Saturday 30 April 2011

The book of Ben's sea

Every now and then you get a present that has you turning your head away pretending an insect has just flown into your eye. Such was the case with 'The book of Ben's sea'.

The book was compiled my close friend Sergio Oca. He took the time to trawl back through this blog looking for decent pics of the sea. He then straightened them, adjusted the colour and the contrast and generally made the photos presentable before arranging them all in book form.

Sergio works as the creative director of an advertising agency in Barcelona but at heart he’s a musician and an artist. He has compiled the book with great sensitivity but more than that he’s let the musician in him guide his hand and the book ‘reads’ with the rhythm of a song.

For a long time I’ve felt I should organise my photos of the sea (and of the children for that matter) but I just don’t have the stamina in front of the screen for that sort of thing. So I’m doubly grateful to Sergio for producing this book and for reminding me of my relationship with the sea which he sums up with this Conrad quote on the flyleaf.

I have attempted here to lay bare with the unreserve of a last hour's confession the terms of my relation with the sea, which beginning mysteriously, like any great passion the inscrutable Gods send to mortals, went on unreasoning and invincible, surviving the test of disillusion, defying the disenchantment that lurks in every day of a strenuous life; went on full of love's delight and love's anguish,
facing them in open-eyed exultation, without bitterness and without repining, from the first hour to the last.
The Mirror of the Sea.

Saturday 16 April 2011

Basque rowing

A while ago Iñaki from the Basque country left a link in the comment box. It’s a video of a ‘trainera’ hurtling along with dolphins gambolling about the bow.

The ‘trainera’ fixed seat rowing boats have developed from anchovy and sardine fishing vessels that could be rowed or sailed. Originally made of cedar and beech they are now a high-tech mix of kevlar and carbon fibre. The 12 metre boats weigh in at 200kg. The trainera has 13 oarsmen, 6 pairs and one on his lonesome in the bow, his job is also to help turn the boat by taking his oar off the thole pin, fitting it into a special rowlock and paddling sideways. The patron stands at the stern with a steering oar.

Competition is fierce up on the north coast of Spain and there are active clubs from Galicia to the Basque Country.

I still turn up to training sessions with my local rowing team though only to say hello and receive presents of fresh fish from the fishermen of the crew. Now that I’m underweight again, and have this fabulously streamlined head, they’re trying to convince me to cox. Well, there’s another adventure waiting to unfold.

Saturday 2 April 2011

A simple beach launch

My good friend Paco Beltrán of DosVelas Pictures has uploaded this touching video of Onawind Blue. Though it doesn’t look like a winter’s day this was filmed back in Janurary on one of those warm, calm Mediterranean days that make getting over complicated diseases a cinch.

Regular viewers might recognise Mónica Oca’s music, which first appeared in the final clip of OB’s Ibizian odyssey, ‘Fear is a Giant Octopus’. You can find more of Mónica’s deeply sensitive and moving music at her blog. She can be contacted through the comment box.

DosVelas Pictures are currently working on the film ‘In a Strange Land’, the story of Mu Hpare, a Kayan refuge who, after years of wearing brass coils around her neck, becomes part of a resettlement project in the USA. You can watch the trailer here.

I feel honoured to have a professional documentary maker focus their lens on my little boat with Mónica’s evocative music alongside.