Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Krakow, Poland

This time it was Paula’s birthday and not to break a year of tradition we planned to spend it overseas. Since Paula’s always been a keen punter for everybody else’s birthday trips we decided we’d pull together and shout her a surprise trip. Eastern European countries are so fun to travel as they’re still relatively cheap, have loads of unbelievable architecture and diversity in the cultures. For these reasons Poland seemed the logical choice. We only had one small technicality in our otherwise flawless surprise party…. Poor Paula didn’t have a passport as she was re-applying for her UK visa. Oh no! Nevermind the rest of us went and had a ball.

Arriving quite late in the day we met up with Linda and Layla who had flown in from Holland. It was really bloody cold (mid December) and we found the best way to keep warm was to drink the vodka mulled wine being sold from horse carts all over the square. This inevitably led to quite a big first night and we managed to find ourselves well acquainted in some lovely Polish pubs. For Saturday we decided to go to Auschwitz even though we knew it would be heavy.

If we forget the lessons of history we’re doomed to repeat

Auschwitz, for those who don’t know, is probably the most famous camp from WWII. Over one million Jews were murdered there, most in the last few months of the war. It’s difficult to explain how I felt visiting Auschwitz. When we are told figures of the tragedy it’s always difficult to comprehend, however on visiting the site there is certainly no hiding it.I’m not going to describe the details of the place, but it certainly keeps in perspective the things in life that actually matter. It shows just how lucky our generation in the developed world is to have never experienced war. I can honestly say all of us were struggling to hold back the tears with what we saw that day, it was so very humbling...

The following day we went to Europe’s biggest salt mine (although now is only used for tourism). Pretty cool going 300m underground and seeing all the contraptions the ages used to move salt out of the mine. You can go to mass on Sunday’s in the chapel (150m below the surface), or even get married down! What else was weird was the temperature remains a constant 15deg regardless of the seasons.

All in all the trip was a total success and I would highly recommend Poland. And when we finally got back London we all joined Paula out for birthday din’s to tell tales.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Split, Coatia

In October for Linda’s birthday we took off to Split in Croatia for 5 days. What a beautiful, friendly country with gorgeous coastline – I promised myself I’d one day sail here.

We had a very cool apartment in the centre of town, which happened to be inside an ancient palace of a Roman Emperor. We hired a car and drove 200km’s to the Kora National park, which has now been designated a world heritage site.
On Linda’s birthday in predictable fashion, we got drunk on the beach which was a real treat having just had a freezing October in the UK!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A dry month for Double Bruyn and her Captain...

It seemed like a good idea at the time... To free up some time and much needed funds for boat work, Smarty and i decided to have a month on the wagon. Looking back, it seem's like something we'd come up with after a few beers! But to keep us on track we put a £100 wager on it, and from November 1st we began our alcohol-free ramadahm diet.

Basically i got a window to haul the boat out in Brighton and jumped at it. With so much to do it made sense to knock it off in one go, even if i picked a terrible and cold month to do it. The major jobs were to fix the steering (for about the 10th time), overhaul the engine, tidy up the kitchen and interior and re-wire the electrics. I planned to work in the evening's after work and make the most of the weekends.
We had a great time taking the engine out - ended up using a few blocks, the boom and the deck winches was quite a sight. Unfortunately my old faithful has turned out to be a can of worms and i expect that i won't have the engine sorted by the time we go back in the water (i'm very tempted to use it as an anchor...) I've had loads of help - Jas put a depth sounder in (after 6000 miles of not having one!), Linda did a fantastic job painting the interior and Smarty's helped out everywhere from the engine to the kitchen. Thanks!!!!
Although i know it so well i still get shocked at how easily a boat swallows your penny's. It may be the credit crunch now but if the rest of England was making money like the shops here in the dock yard our economy would be booming. Its easy to see why so many boats and projects get abandoned in the boat yard... I like the dictionary definition:
sailing [sa-ling] obsession. The fine are of getting really wet, really cold, going nowhere really fast, while spending really large amounts of money.
Truthfully its pretty tough living on board now. The boat is cramped and untidy, can't really cook well and its soooo cold at the moment! Although this month i've stayed away alot, and definately can't complain as this work will make next year so much fun ;-)

PS. Despite his best intentions Jon's wheel's fell off on Nov 18th.... So everybody was right and i might have to try again next year ;-)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Waiting, Walking and Talking

My dad says the letters WWT best some up the oldlady - Waiting, Walking and Talking. And I think that anyone who knows my delightful mother would have to agree. It seems no matter where she is in the world she is content with never knowing the time or day of the week, is happy to walk for hours on her own and will always strike up a conversation with anyone, regardless of language barrier or social status. This certainly makes her interesting to travel with! (For example Mum nearly missed the Eurostar to France as, while stolling through Westminster Abbey had a conversation with the priest and ended up joining him for breakfast ;-)

In September my folks came to visit – it was really good fun showing them the Double Bruyn and taking them sailing. We did a trip to the Netherlands and had a great time on the canals with Anne and Guus. We also went to my aunty Joke and Graham's place in the South France, it was a great party with Dan, Linda, Paul and Sophie also down to visit.

Heres the pics…..

Mum with Linda and Sophie

Will they ever grow up! Mum and Dad in Delft, NL

The Bruyn brothers sailing with the oldman

Joke & Graham's place in Rimont

And Captain Dan made the surprise visit while drying his boat out in France

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Life in Brighton marina

People are often surprised when i tell them i live on a boat. 'Isn't it cold?' Yes, it can be. 'Don't you get bored?' No, actually this boat keeps me so busy i find little time where i'm sitting still. 'How do you manage getting to the showers when its raining?' I get wet. It sounds funny but its almost like cruising again. Coming home from work it really feels like i'm on holiday. You imagine, everyday when i get back to the marina i'm lucky if i make it back to the boat without stopping to chat to someone. Rather than passing strangers and avoiding eye contact, there is that mutual happiness caused by being near the water which always raises a smile and sparks that hello.

Although I have a very awkward berth (difficult to enter with the prevailing wind and one of only a few with a huge pole holding the marina in place) i would never ask to move as i have wonderful neighbours. I have become great friends with a very like minded couple Mick and Debbie, who are always up for a laugh and a beer. Together with the great livaboards in the marina and a regular flow of friends from London and work coming to visit, i'm having an absolute ball.

Next week the DB's on the hard for a month - therefore lots of hard work on the horizon but the reward of a functional humble home at the end of it makes it all worth while. Imagine running water, refrigeration and gas cooking - don't worry i'm not going to get carried away it will still be like the shack ;-)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Azores to UK

As it happened (well not completely coincidentally) the day before our planned departure was the opening night of the Priar festival, the annual 10 day party I travelled back for last year. It was a grand way to be sent off and not wanting to hold back the Double Bruyn crew and our fellow cruising comrades made the most of it. And at 11am the next day we set off as planned (only I was down a camera from an accidental 4am swim and Jas and I had the worst hangovers either of us can recall in years!)

The plan was to head north for 24hrs and get into the westerlies, hopefully these would carry us all the way to England. Having spent an arm and a leg on a satphone we were keen to use it, and managed to get daily weather reports from the oldboy (HJ or dad) in NZ by relaying our position to him and Nae in the UK. It worked a treat and unlike the first half of the passage with Paul we were able to move around high and low pressure systems to suit our comfort levels.
Over the 10 day passage I think I could bullet point the high / low lights:

1. Smarty losing the bucket… It was the original head on the DB so it took me some time to get over the loss

2. While asleep on my bunk a case of beer fell off the shelf and landed on my head leaving me with a big bump. ‘How ironic’ the boys laughed, and the jokes of beer killing Jon carried on for a few days...

3. Our midway party, well organised by Jas and Smarty with party hats and streamers. Although we were a little low on numbers we still had a ball
4. 1000mile Meggie…. Our autopilot (only good for 1000miles) and the endless jokes about leaving Meggie to it when it was wet, her winging as she started to slip and her needing to lay off the booze as she went off course

5. The fishing… After trawling our best deep water lures most of the way with no action at all we changed to the shallow water raping rapalla and got a strike almost straight away – of course our tackle was too light and the hook simply bent...

6. Through all the bad weather Smarty continued to wear shorts while Jas and i complained about the cold in our thermals, well done chap!

7. The final 50miles coming up the channel. A force 8 gale, 8knots boat speed and surfing at 10-11, we ripped the mainsail in half and the boat speed didn’t change, great fun but nerve racking.

8. Nae meeting us on the dock with presents and beer, what a treat.

9. 1400 miles in 10 days! - An average boat speed of nearly 6 knots. Nice work DB, and I’m still smiling :)
10. Finally, 'A party on a super yacht'. Yep we all got dressed up for a welcome home party on the DB, so much fun.

All in all the trip couldn’t have gone better, the 3 of us got along so well and I really loved every minute. Actually i was almost sad when we got in and it had come to an end.

Now I’m living on the DB in Brighton Marina, I’ve since ripped both my head sails – how ironic, sail 6500miles and wreck all the sails within 20miles of Brighton (sorry Paul)! Lucky I guess.
Captain Dan and Glory arrived a week later and we had lots of fun with them (they've actually since been deported but thats another story all together!)

Following the crossing Team Double Bruyn ran an emergency life-raft training session in the river Thames – it was such a hoot, i'm sure everyone that saw us needed a second look. However it was short lived and the life-raft sank after about 20mins - I guess theres some things you shouldn't be a dutchman when buying!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Living the dream

Footy came to the party once again and provided us with lucky crew shirts, thanks buddy

It has been a great week here, the Praia festival is just getting fired up and we've been generally having a ball - working hard on the boat during the day and killing our livers come night time.

The DB is now ready to go and we're planning to sail tomorrow (Saturday 2nd Aug) most likely straight to Brighton. We've had a few hold ups (the mainsail got lost in Lisbon but has arrived yesterday) and now we're champing at the bit.

Glory lacks a little hand / eye co-ordination when it comes to eating

Its been great to see Dan and Glory again and they are planning to sail the same time as us. They both did a great job of giving me my 3rd birthday party for the week, and morning glory made a great cake to celebrate the mast being put back in the boat ;-) . And as always our good local friends here have been great at making our stay that much better, cheers guys.

We have had two 'sea trials', the first at 2am (a little spontaneous) and yesterday we actually took the boat for a sail. Was soooo good and it was a great sense of achievment for Jas, Smarty and me as all of the hard work had finally come together.

The weather looks settled at least for the next few days so will be nice to ease into it. I think we're still on track to make the party in Brighton on Sat 16th, Dad will be updating our progress in the comments if your interested.

This is a great thing for me, honestly over the last year all my spare time has been spent dreaming about getting back on with this trip. Now we're living it and i can't wait ;-)

Yeeeeeeeee haaaaaaaaaaaaaa love to all Jonboy, Jas and Smarty xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Friday, July 25, 2008

Now for the fun stuff

Team Double Bruyn

A spontaneous suggestion from a work mate sparked the idea of bringing our sailing trip forward, and with keen approval from my bosses and cabin boys we set about making it happen.

Now i'm off for a birthday weekend in Friesland and on Monday set off back to Terceira and our beautiful Double Bruyn. Pretty exciting so much to do but I couldn’t pick better or more resourceful guys to do it with. Couldn't have timed it better as looks like i'll meet up with sailing buddy Dan from Barely Twisted - yee haaa having not seen him since the Bahama's i'm expecting it won't be a quiet reunion!

We plan to set sail on Thursday 31st and am hoping to get to Falmouth 11-14 days later. Then will head straight to Brighton and celebrate in the usual way.

Anyone keen or near by try head down to the Brighton marina for a party on the DB – Saturday 16th August. We should be in phone coverage a few days before so if you want to check we’re still on track call +44 7917 232722 or more reliably Nae Smart on +44 7824 667771

Right on, more to come before we sail ~~~___/) ~~~

Thursday, July 10, 2008

One year on...

People who sail often say its best to ‘Write your plans in the sand at low tide’. This is advice I think i give out a lot but could learn to use more myself.

After our time on the DB I followed many of my friends to the UK with the sole aim of replenishing the kitty and another long stint of cruising. Unfortunately I set myself high expectations based on the tales of other engineers, and after a one year holiday think it took a while to find my feet again back in the rat race. After being too fussy with electrical job offers and very strapped for cash, Richie and Jas taught me to survey and I became Jon the contracting dirt doctor! I had 6 jobs in 4 months, one I lasted two days and the longest lasting was one month. I spent my time living between friends house’s in London (thanks guys) and also stayed in Salsbury and Ipswich for a while.

In December I was offered a good opportunity back doing sub-station projects in Kent, and I’m still there. I’m really enjoying myself and get a good mix of office and site work, with projects all over the region. I have had a bit of bad luck with cars on this job though, I’m now on my 3rd with first blowing a head gasket one week after I bought it!
Around the time I took the new job I also managed to find some permanent accommodations when a room came available at Smarty and Nae’s place in Putney. An awesome flat, 11 of us in a 6 bedroom place I shared a room with Jas. Through that flat I met some amazing friends and had so many good nights / parties, a necessary combination one needs to survive a London winter..! The flat has now disbanded (a post lawn bowls / Ange’s birthday party the final straw before eviction) and I’m now living in Kent closer to work, all good.

My mission is now to bring the boat to the UK and hopefully live on it here. I figure a winter of working and living on Double Bruyn will be sufficient to get her back ready for cruising again. I’m lucky to have Jas and Smarty keen to help bring the old girl here and have set a departure date for 22nd August.
Paul and I went back to the Azores in May to start assessing the work required. We were actually a bit shocked at how much the boat had deteriorated over the year – everything had seized, anything steel inside was completely rusted and everything was salty and damp. I’m expecting 2 more trips back before she’s ready but am confident we’ll get it sorted.

Can’t complain, I’m having an absolute ball over here and am lucky to have such a neat crew to play with. LIFE IS GOOD!!!! Now I just need my boat………

The below few entries are of some of the trips we’ve been on over here.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Back on Double Bruyn

Following a 16 hour trip from London via Lisbon Paul and i returned to Terceira and the DB. We made the most of our stop over and with the help of 2 friendly local ladies stayed up all night partying in Lisbon - actually only just making the 8am flight to the Azores.

It was soooo good to see our beautiful boat again however one year of storms and sea spray had left the Double Bruyn looking a little worse for wear. "Where'd you buy this boat, a junk yard?" This was the first thing the mechanic who lent us some tools said when he came aboard. Although he had a valid point (sometimes i've wondered if we'd be better off leaving the boat in one) i found it hard not to be defensive.

Paul and i got sick of getting wet while sailing so we moved the wheel inside

We worked our ass’s off and although drank beer the whole time managed to get a lot done. We took out all the steering, removed the rudder and hopefully fixed all of the leaks that plagued us crossing the Atlantic. When the taxi arrived to pick us up for the airport the Paul was just finishing epoxying the rudder stock, and even though she had no steering was ready for the water.