Tag Archives: Travel

My fellow pedestrians……

My fellow Pedestrians, thank you for sharing your time with me tonight.

The subjects I want to discuss with you, peace and footwear, are both timely and important. Timely, because I’ve reached a decision which offers a new hope. And important because there’s a very big decision that you must make for yourselves. This subject involves the most basic duty that any pedestrian or road user must share.

Tonight, I want to explain to you what this debate is all about and why I’m convinced that the measures submitted are necessary, responsible, and deserving of your support. And I want to offer hope for the future.

But first, let me say what the debate is not about. It is not about rights of way. I know that in the last few years you’ve been bombarded with calls for more restrictions and traffic signals. The trouble with all these measures is that they tell us little about the kind of options pedestrians and road users need or the benefits and security and freedom that a mutual effort will buy for us.

What seems to have been lost in all this debate is the simple truth of how sticking to rigid principles is not the best way forward. It isn’t done by deciding to simply say that those on foot take precedence before all others. Those loud voices that are occasionally heard charging that Government should solve problems by throwing money at them are nothing more than noise based on ignorance. We start by considering what must be done to maintain safety for all against possible threats to personal security. Then a strategy for strengthening safe passage for all must be agreed upon. And, finally, our on foot strategies must be evaluated to see what is necessary to protect against all the threats we pedestrians can and do face in our daily round. The cost of achieving these ends is minimal, and may be attained by engaging brains, not the public purse.

The road safety policy of British Columbia is based on a simple premise: No-one should start fights. We should never be an aggressor nor victim. We must maintain our attention spans in order to deter and defend against being run over or punched in the mouth – therefore to save unnecessary burdens on our health services and dentists bills.

Since the dawn of the road, we’ve sought to reduce the risk of collision by paying attention and by keeping to the sidewalk. “Attention” means simply this: making sure anyone who thinks they can just barge thoughtlessly about concludes that the risks to them outweigh any potential gain. Once they understand that, they’ll get home uninjured. We maintain the right of way through our strengths; entitlement, rudeness and distraction only invite a smack round the ear or free flying lesson off the sea wall. By engaging good manners and not dithering when crossing the road we make life simpler for others, reducing personal friction and preventing conflict. This strategy of safety has not changed. It still works. But what it takes to maintain our safety has changed. It took one kind of attitude to prevent getting flattened when we had far more space than any other province; it takes another kind now that the drivers, for example, have more distractions. Now, this is not to say that car users are planning to run us down. Nor do I believe accidents are inevitable – quite the contrary. But what must be recognized is that our safety is based on being prepared to meet all challenges.

There was a time when we depended on crossings and certain right of way conventions, because, with the society of that day, any conflict would have arisen by jaywalking. Well, this is a different world, and our reactions must be based on recognition and awareness of the distractions possessed by other road users in this unclear age. We can’t afford to believe that we can fixate on our cellphones without looking where we are going, or that others will automatically give way because you, and only you, believe that you have the right of way. There are daily road casualties because of the mistaken belief that pedestrians, no matter what they are doing, or how slowly they want to move are immune from being knocked over. We must do what we can to avoid being turned into bloody smears. But if distracted by that funny Lolcats post, or who has been saying what to whom on twitter we become ill-prepared to cross the road. Had we been better prepared, our bodies might have been better protected.

During the past thirty years, the character of traffic has changed – changed in a way that concerns us all. For years vehicles have been improving with better brakes and safety features, but this will not help you when the Mark Twelve Supersport Supercar you step in front of is being driven by a Mark One complete moron. They won’t stop their vehicles if both of you are checking out the hot chick (or guy, or cake, let’s not be judgemental) on Whatsapp. Now rules alone can be neither our defence or guarantor of safety. We must become more aware. Ready to give way and sidestep. To look left and right, if necessary, an I know how painful some of you might find this, to make and hold eye contact.

The introduction of small traffic islands has proven a challenge to many Canadian drivers, more so than their misunderstanding of how a 4-way junction works, and my fellow pedestrians failure to give them even the slightest courtesy or recognition. Far too many still step straight onto a crosswalk without consideration, or even recognise that there is someone else sharing that road space while they are taking that oh so important cell phone call about what theirr friend said about her friend’s puppy at that critical family visit, no, not that one, the one where your uncle said something inane that everyone else was up in arms about but is soo crucial that no one can remember what it was, that’s why I’m calling – thud! Then there are the Entitled cyclists who have right of way over everyone, no really they do, because anyone who gets closer than ten feet is automatically a Fascist, to be abused and gesticulated at in as threatening a manner as they can get away with. Because they are cyclists and are superior to everyone else on the road. So there.

These thumbnail sketches can only tell a small part of the story. l wish I could show you more without compromising our most sensitive sources and pictures of off duty Policemen laughing themselves senseless. But these are not images which will add to the debate. Indeed they simply serve to cloud the issue and detract from the fact that so many road users are slow, entitled and possibly even brain dead.

Some people may ask: Would waking up and showing a little courtesy to others lessen the casualty rate and lower blood pressure across the province and even Canada, perhaps even the world itself? Well, again, can we afford to believe it wouldn’t? Simply throwing our individual weight around like a wet towel at all and sundry to demonstrate our ‘rights’ has conclusively been shown not to be the answer. For too long the will of the entitled has driven how we behave towards each other and in so doing has been used to intimidate. This state of affairs must now end.

When I arrived here in 2007, I was appalled by what I found: Pedestrians that wouldn’t look before and while crossing busy junctions, simply stepping out into the middle of busy streets without the merest glance at what was coming toward them. The inevitable result of all this was poor safety, casualties and increased Emergency Services overtime spent picking bits of spare human off the asphalt before the Bears and Raccoons got to them.

There was a real question then about how well we could meet a crisis. And it is still obvious that we have to begin a major mental readjustment to ensure lower health service bills and reduce the pain and suffering to insurers. Notwithstanding of the mental trauma caused to those who witness what mayhem is wrought by inattention.

We have to move immediately to improve the basic alertness and simple businesslike functioning of our roads and sidewalks, so they can meet – and therefore help deter – a crisis. We have to make up for lost years of entitlement by moving forward with a long-term plan to ensure our people are looking where the fuck they are going at all times.

The solution is well within our grasp. But to reach it, there is simply no alternative but to continue this year, to engage the personal resources we need to preserve our safety and guarantee our freedom.

Now, thus far tonight I’ve shared with you my thoughts on the problems of road safety we must face together. Others have appeared before you on other occasions to describe the threat posed by other road users and have proposed steps to address that threat. But since the advent of increased traffic, acting like you own the bloody road has been increasingly just that; bloody.

Over the course of my observations, I’ve become more and more deeply convinced that the human spirit must be capable of rising above dealing with other road users by threatening their existence. Feeling this way, l believe we must thoroughly examine every opportunity for reducing tensions and for introducing greater stability into the strategic calculus on all sides.

One of the most important contributions we can make is, of course, to pay fucking attention you bozo, and particularly on foot. We should engaged all the time in constant negotiations other road users to bring about a mutual improvement in safety.

After careful consultation with my advisers, I believe there is a way. Let me share with you a vision of the future which offers hope. It is that we embark on a program to counter the awesome threat of the stupid and entitled with measures that are defensive. Let us turn to the very strengths in technology that spawned our great society and that have given us the quality of life we enjoy today.

My fellow Pedestrians, tonight we’re launching an effort which holds the promise of changing the course of human history. There will be risks, and results take time. But I believe we can do it. As we cross this threshold, l ask for your prayers and your support.

Thank you, good night, and God bless you.

Fortunately for me….

Invading ParisI shall be enjoying la vie Parisienne later this year. I will also be enjoying it at a time when a bunch of joyless nerks who love to tell all us plebs things like ‘the science is settled’ aren’t there. Which is complete codswallop, science is never settled about anything. Even the most cursory glance at the history of scientific research and endeavour will demonstrate how ill informed and stupid that oft-regurgitated claim is. But my reader knows this, and will forgive this minor sour note.

Essentially the Paris conference is yet another propaganda-fest designed to convince us that politicians have discovered the philosophers stone for controlling the weather (Hah!). Fortunately I won’t be in Paris when all the pseudo-green activists and their financial masters are out on the town, keeping the local prostitutes gainfully employed and drinking lots of Beaujolais Nouveau on the taxpayer dollar. To be honest, these climate conferences actually do some short term economic good, particularly if you’re a prostitute or purveyor of intoxicating substances. Apparently a lot of paid sex and drugs goes on at these events with so much raw money sloshing around. Mostly while the wide eyed useful idealists are busy knitting biodegradable clothing out of leftover linguine.

Anyway, my impending holiday (my first proper break in ten years) has had me practicing my French conversation which has become a little rusty of late. Like all vices and skills, a language needs constant practice to maintain its edge and it’s been a while since I passed the citizenship language test. However, to make up for this shortfall I have been practicing saying things like “Désolé monsieur” or “Désolée madame” and “Aww, mon pauvre petit.” in as insincere a voice as possible without giving the whole game away. My goal here is to become equally as sarcastic, ironic, patronising and dismissive in French as I can be in English. I’m told there are Parisian waiting staff who give masterclasses in the aforementioned. I will be studying them eagerly as they parade their expertise, feeling suitably humbled before the worlds formost experts in linguistic ledgerdemain. Even if it is not in my native tongue.

I’m quite giddy with anticipation.

Just passing through…

UK General Election day May 7th 2015 I’ll actually be in the UK. Specifically in jolly old Londinium, taking in the sights, raiding Marcus Expensius for some specific items of apparel I just can’t seem to source our side of the pond. Having a nostalgia trip to the V & A and maybe the Natural History and Science Museums. Perhaps a boat trip down the Thames to Greenwich, you know, the whole touristy thing. All the things we never did when we actually lived there.

Mrs S and I will no doubt pass by Wastemonster, and will probably see whoever has won the political X-factor lack of talent contest as they wave at the curious (and possibly bemused) crowds. We’ll grouse a little at the disruption to local traffic and try to avoid the worst congestion hot spots as the new head boy / girl / whatever does a lap of dishonour with their underwear figuratively wrapped around their heads on the 8th. Might even stay up while my time sense adjusts to watch the results come in.
Mappe of olde Londinium
This whole general election thing promises to be a head and heart experience for me. My heart wants poor old Blighty to be freed from the expensive clutches of the turgid bureaucratic EU. However my head says it ain’t gonna happen, and the electorate will simply opt for more of the same old partisan same old. Even if Big Nige and the Purple gang look likely to upset a few small scale apple carts.

In passing I might cast a jaundiced eye at the constituency I used to live in and hope against hope that the current incumbent is one of the political casualties. Frankly the man’s a buffoon parachuted in from CCHQ, and I’m told about as popular locally as a bad case of piles.

As for talk of a Referendum on the EU; well, vote for the donkey with the Blue, Yellow, Red, Rainbow or Green rosette and see where it gets you. Apart from nowhere. Cameron and Milliband, despite all current and previous promises to the contrary, certainly won’t. The lamestream of British politics is all soundbites with no bite.

Hey, is that my cynicism? I just knew I’d put it down somewhere.

Nothing much to say

……and no real inclination to say it. Life trundles on. On the downside, I’ve just had to set the lawyers on a family member. A situation I’ve striven manfully to avoid, but they’ve been so dumb and plain obstructive I feel that a quick lick of the legal cat o’nine tails might bring them to their senses. If not, well, That’ll be their tough luck. Not that this gives me any satisfaction. We left the last chance saloon late last week and are now in the alley out back. It could get messy and expensive. For them, certainly.

Now excuse me, I have a trip to Paris to organise.

So what are you going to do?

There’s a lot of causes out there. Some good, some not so good, and some so downright fucked up they’re over the insanity event horizon and accelerating past lightspeed. It’s easy to feel snowed under sometimes. Anyway, I’ve done contributing to other peoples causes. Those that were supposed to be good weren’t that good. Those not so good turned out to be stupid and the rest aren’t even worth mentioning. Nowadays it’s hard to find one without a vested interest behind it, so I won’t be looking any more.

Having just been through a double bereavement with all that entails, I’ve been re-evaluating what I want from my life. Where I’m going, what I might do when I get there sort of thing. Becoming the joint senior member of our little clan has come as a major culture shock. No excuses, no deferment, it’s my ball and I have to make the rules now. If they need making. Which more often than not they don’t. My work as a parent has, and continues to be largely done. I’ve morphed role from family guard dog and occasional shepherd to long distance shoulder to cry on, which is as it should be. No doubt grandchildren are somewhere on the horizon, but please, not just yet. What gets me most is the odd sensation that I now have no-one to defer to, which makes me mildly uncomfortable. Adrift and hollow. Much better off financially, but directionless.

So, that begs the question. What do I do now? The world beckons. I’ve a hankering to live in Paris for a month or two next year. Ride those wonderfully curvy Swiss motorways on something like a Triumph Rocket III. Meander through Southern Europe, park the monster 2.3 litre sports cruiser motorcycle outside a little Bar Tabac and let the local kids stare slack jawed at it. Dance the centre line a little along the coast road from Marseille to Genoa. Thence down to Rome, see Naples and live a little. Maybe down to watch Stromboli and Etna spit fire before heading up the coast road with Venice and Vienna in mind. Wander round Prague and Berlin with a side trip through Warsaw. Up through Denmark and across the big bridges into Sweden. Visit a cousin of mine who lives in Gothenburg. Catch a freighter to Immingham and grey, damp olde England. Pay my respects to the wider clan. Ride a container ship back to Canada and run Highway One from Halifax Nova Scotia to mile zero again. Perhaps even zipping south of the border to revisit New York and swing in a wide arc from New Jersey to Texas then North through Nevada. Indulge my wanderlust. Write about what happens as it happens. Perhaps. Then I’ll pitch up on the Pacific shore again and think about the other side of the ring of fire. China, Japan, South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Of course these are all mere dreams and may never come to pass, but I’ve done some instalments of that trip at various times in my life and truly want to do them again. While it’s still possible to do so.

Badarbunga

Transatlantic flights might just get a little rare shortly. Badarbunga in Iceland just went to code red. Just hope the Europeans don’t completely shut down their airspace like last time. Although this is a possibility, as expert opinion is that this Icelandic crustal burp might just turn into a biggie. Right on the flight path to Europe with a 200 nautical mile exclusion zone around the volcano.

Local Webcams are up and down like yo-yo’s because of server overloading, not much to see anyway apart from monochrome, even at four in the afternoon local time.

If you want the real skinny on what’s going on under (or shortly through) the glacier, visit Jon Frimanns site or the Vatnajokull seismicity page of the Icelandic Met Office.

As for flight disruption, all my old resources have gone all touchy-feely and no longer provide the information required. Which is annoying. Travellers don’t want to know how wonderful and sparkly the CEO’s latest marketing wheeze is. They want pertinent information so they don’t have to lie around making extra work for the cleaning staff in brand new sparkly airport termini, waiting for flights that may not arrive. Especially when the airlines won’t help, or tell you anything worthwhile if your long haul flight is cancelled due to weather or in this case, a volcano. Guidelines for Europe are here. The Irish IAA have a page with useful updates here.

Update: One of the things you don’t hear much of in the lamestream is that magma from Badarbunga has been travelling to another volcano some forty kilometres away called Askja. Although Badarbunga has been downgraded to flight status orange, Askja has been updated to yellow. This could get real interesting, real fast.

Update 2: Just started to get interesting. Glowing lava visible on webcam here.

Where does the money go?

Having just got back from the UK, I’m wondering about all the taxes on, well, just about everything. These extra taxes acting as a drag on the rest of the economy. So I asked myself, where is all this money actually going? Cui Bono? Who benefits? Does taxation, as so many of its advocates claim, actually increase, or decrease ‘fairness’? These are all fair questions which need fair answers.

At present UK public spending outdoes the tax take by an estimated £84 billion per year. Most of that disparity is interest payments an the estimated £2.2 trillion public debt if you factor in the public ownership, liabilities and support of RBS, Lloyds TSB etc. Total 2012-13 tax take by HMRC, about £468 billion. According to their own figures. So where’s the £648 billion figure come from? Confused? Join the club. £180 billion isn’t just chump change. Besides, government doesn’t make money, it has none of its own and only spends taxpayer dollar.

The approximate 2013 UK public spending breakdown is as follows. Public Pensions for well, people the workforce has decided it no longer needs. Let’s ignore all those overpaid leeches on salaries well above their real pay grade for the moment; £139 billion. National Health Care, you know, for that wonderful ‘free’ service which includes such joys as the ‘Liverpool Care Pathway‘ and compensation payments to Ambulance chasing Lawyers; over £124 billion. State Education, the edifice which no amount of political meddling seems to improve; over £87 billion. Defence, for all those wars the UK really can’t afford to fight, including the one the EU wants to declare on Russia; about £42 billion. Social Security, which includes all those ‘tax credits’ which would be cheaper to run if the tax wasn’t taken in the first place; over £117 billion. State Protection, whatever that means; over £31 billion. Transport about £17 billion. Which is a lot to cover cones, contraflows and potholes. General Government, an opaque description if ever I saw one; over £14 billion. Other Public Services, hmm, large Rattus Norvegicus smelt here; over £54 billion. Public Sector Interest, on the money the Government borrowed to buy the votes of the ill informed and lazy; over £47 billion. Additional Balance, or should that read ‘petty cash'; over £2 billion. Total Spending about £675 billion, maybe a little more, maybe a little less. The UK’s EU contribution hidden somewhere in those figures is about £8.7 billion. Source here. Somewhere in that lot is the electronic money ‘printed’ by ‘Quantative easing’ of well over £60 billion and paid direct to banks. No wonder we hear about planned raids on savings and other legalised theft like ‘Green taxes’. It’s a financial plughole of doom. Which will be the last metaphorical straw on the proverbial taxpayers back? Bank accounts raided at will?

According to this neat little infrographic from the Guardian, the difference is £84 billion, which needs to be ‘borrowed’. No idea from whom, but £47 billion in interest payments alone? My one remaining reader will note the disparity between the two sets of figures referenced. Hey, but what’s the odd billion or three between friends, eh?

The discerning reader, having done a little digging, will also note the step increase in UK taxation that happened back in 2000 and the flattening in public spending since 2011. So yes, Slaphead and friends are trying, but the purchase of the banks and resultant QE have doomed the UK taxpayer to ever increasing interest payments. Unless those debts and liabilities are sold off, those interest payments will continue to head for the stars faster than a Saturn 5 booster with a nuke up its arse.

Last time it took the UK eighteen years to bring the taxation rate and public spending into financial balance. 1998 / 9 I believe. Then Blair and his pile of grinning idiots were voted in, public debt skyrocketed and the tax take hasn’t caught up since. Figures don’t lie. No wonder the politicians are trying to skim off more and more all the time. We were told all this extra spending was all about ‘fairness’. What it has done is lumber current and future generations with an escalating debt bigger than World War 2. Which I don’t think has been fair at all.

Tinfoil hat adjusted

Excuse the relative silence, but I’ve had to watch relatives die recently. The old grim reaper has been on overtime in our vicinity, and grief has been the baseline emotion underscoring our little clans daily lives. Funny thing grief. Sometimes it’s not the person who dies who has the hard time, but their nearest and dearest. So it is with us. Grieving makes people say and do crazy, out of character things. They lash out. Often at people who only want to help. Dealing with the grief of others is a skill I have obtained a little, if unwanted, education in. Comes with maturity I guess. There are times being a grown up sucks. This is one of many.

So I’m not surprised at the reactions to current speculation surrounding Malaysian Airlines MH370. The Malaysian Government are being accused of not releasing information, which they probably aren’t sure about, and don’t want to look like a bunch of idiots by tipping their hand prematurely. Remember all the fuss about the pilot, a highly experienced professional by all accounts, being branded a ‘Terrorist’? Well, here’s a thing; the FBI found nothing suspicious on his home flight simulator. Apart from a few innocuous ‘deleted files’. So he deleted some files on his hard drive. Who doesn’t? Then there was the much vaunted ‘All right – goodnight’ which was a mis-attribution of the co-pilots sign off remark with ground control? Talk about grasping at straws. The most plausible speculation came from a pilot who argued that a cockpit electrical fire would have firstly caused the transponder failures, and secondly, sent the aircrew looking desperately for the closest place to land, but incapacitated them before they could make a landing. So the plane flew on autopilot until it ran out of fuel and crashed into the sea. No terrorists, no kidnaps, just sheer dumb bad luck and maybe a bit of bad maintenance, but that’s for the crash investigators to find out.

There is one aspect of the whole MH370 affair that I find oddly comforting. In the wake of the Snowden revelations about world wide and domestic surveillance, it’s funny that this massive big brother machine hasn’t a clue about where something as big as a Boeing 777-200R, and little media mention of the incident reports on this aircraft type. Maybe the reports of ‘intelligence’ omnipotence and competence are being massively over sold?

Boats and other impedimentia

Last weekend we went looking at boats. The object of this exercise is to sidestep all the dullness of living on land to find a slightly more interesting way of life. We’ve looked at houses, but quite frankly there’s not a place where Mrs S and I feel we would fit in. On a torrentially rainy day, on a muddy stretch of the Fraser river I think we found an answer. Not perfect, but certainly with all the comforts of home. GPS, depth sounder, radio, recent anti-fouling, Blue water capable, solid diesels, spare generators, which with a little internal remodelling, electrical upgrade and a satellite interweb connection would prove very liveable indeed. Reminder to self, shop around for a radar set. The boat has a washing machine, dishwasher and joy of joys a tumble dryer, as there’s nothing worse than not having a dry stitch to put on. Did I mention I spent some of my formative years bumming around on canals and canal boats? Before getting used to the vagaries of the English Channel. Being wet for days on end is no fun at all.

We came up with this wheeze a couple of years ago, but the stories of municipalities all around BC shoving out all the liveaboards gave us pause. What indeed is the point of having a decent boat as a base if you keep on getting moved on like some water borne Pikey? Now the heat is dying down, and there are places to moor up without the threat of summary eviction. I’ve also been cultivating contacts in the Marine section of the RCMP and local Harbour watch as a kind of insurance. Took an enhanced security check, but now I have legit ID to flash if need be. Never hurts to show you can jump the hoops. Having worked in municipal enforcement, I know how handy officially sanctioned ID can be in some circumstances. The trick is knowing when and how sparingly to use it.

What attracts me is the ability to simply up sticks for the weekend, scoot across to the bright lights of Vancouver or Seattle, moor up and go visit the bright lights for a few hours before coming home to your own cosy floating apartment. Or go work in Vancouver (without paying Vancouver prices), then shove off at the weekend for pastures new. Don’t like the neighbours? Hey, move on. Repel boarders (and snub the day boys and prefects- arr matey) There’s obstacles of course, surveys, insurance, fuel costs, boat security, permits etcetera, but nothing insuperable.

All together now….. Arh!

This weekend sees me off looking for a boat. And it’s snowing. Which might actually work in my favour, the market in maritime gear being more depressed than a depressive whose wife has just run off with all his money and the psychiatrist, leaving him outside in a downpour with his house and car keys stuck down the drain. So yes, as far as I can see it’s a buyers market.

The kind of boat I’m looking for isn’t a sailing boat with all those fiddly ropes, stays, corsets and centreboards, but something like a forty to fifty foot long converted deep sea fishing boat with a single, get-you-home-in-dire-emergency roller reef rig. Something with capacious fuel and water tanks and maybe even an onboard water maker.

Something in fact, like one of George Buhlers power boat designs. Love his engine rooms. You can actually get at the diesel and gearbox to fix it if anything goes wrong. I also have a well thumbed copy of “The Troller Yacht book” whose subtitle is; ‘How to cross oceans without getting wet or going broke’. How can you not love that for a title?

The intention is to buy just such a boat, live aboard for three to six months of the year whilst learning about handling it properly for the first couple of years or so, doing short (2-400km) trips around the local islands, dodging stray logs as we go (A constant hazard in coastal BC). Longer trips down the west coast to Mexico, then visions are of travelling further afield. Like trans-pacific to see relatives in Australia. Possibly across the southern Indian Ocean around the Cape of Good Hope, over to Tristan Da Cuhna, Ascension and the Canary Islands, then a sojourn in La Belle France, where family have a small residence, and maybe a perambulation around the Med before stopping off in the UK to see family and friends, thence back into warmer waters and all points south, maybe through Drakes passage at the southern end of Chile, and coast hop north all the way home to BC. Well, that’s the plan, anyways. Weather and circumstance permitting.

Pirate breath fresh advert bWhen we told our friends what we intended, we were swamped with the usual tall tales from non-seafaring folk. They told us about volcanoes, sea beasties and rogue waves so big they can swallow entire fleets. You know, like on Discovery Channel. So something with the flotation properties of a rubber duck is probably in order. Good watertight hatches that won’t cave in the first time we take a big hit. Watching the weather forecasts with the eye of a competent raptor might also be a good idea. Oh noes, but there’s icebergs and sea ice that can crush a hull to smithereens overnight. You know, like on Discovery Channel. Okay, but I’m not that keen on going where the cold is. Good salt water resistant electrics and electronics, a fog horn, and a decent quality liferaft might be a good idea. Arr, but Bill, matey, what about when it rains so hard it makes yer head bleed. We saw it on YouTube. So waiting inside a nice dry cabin until the rain stops might be a good idea then? But, but, but, Bill, there’s storms so wild they go on for weeks. We heard about them from my best friend’s brother in law who used to work in a dock side pub. Weeks of rough weather during which I plan to be safely moored up, spending quality time ashore in a nice cosy bar. Arr, but matey, there do be pirates out there who’ll slit yer gizzards and steal all your booty. Yes, yes I’m sure, but there are very well updated websites about piracy hotspots, and the intent is not to go anywhere near them. Any pirates can keep their hands on their own booty, thank you very much indeed. Saucy fellows. The very nerve. Hmm. Wonder if I can get away with mounting a couple of these and saying they’re just for distress flare launching? Just in case.

To be honest, I’m more concerned about the various customs regulations, and how to get in and out of various ports at a time of my choosing without being skimmed and scammed by local authorities. Like the Argentinians, who don’t like people visiting the Falkland Islands without a note from their mother, which will cost you Gringo. The rest will be down to the tide tables.

Other friends, whose opinions in such matters I value, have simply shrugged and said “Go for it.” Which has been encouraging. As some of these have spent serious time afloat, there has been some good advice from this quarter. Stuff you won’t get told by sales persons or those with bottomless pockets.

Notwithstanding, the whole enterprise is fraught with perils, both real and imaginary, and that’s just making sure what we buy has a sound hull and reliable diesels. Wiring has to be good, water resistant and connections tinned with solder to prevent corrosion along with a myriad other critical details. All of which has to be accomplished without breaking the bank.

The project is a challenge. It’s a really steep learning curve, and that’s probably what appeals. However, we’ve already got some serious interest from like minded souls who want to do a similar trip, and are experienced enough to stand a watch, pay for the odd tank of diesel and generally help out, so crew recruitment isn’t going to be a problem.

You only live once.