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

Saturday 30 November 2013

The old gaffers association of Western Australia and their 'C' fleet

Clearly had a very good weekend. Some fantastic boats. Enjoy.


Tuesday 26 November 2013

Bits and bobs

I have been thinking about making a catering box as a winter project. A quick Internet trawl found this example which I quite like. I could sketch it out and work out dimensions and build it from my scrap ply I store in he garage. I'd want it hold everything...plates, owls, mugs, trangia stove and fuel, washing up kit, tins of food etc etc. I'd want it to sit in the port front side of the cockpit. I've got some tapes already in place for holding the extra ballast water jerrycans I sometimes use. So those could hold it in place.

Below the box photos are some of boat tents. The other thing that occupies my mind!!

And last but not latest rough effort at mastering the iPad art package. It isn't going too well....this mastery thing is it! Still I have the rest of my life to master it!!


Sunday 24 November 2013

Weather helm part 2

Nov 2013
Weather helm on your tiller

I have posted on weather helm on Arwen before but recently there has been a discussion on the JW forum and as always, I come away learning loads of new things. It is an amazing forum with some real wisdom and experience in it.

I didn't realise that adjusting the rake of the mast for'ard or aft will affect weather helm. I knew that not having the rudder fully down would, so I am up on something. With mizzen sheeted in hard, as Joel points out, his 'Ellie' has a slight weather helm and with mizzen half way out, helm appears to be neutral.

Robert sails with the tiller lashed in self steering most of the time and he notes that he has to keep the boat balanced at all times using mizzen, crew weight and the centreboard to achieve this balance.  On a beam reach he has the centreboard half way up and the stronger the wind, the more He needs to raise the board. On a broad reach He raises the board almost all the way. But even when close hauled, He doesn't have the board all the way down unless the wind is less than 10 knots. "then try lashing the tiller just a tad to windward of the centreline (i.e., to induce just a bit of lee helm) and then use only the mizzen, the centreboard and your body weight/crew weight to balance the helm of the boat, in that order". Sounds interesting and I've made a note to give this a go next time Arwen and I are out and about on the sound.

Robert makes another well thought out point "But now that I look back, I realize that self-steering taught me things about my boat that I may never have learned otherwise or at least not as quickly and thoroughly. So, maybe just look at it as a learning tool, if nothing else". Wise words indeed. Thanks Robert.

Others observed that the jib halyard is tight; that the mast stays are tight and that jib head stay is tight too. That will have a profound effect on reducing weather helm as well.

John, as always, had pearls of wisdom. "The mast can be raked forward a little, and if it is a yawl rigged boat the mizzen can be eased a little . Another thing to try is to move the crew weight back and forward and see what difference that will make. Sail trim can make a big difference as well, check that the slot between the mainsail and the leach ( after edge) of the jib is adequate to let the air gathered by the jib pass through and around the back of the mainsail, if it is backwinding the mainsail then move the jib sheet turning block aft until it is backwinding the mainsail only very very slightly and that at the bottom forward corner of the mainsail."

Tuesday 19 November 2013

using Youtube

I have been off ill with a sickness bug, probably caught off one of my loveable tutor group - thanks guys!

Whilst resting on the sofa with bucket at side in what my wife calls 'typical wimpy guy mode' (somewhat harsh a judgement I feel...I mean how many times can I demonstrate genuine illness in a bucket before she accepts I'M ILL!!?).....I thought I'd take a look at my YouTube channel page 'Plymouthwelshboy'. I've never bothered to look at the analytics before. Anyway cut a long story short - I have 97 videos on my channel - 97! Amazing! None of them of any quality whatsoever - sad waste of time! But I like making them as a record of my voyages big and small so there!

There have been nearly 30,000 viewings of my videos (and no Missus - they aren't all me viewing them....before you utter the judgement!!).

Most are viewed on YouTube; very few get any likes or dislikes I guess they are seen by a very discerning viewer or two (thanks guys).

I suspect I make them too long - most people can only sneak 5 mins max - I make them up to 12 mins long. They often just show Arwen pottering around and with no high action shots I guess they are a little boring. I could liven them up by doing 'hiking out' over the gunnel's attached only to a piece of string; or by filming myself running for'ard around the mast whilst sailing reefed in a force 6. I could try climbing the mast , GoPro in hand to get a downward looking perspective or better still film a genuine capsize in the middle of the fairway just on Devils Point bend as HMS Bulwark comes around the corner.

All these would I am sure add some much needed adrenaline to the films. Alas, I am getting too old and I have no video editing skills either. When I have time I will try and create a masterpiece video of Arwen's best sailing bits along with a semi useful commentary and well chosen music.

In the meantime if you need a cure for late night insomnia search for 'plymouthwelshboy' in the YouTube search bar. Guaranteed to send you to sleep!!

Now can I get to the bathroom in time?



Monday 18 November 2013

BBC Britain and the Sea

An interesting programme, easy going with some nice shots of an old sailing boat. It gave a nice overview of my home sailing waters.


Monday 11 November 2013

Fiddly bits and pieces

The outboard tightening screws jammed tight. I mean really tight. WD40 failed to shift them. When all else fails I am a great believer in screwdriver, hammer and brute force. Eventually they shifted but it took 20 minutes. The salt from previous trips seemed to have welded them tight. Lesson learned, liberal doses of marine grease have been applied and all works smoothly.

The new centreboard block and tackle worked smoothly as well. I was pleased with it. The new roller rolled smoothly. All is hunky dory again.

part of the fun is the anticipation and preparation before departure. An opportunity to check rigging, sort out halyards and give everything the once over; especially as poor Arwen is stored on the driveway under a tarpaulin!


Saturday 9 November 2013

Looking good for tomorrow

I wasn't able to get out today but I did manage to snatch a few minutes to swap over the centreboard tackle to the new wooden homemade blocks. As I feared the double block was five mm too big to fit down between the centreboard casing and so I have installed the new triple wooden block and kept the old grey 'plastic' looking Barton block. It will do and the new natural looking hemp rope looks great.

Tomorrow the tide is high tide around 9 ish and winds from the north west around 5  - 6 knots with gusts to 8 knots. The weather is set to be sunny until around 10 ish and then it will gradually cloud over. If I come off the water before 2.30 pm I should avoid the predicted showers and downpours. It will be an opportunity to test the new centreboard tackle and I will do some coming alongside and mooring on spare buoys practice. I may pop over to Cawsand beach as well.

I am looking forward to it. It's been a tough week.