Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my dinghy cruising blog about my John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. Built over three years, Arwen was launched in August 2007. She is a standing lug yawl 14' 6" in length. This blog records our dinghy cruising voyages together around the coastal waters of SW England.
Arwen has an associated YouTube channel so visit to find our most recent cruises and click subscribe.
On this blog you will find posts about dinghy cruising locations, accounts of our voyages, maintenance tips and 'How to's' ranging from rigging standing lug sails and building galley boxes to using 'anchor buddies' and creating 'pilotage notes'. I hope you find something that inspires you to get out on the water in your boat. Drop us a comment and happy sailing.
Steve and Arwen

Monday 31 January 2011

.......and there's more thinking about the summer............

Planks......they’ve been bothering me. Sleeping planks that is. I need to consider where to put sleeping planks in Arwen and what to make them out of. Either I put them a cross across the aft cockpit or across the area either side of the centreboard between central thwart and the thwart under the deck going for’ard. What I do know is that my dad will never sleep comfortably on the side benches......and well that makes me feel guilty because I want him to have a really good time when he comes cruising with me! So I'm going to have to resolve that issue - make some sleeping planks.

So where will I store them when sailing?

What will these planks look like?

What do I make them out of?

How will I attach them to the thwarts?

So many questions!


1. Solid wood say 6 or 9mm ply with strengthening cross pieces below made of 2” x 1” or do I go for some sort of slats affair? Rather like Paul Hernes – see later

2. Mounted flush with the thwarts or going over the top of the thwarts? If I go flush – then I need to put some cross support piece across the sides of each thwart. Then I’d need to put some form of tongue on the boards themselves so that they slotted below the lip of the thwarts but rested on top of the side support strips. If I go over the top - the planks will need to rest about 5cm over the thwart which will form a ridge but that won't matter if we are sleeping on inflatable mattresses.

3. Solid pieces or flexible pieces? – solid one piece will make storage difficult – but putting them in two pieces joined by some flexible material along their length will allow me to fold them in half and that will make storage much easier – along the front of the centre case or even under the side decks

4. Painted or just sealed with burgess hydrosol? Well they aren’t going to be seen that often and will mainly be covered – so maybe just sealed?

But hang on – what if they are put across the front cockpit area – they could be left up permanently – so maybe I do want to paint them white non skid; but then if I leave them up permanently – it reduces the freeboard in this area and when going forward to the mast or front of boom – I’m bound to fall in!

If I put them in the front section – forward of the centre thwart area...then I run into another problem. The little sides which run along the length of the centre case to the front thwart actually curve upwards – so that will be tricky!

Of course, front well would be better because it has a higher coaming and you could just get your feet under the deck. It would be warmer and more out of the breeze than the aft well.

If I made them for the aft well – they could stay in place permanently and I could stretch out whilst sailing – um....not so sure about that – I quite like being able to put my feet in the well or stretch them across to the opposite thwart.

Paul Herne built a Phoenix boat – see this website -   and he designed a simple set of sliding thwarts – very clever...but what I found interesting was the way he fitted them to the thwart sides. It’s rather akin to what I was thinking about as shown in the photograph below.

Paul Hernes sliding slats which are really thwarts - but they slide across to the centre

Mike Moines on Laguna Dos (go to Duckworks for more details) made a set of slatted boards from air dried cypress which he rounded over with a router. He then screwed 3/4 inch by one inch runners to the bottom of each slat with stainless steel screws. He used them both as floor boards in his cockpit and as sleeping slats just by raising them. They also rested on side support cleats – clever idea – the dual purpose boards!

On a different note – while perusing Duckworks I found out more about John’s tent on his navigator.

It’s very roomy and is rather like Richard’s tent on Bootstrap. John’s tent has standing room at the forward end. He uses four lengths of sail batten 15mm wide which is very flexible. He gave the measurements as

• Set one attached to horn cleats on the decks either side about 120mm forward of the transom. 2300mm long;

• another set 2800mm long and attached to the rowlocks (1200mm forward of his transom);

• the next set were 3100mm long and attached to the jib cleats 2000mm forward of the transom;

• And the last batten was 3000mm and attached to the jib fairleads 2800mm forward of the transom.
The covering is rip stop nylon - length is 2650 mm. Battens fit into sewn in pockets which run across the fly parallel to the transom – although they are not full length – which means he can roll up the sides. Two doors with insect netting in each and then bungee cord runs around the bottom of the ten which hooks onto upside down fender hooks at points around the outer gunwale.

I quite like this design – I think I could make one or two personal preference alternations – I’d quite like some plastic window panels; and a side Velcro door flap as well – but it just complicates a simple and well tested design doesn’t it. John explains his design more fully at

Richard has done something similar on Bootstrap.

Richard's tent on Bootstrap

I think its between a design like this and something akin to Steve Earley's approach  - have a read of his blog
Scroll down to his post about his tarp tent. in the meantime - I wonder where I can get some rip stop waterproof material from?
Well lots to think about over the next few weeks.


Sunday 30 January 2011

...managed to get one gunwale finished......

Some nice winter sunshine today....cloudless skies as a high from North west sits over UK; freezing mind! But, no wind means no dust.......and so I romped home finishing off the scraping along the outer gunwale and cutting out some of the rotten bits.

upper rail after scraping and before sanding compared to bottom rail - epoxied and varnished
Don't look at my poor wood working skills especially cutting and fitting plugs
remember, when I started building Arwen - I knew absolutely nothing about woodwork - shows doesn't it!!

After scraping back, a sanding job was needed and this was slightly awkward. I don't know what possessed me to do it but when I originally fitted the outer gunwales - I shaped them slightly with a router.........which then makes them bloody awkward to sand at a later date...serves me right. KISS - keep it simple stupid - should be branded on my forehead! Anyway, I did my best and then it was time to stain with the Burgess hydrosol wood sealer. It sort of has a teaky colour to it - just soaks in and dries rapidly. It does alter the wood colour slightly but no so much as to annoy me. 

sanded back and sealed with Hydrosol but you can see some pitting in the wood where the scrapper got carried away and the sander didn't do enough sanding to remove (in both cases that would be me!)

The colour is different to the rub rail below so now I have to decide whether to scrape back the rub rails or varnish the upper outer gunwale. The gunwales take quite a hammering despite the use of fenders and I have taken chunks out of them in places (better them than the hull planks is what I say) varnishing seems pointless in one can I live with varnished rub rails and matt gunwales.......only time will tell!

Well, there is now one more to do which hopefully I can get done next weekend; I'll also take the opportunity to paint over some of the chips that have happened - bare aluminum paint primer is showing through in odd places.

On a different note, my birthday is coming up in March and I'm thinking off odd things, when asked for pressie ideas (how it works in our household is you can ask for one or two things but then get a host of surprises as well)......I've been thinking about my VHF radio - I have it in a waterproof radio aquapac around my shoulder/back and I try to secure it somewhere up near top front chest so that I can hear and speak into it......but it keeps rotating down during the day to my waist which really irritates me. anyway someone suggested fitting in a smaller aquapac bag and then in a chest pocket and running an external mic with PPT and Vox which would clip into my ear and also to my collar. I'm told, but haven't confirmed myself, that it is easy to operate and hear especially if single handed, less cumbersome and works just as effectively. A quick email to Midland who make the radio and hey presto they suggest this one.......

distributed by ALAN in the UK on behalf of Midland communications..and priced at £17

...which can be seen for further details at
I haven't quite decided yet - I'll talk to some people I know and see what they think; also I need to find out what happens if I go for an unscheduled it waterproof?


Saturday 29 January 2011

...a bits and pieces day......

....a bits and pieces day really. I started by scrapping off the epoxy and varnish on the port gunwale to get at the rotting bits. ended up scrapping most of it but it takes time and over a three hour period I got half away along Arwen. The wood underneath is better than I was expecting. I'll finish scrapping it tomorrow and all being well will get some Burgess woodsealer on it. you can apply it on dry or wet wood; you put on several coats and it takes about 15 - 20 minutes to dry. It's had some good reviews. I can either leave it matt finish or top it over with Burgess clear gloss coat stuff to get the shine - I'll decide tomorrow. Brushes can be washed out in clean water which I like.  I'll mask tape off parts of the side deck so it doesn't stain Arwen's white decks although they are so dirty under the tarpaulin - nobody would notice at the moment.

I also discovered that the Admiralty tough charts have been discontinued...and I am gutted. they were perfect for an open dinghy and the ones I have for Plymouth and the rivers - have been well used. because they had a protected coating - you could leave them on the thwart; they'd get splashed - but you could wipe it off; you could mark them with chinagraph pencil which would rub off.............I'm gutted! I wanted the A3 booklet of charts for ports Plymouth to I could start planning my summer trips....but not to be. I gather they were too expensive to print as Admiralty had to go to external printers and they didn't prove as popular as first anticipated.  Personally I'd have thought they were ideal for larger offshore ribs etc.

However, I did manage to come away with the next best thing although I will need to get them protected somehow.....the Admiralty Leisure chart folio...SC 5602 The West Country edition  Falmouth to Teignmouth. Now I didn't know about these but I sort of hit the jackpot because it includes the charts for all of my cruising coast including Fowey up to Lostwithiel; the Dart up to Totnes (there is another summer trip me feels); Polperro, another set of Plymouth and all rivers up to Calstock (useful to have a spare set) A2 size. this means I can start thinking about a trip down to Fowey in more detail. (although I still need to do loads of things before then.......see the 25th January 2011 post for details).

The Leisure chart folio: Admiralty Charts

They show plenty enough detail for my needs...this is Polperro (my first overnight camp of the summer all being well)

Also spent some of the afternoon brushing up or remembering basic navigation stuff. Nothing major - some basic revision really:
  • reading latitude and longitude accurately on a chart
  • plotting by range and bearing
  • learning how to draw a spider's web compass rose (and how to use it)
  • how to get a cocked hat position and the six rules to remember for getting one ...which are....
  • getting three positively identifiable landmarks
  • which are well spread around the horizon
  • and closer rather than further away
  • taking bearings which are changing slowest first; then take the bearings which are changing more quickly
  • taking bearing of nearest objects as quickly as possible
  • taking bearings of distant objects as accurately as possible
I also quickly reminded my self about passage planning. I have a form I fill in each time which helps me remember things...but I also compiled a checklist. It sort of breaks down into some fundamental questions which I got somewhere from an RYA publication - but I can't remember which........
  • what am I hoping to achieve?
  • what are my limitations?
  • what hazards might I encounter?
  • what is available to help?
  • what route will I take?
I need to consider
  • weather forecast
  • tidal predictions
  • limitations of boat and crew
  • navigational dangers
  • a contingency plan(s)
The one I did most thinking about this afternoon was the route. I need to get myself sorted using my GPS - its amazing how you forget something quickly if you don't use it frequently. I read some tips somewhere for when planning route - which I had scribbled on a piece of paper which I dug out.........
...the do's.......include
  • making sure straight line tracks between waypoints don't go too close to hazards
  • using landmarks as aiming points rather than by steering by compass - not a problem in Arwen since I don't have a compass in her at present and reply on my hand held one, a chart and an OS map
  • putting any waypoints in positions where they can be checked by eye (yeah got to look at this more closely given I programmed all waypoints in wrong last August!!!)
  • plot ranges and bearing accurately between waypoints and check them once plotted in the GPS
the don'ts............
  • go too close to hazards....dur!
  • re use old waypoints - re-enter them each time
  • plot just one waypoint way off shore to get around a headland - plot three or four closer in (but in the case of Rame head - remember those fearsome tidal races!)

this is the Whitsand Bay stretch...I'll need to round Rame Head and go west.....
a fair way off shore as Polperro is almost a straight line across from the Rame Head tip

It's common sense really but last year I spent a whole day just getting the route plotted, the passage plan written and walked through in my mind several was worth it........I'm sort of cautious in this way!


Friday 28 January 2011

...thinking of summer dinghy camping.....I'll need a better tent!

I’ve been thinking of putting a tent on Arwen but I can’t afford to get one purpose built so I’m going to have to improvise. There are two main options – build my own or buy a cheap tent. Frankly I just don’t have the time or a suitable sewing machine so the former option is really a non starter. So it looks like the hunt is on for a cheap commercially produced tent but exactly what are my requirements? Well in no particular order but important to me are:

• speed of setting up - although I arrived in Salcombe last august reasonably refreshed – that won’t always be the case!

• Weatherproofing – it has to have a hydrostatic pressure of at least 1500mm minimum and certainly stand up to breezes equivalent to those I’d experience on land. I don’t want some flexi pole tent folding on me whilst cooking below! The ridge tarpaulin effect I had last summer sufficed because it was summer and dry and calm on the night I camped on board. Slinging a tarp over a rope slung between the main and mizzen masts was fine. I was able to tension the tarp by tying it off at corners and centre points to bits of Arwen. If a breeze had got up with some nasty rain squalls it would have been a very uncomfortable night!

• Weight isn’t such a critical factor as it would be on land; saying that, if it’s so heavy Arwen sinks a further 12” into the sea – that seems pointless (although the extra ballast might be useful when single handing).

• I don’t want something which will get too much condensation on it during night so I get an internal tent shower in the morning.

• I want a removable ground sheet too so that the tent will extend over the side decks. (If I did this – condensation would run down the tent insides over the side decks and out of the boat). This is a tall order. I think I’m looking for a fly sheet type arrangement under which I sleep in a sleeping bag inside my gortex bivvy bag.

• A light coloured fly sheet so that inside isn’t gloomy. If I anchor during the day in poor weather – I want as much natural light diffusing through as possible. A hanging fabric strap to hold my battery lantern would be good.

• An entrance each end with some extra porch space at one end in which can go a porta loo (for extended camping voyages). The double entrance will be useful if tied along a pontoon – so I can access dock lines easily; or put out bow and stern anchors. I’d also like to be able to perhaps concertina part of the tent over the cockpit so that I can sit out in the sun but have one part of the tent protecting me from the wind...especially if the mizzen is helping point me into the wind.

• Height – something high enough so that I can sit comfortably leaning back against the coaming sides but which won’t be so high as to cause extra windage problems or interfere with the boom above.

Things I will need to think through as well include

• Attaching the tent – where will I anchor the front and rear sections? Can I attach one end to the rear deck by the mizzen? How will the bow end be anchored?

• My boom position will have to be checked – how far up can I raise it on the topping lift/lazy jacks system I’ve installed? Will the tent apex clear underneath it? The aft end can be raised quite a way but what about the for’ard end? If it doesn’t go high enough it means I’ll need to consider a sloping roof tent – higher at aft end and sloped down to very low at bow end which will feel somewhat claustrophobic I think.

• How do I attach the side panels of the tent to Arwen? I could attach the tent over the front of the side coamings and attach them to hooks – but I’m worried I’d snag myself frequently as I clamber over the raised coaming. Perhaps hooks are better placed under the outer gunwale. This would keep side decks inside the tent side and they could form extra storage places on a temporary basis if the tent pulls tight over the side of the gunwales. Hooks is one obvious fitting method. However I could have an elastic waistline around the tent bottom and just pull that tight so it fits like a skirt around the outer hull or the outer side of the coaming – but how secure would that be? Alternatively, the hem could fit under the lower rubbing strake; another possibility is that I could tie a cord around the hull of Arwen and then elastic hook straps from the tent would fit over this rope at regular points. I read somewhere of someone even sticking Velcro to a hull and then the opposite Velcro strip on the tent hem sealed to it.

• How easy will it be to get up the tent? Putting in hoop tent poles – requires plenty of flat space on land – which isn’t available on Arwen.

• Fenders and how they hang from the sides is also another issue. There is potential for them rubbing under the tent material. I carry a huge 3’ fender which I occasionally hang over the side and I’m able to secure stern and bow lines with just this fender between boat and pontoon. I’d have to look very carefully where to tie off this fender so it wouldn’t interfere with the tent.

Um – this tent thinking lark makes my brain hurt. I’m going to have to look carefully at this. In the meantime here are some boat tents I have been looking at..............

A tent on a drascombe coaster: copyright Bill Sargent

at a recent Beale Park boat show: copy right Wilfred W

Hau Tai navigator - copyright Navman

on a storm 17 I think Copyright Swallow Boats

A cheap gelert tent on Richard Dykes boat: Copyright Richard Dyke

On another Swallow Boat : copyright Swallow Boats

At least they are giving me plenty of ideas


Wednesday 26 January 2011

still dreaming about sailing to Fowey and up river to Lostwithiel.......

This is the homepage of a gaff rigged sloop picarooner called CRINKER CP55...and I’d forgotten that it sails out of Polperro and has made some lovely voyages around our coastline – including a very nice trip out and around the Eddystone light house. The site is definitely worth a visit. The site owner also has a few YouTube clips which I suspect are well worth watching if you want to find out more about sailing a small boat along this stretch of south west coastline.
The reason I mention this site is because I’m interested in sailing Plymouth to Polperro in summer 2011 and I suddenly remembered CRINKER had done it from Polperro to the River Yealm a couple of years ago.

One of CRINKER's videos is here:

Now I can’t quite remember how long a picarooner is – 17 or 18’ I think but I could be wrong. It’s a hull design that is over 100 years old – designed for fishing that rocky Cornish coast! CRINKER's owner suggests that the original rig was a lug sail – which would figure I guess – very popular for its simplicity and ease of use by many a fisherman around our coast.

A picarooner called 'Grace' I think - copyright:

The name Picarooner means sea robber and CRINKER's website says she has a shallow draft so that she could land her fish before the larger fishing boats did. CRINKER is fitted with a galvanised steel centreplate which can be raised on entering shallow water or when sailing downwind. Thus she has a draft of 12 inches. Not for the first time have I thought about fitting a galvanised steel plate to Arwen – it would certainly give her some ballast and stop those wretched sandbags flopping around. The website goes on to say

Although CRINKER was built in Cornwall around 2001 in more modern materials, she still retains her classic lines with timber mast and spars made from solid Columbian Pine, hardwood gunwales, thwart and trim. She carries a small outboard motor that fits into a well in her stern. She also rows well.”

Now peruse CRINKER's log book and you’ll see that CRINKER has done some good old voyages along our coast. It’s really useful to look at records like this because it gives me some important insights. For example

• You need a good north westerly blowing – that way you are on a broad reach along most of the coastline

• Rame Head can get some nasty little eddies and sometimes a steep race and this can lead to some rough water a little further out to sea - CRINKER apparently, was able to creep inside this by going closer to the coastline – a good tip that is

• CRINKER's route pretty much goes straight across from Rame head to Looe island – a fair way offshore

CRINKER has also done another of the trips I am planning which is sailing up the Fowey River to Lostwithiel. Again, a read of the log provides some useful information:

• Need a good high spring tide to ensure there is enough water all the way up river

• Need to let the tide get ahead of you a little as you sail upriver

• Be prepared to motor up some of it early on if there is insufficient wind at start or else you won’t complete it there and back

• Remember the navigable channel above Golant is very narrow even though the river actually looks very wide at that point

• Keep to the centre of the upper channel so you can avoid overhanging trees – sounds interesting!

• Much of Lostwithiel port has silted up – so check charts and Google earth carefully

• Keep the centreboard partly down so you can feel for the bottom – especially if motoring – that way you don’t lose a prop shear pin in middle of a flowing river (won’t be the first time that’s happened to me – Salcombe mudflats right outside the harbour office – ebbing tide – please do not ask – still embarrassed about that). Another good reason for being just behind the tide flowing in so that more water will come underneath to lift you off I guess

• Set off before it ebbs – common sense advice but...........yep – fallen foul of that one in Salcombe too (again don’t ask!)

• Think about time of day – need to be way back down the river before night fall

CRINKER's owner describes the trip as one of the most scenic boating outings you can have – that’s some endorsement! From open ocean into sheltered Fowey harbour, passing Polruan and Fowey; up past the china clay loading docks and the small village of Golant before entering a landscape of grassy marshes and winding river channel. You can find out more on Golant here at

Restromel castle:medieval and worth a visit

[now here is a website that will help you get another flavour of Golant -  Now I actually know the person who came up with Barnaby Bear – she’s a lovely lady and Barnaby Bear has been responsible for teaching thousands of infant age children some good geography – so don’t knock the site – I used to help infant teachers design curriculum materials around the adventures of this bear....he even flew on a flight with me to the Gambia and managed to single-handedly convince four air stewardesses to persuade the captain to let me and Barnaby onto the flight deck – in the days before terrorism made this an impossibility. Barnaby and I agreed that they were four very savvy, intelligent and cute women]

Anyway a coastal creek crawl up to Lostwithiel does sound fun and idyllic doesn’t it. My dad would definitely like this trip – especially if we can fit a few bevvies in back at Polruan before closing up on board for the night.

getting Arwen under that bridge could prove a problem !!

I haven’t done much creek crawling in Arwen yet......I’m beginning to feel that 2011 will be the year of the creek crawling voyages!

Isn’t it fun planning out where you will be sailing when the weather improves! And my deep thanks to all those people who keep blogs like CRINKER's...................when you are new to sailing - you need all the help old seahands can give you. Thank you CRINKER! I hope to one day see you in person somewhere offshore on a bright sunny day with nice sea breezes when the porpoise are chasing both our boats! In the meantime - good sailing CRINKER!


Joshua Slocum..........part 2

I’m still reading ‘around the world alone’ by Joshua Slocum. It is a good read but my eyes can’t cope in the poor light in the evenings even with the bed light on fullish (nor can my poor wife either!).

His voyages were amazing and there is a huge amount to glean from them – distances travelled; places visited; customs at the time; the whole process of maritime navigation in the late 1800’s; the role of empire and HM Navy; the bureaucracy of governing an empire; the protocols on entering and exiting ports; his impressions of different peoples he met; the old fashioned courtesies of the day. The list is endless and I may well come back at times and make comment on one or two aspects of the above without giving away the plot and main story lines – for it s a great read and I don’t wish to spoil it for others.

However, here are small snippets from the last couple of chapters I have been reading.....enjoy and marvel at how one man managed to sail this sloop singlehandedly!

“26th May 1897. Gloucester Island was close aboard and ‘Spray’ anchored in the evening at Port Denison, where rests on a hill, the sweet little town of Bowen, the future watering place and health resort of Queensland”

“The harbour was of easy approach, spacious and safe, and afforded excellent holding ground”

From Port Denison, Slocum ran ‘Spray ‘ before the constant trade winds non-stop up the coast to Cooktown, which lay on the Endeavour River, where she arrived Monday May 31st 1897. It took him five days.

“I’d been charged to navigate this route with extra care and to feel my way over the ground. A skilled Royal Navy officer who advised me to take the Barrier Reef passage wrote me that HMS Orlando steamed nights as well as days through it, but that I, under sail, would jeopardise my vessel on coral reefs if I undertook to do so”

So, using the very best of admiralty charts, Slocum used the fair winds and sailed through the Barrier Reef channel both day and night........”In all sincerity, it was clearer than a highway in a busy city and by all odds less dangerous”

all those coral reefs to avoid......

Cooktown on the banks of the Endeavour River.......

He set sail again from Cooktown on June 6th 1897, heading away north as before. On the 7th he arrived at ‘a very inviting anchorage abreast the Claremont light ship’. On the 8th he departed again and kept sailing through the night passing the M lightship on the way but bouncing off a coral reef which fortunately did neither him or Spray any damage. Aiming for Cape Greenville, “the natives are notoriously bad and I was advised to give them the go-by”. [I’d just like to point out I am quoting Capt’n Joshua Slocum who passed Cape Greenville in 1897 and in no way am I casting any aspersions on the good people who live at Cape Greenville now – so if you hail from this place and are reading this blog post – I am sure you are all wonderful.....please don’t shout at me!]

the coastline on the way to Cape Greenville..........oh yes - plenty of reefs and islands on this passage

Skipping along as Joshua puts it, he passed Home Island soon after midnight and squared away on a westerly course making for Sunday Island, then arriving at Bird Island on Wednesday 9th June 1897, where he came close to land, anchoring at 7.30pm in the company of a pearl fishing boat named the ‘Tarawa’. He stayed here for several days visiting out stations before making for Thursday Island and the Torres Strait which he arrived at shortly after noon on Thursday 24th June. [Which is at the tip of Queensland – wow!]

Home island

Thursday island right at the very tip of Queensland, Australia

Now here he stayed for two days because it was the Queen’s (Victoria) diamond jubilee. He met people on the island and they had a party celebration which I share with you here in Joshua’s own words

“Meanwhile I spent pleasant days about the island. Mr Douglas, resident magistrate, invited me on a cruise in his steamer one day amongst the islands in Torres Strait. This being a scientific expedition in charge of Professor Mason Bailey, botanist, we rambled over Friday and Saturday islands, where I got a glimpse of botany. Miss Bailey, the professor’s daughter, accompanied the expedition, and told me of many indigenous plants with long names.”

It truly was a time of extraordinary exploration and learning wasn’t it; and actually for some women, an opportunity as well that would not be afforded them in society back in London. You can see where the roots of suffragette-ism may well have started – so many women across the empire doing extraordinary things in a time of male domination in all aspects of exploration, art, science and learning. But then I am not a historian and I may well have this completely wrong...any way Joshua continues......

the 22nd was the great day on Thursday Island, for then we not only had the Jubilee, but a Jubilee with a grand Corroboree in it, Mr Douglas having bought some 400 native warriors and their wives and children across from the mainland to give the celebration a true native touch, for when they do a thing on Thursday Island they do it with a roar. The corroboree was at any rate, a howling success. It took place at night, and the performers painted in fantastic colours, danced or leaped about before a blazing fire. Some were rigged and painted like birds and beasts, in which the emu and kangaroo were well represented. One fellow leaped like a frog. Some had the human skeleton painted on their party”

Sounds awfully like a college party I once attended when things got slightly out of hand when I was learning to be a teacher in the early 80’s....but that as they say is another story.....better kept silent!

On June 24th well fitted in every way the ‘Spray’ set sail for the Indian ocean - with the trade winds still blowing fresh ....and which could be counted on to take him and ‘Spray’ all the way to Madagascar! However, with some time in hand, Joshua called in first at the Keeling Cocos atoll, some 2700 miles away (there are diversions; and there are diversions......!) He went via Timor and Christmas island....................awesome navigation really when you think he was single handed with a 12 tonne sloop and a tin alarm clock missing the minutes hand (which made calculating longitude an interesting exercise I guess).

Joshua Slocum – one pretty amazing dude as my teenagers would say!


Tuesday 25 January 2011

That list of winter jobs refitting Arwen is beginning to grow. It would be nice to get some weather that allows me to work outside and not freeze to death, get soaking wet or die of hypothermia in sight of the front door...................

In no particular priority order (except rust and rot items) .........

1. Pump up tyres
2. Simplify big hatch on front bulkhead

3. Make hypothermia kit

o Candle

o Kindling

o Cotton wool in Vaseline balls

o Windproof matches

4. Sort Yellow emergency expedition bag kit

o Hypothermia kit

o Spare emergency Food

o Barley sugars and biscuits

o Space blankets

o CD reflector

o Glow sticks

o Spare water

o First aid kit

o Flares and industrial gloves

o Spare torch and batteries

o Spare knife

5. Grease wheel bearings (again – did it in September)

6. WD40 and Grease rollers on trailer (did it in September 2010 – need doing again)

7. Refit tiller extension

8. Fit flat ply floors for’ard section – still thinking about that one

9. Sort out starboard hatch – warped – so get and fit new one

10. Cut ply patches – various sizes for emergency ‘holed’ kit

11. Re-paint all scratches and dings – again!

12. Sand mast and deks oljie – repair scratches;

13. Alter tiller control system so it can be lashed easily amidships

14. Redo safety harness – 6 or 7m;

webbing harness fits under PFD; the line comes out about lower chest height.

• Add two special safety line hooks on it one at the end and the other at about 2m from the end so can move about the boat and re-secure it without having to be disconnected

• Put in big bolted pad eyes in four places on the boat, one secured at the after end of the centre-case, more or less at the middle of the boat.

15. Sand all booms and gaffs; repair dings

16. Attach spare tyre to trailer so it can be securely carried and secured with padlock

17. Strip down all gunwales and strip out surface rot

18. Dry out gunwales

19. Coat with wood sealer of some form

20. Strip off paint off inner wheel rims; clean off rust and treat; re-paint

21. Sort out cover for Arwen so that dampness doesn’t remain and she’s well ventilated

The list of things I think I need to get (some essential; some luxuries) is growing. The budget will hardly stretch to any of this so it will need to be prioritised rapidly!!
• Mounted compass on top of centre-case

• Candle, Kindling, Cotton wool balls and Windproof matches for hypothermia kit

• Spare pintle and gudgeon set

• Tough charts Plymouth to Falmouth area

• Spare quick setting epoxy kit and various screw sizes for ply patches

• Custom made boat cover

• Small handheld anemometer

• Camping Gaz grill plate for meals on board Arwen

• Spinnaker repair tape and Duct tape – new roll

• New can WD40

• New tarpaulin to make boom tent

And when I do eventually get out on the water – no sailing around the sound - some very deep, meaningful practice on these things................using the Cattedown buoys which will be unoccupied before people get their boats back in the water at Easter time!

• MOB drills

• Picking up moorings

• Leaving moorings

• Coming alongside

• Sailing off anchor

• Sailing to drop anchor

• Slab reefing

• Coming onto shore

• Anchoring stern and bow at shore

• Sailing without rudder – adjusting only sheets

................especially if I want to sail to Fowey or go to the Semaine Du Golfe in June! It’s time to stop fairying around and up my skill set rapidly!

It’s a good job I don’t mind the maintenance jobs – its part of the charm of owning a wooden boat..........and it gets me out of DIY with the Missus!


Sunday 23 January 2011

than you to everyone who replied in my hour of need

Between the UK backyard boat builders, John's yahoo forum and people who have replied to this blog - I now have a huge amount of things to think about. Below is the advice I've been given so far. THANK YOU EVERYONE!

Hi Steve,
I think all of your problems would be solved if you had a small heat source inside Arwen. An old-fashioned 60-watt light bulb would do, a small ceramic heater with a little fan and a thermostat would be better. There is also something called a "Goldenrod" that is a little low wattage heater that might be a little safer than a light bulb. The idea is that you keep the inside of Arwen a little warmer than the outside temp. A few degrees is all it takes. That helps prevent condensation, which is the root of your problems. The black on your mahogany may not be full-on rot, just discoloration from moisture. Dry it out and, on a warm day, sand or scrape it until it looks better to you and coat with epoxy. Don't give up on the epoxy, just make sure it's protected with three or more coats of good spar varnish for UV protection. Arwen is going to be fine. Boats are tough

Not too bad. Arwen is still one of the prettiest boats out there. If it were my boat and the rot was only a few mm deep I would just plane the gunwale down; oil or varnish and go from there. If the rot was deeper I would just replace the gunwale which from the looks of it (I don't have a navigator) doesn't seem to be too hard. If rot was in more internal structural members I would probably try the whole drying out; drilling, filling with epoxy etc... work I've heard about; but don't necessarily have a lot of faith in...
I've heard that one can prevent rot by soaking wood in ethyl glycol (Anti freeze). Ethyl glycol basically kills any organism known to man including mould and rot bacteria. You can glue on top of it; but I personally think that working with wood, soaked into stuff that pretty much kills all kinds of hardy small organisms, is a bad idea. As far as the mould goes: Usually a simple washing with a bleach solution will nip that in the bud for a while.
It looks to me as if you have wrapped the boat too tightly in the tarp and in so doing trapped moisture. I would try fitting a framework which would keep the tarp away from the boat and allow air to circulate. It also looks, from the photos that the mould is pretty much on the surface. It can be scrubbed off. Quaternary ammonia would be my first choice for killing it. Most commercial and home remedies use chlorine, usually from sodium hyperchlorite (Clorox). (Do not mix them. Use one or the other but not both at the same time). Once the mould is removed, keeping the surfaces clean and dry should be all that is needed, but if you were really anal about it you could get an anti fungal agent at the paint store and mix it into paint. Some folks have used automotive anti-freeze as a fungus inhibitor with apparent success. I am not convinced from your sample of one, that epoxy coating was the problem. I like "boat soup" concocted from turpentine, linseed oil and pine tar, but that isn't perfect either. I'm sure others will have interesting things to add. Good luck, and please keep us posted.

I like Pauls answer, Steve but would add this: if epoxy was the only coating on your gunwale, it may have degraded from UV exposure, thus allowing moisture in. You really need to coat exposed epoxy with varnish or better yet, just varnish and leave the epoxy for gluing or laminating. Arwen does set the standard by which all other Navigators are judged.

I've had a look at the blog; here's my tuppenworth.
Start by looking at the causes. We've had pretty extreme weather so far in the South West, so boats in outside storage are going to have had a tough time. Looking at the amount of mould you have, I think that you probably have not allowed enough air to circulate under the tarps. The rot on the gunwales tends to confirm this as I suspect that this has happened where the tarp has been stretched fairly tightly - yet still loose enough so that the wind caused it to rub on the wood and so abrading the surface. So, try to raise the tarp off the hull. I use a simple ridge pole made from plastic gutter downpipe then weight the sides of the tarp down with breeze blocks and secure the ends to the trailer hitch (bow) and gudgeons (stern) with bungies. This seems to have stood up so far this winter and I have, touch wood, no mould or rot. You also need to make sure that all compartments in the hull that can be opened are - and left open to allow air to circulate.
Not so sure what to do about the rot - I've never had it that bad and have always dealt with it by drying out sanding back and then re coating. Some people advise a mild solution of borax to kill off the spores before doing anything. I have also heard that there is a water based epoxy call (I think) Resolcote, which is designed for use to stabilise rotten wood and can be used on wet wood. I've never used it myself, but it got a good review in Watercraft magazine.
As to coating - I use Burgess Hydrosol myself, because that was what was on the boat when I bought it. It's pretty good but I don't think that it would work on top of epoxy treated wood; it is designed to sink into the pores of bare wood. I suspect that your options are varnish or paint.
Sorry - not a full answer to your woes, but hopefully helpful.
Good luck !

Steve, you will probably hear this a lot, it's all about moisture. You need to either remove it or prevent it from being inside the boat. I notice you are using the blue tarps. We call them "poly tarps" here in the US, and they've spread like a blue plague across the world. They work OK to keep water out, for about one season. After that the weave loosens up and water can infiltrate. The UV causes these tarps to degrade quickly, and they won't last long. When I see the snow sitting on your tarp, I know that some moisture is wicking its way through to the interior. While I am building my Navigator, it's under one of those portable steel framed "car port" covers, then I cover it with a poly tarp to keep out wind driven rain and dust. Most of the work of shedding the precipitation is done by the framed cover. With all the bare wood I don't want any water in there! If you can't use one of those framed covers (no space, no money, neighbourhood regulations, etc.) you'll want to invest in a better cover. A friend of mine spent some good money on a custom made blue canvas boat cover. The lady doing the work specialized in boat covers. It keeps out that water really well. If you can't do anything else for a better cover, you need to work really hard to get rid of that moisture. Drying elements like the previously mentioned light bulb, or marine dehydrators (just a low wattage heater) work for enclosed spaces. I'd be worried about the air boxes under the seats and the forward compartments. Nothing dries like moving air, and a small fan circulating air will dry stuff out faster than heat. Since I build stuff, I am putting together a small system with a 12V solar panel to drive one or more computer muffin fans. This can circulate the air all day long, without any load on my power bill. Failing all of that, you may need to get out to the boat after every time it rains or snows and open up the boat to let air circulate and/or dry it out by hand. Isn't it funny, though? We need to spend all this effort to keep them dry so we can take them out and dunk them in a large body of water. As for the hubs on the trailer, I suspect its exposure to the local elements causing the rust. Maybe some loose covers (keep air circulation!) over the wheels to keep direct precip. off. Either that or wire brush them and repaint once a season.
Good luck.

Its only slight Steve, a combination of things are working there, one is that epoxy is very poor in resistance to UV from sunlight, and any epoxy coating should have several coats of marine varnish over it. To fix the rub rails I'd take any soft or stained areas out with a router and scarf in a new piece. Note that the wood that you have used here wont behave in the same way as that nice silvery wood ( I did read your blog but forget what it was, but some hardwoods do that, and very few if any softwoods) so it needs the protection of some form of coating. I am a fan of oil based marine spar varnish, definitely not polyurethanes. The mould, get some bleach concentrate, and wipe it all down before it gets a real grip on the surfaces. Looking over the issues, I'd say you need better air circulation, it’s a common problem but warm moist air trapped in a boats structure will foster mould and rot, if you can circulate air then the moisture is carried away. Yes I know its winter, yes I know "warm" is not a part of winter, but under that tarp with a little sunshine on it you'd be surprised.
John Welsford

You could probably use something like this: (A solar powered fan)
Note that the reviews are negative; but that's people wanting to use it to cool themselves of! For a boat this should just be adequate...

Hi Steve-
Had to wait for Mike to come in for lunch from building the Scamps. I knew household chlorine bleach mixed with water would kill the moulds, so he agrees with everyone else, although he says you can actually buy a spray on mould inhibitor for boats. The rusted tire rims on your trailer need to be galvanized to keep the salt water from rusting them. He says to just take off the trailer and take to a shop for galvanizing, not expensive. Third thing, the rot. He said he might replace the gunwales if it was too bad or you could use a product called Git-Rot, which is an epoxy product. He says you can clean the wood, then inject the Git-Rot into the rotted area, it will seep into the pores of the wood and replace them. The final result will be as hard as the original wood. Mike told me to look up a website for you, sells this product. While looking it up I found another called "EndRot" which is apparently an epoxy product, as they were listed with Mike said to do all this, dry it out and paint or varnish. Epoxy is not a good sealer for wood and must be painted. Hope this helps.
Jackie Monies (for Mike)

If you dry out the affected area then apply a very watery (thinned with acetone) epoxy coat then apply thicker coats progressively you should be rid of the rot and restore the epoxy protection. All the timber that I have ever used for boat building has had similar treatment (one coat of thinned epoxy) if it has to over-winter under plastic covers. If properly re-applied before painting it makes a very effective wood primer. I have also used the above treatment to restore irreplaceable rotted timbers on classic boats. Nicks remarks re ventilation are also to be taken seriously

What a fantastic bunch of people - its this boat building community that keeps me inspired


Poor Arwen - any tips on what I can do?

This has been a bad winter and we are only at the end of January. Arwen is stored outside on a driveway under three tarps but this year something has gone wrong. I religiously sponge her down, hose her down and dry her off after every trip. Each winter I unpack her two or three times and she has been fine. I unpacked her in November and apart from odd bits of mould which just polished off - everything was fine

But this new year, I've unwrapped her for the second time and a catastrophe has emerged................

Rot! Black stains, soft wood.....all along the outer gunwales. The epoxy seal has lifted and has flaked away - serves me right - I should have gone for varnish or some wood sealant! It's in patches and I think I have caught it in time - its surface deep (a matter of mm's) and it seems to scrape off easily enough.

there are worse pictures but I didn't want to put you off your meal........

Never seal anything with epoxy??????

So now I have some questions and if anyone can offer advice. I'd deeply appreciate it.

Question one:  Do I scrape out all the damp wood?
Question two:  If I scrape it out - do I then dry it out - if so how - given I have nowhere to put her under cover?
Question three: do I do it as soon as we get a sunny but cold day or do I wait until the warmer weather of April comes along?
Question four: I coated the bowsprit in deks oljie and it has gone a lovely silvery weathered colour. Exactly what do I coat the gunwales in after clearing out the rot patches? Deks Oljie? Burgess woodsealer? Several coats of varnish?  Does anyone know or have experience of this situation and what do they do?

Arwen's bowsprit - a lovely weathered silvery look

I checked her so carefully and didn't notice any rising epoxy - so lesson learned really - don't seal with epoxy!

And then there is a second problem - far worse than previous years - mould. It is everywhere.
Question one: what is causing it?
Question two: what is the best way of getting it off without damaging paintwork?
Question three: can it be prevented?

on the side decks............

It's everywhere - transom, thwarts, external hull planks.......and just don't take a look in the anchor well! I'm pretty sure if you put an unprotected hand in there - the flesh will melt off it and you will come out with just a skeletal bony hand and forearm.....something like they experience from alien bugs on planet PXC 409 or whatever (big Stargate Atlantis fan....sorry!)

on the transom interior...........

......the anchor well......

Ho Hum!

And finally problem three - rust......not the trailer (in perfect condition) but - well the photo speaks for its self. I religiously rinse wheels every trip but..................

...sorry about slight fuzziness of photo......I was balancing precariously at the time.......

question one: how do I sort out this lot?

Any answers to any of the above very gratefully received........really gratefully received.........honest!


Saturday 22 January 2011

my final word on the situation - normal service will be resumed next blog

This blog is about Arwen and my sailings in her; and my slow journey learning to sail and navigate. However, I make no apology for occasionally commenting on issues relating to sailing. The closure of coastguard stations has been one and the other thus far has been the voluntary no anchoring zone in Studland Bay. If people reading the blog are not interested in these occasional diversions, then I fully understand and they are free to not read them and then come back when it’s more focused on Arwen. On both occasions when I have expressed an opinion, I have been accused of not being fully informed by one of the parties involved in the issue. One might almost feel that perhaps in this day and age I shouldn’t have an opinion. Now they argue I should be more fully informed – well – I do read around carefully and I do look across the internet before I comment and then I make a view. Just because it isn’t necessarily the one they want to hear doesn’t make me wrong – although you might think so from some of the comments I have had!
So, if you are someone just interested in my voyages in Arwen – switch pages now because this blog update isn’t about Arwen. Please check in again on my next posting when normal service will be resumed – I promise; and please forgive me from deviating away from the primary aim of this blog. Go visit Steve or Robert's blogs....but please do come back - I enjoy your patronage and valuable comments.

So that I cannot be accused by either side of being non objective in the issue over Studland – I’ve spent a few hours trawling the net. I’ve read parish blogs; reports; website summaries; and most interestingly forums for conservationists and yachting people. I must say there are some rather rude and somewhat dismissive people out there whose language, invective and insults are frankly puerile. You can of course, do this research yourself – you will soon see what I mean. There are thank heavens many well balanced articulate people who make a good case both for and against the no anchoring zone. I find that immensely reassuring.
So in an effort to summarise some of what is being said out there – I place below what I have COPIED from the various websites, blogs and forums. It isn’t an extensive, exhaustive research – I do have a life! And I refrain from giving any opinion one way or the other – you are all intelligent people – and can decide for yourselves where you stand. I am not supporting either viewpoint in this blog – what you see below is what is out there. I freely acknowledge it cannot do justice to everything that has been published on the web on this matter. It will be my last posting on this issue. Normal service resumes next blog.

The situation as I understand it:

A Marine bill was passed by Parliament a couple of years ago which made provision for a number of Marine Conservation zones to be selected around the coast of England and for these areas to be set up by 2012. The areas are referred to as Marine Protected areas or marine conservation zones (MPAs/MCZs). This is a new process involving ecology, socio-economics and stakeholders for deciding where these MCZs should be. Each of the MCZs will be sited to protect different species and/or habitats. The types of activity that could be restricted at each MCZ will vary depending on what is being protected. Activities that cause no damage are unlikely to be restricted.

The Government has set up through DEFRA a semi official group called Finding Sanctuary. This group of committees is to research which areas of sea should be designated MPAs/MCZs around the coast of South West England. These areas will be recommended to the Government during 2011 to become law in 2012. Natural England, Crown Estates, County Councils, National Trust and others are all part of Finding Sanctuary.

Seahorses and their habitats are now protected under European legislation. There is considerable interest in these delightful little creatures worldwide and scientific research is being carried out to find out more about them. Where Seahorses breed, live etc is still relatively unknown.

The Crown Estates with Natural England were carrying out a 2 year survey by having a Voluntary no anchor zone (VNAZ) to compare an area where boats do not anchor/moor with an area where they do. This is in Studland Bay. The results of this Survey will be known in 2012. This being carried out by Seastar survey Ltd - an independent marine survey company based in Southampton specialising in supplying a range of environmental, oceanographic and hydrographic services to both the offshore and coastal industries.

Part of the study will also consider the practicality of replacing several existing swinging mooring chains with new eco-friendly riser systems and the long term status of moorings in Studland Bay. The study will be overseen by a steering group comprising representatives of The Crown Estate, Natural England, Royal Yachting Association and the Chair of the Studland Sea grass and Seahorse Study Group (SSSSG). An independent reviewer will be appointed to join this steering group to advise on the project plan and review its findings. The SSSSG is an informal, non-statutory, focus and discussion group, formed of interested parties including: Dorset Wildlife Trust, local residents, National Trust, Natural England, Poole yacht clubs, Royal Yachting Association (RYA), Seahorse Trust, Studland Parish Council, and The Crown Estate. Concurrently Natural England is funding a communications project, to be overseen by the Dorset Wildlife Trust and delivered by the SSSSG, aimed at explaining the presence, value and sensitivity of the sea grass and associated seahorse population in Studland Bay as well as communicating the aims of the study and the objectives of the voluntary no-anchor zone. The Seahorse Trust, with funding from the National Lottery, are also undertaking a seahorse tagging project at Studland in an effort to understand more about these elusive creatures.

Arguments for protection from various conservation bodies available on the web:

• Some mooring chains do scour sea grass around moorings sinker

• Studland is an amazing site cherished by locals and visitors alike and as such is an important centre of tourism in the local and national area. Celebration of the amazing resident seahorses at Studland will safeguard that in times of economic relapse evidenced by huge interest in the area because of the seahorses and extra visitors to the area. To continue this Studland needs protection. It is highly fragile and the scientific research conducted on the site by the seahorse trust and National Oceanography Centre suggests it is at risk from destruction due to misuse and from illegal (according to Crown Estates) badly designed moorings.

• The sea horse trust argues for the removal of all the existing moorings replacing them with environmentally friendly moorings; increasing the number of moorings so that visitors could use them instead of dropping their anchors into the Sea grass would meet both economic prosperity, sailing and ecological needs. Ecological moorings would be sand screw types is not a cork screw - an 8 or 10 or 12 inch blade in the shape of an Archimedes screw with one 360* turn. Used extensively in the Caribbean each screw costs approx $120

• Some of the seahorse trust scientists have 30 yrs experience and published many books, hundreds of journal articles and been advisors to many projects internationally and nationally – they have an academic, rigorously scrutinize scientific background

• Studland mainly has the Spiny Seahorses with sightings of the Short Snouted Seahorses and it is an internationally important breeding site for the Spiny Seahorse, based on scientific observations.

• earliest sightings for seahorses at Studland have been the end of February and the latest sightings in the year have been the beginning of December; during the stormy part of the year they move just off shore to overcome the strong storms and gales that affect the site. As soon as the weather abates the Seahorses come back inshore slowly working their way in as the weather gets better and the sea grass starts to grow; they have to come inshore to feed as the site is full of the small crustacea that the Seahorse feed on.

• Experienced researchers and conservationists have never seen evidence of seahorses benefiting from the cover of boats or the so called thickening of sea grass around the mooring buoys

• the sea grass around the moorings buoys is usually so scoured and degraded that very little can live in it and the sand is very fluid around the buoys meaning that the seabed is unstable.

• Recently an American researcher has raised the issue of wasting disease being present in the sea grass

• Opposers to conservation have yet to provide any evidence supporting their case/arguments; if they can supply evidence to support their claim – the various conservation groups will be very keen to work with them and jointly try to solve issues around Studland bay proposed MCZ

• A vocal local minority opposition group have vested financial interests in this area and it is not out of altruism that they are speaking.

• In 2009 the Studland Sea grass & Seahorse Study Group set out to determine if the high level of boating activity at South Beach was impacting on the underwater habitat of the bay and to raise awareness of the importance of the area for marine wildlife. The Group includes Natural England, The National Trust, The Crown Estate, Dorset Wildlife Trust, The Seahorse Trust, The Royal Yachting Association, Poole yacht clubs, Studland Parish Council, Bournemouth and Southampton Universities and local businesses. Beach wardens every day during July and August carried out a questionnaire survey, monitored boat numbers and talked to people about the seahorses and other wildlife. Their findings showed that over 68% of people questioned were in favour of protecting the site from damage while less than 1% felt there was no need for any protection. On good weather days they found that boat numbers reached over 150 (or even 200) at any one time during the afternoon and with boats continuously coming and going the total number of boats anchoring and mooring in a single day was over 300. The wardens found that visitors to Studland were delighted to find that seahorses lived just a few yards from the beach and they often had a queue of people waiting to talk to them and ask questions.

• Also during the summer The Seahorse Trust, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and under licence from Natural England, carried out the first stage of a seahorse tagging project, using a method that has been tried and tested abroad and found to have no adverse impact on the animals. The findings from this project showed that seahorses pair up and stay together during the breeding season which lasts until the winter storms and cold weather arrive. The males stay in a very small area, just a few yards square and this makes them especially vulnerable to damage of their small breeding patch. (The Studland Bay Preservation Association doesn’t agree with a ‘tagging’ project proposed by Sea horse trust)

• In October 2009 the voluntary no-anchor zone was installed, marked by 6 yellow buoys, and a Notice to Mariners was published to make boaters aware of its position. Also during the year, a leaflet was produced to raise awareness of the high wildlife importance of the site, and a postcard printed to show boaters where the voluntary no-anchor zone was located. Widely distributed to yacht clubs in the area.

• Seastar Surveys allege that the buoys were deliberately moved several times in April and May and their survey divers were verbally abused by one man on a powerboat during the spring which was reported to the police

• An academic report (The Collins report) noted that every time an anchor full of weed is raised, it damages the root mat that holds the eelgrass bed together. At the beginning of his 2 year study, Dr Collins identified areas where he had seen this happening, and marked them for intensive study. This was based on acknowledged thorough methods. At the end of the 2 year period, the gap left in the rhizome layer (root mat) had if anything marginally increased, the sand quality was much coarser, and the edge of the rhizome layer was being undercut by wave action. Collins found that anchor damage to the Eelgrass bed does not heal itself as would be expected. He therefore concludes that anchoring in it could possibly contribute to the decline of the Eelgrass beds and that anchoring should not be regarded as a sustainable activity on the site. He therefore recommends that the site be protected

Arguments from local area sites, yachting groups etc for not protecting the site

• evidence on sea horse numbers and spread of eel grass is anecdotal and that no official and substantiated survey on boat numbers using area has been carried out

• Local fishermen report fishing in area has improved significantly in recent years and that there is insufficient evidence to support argument that anchoring is damaging eel grass

• Eel grass has increased considerably over last 50 yrs; winter storms deposit it on low tide line every year and it seems to replenish itself

• There are approximately 50 moorings – owned by locals – some there for 50 yrs so wouldn’t they have destroyed beds by now?;

• not all moorings are in eelgrass beds and any scouring around existing moorings is a small amount of the overall sea grass meadow area

• the proposed eco moorings are untested in open seas; unlikely to be accepted by insurance companies; are costly and will require regular maintenance; proposing another 100 such eco moorings would cover large areas of the bay and need to be sited further out so not affording shelter/protection to boats

• Published photos of anchors ripping up eel grass actually show dead or moulted eelgrass; insignificant amounts compared to the winter easterlies which rip out large quantities onto the beach

• Sandy patches reported in eel grass beds and purported to be by anchors are also found in areas where boats don’t anchor

• Recent report by Dr Collins concludes anchoring COULD damage eel grass doesn’t prove anything – his report doesn’t take into account gullies, tide runs, seabed contours etc

• Eelgrass doesn’t like freshwater and so that is why there are sandy patches on Google earth at freshwater outlets into the bay

• Dorset wildlife trust, marine conservation society, natural England and national oceanographic centre at Southampton university are intent on taking over the bay and managing it, banning anchoring and moorings

• The bay doesn’t need managing say locals

• The Seahorse trust (SHT) have moderated their aims recently – settling for multiuse in the bay and the need for eco moorings; this isn’t how they started out; their theories have been exposed as untrue – see the save Studland bay preservation association; SHT are allegedly refusing to answer questions

• Sums of £10,000 have been spent funding surveys which were not needed; opponents deplore the waste of public monies spent on Seahorses/Eelgrass studies. They wish the Bay to be left as it is free for all to enjoy in harmony with the marine life. The grant of £10,000 from Natural England was wasted. One of the main aims of the PR campaign was to promote the existence of The Voluntary No Anchor Zone (VNAZ). As there was no VNAZ (it was not in place till later in October) this aim was not achieved. The wrong people were targeted-families on the beach were not particularly interested in VNAZs. A boat was used on one day to go and talk to yachts anchored in the Bay. Thousands of leaflets were seen unused in the N Trust kiosk.

• Sea horses have been breeding and visiting the bay over the last 100 years and this is documented and boating does not seem to have interfered with their numbers thus far

• The area selected for conservation and protection from mooring and anchoring has probably been selected by Seahorse enthusiasts, who would like to see neither anchoring nor mooring in the areas of the Eelgrass beds. These enthusiasts consist in the main of a few divers who are fanatical about Seahorses. They have carried out a relentless media campaign to further their own ends. This has been partially successful and has misled large numbers of the public.

• The media headlines that there is a breeding Colony, which implies they are present all year round, in the eelgrass beds of Studland Bay is unlikely. A local view is that Seahorses, like other marine life, arrive in The Bay for the summer months.

• The Seahorses also enjoy a certain amount of shade from the boats moored and anchored above. In early September along with other marine life they start to move out to sea for their wintering waters. By the time of the autumn storms around the time of the autumn equinox (late September) they are gone.

• The Eelgrass beds in the Bay have expanded considerably in the last few years and now spread across parts of the Bay where a few years ago there was just a sandy seabed. The thickest and most healthy beds are found amongst the Moorings which offer protection from the Fishing trawlers which come into the Bay dragging their nets along the sea bed.

• Media coverage of how the moorings and anchoring cause damage to the beds is grossly exaggerated and has been fed to the Media by a few Seahorse fanatics. The fact that the beds are expanding and so healthy is proof that misinformation has been fed to the media.

• The danger is that the many uses of the Bay will be curtailed just because Seahorses are present for a short time in the summer months. The hundreds of yachts/motor launches which anchor in the Bay during the summer may be forced to go elsewhere.

• Hopefully all uses of the sea will be taken into consideration before any degree of protection is imposed. There is a danger, however that decisions will be taken which will limit people’s enjoyment. Any decision to ban boats from anchoring/mooring in The Bay off South beach has serious implications for local businesses in Studland. The cafe, shop, Pub, Hotels, B&Bs etc will all suffer.

• It is alleged that neither the Seahorse Trust, The Marine Conservation Society or Natural England have sat down with the residents of Studland to get their views on the proposed new eco moorings which appear to be an eye sore and this is a disgrace . Also if moorings are placed in Studland Bay the berks with speedboats etc will try to stay there all week if not all season, requiring regular patrols and probably the odd lifeboat...

• New eco moorings will lead to further developments on the beach e.g. diving headquarters on the beach selling diving tours & equipment; more infrastructure like safety boats & marshals controlling people’s behaviour collecting mooring fees etc. This will spoil the character of Studland Bay.

• The buoys marking the no anchoring zone have moved so many times since November that it's almost impossible for boat owners to respect the zone. (See YouTube video link) . When asked what was causing the buoys to move, Southampton University researcher, Dr. Ken Collins, who conducted the surveys and posted the video, said: ‘Wave heights in Poole Bay have often exceeded 2m. The rope currently mooring the marker buoys is only 1m longer than the water depth at high water. At high water when a large wave passes by the buoy, it lifts the sinker off the seabed and transports it.' He goes on to claim that the sinkers are too light, and that skippers tying up to the buoys are not doing it maliciously but because the explanatory note on the buoy is printed too small to read easily and has faded.

• The presence of undulate rays in Studland Bay that what exists is an already healthy ecosystem. Undulate rays like to eat seahorses and the seahorses are thriving to such an extent that they have attracted predators. The seahorses are thriving because their eelgrass habitat is thriving and in fact covers a greater area of Studland Bay than it did 65 years ago

• It is difficult to escape the conclusion that recreational boaters are having and have had no significant detrimental impact on the ecosystem of Studland Bay.

• RYA and BORG both take the view that the site has survived 80+ years of known use as an anchorage and that the Eelgrass beds are not in any apparent decline, so that the long term effect of anchoring has had little overall impact on the area. Banning anchoring will have no significant effect on the habitat, and will prevent access to an important and unique south coast anchorage. BORG has already submitted a report on the significance of Studland Bay to boat owners directly to MMO, the national authority with final responsibility for setting up the MCZs, who have promised to circulate it to the national stakeholder representatives.

I do not subscribe to or promote any of the above views for one or other parties in this issue.