Monday, 18 September 2017

Beer - "Not Bad"

We've been watching a youtube channel "Life in a Nutshell" which is about two Aussies chugging around England on a canal boat. It's interesting as my Dad did the same thing for the last years of his life making three circumnavigations of the English canal system. At the time I was living in Husbands Bosworth close by the Foxton locks flight which features in "Nutshell" and where my dad would normally wait at the bottom for some help winding through the 10 locks. So it's nice to revisit some of those places and times.

Apart from enjoying the English countryside and even the weather in that super positive Aussie way, Magnus and Wendy like to sample the local beers and rate them out of 10 with the good ones being labelled "Not bad".

So while we were away in France we thought we'd give it a go.

This is the first "Galibier" a French Savoie brewed IPA - which was a bit of a surprise, the French being not exactly famous for India Pale Ale, oddly enough there were quite a few IPA's in the supermarket so it must be catching on. I have to say this one was great, very hoppy which I like and went down great with a pizza sitting in a little alpine village the name of which I've forgotten. Definitely a "Not Bad" 7 out of 10.

La Goudale was my favourite a dark Trappist type beer bought at the supermarket, drunk on a balmy evening overlooking the mountains and lake - NOT BAD 9/10.

Mixed descriptions here, the beer was CH'TI but the glass was 3 Monts which is also worth a swill, back to the one in test, nice, strong beer 8% or so 7/10.

We ducked over the boarder to Turin and got this variation of Birra Moretti which was apparently a localised brew, I like Moretti at home and this was much better, very flavourful 7.5/10.

This was a surprise I just picked it up the the local Spar store as they didn't have much choice, in the event its was Not Bad, a dark Weiss beer 7/10.

We may have brought a few bottles back with us as souvenirs, and needless to say our stocks are rapidly diminishing as we appear to have switched time zones.

Friday, 15 September 2017


While we were in the French Alps and so close to Italy we decided to drive down to Turin for the weekend. The city boasts a former royal palace, the famous covered cloisters  and some magnificent architecture. But for some of it it's always going to be connected to the Italian Job and those red, white and blue mini's screaming through the shopping arcades.

The hotel we stayed in is the former Fiat factory in Lingotto now converted to a hotel, conference and shopping centre. Fortunately the building and importantly the Fiat test track built in 1923 on the roof has been preserved including the banked corners - check out the scene where Michael Caine implores one of the mini drivers to "Look For The Bloody Exit "

The Fiat history is strongly reflected throughout the hotel even the room decor, ours was based on an image of the speedometer from a Fiat Topolino.

The conversion from factory has been very sympathetic, the ramps at each end of the old factory which provided access to the test track were masterpieces of 1920's modernist design and have been faithfully retained.

Turin is a great place for a city break, it perhaps gets overlooked in favour of Venice, Florence and Rome which is a shame as it's a very interesting city, the food is great and the people are incredibly friendly.

Below Joseph living la dolce vita.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Roof Rack

A few years ago it seemed like a good idea to buy a Thule roof rack, the idea being that the bars and fittings can go from car to car only requiring new mounting feet to fit the rack to specific cars. In the event things didn't quite work out so I have now bought two sets of bars and three sets of different mounts - fortunately the old mounts were snapped up by someone on gumtree with the same problem.

Things were apparently much simpler in the old days.

Friday, 8 September 2017

French motor boats

Regardless of what you think about motorboats, you have to appreciate this. The triple hulls should make it very stable and easily driven, so ideal for the calm waters of lake Bourget. The Bimini is great for keeping the sun off when it gets hot, not sure about the fly bridge but  how else would you get the height for the water slide - probably makes for a great day out on the lake

Preparing for take off? Or maybe a new angle trailer sailing - any thoughts? Certainly would make putting on the anti foul an easier job.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Lake boats

Inevitably I just couldn't help noticing a few interesting boats while bumbling around the lake. Presumably it wouldn't take too long to sail this from one end of the lake to the other.

The Dinamica 940 was a German/Italian collaboration designed specifically for the waters of Lake Garda so should be very much at home on Lac du Bourget

Something very different, a cold mounded and varnished cruiser looking very nice and really standing out amongst all the white fibreglass.

Below a Django 67 sports boat which was described as "A new sport boat arrives on the market, due to the pencil of Pierre ROLLAND in collaboration with the designer Lionel FONTENIER and built by GL COMPOSITES."

Looks like a lot of fun, but might be slightly wasted in those light airs.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Port de Plaisance

"Port of pleasure" is a so much nicer phrase than marina, and the port de plaisance in down town Annecy certainly lives up to it's name.

Surrounded by cooling plane trees, the mountain water was crystal clear and home to more than a few interesting local boats .

These classic wooden launches ply the tourist trade taking groups of holiday makers around the lake.

Lovely design, especially the stepped sheer and that tumble home at the transom, a perfect boat for varnish enthusiasts

The port leads out to Lac Annecy by way of a park which is a great picnic spot. There were more than a few modern hire boats available, more than a few electrically powered which is interesting, but don't really compare in the looks department with the classics.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Mountains and lakes

I've said before that mountains are the best place for sailors away from the sea, we've been staying in the French Alps for a couple of weeks in a village overlooking Lac du Bourget thinking that we could perhaps have the best of both worlds.

The area is idyllic, the lake is at 220 meters altitude, our house was at 640 meters with fantastic views while behind us the peak Le Revard rising up to 1500 meters. Lac Bourget is about the same size as lake Windermere  at 18Km long but as a friend joked, surrounded by real mountains.

Of course the problem with lake sailing, especially in the mountains can be lack of wind, this was a typical day on the lake which didn't persuade me to rent a beach cat just to drift around especially at the Euro 45 per hour they were charging for rent,

Of course there are other ways for a stranded sailor to make the most of light airs, every day we watched the parachutists jumping off the Revard and gliding high above our house. Joseph was keen on taking a tandem flight, but even that was outside mum and dad's comfort zone - maybe in a couple of years.

Fortunately Joseph decided that he really preferred the mountains to the lake, so we spent more than a few days hiking around the peaks. Below looking down on the Dent du Chat with the lake beyond, it's about 1500 meters altitude and breathtaking.

Monday, 28 August 2017


Itchen ferry Nellie moored at Itchen Ferry, or at least pretty much in that location as the ferry is long gone replaced by the Itchen bridge linking Woolston to Southampton, but the foreshore just upriver from the bridge will be very familiar to this local boat.

Nellie was built in 1862 by Dan Hatcher at his Belvidere boatyard in Southampton and is one of the few original Itchen ferry types to survive today.

Following a fire she was purchased and repaired by Henry Banks whose family cared used the boat up to the 1950's.

Friday, 25 August 2017

The dark side

As a surprise birthday present I was given a power boat taster session, unfortunately the day was dull, overcast and just as we arrived there was torrential rain.

The boat was black, about 22 feet with 150HP outboard, so suitably kitted up in wet weather gear, we headed out into Southampton water .

On the first pass the visibility was dreadful and probably fortunate that I know my way around pretty well, but as we approached cat head off Hamble things cleared a bit.

Above Joseph getting the hang on things as we storm up past Netley, below big brother Duncan had a permanent grin the whole time.

Making short work of the trip back up to Shamrock Quay. It was a lot of fun and nice to try it out, but I don't think really think power boating is for me

Monday, 21 August 2017

Saskia - 8 meter

An 8 meter class from 1930's which after a long history abroad returned to England in 2007.

From another era and great to see these boats active and sailing in the Solent.

Friday, 18 August 2017


Whenever we pass by this spot on the old Chichester canal near Birdham I'm taken with the tranquillity and peacefulness.

It's like a small retreat, secluded and protected from everything around it, where time can pass slowly.

Monday, 14 August 2017


La Trinite sur Mer is the home of big ocean racing trimarans and we weren't disappointed when we visited.

I can't help thinking of that the yellow one above as the nautical equivalent of a motor bike. Yeah, it might be street legal and it might have room for a passenger, but really it's just meant for going fast.

If I understand correctly this beast was designed by Nigel Irens and Benoît Cabaret. Campaigned by Team Actual, having completed two world tours including a place on the Route du Rhum, she holds  North Atlantic and Trans Mediterranean records, including "several solo or with a crew reduced deckchairs" which probably doesn't translate that well.

Now in the hands of Yves Le Blevec

Don't you just love those cockpits, more aeronautical that nautical, you wouldn't want to fall off one at speed.

Despite being a hull short, I couldn't help admiring this rocket ship, especially the paint job and those wild foils.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Lady Belle

A recent arrival on the river, or at least I hadn't spotted her until recently Lady Belle is a Gaff Yawl built by Harley Mead in Cowes during 1909.

Commissioned by an RCC member with a strong influence from the  Falmouth quay punt.  By the early noughties she was in poor condition but fortunately rescued and restored and now raced regularly in Solent OGA events.

Monday, 7 August 2017

OPEN 5.70

I may have mentioned that I like these Group Finot designed OPEN5.70's

 Nice to see one in the UK

Friday, 4 August 2017

CM25 - a modern Drascombe?

Very interesting French Canadian designed boat the CM25 - the site is in French so a bit of work with google translate might be needed.

At 25 feet it's a much bigger boat that the standard Drascome Lugger which is 18 feet or even the 21 foot coaster and the CM 25 appears to be designed for sail training.

Maybe it could be scaled down slightly, the plus points are the free standing masts, high profile foils and especially the kick up transom mounted rudder which will be welcome by anyone who has struggled with the Drascombe drop in rudder launching or landing in shallows. That asymmetric adds a whole new dimension, should be a lot of fun.

More details

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Dinghy days

There was serious open meeting down at Lymington revently

The wind was probably a little bit too strong but everyone appeared to be having a good time -lots of expensive boats and equipment.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Inflated Ego

Brilliant, clearly some motor boaters do have sense of humour.