Apparently, putting in the odd personal remark in my letters on this Website makes me a 'Blogger'. In the North of England, where I come from, we have had for hundreds of years Earth spirits called 'Bogles' and 'Boggerts'. Coming off watch, I frequently drop my clothes at the entrance to my bunk. When I have been called to account for this by a tidy female companion, I have always excused the heap as a 'Bogle Barrier'.
In my last letter of November I wrote of personal problems, like the 'imminent' collapse of the gable end of our small house, Ruth's knee operation and Hanneke's heart operation to be.
All was completely overshadowed by the Tsunami of 26th December. On hearing the first BBC 24 hour news, we telephoned Phuket where Guenther Nutt of 'Seascape' is building Wharram Catamarans.
Guenther came to the phone breathless. He had been helping on the beach and recovered the body of a neighbour. At that time, he had no concept of the enormity of the disaster. Indeed, he was relieved that the 2nd PAHI 52, built for Georges Gritsis, was 3 days behind shedule and therefore not yet on the beach for final assembly, but still in the boatbuilding shed, which is set back from the shore and stayed dry. Guenther was convinced that, had the hulls been on the beach with the beams connected, it would have 'rode the waves', because his HITIA 17 built for the kids did safely ride the wave inland.
Later that day, the incoming TV pictures switched to the waves surging in Sri Lanka. We soon realised that 'our' port of Galle (visited on our around the world voyage) was being destroyed before our eyes.
Also even more worrying, Liz, our office manager with husband and daughters were on holiday in the vincinity of Galle!! On the second day, on the TV screen, we saw a TIKI 30 high on a heap of wreckage. We knew the owner. The Tsunami was getting very personal.
The wave stopped just meters before it reached Liz's hotel. Later we heard that the Swiss owner of the TIKI 30, with his Sri Lankan wife and baby, were also safe. Knowing that 'your own' have survived gives a greater intensity to one's feelings for those who did not.
January was a month of deep emotions for me and I will record them for there now is a tendency in the sailing world to record only the emotion of triumph on 'winning a race' or the emotion of comfort created by the luxury equipment to make sailing life as close to suburban life as possible. In contrast sailing can have for many people a magical, mystical emotional factor that opens up inner doors within themselves.
Hanneke's heart valve operation on the 18th January did not go quite to plan (due to some unexpected blood circuits in Hanneke's body). Five hours after it took place I was there to greet her on 'coming round'. To my untutored eyes, she looked dead, grey, lifeless, shrunken, though banks of machines behind her flickered, bleeped and flashed and the specialist nurses were frequently putting plastic bags of this and that liquid to various tubes connected to her body. After an hour or so a doctor advised me to go back to the hospital hostel, and they would phone! It was a long, hard, very thoughtful night. Next afternoon, 32 hours after the operation, I was finally advised to be there as she woke up.
She 'came round' giggling, advising the specialist nurse to have a child by 'Water Birth'. I could see she was 'high' on morphine; she stayed on a 'high' long after the morphine was turned off. In this state she had visions of many parts of our sailing life that she had not consciously absorbed in the past. She became very lucid and positive and full of creative ideas for our future life/sailing. Physically, her recovery has been extremely fast due to, people say, our healthy lifestyle and our creative life.
Her ideas are that we should trust our future by following our instincts; that this year, being 50 years since, Ruth, Jutta and I first sailed from Falmouth on Britain's first offshore multihull voyage, should be noted and celebrated; that the Tikopian 'Child of the Sea' design is more than just another design. She woke up one morning full of inspiration for a boat project for the people of the island of Tikopia.
Already, events are moving her way. In Britain, 'Yachting World', in the May issue, is going to publish an exerpt from 'Two Girls Two Catamarans' (the book about our pioneering multihull sailing 50 years ago) in a feature edited by Tom Cunliffe. Recently, Klaus Hympendahl of Germany, a round-the-world sailor, yachting journalist and writer of many sea books, the last one 'Pirates Aboard ~ 40 cases of piracy to-day and what Blue Water Cruisers can do about it', came here to interview me for an article for a German yacht magazine on our 50 years of catamaran sailing and designing.
Klaus, as a yachtsman visited Tikopia 15 years ago. Since then he has returned and stayed there a number of times and has been responsible for raising the finance and building of a cyclone proof medical centre. He and Hanneke feel that our joint meeting, the Tikopian connection, the 'Child of the Sea' design (built in the Philippines by Andy Smith), her inspiration for a project joining the two, plus our 50 years of sailing, are weaving a future natural pattern of events that possibly gives a very exciting ocean sailing project. More on this in my next Webletter.
On the 5th of March, Hanneke and I, plus son Jamie will be flying out to Andy Smith's boatyard on Panglao Island near Bohol in the Philippines to test-sail and get a full assesment of the 'Child of the Sea' possibilities. Steve Goodman, our friend and Webmaster and family will be there, Guenter Nutt from Thailand has also been invited (but may not be able to come). It should be a renewal of friendships and ideas.
Finally, that American lady, Ann Clement, with husband Neville owners of a self-bult TIKI 46, has been pushing me again, she says that I should design a simple motor catamaran. I am looking at an experimental hull model, hanging off the Studio ceiling. I can see a potential hull shape. Have we the time to consider it??.
- James Wharram