The Birth Of Anú-4 – Boat Ahoy!

‘Twas on a sunny evening on my decking on The Island two summers ago, that my long -cherished idea to live on a boat one day, finally came to be a definite plan.

My friend Barnaby ( who knows about boats )  and I sat sipping ice-cold cocktails I had made, ( well- it was six o’clock, and as my Dad says, it is always six o’ clock somewhere, )

As we enjoyed them, I told him they were called ‘ Gimlets.’

I love making cocktails and have always looked forward to The Cocktail Hour, as sunset is my favourite time of the day, giving us a chance to kick back and draw a line under the working hours.

One of the things I enjoy, is that they very often have Naval or ‘ boating ‘ connotations,  having come from this little isle of England’s long and distinguished Naval history ( ‘ Down The Hatch!’ )

‘ Did you know that this was thought to be invented by a Naval surgeon, Thomas Gimlette, as a scurvy remedy on board ship? ‘ I said to Barnaby.

A Gimlet is made with Gin and lime, and apparently Thomas  added the gin to the lime juice in order to persuade the sailors to swallow their ‘ medication’. ( see recipe below)

Of course, sailors soon became known as ‘ Limeys.’

There hadn’t been many reported cases of  scurvy on Thames Ditton Island of late, but Barnaby and I felt that it was a good idea to sip Gimlets in the summer just as a precaution.

My love of, and interest in, all things Nautical ( not just Cocktails )  and my fascination with how many of the words and phrases we use in everyday language come from this long and rich tradition, gave me the idea to write this next post about some of the ‘ Boating Terms’ which we may- or may not- have heard of. Some will be very well – known by the more experienced sailors amongst you, but I hope will be a welcome reminder all the same.

I’m hoping they will also prove useful to me- and to my family, friends and guests-  as we prepare to climb aboard ANÚ!

LINE- Rope

On a boat, the ropes used to tie up, etc are known as ‘ Lines.’

Here, I quote Mark Twain : ‘ So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails.’

Which brings me on to…

BOW and STERN- Front and Back

The front of the boat is called the BOW ( pronounced like ‘ wow’ not like ‘ woe’ ) and the back is called the STERN. So when I ask you to ‘ throw me the bowline, ‘ I shall be hoping you will carefully toss me the rope at the front of Anú so we can sail off!

THE HEAD

On a boat, this is the loo, or bathroom.

The story goes that the crew always used to go to the ‘ head’ or bow of the boat to do their thing…but, as with most nautical stories, the exact history is somewhat hazy.

GALLEY – Kitchen

Usually quite small, as I am trying to bear in mind whilst unpacking my boxes from the current move.

Apparently, ancient Mariners cooked their meals on a ‘ galley’ of heated stones.

I shall be having a nice gas oven instead.

PORT and STARBOARD – Left and Right

Ever wondered where the word: ‘Posh ‘ comes from?

Well, it is short for : ‘ Port out, Starboard home.’

The ‘ Port’ side of a boat is the left side from the perspective of the captain ( looking forward ) and the ‘ Starboard’ is the right. Aren’t they lovely words?

I always imagine myself lying on the deck of a big ship, hands behind my head and a smile on my lips, a bit like Leonardo in ‘ Titanic,’ as I look up at a clear and starry night sky when I hear ‘ Starboard’.

I’m not sure, but I like to think that sailors of old may have called it this because they felt the same…such is the romance of being on the water, for me…

Anyway, back to POSH ( do try to drag me back, dear reader, I’m of Irish descent, and tend to suffer from making any short story long.)

So, the legend goes that when passengers were travelling between England and India during the days of The Raj, the well – heeled sought to have their cabins in the shadiest part of the vessel.

As Britain and India are both in the northern hemisphere, the berths on the left – hand side of the ship ( so, PORT ) were shadier when travelling out ( easterly )  and the berths on the right, ( STARBOARD ) were cooler coming back.

So the best and most expensive berths were POSH, which is what the upper classes had written on their trunks as they boarded.

Yes, I realise this story may be apocryphal, but I love it, so like to think it is true.

And isn’t it fun, this ‘ boating ‘ terminology? An absolute joy for me, as it satisfies my love of romance, the water, words and history all at the same time.

It seems to me that sailors, who were isolated for months on end, must have developed their own language between themselves, and it grew from there, since I  believe that language is always a living and evolving thing.

On to the next!

SALOON- Sitting / Living Room

The ‘ social ‘ area of a larger boat  is called ‘ The Saloon’ but is pronounced ‘ salon’ ( In sailing, as in the English language, many words are said very differently from how  they are written.)

‘ Of course. How silly of me. On Thursdays they always serve me in the small saloon.’

(  Tony Curtis as ‘ Junior ‘ to Marilyn Monroe as ‘ Sugar ‘ in ‘ Some Like It Hot,’ – which is my favourite film of all – time, and now that I think of it, features quite a few scenes on a yacht.)

STATEROOM- Bedroom

Sometimes also called a Berth, if it is a fixed bunk.

They are thought to be called Staterooms because originally, only officers or important  people of ‘ state’ had private sleeping quarters on a ship. Mine has beautiful built- in wardrobes  ( thank you Kieran and Keith ) and incidentally, the pole the chaps have used  as a hanging rail for my clothes, comes from the same people who supply Pole – Dancing poles…which I like to think adds a small,  slightly racy note.

KNOTS PER HOUR- Miles per hour.

On a boat or ship, speed is measured in knots. Knots measure nautical miles per hour.

I should imagine that when I first take the Helm ( steering area ) on Anú, that my knots per hour will be very low indeed.

I should like to finish with two stories.

The first one is courtesy of Barnaby.

He told me ( over our Gimlets )  that the term: ‘ Son Of A Gun’ has a nautical derivation.

Apparently, sometimes on very long voyages, ‘ young ladies’ would be smuggled onboard to keep the sailors erm…’ happy’.

Of course, Mother Nature intervenes on board ship too, and one of the young ladies would inevitably become pregnant.

The naval surgeon would then  curtain off a section of the boat near the guns for the birth.

As sailors would be required to pay for this service, sometimes, I regret to say, they did not own up to being the father!

Any male -child born on board who had uncertain paternity, would therefore be listed in the ship’s log as ‘ son of a gun.’

This story may well be a true one, since The Royal Navy Museum confirms that women did sometimes travel on vessels during the age of sail.

The last bit of boating knowledge for you in this blog, comes of course, from my boat – builder- Keith.

USE OF YOUR HORN: ( see pic! )

If turning right when on your boat- toot your horn once.

If turning left- toot it twice.

If you intend to go backwards- toot the horn three times.

For a U-turn to the right- do  four quick toots and then one longer one.

For a U- turn to the left – four quick toots and TWO longer ones  ( toot toot toot toot tooooot tooooot )

Five toots of your horn means : ‘ I am unsure of your intentions.’

 

I have a feeling, that this will prove to be the most useful one of all.

Captain Amanda

 

GIMLET COCKTAIL RECIPE – ( Makes 1 large one, double up for two people sipping on the roof of a boat or for parties )

Mix 1 shot of good Gin ( I like Plymouth London Dry Gin ) with 1/2 shot of Rose’s Lime Cordial, 1/4 shot of freshly squeezed lime juice, and 1/4 shot of still water.

Shake shake shake over ice in a Boston Cocktail Shaker, until your hand is so cold it feels like it might drop off.

Pour into a Martini glass, garnish with a slice of fresh lime, and sip with great pleasure, knowing you have most certainly kept yourself safe from Scurvy.

NB: These are so damn good, I’ve just had to mix one as I write!

‘Some Like It Hot.’  1959- Screenplay by Billy Wilder & I.A.L Diamond

Copyright Amanda Hills 2017, All Rights Reserved

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The Birth of Anú- 3 – Afloat!

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‘ Bathing is a very lonely business.

Except for fish…fish all bathe together. Though they do tend to eat one another.’ ( Hobson & Arthur  – ‘ Arthur ‘ )

Well, it’s been a while since I had any time to write this blog, as we have just moved off The Island…

Previous readers may know how much we loved living there  ( my post: Island Life covers this subject ) but ’tis done…and onwards we go, to the next adventure.

So, feeling the need to remind myself  of the goal in sight, I went to see Keith, Cameron and Kieran at my new home to be- Hart’s Boatyard- to discover the latest joys of their  progress on my boat, Anú.

She’s afloat!

Sitting in the water, a wonder to behold, with her paint shining- the Shannon Green I chose way back in August last year, and with a lovely new canopy over the stern.

As my last post covered ‘ technical’ bits and bobs ( Anú 2 – Something For The Boys )  I thought it was only fair to bring all you ladies up to speed with the finer points of  the delicate art of home- making on the water.

I hope the boys will like it too!

As good as his word, Kieran- another of my fantastic boat builders- has now  wired Anú for sound, with speakers in the ceiling and remote access, so that I can play my music all over the boat, in any space I choose.

Regular readers will certainly know about my passions for both music and dance ( see my posts: Music Was My First Love and Shall We Dance? ) and not a day goes by that I don’t tune in and have a bit of a sing – I hope the fish won’t mind.

Kieran took me to see the new wardrobes in the bedroom.

Keith was listening when I told him I need plenty of space for my clothes – they are wonderfully spacious and yet so cleverly done that they utilise the area beautifully…well done chaps!

And then Keith showed me the bath.

Now I know not everybody has a bath fitted on their boat, but as I explained before, I do like to bathe- particularly in the winter and after a cold game of tennis.

And here it is ( see pic! )

As so often happens, a scene from one of my -and Molly’s-favourite films popped into my head. Song lyrics, or lines from films tend to come to me at random moments. It’s to do with being a writer, I think, and loving words.

I immediately thought of the bathing scene in the film ‘ Arthur’, where the very wonderful Dudley Moore and Sir John Gielgud ( as his butler, Hobson ) discuss the merits of bathing and whether or not it is better to bathe alone or in company.

I was fascinated to learn from Keith- who is an endless source of boating knowledge- that when I bathe onboard Anú, I will actually be bathing in the river!

This is because ( and excuse me if I get this wrong, Keith! ) when you’re in the bath, the bath level is actually BELOW the level of the river, so you are in fact up to your knees in the river Thames.

This is appropriately, and rather wonderfully, known as ‘ The Swim.’ NB: Look out for another post coming shortly on other Boating Terms!

My bath also doesn’t have a plug in it, but rather, a switch.

I couldn’t help but start to laugh at all this info, and of course, began to think of Dudders and how I would certainly not be bathing alone ( though I might like to wear a Top Hat in the bath, as he does )  but would be feeling at one with the fishes.

‘ Perhaps’ said Keith, ‘ you might enjoy a glass -bottomed bath for a better view?’

Now we were getting into the realms of my ultimate fantasy- which has always been myself as a Mermaid, à la Ariel in The Little Mermaid, or ( in my childhood )  Aqua Marina, from Thunderbirds and Stingray.

‘ I don’t think that would be as romantic as my fantasy Keith, I replied,  ‘ as the only things likely to float by in The Thames would be the odd plimsoll, beer can or Pike, rather than exotic species and I really don’t fancy seeing an eel swim past my leg as I bathe.’

On this note, we agreed to keep the bath non- transparent.

Keith then asked me if I would like to see my newly – varnished Porthole ( as per pic .)

As we went into the Marine workshop, it occurred to me yet again how very lucky I am to be having my own boat built to my exact spec.

How often in life is anything made for us with such loving care?

Everything on Anú will be crafted and built by Master Craftsmen, with skill and patience and love for boats and the water.

My own father is a Shipwright, and has a love of, and interest in, ships and boats and how they are built too, so I think it must be in the blood.

How can it fail to be anything other than happy, to live on such a vessel, entirely made of love, talent, hard work  and good vibes?

At this point, just as I was about to leave, the workshop door opened, and in came Cam bearing a massive Paellera.

Holding enough food to feed about 12, it contained Cuban Chicken, which my new neighbour Vinny, who is very  popular, and  known at his restaurant as ‘ The Naughty chef,’ had  made for our lunch ( pic)

It was absolutely delicious.

Oh yes- I think I’m going to be alright living here.

Captain Amanda

‘ Arthur’ -Screenwriter: Steve Gordon. Starring : Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, Sir John Gielgud.

Copyright Amanda Hills 2017, All Rights Reserved

 

The Birth Of Anu- 2. – Something For The Boys ?

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When I first  mentioned to my Dad that I was thinking of buying a boat to live on, I think he feared for me.

Maybe he had visions of me in an old, but charming vessel, bailing out through the night in my wellies and pyjamas …( it could have been the case! )

And then, once having decided to have a boat built especially for me, to my own spec, I sat down with my parents one hot July afternoon this summer and opened the brochure that  Keith ( boatbuilder ) and Ossie ( Marine owner ) had given me.

‘ What engine does she have on board? ‘ My Dad asked me.

‘ She doesn’t know the detail of that kind of thing, Chris!’ Said my kind Mum, who knows me well.

It was sadly true, and as I handed the brochure over to my engrossed father- who is after all, a Marine Engineer and Shipwright and DOES know the detail-  I resolved to rectify that.

So this second blog on The Birth Of ANU, is going to be slightly more technical, though I hope no less fun.

After my decision had been made,  I sat down with Keith again, and this time, he had just returned from overseeing the start of my build in Great Yarmouth.

I must thank him again, as I know this involved a very long day which began at 5am, and those of you who know me, know I’m not really an early morning person ( it’s the creative, yer see.)

I had asked him to send me a few photos of the hull and how she was beginning to shape up ( see pics )

And I also asked for some info on Anu’s construction, engine and all those vital  parts that my father ( and some others, mainly chaps, sorry ladies if I’m being a little sexist, I’m sure  there are many of you who may well be engine- inclined! )  had been so interested in.

So here is some of that info- abridged as I see fit, since this is not a manual for a boat – building enthusiast, and I hate manuals anyway – never knowingly read one!

Worry not, readers of the fairer sex, or those not particularly fascinated by  engines, I shall return swiftly to the real necessities of life afloat, such as a Cocktail cabinet, space for my little black dresses and three types of Gin.

My boat – Anu- is a Widebeam Barge. She will measure 57′ by 11′ and she will be a luxury one berth boat with all mod cons and built to a very high quality.

The name of the company building her is Alicat, which as I mentioned in my first blog, is project managed and overseen by Cameron Stewart,  who also happened to go to school with my daughter Molly.

Keith Bullard is the boatbuilder who designs and ‘ steers’ the whole thing ( pardon the pun) and he has now built 40 boats to similar specs…Anu will be his 41st- a good number!

At the moment, this is all happening in Great Yarmouth, but ANU will be floated down nearer to where I will be moored quite soon.

I chose Shannon Green and Cream for her paintwork, as those are traditional Irish colours and she has an ‘ Irish theme,’ with the Harp logo and Celtic knot design that I chose for her exterior.

Please forgive me, Keith, if I get any of this incorrect, I am still learning and I think always will be, but as I understand it, Anu will have a steel hull, and her engine is a 60 horsepower Canaline, which is a Japanese Marinised engine and the best of its type.

There, that was sexy wasn’t it?!

Canaline engines are very robust and easy to maintain, which is exactly what we want for this sort of vessel , which- after all-will be a home, as well as a boat I will learn to drive and sail.

She will have a fully fitted luxury kitchen, complete with aforementioned wine fridge ( very important ) a Swan Hatch…for saying friendly ‘hellos’ to passing wildlife whilst making your morning Cuppa  …and a large breakfast bar / table in stainless steel and glass for feeding the troops – a job I relish and thoroughly enjoy, for I dearly love to have friends and family  round my table.

Anu will have a beautiful bathroom on board, complete with shower AND bath, thanks to Keith’s design skill. As I mentioned in the first blog, I dance most days and play a lot of sport, so I do love to come home and get in a nice hot bath with a glass of fizz or something stronger!

I must remember to ask Keith about my on-board music system,  as that  is another thing in life that I cannot live without, and I often like to partake of a little Michael Buble whilst in the tub ( Molly calls this a ‘ Buble Bath’).

Anu will also have a large main Saloon, complete with a wood burner for extra toastiness, as well as being fully centrally heated- cosy.

The bedroom will be fully fitted with extra wardrobe and shoe space ( thank you Keith ) for the little black dresses and their friends, and there will be a Japanese screen at the foot of the bed, for privacy from passing ducks and to  give that rather ‘ James Bond in ‘ You Only Live Twice’ effect.

In fact, for future reference, and if in any doubt Keith, just imagine you are designing and building a boat for Bond, as I have always wanted to be the female equivalent- (except I don’t like pain, so would give in under torture) and am completely obsessed, owning the entire box set…for those rainy nights in front of the log burner.

To conclude the spec ( for now ) outside on the bow, there will be fitted seating for summer drinking, and a little ladder built in, for ease of climbing up onto the roof to enjoy the stunning views that Mother Nature always provides…and a handrail, collapsible for going under low bridges, on the roof itself,  to assist with wobbles as you hold onto your Martini ( shaken, not stirred, one olive and a twist for me ).

The stern will have a full, barge – style canopy fitted over it, so that we don’t get wet when pulling off our wellies or damp sports gear and to keep us cosy and act as a sort of porch in the more inclement weather.

So there we are, I think that will suffice  for now. Something for everyone, I hope.

During the writing of this blog, I actually had to ring Keith to check I’d got the type of engine right ( I hadn’t ) so I’ve got a lot to learn, I’ve not even scraped the surface yet, the tip of the iceberg, to use yet another boating term…of which there are many.

Perhaps Santa might bring me a book on ‘ Boating for Beginners ‘ in my stocking this year…

And on that note, I’m off to the kitchen that I currently inhabit, here on The Island, to mix this evening’s cocktails…just call me Bond- Amanda Bond.

Down the hatch.

Copyright Amanda Hills 2016  All Rights Reserved