Monday, December 25, 2017


25 December 2017: It has kind of become a tradition here at Maritime Maunder to post this Robert Louis Stevenson poem on Christmas or Christmas Eve. Sorry for the delay in posting this week - had a bit of a personal emergency that precluded me getting on the computer.... To all of you who celebrate Christmas, merry merry! Here's one of my favorite poems:

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

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 main tops’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 was 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 brought the North Head close aboard.
So’s we saw the cliff and houses and the breakers running high,
And the coastguard in his garden, with this 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 longshore home;
The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys volleyed out;
And I vow we smelled 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 the 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 t’gallant sails,” I heard the captain call.
“By the Lord, she’ll never stand it,” our first mate, Jackson, cried.
….”It’s 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 might 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.

Merry Christmas, friends. 

Until next time, 

                              Fair Winds
                                   Old Salt


Sunday, December 17, 2017


17 December 2017: Once again, Maritime Maunder is in the position of bringing you breaking news about an even we have been watching and reporting on for the past six weeks. Francois Gabart is home! Here is the news article as of this morning: 

French sailor Fran├žois Gabart smashed six days and 10 hours off sailing’s around the world record on Sunday producing what many pundits felt was a previously unthinkable time of 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds.

Huge crowds of well-wishers were on hand to welcome the sailor into the port of Brest, accompanied by hundreds of small craft as he burned flares at the helm and was carried aloft to shore by his ground crew where he popped a bottle of champagne.

“I’m aching all over and it’s been like that for weeks, weeks since a proper sleep, I can hardly go on,” an exhausted Gabart told the press on his ecstatic arrival in port.
“It was hard and I was on the very edge of things the whole time.”
The 34-year-old sailor crossed a virtual finish line between the island of Ushant off France’s northwest tip and Lizard Point in southwest England at 0145 GMT, ripping to shreds the previous record set by compatriot Thomas Coville last year by a massive six days and 10 hours.
Moments before crossing the finish line Gabart, a father of two and engineer by trade, sent out an emotional video showing his boat’s progress on a computer monitor.

“The little blue is us, the red line is the finish. We should cut it soon, the computer says 30 seconds,” he said, wiping his eyes.
The race time was announced by an observer from the World Sailing Speed Council but will be subject to checks of the boat’s black box and its GPS data before final confirmation.
“I’m happy and proud to have made this lovely voyage around the world,” he said in the video.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet but I know it’s a great time. I have cargo ships and fishing boats around me in the dark here and it all seems strange and extraordinary.”
Gabart becomes just the fourth title-holder for a world record of sailing the globe solo without stopping.

Huge leaps have been made in that time — since the record was first set in 2004, nearly 30 days have been shaved off.
The debut record holder was Frenchman Francis Joyon who completed the odyssey in 72 days and 22 hours.

British female sailor Ellen MacArthur took to the seas a year later, racing against the clock to break that record by just a day and a half (71 days, 14 hours).
She remained undefeated until 2016 when Coville set a new record of 49 days and three hours which many predicted would be difficult to topple.
Gabart, who embarked on November 4, was on a two-year-old state of the art 30 metre (98 foot) long new generation MACIF maxi-trimaran comfortably carved its way through the waves and into the record books.
Helped by good weather throughout much of the voyage, particularly during the long and arduous Pacific section, it clocked up jaw-dropping speeds of up to 35 knots (65 kilometres an hour).
He set a number of new solo race records along the way, including the fastest navigation of the Pacific (7 days, 15 hours, 15 minutes) and the longest distance covered in 24 hours (851 miles or 1,576 kilometres).
Gabart first circumnavigated the world during the 2013 Vendee Globe race — which he won. He immediately set his sights on breaking the solo non-stop record.
Coville congratulated his record vanquisher.

“He’s an incredible strategist. He already showed that during the Vendee Globe,” he told AFP.
Of the four solo record holders, Gabart is the only won to have also won a competitive round the world race.
Another illustrious sailor Michel Desjoyeaux said there was no surprise in the feat.
“The one thing we can be sure of is that Francois has a faster boat than Thomas,” he told AFP by telephone.
“And he has spent a great deal of time on a multi-hull and is completely unafraid of high speeds, he’s fundamentally at ease in that environment.
Coville’s boat was a ten-year-old craft that had been reconditioned rather than built to purpose.

Does that last bit sound just a little like "sour grapes" - or is it me? Regardless, it is still a mind-blowing accomplishment and we offer congratulations to M. Gabart on his feat! 

That's it for this subject - we'll let Francois get some rest and in our next issue, we'll take a look at some less current!

Until next time,
                                   Fair Winds,
                                     Old Salt