1951 Wellington-Lyttelton yacht race TV1 tonight

May 20, 2015

The Peninsula Cruising Club’s Canterbury centennial race from Wellington to Lyttelton is the subject of Descent from Disaster, on TV1 at 8:30 this evening.

Only one of the 20 starters finished the race and two yachts, Argo and Husky, were lost with all their crew.

Another race entrant, Astral, was dismasted. A trawler, Tawera, took the yacht in tow but as the weather worsened the tow rope chafed through.

My father was one of the crew on the Caplin. A newspaper report in his journal records the account of the trawler skipper, George Brasell:

A newspaper report in Dad’s journal records the account of the trawler skipper, George Brasell:

“Astral was carrying a light and all we could do was to stand by alongside her and keep her in view. This was a tremendous task as it was blowing a full gale and a light was only visible when she topped the seas. My crew were tried to their utmost that night and did a wonderful job i n trying to keep the Astral in sight. Visibility was very bad. We only picked up land once after leaving Lyttelton.

“About midnight on Friday the crew of the Astral signalled us to put oil on the water. We did as requested until daylight when we started to take the crew off by means of a line dragging each member through the water. Luckily the rescue was carried out successfully. I felt proud of my crew. The rescue was carried out at the height of the gale. . . “

 I posted on the race on its anniversary. Several people with memories of it or connections to it left comments.


B.B. King 16.9.25 – 14.5.15

May 18, 2015

Blues musician B.B. King died last week:

B.B. King, the singer and guitarist who put the blues in a three-piece suit and took the musical genre from the barrooms and back porches of the Mississippi Delta to Carnegie Hall and the world’s toniest concert stages with a signature style emulated by generations of blues and rock musicians, has died. He was 89.

The 15-time Grammy Award winner died in Las Vegas, his attorney said. He had struggled in recent years with diabetes.

Early on, King transcended his musical shortcomings – an inability to play guitar leads while he sang and a failure to master the use of a bottleneck or slide favored by many of his guitar-playing peers – and created a unique style that made him one of the most respected and influential blues musicians ever. . .


Remembering Dan

May 17, 2015

Twenty six years ago today we welcomed the arrival of our second son.

Every birth is special and there was added poignancy to Dan’s because his older brother Tom, who had been born a little more than two years earlier, had lived only 20 weeks.

Extensive tests throughout Tom’s life and a post-mortem had ruled out all the known genetic conditions. We were told barring the one in a million chance Tom had suffered from something medical science hadn’t picked up, it was safe to have another baby.

Dan was that one in a million baby. A couple of weeks after he was born he started having convulsions. I’d watched his brother have hundreds of fits and had no doubt about what was happening.

We called our GP who sent us down to Dunedin hospital where Dan went through the battery of examinations his brother had, and like those for Tom they came up with no diagnosis.

As various diseases and conditions were ruled out though, his doctor became as sure as he could be about the prognosis – Dan’s life would be short and his development severely compromised.

Dan defied the prediction of his imminent death but not the one that he’d be profoundly handicapped. He lived more than five times longer than Tom had, dying a couple of weeks past his fifth birthday. However, he passed none of the developmental milestones and could do no more the day he died than he’d been able to the day he was born.

Caring for a child with multiple disabilities was demanding but we were supported by a close extended family, true friends, wonderful health professionals and IHC.

When he died I was sad, but I also felt some relief from the knowledge that his death would free us from the challenges which his life had presented us with.

In spite of that sense of relief, I was also confronted by grief for the baby we’d wanted and loved so much; and not just for what we’d lost but what we could never have – the hopes and dreams for his future as a happy, healthy boy and man.

The stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – make it appear orderly.

It’s not. It’s messy, unpredictable and it hurts. But, like a wound, it also heals.

There is no wonder treatment that can help the healing, but like Robert Fulgham:

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge-

That myth is more potent than history.

I believe that dreams are more powerful than facts-

That hope always triumphs over experience-

That laughter is the only cure for grief.

And I believe that love is stronger than death.”


Rutger Gunnarsson 12.2.46 – 8.5.15

May 13, 2015

Rutger Gunnarsson, who played bass for Abba, has died at the age of 69.

Gunnarsson, who performed on every album by the ‘Waterloo’ hitmakers and also joined them onstage, passed away at his home in Sweden on Friday.

In a post on Facebook, Abba paid tribute to Gunnarsson, writing, “His unique way of playing his bass, his beautiful string arrangements and thorough work as a producer for countless Swedish and foreign artists and musicians have colored pop music from the early ’70s up until today. . .


Jonathan Crombie 12.10.56 – 15.4.15

April 27, 2015

Jonathan Crombie the actor who played Gilbert Blythe in the 1985 Canadian TV adaptation of Anne of Green Gables has died.

The actor’s sister, Carrie Crombie, told CBC News on Saturday that her brother suffered a brain hemorrhage and died in New York City on April 15. . .

Carrie Crombie said her brother never shied away from the fame that came along with playing the role of Gilbert Blythe, and happily answered to the name Gil when recognized by fans on the street.

“I think he was really proud of being Gilbert Blythe and was happy to answer any questions … he really enjoyed that series and was happy, very proud of it — we all were,” she said. . .

Crombie’s co-star and onscreen love interest Megan Follows, who played Anne Shirley in the movies, said his unexpected loss was “a big shock.”

“He was incredibly funny, Jonathan just had an amazing sense of humour,” she said. . .

L. M. Montgomery introduced me to feisty, book-loving heroines when I was a child. I loved her books and her characters.

My daughter took me on a literary pilgrimage to Prince Edward Island last year. It was fun to visit the places which featured in the stories and interesting to learn about the challenges the author faced, including life with a husband who suffered from what was then called religious melancholy but we now know as depression.

In preparation for the trip I downloaded Montgomery’s entire works and I’m still working my way through them.


Quote of the day

April 22, 2015

“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” ~ Leo Tolstoy

Today would have been our son Tom’s 28th birthday but he died at just 20 weeks as the result of a degenerative brain disorder, the cause of which has not been diagnosed.

Tolstoy is right and this quote reinforces my belief in the power of love.

It also reminds me that life after the death of Tom, and his younger brother Dan who had the same condition, is better not just in spite of their lives and deaths but also because of them.

Their deaths freed us to live as we couldn’t when we were caring for them but it is only because of what we learned from them that we truly appreciate that.

Their short lives and their multiple handicaps taught us to lose the ignorance and fear we had of disabilities.

They taught us that we are blessed by extended family and friends whose love and support provided so much when we needed it.

Our sons also taught us that good health and ability aren’t rights but privileges.

A lot of people tell me they couldn’t cope had they lost one child let alone two,

I answer that it would be throwing back the gifts our sons gave us if we didn’t make the most of all that they can’t.

Tolstoy’s quote speaks of the power of love and as Robert Fulgham reminds us in The Story Teller’s Creed, love is stronger than death.

 


Percy Sledge 27.11.40 – 14.4.15

April 15, 2015

R&B singer Percy Sledge has died.

He is best known for When A Man Loves A Woman.


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