Saturday, 8 November 2008


Talking of books,this one was doing the rounds in Jacere,Cabedello,Brasil in 1988,its a classic,please not to be taken seriously but what a brilliant tale!

Snowblind: A brief career in the cocaine trade is a semi-autobiographical novel written by American author Robert Sabbag in 1976.

Partly biographical, the story centres around a small-time cannabis dealer called Zachary Swan who turns his hand to smuggling cocaine from Colombia into the US. Set in the 1970s before organised crime took over the cocaine trade, it is based primarily in New York and Bogotá and features a variety of colourful characters. Unlike other smugglers at the time Swan concocted a vast array of scams designed both to evade customs officials and protect his 'employees' from prosecution, all of which are highly imaginative and entertaining. Books, Music, Art, Ideas
Book Reviews :: Interviews :: Features :: Music Reviews :: New Writing :: Splinters [Blog] :: Travel :: About / Contact
Robert Sabbag: Snowblind
Filed under: Book Reviews

Robin Askew

Snowblind - Robert Sabbag

See all books by Robert Sabbag at |

If Howard Marks is Mr. Nice - a lovable, educated former cannabis smuggler who didn't touch anything harder on principle – then Zachary Swan was Mr. Somewhat-Less-Nice. A harder sell to the liberal middle-classes than Marks's entertaining raconteur, Swan was an American cocaine smuggler whose meticulous scams became the stuff of legend in the '70s. One of the true classics of drug literature, Snowblind has been in and out of print many times since it first appeared in 1976. This welcome new edition from Scottish counter-culture specialists Rebel Inc boasts a rambling, adulatory introduction from Marks (". . . the world of international dope dealing is fun," he vouchsafes once again, adding, perhaps unnecessarily, "It's fucking great!") and an afterword (actually written ten years ago) by Robert Sabbag, recalling how, as a young and ambitious newspaper hack, he was reluctantly persuaded to write the book that made his name.

Too old to be a hippy and Republican by inclination, Swan was a smuggler of the old-school, motivated more by greed than the politico-chemical fervour of the times. His swift transition from dope to coke resulted from a calculation of the vastly increased profits to be made from Colombian nose candy. (In an amusing digression, Sabbag reminds us that we should never underestimate the contribution made by illegal drug dealing to his nation's numeracy: "The United States of America effectively converted to the metric system in, or around, 1965 – by 1970 there was not a college sophomore worth his government grant who didn't know how much a gram of hash weighed.")

These being comparatively more innocent, pre-freebase times, Swan didn't carry a gun until late in his brief career and never shot anyone, had a moderately enlightened attitude towards women by the antediluvian standards of the time, and – unusually – devised each of his cunning scams with a loophole that allowed his often unwitting 'mules' to walk away, much to the frustration of the Feds.


A different book but the same feeling.

This is a book I read a while back,probably in one sitting,its a maganet for any person who sails,and for me I felt it was just about the same boat as 'Brer Terrapin',the Ingrid 38 design by William Atken,that I did my first ocean crossing on,the description on deck and below makes it feel as if I was still on 'Brer Terrapin',note: DO NOT let your wife read this book!

Mitch Gordon, lawyer and yachtsman, awakens 70 miles from Tahiti to find himself alone in his 40-foot ketch. Sometime in the last dark hours his wife Lindy has been swept overboard into the giant Pacific swells. For 36 hours he clings aloft in the tropical sun, tracing and retracing the vessel's course. Lindy, buoyed by a flimsy life-jacket, struggles to survive until he can find her.

In his fiction, Hank Searls has always drawn on personal experience. He is the author of The Big X, The Crowded Sky, Heroship and Lost Prince. He lives with his wife aboard their ketch in the South Pacific.

"Overboard" was broadcast on daytime TV today. It's a fascinating character study of two flawed individuals who are constantly seeking answers and fulfillment in their lives.

Beautifully photographed and tragic in its execution this is one TV movie that has been shamefully overlooked. One of Angie Dickinson's best ever performances - on a par with her turn in "A Sensitive, Passionate Man" - also broadcast on Irish TV last year.

William Lever and Port Sunlight soaps

At a time when bathing once a week was the norm,fridays were good and the family would all use the same bath water of course,a sudden change took place and William Lever,founder of the now famous Lever Brand,was in a good position to market his soaps,he was the first to recognise that the practice of retailers at the time would cut soap of a solid block and hand and wrapped it themselves,normally underselling the weight,its an old trick,Lever saw this as an opening to sell factory pre packed blocks of soap,Lifebouy,Pears,Sunlight, are still well known brands,they were soon the spoaps to buy as you knew the product was good and the closed packing ensured what you paid for was what you got.

The King of Sunlight: how William Lever cleaned up the world, by Adam MacQueen (CORGI £7.99)

At 16, William Lever began an apprenticeship in his father's grocer's shop in Bolton, at a time when J Sainsbury's and Liptons were just emerging as dominant forces in the business. By dint of hard work and canny salesmanship, he expanded the family firm into a thriving local concern until 1866, by which time he'd raised enough capital to begin a new business making, packaging and selling Sunlight Soap. Poised to take advantage of a handy confluence of social changes - the dirty industrial revolution, the fashion for bathing every day begun by the Duke of Wellington, and the new arts of patenting and branding - Lever's became an industrial empire employing 185,000 people around the world.

MacQueen's biography provides an adequate account of Victorian industry, empire and values, and of the birth of modern commerce. But its real value is as an entertaining portrait of a progressive thinker, ballroom dancer, art-collector, philanthropist, MP and genuine English eccentric. As an example, on his 45-acre estate, with its full-scale replica of Liverpool Castle and free-roaming zebras and lions, Lever preferred to sleep in an entirely exposed wing of his mansion, frequently under a blanket made of snow. MacQueen's brisk and jocular telling of his life is fast-moving, and full of exactly the kind of trivial but colourful detail that's needed to give the measure of such a singular man as Lever.

Type: Heritage / Visitor Centre
In 1887 William Hesketh Lever, a successful soap manufacturer, began looking for a new site for his factory as his business had outgrown its original premises on the banks of the River Mersey in Warrington. He needed land on which to build his new works and have space for future expansion. The site also needed to be near to a river for importing raw materials, and a railway line for transporting the finished products. The marshy, uninspiring ground that he discovered was eventually to be transformed into the village of Port Sunlight, which was named after his famous soap.

Port Sunlight is now a designated Conservation Area, still within its original boundaries. Today the village and the Heritage Centre are now managed by The Port Sunlight Village Trust and although houses can be bought on the open market, the Trust remains responsible for the environment and landscape in Port Sunlight

Friday, 7 November 2008


The man himself,Errol Flynn,a heck of a life,he died when only fifty.

Sirroco was here in Cape Town,an entry in the Cape To Rio ocean yacht race,was it in 1974? she was one of the larger yachts,grouped in with the fleets largest yacht 'Greybeard' 90ft long and had to be berthed at the north end of the Duncan Dock,not a great place to be in a south wester or north wester,she was a great boat to look at,being high up on the quay side,it was easy to look the decks over from above,I seem to remember she never started the race?

December 6th 2008,some feedback from Ian Allen,down in Picton, South Island,New Zealand.

For the record, Sirocco arrived in CT at the end of 1975, in good time for the 1976 Rio Race - the one we sailed Jenny Wren in and, I think, the same time that you joined Peter for the trip back in Brer Terrapin. One of the guys on Sirocco made T-shirts with a picture and the name of our yacht, Carina, printed on them. He did this all on board.

Ian & Paula Allen
The Gables
Web Site
Tel / Fax 64 3 5736772

The Man
Errol Flynn was born in June 1909 in Hobart Tasmania and died in October 1959. He was a rowdy youngster and found ways of getting into trouble. As an actor, he was the ultimate swashbuckler, a rebel who loved freedom, a fighter against injustice and a heartbreaker. Flynn, the man, was ardent about boating, drinking, fighting and sex. He was a rogue and delighted in this. The actor was a defendant in three statutory rape trials. His career fell into decline. He had problems with the IRS and lawsuits, but before he died, he was making a name for himself as a serious actor, not just a role playing buccaneer.

He bought a yacht, the Sirocco, but sold it after the war. It was the scene of some of his famous orgies. He bought a new boat, the Zaca, also called the Black Witch, which also was the scene of his wild parties. Among his guests were major stars of the cinema. He had affairs with many women and he liked the young ones. His last romance was with sixteen year old Beverly Aadland.

His finances were in such poor shape that he decided to sell the Zaca shortly before his death. The prospective buyers invited him to a party. He said he did not feel well and died of a massive heart attack on the boat he loved.

Eerie Phenomena
The new owner sailed the Zaca to Europe where it broke down, then rotted in a shipyard in the French Riviera. During these years, people reported seeing Errol Flynn’s ghost walk the decks. Usually, his phantom was seen during twilight. One man who saw the specter jumped overboard and was in a state of shock when others found him.

A skipper of another boat heard music and women’s laughter and voices as if a party was happening on the Zaca. Lights were going off and on. No one was aboard. The boat had no electricity hooked up.

The shipyard owners decided to repair the Zaca. Before they did so, they decided to have an exorcism done. A boat painter who had seen Flynn’s ghost took a model of the Zaca to a church in Monte Carlo for the rite. Others who had witnessed Flynn’s phantom were present. The ritual was performed by a Catholic Priest and an Anglican Archdeacon.

During the service, the boat painter groaned and slumped forward in the pew, but quickly recovered.

All who attended the service felt it was a success

Santana,Bogies boat

Regardless of how many owners there have been or ever will be, Santana will always be known as "Bogie's" boat. In Stephen Bogart’s book, "In Search Of My Father," he writes, "While most people know that Bogie and Bacall had a great love affair, probably fewer know about my father’s other great love affair. It was with sailing. Specifically, it was with the Santana, a fifty-five-foot sailing yacht, which he had bought from Dick Powell and June Allyson. My father was not simply some movie star throwing money into a hole in the water. He was very serious about the boat and he was an excellent helmsman who earned the respect of the sailing fraternity, despite some well-entrenched prejudices they had about actors with boats. The sea was my father’s sanity. My father once answered a question about his devotion to sailing this way: "An actor needs something to stabilize his personality, something to nail down what he really is, not what he is currently pretending to be."

Bogart learned to sail as a child and once he had the good fortune to own his own boat he did it as often as possible. He sailed Santana between 35 and 45 weekends a year. Most of those weekends were stag, as Bogie felt that "the trouble with having dames on board is you can’t pee over the side." In addition

Nautical Man

Bogie and Bacall aboard Santana Bogies great off screen passion was sailing, and his pride and joy was his fifty-five-foot sailing yacht called Santana. Both a pleasure and a racing vessel, Bogie entertained friends and family aboard Santana and was also a respected racer, winning several high profile events.

Bogie on the Santana: "I don't use the boat to drink or chase dames on. I use it to get away from things. Hemingway said that the sea was the last free place in the world, and I respect and love it."

On the topic of Bogies love of the sea, and Santana, his wife Lauren Bacall had this to say:
"Bogie loved teaching me his love of the sea. It was one of his greatest joys when Steve was old enough to come on board. Bogie was fulfilled, completely satisfied when he was on the Santana. One look at his face and you could see the purity and the simplicity of the man I knew." "When Bogie laid eyes on the boat for the first time, he became lighthearted - singing, laughing. He did not want to part with her... If I ever had a woman to be jealous of, she was the Santana. Her sleek lines, the way she moved through the water... When Bogie bought that boat he was enslaved - happily so - and truly had everything he'd ever dreamed of."
When he established his own film production company he named it Santana Productions. For the scenes aboard a yacht in Key Largo the vessel was called Santana (although not Bogie's actual yacht). At his funeral his replica model of Santana stood beside the pulpit.

Since Bogie's death the yacht has had several owners and been toured around the world.

Santana Stats
55 ft 2 inches long
Mast Height 62 ft
Working Sail Area 1,569 sq ft
Displacement 50,000 lbs
Fuel 75 gallons
Water 66 gallons
Designed by Sparkman & Stephens, NYC
Built in 1935 by Willmington Boat Works

Tall ship the Stad Amsterdam

Yesterdays blog about the boat Appledore 2 brought a response,which in turn took me to,which in turn has a feature on the sailing ship
Stad Amsterdam,this is what they tell us on the page:

About the Stad Amsterdam
The clipper ship Stad Amsterdam is making a brief stop in Boston, and will open her decks for free tours on Sunday, April 13, 2008 from 10 am to 1 pm. She'll be berthed at Rowes Wharf by the Boston Harbor Hotel and welcomes all tall ship fans, sailors and sailors to be to come aboard. Soft soled shoes are suggested, she is not ADA capable, and please no carriages or strollers. She is open to "youth of all ages".
The "Stad" is a 250 foot "greyhound of the sea" that offers individuals and groups an unmatched experience under sail. She can make 17 knots under 2,200 square meters of sail, and offers all aboard an authentic hands-on sailing experience (if they choose), as well as unmatched European hospitality. She summers in European waters, taking groups on multi day sails, as well as guest appearances ranging from the Grand Prix at Monaco and major tall ship events. During the winter, she explores the Caribbean with international guests. Sailors looking for a "blue water" experience can sign aboard for her fall transatlantic passage to the Caribbean, or for the spring run from the US back to Europe. This year she leaves Boston on April 16, bound for Portugal..and yes there are berths available.

Conceived in 1995 and launched in 2000, she's an evolution of the clipper ship design that revolutionized shipping and transport in the mid 1800's. She embodies the designs of such legendary clipper ships as the Flying Cloud, Cutty Sark, Peking and other legendary clipper ships, and has set a new standard for cruising under sail.

Her website is but she's a vessel you'll want to see in person.

How to contact us for other charters or individual bookings:

If you would like info about a specific trip on more than 150 traditional vessels around the world, to cultivate a dream, or would like to organize a meeting, gathering or event under sail, the best way is to email us at with as much detailed info as you can muster. Please include good phone numbers where we can reach you, and a mailing address where we can forward catalogs, etc. where appropriate.
We will try to respond within 24 hours of receipt.

For general information and to gam with a live person, our contact info is below.

We look forward to sailing with you.
Fair Winds,

Barry L. Nickerson, President & Founder
PO Box 379
Stoughton, MA 02072-0379

office 781.344.1749
cell 781.249.4348

Web Site Contact:

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Jill Knight,The Mermaid

Jill stayed on her yacht at the HBYC marina for a good while,we got on very well and she was a welcome visitor to the local TBA meetings,when Jill and her black cat on Cooee finally departed,in what was posted as a strong south wester,she got a full gale and was forced to put into Saldahna and ended up taking Cooee out of the water at the Club Mykonos marina to have the entire hull re-caulked,pictures,I have some but where!

Once I saw a mermaid in the Mooloolaba Yacht Club . It was a Tuesday evening about 7pm and a line of thunder storms dark and mean in appearance had approached from the south west.

Like a few other people living on board their yachts I had taken refuge in the Club bar, rather than sit out the chaos of the storm on board. Sitting alone at bistro table number eight in the near empty club I could not help but notice her appearance.

Materialising in a ghost like fashion only metres away, the mermaid then stood at the bistro counter waiting to order. I took in the apparition of this sea creature standing before me. I managed this by stealing discreet glances whilst pretending to read the wine list. No polyester fashion here. No pretension with expensive Sperry boatshoes or Henri Lloyd togs. The legendary sailor was wearing sandals with an anklet of beads or shells and what looked like silk Thai fishermans pants topped with a shawl over a brief shirt. Her long dark hair cascaded over slender shoulders and her spectacles sat upon a wonderfully composed face with natural dignity and grace.

Indulging in all this imagery while she and her companion stood waiting to order their meals, I felt guiltily thankful, that the club service was as usual slower than a Roberts 25. I felt a strong temptation to speak with my mermaid, perhaps ask for her signature on a beer coaster, or just to tell her how much I enjoyed the articles published in the sailing magazines over the years. Alas, I struggled too long with a rare wave of shyness and before long the mermaid went and sat with her friends in the far corner at bistro table number thirteen.

Turning my concentration to the plate of fish and chips and schooner of XXXX on the table before me , I began thinking of the day before when I had discovered COOEE anchored up stream with about twenty other cruising boats during a nice morning sail in my dollar dinghy.

The old yacht which I had read about for the best part of twenty years looked fabulous at anchor. My blood had stirred with the romance and sensation of the moment. I get particular enjoyment from looking at yachts that are renowned in sailing circles and there in the Mooloolaba pond, COOEE looked a pearl of great lustre among common pebbles. I jillied around COOEE in the dollar dinghy a few times and then took my leave from the anchorage.

Buoyed by the sight of the old classic yacht and feeling a strange exuberance I broadreached back to the Yacht Club in the light nor westerly. I celebrated my good spirits by sailing under the Minyama Island bridge with only centimeters separating my mast tip and the bridge span. Life is a gas when things are going well and never more so than for sailing types.

My inspection of COOEE that bright warm Queensland winter morning followed by my furtive glances at the mermaid herself later in the yacht club, confirmed the impression formed in my mind over the years of reading her articles. The impression being that of the perfect symbiosis of a beautiful old vessel and equally beautiful and surefooted lady skipper.

As I remember, much of what stood out about her writing was how she related tales of humanity and personal feelings along with practical elements of ocean travel. I had really wanted to speak with this most alluring sailor but at the club I could see her enjoying the company of her friends so I was reluctant to intrude.

I wanted to ask about her writing as I had heard she had completed one novel and was working on another but alas, I lacked the power of enough XXXX to boost my confidence.

To finish this offering and complete my sharing with you the fruits of a vivid imagination I have this to say. Whilst I tend to dwell on the romantic, moral and spiritual side of things, I do not accept fate as the only lever of my destiny.

Before the week’s end I would have made the acquaintance of COOEE’S skipper, for when the mermaid appeared in the chandlery shop where I worked, I summoned all the chutzpah in the world and greeted her with a smile and the keenest of attitudes.

My willingness to help find the clevis pin missing from the bronze shroud terminal she held in her slim brown hand led naturally enough to a lengthy and enjoyable conversation about yachts, writing and sailing people. My mermaid also bid me to hail her should I ever be sailing past COOEE again.

And that, if it comes to fruition, may be the seed for another story.

Jill Knight is the mermaid of my story. She is a doyenne of the Australian cruising yacht fraternity and well known for writing of her sailing adventures aboard her old gaff rigged yacht Cooee. Her musings and photographic images , published in sailing periodicals for the past two decades have inspired multitudes of sailors to live the cruising life.

Navigating the Edge is Jill Knight’s first novel published by Harper Collins.

Order Jill’s novel

Appeldore vists Cape Town on world tour

This boat was a very welcome visitor to Cape Towns RCYC many years back,I remember looking at her timber masts,round and really well shaped,I was told they had been turned in a vertical lathe in Scotland but I am not quite sure on the truth of this?

Launched on August 22, 1978, Appledore II is the largest of her four sister ships, Appledore I, III, IV, and V. Appledore II was the last schooner custom built by the Harvey Gamage Shipyard in South Bristol, Maine, which had previously built the tall ships Mary Day, Harvey Gamage, Shenandoah, Bowdoin and Spirit of Massachusetts, among others. Designed by Bud McIntosh, she was structured to endure heavy weather and the open ocean.

Appledore II is gaff rigged on both her masts, with a hull speed of 10.5 knots and a length of 86 feet (26 m) overall.

[edit] Maiden Voyage
Her maiden voyage was an 18-month circumnavigation, which commenced in November 1978 from Portsmouth, New Hampshire and concluded there after the Appledore II visited many ports of call around the world. This voyage has been chronicled in two books, Dreams of Natural Places, A New England Schooner Odyssey and Sailing Three Oceans, both authored by Herbert Smith.

Nautical knots you will need on your world cruise

The only rope on a boat is its Bell Rope

The mariners choice,The Bowline.

Making a Bowline

Knots to choose from

Yachts have many lines,'getting to know the ropes' is a very old term given to how a new person learns the various tasks on board but in effect a sailing yacht or boat only has one rope,thats the Bell Rope that is used for signaling when its foggy or for recording the ships time.The rest of the lines on the boat may be called,Sheets,Runners,Halyards,Topping Lift,Vang,Spring,Stern and Bow line,the list goes on but there is still only one rope!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

The 2008/9 Volvo Ocean Race Route

This years route is a very different one,the map of the world shows you that India, and China are ports of call too,with the start being in Alacante,Spain,its a very broard band of ports this time around.

Erricson 4 breaks record to use Fluid Film

Volvo Ocean Race 70 ft yacht ,Erricson 4 was leg one winner and the first boat into Cape Town,she and her sister ship Erricson 3 will be using Fluid Film on the next legs,supplied by CKD Boats to their local shore based agents.The boats have now all arrived and can be seen at the Volvo Race Village at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Towns old harbour.

Tom is building his Didi 38 from a CKD Boats kit

We did put a picture of Toms building stocks on the blog some while back,Tom has since been busy assembling his bulkheads,its winter where he is,so he glues them together inside,then when the weather allows he sets them up outside on the building stocks,watch this space for more progress updates.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Paper Jet is in 'Sailing' magazine

Just out,Sailing magazine has a full feature on the Dix Design paper jet,its only available as a kit,we sell ours for R10,037,this includes the plans which are valued at U$300,we pay those on the buyers behalf.

More information is available from

This is what we supply in our kit:

4mm OKoume Marine plywood
Sheets 1220x2440mm [8'x4'] - 6

Meranti, Douglas fir or white pine framing
12x12mm (stringers) - 14m, selected for straight grain
16x32mm (wing edge frame) - 5m
18x32mm (daggerboard casing) - 1m
19x19mm (daggerboard casing) - 2m
22x32mm (wing beams) - 3m
16x16mm Triangular (ex 22x22mm cut diagonally) - 16m

10x32mm (gunwale) - 5m
16x82mm (wing leading edge) - 5m

Poplar, mahogany or similar
10x32mm (gunwale capping) - 5m
12x89mm (rudder blade) - 2m
16x40mm (wing edge cappings) - 5m
16x64mm (daggerboard) - 5m 19x25mm (wing leading edge cappings) - 2m

Glass etc
50mm glass tape - 1 roll
300g/sq.m [9oz/sq.yd] glass cloth - 2m [2yd] (sheathing foils) (extra 1m for Turbo bowsprit)
Laminating epoxy & hardener - 10litres [3 gal] total

Didi 38 Bulkheads assembly

Click on the picture to view it full screen size.

This is a kit we sent to a north african customer,he has invested in lots of clamps,the bulkheads with our stepped scarphs are being assembled one on top of the other to save space,when they are all glued up,they will be placed on the building stocks ready for the next stage of the boats build.Note the small meranti wood cleat on the top bulkhead and closest to the camera,all bulkheads will have similar cleats,they later support the Shearclamp that takes the top edge of the plywood hull skin,also the deck plys.