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

Sunday 26 February 2012

HMS Pickle...........a little boat

I’ve just been reading a lovely article in this issue of ‘Watercraft’ (which I recommend to all small boat fans – if you want to get a flavour go to ).

In it is an article about a ‘Selway Fisher’ designed boat which the builder called ‘Pickle’ after HMS Pickle. The boat built was a Tideway 14 but that wasn’t what interested me. What chewed away in the back of my mind was “‘HMS Pickle’....I’m sure I’ve seen a replica of her in South west waters somewhere and I have a dim memory that she was at Trafalgar........wasn’t she”?

Curiosity aroused......time for a little investigative work.

Yes HMS Pickle was at Trafalgar but she was too small to do much fighting.....what she did do though is bring news back to Britain of Nelson’s death. But I’m rushing ahead........

copyright go to

HMS Pickle was a topsail schooner of the Royal Navy. Now I had to confess I had to look up what a topsail schooner was.....forgive me ignorance dear reader! According to Wikipedia...................(and here I feel I do need to do my teachers bit which goes like this.....

1. wiki, contrary to popular belief, IS NOT the fountain of all knowledge;

2. Wiki is an open contribution site so please check for inaccuracies, opinion, bias, assumption and propaganda;

3. Do try to verify what you read on wiki with other sources;

4. Check who wrote the article on wiki – do they have a reputable academic background etc etc etc!

5. If you are tempted to copy and paste and then hit the print button and submit a seven page essay to me from wiki – then I will shred it and make you do it again.

This last point was a public service announcement on behalf of the teaching profession here in the UK!)

'urgent dispatches'
copyright as picture above
George Frickess and website mentioned above

Where was I? Oh yes – what is a schooner..........apparently it is a sailing vessel which had fore and aft sails on two or more masts with the forward mast being no taller than the rear masts. First used by the Dutch and later popularised by the Americans, two masted schooners were the most common and were used in trades that required speed, windward ability and an ability to outrun officialdom........slaving, privateering, blockade running, traditional offshore fishing, smuggling etc. You can find out more here at

Now HMS Pickle started life as a civilian vessel of six guns called ‘Sting’ and she was used as an armed tender on the Jamaica station (“Jamaica? No she went of her own accord”! – You’d have to be British and a fan of the ‘Goons’ show to be up on that one). Anyway Pickle did see action when she captured a french privateer (serves them right!) in 1807. Poor old Pickle was wrecked without loss of life in 1808.

So her beginnings then were interesting. In 1800 Vice Admiral Lord Hugh Seymour, Commander-in-Chief at Jamaica informed the Navy board that he wished to purchase a new schooner to act as tender to his flagship HMS Sans Pareil; to which the Navy Board replied ‘No!!’. However it would seem that Lord Hugh was son of the Marquis of Hertford, grandson of the Duke of Conway, son-in-law to the Marquis of Waldegrave and the Duchess of Gloucester, friend of the Prince of Wales, MP for Portsmouth and a former Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty. Consequently it was probably likely that he didn’t like taking “NO!!” as an answer from he went ahead anyway and purchased ‘Sting’, informing the Navy Board only after the purchase had taken place.

‘Sting’ measured some 73 ft. overall, by 20 ft 7 in breadth and 9ft 6in depth, weighing in at 127 tons. With six carronades and a complement of 35 to 40, she was commanded by one Lieutenant Thomas Thrush and her first year of service in the Caribbean was as squadron despatch vessel, carrying despatches, orders, stores and personnel to the station's outlying ships and establishments.

copyright Western Horizon

Lord Hugh Seymour died of yellow fever in 1801and so the STING carried the Admiral’s body home to England. Between January and March 1802, she refitted for Channel Service at Plymouth, and in February the Navy Board renamed her HM Schooner PICKLE. Her first employment was in coastal patrols in the English Channel between the Solent and Land's End – chasing smugglers. In May 1802 Lt Thrush was relieved by the PICKLE's new commander, Lt John Richards Lapenotiere. Thrush was promoted to Commander, and eventually in 1809 to Post Captain.

I don’t think life aboard HMS Pickle under Lapenotiere’s command was good. In 1803 she lost a man overboard and he was never recovered. There may have been doubts about Lapenotiere’s seamanship. Pickle was not built for blockade work, which is what she was delegated to do, and many described her as a ‘wet ship’.

I read somewhere that during Lapenotiere's 41 months in command HMS Pickle lost or sprung her bowsprit or jib boom seven times, along with several other spars including her main boom three times. On occasions he had to heave the schooner's guns overboard to save the ship. 20 men deserted her every year under his command. He flogged people relentlessly; and the Bosun’s mate even deserted her at one point with several other men. He was caught and accused of mutiny and conspiring to take over the vessel but the charges were dismissed and he got away with a flogging around the fleet! In 1804, one John Boucher got a dozen lashes for ‘drunkenness, and throwing his clothes overboard’.

Stern detail on the replica of HMS Pickle

It has been said, that with fairness to Lapenotiere, part of the malcontent was because Pickle spent 70% of her time at sea. Blockade work would have been very boring; scuttling around the fleet as a messenger boy – somewhat insulting I should think. There were occasions of excitement – being sent in to Brest harbour to count the French fleet for example. She rarely took any prizes so there was little prize money to distribute amongst the crew. I could see why a crew might get bored and resentful.

During the battle of Trafalgar, she was ordered to keep out of the way of the large line of battle ships and to act as rescue boat. In the later stages of the battle, Pickle, Entreprenante, and the boats of Prince George and Swiftsure went to the rescue of the crew of the French ship, Achille, which caught fire and subsequently exploded. In all she saved 160 french sailors and one woman. The prisoners in Pickle outnumbered her crew three to one and were heard plotting to take her over to take her into Cadiz. Nothing happened though Pickle's crew kept a particularly sharp watch over the prisoners. Anyway, after discharging her prisoners to larger ships, Lt Lapenotiere was summoned on board HMS Euryalus, Admiral Collingwood's temporary flagship, on the 26th, to be given the prize job of taking news of the victory - and of Nelson's death - home to the Admiralty.

carrying the urgent dispatches
copyright George Frickess - see above for website details

Someone wrote that this was, for Lapenotiere, ‘the career defining moment’ of his life. At 35 years old he had a command, but it was merely a schooner...which probably said more about his lack of seamanship and lack of contacts than anything else. He was at that age unlikely to get further promotion. However, whoever carried this news home about Nelson’s death and the details of the victory at Trafalgar – well they were sure to get promotion to Commander and a sloop to command; a sizeable cash reward - £500 was the going rate for bringing news of a victory; and of course some fame. Whilst this task would have gone to a frigate Captain, poor Collingwood was concerned about a breakout by the combined fleet of France and so required every ship to stay on station with him. Consequently Pickle was the only ship he could spare.

Lapenotiere: I'm sorry but I can't find where this image came from although I suspect it may be from the Greenwich Museum

At noon on the 26th, with ‘fresh breezes and a heavy swell’ from the West South West HMS Pickle shaped her course for England. On the 4th November, she arrived in Falmouth and the rest as they say is history. Lapenotiere hired a coach to take him to London...a brave deed since it would have been half his annual salary to hire four horses and a coach! He knew the urgency of the dispatches he carried. It took 20 changes of horses and 37 hours to reach the Admiralty, an astonishing achievement. Lapenotiere arrived at the Admiralty at 1am on 6 November. He was shown through to the First Secretary of the Admiralty, Mr Marsden. Lord Barham, First Lord of the Admiralty was raised from his sleep to receive the news. The Prime Minister, William Pitt received the news at 3am and King George III and Queen Charlotte heard at 7am when Lapenotiere explained to King George the movements of the opposing fleets and how the battle was won. As the news was being broadcast across the city with saluting guns from the Tower of London, the news was also received by one Lady Emma Hamilton.

Lapenotiere was promoted to Commander and did receive a sword worth 100 guineas from the Patriotic Fund plus his share of the prize money from the battle, and eventually, but only after three petitioning letters, the £500 customary for the bearer of news of a victory. He also had his expenses chit honoured and was eventually promoted to Post Captain in 1811

After the excitement of the battle, the vessel returned to normal service and on 3rd January 1807, she captured a French privateer of 18 guns off the Lizard. Eighteen months later, on 28th July 1808, the Pickle was grounded on a shoal as she entered Cadiz harbour, carrying Lieutenant Moses Cannadey who was bearing dispatches from England to Admiral Lord Collingwood. Lookouts had reported broken water at midnight and it was clear that Lt Cannadey had misjudged his surroundings. Daylight revealed that her bottom was completely stoved in and she was unsalvageable. His court martial in August commented on his ‘unaccountable error in reckoning and the distance travelled’. Cannadey was reprimanded.

copyright 'old salt blog'

But this isn’t the end of the story about HMS Pickle. The journey of HMS Pickle and the bearing of the news from Trafalgar is commemorated by Warrant Officers of the Royal Navy on November 5th, known as Pickle Night, in a similar celebration to that of Trafalgar Night celebrated by Commissioned Officers.

As to the replica of HMS Pickle – well I’m not sure. She did end up in Conwy harbour, a place I know well for I lived there for 6 years. But where she is now I am not so sure. She was put up for sale and if you are interested, these two sites give some further illumination.

This is some You tube footage of the replica entering Ilfracombe harbour.

Saturday 25 February 2012

a fun video clip

Just found this on YouTube. Awesome. Not possible on Arwen of course!


Dave's refurbishment of 'Sea Minor' is complete

Dave has taken his navigator out and about already. You can read about his progress here at


getting last and fitting lazy jacks

The weather is better. It's been  a warm week with temps of 18C down here in the south west. No rain and that allowed me to get Arwen's sails onto the drive.

First job, sorting out the slab reefing system and tidying up ropes. There are some frayed edges and I will whip these next weekend. The 6 Nations rugby is on, England vs Wales and well.......I needed to get things done in a fixed amount of time. I mean you can't miss a potential Triple Crown match can you? Not that it's going that well. England, the underdog's are in the lead and it pains me to have to say they have played some really good 'fast break' rugby for 'underdogs'! The Twickenham curse is working again!

Some of those holes need urgent filling

After sorting the slab reefing stuff, it was on to lazy jacks. I've put two blocks either side of the mast just above the main halyard sheave. I've been torn between two different versions of lazy jacks so what I've done for now is to tie the lazy jack rope onto one block on the port side; down the port side of mainsail, through a fairlead under the sprit boom pretty far aft; then back up the starboard side of the mainsail and through the starboard mast top block.

I also took the opportunity to add two fairleads to the upper yard. One is where the main halyard sheet goes through and I the do a clove hitch to secure it. The other is for a small rope strop that I will tie around the mast to keep the yard close to the mast. the rope will have a snap link on it. It was a tip passed onto me by Wayne (cheers Wayne)

From here the rope runs down the side of the mast where I've placed a new small cleat on the mast side just above deck level. It should all being well act as a lazy jack AND a topping lift. In addition, I'm rather hoping that the rope running down the starboard mast side will act as a 'restrictor' helping hold the forward end of the top yard against the mast.

Talking of masts, it is time for the mast to have some TLC. There are some nasty dings, dents and scuffs. The burgess coating has faded and worn off in places. I think I will wait for the first available warm sunny day and then get the mast out, sanded and soaked in burgess hydrosol. Two or three coatings should do it as well.
There are also various holes to fill with wood filler where I have moved fairleads around.

This is the little sticker I mentioned a couple of posts ago

It's 12-6 to England. This is a disaster in the making. Everyone across the nation predicted a Welsh win.......underdogs........ha! And we have one in the sin bin too so we are down to 14 men! On the other hand we have kept possession and tied up England and just got a penalty kick. Not bad for 14 men!

Sorry, got sidetracked.  Another thing which needs sorting are the trailer hubs and wheel rims. It doesn't matter what I do, they get immersed and they start to rust even though I religiously hose them down after every dunking! Not sure what to do about these so will need to give some thought. If any readers have some tips, I'm keen to hear them.

The weather is improving. The temperatures are rising. The lighter evenings are beginning.  I think the first trip out for 2012 is fast approaching. It's been a long wait!!


PS  if anyone is looking for a new saw for boat building, I found one in a Vienna art gallery last week. It displays under the name of 'modern art'!

Postscript 2

I have suffered multiple heart attacks in the last 12 minutes - Dear Lord - what a game. 78 minutes to go and we are now 12 - 12; then a welsh player does a fantastic little kick through a gap, chases it 20 yards and touches down. 2 minutes to go and we are now  in the lead and then in the 80th minute with seconds to go England dive across the line. The ref has no clear view - it goes to a TV judge ref. Minutes pass by. Heart in mouth - if they give this try its a draw.........the whole of Wales is yelling at the TV.......and the judgement comes touch down, no try.....and so we get the triple crown at Tickenham AND our Grand Slam ambitions just carry rolling on........I'm exhausted!! Mentally frazzled! I need a lie down!

Saturday 18 February 2012

quick 'Stacey' update

Jacques came to the rescue with the wiring. So I managed to do a few jobs this afternoon, as follows:
  • the throttle cable has been threaded through the U section of the vespa body and inserted into the carb
  • the footbrake was dropped from the floor and the circular rubber protector fitted; the spring was also fitted and the assembly reattached. The footbrake now depresses and returns to its correct position rapidly.
  • fitted the felt gasket; I removed the carb and it slid over the manifold as everyone said it would
  • reattached the regulator and then put the wires back into it in the sequence described to me by Jacques on the small frames vespa forum.
All in all, a good couple of hours work.
Where was number one son I hear you all ask?

Playing SkyRim on his xbox. Com' fair.....he'd been separated from it for four days while the Missus and I were away in withdrawal symptoms were setting in!


Saturday 11 February 2012

help us figure out 'Stacey's' wiring....please!!!!!!!!

Someone with knowledge of vespa wiring save us please!!

We have a loom made up for us by Beedspeed which is a great piece of work but the colours - well they don't match  up to other bits and pieces and we are confused.
This is the wiring diagram that Beedspeed sent us. Big version and up close version!!

We have managed to wire up the rear light despite it also having different colours loom to light. Obviously we haven't tested this yet!! So we won't say 'correctly wired up'. That would be tempting fate!

Below is a picture of our regulator, the original one which came off the bike. It seems in good condition but we would have no idea how to check it. We are slightly confused by the letters in the black plastic and the colour sticker colours. Stupidly, this is the only part where we didn't take a photo before taking it off the scooter...the ONLY time we didn't do a photo. Unbelievable!

Anyway, we had a set of wires coming out of the stator plate and using the original photos, we put the end of these back into the blue electric coil box(?) as they were originally. 

Is this wired up correctly as there are two slots for a green wire?

There were two other wires coming from the stator plate which were blue and black and we wired these up to the blue and black wires on the wiring loom, via a junction box. We are slightly confused here as on the plan it only shows a blue wire from the stator and we definitely had a blue one and a black one!! So, do we have this right?

Anyway, when we look down into the inside of the scooter frame where the carb is - this is now what we have.

All the cables are coming from the left hand side bar the two mentioned above which have come up through a hole in the floor panel just out of sight under the carb.

These two shots are of the top part of the wires you can see coming up from the bottom of the floor area in the photograph above:

so from left to right we have
a black single wire with connector; a double green wire with one connector on it; and another single wire with connector.
Exactly where do each of these wires go?

in the photo below we have on the other set of wires........
a single blue wire with connector; a single grey wire with connector; a black wire with a) a single connector and then another off shot wire with a circular tag at end which looks like it should slip over a bolt somewhere but I have no idea where
so.........where should these wires be going?

so the $64 million question..............................where on earth do each of these wires go? Which connect to the regulator and then were do any left overs go?  I have three tabs on the regulator and six spade connectors...confused? You have no someone please save us!!


PS and this is what it is all looking like underneath - have we got this bit right?

bits and bobs

It's the first day of half term and its's a 'bits and bobs' day. Been for a walk along the Plym estuary down the side of Saltram House. Chilly! 

The little beach off the lower Saltram estate with a little jetty wall. I keep meaning to find out why it was built here and what boats used to come up the Plym channel to moor here
I suspect there was far less silt here some 120 years ago!

Came back and checked under Arwen's covers. No Mould! Yippee! I've left the covers on  loosely this winter after some tips from forum members last year and it seems to have worked. I put the sails back in ready, just in case a nice crisp winter sunny day arrived at a weekend. Sadly no luck yet!

Fitted Arwen's new compass, a Silva 70 UN sighting compass onto the back of the centre case. It seemed the best place to put it where I wouldn't catch it with my knee. It's a tad close to the cleat where I put the jib sheet when single handing but I think it will be OK.  It doesn't seem to be affected by anything metallic as far as I can see. It's in a high visibility area and also easily accessible to extract for handholding.

I stuck on the new vinyl 'badge' on Arwen's port quarter sheer plank area. I got it from 'Creeksailor' - see the blog roll list on the side here for his website. It says
"Small boat sailors do it in mud, sand and shoal waters"

It's circular, about 7 cm in diameter and has a creamy buff background colour and darkish brown exterior edge. In the centre is a nice little watercolour of a small boat with a little cuddy/cabin and a tan gaff sail and tan jib. hanging off the starboard side, over the hull,  from the shroud is a little pair of green wellies.  I like it and it is stuck on Arwen to remind me that this year a sailing ambition is to a) sail all the way up the Tamar to Calstock with my Dad, God Bless him,  and b) to sail up the Lynher and into the muddy saltings creeks around St Germans where I shall beach Arwen and do an overnight camp in splendid marsh salting surroundings with oystercatchers, curlews and egrets for company. 

Took 'Stacey' off her crate and saw the underside of the floor panels for the first time in months. That horrible arch cut away just stares at us. we have come to the conclusion that number 1 son will ride 'Stacey' for a few years. She will get scratches, dents, dings. Then we will sell her. At that point we will then fix a new plate over this cut away piece which is missing. It seems silly to put a piece in now and ruin the candy apple paint job. Our friend down the road who is a scooter MOT tester says it will pass no problems and he's had a good poke around. He's happy with the footbrake pedal and plate arrangement too. So we will put black duct tape over the hole for now. It will be hidden by the mudguard. That will stop gunk off the road going down the inside of the U section. Must replace those brake plate bolts with smaller ones whilst I think about it!

I can feel Spring is just around the corner.........sailing trips.......not long now!


Thursday 9 February 2012

removing mainsail battens.................a dumb question!

So here I was musing “what would happen if I removed the battens from Arwen’s mainsail?”

Dear Lord have mercy: wot is this man trying to do to that mainsail?

Well not being the most technically alert sailor, I honestly had no idea. I know the mainsail can be a pain to drop and stow without the battens having a life of their own....but exactly how crucial are they?
Well, only one bunch of guys to ask really.......and so over to the JW forum I went.

“I would try it and see. Your biggest problem might be the leach will fall off and you will lose power as your effective sail area is reduced”

Had to remind myself which part of the sail the leech was (pitiful isn’t it – sorry guys!)

“Theoretically better performance in light air; less control. Shouldn't be hard to try out...”

(Unless you are an idiot like me – then it can be easily complicated).

“Steve, there has been an update in the rig plan for Navigator, the top battens have been shortened at the forward end to make the sail easier to stow, take 120mm off forward end of the top one, and 200mm off the next one down. You should be able to hand stitch the ends of the batten pockets to do that, and it’s not a problem to shorten the batten itself with a hacksaw and file”.

Wow! Hack at the battens........I’m a tea totaller but that sounds like seriously straying into ‘have a double scotch before embarking on that course of action to stiffen the spine’ kind of territory! did come from JW that’s OK with me. But hang on.....a vague memory is appearing. I'm sure Chris jeckells decided to do that unilaterally when he mad eup the sails............I think!

Don't bother asking: it didn't work...hardly surprising really!
The word 'shambolic' is the politest I can use here 

“I tried removing them all once just to see what would happen. Didn't work. The sail folds and flops over along a line from head to clew”.

Hang on – head and clew, where is my ‘dinghy sailing for dummies’ book?

“I think the reason your sail only bulges a bit when stowed is because your batten pockets are set at more of a vertical angle than mine. Mine are set more horizontally. Consequently, I have to pull my battens about half way out of the pockets every time I furl, which I want to avoid. Otherwise they're in my face or at a risk of snapping in half. Longer battens are generally better for sail shape, so since yours is working I'd be hesitant to mess with it too”.

 Ha, a good observation!

“Next time I'm out I plan on trying John's shortened batten suggestion, and experiment with other lengths, and I'll report back with the results. Looking over my Navigator photo collection, I'm encouraged to see many mainsails without any full length battens at all, and they have beautiful sail shapes too”.

Generous offer – thank you!

“My goal is to "have my cake and eat it too". I want to keep that beautiful sail shape but also be able to drop the main right into my lazyjacks without having to touch the battens or anything else on the sail and without leaving my seat”.

Now see – here is someone who understands me completely – that is exactly what I want and can’t seem to get!

“My full length battens do bulge a bit when stowed on the boom, and I'll consider shortening as John has suggested, but I just want to say how pleased I am with my Duckworks sails, and how much pleasure that main sail has given me, both in performance and appearance. My youngest son often says (as he lays back in the cockpit looking upwards) that the shape of the main reminds him of the shape of Spitfire fighter wing. And the battens as originally designed give beautiful sail shape whatever wind there is (or not). So I hesitate to change a thing”

Now this is a person who knows a thing or two about design and how to sail – so I’m supposed to be getting a spitfire wing shape to the that is something to aim for!

“I think it was Kevin (navigator Slipjig) who had the clever idea of tensioning the yard luff with a short line though a cleat at the yard peak. When the sail is dropped the tension can be removed and the battens can lie more easily. It is a two-step process though so would not suit you”

Yeah – I think that’s a great idea but is probably, in all truth, beyond my technical ability, patience or understanding. It's spooky how well these guys know me!

stupid fixed grin says it all really
Not the brightest card in the pack!

Robin, Rob, Hajo, Joel, Alan and JW........thank you and sorry for asking such a dumb question in the first place! On the other hand, as I always say to my students...there is never anything like a dumb question.......if you don’t know, you don’t know and that’s the fun in learning....finding it out!


Wednesday 8 February 2012

Does the name you give your boat embue it with a 'soul'?

Here is an update from Rob.

“Well, I've named my Navigator "Islander," after the 37-foot yawl Harry Pidgeon, until then a non-sailor, built only a stone's throw away from my launch site in LA Harbor almost 100 years ago and then sailed solo around the world - twice. He was the second person to do so, the first being Joshua Slocum.  Another reason for the name is my principal sailing destination across the San Pedro Channel - Catalina Island”.

Rob says he had picked out the name a long time ago, but the rest of the family objected thinking it too "boring" a name.

Well, I think it’s a great name Rob and very apt. For what it is worth, none of my lot liked ‘Arwen’ as a name but.....well she is 'Arwen'......a goddess of the sea and I just cannot think of her being named anything else. I look at her and I see her soul......she is and always will be 'Arwen' to me.  Sometimes people just don’t understand the sentiments behind a name do they?

Wecome to the 'Welsford Navigator' family 'Islander'


Tuesday 7 February 2012

Two welsford navigators in one week..................

And another navigator is launched and on its way. Hey two in one week. Wonderful. Rob launched his navigator but in September and sailed it out in Maine where it had been built by an extraordinary craftsman Ray Frechette. Rob launched it for the first time back in sunny California. As Joel this the first navigator to be sailed in both the pacific and the Atlantic? I think so but hey I wait to be corrected. That is pretty cool isn’t it – both in Atlantic and Pacific.

I think this Ray at the helm....hope I got that right Rob!!

Rob had mid 70’s temps (which in my language I think works out at around 20C or thereabouts with westerly breezes of 5 – 8 knots. He was worried about towing the boat up the ramp with only a front wheel drive vehicle but everything was fine (he has no idea about two wheel, front wheel drive. I damn near lost the car, trailer and Arwen last year at low tide when the wheels spun continuously on the algae and we didn’t advance anywhere as a huge spring tide came rushing in and up the exhaust!)

Rob took an hour to rig his boat (it does get quicker as you remember where things go and you develop short cut strategies. I’m down to around 25 mins from completely disassembled to ready to go). Of course, he was hindered in a very nice way by all the people who stopped to say hello and admire the boat. Navigators do seem to do that. Whenever Arwen gets launched there will be a few who stop by to admire the lines, cringe at the gouges in the rub rails and suggest useful (or on occasions not so useful) tips and short cuts in rigging.

I admire Rob – he sails off the dock under Jib and Mizzen. I have never done that. I always motor out using the excuse that my exit from pontoon is along a 3m wide causeway between moored boats either side, invariably at a head to wind position. I’m not even sure I can control Jib and mizzen sufficiently yet to get alongside a free floating, un-crowded pontoon!

Once launched, he headed out in to the LA harbour basin moving under jib and mizzen in only a 5 kt breeze. Does that sound pretty good sailing to anyone else, because it sure does to me! LA harbour, I’m sort of assuming he means Los Angeles harbour...that sounds soooo cool!

From jib and mizzen, he set the main and shot off in a 9 kts breeze bringing smiles to the faces of his accompanying children. Ah what it is to have your offspring actually want to go out in a boat with you. My sailing buddy (my daughter) is away at University and I miss her. My son doesn’t do boats...scooters, gliders, planes never! Lucky man, he had an opportunity to teach the family how to tack as a team and later allowed children to do the helming AND tacking.

As Rob concludes:
“To top off our luck, we ran into a small pod of Bottlenose Dolphin in the middle of our sail. Nicholas is a huge fan of all sea life, and to see dolphins up close and for several minutes was a real treat for him. He took lots of pictures and video. Next, I told him, we will look for Gray Whales, which are currently migrating up the CA coast from their breeding grounds in Mexico to their feeding grounds above the Arctic Circle. They will pass by LA Harbour for the next 3 months only a mile or so offshore”.

Now if I had the possibility of Whales moving up our coastline, well I’d be out every day! I am desperate to see a basking shark off our headland in the summer. I used to see loads when I was fishing along the coast. They hung like huge shadows in the upper surface waters...amazing creatures, drifting in the currents. We have had news that Orcas have been spotted off Trevose head in Cornwall and that is a pretty impressive sighting for our coastline.

Rob clearly had a lovely sail but he went on to conclude his feedback to JW forum members by making some observations about his navigator. He found that the Navigator has enough pointing ability to claw back up wind but that it probably takes a few extra tacks compared to a modern hull and sail plan; which is exactly what I have found.

At the end of his day out Rob said

“With wind less than 5 knots, we tacked right into the launch area, released all sheets, drifted toward the floating dock and at the last moment turned into wind to put the boat alongside. A perfect landing, as far as I was concerned. No splintered bow sprit or rub rail”

Wow, I just know I do not yet have the ability to pull off that manoeuvre!

Rob has posted a link to his Picasa web page where you will find some photographs of his lovely looking navigator (nice colour hull and beautiful tan sail combination)
Rob. Congratulations, what a lovely looking boat. A lovely yarn about the first sail in California waters too. May you look forward and have many more special days like this one. Welcome to the navigator family.


Sunday 5 February 2012

fitting a bilge pump....

I'm leaning towards doing it. I'm looking at the Whaler urchin model which attaches to a bulkhead. It pumps 9 gallons or 37 lts per minute if you do 45 strokes of the handle. I think if the boat was swamped and I was using a 3 gallon bucket and under panic, I would shift far more! So the pump is to get that rainwater out or the water that builds up during the day punching to windward. I have bungs at the back which are unscrewed at the end of each trip so the water can drain out whilst on the slip ramp but some water always remains in.

The Whaler Urchin

Locating the pump will be the issue so that it has a firm bedding.  Ideally I want it close to the helm position but not in the rear aft footwell since little water ever seems to gather there. So what about mounting it on a block and then mounting the block onto the front port bulkhead in front of the centre thwart? With a detatchable handle on a lanyard so it won't get in the way, that position would be accessible enough.  People sitting with the legs forward of that position shouldn't find it too intrusive but I'll check first.  I think that then when I hove to to pump out water that has collected, this place will be easy to get to and easy to move in. But will it fit? Will the pipe stick up too much?

what I don't want happening; the pump in the way, sticking up and the pipe being all over the place

An alternative would be to mount it on a block along one of the hull planks but it really isn't that accessible there is it? The inlet pipe could go straight down to the floor. I want to resist using a  large strum suction box because I'll tread on it or trip on it. The outlet pipe will have to gently curve up the side of the hull and then exit somewhere along Arwen's nice Burgundy sheer plank. I'll need to fit a good outlet ring of some form and make sure it is well bedded in sitaflex.
The dimensions needed for installation

Ugh! Drilling holes in Arwen's nice planks - just doesn't sound fun does I really need a bilge pump. Normally what I do is let the water build up and then just use the hand bailer or hand pump. The hand pump has a shorter pipe though which never reaches over the hull side. So would it be better just to add a large pipe length to that and save myself some hassle?

the kind of pump I use now but the pipe doesn't reach up over the side deck!!

AArgh!  Decisions, decisions. I hate making decisions!
Someone give me advice - what would they do? Because so far, all I have found is this nice piece from Dick Everitt which I assume has come from an old PBO magazine (at least that is who I'm attributing copyright to so sorry if I got it wrong!). I wonder if Joel, Steve, Rob and others have installed one in their navigators and pathfinders? Time to call in the cavalry!


Saturday 4 February 2012

Silva 70UN compass, Lazy Jacks and thoughts of summer

I think I have finally sorted out in my head my lazy jack arrangement, which when the weather improves, will the first thing I do to get Arwen ship shape and ready and for this coming season. I’m going to put a shackle on the port shroud tang high up on the mast from which a rope will run down the port side of the mainsail to the aft end of the sprit boom and under the loose sail foot. It will run through a fairlead on the bottom of the sprit boom and then back for’ard up the starboard side of the mainsail to a block on the starboard shroud tang, before running down the mast side to a cleat which I will mount on the mast side. Now I can splice in a line either side of the main sail off these mainlines which will run down under the boom and back up the other side. And hey presto...or at least I think so! What I’m secretly looking for are lazy jacks that work like these!! But I doubt it!

I have also bought a Silva 70UN sighting compass. I’ve been using my hand held compass up to now and this will be a good addition for those long passages Arwen and I do during the summer months. I expect I will mount it either along the top of the centre board case top or at the aft end of the centre case on a block which I will attach upright in the aft cockpit. I’ll need to check where the steel bolts and screws are......compass deviation would be somewhat embarrassing.
I have also been giving some thought to stowing the sails on the sprit boom when they are dropped. I use sail tie tapes which are fine but take time to sort out. I quite like this little trick from Harry Gordon and I just have to work out whether it could work or not on Arwen.

Now I have to wait for a spell of dry weather. Here it is raining and bitterly cold. Europe is in the middle of a deep freeze and more snow is forecast....where oh where are those lovely summer days?

Thursday 2 February 2012

a new boat is launched..........

Now you all know I like to try and keep tabs on navigator owners around the world and what they are up to. I think they are an amazing bunch of people with a diverse range of skills, talents and interests. Well, here is one more to add to our growing JW navigator family. Jim has just launched his boat ‘Judy Ann’. Jim says “She is named for my mum who taught me the patience I needed to make it through the 4 ½ year build! She is my first real wood working project and has been the most rewarding and satisfying project I have ever undertaken”

This is Judy Ann on Lake Wallace, near Edenhope, Victoria, Australia.

I know how he feels, I remember those feelings well. Jim went on to say how he at times despaired at his slow progress and saw visions of a ½ built boat funeral pyre in the paddock. Yep, that feeling is familiar. There were many a time when I seriously gave thought to knocking away the chocks and letting a half built Arwen roll down the drive into the path of the on-coming trash collection lorry!

“The simple satisfaction of taking a hand plane to a plank or running some sand paper over the bowsprit always got me back. I look back at the build with great fondness and am very keen to see JWs plans that are on his drawing board. It does not seem right that there is no boat ½ built in the shed any more!”     Jim

He says she was launched in December 2011 and that he has been out a few times locally and once on an overnighter, sleeping on board and sailing the waters of the Coorong, where the Murray River meets the Southern Ocean. Those names are just so evocative, giving me a sense of adventure, of long lost distance lands.

This photo shows Judy Ann beached at the camp at dawn on the Coorong trip.
Isn't this a well crafted, stunning photo

Jim goes on to say

“My next plan is to take the kids out on a few more sails, do some camp cruising and plan a proper big expedition for when my long service leave is due…. Lake Argyle in Western Australia perhaps, or maybe Cape York peninsula in Queensland. The possibilities seem endless with such a lovely boat”.

Endless possibilities. Yes there are and I have been thinking about those myself. How about sailing all the southern ports in Cornwall and Devon? My friend Dave and I have been thinking about towing our boats down to Fowey; sailing around that area; perhaps across to Mevagissy. Or perhaps down to the Fal and around Helford and Falmouth. Endless possibilities....yes I like that....a nice phrase.

Well Jim, Judy Ann looks magnificent and is a welcome addition to the JW navigator family. May you have many happy sails in her......and congratulations on such a fine looking boat.

Wednesday 1 February 2012

securing anchors

When I asked people on the forums what they did with their anchors, some interesting replies emerged. Robin, for example, thought the idea of an anchor on a roller was sound but that it shouldn’t be as far forward as I was suggesting. This is because too much weight right at the front of the boat will make it ‘bounce’ and dig into waves. He suggested maybe I could mount the roller alongside the bowsprit further back where it meets the stem. I could but then I would need to build a laminated arch of wood over it so that the jib sheet wouldn’t catch on (a point made by Richard). This is something Wayne has done on his navigator to very good effect. Both tips are really sensible.

Dave described his set up on his mirror dinghy. He has a 10lb fisherman anchor and a danforth on the deck. The anchors sit on ‘V’ shaped blocks (one on top of the other) and are lashed in place. A wooden dowel through the block serves as a cleat for tying them down. Occasionally he keeps the fisherman catted over the bow so that he can drop it easily in sheltered waters. Dave also drew attention to the way he lays out a transom stern anchor – starting it from the bow he lowers it and then runs the warp down the outside of the boat and cleats it off. The warp remains along the side of the boat out of the way avoiding chaos within tripping over it! anchor on deck but not far forward; build an arch to stop it catching the jib. Got that! Now how do I secure the rode and chain in the anchor locker so it doesn’t fall out in event of a capsize?

Thanks guys for the advice, appreciated as always.