Wednesday, August 26, 2015

52 FEET 30 TONNES and I AM STARBOARD ENGINE

Chris and Manuela run Darling Blue as a skippered charter.



But he is currently shafted as his coupling broke and bent the prop shaft big time.





So at 10am this sunny Wednesday morning I reported for duty as Starboard engine. We had a South African as Port engine and Henri was reverse thrust.

Chris was clearly nervous has the anchor came up and he entrusted his home and income generator to a pair dinghy driving muppets.

We slalomed through anchored boats and lined up on the travel lift piers aiming off a little to allow for the cross wind. It all went smoothly and at no point was full power required, just gentle drive and we delivered Darling Blue to the brand new travelift, the biggest in the Caribbean.

It has already got the inevitable nickname. I mean what else would you call something that is bright green and can lift 260 tons.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

WALLACE GUSLER MASTER GUNSMITH

All my life I have worked with my hands making things. Model Aircraft, meccano tanks a couple of crossbows, dad made me dismantle the second when he saw it shoot through a tree, a 200 cc race kart scratch built Superstox race cars, model helicopters. When I was at Loughborough I was using advanced CADCAM gear to make moulds for the heli blades as well as using the machine shop to make the windvane self steering gear for Carpe Diem. But I never made a gun.

Wallace Gusler first made a percussion pistol at age 14, when reconstructing a historic firearm held far more fascination than going to school.

Wallace had become the first person in modern times to recreate all the processes of making a rifle with 18th-century technology. In 1966 John Bivins wrote an article about Wallace and that first handmade rifle for Muzzle Blasts. During the winter of 1967 Colonial Williamsburg documented making a complete rifle in the film The Gunsmith of Williamsburg. Released in 1968, this 58-minute film is still the best selling video of the trades series.

I do not know how old he was when he made this film but my guess is mid to late 20s. Nobody he could find had handforged a rifle barrel for 150 years so he had to rediscover the techniques required to make a barrel and rifle it. Watching him hammer forge a long flat tapered bar from a short thick piece of iron then turn it into a tube with only a forge anvil hammer and a mandrel is impressive. As I watched him at work I thought hmm I could manage to do that. Then I watched him turn the C section tube into a closed tube by forge welding the edges together I still do not see how he keeps it straight but he talks about sighting through and straightening the barrel. That I don't think I could do.

The machinery he uses to rifle the finished smooth bore is more a horizontal drill than lathe.but requires consummate craftsmanship to use.

HURRICANE DANNY

Hurricane Danny has wound up to a tight nasty category 3 hurricane and was forecast to hit Guadeloupe then the USVI.

However the latest forecast says it will lose strength and hit further North with Barbuda being the island most likely to feel his full fury.

Maybe only a cat 1 when it makes landfall. I bet there are a lot of relieved people up there.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

DANNY BOY IS CALLING

After a very quiet start to the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season we have our first mid Atlantic system winding up and heading our way. AB&C were fizzles that briefly threatened Florida but I think this is the real deal.

At the moment all the different models show the track of Danny running to the North of my current location.

So DEVCON 3.

SUNSETS

Nothing very spectacular but I really enjoy that part of the day when I get to sit in the cockpit and take in the end of the day.

My corner of Calrks Court Bay is getting crowded because people are getting fed up rolling to death in Prickly bay.


I have a kids boat next to me and it is good to hear the children enjoying themselves.







DIZZY DOES GUARD DUTY



On Sunday Raymond does his rounds picking up the bagged trash from the boats. I put out his fee of $3 EC and Dizzy feels it is his job to guard the pile of coins.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

OLD SKOOL SUPERSTOX A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE

I really enjoyed the 5 years I spent with Speedeworth racing Superstox. The racing was fun as the better drivers started from the back so the racing was exciting unlike most racing where the race was usually decided during qualifying and the drag off the start line into the first corner.

It was also satisfying to race something you had designed and built yourself. The product of many nights designing cutting grinding and welding was there on the track at Cowdenbeath Raceway and Armadale. My second car the one shown above had several unique features compared to other cars, both in design and component choice. One thing that served me well was my steering set up. Other drivers with independent front suspension used Triumph Herald setups with the odd driver like Malcolm Paterson using Vauxhall Viva kit. Both the Vauxhall and Triumph racks were farely fragile and easily bent in quite minor contacts. They also required much wheel twirling. I wanted something more robust and finished up with a mix of Mini and 1100 wishbones plus a rack from an ancient Morris Cowley which gave me kart like steering one turn lock to lock.

I have to give a big thank you to Ian Finnie and Gavin MacCreadie who were my mechanics and supporters when damage had to be dealt with.

I made it to Red Top status in my first year and became a bit of an Armadale specialist especially on wet nights. I did not do quite so well at Cowdenbeath but won my share of races especially when it rained. In fact the local rag who reported the goings on at the track labelled me the 'champ in the damp' and 'the greasy king'. I do not know if it was my driving skills or the fact that my car was easier to drive in slippery conditions due to the high ratio rack and the limited slip differential.

The forays to England were exciting although I disliked the shale tracks. Of all the tracks I raced at I liked Foxhall Heath near Ipswich the best. The track is a 410 metre tarmac oval and is the fastest and largest track that Spedeworth promote. It also was the scene of the most enjoyable race I can remember. It was a 50 lap international final on a hot and sunny afternoon circa 1974. After a good start by lap 15 or so I was in the top ten behind a local driver from a well known stock car racing family. For the next 35 laps we traded places most laps, we pushed each other wide going into corners, leant on each other mid corner trying different lines to block or frustrate the other driver. I lost out on the last corner but nearly split my face in half grinning as I crossed the line. The other driver was Derick Warwick who went on to race in F1.

What bought all this up. Well I was contacted out of the blue by someone who is working on a driver and car reunion and is lobbying Speedeworth to have a Classic Superstox race at one of the meetings. He has a line on my old no. 2 car and wanted to know if I was that John Duncker that raced as number 9 in the early 70s. I hope it is in better nick than Steve Monk's shown above.

Do I want to drive on to the track with Swinging Safari playing on the tannoy. It would be fun.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

SARDINES SNAPPERS PARTY and MY BARGE CURIOSITY IS SATISFIED

One of the more interesting liveaboards


is this 1917 sardine factory boat, built in Maine from long leaf yellow pine and originally worked without an engine. She now has a big old Detroit diesel and is sheathed in fibreglass. She even has an unusual name Woiee. But now too big for the owner and up for sale.

FISHING SEMINAR
Nigel from Falcon is an expert and put on a very informative session on how to catch fish.

Now I have almost given up this year with only one fish caught on passage and masses of seaweed. Nigel has just done a delivery from Grenada to Florida and admitted to catching nothing in the Caribbean sea on this passage due to the weed. But he was immediately successful once past Puerto Rico and the weed.

I came away with several ideas.

BIG MECCANO

The new boatyard has just got their travel lift and are busy putting the bits together. Big boy lego they called it.

It will be the biggest in the Eastern Carib and I guess the yard are looking forward to getting some megayacht business.

FLOWERPOT THINGHY

BLUE MOON Super party at Bengie Bay with both local talent and yotties providing the music.

Finally

This very large barge got towed in, went aground nearly took out two anchored boats but the tugboat skipper managed to get it off the reef without hitting anything and left.

I had assumed he had been on a delivery of building materials to the new boatyard but I was wrong. I got talking to one of the seamen from the tug and it turns out that they were heading up to another island when their cargo shifted and the barge became unstable. The new boatyard has both island cranes on hire so the skipper had to come to the cranes. He finally got one of the port cranes in St Georges to fix his problem.

Monday, July 27, 2015

LIVING IN INTERESTING TIMES

It has been a very eventful few days.

First we had the threat warning on the underwater volcano that is just to the North of Grenada raised to orange which is the second highest.

Next we had a cruiser develop a serious medical condition in Carriacou, one which the local cottage hospital could not handle. The cruisers self help group organised an air evacuation to Grenada and then when the hospital announced that they were short of O+ blood the cruisers organised buses to take donors from the cruising community to the donor center. It looks like he is over the worst.


The forecast strong wave went through bringing squalls and rain.

Boats dragged and I kept watch in the cockpit while a squadron of dinks went to help one boat. I was concerned about a recently arrived boat that had anchored right in front of Elephants Child. It did start dragging but a call on the VHF alerted the skipper and crew who returned and reanchored well away from me.

Last night we had a big panic. A young boy from one of the cruising boats was missing. Before long the police and coastguard were there plus many concerned cruisers all helping with the search in the harbor and surrounds. He was found ashore and unharmed saying he just felt like a swim and walk. A parents worst nightmare.

I knew that a salvaged boat was to be towed through the Clarks Court Bay and I went and sat at the bow just in case it all went wrong. Dizzy came to and offered moral support and a belly that needed a rub.


If you look behind the dismasted boat you can see that the flame trees are in bloom.

Just splendid.