The vikings grew hemp

I’ve found it a little bit hard to believe that the vikings should have used only wool and flax as a source of fiber for making sails, clothes etc.

Flax and hemp fibers deteriorate over time and is probably one reason for being harder to trace the use of.

This article shows some interesting finds on this subject.


“You can’t keep a great old schooner down!”

At 9:30 in the morning of Thursday, March 8, 2007 the schooner Lord Jim quietly slipped below the surface of the crystal-clear waters around Ilha dos Meros, Brazil…

It’s soon six years ago that the schooner LORD JIM (ex-MERIDIAN, BLUE WATER, SHOAL WATER): 72’3″ LOA John Alden-designed, Lawley-built keel schooner, 1936, hit a rock and sank in Brazil.  She was raised and taken to a shipyard where she was restored, but from there the situation deteriorated. Owners Holger Kreuzhage and Tracy Brown-Kreuzhage have remained in Brazil since then, caught up in a nightmare of a legal battle trying to get their ship free from the corrupt crock who owns the shipyard.

Lord Jim and their owners need our help to get their ship and their life back. Please, sign this petition, it’s the least we can do.

For some extended info on the whole situation, check this articles. Two parts, one written in 2010 and another from august this year.

Our ship sank off Brazil’s coast March 2007, we are still here held hostage, Part 1

Part 2

Unite for Peace, Tolerance and Human Dignity!

It’s sad to hear the reports on what’s going on in Mali.

Just last week we were attending a magic show with Touré Raichel Collective. It is two musicians from Mali – Ali Farka Touré’s son, Vieux, and the calabash player Souleymane Kane together with Idan Raichel and Yossi Fine, on piano and bass, from Israel. The music is great and the show was sparkling with energy that hit us like a homing missile of transcultural beauty with a respectful spiritual impact.

Different people from different backgrounds…. coming together and making beautiful music, listening to and enjoying wonderful music, respecting each and everyone and paying no special attention to whether or what each one is thinking about religious matters, and even if they would, it is all fine… we have different believes, culture and what not – thank god for that.

Since April this year, Islamic fanatics has been occupying the north of Mali, a country that is well-known for their rich and living musical tradition, with loads of skilled and talented musicians doing their own thing in a real special way.

Now the religious fascists has forced strict sharia laws on the people and banned music and culture. They are torturing people who play or listen to music, smashing instruments and world heritage sites. Taking away the people’s culture. What a crime. What a shame. I feel so much anger inside for these pitiful swine and everything that they stand for.

The widely known music festival, Festival au Désert, was first cancelled but luckily it now seems to be planned as a musical caravan instead, which is great news. In proud nomadic tradition, the caravan will go from the Sahel region and then, as they say, travel internationally until we are able to return to our homeland in peace & freedom of expression.

The caravan will go from Mali to Mauritania and Burkina Faso, where a second caravan from Algérie to Niger will join, to celebrate together the 3 days of festival in the desert. Check the site for the finalized program.

These criminal fascist rebels has to be stopped before it’s too late.

Unite for Peace, Tolerance and Human Dignity!

She’s free!

Since October 26 the brig La Grace has been laying foundered on El Cable beach in Marbella.

As the weather roughened, things were looking pretty grim for her. After taking a beating from the pounding waves, the weather layed down and help finally appeared.

Working together with divers and balloons, a dredger managed to dig a channel and dragging her free. Apparently her hull is not damaged and after pumping out all the water she is now on the right keel and afloat by herself!

Very good news, indeed! Hopefully this beautiful lady is not too much damaged from the unfortunate and sad event and can be fully restored to her previous pride.

Best of luck!

Gracias to Foro Naval for the pictures.

WN Ragland dismasted

About a month ago Neil Young’s old schooner WN Ragland got dismasted on a voyage from Seattle to San Francisco. Ragland lost both her masts but luckily none of the 9 crew members were injured.

Here’s from WN Raglands blog(which is down at the moment):

Thursday October 4th, 2012

Postion: 43*11.2 N 126*12.1 W
I am sad to report that at 2045 last night we were dismasted. Miraculously all aboard are alive, well, and relatively unscathed.

Shortly after sundown we notice an opening in a seem going up the length of the foremast. We call “all hands” to douse the fore course.  We are sailing along with just the foresl’e, broad reaching in 20kts of breeze and 6-8ft swell. Not 5 minutes later, with the fore boom prevented over, we suffer a partial crash jibe which spits the foremast open. It totally delaminates. We fire up the engine and once again call “all hands” to drop the foresl’e. We wrestle the sail down, but not in time to save the mast, the hoops of the sail and gaff saddle are the only thing holding the mast together. As soon as we have tension off the sail, like a slow motion lightning strike. “CRrrrrrrACK” the 100ft foremast comes crashing down. Everyone runs for cover. We barely have to time to realize what has happened and mutter “Holy Shit” when again with that ear-peircing, gut wrenching CRACK! The main-mast followed suit, simply not able to hold itself up with the weight of the foremast pulling it down. And just like that, the Schooner W N Ragland was dismasted.

Not a moment was lost, nor a beat un kept, as the entire crew rallied in to action. We took a head and injury count. All accounted for. One bloody lip. Amazing! Flash lights, headlamps, knives, bolt cutters, wrenches, plyers, wire cutters, hack saws and anything else that seemed useful was pulled up on deck as the crew worked tirelessly to cut the rig free. Every single last shroud, stay, halyard, sheet, brace, and sail had to be cut. Everyone worked in unison. It took us two horrifying hours. I simply can’t describe the horror of seeing the jagged, splintered stalk of the foremast thrusting out of the water with every passing swell or the sound of the mainmast crashing again the hull each time the boat rolled.
When the task was done, not a trace of the masts to be found upon scanning the surrounding waters, and all lines on deck coiled and tidy so as to not wash over board and foul the propellor, our only mode of transport left to get us safely home, we put the engine in gear and began motoring south.

In silence, we convened. Some went straight to the liquor cabinet, others went straight to bed, 3 unfortunate few stayed up to take watch for the next four hours. Most importantly, we were all still there. And no one was hurt.
So we’ve plenty of diesel and a reliable Caterpillar engine. We’ll motor the rest of the way to San Francisco.
It is a true tragedy we have had to endure, but as Emyl so aptly put it… “some books need only begin with a tragedy.”

For those of you who don’t know WN Ragland, here’s an article about the extraordinary schooner, built in Denmark 1913 for hauling granite in the Baltic and later owned by Neil Young for 35 years.
Last year she was for sale for 600 000 USD.

La Grace update

Sadly the brig La Grace still lays foundered on El Cable beach in Marbella (4.8711519 ° W, 36.5072692 ° N) (see post below) while her condition is getting worse everyday.

The good news is that the salvage operation now seems to be underway. The owners seem to have come to terms, somewhat, with the insurance company and a dredging company has been found that will try to carry out the task of putting her back afloat, before she is broken up by the pounding waves.

Let’s hope that will happen as soon as possible and that it will go smooth. Hopefully La Grace is not too much damaged. As far as I can understand, the insurance company will pay for the repair of the damages, but not the salvage – so help is still needed.

The plan seems to be to take her to the port of Algeciras, where she will be hauled out for repairs.

Main thing is that she is afloat before any major damage happens, then the financial problems and legal aspects can be solved, I hope.