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".
It started with the discovery of 'Angharad' buried beneath garage detritus that my family insist on storing in my garage!! (Imagine I said that through gritted teeth!)
With her discovery, I shall try towing her behind Arwen when I next go sailing. It may be easier to anchor off the beach and then paddle onto it - quick stop at a pub or café and then paddle back.
Having never towed anything behind Arwen before, if you have any tips - now is the time to let me have them, please!
The other discoveries took place at the first evening of an art exhibition entitled 'Sea Moor - See More'. Three local ladies displaying artwork, one the most extraordinary ink line drawings; another the most exquisite textile embroideries which are then turned in to artwork prints; and finally I think oils and acrylic landscapes. All the works focused on our local coastline and beloved Dartmoor.
Two of the artists I know - Cheri, I used to teach with. Her line drawings are simply stunning. Her map of Antarctica, commissioned for the 2012 expedition commemorating the original Scott expedition is probably the most stunning map and artwork I have ever seen.
You can find out more about Cheri's work as an artist, a teacher, an art consultant and a gallery owner at her website www.wildwoodartsdartmoor.co.uk
I promise you won't be disappointed.
As for Jenny? Well I have had the privilege of knowing her since she was a child. Now she is studying textiles at university and has her own business. Her textile work is imaginative, exquisite, extraordinary and visually stunning. Tonight at the gallery, it was the talk of the exhibition. If I remember rightly, she has twice won national awards in Wales for her work.
You can find more about her work here at http://www.jennyevansdesigns.co.uk/about-2/
Her website is at http://www.jennyevansdesigns.co.uk/gallery/
Below is just one picture of her work, which I hope she doesn't mind me posting because I forgot to ask her earlier on at the gallery. She was so busy....and I didn't want to disturb her!
copyright to pictures and designs above and below - Jenny Evans Designs
If you are in the Kingsbridge area of South Devon, do pop along and see this wonderful art exhibition at 'The Harbour House', on the promenade. It is open each day from 10am until 5pm up to next Wednesday 16th August.
A spring clean - some thirty years overdue - very nice to do. Basement is now cleared and reorganised. Study has been cleared out and is now about to be refilled with what we want to keep - so decluttering all downstairs rooms - wonderful! the garage will be cleaned, decluttered and organised tomorrow and Thursday. And then I can start building a workbench on wheels in preparation for my building wannigans for Arwen.
I'm beginning to like this retirement malarkey thingy!
stages in the filling of a skip
The paint pots got removed and what could be taken to the local recycling centre was
We made over twenty trips to our recycling centre - filling the car each time
The basement finally organised after 30 years...with dust sheets ready to cover all the shelves. There are another 10 similar shelf stacks in the basement!
When you have reorganised, there are bound to be things left over - 50 crates and around 60 lifetime shopping bags - now where exactly do we store these?
It has felt like a very long time since I have sat down and
blogged. So much has been going on in recent weeks.
My end of term retirement didn’t quite go according to plan.
On the Tuesday in the final week, I felt it was unlikely that OFSTED would call
so at 8.00am I dumped all remaining teaching folders, assessment data folders
etc; I stripped the walls of displays ready for the new teacher.The school received the OFSTED ‘We are coming
tomorrow’ call at midday!
My retirement party for after school laid on by the
geography team got cancelled in favour of an OFSTED pre-visit briefing meeting.
So did the year 7 pastoral team ‘goodbye’ down the pub on Wednesday after
I got one visit…. rather funny really. When asked to present
any lesson plans, assessment data, data about who our SEN or pupil premium
students were I couldn’t. I had tried. Let’s face it being found dumpster
diving in a large school bin on wheels in the pouring rain on a Tuesday afternoon
around 5pm must have seemed especially funny; given the guy in the bin was in a
suit! I did trawl through the day’s detritus but to no avail; those folders
were deep, deep, deep at the bottom of that bin!
To be truthfully honest, I found the whole affair very
funny. And I am really glad they came. The inspector who visited me was human
and saw the funny side of the whole affair. She went off evidence of good
progress in all my students’ exercise books. I think the banner across the back
of the room made by my head of geography and his wife, God bless them, probably
hinted to her where I was….it read ‘happy retirement Steve’. It meant that all my wonderful colleagues didn’t
have to go in to their summer break worrying about coming back to an imminent
inspection. We won’t know the result until September but they won’t be coming
back for three years or so and the school has been making huge progress over
the last year or two.
The Friday of that week was sports day and that turned out
to be funny. We do sports day off the school site at a proper athletics track
over the other side of the city. Many coaches ferry over the students in
convoys and it’s a big event in the school calendar. The field is raised about
25m above another smaller field and car parking area below and a large, steep
grassy embankment separates the two. On this lower area, we were rather surprised
to find some police officers, an airport landing land rover with flashing
lights and some rather black official looking cars, one full of plain clothes
police officers. Cut a long story short, Royalty was visiting the city in the
form of Her Royal Highness Princess Anne. As the helicopter duly approached all
sports ceased and nearly a thousand students lined the grassy embankment peak
to wave her in. One of my colleagues snapped a photo of me and the helicopter
in hover mode behind me with the tag line ‘Princess Anne coming to thank Mr P
for all his years of service’………the rumour spread like wildfire, students
immediately reached for phones ready to tweet to the world……. we just managed
to stop an embarrassing moment for the school from spreading across the world.
Phew!!Well, we found it funny, I guess
you had to be there. Her highness waved at us all, the pilots came up with the
local police to see what was happening up top; we all waved her goodbye when
she left. We all got another royal wave. None of us were quite brave enough to
pop down and invite her up for a tea and a medal presentation or two…. maybe
HRH Princess Ann calling in to say 'thank you' to me on my retirement after 35 years teaching service to the nation.......or maybe not!!
The following week, activities week proved to be excellent.
Water sports with the Mountbatten water Sports centre at Plymouth is always
guaranteed to be a huge success. Sailing, gorge walking, canoeing, SUP’ing……….
the only incident I managed to break my very expensive waterproof SONY mobile
phone when leaning against a bulkhead to rescue a student about to slip off the
deck……. the phone was in my outer PFD pocket and the screen fractured badly
along with the touch screen – beyond repair. ‘Her indoors’ was not, I repeat,
NOT impressed. I was allowed a new phone but I have been severely, severely
demoted in the phone stakes. I think the new one is clockwork! I lost all my
navigation charts – they didn’t copy across – very annoying!
My first week of retirement was spent with family, one of
whom had to spend a few days in hospital but was eventually discharged and is
now recovering at home. It was good to catch up with family despite the
The second week was spent rescuing a collapsed fence outside
the back door. Our outside seating area seriously dilapidated, it needed a quick
make over. New fencing, some shuffling around of garden furniture and hey
presto – our eating area is back. Sad, it is mainly showers during our summer
Before, with ivy stripped back - the crumbling fence and collapsing concrete old fence from the 1960's
The 'cleared' back run along the house rear
the refurbished seating area
And now here we are – week three of retirement. The garage
is ready to be emptied into a skip; the upstairs bedroom, a study full of
shelves and folders and books for the last 27 years is now empty, ready for
skipping. All that could be recycled has been done so. The basement, untouched
for 27 years has been emptied, huge piles waiting to be skipped. My canoe
build, ‘Angharad’ has been found against under a mountain of old cushions and
Over the next three days we will skip everything, and I do
mean ‘everything’ that hasn’t been touched or used in the last five years. The kids
have been dragged back from university and their job to go through their
There are another 'sixteen piles' like this one...and the skip arrived as I am typing this blog update...and we don't think it will be big enough...oops!!
Come the wet months in November, each room will be redecorated.
New carpets in some rooms. We haven’t decorated for over a decade! New start,
new beginnings, next phase of our lives beginning anew. Looking forward to it. Planning
trips to China, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and West Coast USA….
not all at once I hasten to add!
Oh, and I have ‘booked’ four days cruising in late August in
Arwen. Very big spring tides, early morning high tides, perfect for beaching
overnight. Just haven’t decided where to go……. along the coast…. Fowey up to
Lostwithiel? Or Salcombe and over to Dartmouth and up to Totnes? Or maybe up
the Tamar to St German’s and then up beyond Calstock? Three days sailing and
overnight on board….so needed!!!
Well I taught my last lesson on Thursday.
And OFSTED arrived for those last two days as well so both my retirement do's got cancelled.
Well it was inevitable! I was responsible for cursing the school and thus us getting the phone call mid morning Tuesday. I relaxed and threw away all my assessment folders, assessment data intervention plans, last of the teaching folders and my mark books 8.15am that morning in the school's dumpster bins!
It was bound to tempt fate too much! Ce sera sera.
I worked an average 55 hr week for 34 years - some 73,000 hours. 20,000 hours were unpaid overtime - it comes with the territory. It was a privilege and immense honour to work across such great schools and with so many fantastic students and teachers.
And now there is one week left doing sailing, SUP, kayaking and gorge walking activities at our local water sports centre with a great group of teenagers. Thursday is my last day and then it is over. I have no plans other than to sail a bit, redecorate the house and clear garages and basements; then whatever 'her-indoors' has on her list!!!!! So that will be 2017 over!
I will be building some wannigan bins for Arwen's front cockpit; plus a galley box for stove and utensils; and a provisions box for....well food provisions and water. Watch this space for further details. Hope to be out on the water in Arwen next week with a few days camp aboard
New toy - possible retirement present. For travel voggling.....well that's what I tell myself.
A portable 'selfie' drone. Never flown a drone before - this should be very funny!!
First impressions - angry looking cyloptic wasp!
Packaging - so irritating - the wastage - must be better ways?
Portable - will fit in backpack. Can be carried on in 'carry on - hand luggage' on plane (I checked!!)
Don't go a bundle on colour but it is pretty rigid and will do the 'protecting' job
Well designed - drone will fit snuggly and be well protected. Space for little screw driver but not spare battery. I carry this kind of battery in a fire proof bag anyway so it isn't a problem
Came with two batteries but getting spares is proving to be a nightmare. Despite all their literature promising excellent service with service centres across the globe, plus all their support videos 'Just get in touch with us' - it took ten emails and harassing them on Facebook before I got a reply to be told they won't do spares for the mini drone - despite all their literature hinting otherwise. frankly, very poor form and manipulative....a pity it has had such excellent reviews but clearly all the reviewers never look at issues like obtaining spares. Lesson learned!! And their XIRO customer service thus far has been, to say the least, poor!
Another minor irritation is that the battery takes an hour to charge, which is pretty good, for a drone of this type; the 12 minutes flight time is pretty good as well but the irritation is the fact that it has to be a wall charger and there doesn't seem to be any provision for in car charging, or charging from a laptop or a mobile/tablet battery pack like my solar power monkey expedition. Hmm! Who are these designers - have they no understanding of peoples' needs? How hard is it to provide a battery that can be charged in multiple ways?
Well - maybe. All the reviews and YouTube video reviews were pretty positive and all we want is to be able to do some aerial shots and selfie shots and some closing in and flying away scenery shots......so watch this space.
in the meantime if anyone knows where they sell spare blades and batteries - please, please let me know!
Get your act together - start sourcing spares for the mini again!
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!
subscribe at www.youtube.com/c/plymouthwelshboy
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
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