Monday, November 24, 2014


Princess, by Joe Richards
As some may have noticed, I have changed Desiree's name to Adagio.

Adagio is Italian and is most often seen as a musical dynamic instructing the musician to play "slowly, at ease."

At 17,000 pounds, I am under no illusions that Adagio is a fast sailor, but the iconic image of Joe Richards's Princess has always conveyed the feeling of pleasant ease, the "simply messing about in boats" of which Ratty was so fond.

"Adagio" is also used in ballet and refers to "slow and refined movements as a single phrase, in a fluid manner - each step linking seamlessly to the next."  In fact, the Adagio is often the opening section of the Grand pas de deux where the ballerina performs slow movements with her partner. And so, it fits what I hope is to be.

This image reminds me of years ago when I owned the catboat, Janou - my first gaff-rigged boat. An old gaffer told me then, "sail her slack. You can't crank her in tight like you do those Marconi rigs." Instinctively, I knew just what he meant. It had that feel of Adagio to me - . sailing her "slack" on a warm summer day with a lazy breeze on the quarter . . . .

Now, I've sailed enough to know that very few days of our preciously short summers are the lazy, at ease days I describe. My experience is that you're either becalmed or in a tempest that will blow your ears clear overboard. And any gaffer that gets caught with 550 square feet of mainsail flying when the wind pipes up is likely to be singing Santa Merda! (Allegro).

But still, sometimes the name is not the reality, it is the ideal.  And so it is with Adagio.

Simply Messing About in Boats

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