wife indicates that you should stop flirting with that woman if you value your life.

Deviation Chart – a menu in a brothel.

Doldrums – female flatulence.

Dragging the Anchor – when a bright cheerful woman takes the morose unwilling husband to a function.

Easing the Sheets – a surreptitious flapping of the outside edge of the bed linen following  an attack of the doldrums.

Fairlead – a detective’s promising line of enquiry obtained by legal and proper means, often resulting in the utterance “It’s a fair cop.”

First Mate – wife or husband number 1.

Fixed Ports – harbours that stay in one place.

Fleet Review – a quick assessment.

Flying Dutchman – Nederlander met LSD.

Foulies – chickens with diarrhea.

Gaff Jaws – traditionally rigged shark.

Gangway – side street or back lane used by teenage hoodies.

Gelcoat – a super tight shiny outfit worn by female pop stars.

Genoa – an Australian question.

Gig – the point at which you try to stop laughing at inappropriate moments.

Golly Wobbler – a well endowed woman jogging.

Goosewing – 1940s big band jazz favoured by poultry goers.

Half Mast – trousers not fully removed prior to frantic acts of coupling.

Handybilly – a general purpose goat kept nearby.

Hawse Pipe – a smoking utensil favoured by ladies of ill repute.

Heavy Weather – an overweight sheep.

Heel Rope – a dog lead

Hood End – the bad part of town where teenage gangs hang out.

Jetty – a nervous flyer.

Jury Rig – a specialized legal manouevre involving large sums of cash.

Kingpost – a royal erection.

Lake Steamer – a film about a torrid affair set on the waterfront.

Laminators – people who stand way too close in queues.

Lanyards – where bulk lanolin is stored.

Lateen – a young person who is always late.

Lateen Rig – clothes worn by the above.

Lee Cloth – a downwind loin cloth.

Light Airs – blondes.

Lighthouse – a dwelling with a small ecological footprint.

Limpet – 1. cats who go all floppy when you pick them up. 2. an effeminate fawning theatrical gesture.

Luffing Up – generally good natured form of preliminary seduction used by party goers.

Luffing Match – when two or more males are targeting the same woman.

Maelstrom – what a Scandinavian guitarist does.

Mast Cap – a sailor’s condom.

Midshipman – a bisexual sailor.

Mortice and Tenon – the tragic opera about the doomed romance between a young funeral parlor assistant and a famous classical singer.

Naval Ratings – performance guide circulated amongst single women when the fleet’s in town.

Navy Blue – a state of sadness experienced by single young women when the fleet has sailed away.

Offing – collective term for the thoughts that come to mind when your partner or spouse hangs around offering advice or issuing directions when you are attempting minor household improvements or repairs.

Ordinary Seaman – a barely adequate lover.

Osmosis – the act of growing a moustache and becoming an Australian citizen.

Outhaul – what you do with old dogs on cold rainy nights.

Parallel Rulers – heads of state who govern in different dimensions to ours.

Parrel Beads – worry beads form another time, another space.

Pinnace – an extremely good ten pin bowler.

Pintle – any really tiny body part.

Pirate – the official pastry review board.

Plain Weave – the snaking motion down the aisle of an aircraft during boarding.

Poop Deck – a balcony available to locked in pets.

Punt – when you are tired and can’t think of any more puns to write.

Purser – a thespian who specializes in cross dressing roles, especially pantomime.

Quartermaster – an alleged professional who is only about 25 percent competent.

Reverse Sheer – an ugly scratch caused when parking in confined spaces.

Rogue Wave – a confidence trickster’s farewell gesture.

Roller Furler – a pneumatic blonde with a Dolly Parton hairstyle and a mink coat in the back of an elderly millionaire’s Rolls Royce.

Roller Reefer – a faux naval jacket with brass buttons worn by middle aged poseurs.

Roro – what Lady Gaga’s boat crew do.

Rum Ration – a perplexing allowance.

Sailmaker’s Palm – canvas worker’s calluses caused by excessive self abuse.

Samson Post – strong mail.

Scantlings – the contents of a stripper’s wardrobe.

Sea Shanties – quick release knickers worn on cruise liners.

Sheaves – 1. what seasick women do. 2. female version of Jeeves.

Sheave Block – medicine for seasick women.

Sheeted In – the bed linen off the line and indoors before the rain squall.

Sister Clips – extracts from your sibling’s home movies.

Skiff – a deceased Moroccan drug dealer.

Snap Shackle – an ill advised spur of the moment Las Vegas style marriage.

Sou’wester – a special Cornish pig delivery vehicle.

Spindrift – when political media hacks wonder whether they shouldn’t be doing something more meaningful with their lives.

Spinnaker – the setting n a washing machine especially for delicate undergarments.

Spreaders – swingers who enjoy re-enacting scenes from the movie “Last Tango in Paris.”

Square Rigged – anyone wearing an old fashioned oversized striped jacket with extreme shoulder pads.

Stanchion – lunch eaten standing at a bar.

Sternpost – a warning letter from your bank manager.

Studsails – full cut partially unbuttoned white shirts gathered at the wrist favoured by Latin male escorts.

Stuffing Box – any receptacle for old personal papers and sundry bits and pieces you can’t seem to throw away.

Swinging The Lead – manly strides in an optional clothing resort.

Tabernacle – the tally of the evening’s drinks at an uncle’s pub.

Take Up the Slack – item used by cosmetic surgeons.

Take a Sounding – to illegally download a song.

Tarred Hemp – marijuana leaf rolled in hash oil.

Thimble – a symbol with a lisp.

Tight Luff – a luffer who never seems to buy the drinks.

Topgallant – a gentleman who comes to the aid of a woman being threatened by teenage gang members.

Tophamper – one from Harrods’s.

Topping Lift – a hitchhiker’s dream – being picked up by a chauffer driven Rolls Royce and having to share the back seat with a Roller Furler.

Trade Winds – builder’s flatulence.

Transom – a good looking transvestite.

Twin Screw – a common male fantasy.

Two Pack Varnish – industrial strength makeup favoured by American matriarchs.

Two Stroke – a threesome.

Underway – intimate apparel exuberantly flung aside at the onset of coupling.

Vasco de Gama – a humorous act performed in private clubs named after the Portuguese explorer, navigator and strict disciplinarian.

Winch – rural New Zealand word for women.


If you think, vote THE GREENS

I think, I care about my planet, I love my grandchildren and I’m voting green for their future.

At long last a decent Greens ad and a slogan worthy of their cause!



Timber Plugs

Scruffie Marine Build a Better Kit -  No 2

They are awkward little bastards but we’ve always recommended timber plugs as the best way to finish varnished work that has to be screwed in place. They are, however, a pain to cut and a fiddle to fit. They need to have the grain line up and a dab of adhesive applied before tapping in. Then you have to pare away most of the protruding material before planing with a small sharp block plane before sanding to finish.

The cutting is frustrating because no matter what you do the cutter clogs up after a series of plugs – sometimes you can get a dozen or more but often it’s only three or four. To minimize this a razor sharp cutter on the highest speed of the bench drill is needed.

Then there’s the timber itself. Some species are better than others. With Red Cedar we’ve substituted a slow growth red eucalypt whose name escapes me. It’s harder but has a tight grain, a nice deep red colour and it’s much easier to cut. You’ll have to remember to use a hard sanding block – i.e. no foam or rubber – to ensure the little buggers aren’t left proud.

We use them when fitting the deck or gunwale trims which are screwed and epoxied on. The clearance holes – around 4 mm – are carefully spaced bow to stern, allowing for the join(s) and ensuring both sides will match. We use tinted epoxy adhesive, well coved and chipboard screws to hold it all together. When properly cured the screws are removed and the clearance holes for the plugs accurately drilled. A sharp bit to exactly the right size is essential but you only have to drill 8mm or 10 mm deep. Finally using your wife’s eyebrow tweezers hold the plugs in place and tap them in. She won’t mind at all but clean any epoxy off with some thinners before putting them back – wiping them on your shirt is not good enough.

Arguments can easily be started with an innocent little sticky residue of epoxy inadvertently transferred to female apparel. Once again though, a timely offer of a dab of thinners on the outfit will soon have the matter settled. Hopefully she won’t mind too much if a little of the outfit’s colour is removed with the thinners – it’s clean, isn’t it?

 So, there you are then, a perfect varnished trim and a contented spouse. What else? On yes, I suppose we’ll have to supply them as standard now, having foolishly promised to list all improvements.

Next week – how to remove epoxy from hair and beards using nail scissors and common household products.