Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog. My name is Steve and i am the lucky owner of a John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. I built her over three years with the help of my father, father-in-law and two children. She was launched in August 2007 at Queen Anne's battery marina in the barbican area of Plymouth. This blog is a record of our voyages together around SW England.
Arwen has a YouTube channel of her own. Search "plymouthwelshboy".

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Another two welsford navigators join the family

Congratulations to Robert and Richard who have both launched new navigators in the last few weeks.

Robert posted a report of his first launch on John’s forum and he has given me permission to paraphrase some of it. Here in Robert’s words is the report of his launch.

“Today, I took my Navigator offshore for the first time. It was also the first time I sailed the boat solo since my test sail on a small lake in Maine last year. A tranquil mild southwest breeze carried me downwind towards the lighthouse at the end of the harbour breakwater but it picked up to 10 knots and veered to the West and I quickly hove to and put in one reef. Slipping around the lighthouse just as a mega container ship entered the harbor, I headed South/Southwest towards Catalina Island. A bumpy ride at first, with swells refracting off the breakwater and various ships and boats adding to the confusion, my Navigator never gave me cause to worry. The boat felt solid and well-behaved at all times”.

I think this lucky man actually sails off the Californian coast - wow!

A mile or so offshore with the wind at 15 knots from the west just off the southern tip of Palos Verdes peninsula and having not single-handed the boat, Robert was sure what to expect but to his surprise he was able to sail the boat upwind in those conditions quite comfortably, with no need for a second reef. In gusts, he was able to easily spill wind simply by easing the main or letting the boat round up a bit. Robert said it all felt very intuitive, like he’d done it many times before. He continued

“At some point, the highest peaks of Catalina Island, 20 miles or so away, came into view and, as always, made turning back difficult for me. What is it about distant islands that so attract boaters? But after a nice run of maybe 4 miles offshore, I thought it wise not to tempt fate and tacked the boat. The run back to the lighthouse was a broad reach. On this point of sail, "islander" sailed perfectly upright and with a comfortable motion. What a pleasure.

As I approached the harbor entrance, the wind picked up yet again, to 18-20 knots. I considered putting in a second reef, but didn't want to lose my upwind position drifting downwind while reefing. As it was, it would take me a good hour to tack upwind back to the launch ramp. If things got too dicey, I decided,I would simply drop the main altogether”.

Robert commented that although definitely overpowered now, "Islander" remained well-mannered and easily controlled. He sailed with the main and mizzen eased, spilling additional wind as needed.

Again, everything felt intuitive. Easing the main, heading upwind, bearing away, it was like an old, familiar dance”.

A bit wet, Robert made one last tack into the small launch ramp area and let the boat glide to the dock. It was his first solo docking and he was pleased not to have destroyed either his boat or anyone else's. [I so know that feeling; I’m always somewhat surprised that I manage to motor back up to the south pontoon and slot between moored boats without ever destroying any]
“All in all, this was definitely my best sail so far, boosting my confidence in the boat and my abilities. In general, sailing (or really any boating, e.g., kayaking) is best appreciated solo in my mind. I am just more in tune with the ocean, the boat and myself than when others are around.
On a technical note, I wonder how much of the amazing stability I am experiencing on "Islander" is due to the very low traditional boom (of my gaff rig). It is so low that it barely clears the coaming, which admittedly makes tacking a bit awkward, even for someone short like myself. For a tall person, it may not work at all, I don't know. But the upside is that the sail's center of effort is about a foot lower than on other gaff-rigged Navigators I have seen. At least to me, the trade-off is worth it”.

Well all I can say is well done Robert and I look forward to posting a few pictures as and when you release them. Congratulations on your Navigator launch.

Now these are photographs of Richards new navigator. What a stunning boat and I love those side coamings with the neat slots!!!!!!!

Richard launched his navigator last Sunday before an audience of over 50 people in a local small lake. [May I say here how brave that that is real confidence and skill].

“As all Navigator owners know the boat was highly praised for its beautiful lines and everyone commented on how well it sits on the water. The wind was very light so we could only ghost around under sail but could do a little motor sailing. This is the culmination of a project which has taken me 3 years from the day I bought the plans to complete but has been a wonderful experience and given me a new lease of life as I have said many times before. I would like to thank you John for your wonderful design that creates a boat a lay person can make and also the great after sales service you have provided. Also I would like to thanks all my new friends on the forum who have helped me with advice. I would like particularly to single out Peter Deck, Joel Bergen, Wilfried Vermeiron, Robin Coterill and last but not least Roger Loving, who very generously engineered my center board pivot assembly, which works perfectly and up to now doesn't leak. Thanks everyone”

Well Richard that is the amazing thing about John’s forum. There are so many people who can help. I appreciated every shred of advice they gave me. Joel and Robin continue to point me in the right direction as I learn to sail Arwen.

Again, congratulations to you both and welcome to the ever extending navigator family.



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steve said...

Michael accidentally lost your comments. Any chance you can contact me again. I potentially have some people who may be interested