Friday 13 August 2010

The first row

Just before my last bout of chemo, feeling better than I had for months, I decided to take the boat out. My brother Daniel was over from London, the weather had been settled and carpe diem was my motto.

The following is an extract from my cancer diary.

“I’ve been planning this jaunt for a few days, counting on Daniel’s presence for launching OB and rowing me back to shore if I get too tired. I reckon that on a flat, windless sea it’s a safe bet. The only problem is that Daniel has arrived from England having fallen off his bicycle. His knee is grazed and his wrist sprained. He won’t be able to row and will have to go easy on land. For my part I’m still 15 kilos under weight and I’ve got this dodgy knee. Together we make one-and-a-bit healthy people.”
“Pulling the boat over the sand is like dragging a dead cow while someone turns a red-hot corkscrew in my knee. Daniel grunts pushing the boat with one hand. We get OB to the water’s edge and I send D off to buy a couple of cold beers while I finish readying the boat.”
“We push out into the pink waves and jump aboard in thigh-deep water. I take up the oars and start rowing. It is the most natural thing in the world. My body is made for this. I can’t help leaning back into the strokes and the boat surges forward, light and lively. A complete contrast with how it behaves on land.”
“Amazed at how natural the action feels I want to pull and pull but I prudently rest after only 100 metres or so. The sun is sinking behind the houses and the clouds are yellow. OB rocks, alive to every nuance of the sea, transmitting every movement to me.”

“I decide to change the oars and try out the new ones. They feel very big and are heavier to pull. I can’t really gauge if we are going any faster than with the smaller oars though D says we’re streaking along. I row down the coast a while then stop and rig an oar on the aft thole pin so that D can row as well. With an oar each OB really does seem to go faster though we can’t hold a straight line. We turn round, zigzag back and tie up to a buoy. The colours on the water are a mix of anthracite, pearl and flame.”

“We break out a picnic supper of tinned sardines, mussels, dried sausage, cheese, baguette and cold beer and eat using the central thwart as a table. The sunset fizzles and darkness and dew fall. The half moon is hazy and it’s broken reflections stretch across the water.”

Thanks Daniel!

Sunday 8 August 2010

Pulling for Ben

The amount of support I’ve had during this illness has been overwhelming. Not only all the cheering comments from you lot out there (thank you so much, it really has made a difference) but also, now I’m out of hospital, the encouragement of local people as well. All those neighbours that, at times, might have been irritated or perplexed by OB’s presence in the garden have touchingly demonstrated their affection.

But one of the most emotional moments came when the rowing team, rather than do their usual training session, rowed up from the harbour and landed on the beach in front of my house.

There have been several moments during my 22 years in Catalonia when I’ve found myself lucky enough to be welcomed into the heart of Catalan culture and this was clearly one of them. Most of the team are fishermen or from fishing families and they have known each other since they were children. I mentioned to one that as a foreigner I felt fortunate in being admitted into what, it has to be said, is a tightly closed circle. He responded that I wasn’t a foreigner; I was a man of the sea, just like them.

I still haven’t wiped the satisfied smile off my face.

Wednesday 23 June 2010

The Giant Octopus revisited

This is a post from Ben’s partner Mónica.

A year ago Ben was on his trip to Ibiza. In his words he was ‘fighting a giant octopus’ that symbolised his fears. Over the past two months he has been fighting another giant octopus.

Tonight the summer solstice is celebrated in Spain. It is the eve of San Juan. It is a fire festival with bonfires and fireworks. I will be lighting a fire on the beach for Ben and many of his friends who have followed his adventures and his illness will be joining me.
I would like to invite everyone who knows Ben through this blog to join me tonight in wishing him all our love, strength and confidence. Together we can do it. 

Thank you, Mónica.

Friday 7 May 2010

A tap on the shoulder

A sense of loyalty makes me feel it’s only fair that I should let you know that I won’t be posting for a while. A health problem has taken centre stage, demanding my full attention.

There’s only one way to look at these things though, and that’s as a new adventure. It might not be as picturesque as sailing but if I can make the most of all the opportunities it presents I will be richer for the experience.

OB as she stands, not quite ready for sea but with the new, more mature paint job.

Saturday 10 April 2010

Els horitzons d'en Ben

Click on the +i button to see the video. If that doesn't work (the links seems a bit iffy) try here.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

OB on the telly

Back in January a Catalan TV reporter came to film OB with a view to making a short documentary about her. Aware of the fickle nature of television I didn’t think anything would come of it despite the chap driving off with five hours of material.

Readers in Spain should tune into the ‘Thalassa’ on Catalan TV’s Canal 33 at 21:55 on Friday 9th. The OB documentary is titled Els horitzons d'en Ben (The horizons of Ben) and lasts about 20 minutes.

Quite frankly I don’t know what to expect, I’ve had no hand in the editing nor have I seen the final cut. I could feel some of the questions pushing me in a rather esoteric direction and I wonder if I might be portrayed as a sort of Byronesque beach bum. We shall see.

At least there should be plenty of good footage of OB sailing, which I will link to or post here when I get a copy of the film—if it’s not too embarrassing.

Friday 2 April 2010

A perfect system of pulleys

The most time consuming part of boat turning is the waiting around for someone to come by who can be roped into giving a hand. Recently OB’s been turned more often than rashers in a pan and I’ve been depending on a local builder for muscle. But when he was suddenly called away to birth of his fifth son I had to find a way to flip the boat alone.

Setting up a block and tackle in the olive tree I thought of Fitzcarraldo—the character played by Klaus Kinski in the 1982 film by Werner Herzog.

Fitzcarraldo is a passionate single-minded dreamer intent on building an Operahouse in Iquitos, deep in the Amazon jungle in northwest Peru. First he has to raise money by harvesting rubber from an inaccessible location. To achieve this he buys a 300-ton ship and steams upriver into an area populated by unfriendly tribes. The crux of Fitzcarraldo’s plan lies in employing native labour to haul the three-story steamship over a mountain from one tributary of the Amazon to another, collect the rubber and then run the rapids back down to the Amazon river and Iquitos.

It’s an amazing piece of film, the boat inching its way up the 40º slope. Herzog used no special effects to cross the isthmus and later called himself a ‘Conquistador of the Useless’.

At one point, on the muddy hillside, amongst the massive winches hewn from felled trees, Fitzcarraldo says, ‘With a perfect system of pulleys I’d pull the boat up alone.’

Turning OB is a good deal more simple.

Thursday 1 April 2010

Four oars

It started with a thick plank of Russian pine. I knew Onawind Blue’s new oars were in there somewhere, it was just a question of getting them out. I took up Mr Mushroom’s offer of cutting out the rough shape on his bandsaw. Then I managed to borrow an electric plane and took off the wood around the oar blades and looms.

I thought things couldn’t get any better when another carpenter friend lent me a spoke shave. With this marvelous tool I revealed the shafts and the handles. And there they were, a pair of long, elegant oars. It only remains to take off a little more wood with 100 grit sandpaper.

The handles are long in the hope that I’ll try OB as two-man rowboat.

Maybe she will fly.

Saturday 20 March 2010

A boat for all reasons

I feel I haven’t so much been working on OB over the past couple of weeks as gently communing with her. I know it’s hokum but I’ve always anthropomorphised my boat. Of inanimate objects I have known she is by far the most lively. And while stripping the varnish back to wood or uncovering voids (or a cracked epoxy fillet hiding soggy wood!!) I’ve been forced to consider the build quality.

She’s the first boat I’ve ever built and it shows. I have no problem with this however, and nor does OB. It was a steep and slippery learning curve.

I learnt a lot over the six-month build and with the experience I gained I’m more qualified to effect good repairs. This awareness of my greater skill has led me to speculate on other boats. (Though not around OB, obviously. Don’t want to offend her.) There are some real beauties out there and hopefully I’ll be around for long enough to give one or two a try.

For the moment though my situation hasn’t changed since I jotted down the brief that led me to build OB. And, given that brief, I still haven’t been able to find a more suitable craft. Well, not until Gavin Atkin reworked the drawings and produced the Light Trow Mark 2.

I’ve had a sneak preview of the drawings and can see that with more built-in buoyancy, self-draining mast steps and stitch and glue construction she’ll be even more suited to easy building and effective cruising. I gather that Gav is going to release the plans soon and for free in Water Craft magazine and at They’re well worth a serious perusal… There’s a lot of fun to be had with a boat like this and now that the Light Trow is a proven design I expect it will gain the following it deserves.

Friday 19 March 2010

Where would we be?

One of my neighbours made it clear that he had a problem with me working on OB in the communal garden. Fair enough, I said, I’ll get the boat out of the garden, but what exactly is the trouble? As I listened to his argument my eyes flicked between his jugular and the chisel in my hand. Where would we be, he asked, if everybody did their boat up in the garden? Unwittingly he’d chosen a line of reasoning calculated to get blood throbbing into my head.

‘Where would we be if?’ can be a good question. Where would we be if everybody owned a car? Where would we be if everybody ate tuna fish? Or cod? Or wanted levis and nike trainers? But it’s not the question to ask the small guy tinkering on his boat when he alone forms 15% of the local boat owning population and is the only person with a boat small enough to fit through the garden gate.

I made a list of all the jobs I wished to complete before the next weekend when I would get OB out of the garden. Sanding, sanding, priming, sanding, painting, sanding, painting, sanding, varnishing, sanding, varnishing and so on. And as the week nears its end I find that most of the items on the list remain to be done. Particularly the sanding.

Lists are amorphous things, expanding and contracting daily. More often they’re written to clarify rather than to follow and we list writers should retain the right to change and abandon lists as the situation requires. If not they can become the most terrible dictators.

So as the weekend draws near and the work on OB is far from complete I ask myself—Where would we be if we all followed lists to the letter? Where would we be if we all did what we said we were going to do?

But I do generally do what I say I’m going to do and so the boat is out of the garden and work is suspended until next week.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

‘The uncharted coasts of the human spirit’

A long-awaited copy of William H Longyard’s A Speck on the Sea arrived this morning. With more than 70 accounts of big adventures in small boats I couldn’t resist plunging in immediately. Now on page 40 it is proving to be everything I hoped it would be—well researched with a gripping subject matter.

Being a Mediterranean rowing story the first full account, William Okeley’s 150-mile journey from Algiers to Mallorca in 1644, is easy to relate to. After four years enslavement in North Africa, (No, I couldn’t relate to that bit.) Okeley and several companions built a cloth-covered ‘folding’ rowing boat, which they sneaked out of the city in pieces, assembled on the beach and so escaped from Algiers and slavery.

Heading due north contrary winds hampered their initial progress and when dawn broke on the first day they were still within sight of Algiers. After four days rowing (this is the part that I could relate to) they were exhausted. On the verge of giving up they came upon a sleeping turtle, which they divided among themselves and, so sustained, rowed on to Mallorca, which they reached two days later.

One story that doesn’t appear to feature in A Speck on the Sea is that of Sebastian Näslund. His story is one that I seem to stumble upon every now and then via this tantalisingly short youtube clip.

Näslund is a Swedish sailor and freediver who built a 14ft boat and, in 2004, set sail from Sweden to cross the Atlantic. He then sailed his craft ‘Arrandir’ back to Sweden.

The book of the journey ‘Ensam met havet’ is available in Swedish. According to the website it focuses on the inner journey, the loneliness and the character building that such a voyage provides. Which reminds me of the Webb Chiles line ‘If a sailor doesn’t learn anything more from the sea than how to reef a sail, the voyage wasn’t worth making.’

Multi-talented Näslund appears to major in freediving. He has been down to -74m on one breath. He has written a freediving booklet titled Bloodshift—an approach to expert freediving. From the blurb, ‘It (Bloodshift) assumes that you are in it for the lifestyle, and if you are not, the text tries to give you the tools that are needed to make freediving a way of living, on land as in water.’ It’s sounds as if the manual may have a broader application as inspiration for anyone thinking of exploring their limits. What Webb Chiles (again) called ‘the uncharted coasts of the human spirit’.

Sunday 7 March 2010

Dents, dings and voids

Gouges caused by stones in the sand are acceptable wear for a beach boat. The dings caused by the trolley are less justifiable. I’ve read about the value of a suitable trailer and a decent boat cover and really it seems ironic that OB sustains more damage on land than at sea. The trailer and cover have long been on unwritten lists but…

trailer damage

Poking at a hairline crack I uncovered a void in the plywood. Following it back the ply opened up alarmingly right across the lower chine. Other cracks inside the boat revealed equally dramatic voids and I found myself worrying about the ultimate longevity of OB while cursing Mr Mushroom and his exterior grade ply.
a void
Later on I saw Mr M and found it impossible to maintain my indignation in the light of his enthusiasm for my boating adventures. He explained that OB’s photo hangs in his hallway and that he tells guests how one of his customers built a boat with wood he’d sold. Bless him.

I bought some Russian pine from him, for the new oars.

Saturday 6 March 2010

Starting work

To turn OB over and work comfortably something or a couple of somethings were needed to support her. The bench with wheels on which she was built (and which Unhygenix was so fond of) was cannibalised to make the launch trolley. Last time she had her bottom seen to she rested on a gunwale and leant against a tree. For this year’s more prolonged work a sturdier something had to be made.

I built a pair of trestles from driftwood and an old park bench, turned OB over and evaluated the work to be done.

Thursday 4 March 2010

Ode to an old oar

Don’t worry, no poetry. But that old oar, washing in and out with every wave seemed to warrant a few lines. Traditional Catalan oars had appeared here just a few days before and now there was half a one right there in the water. The loom and handle had gone, just the shaft and blade remained, thoroughly stripped of paint after doing time in the shorebreak.

Wednesday 3 March 2010

The End of the Line

The film by Rupert Murray after the book of the same title by Charles Clover has a clear message. If we don’t change the current situation there will be no fish in 48 years time.

The oceans are in a mess and, as the film says, this has happened on our watch.

The end of the line focuses largely on the decimation of blue fin tuna, illegally fished in huge quantities in the Mediterranean and shipped to Japan where a single fish can fetch upward of 100,000 dollars. Mitsubishi is one of the main buyers. They have 60,000 tons of frozen tuna ready for market after the species becomes extinct.

Cod hasn’t recovered in the 18 years since the moratorium of 1992. And there’s no reason to suppose tuna will be able to regenerate either. Apparently once a predator loses its place in the food chain it is soon filled by another species. Cod’s once indisputable position in the hierarchy has gone.

Many other grim facts are revealed in the 82 minutes, however, there is a positive side. Alaska, New Zealand and Iceland have all developed sustainable fisheries. The film makes the point that if this issue can find its place in our consciousness, rather like climate change has, we will be able to minimise the damage.

Friday 26 February 2010

Old wooden oars

The rowing team lifts weights on Mondays and Wednesdays, runs on Tuesdays and rows on Fridays and Sundays. The weight training takes place in a 43 foot container on the fish dock. It’s pretty cramped in there with 8 or 9 blokes hefting iron, not to say smelly. Sometimes we drag all the weights outside and train under the stars.

The Friday night row is full on regatta training in 'el Ibrit' but on Sunday mornings anyone who feels like it can take out the other boat—the old llagut. All the carbon sandwich oars are aboard 'el Ibrit' and the llagut now uses old wooden oars.

These oars have long handles, large oblong looms, an elliptical shaft and slender blades. Very similar to the oars that have always been used on traditional Catalan fishing boats, they are crude, heavy, clumsy looking levers that might have been hacked from a single piece of wood with stone-age tools.

They’d always held a rude appeal but I’d never tried them until the other day. There was plenty of elbowroom with only four of us in the boat. Our cox for the session, the 8-year old son of one of the team, zigzagged us out towards the horizon.

Carpet Slipper (he’s not in the ‘el Ibrit’ team, but he comes along on Sundays to make up the numbers) told me that these old oars were real ‘arm wrenchers’. However, I found them easier to pull than the broad bladed racing oars. They were well balanced and light to use despite their intrinsic weight. Being shorter they have to be held at a higher angle on the pull stroke but with the long blade immersed they could really make the boat shift. The only thing lacking was a real wooden boat.

We splashed out to sea, each more or less in his own little world, until Carpet Slipper started on a long yarn about a Swiss man that came to live in the town one summer in the early 80’s. Masquerading as a woman he seduced a local buck who was so embarrassed when he found out that he’d pulled a bloke that he never mentioned the matter. ‘Well would you?’ asked Carpet Slipper, going on to assure me that 'she' was a real stunner.

Little by little more men fell prey to her charms but bound by an embarrassed bond of silence none warned their mates. ‘There are plenty of men round here that went to bed with her. Bigwigs too. They won’t talk about it though, not even now.’

The 8-year old looked on in wonder.

Tuesday 23 February 2010

What the hell am I going to do this summer?

Some years ago I would have happily done any amount of grovelling for an opportunity to go sailing. Boatless and with few contacts, standing on the beach gazing at the sea was often as near as I got. There was windsurfing of course but my equipment was limited to wind strengths of force 5 and above. The joys of back and forth sailing, scoring a groove in the ocean, had waned. I wanted to cruise a sailing boat.

In the way of life summer 2010 brings more possibilities than I could ever have hoped for. Now the problem is that there are more options than time or money.

On the one hand I’ve been invited by my friend and blogger, Suso, who writes lajareu por barlovento to camp cruise a dorna on the Galician coast for four or five days. We’d sail in the Ria de Vigo and explore the Cíes islands. I’ve written about the dorna here before, it’s an interesting and beautiful traditional boat with a powerful dipping lugsail and Brobdingnagian oars. Suso assures me that the sailing is excellent on the Ria, as is the fishing. How could I refuse?

Then there’s the possibility of joining Giacomo de Stefano—sailing and rowing from London to the Black Sea—on his Man on the River project. I’ve been in touch with Giacomo via email and have been made to feel very welcome. I admire what he’s doing and would feel honoured to take part. I was thinking about accompanying him for the Channel crossing but he’s building at such a pace that he’ll have set sail long before I am ready. Giacomo estimates the journey will take him 6 months and has encouraged me to join him later on in the trip. How could I refuse?

And then there’s the option of scaring myself silly ‘alone on a wide, wide sea.’ However, to call this an option is not strictly accurate. I can’t not have my annual solitary sail in Onawind Blue. Just me and the boat and the elements—this is what I think about nearly every night as I go to sleep. The question really is where will I cruise OB this year. Will I go offshore again, or cruise the coast, or trailer somewhere and hang out in coves, swimming and fishing?

I count myself extremely lucky even to have such dilemmas.

Monday 22 February 2010

Small boat repairs

1. Repair and paint bottom.
2. Think about drains though frames 7 and 3.
3. Repair topside dings and paint.
4. Build up the mast-through-deck rings.
5. Eliminate second mast position.
6. Think about adding cockpit coaming.
7. Strip decks and varnish.
8. Varnish spars.
9. Make longer oars.

This is the list of work to be done on Onawind Blue. I’ve whittled it down from a longer list that included more ambitious projects like making a new boat tent. I’ve retained a couple of items that I only have to think about. They might happen, they might not.

It wasn’t until I saw the videos of my Ibiza trip that I realised my oars might be a bit short. I hope to make another pair lengthening the same Pete Culler/Jim Michalak design, only this time I’ll borrow an electric plane.

I was rather daunted by the list when I first made it but after about 10 minutes working on OB I’d removed all deck gear and was ready to start sanding. This is one of the many blessing and benefits of small boats. The sailing is great, the interaction with the elements unsurpassable, and maintenance is easy and cheap. If I had the same list for a 40-foot boat, I certainly wouldn’t have the money for the material and I’m not sure where I’d find the time.

Sunday 21 February 2010

Our new boat

Our new rowing boat is called ‘el Ibrit’. The name has derived, through a series of spelling mistakes, from el híbrid, meaning the hybrid in Catalan. It is a name that has become disassociated from its meaning. We call it 'el Ibrit' much in the way that we might call it Ingrid, or Brett or any other name.

'El Ibrit' is the boat we’ll be taking to the Spanish nationals in May. It’s made of carbon or Kevlar or some such funky goo and is extremely lightweight. It has significantly lower freeboard than our other boat and a shallower draft, making it tippy and technical to row. All our on-the-water training over the past month has been centred on achieving a uniform, even stroke. And then maintaining it as the power comes on.

Part of this entails keeping your oar parallel with that of the rower in front. Our oars are black and we row at night. Peering into the inky dark to spot a glinting oar blade is another skill that needs to be mastered. Getting it right requires a level of concentration that I’d previously never achieved while rowing.

When we get it wrong the boat rolls, tips and, losing speed provokes disorder as blame flies from port to starboard. When we get it right 'el Ibrit' really flies provoking, at least on my part, a broad grin.

Thursday 28 January 2010

Spanish Wood

The Spanish Mediterranean coast is not a good place for buying wood. Though a thick pelt of forestry covers many areas of Catalunya there is little general use of wood. While you might see pine beams in old buildings, timber has barely been used in construction since the 60’s when concrete became God and high-rise apartment blocks ruptured the skyline.

Wood in the home has been ousted by a dictatorship of flat-pack furniture. Familiar tables and lamps crop up in other people’s homes with depressing regularity. An insidious bland conformity spreads from home to home. And if a window and wooden frame need repairing they are inevitably replaced with quadruple glazed windows in white aluminium frames that swoosh shut, sealing you in soundproof rooms full of stale air.

My carpenter friend Mr Mushroom makes gates and fences where before he made cupboards and bookcases. He insists however, that wood is cheap. It is not. Particularly if you need something a little bit special for your boat. Even hardwood scraps seem hard to come by.

So I was very pleased when one morning a wave washed a piece of teak up the beach. It wasn’t very big and, judging by the drill holes and saw cuts, had drifted from a boatyard somewhere over the horizon. But it was just what I needed to replace the two stern cleats on OB.

Monday 18 January 2010

Tuesday 12 January 2010

Trawler work

Back in September, finding myself out of work, I seriously thought about trying to get a job aboard a fishing boat. I signed up for a course to obtain the necessary Basic Sea Survival certificate and got networking with the local fishermen. It seemed like there might be a possibility of getting a place on a trawler based in Tarragona.

Catalan Mediterranean trawler fishermen work from 0600 to 1800 and get to sleep in their own beds every night if they so chose. The work in itself is not arduous. On the day that I went out the fishermen boarded at 0600 but disappeared to their bunks for an hour’s kip en route to the fishing grounds. They set the net at 0700 and then more or less got on with what ever they wanted. One went back to his bunk another stitched a jacket for the ship’s dog. The cook cleaned fish for breakfast. There was a brief flurry of activity mid-morning as the boat turned for the run back. Then there was lunch, which, on my boat, was truly sumptuous. Afterwards the skipper and cook had a siesta then, at 1530, the main work of the day began, we hauled the net and sorted the fish while steaming home. We tied up to the dock at 1900, unloaded the catch, tidied the decks, and went home.

But even while I put the new career machine in motion, I wasn’t sure that I had the grit to fish. It wasn’t the long hours or going to sea in all weathers, it wasn’t the cold in winter or the inherent dangers of working on deck in high seas. It was my head—I knew that every day when the net came aboard my mind would flood with questions.

We, and many other boats, trawled for six and half hours. Our boat brought up about 200 kilos of fish—a reasonably good catch by today’s standards. The bulk was hake (merluccius merluccius) and blue whiting (micromesistius poutassou), there were two fully mature monkfish (lophius piscatorius) and a few midsized ones. But there were many unsaleable, juvenile monkfish, which hadn’t yet reached the minimum length of 30cm. The rapid change of pressure as the net rises kills the fish so these young monks were totally wasted. Rather than throw them to the seagulls the fishermen kept them back for their own use. The rest of the catch consisted of shrimps, prawns, crabs and octopus. The only fish to have survived the journey to the surface were the small-spotted catsharks or lesser spotted dogfish as they are also called, (scyliorhinus canicula), these lay doggo until you picked them up. Then they came alive with a vehemence wholly justifiable in those who have been plucked from their habitat. I threw the small shark overboard and exchanged glances with one of the fishermen as he picked a juvenile monk out of the pile. ‘This is the shame of fishing.’ He said, obviously assailed by similar doubts as me.

It’s difficult to write about commercial fishing, the more one investigates the more it appears that the problem goes far beyond greedy, unscrupulous skippers or mesh sizes. But I don’t intend to pursue these issues here. This, after all, is a light-hearted sailing blog.

I finished the Basic Sea Survival course and, still wrestling with moral dilemmas, was about to start the specific Fisherman and Sailor course when the phone rang. There was a job opportunity on the end of the line. I dropped everything.

I’m now a dockhand at Vilanova Grand Marina. This is a brand new marina geared specifically for wintering super yachts. Yes, I know. However, the yachts are permanently manned and many of the crew have worked previously on commercial vessels. Chatting to the skipper of one boat it transpired that he’d worked in the Irish trawler fishery as a youngster. Later he’d worked aboard the controversial Veronica ‘death ship’. And, just to bring these trawler posts full circle, one of his mates was Jason Schofield, the skipper of the Norlantean featured in Redmond O’Hanlon’s book.