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

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!


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