Time Bandit

21 February 2017 | Christchurch City Centre
14 February 2017 | Sleepy Westport
07 February 2017 | Scots Brolly v's Power Brolly
30 January 2017
14 January 2017 | Anne adopting the squaw look to fight the Welsh freeze.
24 December 2016 | Car Hove-to in the Christmas Breeze
22 December 2016 | Largs, Scotland at 11:30 AM!!!
16 December 2016 | Stirling Castle peaking is over the neighbours house. All of 7c
10 December 2016
06 December 2016
02 December 2016
28 November 2016 | The Kitchen
22 November 2016 | The Heroes
16 November 2016 | Whangarei Town Basin
09 November 2016 | Town Basin Whangarei

One Day Will Do.

21 February 2017 | Christchurch City Centre
That was the response when we said we had booked four days in Christchurch. However, months ago, some folk said we shouldn't bother with American Samoa; but then we liked it. We hoped for the same at Christchurch.

What we didn't realise was the enormity of the damage caused by the earthquake almost six years ago to the day.

Zoom in on the photo. This is bang in the centre of town. Every building in the picture has to come down.

Kind of annoyingly, the arty farty inverted steel cone beside the half demolished cathedral survived against most of the laws of physics, not to mention common sense.

However, like a Phoenix the city is rebuilding. It might just take a while.

So Good They Named It Twice

14 February 2017 | Sleepy Westport
OK. We've been doing the land touring thing for a few weeks now, so here's a few observations on New Zealand.

Firstly, the roads must have been built before straights were invented. The highways, and indeed the byways, are a never ending succession of corners, mostly in a range from "Oooh, that's tight" to "Whooaaa that's alpine hairpin". Most come supplied with a complimentary logging truck hurtling towards you, offside wheels on your side of the road.

Best strategy is to get behind a reasonably paced big campervan, or better still, another logging truck, suck up the fumes but have them clear the road for you.

Next up is that most places are named twice.

A bit like someone with a stammer trying to give you directions, Take-Take first left, then go straight-straight for two miles and head for Kaiteriteri then right at sign for Matakitaki. It's all quite confusing.

Post earthquake the main drag down to Christchurch is blocked so every bit of motorised transport, mostly heavy, is using the back road. The tourists in their lumbering camper vans most be loving it. More so Kwik Clutch & Brakes.

On the subject of lumbering, having been suggesting for weeks that, "wouldn't it be nice if we had a wee boat", we booked in for three days of a five day "Classic Kayak Tour" in the Abel Tasman national park. Now, obviously Abel had sails, and probably even a crew to row him around. He certainly didn't paddle a bucket of a double kayak upwind for more kilometres than my shoulders could stand.....and then camp on the ground in the bugs and rain. Well, maybe he had the bugs and rain. Tent as well I suppose.

Other than the aching shoulders and blisters it was a picturesque paddle with sea lions, cormorants and an impressive coastline. Just a shame it moved so slowly past. Fortunately they only had room for us for three days. Not sure we'd have lasted five.

Another observation is that jolly old New Zealand is pretty pricey. Now, while I'll confess to not actually knowing how much a pint of milk is back home, I did check, and a pie, the staple diet of most New Zealander's, is twice the price here. And remember that weeny bottle of beer for $9.50? Haven't had a drink for weeks!

We're now in the South Island heading for an appointment with Bruce Springsteen in Christchurch. Tonight and tomorrow night we're in Westport. I think one night would have done. While clean and tidy, it's a bit of a frontier look, one horse town and that horse bolted a while ago for the bright lights of Nelson.

However, one thing New Zealand has done well is inventing activities to relieve passing tourists of their hard earned cash. So, tomorrow we have a choice of surf lessons, try your hand at panning for gold, a visit to the old coal mine or, my favourite, a free walk on the beach.

A Tale of Two Brollies

07 February 2017 | Scots Brolly v's Power Brolly
Here we are in Wellington, bumming room and board from sailing friends from back in the "mother country", Rob(bie) and Linda Kent.

Rob moved out here about twenty years ago and, as an old Wellington "hand" warned us of the strong winds that the city enjoys. Windi Welli as I believe the locals call it.

Well, today, it showed some of its potential. It wasn't the 100+ knots of recent weeks but enough to make you take a wee non drink induced stagger. Little kiddies however were bowling over like nine pins.

Given it's windy status, an enterprising, experienced local, fed up with ruined umbrellas that didn't survive the first gust, designed and now sells hard core brollies to those who must brave the elements.

So, there we were, on a walking tour of the waterfront, enjoying the sights, the live music, gift vendor stalls and flying spume, from the wild breeze tearing across the bay, Anne with her wee Scottish brolly and me, and hanging onto the Power brolly for dear life.

One thing Mr Brolly didn't factor in is that with a conventional brolly, it effectively "self reefs", inverting and collapsing and thus de-powering in a gust. A bit like a Parasail for nautical readers. On the other hand, the Power brolly, being a superbly engineered product, designed for such winds, holds its shape, even in the strongest blow. Come that big gust that accelerates and whistles around the corner bringing pedestrians to a halt, loose clothes madly flapping and leaning into the wind at 45 degrees like pavement based Eddie the Eagle, you with your super brolly find yourself under full sail, flying backwards down the street like Mary flying Poppins.

I've never suffered from wind so much.

Drink Problem

30 January 2017
Drink problem.

Earlier this month, back home, we went on a whisky tour on the misty island of Islay, off the west coast of mainland Scotland courtesy of David and Caroline, the country's trialists for the new sport of outdoor slipping. Slipping granite stones along lengths of ice is called Curling. Plain "slipping" is when you fall on your bum trying to achieve the former. Anyway, on Islay David and Caroline treated us to visits to Laphroaig, Ardbeg and Bowmore distilleries where we sampled a dram or three. Happy days. (Hint.....if you get invited on such a tour, take one driver, one tee-totaller and a friend who's done the tour many times before. That way by 11:00 you're in a fine mood!! Where's the dancin'?!!

Back to now, here in New Zealand we went on another tour, this time a tour of a kiwi fruit farm where we got a slice of kiwi fruit and a medicine sized thimble of juice. Oh well......

New Zealand is quite a big place. As we are finding out. We've been on the road now for over two weeks and we are all of three or four hours from the boat.

We stopped after the first hour to visit/gloat at Colin and Izzy, sailing friends from Largs who were antifouling Endorphin. We stayed in our first ever AirBnB. Absolutely brilliant. For the very reasonable price of $40 we had a two bedroom apartment, lounge, bathroom and kitchen. And welcoming hosts. Our trip continued around the Coromandel peninsula arriving in the old frontier gold mining town of Thames where we parked up outside AirBnB number two, "Cozy Room" a single storey wooden house that might well have been the "Before" picture in a reality show for Fixeruppers". Good news was the owner obviously had a sense of humour asking us to remove our shoes before stepping onto the dirty horrible, manky carpets. Yuck. We should have turned around and walked out. After a cringing night we left only for the muppets to claim $10 insisting we'd stolen the cloth tie back for the single, worn, drooping, curtain.

However, the next AirBnB restored our faith with beautiful accommodation in a new build ranch style house just outside Tauranga.

En route we had the embarrassment of arriving at a T junction in Coromandel where, across the road, there's 50 Harleys, and their gorilla like owners, all long hair and bulging tattooed bare forearms and leather waistcoats straining over their well tended beer bellies.

Was this the Mongrel Mob biker gang we'd heard about? My only hope was they couldn't hear my iPhone music which was on shuffle and the bloody Carpenters were playing.

Onwards we went towards Taupo to meet up with, more friends from Largs. Popular place Largs! Taupo is one of the many adventure capitals of New Zealand. All bungy jumping, steaming volcanic lakes and hot waterfalls among some very pretty scenery.

As regards my drink problem......I simply can't afford it. $9.50 for a weeny bottle of Steinlager!!! I'd ordered this New Zealand brand as, in foreign places I like to support the local economy. At $9.50 for a thimble of beer it seems I'm supporting the whole flaming New Zealand economy.

The Other Cruising Community

18 January 2017
This is a fine picture of my brother during the "nap" phase of the rigorous and exhausting training programme he undertook prior to his P&O cruise.

Fortified by a bowl of, not too hot puréed meat, soft vegetables and potatoes Eric managed the 25 metre sun lounger shuffle, beating several cruisers to the recliners where, after his wee nap he was well set for the next challenge, organised queuing. Queuing for a trip ashore while wondering if he really should have risked skipping that visit to the Mens Room.

However I was recently assured my vision of these cruise ships as floating care homes was somewhat erroneous. Consequently when one docked yesterday as we passed through Auckland I paid special attention to the demographics of the guests and yes, it seems in fact, I may be wrong.

While yes, the majority were past retirement, and rightly so as we can't have today's yoof skiving off and not paying the taxes to fund our retirement and health care, it seems it's not wholly an age thing. It's more that they are simply in "cruise" mode. My new theory is that the shuffling gait that can often be associated with the old and infirm actually stems from the fact that, having gone to sleep on island X or city Y, overnight, while they are fast asleep (other than the four trips to the loo), they wake up totally confused looking at a yet another new island or city in their 10 day "Cities of Culture" or other misnomer, cruise where, after the obligatory queuing they are dumped on the dock or street dressed in their pressed, long shorts, quite uncool Hawaiian shirts and brilliant white "adult" Nike Airs, blinking in the sunshine wondering where the hell they are now, where their mates from dinner last night are and where the hell should they go.

It's at this moment we, the other scruffy cruising community members usually catch sight of the shuffling mass of confused humanity and it's this that leaves the impression it's the cast of One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest rather than the previously decisive, energetic and successful business people they probably were and probably still are outside the organised shuffling that seems part of big ship cruising.

That's my theory anyway. (Can you tell it's raining today and our Grand Tour of New Zealand is on hold for 24 hours while we go and shuffle round the town wondering where we are?)

14 January 2017 | Anne adopting the squaw look to fight the Welsh freeze.
Welcome back to all our readers and welcome to 2017 and more pages of inane drivel.

We've been 5 weeks in the frozen north and PHEW! Twelve hours after leaving freezing London, freezing Wales and freezing Scotland we arrived in overcast and steamy Kuala Lumpur and finally I think it might be safe to take off my thermal vest.

On the flight home I decided there should me a new "movement " KWAP"; Keep Weans (babies and young children for non Scots) Aff Planes.

Last night I was plotting with a 4 and a 6 year old how we could muzzle two old dears who blathered all flaming night. All at full volume because, as old folks do, they turn their hearing aids down so their old crony doesn't deafen them.

There was very nearly another murdur.

Three more hours to kill then off for the next 12 hour haul to Auckland. While I'm not clairvoyant I can see it coming.....the two old dears sat right behind me.

The joys of travel.

A Stooshy & a Win

24 December 2016 | Car Hove-to in the Christmas Breeze
A Stooshy in Sleepy Largs

Up with the larks this morning. They blew past the windows at about 50 miles an hour in a tumble of drookit* feathers.

Pretty wild up here at 56 north. If we were at the antipodean equivalent we'd be taking our turn at the outside of the Emperor penguin circle.

Up early to go for a swim and to buy reading specs. (The print on all these new modern books is just SO small).

Arrived at the pool at crack of dawn, hoping to get in and out before the 12 year old came in to embarrass me..... but it was shut. For the first but not to be the last time in the day I got a look that obviously questioned my sanity.

Och. We don't open 'till 9. Would you like a wee timetable? All said at the pace and volume reserved for old codgers. Faced without a choice I thought I'd go for a coffee. Shut. Don't open 'till 9:30. So went back to the pool car park, strapped down the car and sat in the howling wind and rain 'till "small Scottish retirement town" opening time.

Back in the pool, there was now a queue of nine early morning risers all waiting with practiced indifference as the two staff members sat at their hi-tech desks under their all powerful clock, all watching and waiting on the second hand to make its painfully slow way to click the minute hand vertical to the magic 9.

Last through and last in the water I was faced with the old codgers all swimming in THEIR lane. I gave it a couple of lengths swimming around and avoiding the regulars, as happy to see me, some out-of-towner, as to see a poop in THEIR pool.

"Screw this", I thought. I'll have a sauna and see if I can stretch in the steam room without falling of the bench. It was cold.

THAT WAS IT. Enough. Got dressed, asked politely for my money back, suggested they try lane swimming, like every other pool in the world and left in stooshy**

Left for the marina for breakfast and to pick up some stuff I can't be bothered hunting for in New Zealand. Brilliant 12 teachers are in ahead of me for end of school celebration. "Might be a wee while" says the waitress. Brilliant.

Anyway, got my stuff and headed back into town to buy specs.

Boots £18:90 or £30 for two. Stuffed and locked in plastic packs that needed an engineering degree to open so you could try them on. Pulled, tugged, even looked fir instructions but in the end gave up in disgust. Round corner is the Pound Shop. Everything for a pound.

"How much are these specs?" I asked. Looking me in the eye like I'm a moron, having walked into a shop called The Pound Store, under a giant sign that said, "Everything for a Pound" he says with a hint of fatigue, "A pound". He was polite enough to drop the "you dummy" from the reply but I could see him thinking it.

That was the first of my life enhancing results this morning, and it's only just gone 11. Next, at the swimming pool, out of a choice of some 250 lockers I chanced upon number 112 and found a pound coin! A WINNER. Fair made my morning and a great start to Christmas. Hope you have a relaxing stress free enjoyable Christmas.

*drookit - soaked, wet through
**stooshy - tantrum, bad mood

Set For Everest

22 December 2016 | Largs, Scotland at 11:30 AM!!!
Some readers might remember I put my back out in July in Papeete. I've been hobbling to recovery since then and latest scheme is swimming.

So, early this morning I'm in the pool with the old codgers, all budgie smugglers and back hair you want to take shears to. Chewbacca in trunks. Them, not me.

Anyway, up and down the lengths I went thinking I was doing fine given my daily exercise programme died in July when, with hardly a splash, a 12 year old did a tumble turn beside me. After a few minutes when she was doing two lengths to my one I slipped out the water before getting further embarrassed, stretched a little to show I'd been working real hard before she showed up and headed for the steam room.

Steam rooms; great places to get a gentle stretch.....unless you slip off the narrow, wet plastic bench. With that, I headed for the cafeteria. £1.50 for a paper cup of coffee out a machine. No way. So I headed out into the wild to iconic Nardini's Continental Cafe. Now, it's winter here and I headed out into 35 of the forecast 90 mph winds. These come later but I'm OK tucked up in......
- thermal simmit (vest for non Scots readers)
- Long sleeve Rugby shirt
- Fleece
- Down jacket
- Goretex overjacket
- Hat
- Scarf
- Hood

There's folk go up Everest in less.
Vessel Name: Time Bandit
Vessel Make/Model: Island Packet 45
Hailing Port: Largs, Scotland
Crew: Anne and Stuart Letton
About: ex dinghy and keelboat racers now tooled up with an ocean going boat and cruising around aimlessly, destination Nirvana...
Extra: 2016 Transited Panama Canal early February '16 bound for Galapagos (March), Marquesas, Pacific Islands and New Zealand for November '16
Home Page: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/timebandit/profile
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Time Bandit's Photos - Main
An interesting perspective on evolution in the Galapagos.
23 Photos
Created 7 March 2016
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Mediterranean Spain to the Arctic Circle
67 Photos
Created 12 August 2013
Scraping and sanding hull back to gel coat for epoxy and Coppercoat treatments.
6 Photos
Created 3 February 2013