Bucket List #1

Heavy duty black plastic

I already have one of these buckets at home.  They are tough black plastic, very durable, very strong.  The reason this one is on my bucket list is because of the one I lost back in about 1988.  Summer of ’87 I learned how to sail and took to it like a duck to water.  The following year I jumped on any boat that would have me.

I think this bucket was on Tom Colliers boat, a steel 50 foot sloop.  We sailed her from Kinsale to Baltimore and arrived for the Baltimore Regatta.  So that gives me an exact weekend, the August Bank Holiday.

There was a rope tied to the bucket handle, finished off with a beautiful monkeys paw.  Not the hand of a tree dwelling simian.  The rope one (see below).

So I, in my naivety, thought I could dip for a bucket of water from a cruising yacht simply by slinging over the bucket and holding onto the rope.  The bucket hit the sea, the bucket filled.  Bye bye bucket.

When we got to Baltimore I toddled up to the chandlers and purchased a replacement for the boat.  The damage to my wallet was minor in comparison to the damage done to my ego.  Lesson learned.  When you throw things into the sea off a yacht you must tie them on if you ever want them back.

So this bucket is on my bucket list, not as something i want to do, but as a memory of a good lesson learned.

Monkeys Paw


Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

I’ve been good this year… mostly.  I loaded the dishwasher and helped with the dinner and got wood for the fire and I mowed the lawns and stuff.  I didn’t get into fights very much and tell call center staff that they are incompetent morons and can I speak to the missing link because they might be able to deal with my enquiry because they have an IQ of 50.

So I was thinking that you might give me a yacht.  Nothing too fancy, not a gin palace or anything. I’m not greedy. Just a decent 50′ ocean going sloop should do fine.  That’s all I want.

And I’m going to need a trailer for it.  Come to think of it my car won’t pull a boat trailer, so while you are at it can I have a decent 4WD jeep.  Maybe a Rangerover or one of those Sangyong things.  But that’s just to move the boat.  No point in giving me the boat if I can’t move it.

Oh, and I need a tender for when I am at anchor.  An inflatable Zodiac will do fine, with a decent enough outboard engine.

Now I know that tax, insurance and running costs are a bit steep, so if you could slip me an envelope with a few grand for sundry expenses that would be nice.

And I’m going to need a mooring somewhere convenient.  I was thinking Royal Cork Yacht Club, a ten year membership in the worlds oldest sailing club.  So club membership and mooring fees please, and don’t forget the annual lifting fee to put it in and out of the water.

And I can’t show up in the yacht club dressed in these rags, so a new wardrobe please. Full ocean going oilskins, breathable fabric, I do like the Musto range.  And not just sailing wear.  I need evening clothes for events, and ordinary casual wear for hanging around the yacht club.

And so do the rest of the family of course, if they are to come with me.

So that’s it Santa, just small boat and the stuff I need to go with it.  Thanks.

Happy Christmas.

Christmas at sea; by Robert Louis Stephenson

The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;
The decks were like a slide, where a seaman scarce could stand;
The wind was a nor’wester, blowing squally off the sea;
And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.

They heard the surf a-roaring before the break of day;
But ’twas only with the peep of light we saw how ill we lay.
We tumbled every hand on deck instanter, with a shout,
And we gave her the maintops’l, and stood by to go about.

All day we tacked and tacked between the South Head and the North;
All day we hauled the frozen sheets, and got no further forth;
All day as cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread,
For very life and nature we tacked from head to head.

We gave the South a wider berth, for there the tide race roared;
But every tack we made we brought the North Head close aboard:
So’s we saw the cliffs and houses, and the breakers running high,
And the coastguard in his garden, with his glass against his eye.

The frost was on the village roofs as white as ocean foam;
The good red fires were burning bright in every ‘long-shore home;
The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys volleyed out;
And I vow we sniffed the victuals as the vessel went about.

The bells upon the church were rung with a mighty jovial cheer;
For it’s just that I should tell you how (of all days in the year)
This day of our adversity was blessed Christmas morn,
And the house above the coastguard’s was the house where I was born.

O well I saw the pleasant room, the pleasant faces there,
My mother’s silver spectacles, my father’s silver hair;
And well I saw the firelight, like a flight of homely elves,
Go dancing round the china plates that stand upon the shelves.

And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me,
Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea;
And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way,
To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessed Christmas Day.

They lit the high sea-light, and the dark began to fall.
‘All hands to loose top gallant sails,’ I heard the captain call.
‘By the Lord, she’ll never stand it,’ our first mate, Jackson, cried.
. . . ‘It’s the one way or the other, Mr. Jackson,’ he replied.

She staggered to her bearings, but the sails were new and good,
And the ship smelt up to windward just as though she understood.
As the winter’s day was ending, in the entry of the night,
‘We cleared the weary headland, and passed below the light.

And they heaved a mighty breath, every soul on board but me,
As they saw her nose again pointing handsome out to sea;
But all that I could think of, in the darkness and the cold,
Was just that I was leaving home and my folks were growing old.