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Sunday, July 31, 2022

A voice from beyond the grave

A trailer from the movie "Ein Mann und sein Boot" which shows Rollo Gebhard's
third circumnaviagtion in 1983 when he was accompanied by his wife Angelika Gebhard.


When Joshua Slocum left Boston in 1895 in his 11.20m-long gaff-rigged sloop oyster boat named "Spray" to become the first person to single-handedly circumnavigate the world, he was 51 years old.

The Panama Canal hadn't even been built yet, and Slocum had to take the dangerous route around Cape Horn. You can read about his more-than-three-year-year-long voyage in "Sailing Alone Around the World".

When Rollo Gebhard left Genoa in Italy in August 1967 in his 7.25m-long yacht "Solveig III" on his first of two single-handed circumnavigations, he was 46 years old. It took him just under three years, and he chose the Panama Canal instead because it was there. His second single-handed circumnavigation in the same boat at the age of 53 took him over four years, from March 1975 to November 1979, and he, too, wrote a book about it (in German), "Ein Mann und sein Boot - 4 Jahre allein um die Welt" ("A Man and his Boat - 4 years alone around the world").

What made this book particularly interesting to me was Rollo's meeting with Tom Neale on Suwarrow Atoll. Not only did he visit him on his "Island to Oneself" on both his first and second circumnavigation, but he also wrote that he had taped an interview with Tom in November 1976.

He wrote about it in "Ein Mann und sein Boot" in German but how much better would it be to hear it in English from the man himself! I emailed Rollo's wife Angelika Gebhard in Bad Wiessee in Germany who promptly replied, "In dem Film über die zweite Allein-Weltumsegelung (1975-79) meines Mannes ist ein Interview mit Tom Neale enthalten. Der Film wurde damals im ZDF ausgestrahlt." ("The interview is included in the movie my husband made during his second circumnavigation which back then had gone to air on the commercial television station ZDF.")

How to get hold of that movie? It was not on YouTube - except for the short trailer shown above - and not available on ebay or anywhere else. Frau Gebhard had the solution, "Das ZDF besitzt die Urheberrechte an dem Film, und ich vermute, dass es sehr schwierig bis unmöglich sein wird, ihn über das ZDF zu erwerben. Aber ich habe den Film, den wir für die Vorträge geschnitten haben. Ich könnte Ihnen den Teil mit dem Interview zukommen lassen, wenn Sie den Film nur privat einsetzen." ("The television station owns the copyrights to the movie, and it would be difficult if not impossible to get a copy. However, I could send you a copy of the part containing the interview for your own personal use.")

Tom Neale being interviewed by Rollo Gebhard on Suwarrow in November 1976


And so it came to pass that for the first time ever I was able to listen to the voice of my long-time hero Tom Neale and watch him as he was interviewed by my new hero, Rollo Gebhard. Obviously, I cannot show you the footage for copyright reasons but I can give you a transcript:

(Rollo) "You have done something many people dream about. You are living on a small island far away from civilisation. Are you happy?"

(Tom) "Yes, yes, I'm happy here."

(Rollo) "And would you recommend this lifestyle to other people?"

(Tom) "No, not exactly. I would have to know a person very, very well first before I could recommend a life like this. You must remember, before I came here I had many years of experience of life in these Pacific islands and I knew what to expect. How could I tell if someone else could cope with things here or whether he could stand being alone. We are not all the same, you know. I'm a person who doesn't mind being alone. I've always been that way, more or less."

One, no, two voices from beyond the grave because Tom Neale died the following year in Rarotonga, aged 75, and Rollo Gebhard passed away at his home in Bad Wiessee in 2013, aged 92. Two lives well lived!

Rollo and Angelika Gebhard promoting their "Society to Save the Dolphins"


Thank you, Frau Gebhard, for allowing me to view this rare and historic movie clip, and I wish you continuing success with the "Gesellschaft zur Rettung der Delphine (GRD)" ("Society to Save the Dolphins"), started in 1991 by your husband and of which you are still the chairperson.


Saturday, March 5, 2022

The true story


This is the true tale of Richard Phillips, the captain of a cargo ship taken hostage by Somali pirates in 2009.

Through this documentary our exploration into the Captain Phillips true story, we learned that the Maersk Alabama container ship had been on a voyage from Salalah, Oman to Mombasa, Kenya when it was attacked by Somali pirates on April 8, 2009. After observing the pirate boats headed his way, the real Captain Phillips used his radio to fake a call to the U.S. Navy. He disguised his voice to play the role of the Navy responder, hoping that the incoming pirates would overhear the communication and believe that assistance was on the way. It worked and the pirate mother-ship and two of its accompanying speedboats turned back (in the movie there is one less speedboat), leaving only one pirate speedboat in pursuit of the Alabama.

The crew of the Maersk Alabama activated the ship's fire hoses. Captain Phillips fired flares at the pirates and the ship was steered so that it would sway back and forth. However, the pirates eventually still managed to throw up a ladder and board the ship, taking the bridge.

However, according to Chief Engineer Mike Perry, the real Captain Phillips didn't lock the bridge even when the attacking pirates were known to be on board. "Even at that point he didn't lock 'em," says Perry. Most of the crew members fled below deck and locked themselves in the engine room, remaining there for over twelve hours in 130 degree heat, while Phillips and three other crew members were held at gunpoint.

Captain Richard Phillips and several crew members did try to offer the Somalian pirates $30,000 from the ship's safe, but they wanted much more. The pirates still took the money and had it with them when they fled the ship in the lifeboat. However, after the Navy shot the three Somalian pirates and boarded the lifeboat to rescue Captain Phillips, they found no trace of the $30,000. The money has never been recovered.


Thursday, January 13, 2022

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Einmal im Hafen nur schlafen


In Hamburg kann man jetzt auf einem historischen hundert Jahre alten und fünfundfünzig Meter langen Binnenschiff einmal im Hafen nur schlafen.


Schön ist die Liebe im Hafen,
schön ist die Liebe zur See.
Einmal im Hafen nur schlafen,
sagt man nicht gerne a-dé.

Schön sind die Mädchen im Hafen.
treu sind sie nicht aber neu.
Auch nicht mit Fürsten und Grafen
tauschen wir jungens A-hoi.

Auch nicht mit Fürsten und Grafen
tauschen wir jungens A-hoi.


Geh' zur Webseite


Die "Lydios", Baujahr 1914, war jahrzehntelang als Schüttgutfrachter auf Europas Flüssen und Kanälen unterwegs. Sie hatte Kohle, Salz, Sand oder Viehfutter geladen – bis zu 620 Tonnen davon. Im Oktober 2018 begann sie im Museumshafen Hamburg-Harburg ihr zweites Leben als Hotelschiff.

Marcel Klovert, Baujahr 1968, stammt aus Rotterdam und lebt seit mehr als 25 Jahren in Hamburg. Während seiner Elternzeit in Asien kam ihm die Idee, ein Schiff zu kaufen und zu einem Hotel umzubauen.

Wie Schiff und Mensch zueinander fanden und was danach passierte, seht ihr in diesem Film.


Um weitere Filme zu sehen, klicke hier


Träume nicht dein Leben; lebe deinen Traum!

Heike, Marcel und Tom, wann macht Ihr Leinen los nach Australien?




Saturday, November 13, 2021

All Is Lost


"All Is Lost" is a 2013 survival drama. Its title is a nod to E. W. Hornung's observation that when courage is lost, "all is lost".

The film stars Robert Redford as a man lost at sea. Redford is the only cast member, and the film has 51 spoken English words.


Sunday, May 30, 2021

Why is this guy so at ease when his boat seems to be sinking, with no land or rescue in sight?



The man is Julien Berthier, the boat is called Love-love, and neither of them are actually sinking. Berthier is a French artist, and this boat is his most famous work.

Berthier took an abandoned yacht, cut it in half, and designed a new keel which allowed him to sail it at the odd angle seen in the photo. He caused quite a stir in 2008 by sailing it up London’s River Thames, having to frequently assure passers-by that, “Non, non, I am fine, really!”

Berthier insists that he always gives prior notice to coast guards and harbor authorities before taking the boat out for a spin, which is powered by an electric motor. The curator of the Thames exhibition, Caroline Jones, said, “I always thought that this is an optimistic piece because it never really sinks.” The work has since been sold to an unidentified art collector for a reported 50,000 pounds.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Riddle of the Sands


Even if its author had died peacefully in bed instead of before a firing squad in a dingy barracks, "The Riddle of the Sands" would have been a noteworthy book. To many it was the classical Secret Service novel; to successive generations of amateur yachtsmen it has been the preeminent yanr about inshore sailing in fair weather and foul; while to its author and original readers on the eve of World War I it was above all a cautionary tale, admonishing the British Government and people to look to their North Sea defenses while there was yet time.

More like fact than fiction, it holds a special place in the affections of spy-novel fans for its richness of technical detail about inshore sailing, its highly sympathetic characters, a setting and plot that recapture the European political scene of the time, and an unsurpassed narrative style which is evident from the very beginning:

Want to continue? Click here.

The book was made into a German and an English movie (each with a somewhat different ending!), the English version starring Michael York and Simon MacCorkindale as Carruthers and Davies, who discover nefarious doings by Germans while on a yachting holiday off the Frisian Islands in the North Sea. For much of the time, you might be forgiven for thinking that the film might've been better titled "Two Men in a Boat", but I loved the detail about sailing and all the scenes of the sea and the German coast (it is the Dutch coast that was filmed, I think).

A perfect book to read, a perfect movie to watch, a perfect radio play to listen to on a cool and grey day by the river! Here are all three:



And here's the full-length version of the excellent English movie. Watch it before YouTube removes it again!



P.S. ... and anyone who loves "The Riddle of the Sands" will love Sam Llewellyn's sequel, "The Shadow in the Sands" - click here. A more than decent sequel to the original - 'Carruthers' and 'Davies' feature under their 'real' names (and here Childers is Carruthers, though I've seen elsewhere that he is Davies) - but the action is a year later and focuses on Captain Charlie Webb, chartered to crew for former Lancers Captain Dacre on the yacht Gloria. The two books are best read back-to-back, even if 'The Riddle of the Sands' has been read previously. Re-reading that before launching into 'The Shadow in the Sands' gives the proper background for the follow-up tale, and adds to the enjoyment.