thinking outside the tank

Spirit of St Louis departing Roosevelt Field

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A short video introducing Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic in the Spirit of St. Louis.


Written by netkingcol

December 16, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Anglo-Saxon Roots

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I have started making regular visits to the refurbished Central Library in Liverpool. Outside it still has its Victorian façade, but inside is a vast atrium which has echoes of the Guggenheim in New York. I haven’t explored all of it yet, so my favourite room is currently the original Picton Reading Room – a vast circular space lined on three levels with books from floor to ceiling – it’s a cylinder of words.

Through random browsing, I came across the text: Complete Old English (Anglo-Saxon) by Mark Atherton. It’s in the Teach Yourself series, an earlier form of For Dummies, but less jejune. On impulse, I borrowed the book and scanned through it on the bus home. What a surprise when I reached Chapter 10 and saw the heading: These are the bounds of the pasture at Hazelhurst. It turns out that, in 1018, King Cnut granted some land called hæselersc to archbishop Lyfing. That land is in a place that is now called Lower Hazelhurst in Sussex. I know that my name is spelled differently (Hazlehurst), but its origin is surely the same.

This is a transcription of part of the charter, penned in my neatest Chancery almost-but-not-quite-cursive:


Being a reactive sort of a person, I have thrown my time into studying Anglo-Saxon and letting it spill over into another current pastime: bookbinding. After a lifetime of computer programming, I find that traditional craft gives me a level of satisfaction that I used to get from coding. Even so, my first act was to search for and download an Anglo-Saxon font; I chose the Junius font, as recommended by the University of Virginia.

Using this font, my first bookbinding project was a copy of Beowulf in Anglo-Saxon:


I thought this would give me something to translate as my Anglo-Saxon wordhoard grows. I also found, courtesy of the Gutenberg Project, the text of Henry Sweet’s Anglo-Saxon Primer. I bound this as a hardback book:


but immediately found errors in it (mine not Henry’s), so I have on my to-do list to knock this book into shape.

All in all, like Jethro Tull, I’m happy, smiling, and living in the past.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2013

or, to put it another way:


Joshua Slocum – Sailing Alone Around the World

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Written by netkingcol

September 16, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Bookbinding Project #13

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Not wanting to miss the opportunity of a bookbinding project, I decided that my great-nephew, George, who will be two years old early next year, might need something to distract him at a wedding we both attended over the Late Summer Bank Holiday.

I found some old index cards that used to belong to George’s great-great-grandfather, Arthur Walker. I folded these and stitched them into a book-block. Then I made a hard cover. The cover design was printed on an A4 label (Ryman P1) which I laminated with some sticky-backed plastic. The cover boards were positioned over the label and pressed down to adhere them.

The purpose of the gift was to give George a diverting activity, so I bought a rainbow of wax crayons which were held to the book with a length of elastic sewn into a loop.

To keep everything together, I wanted to make a slipcase, my first ever. The process for marking out, cutting, and constructing the slipcase I found in Aldren A. Watson’s book: Hand Bookbinding, A Manual of Instruction and followed Sage Reynolds’ video for lining and covering it. I can whole-heartedly recommend the very useful guidance on the topic of bookbinding to be found in the YouTube videos presented by Sage Reynolds.

It gave me a lot of pleasure to create this gift and, of course, George took absolutely no notice of it when there was so much excitement and adventure to be had at the big party.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2013




Written by netkingcol

August 29, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Newport to Fairhaven

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Follow Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World at:

Slocum and the Spray have returned to the United States after a voyage of 46,000 miles. However, Slocum feels that the spiritual home of the Spray is at Fairhaven, her place  of birth. Accordingly, less than a week after completing the circumnavigation, he sails his ship to her home port:

The Spray was not quite satisfied till I sailed her around to her birthplace, Fairhaven, Massachusetts, farther along. I had myself a desire to return to the place of the very beginning whence I had, as I have said, renewed my age. So on July 3, with a fair wind, she waltzed beautifully round the coast and up the Acushnet River to Fairhaven, where I secured her to the cedar spile driven in the bank to hold her when she was launched. I could bring her no nearer home.

...where I secured her to the cedar spile driven in the bank to hold her when she was launched. I could bring her no nearer home.

…where I secured her to the cedar spile driven in the bank to hold her when she was launched. I could bring her no nearer home.

There is no other way to mark the end of this journey than in Slocum’s own words:

And now, without having wearied my friends, I hope, with detailed scientific accounts, theories, or deductions, I will only say that I have endeavoured to tell just the story of the adventure itself. This, in my own poor way, having been done, I now moor ship, weather-bitt cables, and leave the sloop Spray, for the present, safe in port.

The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here concludes Chapter XXI of Sailing Alone Around the World and brings Slocum’s adventure to a close.

You can follow the entire voyage in Google Earth at: where three years, two months, and two days of adventure are compressed into five hours and thirty-three minutes of animation and narration.

Effectively, I have created an audio-book from Slocum’s text and added Google Earth illustration. There should be a name such a work.

  • Geobook?
  • kpub (it’s a KML publication)?
  • suggestions are welcomed

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Antigua to Newport

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Follow Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World at:

Slocum sails from Antigua on 05Jun1898. He shapes a course for Cape Hatteras in about 35°N with the intention of coasting along past Chesapeake and Delaware Bays up to New York; a grand finale to the voyage.

The sun passes directly overhead on 08Jun1898 when he is in the latitude of 22° 54’N.

Many think it excessively hot right under the sun. It is not necessarily so. As a matter of fact the thermometer stands at a bearable point whenever there is a breeze and a ripple on the sea, even exactly under the sun. It is often hotter in cities and on sandy shores in higher latitudes.

Several degrees further north Slocum finds the Spray becalmed in the region of the North Atlantic known as the Sargasso Sea. The Sargassum seaweed bunches together into a vast mat around the sloop. For day after day, he can only sit and read and wait for the wind. The smooth and monotonous sea lasts for eight days when a strong south-westerly gale springs up and carries the Spray into the Gulf Stream.

Parts of the sloop’s rigging begin to fail including the peak halyard-block used for controlling the gaff mainsail. More seriously, on 20Jun1898 the jib-stay breaks away at the masthead. This stay is used to carry the jib, but its main function is to hold the mainmast in place. The stay, with the sail attached, falls into the sea but Slocum is able to retrieve it; without the stay the mast sways about ‘like a reed’, but he must climb to the masthead to rig a gun-tackle purchase¹ to secure the mast. He is able to rig a reefed jib to this improvised stay which once again “was soon pulling like a sodger.”

Slocum is now growing weary of the relentless thumping of the waves and the squalls throwing the Spray about. On 23Jun1898 he is pelted by hailstones and subjected to continuous lightning flashes, but there is worse to come; what he calls the climax storm of the voyage:

By slants, however, day and night I worked the sloop in towards the coast, where, on the 25th of June, off Fire Island, she fell into the tornado which, an hour earlier, had swept over New York city with lightning that wrecked buildings and sent trees flying about in splinters; even ships at docks had parted their moorings and smashed into other ships, doing great damage. It was the climax storm of the voyage, but I saw the unmistakable character of it in time to have all snug aboard and receive it under bare poles. Even so, the sloop shivered when it struck her, and she heeled over unwillingly on her beam ends; but rounding to, with a sea-anchor ahead, she righted and faced out the storm.

After the storm, Slocum finds he is closer inshore and, sighting the land, discovers he is some miles to the east of Fire Island. The plan changes; Newport, Rhode Island, is the new destination; he heads eastwards along the coast of Long Island, rounding Montauk Point in the early afternoon. By nightfall, Point Judith is abeam and soon the Beavertail promontory is passed.

The only obstacle now remaining is that the entrance to Newport harbour is mined, owing to the war with Spain. Slocum steers close inshore, hugging the rocks, reasoning that it would be better to have an argument with a rock than with a mine.

Flitting by a low point abreast of the guard-ship, the dear old Dexter, which I knew well, some one on board of her sang out, “There goes a craft!” I threw up a light at once heard the hail, “Spray, ahoy!” It was the voice of a friend, and I knew that a friend would not fire on the Spray. I eased off the main-sheet now, and the Spray swung off for the beacon-lights of the inner harbour. At last she reached port in safety and there, at 1.a.m. on June 27, 1898, cast anchor, after the cruise of more than forty-six thousand miles round the world, during an absence of three years and two months, with two days over for coming up.

The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here opens Chapter XXI of Sailing Alone Around the World, and this post is a trailer for the adventure that I am retelling in Google Earth at:


1. A gun-tackle purchase is a simple system of two pulley wheels and a rope.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Grenada to Antigua

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Follow Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World at:

After a pleasant five-day sojourn, Slocum sails from Grenada on 28May1898, and edges along in the lee of the Antilles.

He still has no chart of the Caribbean, a goat having eaten the only one on board, and decides to call in at Dominica to see if they can spare one. A big advantage of a nautical chart is that it shows the anchoring grounds in and around harbours; Slocum finds that he has anchored the Spray in the zone reserved for quarantined vessels. The officious deputy harbour-master, wanting to exert and demonstrate his power, insists that Slocum moves the Spray to the commercial anchorage. Slocum explains that all he wants is a chart and he’ll be on his way, but the official says he can’t have anything until he moves¹.

After some debate, Slocum slips anchor and heads north for Antigua, arriving at St. John on 01Jun1898.

The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here concludes Chapter XX of Sailing Alone Around the World, and this post is a trailer for the adventure that I am retelling in Google Earth at:


1. Once again, Slocum uses language that I have chosen not to repeat. He reports the conversation with the officials on Dominica in the local patois and in a form that would be offensive for me to mimic.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

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