Friday, August 29, 2008


In the background you can see the good ship Mariner ( she is just behind the yacht with the dinghy tied to her stern and has a blue cover over the mains'l on the boom). In the foreground is my trusty dinghy with my yachts registration number painted in the stern sheets - KZ4472. She is a fibreglass clinker dinghy of approximately 8 1/2 feet long of unknown design. I bought her a couple of years ago off the online auction TradeMe for $460 when my older and smaller wooden dinghy nearly drowned me one day (long story and too embarrassing to tell). I keep the dinghy permanently tied to the pontoon and use her to get out to the good ship Mariner and also as my tender when going away for day trips around the harbour or short trips up the coast. For longer trips I take an inflatable which I can easily get up on deck.

I picked this new dinghy up from the seller at Snell's Beach about 100km away. If you were ever wondering how well an upturned dinghy travels upside down on the roof rack of an aging Honda then the answer is it depends on the driver (long story and too embarrassing to tell).

If you look closely at the bow of the dinghy you will see that she is chained to the pontoon. This is not as satisfactory as how she was originally secured, which was with a long length of stainless steel wire rope which enabled the dinghy to float well away from the pontoon allowing other dinghies and their occupants easy access.

Well shipmates, about four weeks after I had this new dinghy back and wired to the pontoon, I went down one day and found the dinghy had disappeared! - I don't think I have been as furious for a long time and I was a long time furious believe me. It wasn't so much the money involved, it was the time taken searching out and bidding on the online auctions and having to drive all that way to pick her up.
I knew the dinghy had been stolen because I could see that the piece of thin wire painter still attached to the pontoon by the padlock had been flexed backwards and forwards until it had broken. A pair of oars had also been stolen from a dinghy close by belonging to the owner of the yacht opposite mine on the moorings.

I reported the theft to the local Police Station - and I must say to my embarrassment that there was a point where I was describing with great eloquence the pedigree of the thief, where a certain glance from the constable had that - tone it down or you will be arrested look about it.

The dinghy was found two days later by my friend whose oars were stolen. My dinghy had one of his oars in it, we never found the other one. In the bottom of the dinghy was a plastic bag with fish bait in it - so someone had stolen the dinghy to do a bit of night fishing.

My dinghy doesn't have a name and I shall have to think of one - something along the lines of 'Rinky Dink', 'Calabash' or the dinghy equivalent of 'Hunky Dory'. - Just had a thought and a Dilemma - because I got my dinghy back perhaps I should name it 'Boomerang' - Hmmm, as a Kiwi I might have to think about that one.

Friday, August 8, 2008


The Yacht Tai - Mo - Shan in the English Channel approaching Dartmouth - 1934

This is a photograph of the Tai Mo Shan taken in the English Channel at the end of her voyage from Hong Kong.

This is the yacht that played the part of the yacht ‘Fernando’ in the vastly popular film “Mamma Mia” which featured the music of ABBA.

In many ways the history of this yacht and the exploits of its crew both during this voyage and during World War Two are the equal of any applause for the film “Mamma Mia”

Two yachts designed by H.S.Rouse were to become very famous in the post-war era. The Tai Mo Shan and more famously the Tzu Hang, the 46 foot ketch, built by Hop Kee in 1938. The Tzu Hang survived fifteen years of world cruising in the hands of Miles and Beryl Smeeton and underwent a terrifying pitchpoling in 1954 and later a capsize off Cape Horn in 1956. These exploits are featured in Smeetons book “Once is Enough”.

In 1932, five adventurous young naval officers financed the building of a 54 foot ocean racing ketch in the yard of the Hong Kong & Whampoa Dock Co Ltd. She was designed by H.S. Rouse and constructed in teak and named Tai-Mo-Shan [High Hat Hill], after the highest mountain in the colony.

The Voyage of 16,217 miles without a motor, from Hong Kong to Dartmouth is told in Martyn Sherwoods book “The Voyage of the Tai – Mo – Shan.

After deciding to economise by not installing an engine, the officers had to ask the formidable Admiral Howard Kelly for permission to sail the new yacht to England by an unorthodox route, that is against the prevailing winds, via Japan, the Kuriles, the Bering Sea, the Aleutians, California, Panama and the West Indies. "Quite rightly", wrote Lt Martyn Sherwood later in his book, "We were placed on half-pay for the entire voyage". The admiral's approval, came with the comment that it was "refreshing to note this spirit of adventure and initiative", and also with a pay cut, down to seven shillings a day for each man. This lack of money, in sailing Tai-Mo-Shan to Britain without a motor, was to leave them stranded for sixteen days on Crooked Island in the Bahamas. Admiralty penny-pinching was somewhat balanced by a splendidly-timed congratulatory telegram, sent to Dartmouth by King George V.

The crew were four submariners and a naval doctor; Lt Martyn Sherwood, 32, Lt George Salt, 24, Lt Philip Francis, 24, Surgeon Lt Bertie Ommaney-Davis, 27, and sailing-master Lt R.E.D. "Red" Ryder, 24. All these crew distinguised themselves during World War Two by winning four DSOs, a Croix de Guerre and a VC between them.

It has been revealed recently that the voyage was in fact fully supported (except for full financial support) by British Naval Intelligence with the brief to see and record as much as they could about Japanese naval movements.