Thursday, October 28, 2010

Brittania Rules The Waves No Longer Even in These Days of Limited Competition

Enroute from Beaufort BC to Charleston  SC
Posted at Charleston
2010 10 21

We read the British Navy, sharing the poverty of the rest of the rest of the government of that beleaguered island has been reduced to 19 ships, two of those aircraft carriers that will not be permitted to carry aircraft. 

Reading the paper it was impossible not to recall that this summer the Canadian Navy was forced to moor its ships where they floated.  We could not afford to buy fuel you see.

As a Canadian of the right age I was raised to recognize my place in the world was that of undermensch to my British colonial masters. Or at least I was supposed to. 

As one of Britain's presumed serfs I cannot help but enjoy the spectacle of his "lord" falling off a horse.  You see I still chafe.

As a student Britain's general superiority and overall mastery of us, mere colonists in Canada, was driven into our skulls like railway spikes.  Our teachers were puppet lords, quizlings, dogs, given positions of small authority in return for unwavering devotion to their British masters. And they did.

It did not take on my generation however.

Serving the standard elementary school sentence, 9 years to life, Canadian students  had forced upon them the indignity of memorizing gingoistic British writing, poetry and song. Not the beauty and grace of Shakespeare or the cold clear reasoning of Shelley.  No we got the stirring Kiplingesque tunes such as "RULE BRITTANIA" and other such tripe.  For those of you who managed to fall sick that week in grade 5 I will provide the first two lines, burned inerasably into my tender memory cells:

"Rule Brittania, Brittania Rules the Waves. 
Britons shall never, never, never, ne'er be slaves".

Only years later did  I discover the wonderful term "irony".  I mean, I was Canadian, not a Briton.  In the time of my youth British colonial despots viewed Canada almost solely as a source of cannon fodder for the wars of the Queen, ours to blindly follow stupid orders issued by incompetent Brit generals. 

Proper subjects of the crown, Canada's only other function on planet earth was to sell raw material to England at low prices and in return buy their shoddy manufactured goods at absurdly high ones. The last technology we bought from the UK consisted of two nuclear submarines, neither of which has, to my knowledge, actually sailed a single hour in pursuit of Canadian military objectives.  Neither has ever worked nor works now. 

Canadians were slaves.  Even this nine year old Canadian boy could figure that out. Forcing us to learn that "Britons shall never, never, ne'er be slaves" was just over the top.  How nice for them.

So it was somewhat gratifying to find the British Navy reduced to the same circumstances as our own. 

But military dominance is not determined by material superiority alone.  If it were the USA would have won.... well just about any of the silly wars after Korea in which they have unsuccessfully engaged.  As with most games, sea battles are not won, they are lost.  He who makes the fewest mistakes, wins.

Despite its travails the British Navy will not lose dominance over the seas just because they wallow in ignominious poverty.

Canada & Lost Causes

With 33 hulls afloat Canada should dominate the Brits on the seas.  I am pretty sure we included a couple of rowboats in the hull count.  Anyway, half of them are in drydock, half of them are 30 to 40 years old and two of them have been banned from most international ports for environmental reasons.  Also we cannot buy fuel for any of them.  (mainly because our Fascist King Stephen was blowing $1 billion bucks trying to show the G20 he was a tough guy.  Our last place finish in the vote for a security council seat shows how well the voice of the unstable religious right plays on the international scene).

I do not include any British submarines in the total because they do not and have not ever worked.  Kind of like British aircraft carriers with no aircraft.  Wouldn't they be called Container Ships.

The French & Language

Plagued by language the French cannot actually fight.

French is the language of diplomacy and seduction.  It is designed to be imprecise.  It must allow for multiple interpretations.  Accuracy and accountability are not welcome traits in the halls of government or the boudoirs of the nation.

There is a cost to all of this dupicity of language however.  It takes a long time to say something in French.  A lot longer that it takes to say the same thing in English.  If the listener is to actually interpret the words spoken the time is further extended.

We have proof.  This summer, while sailing out the St. Lawrence, we  undertook a study on language and weather reports.  In Canada marine weather is broadcast in English and then the same broadcast is repeated in French (or vice versa).  The broadcasts are on the same channel and alternate all day long. 

In the St. Lawrence each time we tuned in the weather channel we counted the number of times the broadcaster was speaking English  and how often he was speaking French.  We found that between 7 and 8 times out of 10 the broadcast was in French when we tuned in.

Since the same information is being broadcast in each language (we presume) we conclude that it takes almost 2 1/2 times longer to say something in French than in English.  (7 / 3)

So in any battle situation the French command is terminally hampered.  By the time they have given orders and their underlings received and interpreted those orders, well.... the battle is over, the other ships have sunk the French navy or made their escape.  The hurricane has arrived and wiped out their fleet.  The French talk themselves into defeat.

So, to win a war speak English.  To win a woman speak French.

When I was young winning wars was very important.  Today I wish I spoke better French.

The Dutch & Cleanliness

Despite being great traders the Dutch have never been known for the strength of their navy.  This is not because the Dutch are not courageous, although they did just run away from Afghanistan like little girls.

No, it is  because of some quirk in Dutch DNA that holds them bondage to cleanliness.

The Budget Committee is nearly Dutch (her name starts with "Van" and everything).  Her job in the morning is to haul up the anchor rode (or chain).  This is not as onerous as it sounds.  In reality she presses her toe on a button and the electric windlass does the hauling.

Our anchor rode is stored in a compartment in the bow of the boat which adjoins, via a nice teak door, our main cabin.  The anchor locker and anything sticking to the anchor rode has direct access to our cabin. 

If the rode is covered in the stinking mud of a Carolina creek without fail our sleeping quarters are redolent of riverbottom.  This is disturbing for, as we all know, the sense of smell requires that molecules of the substance being smelled be deposited in our noses or mouth.  Try not to think of that next time you are in a public washroom.

The Budget Committee does not stand for this. On our boat the rode is washed before it is put away.  That is not accurate.  Our anchor rode is scrubbed before it is put away.  Each link must past individual inspection every morning before it is permitted to enter our anchor locker.  The BC is  Homeland Security protecting us from muddy chain.  Such cleanliness, while next to Godliness certainly takes a lot of time.

It has taken us as long as 27 minutes to get our anchor up.  Somedays I time it.  Waiting back in the cockpit while the BC scrubs the rode there is little else to do.  So often we are the first boat up and the last to leave the anchorage.

So those nice shiny Dutch boats are kept fastidiously nice and shiny and clean.  There is just no time for any of that fighting stuff.

The Americans & NOAA

While laying over in Hampton (Norfolk VA) at the local marina we ran into a US boat that had sailed Nova Scotia the same time we did.  The crew of this boat were quite vocal in their criticism of Canadian weather forecasting.  They were horrified that they could not rely on anything Environment Canada said.  They were correct in their criticism.

This boat, out of Chicago, left NS for Maine the same time we left Yarmouth for New Bedford.  They traversed the full length of Long Island the same day we did.  However they went outside.  The night we were pooped, so were they.  Repeatedly.

The pooping was more alarming for our American friends as they carried their dinghy on davits off the stern of their boat.  This dinghy was repeatedly sunk in the ocean and filled with sea. 

While discussing the wickedly incorrect weather forecast that caused us to both depart on a long voyage and promised  favourable and light conditions I was compelled to ask "And where did that forecast come from".

"Oh, from NOAA" was the honest reply.  "Those guys are idiots".  Then it sunk in. Well, it sank in just after his wife elbowed him in the ribs in the way that all wives seem to know how and when to do.

So you see the American fleet setting sail in unbelievable conditions.  They seem brave but are they?  Or are they relying on NOAA weather forecasts?

So Britain, you are only down and out.  You are not alone.  But I did permit an uncharitable smile to cross my lips on learning of your fate.

Stay Free.  We will.

1 comment:

  1. I sit at home...Peter sits on the boat. We both wait for the lift to be fixed at Green Cove springs. We hope to be launched for departure Monday to Jax. but who knows? they don't launch on Sun and Mon so we have 2 days left to float. Glad to hear you are on the way. Will see you soon in one place or another!!