Staying the right way up: wind and knots

I have just downloaded the US Sailing Directions to Antarctica, a weighty tome full of dark warnings. The British would call it the Pilot Book, the detailed description of the coastline and sailing conditions of the area. (The Admiralty Pilot is not available electronically and costs at least £60.)  In addition to … Continue reading

Sobbing and bravery: Lewis, Aston and Macarthur

Ellen MacArthur smashed the records for sailing single-handed round the world in 2005. She was 29 and she took the 23m trimaran B&Q round in just 71 days. She did not have a safety boat trailing along to pick her up, or helicopters on stand-by, though I’ve heard people mutter … Continue reading

Ice and the Sky: bubbles of  fossilised time

Garlanded with honours and academic recognition, French paleo-geologist Claude Lorius still says towards the end of this film that he wonders whether his life will make a difference. He wanders elegiacally through rocks only half covered in ice and stands in the rising tide on some distant atoll, emphasising the ice … Continue reading

COP15 and Antarctica: how soon, how fast, how deep?

Torrents of bandwidth have been dedicated to the Paris climate change conference (COP15). I am not an expert, a scientist or diplomat so I’ve focused on one small question. What about Antarctica, the warning canary of climate change? The standout headline is the commitment to keep global temperatures ‘well below’ 2° … Continue reading