Logs and Shanties


Prophecies fulfilled, or A Day in the life of a Kestrel

kestrels b 2002
Before the day begins, Kestrels can be found sleeping in the high quality accommodation provided on board the boats, with four star en-suite facilities. With such overflowing comforts, it is easy to see that things were widely different in biblical times. As the prophet Isaiah says, 'The bed is too short to stretch out on, the blanket too narrow to wrap around.' (Isaiah 28 v20)

However, when one wakes in the warm, comforting atmosphere, and finally goes sailing, things inevitably improve. In accordance with health and safety guidelines, boats often demonstrate the practice known, and indeed both revered and hated by many as man overboard drill. As the RYA point out, this is a simple manoeuvre in which crew are retrieved in the safest and most expedient manner. However, both Jonah and David must have known the terror and despair that some fenders floating helplessly on Horsey must have felt. David writes: 'Save my, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink into the miry depths where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters where the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help, my throat is parched.' (Psalm 69 v 1)

Jonah also knew this feeling that these fenders must have had, as they went overboard again, and again, and again. 'You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped about my head.' (Jonah 2 v 3 & v 5)

All is not as bad as it seems, despite the unpromising circumstances, as later on in the day of a kestrel, there is an exciting evening meal, carefully balanced in all the major food groups, with a specially calculated blend of vitamins and minerals, prepared in the spacious fitted kitchens provided on the boats, which comply with diligence to all food hygiene guidelines. The writers of Kings show admirable foresight, and could clearly empathise with these circumstances. 'The stew was poured out for the men, but as they began to eat it, they cried out 'O man of God, there is death in this pot' and they could not eat it.' (2 Kings 4 v 40)

Thus the day ends, and tired but happy, the kestrel returns to bed, assured of the efficacious power of sleep in the deluxe, king sized beds. Hang on, what did I say about the beds before????

Liz Lovelock's diary

by Liz / kestrels b 2002
Tuesday 2nd April 2002

Bars of chocolate eaten - 5
Cups of strong coffee - 3
Number of inane comments in meetings - too many to count
Times thought about new King Sized double bed at home - 15

Woke up hideously early - bad chocolate hangover from over indulgence day before. Gradually surfaced as knocking on door of my boudoir increased. Grunted reply. Greeted by delicate aroma of 'raw man' and toilet. Soon joined on boat by numerous unwashed bodies.

Resolutions for today
  1. Do no quanting
  2. Eat less chocolate
  3. Apply sunscreen to protect delicate skin
  4. Quit when winning daily argument with Trevor.
Started up vile green boat. Drove to bridge. Left boat whilst watching various crewmembers randomly putting on buoyancy aids. Chaperoned to toilets by 'Yellow Radio Man Trevor'(YRMT). Got back to river - boat moved to other side. Must make mental note to leave cruiser guarded at all times. Very important chocolate supply located on it.

Walked down bank with YRMT whilst vile green cruiser being quanted back across river. Next resolution - tie Laura's legs together before leaving boat next time. Brief cruiser bilge boy on not allowing pirates aboard.

Lunch - chocolate ice cream. Will eat less chocolate tomorrow.

Moored vile green cruiser for night - started making crumble. Am domestic goddess!! Spooned fruit in pan - added crumble topping. Wow. Will be next Nigella Lawson. Crumble great success. All eaten.

Wednesday 3rd April 2002

Number of bars of chocolate eaten - 6 (oh dear, getting worse)
Cups of strong coffee - 4 (will cut down next week)
No. of inane comments - innumerable, although Ed less of a contributor.
Times thought about new bed - 6. (better!!)

Early morning chat - raw man smell continues to contaminate all surrounding air. Loo smells getting worse - people keep coming in to add to aroma. Must get supply of corks for next year.

Skipper standing on stern of Avens asks if he can pee on my boat!! Not sure if he'd reach from there. Must get man with angry dogs back to explain where men can pee!!!

Boring morning. Motoring vile green cruiser to Barton. Mudweight. Mudweight again. Skipper from Hustler appeared - need to chocolate fix before listening to tales of rupture!!

New plan. Ban people from using palatial bathroom adjoining boudoir. Eliminate foul smells.

Time to prove immense prowess as fantastic yachtswoman. Use fastest boat and ensure good looking mate on board. Sail about trying to find best hairstyle for photo shoot. Achieve optimum sailing position - wind in hair - subtle grin on face. Will look for photo in new brochure. Bound to be there.

Sail boat back down river - embarrassing moments whilst tacking without jib (still trying to remove earlier reef!!). Improvised using corkscrew instead of Marlinspike.

Back to vile green cruiser. Raw man smell exhumed thanks to cabriolet roof setting. Hmmm - time for more chocolate.

The log of the mates

by the mates / kestrels b 2002
2 Commies to rule them all
6 mates to find them
Radios to bring them all
And to the moorings bind them

We mates decided to put our heads together to try to discern the qualities we would need to join THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE QUANTPOLE i.e. to join the exalted rank of skipperhood.

Contrary to our hobbit brothers, the skippers lead a more relaxed life...

Finland Finland Finland...
The country where I'd like to be...
Eating breakfast or dinner, and watching TV...

...oh no, hang on, that's a random load of drivel. The verbal diarrhoea seems to be contagious, perhaps thats why we all sit in the freezing cold waiting for breakfast whilst the skippers dream of becoming Commies sitting on the cruiser, learning the art of slicing and dimensioning ham. Or perhaps they enjoy watching out of the cruiser windows while the mates and crew do the washing up and rejoice in their movement up the hierarchy.

Finally they re-emerge, it's time to sail after the obligatory toilet break whilst the mate finishes the bilges to which the skipper is, of course, allergic.

Now as for badgers, these are mammal quadropeds inhabiting sets and burrows with stripes longtitudinally aligned at an angle normal to that which their nose points.

You're not Ed!!

Oh sorry, this must be a highly infectious virus...

However, returning to our earlier train of thought, the term "sailing" should perhaps be rather loosely applied when you consider exactly what the skippers do. Diametrically opposed to the mission of THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE QUANTPOLE, many skippers seem utterly incapable of producing the output required to move the boat along with the afore-mentioned quantpole in a forward direction. They claim that this is a "good learning experience", that is, along with having delegated the SAILING OF DOOM , i.e. whenever another boat, bank or cruiser looms ominously on the horizon, or in fact if fenders need to be remembered.

Of course, the SAILING OF DOOM must in fact be completed backwards and into as many trees as possible whilst maintaining maximum drivel over the radio waves. Note must be taken particularly of one important skipper who will remain nameless, don't worry Andy, we won't tell them it's you, who suffers a most worrying condition of treeaphilia, the irrational love of trees.

At the end of the day when more skippers meetings strike, some of our hallowed masters in THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE QUANTPOLE are struck by guilt and cook dinner for their crew. Well, I say cook, perhaps the words 'burn', 'weld' and 'anodise' any possible substance that previously came under the heading of food would be more appropriate.

No longer guilt ridden they leave the crew not only with the washing up, but also the ODOUR OF PESTILENCE as the mate realises that another qualification for entering into the fellowship is the ability to go for the whole week without washing, changing, and in the male species, shaving - and perhaps this explains the severe lack of female members of THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE QUANTPOLE.

A day of much relief

by Andy / kestrels b 2002
The morning dawned with alarming punctuality, and the shocking news that Liz had finally remembered about boat inspection. From the other side of the moorings I consulted with my fellow skipper, Ed, as to the situation, aided by the miracle of modern communication.

"Blackhawk from Greymoose, come in Blackhawk."
"This is Blackhawk, over."
"Twiglet suggests we leg it, any thoughts, over?"
"Sounds good. Over."

Inspection avoiding fever began to grip the rest of the fleet as the crews of Sorrel and Avens began to turn their boats, ready for the off. Sorrel cleared the moorings and I was just pulling our bows around when, disaster!

"Can I hold that for you Andy?" asked Trevor, as he magically appeared beside me. I turned towards the boatyard and saw Liz charging towards us. I knew then that it was all over. We watched helplessly as Ed sailed on to freedom, while Liz gleefully boarded Avens to inspect the gas tap.

By this afternoon, Emma had rejoined the crew and we were once again at full strength. Oddly, morale seemed to be low, and, after the events of the previous day and the log that followed them, I decided that perhaps life on Kestrels was not turning out as my crew had hoped. So, as we ran down towards How Hill, I decided to enhance our otherwise mundane sailing afternoon by combining a little test of my crew's ability to handle unexpected situations with an unorthodox procedure for allowing the skipper ashore to visit the bushes.

Emma had the helm. Having made sure earlier in the day NOT to tie a knot in the end of the mainsheet, I allowed it to slip from my grasp, which precipitated its swift disentanglement from the blocks. The mate reacted instantly, leaping with futility at the rapidly departing boom. Acting quickly in my capacity as skipper, I took over the helm and went about, pointing the boat head to wind at the nearest bank.

Wood Avens sidled gently into the reeds where it nestled happily. I dropped the peak to prevent unwanted sailing, and conversed with the mate about how to rethread the mainsheet correctly. Once done, I repaired to the bow to facilitate our departure with the quant. As the situation was still not quite desperate enough to necessitate the skipper going ashore, I decided to up the stakes by hurling the quant far into the reeds. The crew responded with disdain, and the quant was swiftly retrieved. However, I was not to be thwarted. My earlier judging of the position of the wind turned out to be top notch, as Rob failed repeatedly to sail off the windward shore. Gleefully, I fetched the spring line and attached it to the stern, before disembarking and pulling the boat off.

Success! My boat sailed away without me. Once alone, I was able to achieve a moment of privacy while I contemplated the reeds.

A little later than I expected, Wood Avens returned and I leapt gracefully to rejoin my crew. We were all very much relieved.