It would be nice to claim a journalism career that followed a neat upward trajectory - student rag magazine, local, then regional newspapers, a breakthrough into the national press and finally a by-line in National Geographic, Time, or some other luminary of the global media.
Unfortunately - as the following chronological if otherwise random sample of extracts will show - it's been rather more haphazard than that, hitting the keyboard whenever the opportunity or interest occurred...
Kaleidoscope of San Francisco - New Zealand Herald - May 1986
'If I'd learned nothing else in three thousand miles of Greyhound bussing I certainly knew that the terminals were always in the worst part of town.'
On the trail of the Banana Pancake...
Banana Pancake Blues - The Adventurers - April 1990
'My first encounter with the ubiquitous banana pancake came on a balmy Balinese night in Ubud. Over the subsequent months my trail north was littered with such gastronomic slop.
Toast and jam in Yogyakarta, muesli in Malaysia, egg and bacon in Bangkok, chips in Chiang Mai and banana pancakes everywhere.'
Putting Wind into Ocean Racer's Sails - Guardian - January 1991
'Over a long race, such as a transatlantic, the yacht's differing speeds at different angles to the wind is exploited by weaving through the weather patterns. It combines the aims of putting the boat in the right place for the next weather system and closing with the finish as fast as possible.'
GPS Satellite System is a Dream Come True - The Daily Telegraph - January 1991
'Somewhere in the darkness ahead is the finish line, hidden among the rocks and headlands of the Cornish coast - a coast that is closing at fifteen knots with less than two hundred yards visibility. Slow up and make the landfall at a sensible speed and you lose the race; get it wrong and you lose the yacht.'
Article PDF (1.5M).
Then the Sails Exploded - The Sunday Telegraph - March 1991
'I was woken by the dulcet tones of the BBC shipping forecast: "Wight, south-westerly five or seven, increasing eight later, veering north-west." Which, loosely translated, meant as windy as hell from the wrong direction - particularly awkward when you no longer have any of the necessary sails.'
Race Commentary - Around Alone Website - December 1998
'(The yacht) Somewhere is singing a familiar tune to Marc Thiercelin. He has been listening to the variations on this central theme for ten days - more forte than piano, the allegro sections much more satisfying than the lento ones. The hum and whistle of hull and rig is the soundtrack to his adventure. And, like any good soundtrack, it signals the direction the plot is taking with a significant change in tone. It was that which first alerted Thiercelin to this twist in his story.'
Sail Clinic (columnist 1997-2000) - Practical Boat Owner - January 1998
'We had a look at both sails in the marina before we left. On the spinnaker we discovered a stamp that said it had been used in the 1974 One Ton Cup. Nor had it aged gracefully, the cloth was paper thin. In fact, the vintage One Ton kite scored a zero on all three main counts - size, design and condition. So we decided it was best left in the boot of the car.'
The Volvo Ocean Race, Moving On - Seahorse Magazine - February 1999
'Formula 1, as always, sets a good example. The cars and teams only emerge immediately prior to the event. You can't turn up at Silverstone ten days before the British Grand Prix and watch the mechanics pulling the car apart. And the practice sessions themselves are highly focused - a couple of hours over a couple of days.'
Offshore News (columnist 1998-2000) - Yachts and Yachting - October 1999
'This was going to be a parody of Sebastian Junger's bestselling book, 'The Perfect Storm' - but since I haven't actually read it yet, it could be a struggle.'
OneWorld Diary - madforsailing.com (editor 2000-01) - May 2002
'Our sailing programme is happily cranking on into the early sunsets and colder days. We've been testing some pretty crucial stuff recently, and we've finally answered the question that has been taunting theorists and pundits alike - can you surf on the waves set-up between the boats when they're on the tow?'
My Auckland - CityMix - November 2002
'It was all pretty idyllic for a lad brought up on the English North Sea coast, where all we had in the way of islands were treacherous sandbars, the water was a muddy brown and the wind came straight from the North Pole.'
Article PDF (1M).
Out of Deep Water - Air New Zealand In-flight Magazine - December 2002
'So if your firm has booked some corporate hospitality for the (America's) Cup matches, but the closest you've ever got to a sailboat is glancing at an advert for aftershave or perfume, then your best chance is probably to bluff it.'
Article PDF (2.5M).
A Rising Tide - Coast Magazine - March 2004
'Now spring's arrived, it won't be long before trips to the beach involve more than just pushing the dog out of the car while you stay in the warm. When you venture to follow, you may be disappointed to discover that the acres of sand or shingle you were hoping to see are obscured by an ugly layer of rubbish.'
Article PDF (5M).
On the Road with The Wrecking Crew - Sunday Star Times NZ - April 2004
'Things had definitely got a lot busier on the South Island. The signs were all around me - people wearing stout boots and those trousers with zippered legs that turn into shorts. Two decades ago, I'd organised a lift out to the start of the Routeburn Track on the mail van, bought some food and set off - now you need to book the huts a month in advance.'
Article PDF (1M).
Why Britain Should Compete in the America's Cup - Guardian Unlimited - January 2007
'If you thought the 16-year wait for an - albeit short-lived - Ashes success tried the patience of English cricket fans, consider this: in 1851, a lone Yankee yacht, America, snatched what was to become known as the America's Cup from under the noses of a fleet of Britain's finest, and since then they haven't got within a sniff of getting it back. That's 156 years of failure.'
Link to Article.
The Billion Dollar Race - Esquire Magazine UK - July 2007
'The Australians defended the America's Cup in Fremantle, in 1987. The operations base of the British challenge was a motley collection of portacabins and shipping containers, all with red, white and blue stripes around the top to declare their allegiance. I remember this last detail vividly, as I painted them. It was my first job with a Cup team.'
Article PDF (7M).