High Jinks on the High Seas!

Now some of you must be wondering what is fact and what is fiction from reading the stories about Zander and his crew, throughout my first two books in the Zander Trilogy. I can tell you that the following ‘trick’ is based on fact, however the names of those responsible will never be revealed! In my second book More Ports More Storms, the crew decide to have some ‘fun’ with a rival skipper of another nearby yacht, as part of an on-going fued with Zander. After enticing the rival and his crew ashore to have a peace-making drink in Tobermory, … Continue reading High Jinks on the High Seas!

Sailing home

For anyone who has sailed a boat, anywhere in the world, the joys of heading into a berth for the night, after an exhausting experience is very welcome. To view the scenery, on the route whether familiar or not, stays with you forever. “Late afternoon found the despondent Emeraldeers south east of Arran puttering up the Firth of Clyde in almost flat calm conditions, the sun scattering diamond like reflection on the surface of the sea. Their intended route would take them between Bute and the Cumbraes, past Wemyss Bay, with Dunoon on the port side then turning to starboard … Continue reading Sailing home

Midges and Clegs

A wee bit of advice for any visitor to the Highlands and West Coast of Scotland, is to take suitable insect repellent/ clothing, as these wee beasties have a habit of appearing just when you least expect it and interrupt your plans. Midges, pronounced Mijjee,  The Scottish midge belongs to a family of midges known as Ceratopogonidae – biting midges. Other members of this family are known as ‘no see ums’ in North America Clegs also known as Horseflies cause piercing burning sensations and can take a long time to heal, and may become infected. One of my chapters in … Continue reading Midges and Clegs

Auld Reekie – Puffer

The Puffer featured here in my books is the Auld Reekie, one of the last to be built for the Royal Navy in 1943. It was built by Isaac Pimblott at Northwich on the River Weaver in Cheshire. When it was subsequently demobbed, it plied its civilian trade around the western seaboard of Scotland. Victuals Inshore Craft (V.I.C. No 27) was initially designed, fitted out and registered as a shore-to-ship water carrier. She originally worked out of Rosyth then later at Scapa Flow before moving to the west coast of Scotland. She was one of a number of different types … Continue reading Auld Reekie – Puffer

Puilladrobhain

The following relates to Chapter 56 and 57 in my 1st Book A Storm in Any Port describing some of the places the crew visited. The crew of the Emerald sailed back across the Firth of Lorne, up the west side of Luing, before steering through the narrow channel that separates the islands of Easdale and Seil. They were all in need of some light refreshments, which invariably means finding a Hotel where they can sample some beer and local spirits, so it was Grunt, who suggested they head for Puilladrobhain – translated in Gaelic as ‘the pool of the … Continue reading Puilladrobhain

Ceilidh Night!

The following relates to Chapter 53 in my 1st Book A Storm in Any Port describing some of the places the crew visited. The crew of the Emerald looking for a place to drink, that had a wee bit ‘atmosphere’, ended up at the Kilmartin Hotel, near the Crinan Canal, where they had their first (and last) experiences of a Scottish Ceilidh! Apart from the warm welcome and customary hard drinking that was going on, Zander learned another traditional skill, of Playing the Spoons! So, what exactly is a ceilidh? Modern ceilidhs (pronounced kay’lee in case you were wondering…) tend … Continue reading Ceilidh Night!

Isle of Gigha

The crew of the Emerald set of for the Isle of Gigha, after their high-jinks on Islay, now looking forward to some rest. Ch52 – A rock or a soft place, in A Storm in Any Port. The Isle of Gigha is an island located off the Kintyre peninsula’s west coast (Argyll and Bute, Scotland). Gigha island has a total area of approx 14 km2 and a population of around 200. Gigha Island features mild climate, more than average sunshine hours and fertile soils. In 2002, a “community buy-out” transformed the island, whose population is constantly growing and new commercial activities complement the … Continue reading Isle of Gigha

Lost Youth – Jura

The ding-a-ling of a bell gave warning that the bar of the Jura Hotel was about to close and also brought the triumvirate’s evening of serious drinking and even more serious ‘blethering’ to an end. As usual, the intensity of opinion, on the most inconsequential of matters, had increased in proportion to the amount of alcohol they had put away. Now it was time to get back to the boat. All evening Grunt, not a seasoned drinker, had been matching his messmates, measure for measure and quaff for quaff, so by the time they left the hotel, he was by … Continue reading Lost Youth – Jura

Ardfern

Excerpt from Chapter 44 – A Stand In – Ardfern With his mind still full of what he had just seen, Zander went into the Estate Office where, as promised, his client gave him maps showing the positions of the lodge and the loch. They were copies of the  1906, six inches to the mile Ordnance Survey series, and although beautiful examples of the draughtsman’s art, they had no contours. All they showed was a scattering of spot levels and even fewer benchmarks1. Nonetheless, from what Zander could see, it looked as if his task might not be too difficult. … Continue reading Ardfern

Island of Coll

Excerpt from Chapter 42 The Battle – Coll A Storm in Any Port – Book 1 of the Zander Trilogy “Looking along the road, the Emeraldeers could see that the hotel was on the near horizon and a fair way off and unfortunately, there was neither a bus stop nor a telephone booth to call a cab. In their desperate rush to make their futile advances towards Seonaidh, the would-be smoothies had forgotten to ask her if there was any public transport on the island. The long walk to the hotel did not appeal to any of them but they … Continue reading Island of Coll

Something Galore – Eriskay

The nearest island to the north of Barra is Eriskay and to Zander, that was probably the best place to go. His mind made up, the skipper went back up on deck and informed the crew of his decision; it was either Eriskay or turn back. Having come almost one third of the way towards the Outer Hebrides, his crew were not in the mood to be going back anywhere. To them Eriskay was an island of intrigue, romance and adventure and was not only the focus of the song, the Eriskay Love Lilt, but it was there that Bonnie … Continue reading Something Galore – Eriskay

Gift idea for Christmas

With Christmas fast approaching, and a lot of uncertainty about how the pandemic is going to affect our Postal services, why not consider purchasing one or more of the books as a gift for someone here or abroad? A Storm in Any Port – Have a read of the Prologue  – Click here Set principally in Scotland’s beautiful Western Isles with side trips to Hong Kong, the Lake District and the Balearic Islands, the narrative is an expose of an ambitious, accident prone Scot with a sailing bug who leads his scallywag crew and breathes life, fun and nostalgia into … Continue reading Gift idea for Christmas

Deep Water – Chum Hong Kok

  Next day their wives tried to press-gang the boys into going on a family day out to the GCHQ Club at Chum Hong Kok, a small resort on the south side of Victoria Island. Here in its  spacious grounds the traditional colonial club atmosphere still survived. The members could, swim in an open air pool, play tennis on well kept courts, eat in a fine restaurant or just have a picnic. In this comfortable home from home environment, the families of the British civilian and armed forces community were able to relax, or just top up their tans. However, … Continue reading Deep Water – Chum Hong Kok

Sailing the South China Seas – Hong Kong

In his early thirties, Zander was posted to the Crown Colony of Hong Kong as the Senior Ranking Engineering Civil Servant attached to the naval dockyard there, HMS Tamar. His workload left him with a fair amount of leisure time, with the salary to enjoy it. At last he had all the ingredients in place to follow his dreams; for the first time in his life Zander would be able to do some serious sailing. Not long after taking up residence with his wife, Jane and their young family in the plush Government flat allocated to them, the former acting … Continue reading Sailing the South China Seas – Hong Kong

An American Cup boat in Tayvallich

On the puffer’s bustling approach into the sheltered waters of Tayvallich, Zander gathered an eager audience on deck as he pointed out the Americas Cup boat, tied up not far away. To whet the guest’s appetite for their forthcoming adventure, he provided them with a running commentary on her perceived ‘finer points’, enthusing over her slim racing lines, her tall masts that could hold up acres of sail and even gave an impromptu lecture about her alleged peerless past performances and achievements. He ended the diatribe with his text of the day, “She is a superb relic of the history … Continue reading An American Cup boat in Tayvallich

Who is Zander?

Chapter 5 – The Man As Zander grew up it was only natural that he should take a keen interest in the sea and ships. To him they were symbols of happy times, adventure, fun and freedom. Whether on the deep blue sea, canal or river, given half a chance, he would clamber on board any vessel and feel immediately at home. However, even in maturity, his ability to attract trouble was always there or thereabouts. Perhaps, Zander had been near the end of the queue when common sense was handed out. His friends and acquaintances used adjectives such as … Continue reading Who is Zander?

Tayvallich No More

Excerpt from A Storm in Any Port – Chapter 15 The shipping forecast had just started and everyone listened intently as the un-modulated voice of the announcer went through the sea areas; “Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight, Humber.” When he got to, “Rockall, Mallin, Hebrides”, the guests’ ears pricked up. “South westerly gales, seven to nine, occasional force ten, showers increasing to persistent heavy rain, visibility poor.” The announcer went on to give barometric highs and lows, but by then the guests were looking apprehensively at Zander for his interpretation. Their spokesman … Continue reading Tayvallich No More

Gilbert Show’s His Metal!

Major Gilbert Bernard Humble is oblivious to the fact that his initials form the acronym for Grievous Bodily Harm. He was a fearless (more likely insensitive) soldier who, during his career, had no opportunity to do any sailing. His postings had all been to inland bases where, as he was wont to say, he was a ‘loyal defender of the Empire’ a role similarly claimed by Zander. If either of them had been what they purported to be, there are those who might be tempted to think God help us all. Grunt maintains, disparagingly, that they were more likely referring … Continue reading Gilbert Show’s His Metal!

A Drop in The Ocean

Photos relating to Chapter 12 – A Drop in The Ocean, Puffer Tales from A Storm in Any Port:   The Paps of Jura (Scottish Gaelic: Sgurr na Cìche) are three mountains on the western side of the island of Jura, in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Their highest point is 2,575 feet (785 m). They are steep-sided quartzite hills with distinctive conical shapes resembling breasts. The word pap is an ancient word of Old Norse origin for the breast. The Paps are conspicuous hills that dominate the island landscape as well as the landscape of the surrounding area. They can … Continue reading A Drop in The Ocean

The Worm Turns – Crinan

On a fine, if lightly clouded, blue-skied day, the puffer was tied up to the stone jetty outside the western basin of the Crinan Canal, ready to fulfil a charter. To the west of her, the sea spread away over the Sound of Jura towards the shimmering outline of the blue-grey mountains that marked the islands of Jura and Scarba. On board, the crew was awaiting the arrival of the client, top man of a well-known international corporation. He and the last of his guests were driving over by car from Edinburgh. As soon as they arrived, the puffer would … Continue reading The Worm Turns – Crinan

Murdo’s Measure  – Foyers (Loch Ness)

Murdo’s Measure  – Foyers (Loch Ness) Scratched into the surface of the bar counter in the Foyers Hotel, is a strange scale. At just over two feet long, it has marks across it, dividing it into a number of units of irregular width. Under it are scratched two lengthwise arrows, one with a capital ‘H’ pointing left, the other a capital ‘T’ pointing right. Written in uneven letters in chalk underneath this puzzling piece of primitive art is the title, ‘Murdo’s Measure’. Any visitor intrigued by this almost indecipherable marking and curious to know what it was for, would be … Continue reading Murdo’s Measure  – Foyers (Loch Ness)