Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog. My name is Steve and i am the lucky owner of a John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. I built her over three years with the help of my father, father-in-law and two children. She was launched in August 2007 at Queen Anne's battery marina in the barbican area of Plymouth. This blog is a record of our voyages together around SW England.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Becoming a techy geek

When 'her indoors' allowed me to have a new Xperia Z1 compact, I thought 'ah ha!' Time for some new sailing apps. Now the big advantage of the phone is that it is waterproof. Some charts would be I downloaded 'marine navigator' and then visited 'visitmyharbour' 

Here, I purchased a complete set of UK charts for under £15. Their clarity, level of detail and accuracy are outstanding. The app/charts allow COG, SOG, compass direction, waypoint marking, route planning and more. I haven't yet had a chance to test in Arwen out in the sound yet but I'm looking forward to doing so. 

Another fun app with a serious use is 'marine traffic'. This uses google maps and tracks every vessel offshore. Click on the boat icon and up comes its course, speed, track, a photo of it and vessel details. So cool! As I write now, nine fishing vessels, line astern are passing down the eastern side of he sound, heading for the Cattedown. The sailing vessel 'one sail' is heading across from Weymouth and is just passing through Wembury Bay, closing on the sound. 

With an anchor watch app as well I think I have enough to be getting for the time being!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

John has been updating his blog. Glad to see someone is having fun with a navigator. Poor Arwen and I have yet to make it onto the water so ar this winter.

Well done John!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

bits and bobs

catching up with a few posts.......Number one son and I found ourselves in Portsmouth on a whistle stop detour during half term. Came as a surprise, not planned but we managed to get a fair bit done; and we have a ticket for a year which allows us to go back and see what we didn't see this time round.

The weather this weekend was a surprise as well - the rain didn't turn up as forecast - irritating because I could have sailed! Still a lovely stroll around the Hoe and Barbican. At this time of year it is still surprisingly warm; leaves are turning now but still clinging to trees - you would think it September, not end of November! Seasons down here are definitely weird!

That would strike fear into you  if you were in a smaller ship!!

The Flag ship 'Victory'

Um! Dodgy geezer or one of our best monarchs?

The Mary Rose

What's on view in the gallery

replica of the Mary Rose's kitchen

restored parrel beads for the main mast

Brings a lump to my throat
And then this morning around the Barbican.........
the first water taxi of the morning

the pilot boats all tied up at the pontoon

the cannons facing towards Jennycliffe under a watery sun
During the English civil war the opposing armies faced each other over the cattedown

returning home with the morning's catch

remember me posting about the January storms in 2013 and the huge waves and 90 mph winds?
well the damage is still being repaired!

her in-door's and I were trying to work out what the large flat area is/was! some research needed!

and a little bonus.....a buzzard sunning itself on the fence over at Millbay docks


Saturday, 22 November 2014

Where does time go?

When was I last in Arwen? When did I last post a blog? Where has time gone?
It's back to that 6.30am at my desk; leaving school 5.00pm and then doing three hours in the evening. Every year I say the new term will get better...........

My resolution to do more winter sailing doesn't seem to be coming to fruition.....yet. Maybe in the next few weekends..........

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Unseasonal weather

Her indoors and I have been up to north devon. Woolacombe and rather nice it was. A sort of surfy place with some former glamorous Georgian buildings and a stunning beach. We liked it. The bike ride over the hills damp near killed us but the views were breath taking and it didn't rain. Murky drizzle on occasions yes.rain no.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

nothing particularly boaty................

The chance of getting out on the water this half term looks remote; the next three days are taken up with a very welcomed visit by my sister's family; then its three days away up north with 'her in-doors', followed by a day visit to some historical sites with my son. That leaves the last weekend and alas all of that will be taken up by the seven supermarket re-useable carrier bags full of school work currently residing in the car boot.
Ho hum, that is the way it goes. Every sailor knows the tensions of family and work commitments.

What has been exercising more of what little brain power I have at the moment hasn't been sailing but rather UCAS! Its UCAS application time and my son, along with all his friends at school are immersed in the annual writing of the university personal statement!

For the last few years I have sensed a struggle! The student's struggle to make himself or herself sound passionate about the subject that they wish to pursue at undergraduate level. I'm not saying I don't have passionate young geographers. I do. However, their ability to evidence their passion for the subject beyond what they have learned at school is clearly an issue. I cannot really remember the last time a sixth form geographer burst through my door enthusing about a geographical tomb or article they had read and how it had set their curiosity alight. Such is the life they lead that sixth formers merely want to know what will get them the A grade; the UCAS points to their chosen course; nothing 'extra' matters. Between three A Levels, an AS level, jobs and whatever else life throws at them, that desire to do the extra beyond the syllabi, just for the sake of learning for learning's sake.....seems to have disappeared, despite my herculean best efforts to imbibe them with a growth mindset!

I wonder what that says about us as a nation? Have recent governments with their zeal for targets, comparison indicators and performance related criteria really caused the teaching profession to lose its way? Have we sacrificed 'the process and passion of learning for learning's sake' for just 'looking good' in the performance league tables? Are we spawning a generation who will never go beyond what is demanded of them in their daily work; because all we end up doing is teaching to the syllabus so that they pass exams?

My students are struggling to exemplify how they have pursued their passion for their subject beyond what I have done with them. Their crestfallen faces show they just don't understand the point I am making as I review their statements with them. Perhaps, I am not making it clearly.

After 33 years in the profession, I think I have reached a sad contradictory day. I inspire passion for the subject in my students whilst they are in school. Many want to take it on at university but I fail to inspire them to take it further, beyond what we do in the syllabi....that extra reading of a topic we are not doing for the exam but which is of just brilliant geographical interest anyway......I think it is time to retire as soon as I can, for I fear I am know longer doing them justice.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Getting back in a capsized navigator

I have posted on this issue in the past and I did comment about thinking about some way of putting lines around Arwen to help me get back in should she capsize; along with righting lines that are tied someway around the centre thwart area and then stowed under the side decks.

Well an ingenious fellow, Peter Kovesi, has come up with the way to get in. He posted on the jwbuilders forum the following 

" I saw with interest on John's blog at
his description of the rope sling that is being used for reboarding on a SCAMP.

I recently set up a similar scheme on my Navigator but to keep the rope sling out of the way I elasticated the rope by replacing the rope core with shock cord. It consists of some 12mm rope that runs along the outside of the hull just under the gunwale for the length of the cockpit. It is attached at each end through holes in the hull just under the gunwale and then through holes in an adjacent bulkhead where it is knotted off"

"The rope length is set so that when the rope is stretched out the centre of the sling is about 600mm below the gunwale. When released the shock cord holds it up against the underside of the gunwale. Climbing into the boat simply involves pulling the rope down to under your foot and you step in with very little effort"

I have to say seeing his photos is rather ingenious and certainly the elasticised approach keeps the rope tight against the rubbing strip gunwale. Peter goes on to say that safety wise the ropes give you something to hang onto when in the water alongside the boat.  Some questioned whether his feet would slide under the boat. I have rigged something similar on Arwen over the summer for getting back into her when I had jumped in for a swim. I wrapped a mooring rope across two cleats bow and stern and then let it drop around 700mm. I found it really did work. Your feet do go under the hull initially but then what you do is use your knees to press against the hull and in doing so kick you feet back out away from the hull. From this sort of leaning stand position, you are then sort of tipped forward enough to fall over the side deck. It does involve some hauling yourself over the side.....mainly to do with my excess bulk! But it was so much easier than trying to get a foot onto my brass step mounted on the transom and the reaching up for the boomkin and mizzen mast to try and haul my weight out of the briny.

I think it is an excellent idea. I haven't quite worked out why he put elasticised bungee through the 12 mm rope......why not just get bungee that size......but I suspect there is a really good reason for doing so and I am too dim to have worked it out yet. 

One thing is for is a winter project that will take place on Arwen. Cheers Peter (and John and the Scamp team). An excellent, worthwhile addition to Arwen. Thank you.