Ocean Hope

This month I’m trying out Plastic Free July – part of a wider campaign to reduce consumption of single-use plastic and as a result reduce the amount of plastic getting into our oceans.  Plastic in oceans is everyone’s problem and has huge impact’s on wildlife and ecosystems.  A million single use plastic bottles are bought every MINUTE worldwide,  and plastic is washed up on remote Arctic beaches that rarely see a human soul. 

I took these pictures last week outside the Maritime, Fram, and Kontiki museums in Oslo, Norway.  The Kontiki museum was particularly fascinating as it was Thor Heyerdahl – builder and Captain of the Kontiki – who started the ocean conservation movement after finding washed out oil in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on a subsequent voyage on Ra II. 

I think the sculpture represents how much we lean on the ocean for so many reasons – fishing, shipping, recreation – but also put a lot of strain on it with pollution.  A lighthouse is designed to lead sailors safely into harbour and around dangerous rocks – perhaps this one will lead us around dangerous levels of pollution and lead us to change course to a healthier ocean. One can only hope. 


Wishing the time away

In less than 24 hours this year’s exams will be over, so it’s a little ridiculous that I am feeling highly unproductive today.

The problem is that there are so many exciting things happening in the next four weeks that I just can’t wait for them to happen!

I’ve spent a lot of today window shopping on the internet. I’ve been looking for a dress to wear next weekend to a 21st and bikinis to take on holiday! And of course the exchange rate of the euro (even though it doesn’t make all that much sense to me), the weather forecast for Preveza (I hope it improves by the time we get there) and of course beautiful pictures of Greek islands.

I really cannot wait.

A question about the local tax liabilities of a maggot rearing shed has brought me back down to earth with a bit of a bump though, so I will just have to try and push the excitement to the back of my mind for just a few hours longer, and get back to the revision!

I will leave you with a photo of my favourite place on earth.

I take no credit for this picture - it isn't mine I found it on Pinterest

I take no credit for this picture – it isn’t mine I found it on Pinterest


I’ve realised my last post was a couple of weeks ago, and a lot has happened!

After my last post there were two weeks remaining of the Easter break.  I spent a lot of this revising, but also managed to get down to the boat with dad.  The idea was that we would go for a day sail, but also tidy up a bit and get her ready for my birthday weekend sailing.  However the day sail wasn’t to be, as when we got onto the boat we discovered that the mainsheet and main halyard hadn’t come out of winter very well.  For those that don’t know about sailing, the mainsheet is attached to the boom and is used to control the general position of the sail, and the main halyard is used to hoist the sail up the mast (anything with halyard in it hoists something, so a spinnaker halyard hoists a spinnaker, flag halyard hoists a flag etc).

Both of the ropes were very worn, one had even gone fluffy, so we decided that it would be unsafe to use them as they take a lot of strain.  We spent the rest of the day cleaning the Saharan sand off the side decks and doing general jobs that needed doing before ordering some new rope.  So now she is all ready for my birthday, we just need to run the ropes back on.

It was also my sister’s 18th birthday on the last weekend of the holidays!  All of the family came down, we put a little marquee in the garden and dressed up and had a party. It was nice to see everyone, it’s not very often that the whole family gets together and we have 5 generations now. There’s my great grandma, nan, aunt, cousin and my cousin’s daughter. 5 generations and all women.

Me and the littlest of the 5 generations!

Me and the littlest of the 5 generations!


Now I am back at Harper, to revision and 7 exams coming up! Less than six weeks left now, and that’s half way through uni.

Scary stuff.

Here comes the sun

Well, summer has well and truly arrived in the UK this week and it has been almost unbearably hot!

I haven’t been doing much schooling with Oscar since I got back from France (Still need to write the next blog for that), we’ve mainly been hacking and enjoying the sunshine! This is great because we hardly hacked at all before I went away because I was being a wimp, but hacking is what I missed most from riding Ellie, so I was determined to go for lots of hacks over the summer!


This is Oscar’s column on the board where we write when we ride and what we do, so we know how much the horses have done and when they need a day off

Oscar had a day off on Tuesday as it was so unbearably hot, and then I took him out by myself yesterday while Sheryl had a jumping lesson at Hurston Dressage & Eventing. I haven’t hacked out by myself in months but I needed to at some point and he hadn’t put a foot wrong the last three times I’d taken him out, so hacking it was. Either way, there was no way I was going to go in the school in this heat! We went out around a couple of fields and had a canter – we haven’t cantered out in months either – and Oscar was as good as gold: he really is lazy at heart! The ground around the farm varies massively so although the ground was firm where we were cantering, we also encountered a long stretch of muddy puddles! This meant Oscar’s legs needed a wash when we got back, and I washed off his saddle area too because he had sweated a bit.


Oscar drying off after his post-hack bath :)

In this weather it’s so hot that I really don’t feel like eating anything at lunchtime. Today I picked some raspberries off the canes in our garden and ate them, and some cherries that mum had bought too :) I’ll go to the yard later, but I’m not going in that school until it cools down a bit! Thankfully the weather is cooler today but I want to make the most the great hacking weather while it’s here. Hopefully the farmer will be able to get the crops in soon and we’ll have acres and acres of stubble to go galloping on! I haven’t really got much to do now – my life has gone from crazy, hectic, revising every second of the day, to lazing around, doing a bit of training with the dog and riding in the afternoons. I can’t start getting stuff ready for uni until my place has been confirmed after results day, which is in three weeks so everything crossed!

We’re going sailing this weekend though! :D About time I think! We were thinking of going in to Bembridge overnight but the tides are all wrong, so that will have to wait. We’ll just have to see where the wind takes us, and show of our sparkling white sails. :)

That’s all for now,

Maddi x


Proper Course: Laser Sailing: The Rules

Anyone who’s a laser sailor should read these. Anyone who isn’t a laser sailor should read these.

Just sayin’

Laser Sailing: The Rules – by The Keepers

We are the Keepers of the Vang. In so being, we also maintain the sacred text wherein lie the simple truths of Laser Sailing etiquette known as The Rules. It is in our trust to maintain and endorse this list.

#1 Obey The Rules.

This isn’t the Pirate’s Code, for Pete’s sake. These aren’t guidelines. These are The Rules.

#2 Lead by example.

Be the one in your fleet saying things like “It’s only blowing 35 knots. Let’s go racing!” and “It will only take us an hour or so to dig the boats out of the snow. Let’s go racing!”

#3 Guide the uninitiated.

Novices should be guided in the ways of Laser sailing. HOW ELSE WILL THEY LEARN IF YOU DON’T SHOUT AT THEM gently tell them of the error of their ways?

#4 You sail a Laser because you like pain.

The sooner you appreciate this fact, the happier you’ll be.

#5 Harden The Fuck Up.

You should not need telling again.

To read more of these brilliant rules, visit:

Proper Course: Laser Sailing: The Rules.

Spring Rig

OMG, Sailormads is writing a blog about a boat?! NEVER!

Exuma has been in Port Solent over winter so that we could plug her into the shore power and run a heater and dehumidifier, and do a bit of work. Quite a bit of work needed doing to the sails, covers, spray hood and dodgers, so they all came off at the end of last year and were sent to Master Covers to be laundered and repaired. We took that opportunity to take out all the sheets and halyards and they all got labelled up and put in the washing machine. So we now have lots of sweet smelling sails, covers and ropes, which aren’t a uniform shade of green any more! :O This weekend was our last weekend at Port Solent so we had to move, a busy weekend was just waiting for us!

We left Friday lunchtime and it was quite sunny in Wantage. We passed through some rain on the way down but by the time we got to Portsmouth it was sunny intervals again. There was hardly a breathe of wind which was perfect for hanking on the genoa. I think that must be the only time a sailor wants no wind at all! The boat looked quite naked when we arrived – all white desks and silver mast, not a hint of blue in sight!


Naked boat and lots of colourful ropes to go on…

The first job was to attach the dodgers. These are canvas panels displaying the boats name which attach to the guard rails at the sides of the boat. We had these from when we bought the boat but they were a bit smelly and damaged and we never put them on, so now they had been cleaned and repaired we could attach them. The proper way to do this is to lace them on with some cord but as this is a bit of a faff we use cable ties ;-) Think she looked quite smart afterwards and it was nice to get a bit of colour back on her!


The next bit was the spray hood. Again, we had had it cleaned and repaired as some of the stitching on the clear plastic panels was starting to come undone. I had had a go at cleaning the soft leather on the hand rail which came out well but still needs another going over – a job for next time I think! We folded the spray hood down at first to keep it out of the way but then decided it might as well go up. The only issue with this is that it got in the way quite a bit when we were working on the boom – I guess we’ll remember next year!


Dad set me the job of finding the genoa (the sail at the front of the boat) while he wound on the furling line. Turns out that’s quite hard because both sails look very similar when they are folded up and in the bags that my dad’s friend kindly lent us! Then it turned out that dad had wound the furling line on the wrong way so we had to take it off and put it back on again – and easy mistake to make when you’re trying to work out which way it will turn the drum when pulled and which way that will make the sail roll in! We had to attach the genoa halyard which is used to pull the sail up – it goes from the sail down the inside of the mast and then cleats off. We had used cord to run inside the mast so that we could just attach this to the genoa line and pull it through the mast. We realised that one of the cords from the back of the mast had become caught round the deck light on the front above the spreaders, so there was no way that any amount of flapping would get it out. So dad’s serious suggestion was that I go part way up the mast in the bosun’s chair, untangle it and come back down again…. It’s funny what fear can make you think of because it was then that I thought to use another cord to flick it away from the deck light and it worked! :-) So I didn’t have to do any aerial acrobatics this time. We successfully hoisted the genoa and furled it around the pole and the drum so that was one sail sorted! We decided to call it a night and get some dinner after we had attached the main halyard. Here’s a picture of the mast with all of the cords coming out of it to run the ropes back up! Lots of colourful bits of string…


And here’s a picture of Bramble sitting on the deck enjoying the sunshine!


I geniusly managed to slice my finger open when we were feeding the genoa in – but who needs a plaster when you’ve got kitchen towel and electrical tape?!? ;)


Today we went for a wander to the harbour hamster’s office to tell them we were leaving and to buy a new gas bottle as ours had run out. Then we went and looked at the tide over the harbour wall and saw that it was out, and that there was a barge dredging the channel. There was also a Sunsail racing boat who was doing some pretty interesting movements – although I’m not sure they were intentional! We watched a little while, while some boats came out of the lock to see what the barge did. It was basically a bit of a shambles with boats every where going backwards and suddenly having to come alongside the holding pontoon with no fenders! Not a pretty sight! Here’s a very short video of the big red barge and the digger, digging the sticky black mud from the channel.


We had to put the mainsail on today by which time there was a bit of wind and it was threatening to rain. The mainsail was a lot harder to put on because we had to attach it to the mast and the boom, whilst putting the batons in it. The sail cover went on next and the lazy jacks which support it seemed to have shrunk since last time and it was quite a stretch to get them attached again! We couldn’t put the reefing lines in as one of the blocks on the sail was broken, so we took them both out to replace and hadn’t managed to get replacements yet.


Here’s a picture of the mast with the blue sail covers on, and some of the ropes.

Moving the boat meant dad and I on the boat and mum and Holly taking the car round to pick us up at Gosport. To get out of Port Solent you have to go through a lock and as it was low tide this meant we went down. Tackling the lock with just 2 people was quite exciting and I managed to open my finger up again which bled everywhere and was yummy. But we managed and let the other boat that was in there with us out first – after all we knew what was out there – the dredger ;-) Turned out that the dredger wasn’t even there then :P

We found our swinging mooring and picked up that bouy like a pro – if I say so myself… ;) It was covered in smelly seaweed which was gross! I had to take my gloves home to clean. We then got the water taxi back to the pontoon and went home :-)


Bye-bye boaty! Exuma on her swinging mooring