Travels with my Camera – November 2019

I have absolutely no idea where this year has gone! I’m beginning to think that a byproduct of getting older is that time moves more quickly. Perhaps, my memory, which is clearly full after years of taking in information, has started shedding the unnecessary stuff and that appears to be most of this year! Either way, I must put my hands up and confess to being slightly remiss when it comes to putting up posts on my blog. As you must have noticed, I have just posted a new skipper’s tip and to make up for being so lax I’ve decided this simply has to be a double post with a selection of recent pics to make up for the lack of activity.

Firstly, here are a selection of black and white shots I took with the Voigtlander on a trip to Sark with my boating buddy Clive.

Now some shots from the recent Lady Reds game. These are a mixture of black & white on Ilford FP4 and colour using Kodak Ultramax 400. Both films went through the Leica R4 with a Summicron f2 50mm lens.

and lastly some flowers. It’s been a while since I’ve taken pictures of flowers – seems a little like cheating.

This has been another episode of ‘Travels with my Camera’ and I expect there to be many more to come. So, it seems film is definitely not dead. Perhaps this is the time to believe in film and dig out those old cameras hiding away in your attic.

Remember, if you are a fan of analogue photography and have something to say, speak up, I’m listening. 

Happy snapping!

Skipper’s Tips #21 – Rules of the Road

I remember, many years ago, sitting down to learn the ‘Highway Code’.  It all seemed very logical, and I suppose it ought to be. After all, if you are going to commit something to memory and then expect to act on it in the future, whatever it is you are trying to remember needs to be kept simple; so it is with the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea (IRPCS). 

However, not everyone who uses the roads abides by the rules and we have all seen the results of this cavalier approach on many occasions, of that I’m sure. Sadly, it is little different on the water. In fact, some would say it is even worse. We are all aware that anyone can buy a boat and set off from the shore at will. The question of whether there should be regulations in place to prevent people from doing precisely that and potentially putting their lives or other people’s lives at risk is one for another time but nevertheless this is how the law currently stands. The upshot of this is, in an environment where sticking to the rules is even more important in some instances than it is on the road, a large contingent of water users are blissfully unaware of how to conduct themselves when in the vicinity of other craft, especially commercial vessels.

To my utter dismay, I regularly witnessed incidents of people navigating their boats in busy, narrow waterways with scant regard for other water users around them. One example comes immediately to mind. Once, when coming into the Hamble River, I spotted a large motor cruiser coming from the opposite direction. The person on the helm had not spotted that his speed was so fast that he was creating a sizeable wake (against the local regulations in the river) and worse still, he was navigating on the wrong side of the river (against the IRPCS). Yachts and other motor cruisers alike were forced to duck for cover, shooting off in all directions to avoid being mown down by this lunatic who gave no indication that he was going to move out of anyone’s way.  I could imagine the chap at the helm being of somewhat ‘Toad’ like proportions and muttering under his breath, “Parp, parp”.

What I and surely the other boaters involved in this appalling display of ignorance would like to know, is why, when the rules are so simple to learn and abide by, did this ‘Toad’ drive his boat in this manner?

The IRPCS is as close as we can get on the water, to having a highway code. Naturally, without defined lanes to sail along, the chance of bumping into someone is greatly increased. It, therefore, makes sense to have a set of logical guidelines to follow in order that we can all go about our business without continually colliding with each other.

The ‘Coll Regs’, as they are often called, are hard work to wade through in one go, but try dipping in and out from time to time to keep yourself up to speed. I would also suggest to you that keeping a complete IRPCS on board your boat at all times would be good practice.

The regulations cover; lights, day shapes, sound signals, general rules about avoiding collisions and your responsibilities towards other water users.  Here are some of the general rules:

  1. It is the responsibility of the skipper to maintain a good look-out at all times.
  2. Vessels of less than 20m should not impede the safe passage of large (>20m) vessels in a narrow channel.
  3. Overtaking boats must keep clear.
  4. Power gives way to sail.
  5. Vessels should keep to the starboard side of a narrow channel.
  6. There is a risk of collision if the bearing of an approaching vessel remains constant.
  7. When boats under power are crossing, the vessel with the other vessel on its starboard side must give way.
  8. There is no such thing as ‘Right of Way’.

I am sure that nearly all of you will be aware of the obvious rules, such as keep to the right- hand side of a channel and power gives way to sail but there are some rules that don’t seem to be common knowledge.  Did you know, for instance, that if a sailing boat overtakes you, it is obliged to keep clear of you?  Did you know that the Solent, starting at the Needles, is regarded as a narrow channel with channels delineated by port and starboard markers?

Keeping a good lookout is commonsense, right?. What folk forget though, is this doesn’t just mean looking all around you but it also includes using your radar if you have one fitted. Not having your radar switched on and being able to operate it when you are out at night or in any reduced visibility situation means that you are not abiding by the rules. In fact, a collision caused by misreading your radar could see you taking the lion’s share of the blame for a collision with another vessel. Go and take a radar course this winter!

Here’s a little ditty for you: ‘If to starboard red appear, ‘tis your duty to keep clear’.  That should help decide who the ‘stand on vessel’ is and who the ‘give way’ vessel is in a crossing situation.

By the way, according to the IRPCS, there is no such thing as ‘right of way’.  We are ALL obliged to avoid a collision. There is little point in crashing into another boat when you could easily see what was going to happen and could have turned away, just because you were determined that you were the ‘stand on vessel’ and the other boat must move out of your way.  

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not in the office dreaming about delivering a boat or teaching Yachtmaster and Day Skipper courses then I’m probably off somewhere exotic on holiday!  Whichever it is, I will still be adding my adventures and skipper’s tips so click follow and you will never miss another update.

Travels with my Camera – March 2019

In my last post, I mentioned that I’d put a roll of film through an old Russian FED2 and that I’d got all excited and lashed out £25 on an equally old Voigtlander camera with a broken light meter.  Well, I’ve had the films developed now and I have to say, I am truly stunned.  Firstly, every single shot was well exposed but best of all, the clarity of the pictures means that those old manual lenses really can cut the mustard, even by today’s standards.

I’m going to pop a selection of the shots I took with the FED2 up first.  These are some family pictures I took during the Christmas period.  I took them using Ilford Delta 400 and I will concede that I’ve actually added a bit of contrasty shadow as they were a touch bland for my taste.  Other than the little extra shadow and some cropping to tidy up the compositions, they are ‘Au Naturel’:

Having conquered my fear of using a film camera without a light meter I decided it was time to try out the Voigtlander.  At this stage, I still hadn’t had the film from the FED2 developed but I was feeling positive and convinced myself that it was going to be fine.

The first film I put through was a Lomo colour negative 400.  I chose this film for two reasons.  Number one, I liked the way the film captured the shots – the results of the first film I took on the Leica R4 (see the previous post) were exactly what I was looking for in film photography. Number two, because I could get the film developed super quickly at my local Boots.  I  really, really wanted to know if this camera was going to work and if my exposure setting calculations were on the money.

Eventually, once I’d exposed the whole roll, I whizzed into town and in my excitement, I virtually threw the film at the assistant on the photographic desk! Here’s some of what came back in an hour from Boots:

How excited was I?  Every shot was well exposed but better still, the way in which the Lomo 400 handled the saturation and contrast levels was evident too. Emboldened by this particular success I loaded a roll of Ilford FP4 into the Voigtlander and headed off for a day out in Liverpool. Without thinking about what I was doing, instinctively I guess, I set the ISO on the Voigtlander to 200. Even though it was forecast to be sunny, I was ever the skeptic and figured that 200 was more likely to be appropriate.  Silly me! Remember the non-functioning light meter?  I was going to have to work out the exposure for every shot – I could have set the light meter at 3200 for all the good it would have done – dummy! So, a little wiser for my realisation, I spent the day wandering the northern city and had a ball. Would you believe it? These shots came out as well. I am now feeling like an expert at guessing exposure settings, albeit with the guidelines of the Sunny 16 Rule and a truly handy iPhone app…

Here are a handful of shots from my day in Liverpool:

Just before Christmas, I went into a camera shop down the road from the office and grabbed a couple of rolls of film to try. One of these films was Kodak Ektar 100.  The young guy behind the counter recommended it, saying it was his go-to film – recommendation indeed. We’ve had some pretty lousy weather for the last 6 weeks or so and then suddenly, two weekends ago, the sun came out and bathed us all in unseasonal light and warmth.  Not one to miss an opportunity, I loaded the Ektar 100 into the Leica and headed out.  Our first stop was Greve de Lecq beach.  The tide was out and the beach was overrun with people enjoying the sun. After GdL we made for St Aubin. My favourite eatery on the island is here and perched on a pretty harbour to boot.  Lunch was fab as expected and so was the walk around the harbour afterwards. Needless to say, there were plenty of opportunities for snapping shots and this time I didn’t have to worry about working out exposure settings!

I’m not sure I like the saturation with this film.  In fact, I toned it down a notch when I processed the TIFF’s I got back from the developers. Apparently, this is a Kodak negative film version of Velvia 50.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t but either way, I’m obviously more of a muted colours man. Having said that, I do like the colours in the picture of Olive taking the weight off.

This has been the second episode of ‘Travels with my Camera’ and I expect there to be many more to come. So, it seems film is definitely not dead. Perhaps this is the time to believe in film and dig out those old cameras hiding away in your attic.

Remember, if you are a fan of analogue photography and have something to say, speak up, I’m listening. 

Happy snapping!

Travels with my Camera

Given that I’m not on the water so much these days and I’m not one to let the grass grow under my feet, I’ve gone back to another of my passions, photography.

I dabbled with digital for a decade. There’s no denying the fun I’ve had and I have definitely learned a lot about taking pictures – I dread to think how many thousand shots I’ve taken over the last ten years. However, I cut my photographic teeth taking pictures on film so that’s where I’m going to play. I recently became the proud owner of a Leica R4 SLR camera with the most gorgeous Leica 50mm lens on the front. I also, having immediately put a few rolls through the Leica and been totally bitten by the bug, lashed out the princely sum of £24 to buy a vintage Voigtlander Vito CLR (made in the early ’60s). The light meter doesn’t work but then the roll of film I put through a friends Russian FED2 from a similar vintage was exposed using luck, the Sunny 16 Rule and an iPhone light meter app – I haven’t processed that film yet…

Without further ado, here’s a small selection of the shots from those first few rolls:

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I’m really pleased with how these have come out, especially as it’s been such a long time since I picked up a film camera.

For years now, articles online, debates in magazines, and insistent fellow photographers have all been telling me that there is something indescribably lovely about pictures taken on film. It’s true, just look at the warmth and depth in the picture of the sheep above.  I can’t put my finger on it but there is a difference.

This has been the first episode of ‘Travels with my Camera’ and I expect there will be many more to come (I’ve got two rolls of exposed film ready to be processed right now)! Happy snapping and if you are a fan of analogue photography and have something to say, speak up, I’m listening.

 

 

Skipper’s Tips #20 – Jack Speak

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Happy New Year everyone!

So, I’m feeling frivolous today. Despite being the easy-going fellow you all know and love, I’m going to get on my high-horse and spout off about something.  I don’t know why I get gripped by this sudden urge to make myself heard, probably a sense of seamanship or the like, but when I hear the Union flag – our national flag – referred to as the ‘Union Jack’, I just have to speak up. It’s right up there with the word ‘Like’ being liberally sprinkled throughout certain people’s sentences. Also, when the word ‘Something’ (with a ‘g’ on the end) somehow becomes ‘Sumfink’ and horror of horrors, the letter ‘h’ (spelt and pronounced ‘aitch’, look it up in a dictionary if you don’t believe me) is childishly pronounced ‘hay-ch’.

Anyway, I digress, that’s a totally different hobby-horse altogether.

OK, let’s get something straight right now, there is no such thing as a Union Jack!

The Union flag, when flown from the front of a Royal Naval vessel, is flown on a Jack Staff.  This, I think, is where the confusion comes from.  Private vessels may fly a Union flag on the bow but only in the form of a Pilot Jack – a Union flag with a white border around it.

It sounds pedantic, I know, but using the correct terminology can save an awful lot of heartache and or embarrassment.  For example, when approaching a navigational mark, which is round and therefore doesn’t have a side, it would be much clearer to tell the helmsman to, ‘leave the mark to our port side’, rather than the ‘right side’ of the buoy. There is only one ‘port side’ and one ‘starboard side’ on a boat so, by using the correct terminology there cannot be any confusion as to which course the boat should take.

Using ‘jargon’ will help both you and your crew when instructions are being issued, especially in the heat of the moment.  The last thing any boat owner wants is to come alongside a solid, GRP scrapping pontoon without any fenders hanging down the side of the boat.  If you shout, “Throw the fenders out”, to an ill-informed crew, there is every possibility you will get a trail of white, plastic, sausage-shaped balloons floating behind you as you approach your berth – clearly, this is not what you had in mind and you would only have yourself to blame, for the last minute change of plan to that mooring manoeuvre you’ve been fretting about ever since leaving the previous mooring.

And by the way, they are ‘Charts’, not ‘Maps’ and ‘Port side to’ does not mean two fenders on the port side!

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not in the office dreaming about delivering a boat or teaching Yachtmaster and Day Skipper courses then I’m probably off somewhere exotic on holiday!  Whichever it is, I will still be adding my adventures and skipper’s tips so click follow and you will never miss another update.

 

Skipper’s Tips #19 – The Gas Man Cometh

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I’m on a health kick at the moment.  Actually, on and off for over a year now, I’ve been regularly cycling around chunks of Jersey. At the beginning of June I determined to up my game and now I cycle back and forth to work every day – well, every day it’s not raining that is!  The upshot of this ‘communing with Nature’ is that I am intimately aware of changes in the weather.  The odd rainy or windy day does not a Winter make but a week of teeth chattering and soggy rides tell me that Autumn has either arrived or is imminent.

Given that we can expect the number of great boating days to start diminishing rapidly now, I thought this might be a good time to talk about preparing your boat for the winter months.  That’s not to say you should pack it away and forget about it until next April but there will be days when you are free to go boating yet don’t fancy bashing about the sea for a few hours.  Getting the engines serviced and pulling her out of the water to check the anodes and replace the anti-foul are perfect jobs to get sorted when you do not plan to go out to sea.  I’m a huge fan of winter boating, as I’m sure anyone who knows me personally or reads this blog will testify to. I’ve been out on the Solent in December with crystal clear blue skies, flat water and not another boat in sight.  Wrap up warm or put the heater on, either will do but you really don’t want to miss days like these by sticking your boat on the hard with all the fluids drained and bits of paper stuffed up the outlets. Besides which, the sea gives your engines more protection from the cold than propping her up on stands ever will – food for thought?

Anyway, I digress.  Let’s go back to thinking about the jobs that you’ve put off all year and really can’t be left any longer.  Think of the upholstery, interior fabric surfaces and bedding. In the winter months, these will all go mouldy unless you make provision for the moisture that accumulates in boats.  Firstly, remove any fabrics that, realistically, are not going to be used for a while.  Next, clean out the bilges and dry them out – a good idea is to leave the floor panels propped up/open so that air can circulate.  This will help to keep them dry and prevent them from becoming smelly.  If you have airconditioning on your boat then there is often a setting which effectively works like a dehumidifier.  The a/c kicks in every few hours to dry out the air and then turns itself off again.  If you don’t have a/c or this setting then I heartily recommend getting a dehumidifier and running it on your boat over the months you are not using it.  Standing the dehumidifier by a sink means that the collected moisture can drain straight overboard to save you having to go and empty the water manually every few days.  This doesn’t absolve you from the responsibility of regularly checking on your boat but it does mean that if you can’t get down to your boat for a period you won’t have to worry about the container filling up and the unit switching itself off.

Empty the cupboards out and chuck away all stuff you never use and never will.  Get rid of food that is out of date.  Check stocks of batteries for torches, etc. Make a list of all the items that stopped working in the summer and that you’ve been meaning to get fixed but didn’t.  If you are feeling really keen about your navigation you might consider getting the ship’s compass corrected. Clearly, there are a whole host of things to attend to and now is the time to do it.

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet and it often gets missed is the gas system. You might not have gas on your boat, in which case this probably isn’t relevant to you but if you do, read on.

Whilst many of the safety items you have on your boat are checked on a regular basis, simply by virtue of being used or on show, there are certain items that never get touched from one year to the next.  The liferaft is one example that springs immediately to mind.  Stuck in a locker, only seeing the light of day in the unfortunate event that something goes seriously wrong.  The other item that often gets forgotten about is the gas system.

It is my opinion that every boat should have gas sensors fitted so that a gas leak can be detected in time to prevent a calamity.  The gas sensors should be sited low down in the boat – gas, being heavier than air, will sink into the bilges.  The problem here is that the sensors themselves are susceptible to water damage.  Once soaked by water, sensors will give erroneous alarm signals or not even function at all.  I would suggest that if you intend to fit or replace gas sensors to your boat, that you select waterproof sensors.

Almost as important as fitting sensors is a regular check on your gas system. Even though it is possible to check the system yourself, I would recommend that you get a CORGI registered engineer to check your system on an annual basis.  Any hoses that need replacing will be identified, as will any potential leaks or issues with your cooker and hob.

I organised a check on my own boat at the same time as we had the school boat checked, which we had to do every year for coding purposes. The check on my boat revealed that I needed two hoses replacing. The scary thing was that one of the hoses was almost completely worn through and would soon have made the boat a potential death trap.  Incidentally, I had looked at the hoses myself and they appeared to be fine, but the damaged section was out of view and I simply had not looked properly.  I wonder how many boaters give their gas hoses a cursory glance and assume everything is fine?

Happy boating everyone and have a great Christmas! (Oh my goodness, I mentioned the ‘C’ word and it’s only October)

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not in the office dreaming about delivering a boat or teaching Yachtmaster and Day Skipper courses then I’m probably off somewhere exotic on holiday!  Whichever it is, I will still be adding my adventures and skipper’s tips so click follow and you will never miss another update.

Wall to wall blue skies

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So, it’s Sunday morning, wall to wall blue skies, light breeze and flat seas. What to do?  Yep, you’ve guessed it. Sail the twenty nautical miles to Sark and have an ‘al fresco’ lunch at La Sablonnerie.

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We met at the boat at 06:30 to make sure we were away in time to push against the last of the flood along the southern coast of Jersey and then catch the ebb all the way up to Sark. Sadly, the wind was so light that we had to motor as far as Corbiere Lighthouse on the SW corner of the island but as soon as we’d rounded the headland the tide started to push us north and made a very respectable seven knots over the ground all the way up to Sark’s southern shoreline. As we got closer to Sark, the tidal current changed direction to go NE around the bottom of the island and we began to experience a stronger and stronger sideways effect. Our COG (course over the ground) to Dixcart Bay, where we intended to anchor, was 340 degrees true but we were having to point the boat on a heading of 310 degrees true to counteract the effect of the tide.  If ever there was a classic example of how such an invisible force can have an impact on how you navigate, then this was it.  The seabed must have been extremely rocky and undulating as there were huge flat whirlpools all around us on the last mile of the approach – I love seeing quirks of Nature like this. If nothing else, it reminds you of how powerful the sea is.

It was a spring tide on this particular Sunday and we had worked out that we needed to allow for a drop in the tide of approximately eight metres.  The spot we picked was on a five metre contour line just on the outer edge of the bay.  The echo-sounder was reading thirteen metres when we dropped the hook and by our calculations that meant we would be in approximately five metres of water at low tide.  This would give us two metres for the keel and a clearance of a further three metres. We let out thirty metres of chain – fifteen to get from the deck to the seabed, ten along the bottom and five for luck.  In the time we were going to be away from the boat, the tidal height would only fall and therefore the holding capacity of the anchor and chain would only improve.  The breeze was from the north all day, so no worries about being on a lee shore.

A quick paddle ashore and we were off to lunch.  The walk up from the beach started quite steeply but soon levelled off to a gentle hike through a beautiful woodland and then out onto the narrow roads of Sark, the exclusive preserve of pedestrians, horses and tractors; no cars allowed on this island!

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As we had landed on Big Sark and La Sablonnerie is on Little Sark, we had about a half hour hike and this included passing over La Coupée the seriously high up and steep-sided causeway joining the Sark islands to each other.

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The views are amazing.  Blue skies, blue sea and all the other neighbouring islands made up the stunning panorama that opened up before us as we walked along the narrow road.  In the picture below you can see Brecqhou first, then directly behind it is Herm, slightly more westerly (left as we are looking north) is Jethou and finally, much further back Guernsey is just visible.

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Not much further on we eventually arrived at La Sablonnerie.  This one of only a handful of hotels/restaurants still privately owned on Sark but it is, without doubt, one of the loveliest and quaintest places to eat and stay at that I know of in the Channel Islands. It is run by the most charming of hosts.  The lovely, if exquisitely unique, Elizabeth will do everything she can to make you feel welcome and to ensure that you have the most fabulous of experiences – this is the only reason you need to warrant a visit to Sark!

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After a handsome lunch of freshly caught lobster, followed by amazing strawberries and cream, we headed back to the boat.

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Across La Coupée, with a quick stop to help some tourists get a picture of themselves with their hired bikes (the other form of transport allowed on Sark)

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Then on, down the lanes, through the woods and out into the sunshine at the top of the walk down to the beach.  The sight was wonderful.  Dixcart Bay was now full of anchored boats and the beach had grown massively in size as the falling tide had pulled the sea back.

The anchor had been weighed and we were making way by 15:30.  Now, with the wind behind and the tide going with us as it started to flood, we were making good time towards home.  The closer we got to home, the stronger the tidal effect.  By the time we were running east along the bottom of our island the tide was up to five knots in spots and for one brief moment, we saw ten knots SOG (speed over the ground) flash up on the instruments.

_K502874_DxO hi resLook at the effect the tide was having on this North Cardinal marker.

Pretty soon we were at the harbour and the day was over.

I just had to have one last look behind us at the sun starting to get low in the sky to remember that wonderful day out…

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This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not in the office dreaming about delivering a boat or teaching Yachtmaster and Day Skipper courses then I’m probably off somewhere exotic on holiday!  Whichever it is, I will still be adding my adventures and skipper’s tips so keep popping back to make certain you don’t miss anything and remember:

The Meek may inherit the Earth but it is the Brave who get the Oceans!