Saturday, 3 February 2007
Whilst BIGFOOT plays a massive game of Jenga with the MSC Napoli's remaining containers, the owners and the MCGA have issued a revised count of the boxes lost. In total 97 were washed overboard; 57 of these were washed up. That leaves 40 out there. Stephen Ladyman told the Commons on Thursday these are 'presumed sunk'.
Uhm, I don't think that's a safe presumption, dear. All the boxes came off pretty well together. In shallow water. Extensive side-scan sonar searches around the wreck have failed to identify any on the seabed. One of the leisure boater's nightmares is striking a semi-submerged container floating just under the surface. In a steel saily boat or an old Panzer like Raedwald, you at least stand a chance. In one of the high speed displacement cruisers with plastic hulls as thin as egg shells you don't stand much of a chance.
It's just another risk. Theoretically, something could be done; each box could be fitted with a tensioned float with a hammer hydrostatic release to mark its location when sunk. But not worth it.
Alan Johnson has told schools that they must concentrate on teaching
- Global warming
- The British slave trade and the anti-slavery campaign
- The British Empire
- Racism and ethnicity
Global warming belongs in geography; not a lot of point in telling kids about melting glaciers when they wouldn't recognise one if it fell on them. And there's a presumption that they actually recognise the globe when in point of fact most kids here in London thinks the world is bounded by their bus route.
But as for the rest? About as subtle as Gordon Brown's new-NSDAP vision of Union flags swirling on every lawn, torch lit processions on his new British Day and a new disciplined youth movement. Sigh. Labour just don't understand national identity, do they?
So here's Raedwald's idea for a British history curriculum;
- Pre-Roman Britain (including tribes, slaves, immigration)
- Roman Britain (including tribes, slaves, immigration)
- Norman and Mediaeval Britain (including Feudalism and immigration)
- Trade and Exploration (Capitalism, risk, enterprise)
- Early Modern Britain (Religious bigotry, national identity)
- The Age of Reason (Religious tolerance, Science, Navigation, Technology)
- Nineteenth Century Britain (1796 to 1914, Small wars, the birth of Empire)
- Twentieth Century Britain (1914 to the fall of the Berlin Wall, Big wars, the death of Empire)
Technology goes bad? Lovely sunny day today with a good 6.2m tide at midday and I've got two dead computers one of which had all my email set up. So today is the day I have to recover everything using a little shuttle box that I normally run my chartplotter on.
Thursday, 1 February 2007
The MCA inspector's report on a recent ship detention:
The Cambodian flagged general cargo ship 'Piligrim 2', 1551 GT, at Shoreham.
The Port State Control Officer (PSCO) from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency found twelve deficiencies, two of which were major non conformities under the ISM Code.
The PSCO noticed a heavily corroded extinguisher at the gangway, and found several more CO2 extinguishers with the horns missing. An accommodation fire damper was found lying on the deck.
The PSCO had clear grounds to request the crew to carry out a fire drill. It took considerable effort for the crew to understand, as the master and officers spoke almost no English. The Inspector had to write 'Fire Drill' on a piece of paper in large letters and hold it up.
The drill was not up to the required standard, as was displayed by the fire team. The team leader showed up in a fire suit wearing trainers and donned the breathing apparatus upside down with the waist strap around his neck which proceeded to choke him.
The second member of the team, without a breathing apparatus set, grabbed a length of hose and dashed into the engine room, the scene of the fire, which was supposedly ablaze. His progress came to an abrupt halt halfway down the first ladder when he ran out of hose.
At that point the inspection was suspended and the vessel was detained.
Wednesday, 31 January 2007
With a rival to the EXCEL show now seeming to be on the cards for the much-loved old Earl's Court venue next year, I do have a nagging doubt about the sponsor's press release. Whyte and Mackay have confirmed they're putting £1.2m into backing the 'other' boat show. Show organisers announced
"Our sponsors Whyte and Mackay really want to be involved and are keen to promote watersports through all their brands which include Vladivar vodka, Glayva, Isle of Jura and Dalmore whiskies. We also hope to attract the likes of the Volvo Ocean Race organisers and really get them involved in creating interactive features to encourage children to take an active role."Hmm.
Anyhow, let's hope they go down the road of featuring lots of boats under 10m and plenty of incentives to get new people on the water. EXCEL has become alien to most people's wallets and aspirations. Or maybe the world really is full of millionaires and I just haven't noticed ....
Tuesday, 30 January 2007
With the clauses already drafted for inclusion in the 2007 Finance Act to remove the derogation on diesel for leisure boaters, many boaters especially in commercial or fishing areas will wonder how they are going to access ULSD if local fuel points don't switch. Spotted last year, this could well be the answer ....
The RYA have come out unequivocally against the MAIB's legislative proposals:
The RYA fully supports the MCA’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign and recognizes the importance of educating yachtsmen of the dangers of driving boats under the influence of alcohol, however there is no evidence to suggest new legislation is required in this area.
The RYA has yet to see any evidence or statistics that indicate that alcohol is a growing factor in recreational boating incidents. We believe that for national legislation to be even considered there would have to be a cast iron statistical case for change, including new trends and a workable system of ensuring compliance.
Nearly all harbours have alcohol legislation already. If additional measures are proven to be necessary, the RYA strongly recommends current bylaws are tightened and established in areas currently exposed, before new and unenforceable legislation is introduced.
There were 2 fatal accidents last year where alcohol was a factor and to date, none have been reported this year. Neither of the 2005 accidents involved any other craft or third parties. Government has stated there would be no further marine laws unless there is a persuasive case. The RYA does not regard two isolated accidents, tragic as they were, as a persuasive case.
The RYA will continue to communicate this important message through its courses and publications, but will also oppose unnecessary legislation.
Monday, 29 January 2007
Back in July last year the MAIB published their annual report for 2005 which contained some alarmist statistics purporting to justify the introduction of alcohol limits for leisure boats. Hugh Robertson MP (con, Faversham and Mid Kent) asked the following written question:
Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the Government have any plans to introduce a maximum blood alcohol limit for (a) recreational mariners and (b) those in charge of a boat. 
Dr. Ladyman: Following a consultation in 2004 and more recent evidence given to us, including two Marine Accident Investigation Branch recommendations, we are now working with interested parties to see what appropriate measures should be taken to implement the relevant provisions of the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003.
Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment the Government have made of the results of the 2004 consultation into a maximum blood alcohol limit for recreational mariners. 
Dr. Ladyman: We are currently reassessing all the views in the light of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch recommendations delivered earlier this year and will make an announcement once that exercise is complete.Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment the Marine Accident Investigation Board has made of the number of people (a) killed and (b) injured in (i) recreational and (ii) non-recreational marine craft in each of the past five years; and in how many of these cases alcohol was identified as a contributory factor. 
Dr. Ladyman: The Merchant Shipping (Accident Reporting and Investigation) Regulations 2005 only place a requirement to report accidents involving recreational craft if they are being commercially operated. However, the Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents may investigate accidents involving privately-owned craft if they are brought to his attention.
Details of all accidents reported to the Marine Accident Investigation Branch are contained on its database. Statistics for deaths and injuries for both recreational and non-recreational craft for the past five years are shown in the following table:
|Recreational craft (non-commercial)||All other vessels|
|Recreational craft (non-commercial)||All other vessels|
Hmm. So over the entire 5 year period, an average of 1.6 deaths a year had alcohol as a contributory factor. That's about the same number of deaths as are caused by people accidently stabbing a table fork up their nose.
I'd love to see the RIA (Regulatory Impact Assessment) for this; a cost to the taxpayer of possibly several hundred millions a year to save perhaps a single life. The economics of madness. But then Stephen Ladyboy is a fully paid-up member of the Blair Fantasy Club.
I don't drink when passage-making. I don't even drink before I set off. The sea is full of hazards, from half-hidden lobster pots to semi submerged containers to other vessels and of course the ever present risk from wind, waves and tide. I need all my critical faculties unimpaired. Raedwald is kitted out with liferaft, flares, lifejackets, lifebuoys, DCS VHF and other bits of self-preservational kit. As are the vast majority of other British passage-making small vessels. And I've never met a drunk skipper on passage. All this of course is voluntary; boaters are a remarkably self-regulating set of folk who tend to believe we should be responsible for our own actions. British boats are not compulsorily licenced and nor are leisure skippers. And we have an enviable safety record.
Steven Meyer, the boss of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), would dearly love to change all this. What is it with the foetid mediocre self-important little flatuses that the Civil Service tends to attract to its senior posts that they can't bear to leave anything unregulated by the dead hand of the State? Many boaters believe he's motivated by simple empire building. Personally I think it's the sort of dreary bureaucratic compulsion that drives the sort of joyless numpties that drift into the Civil Service as an alternative to making something of their own lives. They devote their energies instead to making everyone else's life as empty, purposeless and colourless as their own.
Meyer has a problem, though. Boaters have no licences to lose, so what penalties can be imposed for anyone 'over the limit'? And what of that favourite activity, mooring up or anchoring for the night and taking the tender ashore for dinner and a few pints? Or what even of anchoring for the night, enjoying dinner and a botle of wine on board and adjusting the anchor before retiring? And as there's no age limit or licence for boating, your 12 year-old can be soberly in charge of the vessel when mum and dad are tippling the vino. And who on earth is going to enforce this nonsense?
More on this to come.
Can there be any politician so dangerously self-deluded, so critically lacking in judgement and so utterly impervious to the sheer awfulness of his record in office as Blair? I found it hard to believe that anyone outside of Broadmoor could have delivered the smug, pious and self-righteous little apologia that Blair gave to BBC1's Politics Show yesterday.
I don't think I've ever actually been embarrassed by a serving Prime Minister before. Blair is completely cringe-making. There are few people who actually believe he'll go when he says he will - when has he ever been truthful? - and opinion seems to be divided on whether he'll have to have his fingers prised from the door of Number Ten in 2010 or whether he'll go much earlier. The third alternative of course is waking up to 'Today' and the news that he's been arrested and is being held in custody .... as Camara said "When we dream alone it is only a dream. When we dream with others it is the beginning of reality".
For the record, my guess is he'll go on 31st March. There.