Why did the Queen use whisky instead of champagne to launch her new warship?

The Queen has named Britain’s largest warship after herself in an opening ceremony—by breaking a bottle of Islay malt whisky over the ship’s hull. The 88-year-old monarch didn’t quite do it herself; she pushed a button on an automated contraption that smashed the bottle on her behalf against the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier.

This is only the second recorded use of whisky to launch or name a new vessel, according to the Royal Navy. Traditionally, champagne has been used to inaugurate new ships while home-brewed beer is spilled on submarines. In Admiral Nelson’s era, at the peak of British naval power, brandy or madeira was probably used, the Navy said. The first time whisky was used was at the launch of the HMS Sutherland in 1996—for the record, it was Macallan Single Highland Malt whisky.

The Queen used a bottle of Bowmore Surf from the 235-year-old Bowmore Distillery on the island of Islay because it was the first distillery she had ever visited in an official capacity back in 1980, the Navy said. More likely, however, the choice of a whisky had a wee bit more to do with politics and the upcoming Scottish referendum on independence in September.

The naming ceremony was held at the Rosyth dockyard in Scotland, and the British prime minister took the opportunity to affirm the value of the United Kingdom staying together, and of course of having expensive and over-budget British military projects as clients for Scottish industry. Six shipyards and more than 10,000 people at more than 100 companies across the UK were used to build the HMS Queen Elizabeth. “It’s a really exciting day for Scotland, a great day for the United Kingdom and a sign of things to come if our country stays together,” David Cameron said.

For the Queen, the issue doesn’t make too much of a difference. She will stay on as head of state even if Scotland gains independence.

Working with MTV The Valleys

MTV The Valleys Lateysha Grace 21st Birthday

MTV The Valleys Lateysha Grace 21st Birthday

I have been operating party boats for over 5 years and since day one we have always had weird or stupid requests. Requests have ranged from being asked if we can sail around the coast with people drinking onboard for DAYS at a time; if fireworks can be launched off the roof; and once we were even asked if we can board people from a car park that was nowhere near a river. So when the HMS69 admin team told me they had received an email from MTV I was immediately skeptical, when I read that it was for The Valleys reality TV show all worse case scenarios for accidents that I cover with new crew flashed through my mind and I pictured people jumping into the sea, drifting out to sea and landing myself in court.

Meeting a Producer
After a brief exchange of emails I met with the producers at our marina, where the boat rests whilst waiting for her next party. They explained that as employers themselves they would be carrying out risk assessments and had no intention of letting any of the cast get wet, far from it! Quite simply, they wanted to hire our party boat using it as the scene for the final episode, which is to be one of the stars 21st birthday parties and they would get back to me with further questions regarding their risk assessment and a proposal with regards to a discount.

Party Boat Captain on MTV The Valleys Party Boat

Party Boat Captain on MTV The Valleys Party Boat

After this meeting I asked friends and other business leaders for their advice. The feedback had quite a range, including: “throw them in” all the way to getting a full on contract written up to ensure my logo appeared in the episode and on their website. My personal favorite was being asked to “put your logo on a long distance shipping container and sell MTV a ‘Valleys; Castaway’ concept?”. Other advice was concerned if I charged enough and to actually watch an episode as they would be no different to any other party we have onboard.

So What did I do?
I watched an episode and when you take a step back from the hype that surrounds the show and the people in it, you soon realise that although every other word involves swearing, the show in fact is not that bad as the PR wants you to believe. When talking to people who had met them in person it was suggested that the cast had let fame go to their heads and they would be arrogant and awkward to deal with and make demanding requests. I decided to put all the preconceived stereotypes aside and forget about contracts and potential deals and to simply treat it as we would any other Private Party Charter that we would host for anyone’s birthday, the only difference would be the TV crew following them onto the boat and the production teams request to cover the seats on the boat due to camera lighting.

MTV The Valleys Party Boat

MTV The Valleys Party Boat

What Actually Happened on the Night
The assistant producer asked to be able to setup some decorations to help with the filming of the show before the cast came onboard. This didn’t seem a problem but the first warning of how the evening was going to pan out came when he emailed me asking if the boat had been located in a different place, even though he had been there himself he could not find it. I’m glad I refused to give out my personal mobile number as I cannot imagine how many phone calls I would constantly receive from the production team asking all sorts of minor questions which are either answered on our website or could be replied too in an email. Then came the news that even though they had hired the boat from 7:30-10:30, the cast would not be ready until 9:00 (they began getting ready at 4:00). I was surprised at hearing this, but the assistant producer was not and seemed to me to be used to these types of delays. We left the marina a few minutes later than usual just in case they did turn up early. I was not going to allow our side of things to cause a delay or be a potential problem and wanted to ensure we stuck to our promise, regardless of the ‘intel’ being received. We had at this point some extras onboard who started doing push ups once they realised they would be featured quite prominently in the show. Once moored at our usual boarding point for passengers the assistant producer finished off his redecorating just in time for the cast to arrive at 8:40, which was lucky as he had expected them to arrive 20 minutes later.

Filming MTV The Valleys Party Boat

Filming MTV The Valleys Party Boat

Once the cast arrived they were great, remarkably polite to me and the feedback from my crew was very positive. I’ll blog my thoughts on them in a later post. The cast looked fantastic, I had anticipated 8 inch heels with short skirts and shorter tops, but they had gone all out and dressed as kings and queens for the night. They all looked great and the theme was a great idea. There were eight members of the cast, we already had four extras but the production team consisted of ten people in total, with two security guards too! There were more in the production team carrying cameras and writing things on iPads than were appearing in the show. You could tell in peoples eyes how exhausted they were from working since 9am and the only time people smiled was when being reminded at the news as this was to be a segment in the final episode of series three of The Valleys, I think everyone was looking forward to sleeping and not being responsible for the things drunks get up to!

Eventually when we got going we were asked to play the new single Lateysha had recorded. This was a surprise to us as although we can play tunes off a usb stick, we were not so sure a CD would work and would have liked to do some quick checks to ensure it worked beforehand. Hopefully in the show the single gets well received, its a good beat and definitely going to be a top club tune once released. They pretty much filmed inside the whole time, with all the heat and drinking you would never know they were on a boat. Outside the water was smooth and the weather was perfect for a party onboard, but by filming inside you would never know they were on a boat, they could have just filmed in a studio!

Filming MTV The Valleys Party Boat

MTV The Valleys Party Boat

Lessons learnt
For me, I’m happy with the decisions I made and after watching the show I tried not to judge or have prejudices towards the cast and ditched any expectations. I wasn’t however ready for the hassle and last minute changes and things going wrong all the time for the TV crew, and I am relieved I stuck to my guns with not giving out my mobile number as the double benefit is that I have a written record of any correspondence as everything was carried out by email. My only regret was not taking more photos with the cast as its unlikely we will meet them again, so if you are reading this don’t be afraid to take more photos!

And finally…
I am now in possession of the new demo CD music single for Lateysha to be released in 2014 and find myself looking forward to the third series of The Valleys to see if i’m in the background. So after all that has happened I’ve become a fan of the show. I wonder if this is how they build their audience? I also find myself wondering where I can get my teeth whitened.

MTV The Valleys Party Boat [Series 3 Finale]

Last weekend we hosted a 21st birthday party for Lateysha Grace from MTV The Valleys onboard HMS69 Cardiff party boat.  I’ll write what actually happened on the night and my experiences with working with a TV crew in a later post, but for now let me tell you what I thought of each of the cast members who all turned up looking incredible and ready to party!

I don’t recall everything about all the cast members from MTV The Valleys, they we’re all very polite to me and not obnoxious to any of the crew.  One thing I do know is that in just over one hour they drank 1 bottle of champagne, 10 jager bombs, 25 double vodka redbulls and 80 Single vodka mixers which is over 3 litres of vodka between them! incase you are wondering, this is a LOT more than the average person drinks in a night and they were only just getting warmed up!

Celebrating her 21st birthday, dressed as a queen and looking fit to reign her kingdom with her crown.
Was nice enough to briefly speak with and seemed up for a laugh, obviously since it was her idea to have her birthday on a party boat.
Can drink you under the table for sure and is welcome to come back any time!
Jenna is SO tiny, i’m convinced I could have put her in my pocket to kidnap her, noone would find her there! I think this is why her boobs look so huge, its because the rest of her is so small.
She asked if she could wear my hat to the nightclub, I should have had a witty come back prepared but was too busy concentrating on other things.
If the boat was to sink Jenna would surely float without a lifejacket.
All the girls have a LOT of hair, and I mean a LOT, they took over 4 hours to get ready but the wait was worth it and if you watch the show you’ll see how fantastic they all look, whilst your watching listen to the things Nicole actually says, she is the funniest of them all.
Nicole was on watch for icebergs.
Was a bit nervous before boarding as he gets sea sick and doesn’t really like boats.
Seemed to forget about this once he’d finished a litre of vodka. He is a top bloke and was polite to all of our crew.
Maybe we should have offered him a lifejacket as reassurance.
Jason Suminski
Compared to the rest of the cast this man is a giant, Jason was dressed as a clown and pulled off the costume rather well.  I expected more orange.
There were new faces joining the previous cast, but you will have to tune in and watch for yourselves to find out more about them.

Zaha Hadid designs superyacht for Blohm + Voss

The design language is fluid and organic, allowing a far greater connectivity between the various decks than is found in traditional yacht designs. Four further ‘Unique Circle Yachts’ have also been designed to fulfil the different requirements and individual requests of their designated owners

Zaha Hadid has designed a series of yacht concepts in collaboration with German shipyard Blohm + Voss, the first 90m vessel of which is now a fully workable design

The 128m ‘mother ship’ concept at the heart of the flotilla is avant-garde and mould-breaking, quite unlike any boat design before or since

The lattice-like forms that wrap around the mother ship’s hull are classic evocations of the forms that have emerged from Hadid’s architecture studio over the past two decades, while the extensive use of composite materials in boat-building offers up endless possibilities for seamless structural shapes

The first of five 90m yachts, the Jazz, has already been technically specified in detail by the naval architects of Blohm+Voss

The lattice motif used in the mother ship extends to the Jazz – albeit in a more feasible form – with the upper deck comprising an interwoven network of meshes on the exterior. This exoskeleton connects the various levels and decks of the ship

An opening in the exoskeleton gives way to a pool

There’s a sense of inevitability about the news that Zaha Hadid Architects has designed her first superyacht. Having moved slowly and inexorably into the orbits of the super-rich – be it through the elaborate furniture design created for Established & Sons or, more recently, a design for a high-end villa just outside Moscow – the architecture of Zaha Hadid has gone beyond the parametrically-driven creation of new forms and entered a new phase of cultural domination.

That the undeniably dynamic and vital nature of Hadid’s architecture should have finally caught the eye of the international elite is no surprise. Up until now, Zaha’s formally adventurous product design – be it for cars, tableswine bottles, vases or jewellery – has played second fiddle to her architecture. Arguably, a yacht combines the two, being nothing more than a mobile building of exquisite complexity and craftsmanship.

The superstructure of a yacht is a perfect canvas for the Hadid aesthetic. Working in collaboration with German shipyard Blohm + Voss, the architect’s concept actually embraces six yachts, with a ‘Unique Circle’ of five individually designed 90m yachts spawned from a 128m ‘mothership’ at the heart of the flotilla.

Words like fluidity and biology make perfect sense here, for the mothership is avant-garde and mould-breaking, quite unlike any boat design before or since. The lattice-like forms that wrap around the mothership’s hull are classic evocations of the forms that have emerged from Hadid’s architecture studio over the past two decades, while the extensive use of composite materials in boat-building offers up endless possibilities for seamless structural shapes.

The first of the 90m yachts, the Jazz, has been shaped up into a fully workable design. The superyacht industry has been relatively slow to translate some of the wilder conceptual excesses of the digital era into reality; it took Starck’s ‘A’, designed for Andrey Melnichenko, andVenus, for the late Steve Jobs, to really cement the idea that a boat could be even more of a canvas for (expensive) expression than a house. Arguably Hadid has gone one further, embracing the new parameters of naval architecture with gusto.

Blohm + Voss is one of the world’s major superyacht builders, having been responsible for Starck’s ‘A’ as well as many others, thanks to its superlative facilities and close connections with designers of every stripe around the world. Whether the Jazz will eventually head down the slipway and off into a charmed life of charters and quayside dinners remains to be seen. But the combination of B&V and Zaha Hadid is a compelling one, and we don’t doubt that someone, somewhere will be tempted to bring this extraordinary piece of aquatic architecture to life, whatever the cost.

Originally posted here BY JONATHAN BELL


Why Did Pirates Wear Eye Patches?

The fact that some pirates wore eye patches most likely had nothing to do with a missing eye, and everything to do with being able to see—specifically, above decks and below them.

Jim Sheedy, a doctor of vision science and director of the Vision Performance Institute at Oregon’s Pacific University, told the Wall Street Journal that while the eyes adapt quickly when going from darkness to light, studies have shown that it can take up to 25 minutes for them to adapt when going from bright light to darkness, which “requires the regeneration of photo pigments.”

Pirates frequently had to move above and below decks, from daylight to near darkness, and Sheedy says the smart ones “wore a patch over one eye to keep it dark-adapted outside.” When the pirate went below decks, he could switch the patch to the outdoor eye and see in the darkness easily (potentially to fight while boarding and plundering another vessel).


Though there are no first-person sources from history that state this as fact, there’s no question that keeping one eye dark-adapted works. MythBusters tested this hypothesis in their pirate special in 2007 and determined that it was plausible (only the lack of historical sources kept it from being confirmed). At least one military manual for pilots pointed out that “Even though a bright light may shine in one eye, the other will retain its dark adaptation, if it is protected from the light. This is a useful bit of information, because a flyer can preserve dark adaptation in one eye by simply closing it.” Even the FAA recommends that “a pilot should close one eye when using a light to preserve some degree of night vision.”

Read the full text here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/52493/why-did-pirates-wear-eye-patches

A Sneak Peek at Where They Make the World’s Coolest Yachts

  • Photographer Benedict Redgrove got to take a peek inside the workshop of Wally Yachts, makers of some of the world’s most luxurious boats. Photo: Benedict Redgrove

  • It’s a different type of yacht photo than we’re used to. It’s what they look like before they’ve ever touched water. Photo: Benedict Redgrove

  • It doesn’t hurt that the workshop is nearly as immaculate as the boats themselves. Redgrove brings out all the sci-fi-like details. Photo: Benedict Redgrove

  • Wally has won the Compasso d’Oros, the prestigious industrial design award, twice in recent years. Photo: Benedict Redgrove

  • Here, the hull of a motor yacht, the Wally Ace, dwarfs one of the workers. Photo: Benedict Redgrove

  • A straight-on shot of the Wally Ace. Photo: Benedict Redgrove

  • Here, we’re nose to nose with the Wally’s biggest sloop to date, a 165 foot sailboat called the Better Place. When Redgrove visited, it was in the process of being painted the same color as the owner’s Bugatti. Photo: Benedict Redgrove

  • Sadly, the rebranding effort part of the shoot never materialized, and Redgrove wasn’t asked back to see the final vessels. Photo: Benedict Redgrove

  • “I’m just sad we never got to see them being launched and shoot them in the water,” he says. Photo: Benedict Redgrove

  • But behind the scenes shots are plenty satisfying anyway. Photo: Benedict Redgrove 

They say the two best days of owning a boat are the day you buy it and the day you sell it. From a photographic perspective, though, that might not necessarily hold true. As we see in these shots by Benedict Redgrove, there’s something uniquely striking about a yacht that’s in the process of being built, still weeks or months away from touching the water. What we see here is arguably the peak of their pristine beauty–before the sea salt and the barnacles do their work. It certainly doesn’t hurt when the place they’re being built is nearly as immaculate as the boats themselves.

Wally makes some of the most sophisticated yachts money can buy.

The workshop is that of Wally Yachts, a Monaco-based company (naturally) responsible some of the most sophisticated yachts money can buy. A quick scroll through the company’s website will find something for everyone, from the lowly multimillion dollar recording artist up through your standard captain of industry. For the most lucrative Bond villain types there’s the Wally Why, a concept designed in collaboration with Hermes that is half-boat, half-private island (and still purportedly highly friendly to the environment!)

These shots show three different vessels: a motorized yacht called the Wally Ace; the single-deck, 630 horsepower vessel called the Wally One; and the largest carbon fiber sloop produced by the company to date: the 164-foot Better Place. That one, Redgrove recalls, was in the process of being painted the same color as the owner’s Bugatti.

Here’s what the Wally One looked like when it was finished. Photo: Wally

Redgrove, who splits time between London and New York City, specializes in these sorts of images, capturing strikingly sterile scenes of jets, cars and boats in production. It’s something a bit different than what we’re used to. Hero shots of yachts gliding through the water are familiar stuff, but rarely do we get to glimpse them hoisted up on terra firma, parked underneath a warehouse ceiling. They don’t even necessarily read as boats here so much as massive sculptures–it’s not entirely surprising that Wally has won the Compasso d’Oro, the prestigious industrial design award, twice in recent years.

Unfortunately, the rebranding effort for which the photographs were taken fell apart, and the company never asked Redgrove back to finish the job. “I’m just sad we never got to see them being launched and shoot them in the water,” he says. Because you can’t truly appreciate the beauty of a $30 million yacht until it’s in its intended habitat, accruing a ludicrous bill for upkeep.

Originally posted here


On August 2nd in Cardiff the weather made an unexpected turn, thunder and lightning could be heard and seen all over Cardiff, our vessel was in the Bristol Channel at the time and was able to find breaks in the dark clouds to keep out of trouble, but as the time approached to return to Cardiff the visibility pretty much dropped within seconds as the storm brew more fierce.  A local blogger captured us sprinting back to get out of any potential trouble!
IMG_1441The well-known Cardiff Cruises vessel “Dame Shirley” made a valiant bid to outrun the storm tonight as she headed at  full-speed-ahead  through torrential rain towards Cardiff Barrage and Penarth Marina . 

Luckily there was no delay. A barrage lock was immediately made available to for her to lock-in  and she was safely tied up before the worst of the thunder and lightning struck Penarth.

Original article is here