June 8, 2010

Keep turning left

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a new column.)

PERHAPS I HAVE BEEN slower than most to realize how far the long arm of the Internet reaches. I have always felt I’m writing for an intimate group of friends. And when I say intimate, I don’t mean nudge-nudge, wink-wink intimate. I mean physically close. In my newspaper days I used to have a readership of a quarter million daily, but it was a big city and they were almost all within a 30-minute drive.

How times have changed. Now I have about 30 readers and they’re a quarter million miles away. Well, spread over thousands of miles, anyway.

In the last few days I have been truly astonished to receive messages from readers in Australia and England. Astonished, because I thought I was safe just writing for my intimate group of friends — not dreaming there was a commodore in Australia who read what I wrote about him and felt compelled to reply.

You can’t get away with anything these days. In the old days, if I wrote something wittily spiteful about a bloke in Australia it would take years for the news to reach him on the packet boat, if it ever got there at all, and the passage of time would render everything irrelevant. That is, I wouldn’t have to apologize.

And it’s not only Australia. I’ve just received a message from England. It’s from Dylan Winter. Yes, THE Dylan Winter, the one you can see any day on YouTube, sailing around Britain on a shallow-draft 19-footer called The Slug, and producing the most fascinating video documentaries about places where other more conventional boats cannot, or will not, go.

He says his Van de Stadt-designed Mirror Offshore is easily the ugliest boat he has ever owned – “but the view from the cockpit is as good as from a boat costing ten times as much.” Good point.

Dylan started off as an agricultural engineer, then worked for Farmers Weekly magazine and the BBC, on radio and television, before risking everything to go freelance and become a professional documentary maker and author.

Besides its lack of looks, The Slug isn’t the fastest boat afloat, either. But that suits Dylan’s philosophy. He believes the human brain is wired to travel at three miles an hour, a speed at which it can absorb enough of the passing world to understand and appreciate it.

If you’re not yet hooked on his delightful series, try this free sample:
Or visit his website at http://www.keepturningleft.co.uk/

Today’s Thought
There nis no workman, what-so-ever he be,
That may both worken well and hastily.
— Chaucer, The Marchantes Tale

Boaters’ Rules of Thumb #62
Electrical bonding. Should you bond all the metal parts of the hull and superstructure to a common ground? Or should you leave each component to its own devices? The rule of thumb is: all or nothing. The aim of bonding is to connect everything to even out different electrical potentials that could create stray currents and cause corrosion. But it’s a complicated and controversial subject, with little agreement even among experts, so I guess the real answer is to live with what you’ve got, keep your fingers crossed, and hope for the best.

Income tax is the fine you pay for reckless thriving.


Lotte said...

Well John, you also have a reader in Denmark :-)

John Vigor said...

Well, Lotten, once again I am amazed. Perhaps the Danes are somehow attracted to me. My wife's forebears came from Denmark (Petersen) and she was attracted to me. Well, for a while, anyway. Now she just puts up with me.


John V.