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 22 July 2013

Where did the sun go?

After weeks of heat wave ..........fog, cool breezes and definitely no sun. This morning a steady breeze and some activity from the Royal Marines as entertainment landing craft em. It felt damp and clammy but warm albeit significantly cooler than we have experienced of late. With winds directly from the south it was a series of tacks down to the breakwater and Arwen and I took time out to practice a little 'self sailing' I.e. Arwen sails herself.

Then a phone call from my friend had me scurrying back to the pontoon to collect her. She had all her gear and was keen to sail. We headed out and raised sails........and no wind. No wind, no sun, no porpoise.......nothing. Some jumping mackerel kept us entertained for a few minutes but we just languished around drifting nowhere except back towards shore as the spring tide increased in strength. The afternoon wore on and eventually winds did pick up enough for an hour or so of decent sailing but fickle wind shifts kept us on our toes. It was good to catch up with an old friend and I have promised her another sail.....when the sun is out, breezes are steadier and there are porpoise back in the sound. No pressure then!


Sunday 21 July 2013

Today and tomorrow

Well I was hoping to go sailing this afternoon. Phone my friend Dave, mosy on down across to Cawsand; but it wasn't to be. Strong winds and the need to get a new car radio installed put paid to such plans.

However, tomorrow is looking better and an old friend from school has asked to come sailing, collecting on a promise made a couple of years ago. She is really looking forward to it so I'm hoping the weather will hold. It should be cloudy but clearing, around 20C and maybe the odd shower. Thunderstorms will have hopefully passed over during the night. Winds should be from north east swinging southerly, starting force six but dropping to force three as the afternoon progresses.  Tides are near springs with low water around 12.15pm and 0.8m in height rising to 5.5m around 18.30pm.

I suspect that she will be happy to helm and I vaguely remember that she has done a little sailing before but on bigger boats. We will try for Cawsand and a stop on the beach. We may be able to run along the inside of the breakwater as well.

I'm looking forward to it


A new navigator is approaching a launch

And very hopefully, Joe will allow me to post pictures of his great day when it arrives in August. In the meantime, marvel at Joe's workmanship and seaman like arrangement of various spars etc on his boat. I'm really looking forward to his launch report. Good luck Joe


Friday 19 July 2013

Or even this........

A summer's night down the Barbican

Looks a bit like this.........

She won't forgive for this but........

My not so little girl in her gowns.......I use the excuse that she will Facebook photos but I'll sneak it on here for a little while before she demands I take it down. Well done number one daughter, I'm really proud of you


My little girl.....

Isn't so little any more! However, she continues to make her old grey haired dad very proud. Yesterday we attended her graduation ceremony and she was resplendent in black gown and grey silk hood. Bought tears to her old man's eyes!
My daughter, a scientist and fully fledged conservationist being encouraged by her tutor to do a doctorate. I cannot begin to describe how proud I am of her and all the sheer gutsy hard work she has put in over the last several years to achieve this recognition.

I always aspired to do a I am facing stiff potential competition not only from my wonderfully intelligent wife, but now from my daughter as well. No pressure then!

And then there is my son, whose knowledge of and passion for history and politics never ceases to amaze  and delight me; and whose leadership qualities at school shine through. I am as equally immensely proud of him and his time at university will come, although in what field, I could not at this time say.

Congratulations to all those who have graduated this year, wherever and in whatever field it may be. Go out now with your degrees and start pushing on the doors of life. Push hard enough and your doors will open to endless possibilities. Remember to use your knowledge to good effect, to benefit people and our wonderful planet. And in whatever field you go into, do it well, with confidence and pride; support and encourage those around you to excel and never ever stop learning.

I salute you all......well done to you all.


Thursday 18 July 2013

Sailing up to pontoons

Spent yesterday on the lake sailing a 21' drascombe. It is such a lovely boat to sail. More importantly, I managed to sail up to and more amazingly stop alongside a pontoon three times. Three times! I sailed up to a pontoon more yesterday than I have in my entire sailing career.
Extraordinary.......and I felt quite chuffed. Managed to stop alongside perfectly in a breezy crosswind, all under control.
I like draws complies. I like Arwen better but if I didn't have Arwen, I'd definitely want a drascombe.


Tuesday 16 July 2013


I sailed one today on a Cornish lake. It is a lovely boat although much longer, almost 21 feet than Arwen is (at 14'6").  I liked the boomless sail as well. A nice, easy to sail, well mannered boat. Impressed, very impressed indeed.


As Gavin says......

I really hope this isn't true.......


Sunday 7 July 2013

Lumix TZ40 further shots

The above shot .....boat was 300 m away on x20 zoom. The shot below was going into digital zoom.....pretty good I thought!

Lumix TZ40 first impressions review

Taken from 1.8 miles away on x20 telephoto

The photo below was taken from over 400 metres away

Saturday 6 July 2013

The Lumix TZ40

With a trip abroad sometime this year 'she wot must be obeyed' felt we might need to avail ourselves of a new lightweight camera. A technically advanced one with a big zoom to pick out humming birds in the rainforest canopy. So we surfed the net and read all the reviews of all the current crop of compact digital cameras.

And the Lumix TZ40 came out on top. Most reviews rated it very highly. X20 zoom; wifi transfer of photos to talents or PCs; near field communication allowing an iPad or mobile phone to wirelessly control the camera from near or a little further away.  A review can be read at the website at the end of the post. A few people criticised the picture quality but we can't say we noticed. It's lightweight, sturdy with wifi, GPS, NFC and several other nice features. Anyway we will let you know how we get on with it.


Wooden dinghy blocks

A tad rough around the edges, the pins need knocking out and the block sanding a little more on each edge where ropes enter and exit......but here they are. The first batch. The next batch will be varnished and I'll decide which ones I like most afterwards.

Whilst the blocks are slowly getting there, the garden is a mixed fortune.

 Broccoli going well; cauli's.....dead.....mass caterpillar attack.  Leeks, carrots and onions all fine. Runner beans stunted but mange tout......excessively successful!


The sheaves arrived

Grey not white but I'm ok about that.  I'm in the middle of drilling holes, gluing sides together and trimming to size. I'm not 100% sure how to secure the brass rod in the sides. They fit tightly in the holes but how do you secure them?

Other tasks to do include drilling and inserting dowel pins; shaping grooves on either cheek plate for the rope grommets and making the actual grommets. Making thimbles out of copper pipe off cuts is proving troublesome. Trying to bash them between two ball hammers is taxing in patience and hand-eye co-ordination. So far it's resulted in failure as well. Lots of squashed and collapsed sided thimbles!

Still, by the end of the weekend some blocks should emerge.......well when I have decided how to finish them....varnish? Burgess hydrosol?  Danish oil? Choices, choices, choices.


Monday 1 July 2013

More photos of slip Jig

Go to this lovely blog to see Kevin's navigator and many more lovely looking boats