Canterbury, clays, airports and lost sailors.

My 73 year old mum popped round last night she’s slightly built but super healthy. She also likes the odd glass of wine. I don’t know if it was weakness on my part or an altruistic gesture but I matched her litre for litre. If by chance you are reading this and own the the Vino Delisiasso vinyards and winery in North Eastern Italy, then it’s down to my mum and I that your turnover has significantly increased this year. While you’re here I’d like to thank you for a fine drop of Rosso.

I’ve been combing the web, the news sites in particular for an update on the Viking Islay, but have found nothing except for the initial, brief and fact free piece that I found on the BBC site last sunday.Three men died on board that small ship last weekend. Industry gossip has it that they were overcome by fumes and died "in the focsle head while securing the anchor cable". Now three men dieing in one incident in one small (UK flagged) ship in home waters is a pretty major catastrophe and yet hardly anything has been said about it in the media. I don’t think it even made the TV news, if it did, it was as a minor item.

The deaths of merchant sailors (mariners) hasn’t excited news editors or the great UK public for many years, decades in fact, ( the exception to this would involve the Titanic), so this lack of media interest is no surprise. Many years ago I survived an incident on a  VLCC (a supertanker), a British ship, in which three young British men were killed in a gassing incident. On that occasion, it made the radio news for one bulletin and then nothing more was heard about it in the public news domain. There are many examples of this occurring and it’s no great shakes really. The incidents would still have happened whether they were wall to news for a week or if coverage was limited to one paragraph in Lloyds List. Deaths of sailors aren’t ‘sexy’ enough to be newsworthy. There is one small item of concern on this matter though. There is a common theme running through the incidents I have in mind. BP. They don’t like and never have (and who can blame them) bad publicity. I can’t help wondering if they have the clout to keep the lid on these stories. With Texas City and Prudho Bay the whole thing was far too massive and in the public eye (and in the USA of course) to be concealable, but for lesser things, like dead sailors on British Renown, Viking Islay and others, it’s frighteningly possible.

Did a bit of sporting at Sturry this morning. One hundred of the those little black discs came hurtling out of the tree-line, coquettishly begging to be dustified by my marksmanship. Sadly the Vino Delisiasso from last night seemed to come into the equation somewhere along the line and 36 of the little devils carried on, passed my Beretta’s barrels, to land gently and unscathed in the long grass, out of bounds. In fact on one stand (out of 8), I managed for the first time, to "not trouble the scorer". To add insult to injury, this debacle was witnessed by the Perazzi toting, Mercedes driving, "go on my son", tattooed, Essex brigade.

The phone hasn’t rung with any last minute requests to zoom off on a jaunt so it looks like it’s the 0630 to Cannon Street tomorrow. Hmm, that’ll be nice.


The week’s travel has firmed up. Off to Malta on wednesday, just for one night followed by a tug survey the following day then back to blighty at teatime. This warranty lark is travel centric, you either love it or hate it. That said, I’m just ambivalent towards it. The airport bit is what does it for me, the London airports with the exception of LCY are the worst in Europe at processing punters. They are closely followed in the hall of shame by Aberdeen. The common thread here, BAA. Whether it’s to do with the new (ish) awful Spanish owners or they just like to use the current ‘security’ climate as an excuse to humiliate and abuse as many passengers as possible for the longest achievable time with the most dimwitted, dunderheaded and cretinous staff that it’s possible to recruit from the ‘no hoper’ dole queues of Britain’s industrial wastelands, is anyone’s guess. It’s probably a combination of both. Deep joy.

I just wish I lived 10 minutes from Schipol, now that’s how to run an airport. BAA, please remove heads from own anus’s and try and emulate their example. Thankyou!!!!

If it hadn’t been Malta I had a choice of Inchon in Korea (imagine going through the 2 hour humiliation at LHR knowing that all you’ve got to look forward to is a 12 hour flight to the most homogenised nation on earth) or Almeria (possibly spelled a bit wrong) in southern Spain for 3 days looking at pipeline sections being offloaded from a freighter. The Malta choice was easy to make.

Anyway Moon tug, I hope all is in order and I can give you a shiny new certificate of approval. Please, I hate having to be horrid and saying ‘No’.

Drunky nuncky is still drunky (that said he’s a bit less so today) and seems to be hiding in the garage (his workshop) behind a small cone of empty voddy bottles. If anyone here has got shares in the org that owns Smirnoff, expect a big dividend this year. On a nautical note, empty 750 ml bottles have an angle of repose of around 28 degrees. If he repeats the normal routine of sobering up, self recrimination, being pleasant for a few days and then adding alcohol to become an ‘instant arsehole’ …. again, then we’ve got about 10 days of normal family life ahead of us. Better enjoy it while it lasts. The Voddy adverts on the telly and in the mags never seem to mention this impact on lives. It’s all smiles, beautiful people and stunningly well selected clothes on perfectly proportioned bodies. Nothing about smelly, shambling burblers wearing sick splattered rags. C’mon addy people, be brave, lets have a healthy dose of ‘reality’ commercials.

Enough said, I’m off to down a litre of Voddy and then to be sick everywhere. It’ll let Nuncky know that he’s not alone.


It wasn’t a long bash offshore this time and  we weren’t even that far offshore because with a fim squint I could just about make out, on the horizon, between the vast mobile warehouses  (container ships) that crowded the area, the tedious flatness that is the Dutch coast, the signal on my mobile phone crept in at times too. The food had been good (if it’s free, clean and cooked with a bit of passion then it’s always good) and the client was polite and seemingly impressed with my controlled nods of assurance at critical times (if only they knew) so the jaunt had been no hardship.

That said, I was till keen to get home and re-assure memsahib that all was well in the world and also to satisfy my curiosity as to how well drunky nunky was progressing with his attemptat being continuously bladderd during 2007.  So there it was, that at  nine pm on monday night I got home, this depite the efforts of scuriously under dimensioned flight immersion suits, the Dutch railway system having an offday and the dubious scheduling of flights from Schipol to Gatwick.

Good news, drunky nunky was living up to his name and memsahib believed my view of world events and accepted my sentiments that if only people smiled a bit more at each other and weren’t quite so self important  (at this point I look at myself and cough self conciously) then all would be happiness and light.

Logged on to the company webmail and expected the worst, another trip to start almost immediately. Goodness no, I hoped not. That was my 28th wander since Jan first and it was getting a bit tiresome. Ah good, I could have 2 days off and show my face in the City offices on thursday and friday. Splendid, actually quite excited about the prospects of wandering London’s streets again, haven’t been there for 3 months and have rather missed the teeming pavements and endless distractions from pubs, foody places and interesting shops. The novelty will wear off very quickly if past  form is any guide but it’s lovely while it lasts.

Tuesday morning and at my fave local sporting ground. No it’s not footy or the like; but clay shooting and  ‘sporting’ is the name of the particular discipline that goes on there. I’m pretty  naff at it. A charitable chap might describe my efforts as ‘competent’, that’s polite talk for ‘pretty crap really’. That said, I enjoy it and on some (rare) days I actually do quite well and enjoy it even more than normal.

Crikey, the sea air must have effected something important in my grey thing cos I’ve gone tree stands and not dropped a target. The, my phone rings, stupidly I haven’t turned it off. Can I go to Turkey? When? Tonight, I need to be at the site for a heavy lift first thing tomorrow morning. No NO NO. The damage is done however, I have a 10 minute huff and miss everything that goes passed my barrels before chilling and resuming normal mode, eg barely adequate. 74 hits out 100, not a discrace but I was doing so well at first. Sigh.

Wednesday, Skeet shooting at the other local gound, local but not as local as the first one. It’s a 90 mile round trip by car. Ninety miles in the scheme of things is not far at all when compared to travelling to say  Korea or Angola, but it is to me because it involves sitting in  a car and that’s the most horrid and dangerous way to travel. I try and minimise car travel. The shooting’s ok, I like skeet, less variables than sporting and higher scores are the norm. I score 90%, that’s brills for me. The two chaps accompanying me, neither one under 70, both manage 100%. I wonder if I should get my coat but they say ‘don’t worry, you’re a competent shot, really’. I get my coat. Friday night and I’ve survived two whole days in the London offce, my first desk work since June. I’d forgotten how humdrum it was and yet stressful at the same time. I know, I know, stress is simply the inability to deal with pressure. I can’t. But all is not lost because I managed to wangle a tug inspection next week in Malta. A bit of sunshine, a change of scene, two days chargeable time and few more BA airmiles, can’t be all bad then. Besides, I like tugmen, they’re not usually pretentious and tend to be good seamen. No old nonsense from them ….. usually. Watch this space.

About allatsea

Sixty year old master-mariner. Absolutely gorgeous. Well wedged.....when compared to a Nairobi street urchin. Sorted, in that I haven't been in court recently. Hopelessly optimistic, terminally disappointed. Good with cats and other fluffy things. No musical talent. Generous to a fault provided it's someone else's round. Political centreist with far right and left viewpoints. A green activist from the hydrocarbon position with nuclear leanings. Averse to avarice but always happy to receive lottery wins, gifts, windfalls, legacies, prizes and wet sloppy kisses.
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