The enemy within


Before we went to the United States last year several people warned us about heavy-handed security, especially at the border.

We were photographed and finger printed at the immigration control but the people doing it were courteous and efficient.

However, once in New York we found ourselves going through security checks and x-rays at most tourist attractions – sometimes multiple checks at various stages of a tour of the same place.

This is the USA’s reaction to the 2001 terrorist attacks.

But the shooting of 12 people at a theatre in Aurora, Colorado   shows the danger isn’t just from without  and raises the question of what can a country do about the enemy within?

Triumph, trials and tragedy in centennial yacht race


The Peninsula Cruising Club’s Canterbury centennial race from Wellington to Lyttelton, set off on this day in 1951.

Only one yacht finished the race and two were lost with all their crew.

Thirteen of the 24 starters were from the South Island including these three:

They were the Aurora, from Dunedin, the Galatea from Lyttelton and the Caplin  from Oamaru.

One of those crewing the Caplin,  was my father.

He kept a log of the voyage which recorded worsening weather.

Tuesday 23rd Jan, 1500 hours: Big jib tore when wind freshened . . . Heavy swell.

Wednesday 245h Jan, 1200 hours: Reefed mainsail again. Seas really mountainous . . . Caplin will not come about in heavy seas when under short sail. . .

1800 hrs: Wind gale force, seas breaching fully . Taking heavy pounding. In past 60 miles sailing have not gained any distance . . . Hove to.

Thursday Jan 26: Hove to all last night. Remained hove to. Did not need a sea anchor . . . Seas breaching badly but only one broke over us so far . . .

1600 hours: Weather forecast advised all shipping yachts in the area of Cook Strait or Kaikoura to take shelter. Decided to run for Cape Campbell about 40 miles away to leeward. Ran under staysail made rapid passage. Caplin runs beautifully.

2020: Cape Campbell light a-beam. Took 4 hours to tack our way round protecting reef. But nervous 10 minutes when the wind dropped completely. Considered starting engine. Wind returned with renewed fury. Dropped anchor.

2400 hours: Anchor started to drag, Broke seals, started engines . . .

Once they’d broken the seals and started the engine they were disqualified from the race. When the weather calmed they set sail and finally reached Lyttelton Harbour on January 30, a week after starting the race.

The race was won by the Nelson sloop Tawhiri. Windswift, from the Banks Peninsular Cruising Club, was second, although somewhat controversially, Dad wrote:

Windswift did not breach engine seals. Anchored in Kaikoura. Received help from fishermen and lay extra anchors. One of crew went ashore & was replaced. New sails taken on board. Only a very poor sportsman would try to claim second prize in these circumstances, more so after the loss of Husky had been confirmed.

Dad was not alone in his view. A newspaper report in the journal records:

“The committee has confirmed the Nelson yacht Tawhiri as the winner of the prizes for first and fastest times in the race,” said a statement issued by the committee of the Banks Peninsula Cruising Club which staged the race after a meeting last night.

“The committee has decided that under the rules of the Yacht Racing Association, the rules which governed the race, there was no other finisher,” the statement said.

But finishing at all was an accomplishment when two yachts were lost. The Husky was wrecked and all crew presumed dead. A second yacht, Argo, failed to make port and in spite of extensive air and sea searches no sign of the boat or crew was found.

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

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 in 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. . . “

The skipper and crew of Tawera were presented with Humane Society Gold Awards, the society’s highest honour, in recognition of their bravery.

An editorial in the Otago Daily Times of January 30 asked if the race should have been started:

Ocean racing is a most exacting pastime, and even in the best of circumstances, when all human skill and care have been called into play, it is a hazardous once. The sea and the air are truly elements of chance. The history of the classic sea-going yacht races is studded with narratives of accidents, perilous ordeals – and tragedy. . .

One question which clamours for elucidation is whether the race should have been started last Tuesday, when the weather was already deteriorating and the ordinary forecasts . . . were forbidding. . .

. . . Dangers allowed, for it is not in New Zealanders to eschew as element of danger in their recreations, this race should be a test of seamanship, not a struggle for survival.

January 22 in history


On January 22:

 1506 The first contingent of 150 Swiss Guards arrived at the Vatican.

1521 Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, opened the Diet of Worms.

1561 Sir Francis Bacon, English philosopher, was born.

1771 – Spain ceded Port Egmont in the Falkland Islands to England.
1788 George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron (Lord Byron), English poet, was born.

1824 – Ashantis defeated British forces in the Gold Coast.

 Map of the Ashanti Region within Ghana

1840 The New Zealand Company’s first settler ship, the Aurora, arrived at Petone, marking the official commencement of the settlement that would eventually become Wellington.

 First European settlers arrive in Wellington

  1889 Columbia Phonograph was formed in Washington, D.C.


1899 Leaders of six Australian colonies met in Melbourne to discuss confederation.

1901 Edward VII was proclaimed King after the death of his mother, Queen Victoria.

1905 Bloody Sunday in St. Petersburg, beginning of the 1905 revolution.

1906 SS Valencia ran aground on rocks on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, killing more than 130.

 SS Valencia shipwreck, seen from one of the rescuing ships

1919 Act Zluky was signed, unifying the Ukrainian People’s Republic and the West Ukrainian National Republic.

 Signing of the Act Zluky, on the St. Sophia Square in Kiev.

1924 Ramsay MacDonald became the first Labour Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

1927 First live radio commentary of a football match anywhere in the world, between Arsenal F.C. and Sheffield United at Highbury.

1931 Sir Isaac Isaacs was sworn in as the first Australian-born Governor-General of Australia.

1934 Graham Kerr, British-born, New Zealand chef, was born.

1940 John Hurt, English actor, was born.

1941 British and Commonwealth troops captured Tobruk from Italian forces during Operation Compass.

1946 Iran: Qazi Muhammad declared the independent people’s Republic of Mahabad at Chuwarchira Square in the Kurdish city of Mahabad. He was the new president; Hadschi Baba Scheich was the prime minister.

1946 – Creation of the Central Intelligence Group, forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency.

1952 The first Jet airliner, the de Havilland Comet, entered service for BOAC.

1957  Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula.

1957 The New York City “Mad Bomber”, George P. Metesky, was arrested and charged with planting more than 30 bombs.

1959 Knox Mine Disaster: Water breaches the River Slope Mine near Pittston City, Pennsylvania in Port Griffith; 12 miners are killed.

1960 Michael Hutchence, Australian singer (INXS), was born.

1962 Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin of Terengganu, Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia, was born.

Yang di-pertuan agong ke-13.PNG

1963 The Elysée treaty of cooperation between France and Germany was signed by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer.

1965 Steven Adler, American drummer (Guns N’ Roses), was born.

1968 Apollo 5 lifted off carrying the first Lunar module into space.

 LM1 embr original.jpg

1973  The Supreme Court of the United States delivered its decision in Roe v. Wade, legalizing elective abortion in all fifty states.

1984  The Apple Macintosh, the first consumer computer to popularize the computer mouse and the graphical user interface, was introduced during Super Bowl XVIII with its famous “1984” television commercial.

A beige, boxy computer with a small black and white screen showing a window and desktop with icons. 

1987  Pennsylvania politician R. Budd Dwyer shot and killed himself at a press conference on live national television, leading to debates on boundaries in journalism.

1990 Robert Tappan Morris, Jr. was convicted of releasing the 1988 Internet Computer worm.

 Disk containing the source code for the Morris Worm held at the Boston Museum of Science.

1992 Space Shuttle program: STS-42 Mission – Dr. Roberta Bondar became the first Canadian woman in space.

 Roberta Bondar NASA.jpg

1999 Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons were burned alive by radical Hindus while sleeping in their car in Eastern India.

2002 Kmart Corp beccame the largest retailer in United States history to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

2006 Evo Morales was inaugurated as President of Bolivia, becoming the country’s first indigenous president.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

Culinary Central


A Central Otago farmer enjoyed dinner was so effusive in his praise of the meal he’d eaten at a London restaurant that the waiter brought the chef and the restaurant owner out to meet him.

In the ensuing conversation the farmer discovered the chef had trained at Cromwell. The owner added that his only fault was that he’d only work with the best cuts of meat.

Cromwell? Yes, at Otago Polytechnic’s Cromwell Campus  which delivers a variety of courses including turf management, stone masonry, viticulture and hospitality.

The farmer mulled on the conversation with the chef and the importance of ensuring the trainee chefs worked with good cuts of meat so when they graduated and went to work around the world they would use New Zealand beef and lamb.

That mulling eventually led to a dinner at the polytech’s Molyneaux restaurant last night, cooked by trainee chefs and served to the Southern South Island Sheep & Beef Council and guests, two of whom were my farmer and me.

We were served a degustation menu, five little courses of delicious food, beautifully presented and matched with wines.

Italian lamb loin with beetroot pinot jelly, horseradish cream, micro greens and shaved parmesan accompanied by Quartz Reef Methode Traditional.

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Consomme of beef en croute with barley, red pepper and broad been accompanied by Bannockburn Road Pinot Gris – which is produced by Cromwell students.

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Ravioli with ox tail and mushrooms accompanied by a Bendigo Syrah from Aurora Vineyard.

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Herb and macadamia nut crusted rack of lamb with fondant potato, steamed broccolini and braised short rib with a Bannockburn Road Pinot Noir.

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Duo of white and milk chocolate delice with a saffron Anglaise and pistachio tuille accompanied by a 2006 Late Harvest Riesling.

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The chefs are only a third of the way through their training. The meal they served us was a feast for the eyes and the taste buds and left the diners satisfied but not over full.

If they can do so well this early in their training, they will be wonderful ambassadors for our produce when they are in their own kitchens in which ever corner of the world their careers take them.

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