Friday, December 10, 2010

Refiting in Sesimbra, Portugal

Some pictures of Sylvie, Sian, Antonio, Chris and water dog Sara. Refitting in Sesimbra.

Bonjour et bienvenue à tous les visiteurs francophones!
Quelques photos du Nuthin Wong et de son équipage prises ici au sud de Lisbonne, Portugal. Nous préparons le jonque pour la grande traversée transatlantique. Départ prévu d'ici deux semaines environ. Il reste quelques lits disponibles ... avis aux aventuriers!
Un nouvel arrivage de copies du livre "No fixed Address" nous est parvenu... chouette cadeau (pour les anglophones) à l'approche des fêtes de fin d'années. Joyeux voyage à tous.

Some pictures of crew and progress being made preparing for the Atlantic crossing to Cuba, refit going as well as can be expected in Portugal , where the word RUSH does not exist in their vocabuary; Still have a few bunks available which we expect to fill in the next few weeks. We have a hold full of new books which make a great xmas gift as they on special this month. happi travels travelers.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Base camp, Setúbal

The Wong has been moored up in the fishing harbour of Setúbal, Portugal for a few weeks now, whilst awaiting new crew and getting some enhancements for the Atlantic crossing later in the year.

Two more crew have been to visit and are confirmed for the next leg of the voyage - Mike from the South of England, currently advertising extrordinaire, soon-to-be adventurer and Siân, also from England, formerly environmental researcher and now on a quest for a new life and new, exciting experiences. Siân is now living aboard the boat to help out with the work that needs doing and with preparing the provisions needed by the crew.

Work is making slow but steady progress. A local welder has repaired the broken stanchions and toe rails, which have been painted too. Today a friend Antonio, who regularly brings buckets of fresh fish, began fitting wooden panels to make the cockpit more weather-proof. In time we will use putty to seal it and make it as warm and water-tight as possible.

The top two panels of the main sail have been fitted with a stronger material and the booms have been extended with bamboo to make sure the positioning is just right. The finished panels are hanging well and have a really good shape.

In the next week we hope to move round the corner to Sesimbra, where we can haul out and start on coating the hull with epoxy tar and anti-fouling paint. We aim to set sail for Madeira at the end of November!

Limited berths available so get in touch via email or phone if you fancy the challenge!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Spain - Portugal.

Had A great sail from Vigo Spain to Lisboa , Portugal , 2 nites and 3 days with a fresh North Easter wind which blew us more than half way there , Came in at midnite to Setubal Nature reserve,to anchore off a clean beach between the resorts and No - Where
... After relaxing for a few days we went down town to do the formalities Three times we were told free mooring for a sail Training Vessel was impossible Then I finally met the Big Guy and was given 2 mnths free mooring with the fishermen .Wonderful Hospitality while waiting for hurricane season to Pass. I prepare to refit before departing for Madeira , Cuba, December 2010. Travelers interested in joining us for the Atlantic , please get in touch now as only a few berths available . Hanna will soon be abaoard and the blog will upgraded again , Happy travels , Nuthin- Wong

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Santander- Gijon-La Coruna.

Big thanks to Alberto who helped us solve our engineering problems in Santander, getting us outta town 6 days later after sociable party at yacht club. Raising Gijon in fresh Easterly wind where we welcomed Anna aboard from Hungary, at 8.30 am , at the fuel dock while taking on 182 litres of Diesel oil, most of which we burned the next 29 hours to La Coruna 130 nm. with wind on the Nose all the way, but the 40 year old Perkins never missed a beat and the newly machined shaft'n'Flange running true. As we now approach one of the most rugged and windy areas bound for Cap Finestere. We pay attention to the weather closely as even on non-windy days the wind turbines strategictly placed are producing energy for surrounding area. Aboard the good ship for the next leg are , Thomas , chief bread maker'n'cook whose learning not to forget to remember, Anna, ex physics high school teacher, now professional online Poker player, learning not to puke, Robin, English teacher in Spain outta Wales, teaching in Spain Madrid last few yrs, practically kidnapped off a North bound ferry and convinced to sail South, learning changes in attitudes and latitudes, Patrick , up'n'coming adventurer, outta Switzerland looking for a rainbow and learning how to propose to Elizabeth whose not aboard any more, Tanya printer outta Cologne Germany, ran a Heidleburg printing machine cut loose after 5yrs, learning to not look back. All in good spirits .. more news'n'views soon as we continue going da Wong way.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Moored behind the five hundred years old La Rochelle Tower

The new flange on drive shaft; Under full sail to Spain

Happy to be in Spain. Now with Thomas aboard helping to replace the diesel pump while we wait for incomming crew.
Enjoying generous servings of tapas and bocadillos, siestas and proper summer weather.

It was a lovely two days trip from La Rochelle, in France, to Santander, Spain. Three of us, good North West winds, many stripped dolphins, and Pilot whales n jumping Ray - a full moon on port side and a spectacular lightning storm on starboard side lasting all nite, but not a drop of rain reached the decks .
We raised Santander after 39 hours of which we sailed for 22 hours, and we're now learning from some rather kind locals about some beautiful places we can go to on the coming days, expecting Anna -new crew member, high school physics teacher, from Hungary, coming on the 1St Sept.- strooling around the town, breathing the place, enjoying our way.
Wewill keep you posted, while the Wong's official writer (Hanna) is on shore leave.

Going the Wong way..

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bye for now!

Dear fellow pirates,

I'm writing to you from a strange place called Sweden where I have gone for temporary retirement from the Wong. I believe it is called shore-leave.

It's a grand thing to return to civilisation and realise that things , and the possession of them - although a grand curse - have a peculiar way of changing ones state of mind, habits - standard!
It's rather beautiful to appreciate simple things like fridges, the ability to watch a good DVD or take a hot bath. I would very much recommend all those things, but there is a great risk that they won't be appropriately valued if experienced before a visit to the Wong. You simply have to be without a cheese grater for feeling like a king for having one.

So please help Clive and crew to take Nuthin Wong to Spain and beyond. I hope to be back aboard shortly. Until then,

Hej då!

The Wong is on its way to Spain, contact Clive on +33 681 944 448 or through for information.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Before we arrived in France we had a certain vision of what this place would be like. Our expectations were very much met in the first couple of months spent here. Normandy and Paris is just as chick and sophisticated as France should be. After having spent the past weeks in Brittany a new side is emerging.

Britt's are a very proud people - and rightly so! The area is geographically stunning with the Atlantic Ocean building up a swell in the Bay of Biscay, hitting white beaches and islands along the coast. The towns are old, the houses made of stone with doors painted bright blue. They also give the finger to the rest of France - like Spain's Catalonia or Scottland the Britt's will identify with the region long before they identify with the rest of the republic. Their music is louder - in the streets and in the bars - the traditional crâpes are everywhere and the cider is ordered by the carafe. In many small towns you would be forgiven for thinking that the indoor smoking ban in bars and cafés were never put in place and don't try to be PC about allergies and hygiene - dogs (and not just the petit ones) are embraced as part of the family at any restaurant table.

At the moment we're hanging out between Camaret-Sur-Mer and La Rochelle, trying to catch the right winds and keep the propeller shaft, which is playing up, in one piece. What we've heard about the Bay of Biscay turned out to be true; with almost no wind the sea builds up rollers that rearranged the galley.

We have two new crew aboard, Gunter from Belgium and Christina from Chilli, but still looking for people to join us after La Rochelle. The past two months have been a bit on the slow side but as the weather is getting colder and the Sangrias are calling we will step on it towards San Sebastian.

You know where to find us...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Excuse the pace...

St Malo, Brittany, France
Lat: 48° N
Long: 2° W

Big disaster aboard with Hanna's computer getting sea sick. We are now confined to hotel receptions where the essence of the free spirited Wong is attempted to be caught with a group of American ladies and gentlemen grunting and pacing restlessly back and forth in the reception, seemingly waiting to upload new facebook photos of themselves eating crépe. Oh, that's right, we're back in the country of sweet and fatty foods.

Jersey was such a treat and we did actually seem to kick up the dust on the island with no less then four media outlets visiting. Footage from BBC and ITV, as well as audio from BBC Radio and a print article will be uploaded shortly. Journalist are great people to have aboard because they all seem to be one husband/wife/mortgage/kid away from climbing in to a bunk and taking off into the sunset. It must have something to do with a romantic idea about the travelling writer or film-maker, somehow lost in promotions and paychecks. That's why we were thrilled to find an email from our friend Yann-Olivier, journalist from Honfleur (see image in Honfleur post), who wants to spend his holiday this year sailing with us!

We are so happy to have done the Channel Islands as they were some of the most beautiful places any one of us had ever visited. One of our favourite things out of Jersey is Matt Lane, 22-year-old American philosophy student and new crew member on the Wong. (We all think we're philosophers when the lanterns are lit and the red wine comes out - to have a man with a university degree in mid night rambling aboard is a slightly intimidating honour).

Since Jersey ended up being a pretty intensive time with lots of new friends and (mostly) welcome attention, we crossed down to Brittany, France, where we took the Wong up a serene river, far from just about everything. After enjoying a late night dinner of Gasettes (savory crapés) and local Cider, we fell asleep to the sound of birds and a squeaky anchor chain for the first time in weeks. The river Rance also saw this season's first enjoyable swim!

We could easily have spent a lot more time on the river but had arrangements in the town of St Malo. A huge wall wraps around the old town which is surrounded by sea and filled with every delicious treat you can possibly imagine. Here we were joined by Domenic, 19 years old and extraordinary. Domenic left New Zealand to backpack around Europe, sleeping on people's couches and the occasional Junk, and hitch-hiking everywhere, 13 month's ago! And people go crazy for Clive leaving town at 40 something, with a floating home. They should obsess about hitting the road at 18 with nothing but a backpack and a guitar. We're pretty sure that Domenic will still be on the road in twenty years time too, if simply because it's a tricky thing to hitch a ride to New Zealand.

We are filling up bunk space for July fast so for anyone interested in coming along for a ride should check in now.

Happy days and happier nights,

Nuthin Wong

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Love will tear us apart....

While it is beautiful of Brett to leave such sweet words about his time with us, we feel obliged to disclose the true reason for our parting. Brett's heart is no doubt an adventurous one. But before it belongs to the oceans it belongs to a London girl named Rachel. The Wong is, we have to admit, slightly jealous to have such an able sailor and great company stolen back to the concrete jungle - but she will heal. While homesickness is never a valid reason to cut an adventure short, an aching heart is. We hope to see you both aboard soon!

The Channel Islands just keep getting better. We had a blast on Guernsey where a well written article by the Guernsey Press gave us some unexpected attention from the locals. The article resulted in many lovely meetings and a Dune Buggy ride around the island!

We also had a one night stand in Sark, an experience akin to stepping in to a time machine and press 1940. There is probably not a more relaxed place anywhere in this part of the world. The island can be walked across in about an hour (at it's narrowest), but should you get tired from the steep hills you can always catch a ride with a tractor or a horse-and-cart taxi. Yes folk, a car free island, what a bliss. Sark falls under Guernsey but was, until December 2008, Europe's last feudal state. Of the 600 people living on the Island, the power was held by the one who owned the largest piece of land - in this case the Seigneur of Sark - John Michael Beaumont. Although John was the rightful king of the island he did - disappointingly - not strut around with Hermine Furs accompanied by a jester and five Island virgins. He was a regular man with a wiki-page and a fancy title. But as it goes, Sark's finger-to-the-world system is in the process of being overrun by the evil Barcley Brothers who figured that sipping Dom Perignon in Monaco was very 90's, while imposing uninvited Democracy is more 2010. After buying up neighbor island Brecqhou and fitting it out with a Gothic castle and a helicopter pad they impose their power on Sark by offering Sark business owners cash only to close down the business once it's in their hands. It is fair to say that the people of Sark (and indeed of Guernsey, a stone-throw across the water) are moderately impressed by the brother's arrival on the Island (even if rumor has it that Guernsey is happy to have Sark abolish a couple of medieval laws, restricting the Channel Islands from joining the European Union - divorce was illegal on Sark until a few years ago!).

Jersey is a slightly different story again. Its own government and, from what we have seen, no major stuff of fairy tales. But they do have a sailing race with Guernsey - a law firm put on extravaganza where Guernsey people race to Jersey (about 45 miles) arriving in ship shape and suitably tipsy for dinner and drinks in the Jersey Yacht Club. As Clive has never missed an opportunity to enter a room full of cashed up, drunk yachties with a bag of books, Hanna has never been one to turn down what could turn in to a great story for this blog, so off we went. At arrival we found a bouncer the size (and shape) of our wheel house at the door. Fortunately we ran in to a friend from Guernsey who handed us a dessert ticket (!) and instructed us on the best way to enter this by-invitation-only event. (The dessert ticket would, we figured, imply that - although we clearly came off the side walk - had already had our entrees and mains with our friends inside. Clive also flaunted his Greenwich Yacht Club, GYC, cap, as the initials are the same as Guernsey Yacht Club, hoping that the bouncer was of simple nature). We're not sure how but we made it inside but Hanna was not late to use the dessert ticket, as Clive was not late to use the bar. What we didn't calculate on - and this, dear friends, is where our coup could have failed miserably - was that we have after all spent the last two weeks on the premesis of the Guernsey Yacht Club, as well as had a double page spread (p. 6-7 to be exact) in the Guernsey Press. We also don't wear khaki pants or loafers, no jewelry if you don't count a gigantic sea shell around Hanna's neck, and Clive was dressed in slippers. We were not incredibly anonymous.

But just as we feel that the prospect of being thrown out head first in the gutter is worse than loosing out on a free fruit cocktail with vanilla ice cream (note to Carey Olsen Law Firm; is this a corporate promo event or a kid's birthday party?) we are approached by a man in pink pike shirt and a broad smile, reaching out his hand to Clive.

"Gordon Wilson, Commodore of the Guernsey Yacht Club. I've heard a lot about you and would be honoured to shake your hand," he says, shaking Clive's hand kissing Hanna's cheeks appearing generally thrilled to be in our company.

Our cover is blown and within minutes we are surrounded by familiar faces patting us on the back and buying us drinks. Even the instructor of the kid's sailing club declares that it was him, after all, who assisted Hanna in fishing up a fully functional, gorgeous turquoise bike from the bottom of the Guernsey Marina just the other day.

Needless to say we didn't get thrown out, but left volentarily (smiling at the wheel house- in- a - suit at the door) as the price ceremony started. Finishing off a smuggled bottle of white in the harbour we agreed that the strange life on the Wong may some days seem mundane to us, but as long as we're Junkies we seem to bring smiles to people's faces and inspiration to their hearts and that, my friends, make it all worth while.

Friday, June 25, 2010

O'hoy and farewell....

Hi everyone... I'm Brett, 24 and I've been aboard the Wong for the last 10 days I joined in Guernsey having travelled out from London. We've been having a great time cruising around Guernsey and the local island of Sark. We've been staying in some absolutely amazing bays and had many a BBQ while the sun goes down. Still managed to make time to catch the England matches in the world cup though! Our fishing skills like the England team's performance have been a little suspect, we're still waiting for the whopper that will feed us for a week.
We arrived in Jersey this morning and sadly I'll be getting the ferry back home tomorrow. I wish Clive and Hanna well on the ongoing voyage and to all who follow in my footsteps and spend some time on the Wong, you won't regret or forget it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Going the Wong way

St Peter Port, Guernsey
N: 49.46
W: 2.53

"Social prosperity means man happy, the citizen free, the nation great."

Passing by the weather worn facade of a Guernsey building once housing French poet and novelist Victor Hugo, one imagines this line, from Les Misérables, written with the spirit of the island in mind.

To travelers passing through, Guernsey appears a paradise island, a refuge from the politics of the land, the problems facing Europe and the world. It is the kind of place where, if you had the fortune (in every meaning of the word) to live, you would spend Saturday mornings at Farmers' markets, volunteer in the beach kiosk and never lock your front door.

After five days on the island the politics of this nation is still a mystery. Not really part of the U.K, but with a member of parliament in Westminster assigned especially to keep an eye on Guernsey and her neighbors. With the power to create her own laws but, to make things simple, almost without exception following the legislation of the U.K. With her own currency which does work on other islands but not in the U.K. Her own flag that, when flown from the roof of the harbor office, proudly carries the Union Jack in the corner but otherwise settles for resembling England's red cross on white. They seem to root for England in the World Cup, but then again Guernsey didn't qualify this year. They don't pick up on phone signals from neither France, nor U.K, but have their own Channel network and phone numbers are happily handed out for free (+44 778 14 41 823, for another couple of weeks, if you wish to chat). But the most talked about distinction between the Channel Islands and the mainland has to do with tax, and both Guernsey and neighboring Jersey have become psydo tax havens. For Nuthin Wong all this comes down to curious confusion, cheap diesel and the notion that were we ever to beach her permanently the Channel Islands would compete with Honfleur as the place to do it. (We should probably stop toying with the idea of the land by now. Partly because our flings with the hard are one-night-stands better left veiled in romantic mysticism, and partly because Europe just seem to get more beautiful the further south we go and the list would just be too long and confusing to keep up with.)

The waters around the Channel Islands are known to be among the hardest in Europe to navigate, with the largest tidal differences in the world. All but one basin in the marina dries out twice a day, but being refused a place there this is of no concern to us. Refused might be a bit harsh but after running us aground while directing us to the waiting pontoon the Harbor Master declared that all free moorings had been allocated for the year but we were welcome to submit an application form for a free berth next year. While this is extremely generous we decided that we might give it a miss and go on the anchor instead. Guernsey Yacht Club proved more generous supplying internet connection, coffee and great books for token donations (Kipling's Captains Courageous and a vegetarian cook book have been added to the library).

John and Faye have left us for the U.K but we have incoming company from U.K tomorrow. An update from the other islands, some photos and a presentation of our new crew member will follow shortly. As will an article about us in the Guernsey Press today (and the one from Honfleur).

Berths are still available throughout the summer - welcome new friends and old!


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The nature of a junkie spirit...

Some of you, dear readers, might have stumbled across our ‘philosophy’ page. If so it would be clear that this whole page is a stolen piece of inspired writing from our spiritual guru, the late Sterling Hayden. If you’ve never heard of Sterling or had a chance to read “Wanderer”- his masterpiece account of escaping the harsh reality (or surreality, rather) of Hollywood by setting sail towards Tahiti, never to return to the fame and fortunes of the movie industry - you should put your next paycheck towards it!

In addition to being a brilliant piece of literary achievement its philosophical message is profound. His realizations are the thoughts with which all wanderers are tortured - what lies beyond the horizon? Or, in most cases – what’s stopping me from finding out?

On the Nuthin Wong it is far from everyday we can afford ourselves the luxury of sitting back to ponder our own spiritual reasons for voyaging the way we do. That is why emails like one we received the other day encourage us to keep on moving in spite of obstacles and rainy days. The following text is an extract from that email.

Dear Clive,
I read the press article about you in the Ouest-France this
morning, Tuesday, June 1st, 2010. I’ve been happy to see about
your adventure after having observed your incredible boat for
a long time on the harbour of Honfleur for soon 2 weeks... I
am not of the same generation as you but I also prepare a big
trip around the world with my future boat and my family, plan
which I prepare since the age of 10. Since then, I made my
life and I had children who 2 of them are adults today. Then the
time of departure approaches. Experiments as yours are a stone
furthermore in my knowledge to refine and achieve an adventure
on the sea. I thank you for it... Thank you still for your
experience and your mind which shows that this world isn’t
devolved to violence as we can see continuously in news. That
freedom has another place there.

Yes, dear friends, freedom does have another place here. But ironically freedom does not come for free and it does not come easy, not in Sterling’s swingin’ 50’s, and perhaps even less today.

A book, anyone?

So we escaped Honfleur, the saddest of departures yet. Two weeks on the wall meant many beautiful encounters with people from near and far. But we don't usually even shop in the same supermarket twice, so getting familiar with the lunch hours of the local laundromat meant that departure was overdue, the horizon calling.

Annual boat blessing festival, Honfleur.

We had a couple of days on anchor outside lovely St Vaast before entering one of our biggest ports so far, Cherbourg, where we met up with John and Faye from New Zealand. Cherbourg is a busy international port with four ferries from the U.K each day (don’t mind the wash guys, we’ll just make a habit of tying down the porcelain on a regular basis!). With 40 000 people calling Cherbourg home it offers an opportunity to stock up on a few essentials to prepare us for a very exciting leg of the journey. Tomorrow morning the anchor comes up again and the course is plotted to the Channel Islands! The island group just south of the English Channel is affiliated with the U.K but not officially part of neither Britain, nor Fran ce. It will be our furthest stray from shore so far – 40 miles west. Thank you for your supportive comments, keep them coming!

Nuthin Wong

View from galley during festival - farewell privacy...

Yann-Olivier is a nice journalist for Ouest-France and a fan of the Wong

Hanna demands that evidence of hard work is made public (note the absence of smoke brakes under Captain Clive's command...)

Good morning horizon!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Off course...

We got side tracked and ended up.... in Paris.

Like so many beautiful things, our Paris adventure was found on the sidewalk. One sunny afternoon, hustling the boardwalk, we met the lovely Mademoiselle Gonsalves. On a weekend visit to her Honfleur holiday flat but bound back for Paris she offered us a holiday from the Wong and a ride to the big smoke.

Like fish happily out of water we spent a lovely couple of days in this beautiful city. Although it is one of Europe's biggest (and most tourist packed) it has a pleasant, friendly vibe about it and, of course, culture, art, food and wine to keep one inspired and satisfied for much longer than we could afford hanging around.

Kitchen bohéme and the beautiful Moulin Rouge

Hard working crew...?

Stand by for departure for the Channel Islands within the next week. And where are your comments folks?


Nuthin Wong

Friday, May 21, 2010

Holiday in Honfleur

Honfleur, Lower Normandy, France.
Latitude: N 49.4195
Longitude: E 0

While life is well aboard the Wong there are certain places we pass through that makes life on land seem very attractive indeed! Honfleur is certainly one of them. This picturesque town just outside the busy port city of Le Havre is a buzzing tourist destination, attracting visitors from all over Europe and the world. The town has a population of 8178 but attracts thousands more in the summer.

The sail down from Dieppe was uneventful (for which we are thankful since we were a crew of two and are happy to save unexpected dramas for when we have more assistance aboard!). We were keeping close to the coast the whole way and were able to see some nice French countryside. Normandy is an amazing part of France with green hills, white cliffs and the most amazing architecture. 12 hours out of Dieppe we hung a left at La Havre to enter the river mouth of the mighty Seine river. We were battling a strong tide going out and thought at first that we would be too late to enter the lock to Honfleur some 15 km into the river.

We don't know whether it was lucky timing or standard procedure but after calling in on the radio (the VHF has been a somewhat monologuesqe exercise since entering France; "Honfleur sluss, this is Victor Delta 3875, do you copy?", "French french french.... french", "Okay, when is the next sluss opening please? Over", "French french. French, french.... french", "Okay, merci monsieur, over and out") the lock opened up and we entered the first lock of the trip! It is fascinating to see the very smooth procedure of the 'sluss' and after fifteen minutes we were in! After a 14.5 hour day it was nice to motor into town again. We had heard from other sailors in Dieppe that there were still free places to moore in Honfleur and we had our fingers crossed that they were right. As it was getting close to 9 pm we took our chances and tied up behind a fishing boat with this view from the galley:

It is exciting to be a stone throw away from the main tourist street around the harbor with all its restaurants, galleries and boutiques. It is also excellent for meeting people and we had barely tied up the spring lines when we were boarded by a lovely British gentleman who happened to have family in Vancouver Island and had seen the Wong back in Canada twenty years ago!

The following day's rondez vous was of a different nature with the Harbor Master knocking on the hatch to inform us that we had to move. Being kind and understanding people they sent us some fifty meters down the wall next to a walkway leading to the beach where we were allowed free mooring for two weeks (and the young Harbor Master's assistant bought a copy of 'No Fixed Address')!

Being on the boardwalk is hardly bad for sales and recruiting and we can barely go out on deck to brush our teeth before curious strollers starts inquiring about our mission to get the Wong back to Canada. One night we had the pleasure of meeting Michael and Hillary, father and daughter on bicycle holiday from Adelaide, Australia, who came aboard for tea and a chat. The pleasure of being able to hold a conversation without a dictionary was huge! The following day the odyssey of perfectly understandable lingual exchange continued over wine and a traditional Aussie bbq on the aft-deck. We hope to see these new friends again later in the summer!

We are very happy to have chosen such a wonderful place for a mini break to catch our breaths, pick up some crew, unload some books, wash the salt and diesel off and mingle with the sophisticated people of Honfleur. A couple of interesting historic footnotes about Honfleur is that it was the port of departure for French explorer Jean Denis as he set out for Newfoundland, Canada, in 1506 as well as the 1608 expedition that ended up founding the city of Quebec, Canada. It is also bound to go down in history as the very favorite French port of the Nuthin Wong on her way to Montreal!

Happy days,
Nuthin Wong

Dolphins of Dieppe

Slussing into Honfleur

Monday, May 17, 2010

Nuthin Wong in France!

Dieppe, Haute-Normandie, France.
N. 49.9275
Longitude: E. 1.0879

We're in France! There's no limit to the excitement of having crossed the Channel safely and be in the land of wine, baguettes, small dogs and fine art.

We took of from Dover with a crew of five and had great conditions for sailing. Dover is a cute little town with the friendliest marina officials we've encountered so far. It's interesting to see how the perceived value of gadgets changes when space and finances are limited. The things you thought you couldn't go without are quickly forgotten about and some things you never used on land becomes crucial survival tools. Then there are the things in the middle. The inventions you really can do without but which, at random appearance, makes you tremendously excited. For me (Hanna) a laundry machine is one such devise. I have more than once been caught by yachtis smelling towels and sheets fresh out of the machine
, smiling at the absence of diesel fumes. To find that the facilitles at Dover Marina includes not only a laundry machine but warm showers and hairdryers was like Christmas in May.

Despite the luxury we were all very keen to tick U.K off the list. England is a great place where we've made many friends, but we have lingered long enough in the country where summer appear to have forgotten to arrive this year.

The actual crossing went smoothly apart from the top panel on the mainsail ripping due to the weight of the three panels underneath. The panel was one of the new ones we made in the loft at Greenwich and a risk from the get-go, given it was a bit too thin for it's purpose on our heavy rig. After reefing up to three panels we soldiered on and arrived in Boulogne Sur Mer (we have a reward out for anyone who can teach us the pronunciation as our at least five different attempts have failed ridiculously) in late afternoon.

Ian went ashore to sign us in and came back with company in the shape of four French custom officials. I'm not sure these men in blue are particularly hilarious to encounter anywhere in the world, but the French ones seem to have an especially humorless aura about them. After an hour's interrogation, presentation of papers and passports and some smooth talking from Clive we were given permission to step ashore.

Boulogne is a rather industrial town but still France and the croissants and wine were on the table within the hour. Contrary to the myth, French people are incredibly friendly and helpful (the fact that we're all totally and absolutely helpless with the French language is beside the point). After a long day at sea we were all pretty flat but enjoyed a nice meal in town (cheese, bread and some more cheese) before turning in to be fresh for the next day.

Up in the morning and off to Dieppe in the province of Haute Normandie. Instead of customs Dieppe greeted us with dolphins upon arrival. It doesn't seem to matter how often you encounter these beautiful animals, they are just as amazing every time.

From Dieppe the real world called on Ian, Sean and Paddy who all had to make their way back to the U.K. Despite agreeing that Dieppe is one of the most beautiful cities any of us have ever been to we are tied up in the yachtie Marina, out of our price range and too far from the street to sell books and practice our French. We will need to set sail west a.s.a.p. Shame really, we could all stay here much longer...

Au revoir amis!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Ups, downs and in-betweens.

Queenborough, Kent, U.K.
Latitude: 51.4157
Longitude: 0.7480

There are two types of days aboard a boat; tough, wet and pleasant or tough, wet and painful. Enjoying a glass of red on the aft deck overlooking Tower Bridge on a spring evening makes London seam like the most beautiful place in the world and us the most fortunate sailors in town. Then the front cabin catches on fire as we're welding in a rainstorm and it's quite a different story. But it certainly keeps us on our toes...

Our Tower Bridge visit was great fun and a change of scenery from Greenwich. We must have looked rather spectacular coming in to the city with our crew of 15, of four nationalities, aged 5 to 80! We were lucky with the weather and the arrival was celebrated with coffee and cake on the pontoon. Hermitage Moorings is an amazing little community of live-aboards - mostly young families! Clive held a presentation in the common room one night, and when the funds ran a it low we set up camp on the side walk and found a new home for a few books.

We went back to Greenwich for final re-fittings and a grand farewell party. Sailors generally know how to party and the Greenwich crew is no exception. It was a memorable and in all ways wet evening! Thanks guys!

It was with mixed emotions we finally left Greenwich Yacht Club on the evening of May 1. Six of us aboard for the first leg - Clive, Hanna, Sean, Jim, Nicola and Fernando - we had a nice cruise down to Queenborough, on Sheepey Island. It turned out to be quite an adventure as the pontoon was full and we were forced to tie up on a mooring, swimming distance from the shore. Hanna timed catching a bug with fever and some over-the-rail action supremely as the tides and winds were way too strong for the dinghy to get anyone on or off the boat. As the food supplies ran low and we had to get creative with lentils and rice for a second day we all felt pretty ship wrecked and sorry for ourselves. But in spite of the obstacles the spirit was very high. With friends, red wine and lentils you can take on just about anything.

After hanging out in Queenborough for a couple of days we are setting sail for Dover tomorrow and Wednesday morning we depart for France and Boulogne-sur-Mer.

Until next time,

Love and courage

Nuthin Wong

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Work hard, play hard(er)...

Over the past few days it's been confirmed that, even in the 21st century, boats are the most reliable form of transportation. While those preferring flying - this less scenic, environmentally atrocious but admittedly faster means of transportation - have been earthbound for three days, the Wong is as reliable as ever.

Today was an extra special day as the Wong left the wall for the first time in three months! Even though she's been happy there, receiving lots of TLC and admiration, she is happier bobbling on the waves. Due to tides we had to move her to the pontoon where work continues for another week.

With old and new friends dropping in, some for coffee, some to secure a bunk for the months ahead, the energy aboard is buzzing. We are stunned and amazed by the hospitality and support from Greenwich Yacht Club whose help has been invaluable.

Each day is one closer to departure but as some of you might now we are not leaving London without a proper goodbye party! This is to take place up the river, next to Tower Bridge on Saturday, April 24. It's a very exciting day indeed! We will arrive at Hermitage Moorings around noon to welcome the press aboard from 1PM. Come down for a bite to eat and be part of the celebration! We will also start shooting the documentary from here, so if you want to be perpetuated on the Wong, this is your opportunity :)

As for final departing date, May 1, it's sneaking upon us quickly now. Buckle up!

Happy days!