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

Friday 28 June 2013

New wooden blocks update

The new blocks are beginning. I acquired some beech and it has been cut to size and one strip has been routed to a nice curved groove. The block sides have been planed and three blocks are now glued and under clamps.
Photos imminent


Tuesday 25 June 2013

Slip Jig

Kevin has posted another report about his navigator Slip Jig. He was out and about with eleven other boats. You can see it here at

Lovely boat is Slip Jig. Fine craftsmanship and seamanship. And amongst some lovely other boats. Enjoy!


Monday 24 June 2013

Building blocks

Well, the mahogany strips have been planed and thinned to 12mm thick. The rope is being experimented with. I can get the strops done, no problem...but getting them the correct diameter/circumference .......well now that is a slightly tricky issue.
In the meantime sheaves have been ordered. Since there is a budget to adhere to, I've gone for nylon 35mm x 14mm with an 8mm bore hole. The brass rod is also on its way.
I have yet to get the whipping twine. I am looking for a tarred twine but can't find any as yet. The thimbles are also an issue and I suspect I am moving towards making my own by cutting copper pipe and then bashing it down between two ball hammers until it is rounded.

So what's holding me up? Trying to get hold of some oak strip for between the mahogany cheeks....can I find some....can I heck!  So I may have to go with pine strip wood and make sure it is well soaked in burgess hydrofoil or Deks Oljie when assembled!

I'm just finishing the last of the cleats and the jam cleats. These will be screwed into the boom replacing the plastic black ones this weekend........AFTER I've cut the grass on the back slope lawn which stands at waist height........and which she wot must be obeyed insists must be done first!

Pictures to follow at some stage


Monday 17 June 2013

Where has the time gone?

I look at the photo at the top of the blog and there is my red head daughter. When that photo was taken, she was still in school. Today she graduated with a degree in wildlife conservation. Where has the time gone?


Sunday 16 June 2013

Doodling s

I am a doodler........if there is such a word.......a visual learner whose notebooks and records of meetings and lesson plans are full of meaningless doodles. I've been doodling on the iPad again. Plainly no artist whatsoever, it's nice to while away a few minutes. Boats I've seen. If nothing else tying to capture one recognisable element does make me look at them more closely and that gives me a better appreciation of form and elegance.

I just wish I could develop some artistic and photographic skills. Maybe these will be my retirement pursuits!

Saturday 15 June 2013

Father's Day........

Is tomorrow......and my wonderful daughter spent five hours today baking me a cake for tomorrow. What can I say?


From Appledore.......

I'm not much of a photographer.....

Never have been. I never quite seem to get angles together or shot lines. But then photos are about memories I guess. Here are a few memories from recent trips to Salcombe, Appledore and Instow.


Sunday 9 June 2013

Wooden dinghy cleats

A semi mass production of dinghy cleats continues....a mixture of traditional pillar cleats and then 'jam' cleats. The latter will eventually go along the sprit boom. The pillar cleats will replace those around the aft centre case area (for the rudder down haul and the mainsail halyard). I do them in batches of four or five when I can find a snatched hour in the garage. Rough cut on the band saw, they are sanded by the bandsaw sanding disc first and handed sanded after to a smoother finish. Screw holes are drilled and then countersunk before liberal coatings of wood oil. Every cleat is slightly unique, no two cleats are identical!
I will replace them as I go. In the meantime, thoughts are turning to the production of some wooden blocks. I am looking at different types, not least those produced by Joel for his navigator "Ellie". His are rather classy with brass straps. I'm wondering about Manila rope strops...but what's stopping me is all that sail twine binding and whipping around brass eyes that would also have to take place.....and with the Uk in the grip of a heat wave, well I'd rather be out sailing! So maybe they are a winter project!

Thoughts are also turning to when I can fit in an extended overnight voyage.  I won't have as much time, for various reasons, as I thought this coming summer holiday. I still want to do an over night up at the pool on the river Lynher. Also on the list is a launch at Totnes and a sail around to Torquay before a return to Plymouth via Salcombe. This is a 60nm or so trip with three nights I suspect. The first day, down from Totnes and around to Brixham. The second night back at Dartmouth. The third night around to salcombe. Well that is an extremely rough, not looking at any charts, estimate.

Long may the warm balmy summer continue into late August!!!


Tuesday 4 June 2013 just keeps coming........

Odd lengths of mahogany keep appearing in my room. Lengths between 3' and 5' in length. I'm no wood expert but someone said it was this a mahogany?

Anyway, whatever wood type it is, it's making some lovely wooden jam cleats......or it will!!

The top wood is the mahogany one I think. The wood below which has made my first batch of jam idea what that one is either!

Sunday 2 June 2013

Not sure where

They were heading. Someone mumbled about a flotilla crossing of the Atlantic. I have no idea. They did seem to be racing each other but whatever the reason for assembling, it was a nice scene off the Hoe at 8.30am


And after coffee and the papers.....

A stroll back down to the Barbican turned up a classic car rally meet; Jaguars, to be precise!

Got to work but before I start.......

Time to our favourite terrace cafe on Plymouth Hoe. It's 10.30am; the temp is already 19cel and the sun is shining. Summer has finally arrived. Coffee, Sunday papers, my best friend at my side, stunning views.......and all is well.

Won't be around 1.30pm when I start planning prep for next week......but hey that's three hours away yet!

Looking out over western Plymouth Sound.
In the foreground is the Plymouth Hoe outdoor lido pool, opened each summer. In the distance is the Mt. Edgecumbe Country Park, whic of ourselves is Cornwall. Between is Drakes Island and the entrance to the River Tamar.

Enjoy your Sunday


Saturday 1 June 2013

A rather blustery day

Should have checked the forecast more carefully. Missed the bit about 30 knot gusts. It certainly started to rise around 10.00am. By mid morning I had one broken jib furler and two hands on the tiller! I'd like to have shown more video but with 3' waves, wind against tide and spray coming over the foredeck in huge walls of water......well nough said!

And it started so benignly!
Still the new wooden blocks look nice.