A blog about sailing a John Welsford
'Navigator' yawl around Plymouth Sound
in South-west England
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. Arwen has a YouTube channel of her own. Search "plymouthwelshboy".
This was a shot on Plymouth Hoe a couple of days ago when winds reached Force 9
We are in the grip of some of the worst flooding I can recall here in
the UK and its only November.I read
that today 800 homes have been flooded after storms hit parts of England and
Wales. My own home countries of Devon and Cornwall have been very badly hit and
a young lady of 21 was tragically killed in Exeter by a falling tree.
Flooding in Southway, a suburb here in Plymouth
220 flood warnings in place across just England; 57 in the south west where I
live. More flooding is expected and on its way! We had an astonishing 60mm of
rainfall just last night. I woke at 3am to see the wind howling down my street,
something I rarely see as I live on the slope of a north facing hill which shelters
us from the south west gales.
Flooding just outside Exeter
In my city Plymouth, 60 people had to be evacuated due to safety
concerns in at least twelve different places around the city and many cars were
abandoned. We are still cut off by rail from the rest of the country as the
only two railway routes out of the south west are blocked or washed away just
outside the north of Exeter.
The main line from Penzance to Paddington, London. Or it was. The double line behind in the field - are collapsed power cables!
It will take a week to get these railway lines
back up to safe usage. The Met Office has issued an Amber weather warning for
50 to 70 mm of rain by the end of Monday.
The problem is
run off from already wet fields that could lead to further river and surface
water flooding; and then there are the strong winds that could worsen surface
water flooding, as wind-blown leaves and debris block drains.
One of our local villages somewhat cut off at present
As I sit here
typing this the rain is pounding off the roof outside. The back decking is
already an inch under water but we are safe. I worry at times that our garden,
on a steep slope and heavily wooded may suffer a landslide but it is very
doubtful. There are branches down in the wood in the upper garden; the trees at
the front have lost all their bright coloured autumn foliage. We’ll have some
clearing up to do outside I suspect. But that is nothing compared to people
around Devon who are clearing flood damaged possessions and gungy floodwater
silt out of their front doors.
Our Emergency Services, Enviornment Agency, Highways and local authority staff have been truly amazing
is a nasty affair. It means you are out of your house for up to a year; the
walls have to be replastered; all the wiring redone; floorboard replaced. And
how do you replace all the photo albums full of memories of your life from
childhood. I know the consequences of flooding are worse if you live in a poor
country like Bangladesh, but even here in the UK, it has devastating effects.
So many rivers in Devon have burst their banks and there is still much more rain to come
The Environment Agency is reminding people in affected areas to keep up to date with the latest flood warnings on the Environment Agency website and to sign up to the free flood warnings sent to mobiles as text messages. In a twist of fate I am right in the middle of teaching flooding to my A level geography groups; no shortage of case study material at the moment!
All images are copyright of 'Evening Herald'; 'This is Exeter'; The Times; The Daily Mail; ITV .com; BBC news website
I think sailing is done for this year. Today would have been perfect - winds 4 - 8 knots; one of those crisp cool but very sunny November days. Alas, I have a chest infection. It has been with me for a few weeks now and shows no sign of clearing. The product of having worked 9 70 hr weeks on the trot, there seems to be no let up. I tried to go for a walk with 'her indoors' this morning around the Barbican , up onto the Hope and then down around Millbay docks before returning to the Barbican. I barely made it up onto the hoe sounding like an asthmatic, rattling steam train in need of some TLC. The last time I remember wheezing this badly and having this amount of shortness of breath was when I was eight and Dad had to carry me back from the doctors because my little legs gave way from underneath me as we climbed the hill to go up through the castle wall gates on the way home in Conwy. Then I had been diagnosed with Bronchitis; it's feeling somewhat similar again 42 years later!
Still walking slowly gave me the chance to get a few autumn snaps of the Barbican. I'll have to hope for a few crisp winter sunny days at Christmas. Poor Arwen, she does feel neglected!
Looking across from Citadel Road towards the National Marine Aquarium on the far left and the luxurious Queen Anne Flays in the left of centre. The marina is QAB where Arwen gets launched. The footbridge and pontoon in the foreground were put in place a couple of years ago for the tourist 'dockyard tour' boats and supposedly for all the cruise ships that stop off in Plymouth to disgorge their occupants. I'm still waiting to see that bit happen!
One of the original cranes preserved in good condition. From a bygone era when I think railway sidings ran along this part of the quay
Now the quay serves as a cafe area, nicely done, with cafe installed in the arches under the Citadel Road. A lovely spot always catching the sun and sheltered from the SW winds
In the foreground on the left are the 'Mayflower Steps' famous for our intrepid settlers of America! The giant prawn has been there as street sculpture for many years now. The white bridge spans the lock gates which give access to the inner Sutton Harbour marina area. The bridge pivots on its access. The glass building is the Marine Aquarium
'Mr Cobbles' has become a feature of this part of the Barbican. Same pitch, all weathers. The van, a Morris Commercial dates from the 1950's I think. He has done it rather well.
Year in, year out; same boats in the same place. I never see an empty berth where they should be.....do they ever put to sea I wonder?
I've made some 400 or so blog posts since setting up this blog; there have been 478 comments. I've saved the photos, videos and most blog posts as word documents but is there a way of actually saving your blog pages?
I have created some on-line books which I have saved although I have yet to purchase one. Surely there must be a way of saving your weblog pages?
and it is time for Arwen to be packed away for the winter. We have barely sailed together this year so poor has the weather been. When I have been able to go tides and weather have conspired against me; when it has been perfect weather and tides, well work has been too frenetic. Ce sera sera and all that. Arwen has languished all forlorn on the driveway. I had hoped that maybe there would be one day this half term break for a sail but it was not to be. Tuesday was sunny but completely windless, one of those Atlantic highs coming down from the polar region with little to no wind whatsoever. The rest of this week has been windy but intense showers.
In the meantime we have bashed on with Stacey, the motovespa 125 super that we are restoring. She seems to sound OK but then we keep hearing a tinny rattle somewhere and we can't work out where from.
We also still have problems adjusting the gear and clutch cables so that the gear section of the handlebars turns freely and selects the right gears. Our search for a good vespa mechanic in our locality remains fruitless and our vespa forums have been unable to help.
A welshman displaced to wonderful Plymouth in SW England; a novice sailor and boat builder with a passion for all things to do with the sea. My learning curve is vertical....but hey that's what makes life interesting isn't it! So follow my journey as I learn to sail Arwen,grappling with charts, tide tables and passage planning so that I can become 'a dinghy cruiser'
And by the way, just occasionally, little snippets about 'Stacey' our beloved 1968 motovespa super 125 scooter may feature along with odd insights into our family travels< but these will be kept to a minimum, I promise!
The 'Navigator' is a 14' 9" yawl with a beam of 5' 10". she weighs in at 309 lbs and has a sail area of 136 sqft. She has a standing lug sail. She has side, centre and front thwarts and space for six although she is an ideal single hander. there are a huge number of potential locker spaces. For more details about the design of navigators go to www.jwboatdesigns.co.nz/plans/navigator/index.htm