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 December 2012

Don't hold your breath but.........

It is still looking good. And good news too QAB are allowing me to use the north slipway as there is no lifting out tomorrow. This means that I can come off the water at any point during the day.
Fingers crossed.......



Ssshhhh! There is just a glimmer, the merest of glimmers; a chance break in the awful weather when maybe, just maybe, Arwen and I might be able to shake off the Christmas slumbers tomorrow with a New Year's Day sail.

Ssshhhhh! Don't speak about it too loudly or the nasty weather gremlins will hear and put the carbouche on whispered plans.  The tide is a massive spring 5.45m at around 8.30 ish. The winds will be 12 - 15 knots with gusts of 26 knots possible so reefing will be they order of the day. The rain, well it may just hold off long enough.

Ssshhhhh! It's the kind of thing dreams are made of................ssshhhhh! Don't let the bad weather gremlins hear us

Happy New Year everyone
Steve and Arwen

Thursday 27 December 2012

Captain Roch part 2

I believe we left the adventuring Captain Roch at Cowes on the Isle of Wight on the 25th July 1677. You will remember that he was sailing a small open boat from Plymouth to London via the south coast and up along the Thames estuary.

Anyway on the 26th with fair west by north winds, they left Cowes, but this time with an additional passenger, a Frenchman. The brisk winds reaching almost gale force at times from the west pushed them along some 20 leagues until they were off beachy head. However, sailing all through the it saw the good Captain off Rye where a severe thunderstorm soaked them all to the skin. Improving conditions saw a change of heart and so they made for Dover arriving at 4 pm.

On the 28th they departed Dover pier and on gale force winds hey reached the north foreland at midday; her the shifting winds forced them to anchor off Reculver.

I have to say that he article from which this information is derived in the dinghy cruising association  winter 2012 journal is quite illuminating. It is well written by Keith Muscott.  I haven't been able to work out exactly what length boat Roch sailed; details seem to be scant. There was some mention, somewhere, I recollect, that the length was 18" but I suspect I am wrong on that. Irrespective of that, the distances he achieved in a small open boat do seem to be genuinely quite impressive, especially given the weather conditions that seemed to prevail.

Sunday 29th an attempt to get over the flats on a flood with south west winds failed; the tide fell sooner than expected and so Roch was forced to anchor. On the first of the return flood with the wind blowing hard from the SW and the seas rough, Roch managed to make the Isle of Sheppey just before nightfall. He then made into the small port of Hope just before midnight.

The following morning at break of day he made for Gravesend but the increasing WNW winds forced him to anchor two miles below the port entrance where they lay uneasy for many an hour; unable to land due to the steep muddy banks either side. Eventually under reefer sail he was able to reach Barking creek. It wasn't until noon on the 31st that Roch could depart the creek into the main river and on the ninety hour he reached London Bridge.

Captain Roch departed Plymouth on Friday 20th and he arrived in London on 31st some 11 days later. He had sailed much of the south coast, around the Kent peninsula and up he Thames.

This sounds to me like a really worthwhile effort for Arwen. Well perhaps a trip to Weymouth?
Everyone have a very happy, merry Christmas and new year


Saturday 22 December 2012

"Stacey" returns with a vengeance

Although this blog is about Arwen, "Stacey"  my son's 1971 motovespa restoration gets a look in.

"Stacey" is finally finished. Yes you did read right.......she's finished.

The throttle now works; it has spring in it returning to its zero position when released.
The speedo works. Originally the end wasn't seated properly and so the cable kept coming loose.
 The gears now work and select correctly and actually go in the right order and in the right direction. Remember the saga of them being in wrong way round?
The engine rattle has gone and the sticky throttle cable is no more! We had missed one or two top hats on the cables and it made all the difference.
The brake lights work correctly.
The engine sounds sweet.

And so she's finished.

 Two years and many heart breaks on the way; we have gone from this to the last photo

remember this... the first photo of "Stacey" outside her new home
into the garage she went and so the strip down began
some things took a little fathoming out
her engine went from this to .......this
a new paint job was next
and then it was back to the reassembly process
and finally she took shape
I'd like to say we have managed to do this all ourselves but that would be untrue. the people on the smallframes forum have been saviours so many times. They know who they are.........thanks guys!
Our school caretaker, who is a vespa fan and such a source of inspiration....cheers bud! To my design tech colleague who rescued us at the start - thank you!
And finally, well here is a Christmas story. We were demoralised; baffled; no idea where to turn. we had reached the end. the scooter had beaten us; gears were wrong way round; the speedo didn't work and......and.....and........well you get the picture. We'd been to garages who charged us lots of money and yet did things wrong. Who can forget the kill switch sounding the horn and the horn switch killing the engine?
And just as we were giving up and losing the faith......there came a whisper out of the west. Of a wise man; a man who knew vespas; a magician who could fix things. And lo it came to pass that we journeyed to find this wise man whose star setted over the west of the city.
And he did look at 'Stacey'  and his eyebrows did raiseth....several times....but it was a measure of this wise man that he merely murmured 'well done and remember you don't know what you don't know'. We explained our plight and did make him understand that we could wait for eternity until he had time to look at our motovespa but he merely said he'd look and get back to us.
Time passeth and we heard little; a whisper on the wind that the cables were too long. And then a phone call, all had been put right; 'Stacey' was ready.
To our guardian angel from the west of our fair city; you know who you are......thank you for rescuing us; for giving up so much time to put so many fiddly things right; for taking time away from your young family to help us. Our wise man has turned out to be the Jedi of the scooter kingdom...our 'Yoda'! We cannot begin to put into words sufficient thanks to him.
Stacey is finished and now we have to do our CBT's. We'll let you know how we get on in the new year. In the meantime, everyone have a very merry Christmas and a lovely start to the new year.
Steve, Arwen, Stacey and number one son.


Thursday 20 December 2012

Captain Jeremy Roch and his small boat voyage from Plymouth to London

Some time ago I promised that I would give an update on my post about the voyage of the Neptune by captain Jeremy  Roch You will remember that this was the gentleman who sailed a small boat from Plymouth along the coast and up the channel and into the Thames estuary and then on up to London. This was done in 1677. Now I only learnt about this gentleman as a result of reading something in the dinghy cruising association magazine; which I have repeated recommended to anyone interested in small boats and dinghy cruising.  Anyway I do not intend to divulge all the article that has just appeared on Jeremy Roch in the most recent edition. People will have to join the DCA and get the copy. But I thought I might share a little of what he did!
Well it would appear that Captain Roch decided to save money having been called to London by deciding to go by sea!  Having fitted his boat with all that he required for such a voyage he was dismayed to discover that those who originally had agreed to sail with him withdrew. So resolved to go single handed, he must have been somewhat pleased to have been asked by a young boy if he could seek passage and help crew the boat.
Thus on 20th July 1677, with one boy and a dog, Roch set sail on a southerly wind from Plymouth sound for bigbury bay where he anchored for the night. Next day he set sail for Salcombe where he became becalmed but sought out friends and had a good meal!
Sunday 22nd saw Roch sail on a NE wind towards Dartmouth where once again he became becalmed just outside the river mouth. However, by nightfall he'd been carried along the coast towards Torbay where they anchored for the night. With an early departure on the Monday, the crew sails towards Portland, stopping to shoot seabirds for a while. They anchored at sunset three leagues west of Portland. Another early start  saw them beat the notorious Portland races and crept around into Weymouth, calling in for a few hours for ale and a meal! Leaving Weymouth almost in the dark they made for the bay of swanage where they anchored for the night.

So let me see.......Plymouth to the bay of swanage on a small boat just a little larger than Arwen in four days?  I guess so...........I made Salcombe in a day a few years ago.

On the 25th, they passed the needles on the Isle of Wight around 3pm due to a brisk WNW wind; sheltering in Cowes overnight and on land too in a boarding house. Roch picked a good room since according to his log a jolly crew of French ladies arrived in the next chamber and lulled him into a sweet sleep with music, dancing and singing!   On the 26th Roch took on board a Frenchman seeking passage; who it would appear did little except devour the captain's meat and wine. Sailing over 20 leagues on gale force WSW winds, he passed beachy head. I am unclear where he anchored if at all.............but his log says he was off Rye at sunrise and with improving weather he made for Dover arriving at 4pm.

I am of course only giving a precise here. Roch's log is written in old English and actually describes more of his journey; making references to shoals, sandbanks etc on his way. What fascinates me is that he made Plymouth to Dover in a week in a small open boat.
I'll finish the summary of his journey over the weekend. In the meantime I marvel at his seamanship and ambition and wonder, just wonder, whether me and Arwen could manage, perhaps, this summer a trip from Plymouth to let's say Weymouth?

Now let me see. Day one to Salcombe; day two to Torquay;  day three to Exmouth and day four around Portland to Weymouth?
Now how would I get Arwen back to Plymouth then?


Friday 14 December 2012

Playing with the iPad

I've been playing with the iPad. I will do a blog over Christmas about apps for sailors but in the meantime I have been playing with some simple educational apps. One I like is 'Popplet'. it's a simple mind mapping program which allows you to combine text and images. I've just spent 10 minutes putting this simple popplet together. It is very intuitive to use and I could some of my younger students really liking it.

Over the next weeks I will trawl the apps for sailors and see what they are like. In the meantime the popplet should be below as a jpeg


Sunday 9 December 2012

From my iPad

I have secumbed to new technology. This being sent from my iPad. And this is a picture of me that is a once only to be seen. Me in a dinner jacket at a James Bond theme night. For those of you with a delicate disposition, look away now!


Monday 3 December 2012

classic yacht TV

I discovered this little gem via Gavin's 'intheboatshed' website (which  you can access on the menu bar somewhere on the right hand side of this post).
You can access Classic yacht TV at Gavin's site which is........

Enjoy. Some nice quirky films of bigger boats but sailing a classic is sailing a classic whether it be 60' or only 14' 6"!


languishing in the doldrums!

I’ve been wondering about the joys of owning a small trailer sailor boat! Only I have forgotten what it is like to use one. Mine languishes forlornly on the drive, hoping her owner will take her for one last sail this year.

Moray McPhail, of Classic Boats once posed this conundrum:  ‘Why do I want a boat?

He mused that maybe answers should include:

·         To go sailing in

·         To potter around fixing things

·         To anchor, sit and read on

·         To go for an overnight camping trip on

·         To meet interesting people

·         To challenge oneself in adverse conditions

·         To get away from it all

·         To test one’s patience, fortitude, skill etc

I am sure there are many more reasons! Sadly I think I have forgotten them! I have a dim hazy recollection that owning a small sail boat demanded a set of skills that were unique. You had to know about tides, wind patterns, weather lore, passage planning; be able to read the rips and currents; interpret the channel bouyage; and know the quirkiness of your boat!

You had worked out things like weather helm; what to do with the mizzen when you tacked; and how to use the jib to turn more speedily through a tack. Your skill shone through when you could sail upwind in the lightest of summer breezes when all other boats lay idle, drifting in a malaise!

And so I wait. I wait for a weekend where I won’t work all day Sunday trying to catch up on the work I failed to complete that previous week. I wait for a spell of dry weather when the nation isn’t flooded! I wait for one of those crisp winter days when the sun shines; there is just enough breeze and no sign of rain; when the tides fall just right on a neap so that there isn’t a race back to the launch ramp to pull out Arwen before she is beached for two hours at low tide below where the ramp ends abruptly.

 I am extremely lucky. I own a boat. I own a Welsford boat. I built her myself and I know every plank, epoxy blob, fitting and creak! I know how she never sits properly on her trailer; how her sails always set with a crease which never disappears despite my best efforts. I know that some days she flies like the furies!

I have a dim recollection that this may have been the last time I sailed in Arwen this year with me good old Dad! we sailed around to the Yealm and back.

Christmas holidays. Please, please, please let there be a weather lull when tides and weather falls right. Arwen and I need to escape onto the water. We need space, and horizons to aim for; we need to feel the wind across our faces!

Sunday 25 November 2012

Weather warnings

More to follow. With this much rain and the ground already saturated and water tables high; this is not looking good for the forthcoming week ahead!


Flooding in the UK

This was a shot on Plymouth Hoe a couple of days ago when winds reached Force 9
We are in the grip of some of the worst flooding I can recall here in the UK and its only November.  I read that today 800 homes have been flooded after storms hit parts of England and Wales. My own home countries of Devon and Cornwall have been very badly hit and a young lady of 21 was tragically killed in Exeter by a falling tree.
Flooding in Southway, a suburb here in Plymouth
 We have 220 flood warnings in place across just England; 57 in the south west where I live. More flooding is expected and on its way! We had an astonishing 60mm of rainfall just last night. I woke at 3am to see the wind howling down my street, something I rarely see as I live on the slope of a north facing hill which shelters us from the south west gales.
Flooding just outside Exeter
In my city Plymouth, 60 people had to be evacuated due to safety concerns in at least twelve different places around the city and many cars were abandoned. We are still cut off by rail from the rest of the country as the only two railway routes out of the south west are blocked or washed away just outside the north of Exeter.
The main line from Penzance to Paddington, London. Or it was.  The double line behind in the field - are collapsed power cables!
 It will take a week to get these railway lines back up to safe usage. The Met Office has issued an Amber weather warning for 50 to 70 mm of rain by the end of Monday.
The problem is run off from already wet fields that could lead to further river and surface water flooding; and then there are the strong winds that could worsen surface water flooding, as wind-blown leaves and debris block drains.

One of our local villages somewhat cut off at present

As I sit here typing this the rain is pounding off the roof outside. The back decking is already an inch under water but we are safe. I worry at times that our garden, on a steep slope and heavily wooded may suffer a landslide but it is very doubtful. There are branches down in the wood in the upper garden; the trees at the front have lost all their bright coloured autumn foliage. We’ll have some clearing up to do outside I suspect. But that is nothing compared to people around Devon who are clearing flood damaged possessions and gungy floodwater silt out of their front doors. 

Our Emergency Services, Enviornment Agency, Highways and local authority staff have been truly amazing

 Flooding is a nasty affair. It means you are out of your house for up to a year; the walls have to be replastered; all the wiring redone; floorboard replaced. And how do you replace all the photo albums full of memories of your life from childhood. I know the consequences of flooding are worse if you live in a poor country like Bangladesh, but even here in the UK, it has devastating effects.

So many rivers in Devon have burst their banks and there is still much more rain to come

The Environment Agency is reminding people in affected areas to keep up to date with the latest flood warnings on the Environment Agency website and to sign up to the free flood warnings sent to mobiles as text messages. In a twist of fate I am right in the middle of teaching flooding to my A level geography groups; no shortage of case study material at the moment!

All images are copyright of 'Evening Herald'; 'This is Exeter'; The Times; The Daily Mail; ITV .com; BBC news website

Sunday 18 November 2012

I think sailing is over for this year

I think sailing is done for this year. Today would have been perfect - winds 4 - 8 knots; one of those crisp cool but very sunny November days. Alas, I have a chest infection. It has been with me for a few weeks now and shows no sign of clearing. The product of having worked 9 70 hr weeks on the trot, there seems to be no let up. I tried to go for a walk with 'her indoors' this morning around the Barbican , up onto the Hope and then down around Millbay docks before returning to the Barbican. I barely made it up onto the hoe sounding like an asthmatic, rattling steam train in need of some TLC. The last time I remember wheezing this badly and having this amount of shortness of breath was when I was eight and Dad had to carry me back from the doctors because my little legs gave way from underneath me as we climbed the hill to go up through the castle wall gates on the way home in Conwy. Then I had been diagnosed with Bronchitis; it's feeling somewhat similar again 42 years later!
Still walking slowly gave me the chance to get a few autumn snaps of the Barbican. I'll have to  hope for a few crisp winter sunny days at Christmas. Poor Arwen, she does feel neglected!


Looking across from Citadel Road towards the National Marine Aquarium on the far left and the luxurious Queen Anne Flays in the left of centre. The marina is QAB where Arwen gets launched. The footbridge and pontoon in the foreground were put in place a couple of years ago for the tourist 'dockyard tour' boats and supposedly for all the cruise ships that stop off in Plymouth to disgorge their occupants. I'm still waiting to see that bit happen!
One of the original cranes preserved in good condition. From a bygone era when I think railway sidings ran along this part of the quay
Now the quay serves as a cafe area, nicely done, with cafe installed in the arches under the Citadel Road. A lovely spot always catching the sun and sheltered from the SW winds
In the foreground on the left are the 'Mayflower Steps' famous for our intrepid settlers of America! The giant prawn has been there as street sculpture for many years now. The white bridge spans the lock gates which give access to the inner Sutton Harbour marina area. The bridge pivots on its access. The glass building is the Marine Aquarium
'Mr Cobbles' has become a feature of this part of the Barbican. Same pitch, all weathers. The van, a Morris Commercial dates from the 1950's I think. He has done it rather well.
Year in, year out; same boats in the same place. I never see an empty berth where they should they ever put to sea I wonder?


Saturday 3 November 2012

western Australia's 'old gaffers' club

posted some film of two navigators sailing along with two other boats. Enjoy at


Friday 2 November 2012

Fitting vespa mirrors

and there's another thing bugging us too. How do  you fit these vespa mirrors to the handlebars so that they are positioned in a way that can actually show what is behind you? 

So far, we've positioned them twice on the brackets and all we get is a reflection of ourselves sitting on the scooter or a reflection of the floor.

The mirrors themselves do not pivot on their support getting them adjusted is a real fiddle or maybe we are just being really dim!


saving your blog: how do you do it?

I've made some 400 or so blog posts since setting up this blog; there have been 478 comments. I've saved the photos, videos and most blog posts as word documents but is there a way of actually saving your blog pages?

I have created some on-line books which I have saved although I have yet to purchase one. Surely there must be a way of saving your weblog pages?

If anyone knows please do advise me.


end of half term

and it is time for Arwen to be packed away for the winter. We have barely sailed together this year so poor has the weather been. When I have been able to go tides and weather have conspired against me; when it has been perfect weather and tides, well work has been too frenetic. Ce sera sera and all that.  Arwen has languished all forlorn on the driveway. I had hoped that maybe there would be one day this half term break for a sail but it was not to be. Tuesday was sunny but completely windless, one of those Atlantic highs coming down from the polar region with little to no wind whatsoever. The rest of this week has been windy but intense showers.

In the meantime we have bashed on with Stacey, the motovespa 125 super that we are restoring.  She seems to sound OK but then we keep hearing a tinny rattle somewhere and we can't work out where from.

We also still have problems adjusting the gear and clutch cables so that the gear section of the handlebars turns freely and selects the right gears. Our search for a good vespa mechanic in our locality remains fruitless and our vespa forums have been unable to help.

Ce sera sera.


Tuesday 30 October 2012

A Canadian navigator

is slowly materialising. Here are some of Joe's photographs of his navigator build.

He hopes to get it in the water this coming summer. Good luck Joe, some lovely hull work and craftsmanship.

Another great looking navigator on its way!



motovespa 125 super

An update

Wait for it. Wait for it comes


Oh yes....she clunks, thunks or bits falling off. OK so we only got her  up into second gear but it has been TWO YEARS!!

We still have problems but we have sorted out the carnage wrought by the garage who were supposed to fix all problems! The wiring has been redone and we now have a kill switch which kills the engine; a horn button, which, well frankly does what it is supposed to do which is....does the horn!! (Unlike a few weeks ago when the kill switch did the horn and the horn button killed the engine).
The back brake light now works as well. Further more we have sorted out the gearing. Regular readers will remember that the garage put 4th where 1st should be; 2nd where neutral should have been; 3rd where 2nd was ....well you get the gist. Basically we swapped over the gear cables at the rear and repositioned neutral on the headset and the gear shift handlebar.

We still have problems. Changing gears is difficult and at times takes two hands which kinda defeats the object of a scooter! Finding neutral is a nightmare and so we are still on the hunt for a knowledgeable vespa mechanic in the Plymouth/Torbay area who can finally once and for all get it sorted for us.

But in the meantime.....she actually goes....slowly and without the speedo working but hey that is monumental progress as far as we are concerned


I've been worrying about Steve

Steve lives on the east coast of the US where Hurricane Sandy is doing her worst. I'm not quite sure where he lives, Elizabethtown I think but I hope he and his family and friends are safe and Spartina, his boat is safely out of the water and under shelter.

Streets of New York: copyright 'The New York Times'

The news coverage we are seeing this side of the Atlantic is pretty awesome and clearly 'Sandy' is having a huge impact. To all of you on the East coast and especially Delaware and New Jersey, our thoughts are with you all; good luck and God bless. Stay as safe as you can under the circumstances


Saturday 20 October 2012

motovespa 125 super update

Well we have managed to sort out some of 'Stacey' our 1966-71 motovespa 125 super. The horn is now the switch it should be as is the kill switch. The back brake light now works and the throttle doesn't rotate the wrong way any more.

We still have the gears to sort out and swap over; and the vibrating number plate. Then there is the issue of fitting mirrors and indicators. We've found some that fit either side of the rear number plate.

In the meantime we have a slightly sticky throttle as it doesn't quite return to low revs as it should do so we need to sort that out too

Ho hum. Almost there!

Monday 15 October 2012

a potentially ignominious defeat

I'm failed; come undone. Alas, awoe and all that!

I can't find anything on one Captain Jeremy Roch RN other than a few snippets. The internet has either failed me or I am looking in wrong place.

So what do I have

an it is ....make of it what you will....I think it is him in his small open boat sailing between Plymouth and London with one dog and a boy

please don't ask me what the copyright is or where the image came from. It just popped up on a google images search with little acknowledgement. I think it is from one of his journals
I also have a couple of quotes from him:
Of sailing with a boy and a dog in a 10' boat from Plymouth to London and back again.......
"one as good company as the other to me for any help I may have need of"
He was aboard HMS Cambridge during the Anglo dutch wars at the battle between the English and the Dutch on St James Day in July 1666: it seemed to be a fearsome battle out in the English channel and his comment was
'Here was a glorious prospect of 2 fleets, drawn up in such order as perhaps never observed on the sea before, for here every ship fought single so that valour was not oppressed, nor could cowards well avoid fighting. The English shouted for joy that they had…. the opportunity to try it out with the Hogens (the Dutch) on equal terms'
He is mentioned briefly in a book 'The Island Nation: A history of Britain and the sea' for his sailing to London and back exploit. It clearly caught the public imagination and attention at that time.  He also voyaged on HMS Antelope
And well that is it. Slim pickings indeed.  I haven't given up hope yet but it isn't looking good at the moment. Still, a mystery, an enigma to solve and I like that.

Sunday 14 October 2012

Captain Jeremy Roche RN

This question piqued my curiosity in the 'Dinghy Cruising Journal' that has just dropped through my letter box.

"Have you ever heard of Captain Jeremy Roche RN who, in 1677, sailed a small open boat from Plymouth to London and back?"

Ha!  I sense some Internet research coming on....who was this mad RN Captain?  It nearly killed me sailing Arwen to Salcombe and back a couple of years ago. London...and back again?  Was he a fool? An extraordinarily skilled seaman? What was it about him?

I know not but I sure do intend finding out and I can't wait until the next quarterly edition when they promise to reveal all then.....way too long a wait.......I mean is this a potential Easter holiday trip for me and Arwen; could we do London and back again in two weeks?

Me thinks not ( I suspect it will need a couple more days than that !!!!!!!!) but I will have fun finding our how one Capt'n Jeremy Roche did it and I will share my findings on the blog in due course. Doesn't one just love a mystery!


The Dinghy Cruising Association publish a quarterly journal of dinghy cruises carried out by members, technical articles about dinghy cruising etc. It is a well written, well edited and professional looking glossy journal. A source of information and inspiration along the lines of Steve and his voyages in Spartina, it is well worth joining the DCA just for this.
Go to

copyright The Dinghy Cruising Association website: 'crossing the saltings'

Monday 8 October 2012

Welsford Navigator Arwen and her Youtube account

Just been doing the analysis of my You tube account. The stat's go like this:

  • 23,188 views of my channel since March 2009
  • 25 favourites added
  • Top geographies are: USA, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand
  • 94% of viewers are male
The most watched clip with over 10,000 views is this one. The very first video I ever made. Enjoy once more my amateur efforts!

My sister won't thank me for this one! Sorry Sis!
And its funny how three years on my sail setting is still rubbish; Arwen is still untidy inside and those holes in the boom still remain unfilled. Poor seamanship, it just keeps coming back to haunt me! In the words of one of our famous actresses.....'Am I bovered?'

My family

This is a blog about Arwen. Occasionally Angharad the wee canoe or Stacey the motovespa may get a small look in. Sometimes it is my family too. And this is my 'four hundredth post'; a milestone so to speak so it seems only right that I talk about my inspiration, my family.

We celebrated Dad's 75th birthday this weekend.  We all met up at Mum and Dad's. My family split with the children staying at Grandad's and Gran's and me and 'her indoors' staying one night with one sister and one night with my other sister. Respite care for us! Even my daughter managed to tear herself away from her university social life!

Gossamer cobwebs over the bushes in my sister's garden very early in the morning

We pottered around; visited a model railway shop (Dad, two hours and you only chose one thing for your pressie....two hours man! How many times can one wander around the walls of a model shop?) Mind you he was enjoying himself and number one son and I took great pleasure in the fact that Grandad was in his element so who cares.

We all went out for a lovely meal; all the sisters, in-laws, nephews, nieces, cousins and grandparents. It was fun and I realised how lucky I am to have such a talented, fun and caring family. Five teachers and one exceptionally tolerant and patient engineer (one of my brothers-in-law; he borders on sainthood putting up with us five teachers); and then Mum and Dad. Four grand children, who as teenagers go, are amazing (although true I am biased). If everything goes according to plan we could end up with one doctor, one pilot or dentist, one conservationist and one who hasn't quite decided yet but happens to be a very talented cook!  But you never know.......plans change and what teenagers aspire to one week has often changed by another. Who cares, as long as they do their best, are kind people and find a passion for life to follow as a career.

We missed my brother and his family all living in New Zealand but we have taken some video; emailed some photos and restrained ourselves from phoning him very early in his morning (why did we do that?  Where is the fun in not waking him at an ungodly hour?)

Looking out over the fields where my sister lives

My younger sister's house faces east and so sitting out in the very early morning sun catching those first rays of warmth on the face is one of life's little pleasures; especially when you have such peaceful, stunning views. She actually has a vine growing over her front door......that is SO cool! And a stream in a field next door which gurgles away; a little valley where the early morning mists congregate and pheasants which squawk loudly at the slightest disturbance in the trees.

I think I may well try to grow these along the back of our house on a trellis.
We face south and 'her in-doors' would fancy having her own 'home made' wine

Her front view is a magical tranquil place. My Mother's garden is another great example of what an English cottage garden should be; my other sister's house is so wonderfully decorated inside. She has created such a warm family orientated ambiance with lovely little pictures, pottery and crafts from their trips. I love the interior of her house!

It makes me realise what an untidy pit me and 'her in-doors' live in; and what a jungle our garden is......but then we wouldn't have it any other way. Me and the missus, well we just don't do 'neat and tidy'!

Happy birthday Dad and thanks everyone for such a great weekend. We loved it and you all!


Sunday 7 October 2012

a john welsford navigator called

crappy?  I'm still traumatised by Arwen being referred to as 'crappy' on a vespa forum in America.
Scraped, bruised, bashed, dented, somewhat unkempt and forlorn looking; well yes maybe; built by a man with limited wood working skills or intellect; well yes maybe........................... but CRAPPY?
How can you call a welsford designed boat crappy? To coin a phrase from an unfortunately well known politician here in the UK....who are these plebs?

How can such an elegantly designed craft be called crappy?

a motovespa 125 super post mortem

Well, we have poked and prodded her; crawled underneath, over and around and we have finally taken a good long hard look at Stacey, number one son's vespa project since her return form a motocycle garage.

So here we go:
  • the throttle cable is wrong in the headset and will have to come out which means removing the headlight unit. it seems that the cable pulley turns over itself leading to the very disconcerting incident this evening when she got stuck over revving; fortunately out of gear.
  • the gear cables need to be switched over at the rear and we have ordered a cable adjuster third hand tool to help us achieve this with out a serious amount of cussing. Thank heavens for ebay.
  • the numbers on the handlebar to show the gear selection points have to go and we have both agreed that little painted lines and dots would be far more attractive. The problem is how to peel off those self adhesive numbers without taking off the paint!
  • we need to somehow find a way of dampening the vibration of the rear number plate unit; it sounds awful and looks grim and we haven't even engaged the gears yet
  • we will need to drop the engine again so that we can replace the little bung that goes in the top of the clutch plate tube so that oil doesn't spurt out everywhere
  • we have to back trace why the rear brake light wont come on when the brake foot pedal is pressed
  • putting a new piece of card covered in duct tape over the horribly butchered arch shaped hole in the lower leg shield
Sorting the cabling is a minor matter and will take around an hour of work. The numbers, if all goes well, probably the same length of time. The devising a solution to vibrating number plates - well that is down to cups of coffee and ingenuity and an inspirational brain wave or two. Could be minutes. Could be weeks!
The rear brake light? Well if God was smiling on me and she does do that occasionally I think, then it will be just a wire that has come loose. The starting point is to very carefully drop the brake foot pedal plate and see in the back. I could have the wires the wrong way around too! 
The leg shield cover - 20 minutes.

So I think maybe, with just a little luck, we are looking at a day's work.
let's hope so. It has been such a saga. One I would rather not have to take into 2013!


Saturday 6 October 2012

It's sad but I guess everyone is entitled to an opinion

even if it is an uneducated one! I guess that is the price of freedom of speech. I mean will you have a look at this

I mean I don't mind about the comments on the vespa but the insults to Arwen. Shameful! How could they? How mortally offensive. I think I need a lie down!

As usual the guys on the smallframe proboards forum and the vespa club of Gt. Britain forums have been stars - patient and forgiving and immensely good humoured. The mechanic we gave the scoot to for the last few bits and pieces did botch up the gears and got them the wrong way round. Easily fixed.  The engine number and frame number show a 1966/67 model but it didn't get registered and used until around 1971 according to the original documents we have so that explains the number plate as well. And yes lets face it we've made mistakes but then we knew diddy d about vespas but at least we gave it a go and we know heaps more now than we did a year ago.  Same with building Arwen.

Sadly I think that lot above on that forum (apart from the second person who was fair and kind - thank you sir)  come from across the pond. A pity they don't have the manners, intelligence, good humour, wit and kindness of their boat building brethren over there who have never ceased to amaze me with their creativity, knowledge, manners and enthusiasm for all things nautical, however they may look. Maybe they could take lessons from Wayne, Joel and Steve!

In the meantime we'll go back to our two heaps of junk and continue working on them, gaining immense pleasure as we do so. The best kind of learning is from making mistakes and frankly as long as we are happy with what we have produced and as long as we make it safe  and we use it wisely so that we cause no harm to others then who cares about the opinions of some unenlightened people.

Over the course of the next few weeks, Arwen will have her first refit after five years sailing - new sealant on masts and spars; a new paint inside and out. Some new wooden ash blocks as well. Stacey the motovespa will get her gears and numbering sorted; she'll have the big hole in the legshield sorted out and we will have rescued her engine and restored it from the awful state it was in. We'll keep them both and derive much pleasure form them. When son has finished with the vespa I will strip her down again and rebuild her perfectly with help from our forum members who really know their stuff.



Thursday 4 October 2012

My dad...

was 75 this week. Happy birthday Dad. He's sharper minded than me and has lost none of that innate engineering ability of his. My mum is still feisty and sharp too.Both could still give us kids the run around and  I love them both dearly even if I don't get to see them very often. But then they have four children, three of whom are teachers who work average 60 hr weeks - what did they expect! Nuff said. (With my missus and my brother in law that makes five teachers - you really have to feel sorry for our kids don't you!)

Happy birthday Dad! Model railway shop here we come!

Mum, Dad and number one son when Arwen was launched five years ago!
FIVE years...where has the time gone?

Saturday 29 September 2012

spanish motovespa 125 super part 2

Well here we are................ ‘Stacey’ our 1966 restoration project is finally home. She has been for a check-up, tidy up and an MOT.  She’s back but we have discovered some oddities so she may have to go back to the people who took a look at her for us.

Out on the street for the first time in two years

The above mentioned oddities include:

1.      The engine kill switch is now the horn

2.      The horn switch is now the engine kill switch
Both work fine!  The back brake light did work when you pressed the brake pedal but now it doesn’t!  The horn sounds like a very posh duck being strangled!
oddity number three: that gear change handle is in neutral
Does that look remotely right to any one who knows something about vintage vespa?
Last night at 1am my nocturnal dwelling teenage son dashed upstairs to inform me he could smell petrol wafting up from the floor boards. The garage is below our house. A rapid investigation discovered fuel leaking out in torrents from where the petrol hose seemed to have come lose because someone didn’t put a jubilee clip back on correctly; not only that but the on-off petrol tap seemed to have disengaged itself!
So at 2am we were taking out a petrol tank; washing down a garage floor; ventilating a downstairs section of a house and mopping up petrol with paper towels from inside the vespa itself. 
Despite this excitement we were able to fix the fuel tap; reattach the fuel hose correctly and start her. Everything else seems to be OK. There was a huge amount of grey smoke at first but that seemed to disappear as she warmed up.
Anyway here is the video clip of her working. We had started her previously hence the absence of the light grey smoke mentioned above:
Our problem is she sounds noisy and we aren’t sure whether the engine noise is the ‘right sound’. Being ‘vespa virgins’ we have nothing to compare this to; yet I can tell you immediately whether an outboard engine is sounding correct or not but not a 2 stroke vespa engine.  

So if you are the owner of a ‘certain’ age vespa, does ‘Stacey’ sound right when she is idling?
if you have been following the saga tales of 'Stacey' remember we told you about the gear change marks being filled in by the primers?  Well the mechanics we have been working with came up with this solution. Not pretty but effective for two newbies!
By the way she starts on the first or second kick start. We are assuming that is good and she seems to idle fine for several minutes without throttle adjustment.
Of course, we do have another problem. Neither of us can ride a vespa. My son can’t yet do his CBT for a few months so I will have to do mine. Thus we can’t actually take her on the road and drive her around. The only possible place we could have a go is a large car park which is normally empty on a Sunday but that would mean having to push ‘Stacey’ 1.5 miles there; and 1.5 miles back (uphill most of the way). And no, we don’t have a trailer we can put her in

Son kept the original speedo. He is absolutely against replacing it or the trim
The mechanics replaced the spark plug lead
We didn’t really think this all through did we? But at least the paint job on one part seems OK and who cares. All that matters is that we love her!