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.
Arwen has a YouTube channel of her own. Search "plymouthwelshboy".

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Plans for next week

I am intending to sail around the river Tamar during next week.  Monday I will sail up the Lynher to the Treluggan Boatyard. On Tuesday, I will sail up to Calstock, stopping off at Cotehele quay to see the Tamar barge Shamrock before overnighting up at Calstock. Early Wednesday morning - I may motor up to Morwellham Quay before returning down river, hopefully to overnight in the St John's Lake area.

Thursday is a bit open at the moment, depending on whether number one son wishes to join me for a sail to Cawsand; at which point he may stroll around to Barn Pool where I will be waiting on the beach to collect him.

The galley box, built over the winter, will be put to use as will the tarp tent. The weather forecast is for four days of sunny weather with temps around 20C, plenty of sunshine and winds from the E, ESE and S (around 8 - 10 kts each day, with gusts between 10 - 17 kts).

I'm hoping to visit various small boatyards along the way and I will be towing my wee lassie clinker canoe 'Angharad' for the very first time - nothing like a baptism of fire. If any one has any tips for canoe towing, I'm all ears - advice and tips welcome.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Lettuce troughs and transom steps

Torn loyalties this morning, but in the end everything got done.

Her indoors had been patiently waiting for her lettuce troughs and so this morning I finally cut the uprights and loosely assembled the components. A quick test fitting out back along the decking walkway and then they were disassembled for painting.

She is off to choose an appropriately bright colour and after several coats, they should be ready for final assembly and planting out the week after next.

Having sorted that, it was time to cancel the scooter insurance, having recently sold 'Stacey' our old 1960's motovespa 125 super. those who have followed the blog will know it was a 'father/son' restoration project. Anyway the company shall remain nameless but it is rare I am rendered speechless. with 7mths left to run on the insurance they charged me a £50 cancellation fee, refunded £6 and then offered me a £25 discount voucher should I take out insurance with them again; 'and could we add you to our database to receive offers about our products?'
You really couldn't write it could you.................unbelievable...................... .

To calm down I mended the transom step. On my last day sail to cellars beach, I had stepped onto it to get back into the boat and a screw came out and the step went sideways and buckled slightly.

Step straightened out, holes drilled and new holes drilled, the step has been replaced. I felt calmer afterwards and now sit here planning future voyages at the kitchen table.

It has been a busy morning!

Monday, 18 June 2018

Here is the last in the series on the slow passage to the river Yealm and back again. Over the next month or so I hope to do a couple of longer trips involving a few days. Several destinations have popped up – sailing down to Fowey and up to Lostwithiel; sailing over to Salcombe and up to Kingsbridge and one or two other creek heads; heading back down to Falmouth and sailing around to the Helford river and up to Gweek etc. Also pulling my interest is sailing up the Tamar above Calstock, up to Morwellham or beyond. And then there are one or two Dinghy Cruising Association rallies as well. 

In the meantime………………………
What did I learn on my slow passage to the river Yealm and back again?
1.       Look before you leap off the boat and remember it is always deeper than it looks!
2.       Have some time calculations for each leg of your passage plan that go at a knot or two below what you anticipate!
3.       Don’t religiously follow the planned route – sail for speed not shortest distance and when necessary, divert to get the best speed and winds
4.       Spend a little more time using the anchor buddy to get more familiar with it and the distance you need to drop it off the beach for it to work effectively
5.       Make sure you switch off your microphone when you don’t need it
6.       Make sure you switch your microphone on when talking to camera!!
7.       Don’t accidently put your drink bottle in with your electronics bag!
8.       Mark your position on the chart when doing your passage plan timing checks – hove to if necessary for a few minutes
9.       Clip your anchor back into its securely stowed position before sailing off after your beach stop
10.   Spend some of the trip changing course using just sails

What other things do I need to do on Arwen before her next voyage further afield?

1.       Put in reefing lines before longer voyage
2.       Repair the brass step on the transom which broke free
3.       Consider installing taped jackstays (with shackles stitched in at each end) for longer voyages so I can clip myself to them for easy movement around boat
4.       Put locks on the two centre thwart lockers
5.       Alter the tiller tamer – I have the rope going through the eye in the wrong direction and it occasionally binds
6.       Get an outboard lock, for the longer trips away
7.       Paint a ding on the starboard side which has gone to bare wood
8.       Sort out mizzen topping lift
9.       Get star washers and refit the port rear trailer roller which has come loose
10.   Give some consideration to whether I also get a PLB – I have the SPOT messenger which sends regular texts to various family members saying I am Ok and also allows them to track where I am. Whilst it also has an SOS button which alerts the rescue centre in USA (and gives them direction instructions to contact Falmouth Coastguard with my co-ordinates – since pressing that button means I am in deep trouble), I wonder whether I should carry one of the other PLB types which immediately alerts UK rescue authorities – something to ponder over further.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Dinghy cruising in a Welsford 'navigator': The slow passage to the river yealm and back again - trying to reach Duke Rock Buoy and the eastern end of the breakwater

Part three: trying to reach the Duke Rock Buoy at the eastern end of the breakwater. I do need to brush up my light wind sailing skills!

The final instalment of the series covers the journey from the breakwater to the yealm and back again

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

dinghy cruising in a welsford 'navigator': The slow passage to the river Yealm and back again Part two

Passage planning..............

Has the RYA Day Skipper theory course made any difference to Arwen's skipper's sailing skills?

Part three due out some time next week - in which Arwen and her skipper battle light winds. Will they ever reach the River Yealm? Did Arwen's skipper's passage planning skills work out?  Did attending the RYA Day Skipper theory course make any difference to him at all? Is Arwen resigned to a life of  inadequate sailing due to her Skipper's incompetency......look out for next week's episode............

Sunday, 3 June 2018

The slow passage to the river Yealm and back again: a pre-departure tour of Arwen's interior

NOTE: A few people have asked me to do a brief vlog about Arwen's standing rigging and deck fixtures and fittings. This video will appear later this year. In the meantime, this is the first of a series of videos about a recent day trip to the river Yealm and back. This first video looks at the untidy organisation that is Arwen's interior during a day sail! 

'The slow passage to the river Yealm and back again': An Introduction

I always pride myself on providing people with good entertainment value, after all I'm a clown!
And so it was when I approached cellars Beach at the mouth to the river Yealm on Thursday, I lived up to that 'reputation'.

This was a voyage that I had meticulously planned the night before with a detailed passage plan, putting into use the knowledge I had gained during my recently completed RYA Day Skippers course. It is scary how quickly you forget the basics, but more of that later.

The beach wasn't particularly crowded, a couple of small ribs pulled up the beach with families scattered along the beach having picnics or exploring the small expanse of rocks each side for crabs etc. Four large 30' yachts rode their anchors some 40m offshore just out of the small approach channel which wound sinuously back on itself behind the notorious Yealm bar before curving eastwards once more in to the deep valley entrance to the inner river harbour.

Feeling slightly stressed from a voyage that had taken way too long and in which my miserable passage planning skills came to light, I approached with caution, my plan approach under motor, to then switch to paddle for the last few metres. Picnic anchor with stretchy anchor buddy attached, ready flaked on the port side deck, I would drop anchor about 10m off shore, paddle in, jump off the boat in 30cm or so of water and with the rear stern mooring warp, hold Arwen against the pull of the anchor buddy; lifting out my drone bag and lunch, i'd slowly release the stern mooring line and Arwen would obediently pull out to the deeper water, I'd stroll ashore and tie off the stern rope on a suitable rock.

It came as a hell of a shock when I jumped off the deck into what I thought was 30cm only to find myself up above my waist in a barely visible pool of water.

That damned eel grass doesn't half camouflage those holes dug by kids on beaches!
A truly 'Vicar of Dibley' moment!
And for readers who don't know that much loved British comedy clip, here it is!

Still can't watch that clip without laughing myself silly. Just like the rest of the nation, comedy gold!

Anyway, as to my passage plan? Well I made several basic mistakes, but that's where the best learning takes place. Firstly, whatever possessed me to do a plan based on an average speed of 4kts per hour? Bonkers given the wind speed and direction. Secondly, I forgot to check when the inshore waters forecast was issued; consequently, the wind seed I was expecting , wasn't what I got! Force 3 it definitely wasn't; becalmed and barely force 1 was what most of the morning was like!

End result, I was around an hour and a half behind my estimated times of arrival at each waypoint.
On the plus side, distance calculations, bearings, tidal stream calculations and course to steer calculations were all pretty accurate.

It did become clear to me, as it does every year, that having a passage plan and appropriate waypoints that can be verified by alternative means (charted marks; bearings to distance objects, transits etc) is one thing. The course you may have to tack is of course completely different.  In my plan, I tacked up the side of Jennycliffe Bay, from Dunston Buoy to the eastern end of the breakwater. With ESE winds, that should have put me on a close reach/close haul. But, Arwen tends to point 50 - 60 degrees off the wind for a close haul and in hindsight I would have been better going across the sound and out of the western end of the breakwater. I forgot an important rule 'sail for speed, not shortest course over ground'.

Ho hum, lesson learned, because what I expected to take an hour and a half around to the Yealm, ended up taking 3.5 hrs against a 0.5kt westerly tidal stream, which I had planned to avoid.

Interestingly enough though, the return journey with incoming tide, fair tidal stream and wind from astern, took only 45 mins. When you get all the elements works!

Monday, 28 May 2018

I am so fortunate.................

to live in such a stunning area. Welcome to the South Hams/South Devon coastline

Sunday, 27 May 2018

The Penlee picnic: part three

Here is the last of the vlog videos from last weeks day trip. I'm using new video editing software called 'Shotcut'. You may remember I lost my favourite moviemaker after my laptop crashed and we had to do a factory reset. I lost the touch screen capability s well (something that irritates me no end I might add).

Shotcut is open source software and so far I am very impressed. It is free as well and gets regular updates. It was recommended on a number of tech sites.  So far I haven't even dipped below the surface of what it can do but I am finally getting the basics and I have come to learn that it is basically a more advanced form of moviemaker, albeit in a different format. it is a steep learning curve particularly on sound editing but we are slowly, and I emphasise slowly, getting to grips with its complexities.

I got to test out on this trip the new arrangement on the top yard. In previous posts I have mused on what I have learnt (or failed to have learnt) about the standing lug rig.  I have put the two links to the articles below:

Essentially, I could never get the top yard to set correctly against the mast. This is because I used a rope loop which I tied onto the yard and when the yard lowered it seized on the mast halfway down.

This time, I did some research on Duckworks Magazine and other sites and tried out a new method. On the yard I lashed on a small stainless steel ring at the very fore end of the yard and another at what I calculated to be around 35% up the yard. This latter one is the estimated halyard tie on position. Now I take the main halyard which comes down from the main mast sheave and pass it through the upper ring, around the port side of the mast (the yard lies on the starboard side) and they tie it off on the lower ring with a bowline.

And hey presto it worked. No more flailing yard; no more knocking against the mast; no more tendency for it to suddenly switch mast sides after a tack; and yes, the lower part of the yard does just sit forward of the mast as it should. Hallelujah!

And yes, you might well ask why it took me so long to sort it out.
I have absolutely no idea!

I hope you enjoy this last video about the Penlee Picnic.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

starting to learn how to stitch

Got myself a handy 'speedy stitcher sewing awl' and have just started using it to create some straps to secure Arwen's galley box in position in front of the port side centre thwart.  Haven't quite mastered the stitching yet though!!

I also have some plans to make a bosun's ditty bag off the internet and some nice off-white cotton canvas that I found at a discount store when 'her-indoors' was shopping for material.  The ditty bag will be about 10" diameter, about 14" high and will have a 1/2" thick ply base. It will have a rope rim and I will be trying to do proper hand sewn grommets. On the outside will be some pockets for tools as well.  And there will be a spliced rope handle. Just thought I might give it a go. 

Now ! just have to get the hang of this stitcher tool!

In the meantime, I've managed to acquire a paddle of a suitable length that stores on the port side fore-deck, a small mooring hook pole and some stainless steel deck eyes that have been mounted to the side coamings to take a flexi plumbing pipe as a support for the tarp tent. 

Now if only the thunderstorms will pass quickly................................

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Monday, 21 May 2018

The first sail of the season

After all the internal refitting and painting (see previous posts over winter) we finally made it out onto the water this weekend just gone.

Below are some of the pictures. Videos to follow sometime this week.  The new top yard rigging modifications, in which I lashed on two stainless steel rings at halyard tie on point and at its forward end, and then ran the main halyard through the rear ring, around the opposite side of the mast and tied off with bowline at forward ring, well it worked a treat and kept the top yard in the exact correct position. this led to some better sail setting, helped by the spars having gone on an enforced diet over winter (I shaved off some wood on each to round them and make them the correct diameter).

The sun shone. We sailed around Plymouth Sound and anchored at Cawsand for lunch and some reading.

I was intending sailing today (Monday) but sadly I ended up in hospital A and E yesterday with mild concussion when I hit the top of my head upwards against a narrow concrete beam outside a beach shop. Several hours in A and E with CT and neck scans resulted. I don't remember much, other than feeling dizzy, sick and having blurred vision and the mother of all headaches. The Doc's tell me I have a two inch long wound and a pronounced 'V' shaped dent in the top of my skull which will hurt for several days. Someone kindly told my wife that my thick skull had saved me. She replied' I've been telling him for years he's thick headed'. 

In fairness, 'her indoors' has been unusually sympathetic. Apparently, she saw it happen, says it was extremely impressive and I was severely dazed afterwards. I, on the other hand don't remember much other than the hospital bit!

Ho Hum - it has put a delay on sailing for a few days

At anchor in Cawsand, enjoying the sunshine - my immediate neighbour 

in the lee of Penlee point 

On the left the village of Cawand; on the right the village of Kingsand

a lovely old trawler against the backdrop of the Mount Edgecumbe peninsula 


The old coastguard cottages high on the hill

Hoping I might drop a bit of marmite and cheese sandwich into the water

Friday, 18 May 2018

The sun is shining and the winds are good

I feel a day sailing trip coming on.....Arwen is packed and ready

it never quite turns out how it seems

well the deal was two new wheels and then a tenner to change them over - seemed a very good deal. The reality, two new wheels, two new bearing hubs and a shed load of labour charges and the bill actually went up 120%.

This year I am finding a trailer self maintenance course to go on.......ouch!