Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Precision, precision, precision

Lorient is a seaport and fishing harbour in the Morbihan region of Brittany in Northwestern France, part of the enclosed sea that is the principal feature of the coastline. It is noted for its Carnac stones which predate and are more extensive than the ancient Stonehenge monument in Wiltshire, England. Lorient is also home to the family owned business called "Plastimo" created in 1963 by Antoine Zuliani with 35 employees.  Today the brand claims its industrial DNA as "safety and compasses for enjoyable boating". In 2013 the company celebrated its 50th anniversary and the 3 million compass milestone. Today I bought the Iris 50 hand-bearing compass made by Plastimo, appropriately balanced for "Zone A-B: Northern Hemisphere, South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Central Pacific, Tahiti and Reunion Island". Plastimo's compass products have been described as "jewels of precision and accuracy".

"This is the Plastimo classic and still scores highest in our test. It's simple, robust and well designed, with everything encased in rubber, except for the lens and the top of the card. The acrylic lens gives the clearest and most accurate read-out, while its position on top of the compass allows you to line up the bold red lubber line directly against the landmark you're taking a bearing on. Stows away easily thanks to its lightweight and small size."


Editor's Note:  A lubber line is a fixed line on a compass binnacle or radar plan position indicator display pointing towards the front of the ship or aircraft and corresponding to the craft's centreline (being the customary direction of movement).

Most of what we did today had a decidedly nautical theme or feel to it (an idiom immersed not just in sailing ships and sea water but also flags, knots, brass hardware, mahogany poles and lighthouses).  We began our little adventure by visiting The Rod & Reel Pier restaurant on Anna Maria Island. It was raining heavily when we stationed the car on the white chipped-shell parking lot and walked the distance along the pier through the driving drizzle to the restaurant. The boardwalk was the green colour of treated wood.  As we entered the restaurant - a hammerhead shape parallel the grey sea beyond and below - a young athletic waitress immediately greeted us and justifiably asked, "Table for two?" We told her we were just looking for the moment, and yes we would appreciate seeing a menu. The place was busy. People were comfortably dressed in plain clothing, the similarity lending the appearance of a school of fish. They were obviously enjoying their food, seated at picnic style tables, happy to be inside, sheltered from the wind and the rain.  We didn't stay any longer than to peruse the menu and left with a promise to return. It's a food shack, peculiar to seaside resorts, fresh, homemade stuff, mostly fish (chowders, crab cakes, sandwiches and blackened local resources). There was the smell of fried food.

Our next stop was West Marine, a marine outfitter with an extensive inventory of nautical hardware, accessories, clothing and shoes.  Though I didn't locate any ship's bells (clocks) - which was the initial motivation for the tour - I had no trouble finding a number of compasses - which lately I have been investigating (possibly because I have exhausted my interest in time pieces). I hadn't expected to discover such a refined brand of compass as Plastimo.  The store's dedication to sailing utility clearly trumped the other more decorative models I had seen on the internet housed in brass and silver.

In addition to the compass I also bought a Ronstan snap shackle fixed bail made in Sweden and which is made of stainless steel with a brass body (for the classic look).

"Snap shackles come in a variety of sizes and configurations, and are generally used for halyards, sheets, guys, and tack lines, along with a few specialty applications. The beauty of a snap shackle is the easy open and release function."

Naturally a snap shackle is something everyone should have! I regret that I did not buy as well the braided opener which was available (I saw it but had no idea what it was for nor why it just happened to be hung nearby the snap shackles).  That is perhaps a mission for another day.

Post Scriptum

Editor's Note:  The following day in the driving rain (very similar to what I imagine is the start of a hurricane) I sailed my way - literally (through the sometimes deeply water-covered roadways on this sea-level resort) - back to Marine West for a halyard. The cashier, a young man with a swarthy complexion and unshaven, said something about the weather ending in "... on shore this evening". Apparently I had come ashore to buy tack!  I didn't bother to correct him.  I was enjoying the benign deceit, akin to wandering into a private club as a member.

“Indeed they were very close to the Lighthouse now. There it loomed up, stark and straight, glaring white and black, and one could see the waves breaking in white splinters like smashed glass upon the rocks. One could see lines and creases in the rocks. One could see the windows clearly; a dab of white on one of them, and a little tuft of green on the rock. A man had come out and looked at them through a glass and gone in again.

“So it was like that, James thought, the Lighthouse one had seen across the bay all these years; it was a stark tower on a bare rock. It satisfied him. It confirmed some obscure feeling of his about his own character.”

Excerpt From: Woolf, Virginia. “To The Lighthouse.” Public Domain

1 comment:

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