The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: england

“I was Screaming Sea Shanteys and Shoutin’ at the Gods!” A Glimpse Inside John Lennon’s Sailing Diary.


John Lennon. Bermuda Bound. Photo Source: Unknown. 

When I was a kid, I was a Beatles fanatic. I was turned onto the band, by my mom of all people, who for some reason gave me the album Magical Mystery Tour when I was maybe nine years old. For some reason too deep for my young mind to fathom, I literally wore out the vinyl grooves pondering its dense layers of sound and meaning. Yellow Submarine and Revolver would have the same effect. The band’s legend was always writ a little more large for me because my aunt lived in a building called the Oliver Cromwell, right across the street from the Dakota, which was home to John Lennon and Yoko Ono. She caught occasional glimpses of the pair ducking in and out of their home right there in front of Central Park. I always craned my neck when we walked by the Dakota, but never got my own glimpse. When Lennon was shot, 35 years ago yesterday, I remember my aunt telling me how for days it was nearly impossible to leave her building for of all the mourners. Even though I was only in eighth grade, I wished I could have been among them.

Today, Scuttlefish commodore Brian Lam hipped me to something I didn’t know about Lennon. He actually became a pretty hardcore sailor late in life. In fact, he credits a hairball journey in June, 1980 from Rhode Island to Bermuda with curing a debilitating bout of writer’s block. It was a voyage that inspired “Watching the Wheels,” “I’m Losing You,” and an early version of “Woman.”


John Lennon and his son Sean. Photo source: Unknown. 

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“Beyond the West Horizon”: A 1950s Home Movie of a Round the World Sailing Voyage

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“There was never anything to suggest there were other humans on this planet” – Eric Hiscock on the couple’s TransPac voyage. Screenshot from Beyond the West Horizon.

Eric and Susan Hiscock, earlier pioneers of small-boat pleasure cruising, sailed around the world on their 30-foot cutter, Wanderer between 1952 and 1955 during a time when few took to the high seas for any reason other than necessity. The video below is a full-length feature on their journey as filmed and edited by Eric and Susan themselves.

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“I suppose that practically everybody who owns a small boat as a desire–a dream, you might say–to sail around the world.” – Eric Hiscock. Screenshot from Beyond the West Horizon.

The Hiscocks recorded Beyond the West Horizon together during their 3-year, 3-week journey round the world–their first of three. Out in the open ocean, they encounter only one other vessel throughout their entire journey. There was no radar, no emergency rescue and on all but a few stretches, almost all of the steering had to be done by hand, which meant very little sleep.

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Sailing through the Greek Isles. Screenshot from Beyond the West Horizon.

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Last Man Off: Author and Shipwreck Survivor Matt Lewis Discusses Disaster, Survival and Regret in the Southern Ocean

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Above: Likely the last (recoverable) photo taken of the Sudur Havid. All of Mr. Lewis’ photos from the voyage lie beneath the South Atlantic, somewhere to the west-northwest of South Georgia Island.

In April of 1998, a 23-year-old marine biologist named Matt Lewis boarded the Sudur Havid, a commercial fishing vessel headed for the Southern Ocean in search of Patagonian toothfish (better known for its more common market name, “Chilean sea bass”). He was to be a scientific observer, documenting the vessel’s catch. It was his first job out of school.

The vessel was to spend several months at sea between the Roaring Forties, the Furious Fifties and the Screaming Sixties, great conveyor belts of wind and current, named in reference to the almost constant 40-60-knot winds and 40-60-foot seas that occur within those southern latitudes. It was an adventurous gig – the kind of thing a young, freshly lettered bachelor is supposed to get himself into.

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“With my mum and sister in Somerset before the trip, 1997. I know: bad hair, dreadful beard, but I was young.” Photo courtesy of Matt Lewis.

Two months into the excursion, the Sudur Havid was off South Georgia Island in a heavy storm, possibly overloaded, but continuing to fish, per usual, when the ship’s factory (where the fish are processed and frozen) began to take on water. The inboard pumps, which were used to drain the factory, became clogged, and stopped working. Slowly, the ship began to list, and the reality that she would have no chance of making port set in amongst the crew. South Georgia Island was 170 miles away–too far for helivac–and South Africa and South America were both well over 1,000 miles away.

Now it was a nightmare.

The ship, which Lewis, junior amongst the crew, had assumed was prepared for such an emergency, was carrying unserviced life rafts and no survival suits. The water over the rail was as good as freezing, about 32.5° fahrenheit (~0.25° celsius)–a temperature at which even a healthy human body can last no more than 45 minutes.

“When you’re in trouble, you pull together, fight together, try to laugh and keep your spirits up. But there’s only so much you can do when the water is so cold.”

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The ‘Beach Buoy’ These Children Were Photographed Playing Around? An Undetonated WWII Mine.


“My son was touching it and was knocking on it a little bit,” said mother Kelly Gravell. Photo: ABC News/Wales News Service (presumably snapped by Kelly Gravell).

On August 12th, Burry Port, Wales, UK resident Kelly Gravell took her 4 and 6 year old children down the the beach with their boogie boards. Walking across the sand, they noticed a “large object” covered in barnacles, and decided to investigate further.

“We get things washed up all the time,” Gravell told ABC News, “so we thought it was a buoy. We never thought for one second it was a bomb.”

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Meet Raw Paua, My New Home, and My Inaugural Foray into #VanLife, Inspired by Cyrus Sutton


This regal red-striped rover of a land yacht is Raw Paua, my new cabin on wheels. For the next few months, along with a surfboard, a speargun and a wok, I’ll be calling her home. Photo: Owen James Burke.

I’ve more or less been a city kid throughout most of my “adult” life. I’ve never really owned a car, except for a month or two here and there. I’ve never even stayed in any one place long enough to buy a car, either. But in New Zealand, at least for the itinerant salt-junkie such as me, it is categorically imperative. -OJB


 Raw Paua’s first trip to the beach. The gratuities of #VanLife didn’t hesitate to make themselves known on our maiden voyage. . . . 10 minutes down the road. Photo: Owen James Burke.

A while back, my sagacious editor and advisor Chris Dixon, suggested a lifestyle change which I took with a grain of salt at first. His proposition? Move out of your house and into a van. But I’m a boat guy, I thought to myself, and wasn’t there a Saturday Night Live skit about this, with Chris Farley and David Spade? Could this have been his eloquent way of handing me my pink slip?

Some weeks later, Dixon put me in touch with professional surfer, filmmaker, and #VanLife guru Cyrus Sutton. In 2005, Cyrus bought a Ford Econoline, heavily customized it and hit the road. 10 years blew by, and this summer he was still occupying it full time when he moved into his dream van, a Mercedes Sprinter. Chatting with him about his van life over Skype from his Econoline, VanHalen, the idea took deeper root, and my wheels started churning. Maybe I could ditch the boat for a while and take to the road. Still, I was scratching my head at the idea of myself living in a van. Is this me?

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The Treacherous Agenda of a Deluded, Seagull-Fearing Irish Senator


A few chips snatched from seaside diners caught unawares, and excitable, bloodthirsty politicians call for a tactless and futile cull, warning of some not-too-distant Hitchcockian apocalypse. Image: The Sunday Times.

“I think it is coming to the stage where [gulls] are endangering society,” Senator Denis O’Donovan, of Fianna Fail, told the Seanad, the upper house of parliament in Dublin.

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The Scuttlefish Travels to England. Welcome Aboard the Ship that Launched D-Day and Rendered Big Naval Gunships (Like Herself) Obsolete: HMS Belfast.


The HMS Belfast – a massive incongruity, floating on the muddy Thames right across from the Tower of London. Her history – from literally firing the opening shots on the D-Day invasion, to the sinking of one Germany’s most fearsome ships – is both heroic and tragic. Photo: Chris Dixon

Editor’s Note:
My family and I spent much of June trekking through England. We passed a week in London and the rest of a working vacation navigating a little camper through the verdant midlands and breathtaking coastline of my distant ancestral motherland. In the next couple of weeks, I’ll share a little of what we found on this island most fair.

Today, the incredible HMS Belfast, the last surviving heavy gunship in Her Majesty’s fleet.

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An American Explorer Claims He Just Found Pirate Captain William Kidd’s Treasure off Madagascar


Captain William Kidd burying his (other) treasure, which some say inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, and has since become the subject of intrigue for many a landlubbing explorer and archaeologist. Painting by Howard Pyle (1853-1911).

Renowned American explorer Barry Clifford just pulled a 110-pound (50kg) silver bar from a shipwreck off Madagascar, andhe b that it belonged to Scottish pirate Captain William Kidd Forsyth.


A 110-pound silver bar Photo: Malagasy Presidency

Barry Clifford, a famed explorer who is also credited with locating Pirate Sam Bellamy’s Whydah Gally off Cape Cod, Massachusetts in 1984, and who claims to have found Christopher Columbus’ Santa Maria last year, was diving with a team off the southwest coast of Madagascar when they found the bar on a shipwreck off Saint Marie Island.

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