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

Wednesday 31 December 2014

Truly inspiring and spectacular

We have just witnessed the northern lights. Christmas Eve 2014 will always be remembered as the best family holiday moment ever. The lights were directly above us and stretched as far as the horizon across the vast forested lowland plains.

At first mistaken as a thin band of cloud, it developed into ribbons of pulsating light; greens, blues, reds and magenta. The ribbons continuously morphed shape as they snaked across the black cloudless, star studded skies above. The fact that we had dashed out of the hotel without any thermal layers on, was in an instance forgotten.

A Christmas Eve to remember......the hotel restaurant filled with Finns celebrating Christmas. Tradition here has it that they cook their big meal and have their family get together on Christmas Eve. The buffet queue stretched for ever with a range of mouth watering goodies, none of which we could recognise. The menu was in Finnish and so it was that my family took pot luck, got stuck in and just tried everything in front of them. The missus, a vegetarian, was bemused by the proffered beet root risotto that came smothered in reindeer meat and sauce!

Just as impressive was the fact that my new Sony Xperia Z1 compact managed to take photos in minus 27 Celsius without blurring especially when I was shaking so much from the cold!
I woke again at midnight and dashed outside to see if the lights were continuing. The aurora borealis was still above, less resplendent than earlier in the evening. The wind was up and the windchill bitingly cold. When the outside digital thermometer hit minus 28 Celsius, I gave up and sneaked back in to a warm bedroom.

What a night to remember. Stunning, perfectly stunning.

For those who want to know, the northern lights are enshrined in Finnish folklore, whether it be the great arctic fox swishing its tail to create the mesmerising lightshow of sparks as its tail struck snow; or Sami folklore where the lights are the energies of their ancestors souls flying across the northern heavens. The scientific explanation is of solar charged particles ejected from the sun as a solar wind during solar flares. on reaching earth these particles are deflected around our magnetic field. here at the polar regions the particles collide with upper atmosphere atoms and molecules which absorb some of the energy from the solar particles. These excited atoms then emit photons of light....the aurora borealis!

For my family, this was the highlight of a busy fun year for the family.
Wherever you are, whatever your faith, I hope you have been able to find the love, friendship and joy we have had this year and on this new year's eve, I wish you all a happy new year for 2015.
My sincerest best wishes to you all


Tuesday 30 December 2014

Chance encounters

I managed to meet up with Santa twice today. All those years I never saw him and then like buses, he comes along twice in the space of an hour!

My first encounter was in the base ski slope cafe. It has become our favourite watering chocolates, French fries to die for and donuts which, frankly, are probably the best in the world! Crisp, sugary and just dissolving in your mouth....scrumpdidlydelicious is all I can say. The cafe is homely, typically pine clad ceilings, small sash windows with checkered cloth curtains tied back. Tables have large red candles on them. Service comes with a smile. A roaring fire at one end and a warmth that is just right, not too hot, not too cold. You can strip off a couple of layers and then be fine. Well there I was peering out of the window and lo and behold Santa magically appeared at my elbow, silently but with a beaming smile. Sweeties were proffered and gladly accepted and yes, I think they were probably the best tasting sweeties in the world!

And yes, layers are definitely needed,  for today reached minus 27celsius. Bitterly cold, I wore two thermals, a jacket, a fleece and then my outer mountain coat. Two thermal hats and a helmet and goggles. Inner gloves, two pairs and then the outer. The key, not to over heat but to stay warm. No chance of overheating today....oh my it was cold. My eyelashes froze again. My daughter, her escaping strands of ginger hair turned white with hoare interesting new hairstyle! But at 10.00am the sunrise high up from our mountain top was to die for.......the sun so low on the horizon....the skies a mixture of pinks and oranges whilst above the deep dark blue of space with twinkling stars. Only three hours of daylight today, the ski lifts close at 2 pm. Most Finnish people have their Christmas meal on Christmas Eve and that is why the lifts won't open until midday tomorrow......some headaches I suspect.

This morning I had the slopes, views and sunrises to myself. I have never been the first to leave trail marks on a fresh piste before. To my shame they were pretty appalling ski tracks.....a sort of sliding down wiggle. I ruined it for whoever followed....sorry!
The sky was a luminous deep blue and not a cloud in sight......I bet the northern lights were fantastic early this morning when we were all tucked up in bed!

Back at the hotel after three hours of skiing during which time I lost contact with any facial features, I sat in the bar with 'her indoors' on comfy sofas watching Finns come off the slopes to have celebratory drinks before heading home to their family festivities. A riot of colourful ski apparel from fluorescent greens and yellows to bright pinks; lots of laughter; hats, helmets and gloves scattered across tables and chairs. Some form of hot gluvine in glasses seemed very popular.


And then they were all gone. Just us left, the soft music playing, the large picture windows showing the steep forested slopes down to Pyha village below us. Away across to the horizon, the flat northern plains, forested and interspersed with lakes. Snow was beginning to fall obscuring the horizon......and then magically again, Santa appeared at my elbow. No warning, no sound. I blinked and there he was! He really is a magical fellow that Santa!

Saturday 27 December 2014

The toothpick apprentices of northern Scandinavia

'To be a toothpick carver is a noble and much respected craft in northern Scandinavia. Here in the northern boreal forest lands aspiring toothpick carvers serve a seven year apprenticeship. This is a vocation, taken very seriously and with due diligence and gravitas.

The first two years of any apprenticeship are spent roaming the pinewoods learning about Timber.  The search for that one single perfect tree from which will be honed the single perfectly straight and sharp toothpick is of course, a skilled affair. This is the tallest tree with the straightest growth; with downward sloping branches at the perfect 120 degree angle; not too many branches but enough. A bark some 2  - 4 cms thick, gnarled and creased with a little resin extruding from various cracks and  a trunk circumference of around 120 cm completes the specification. Toothpick carvers can spend a lifetime searching for that one perfect specimen. So many "almost so" trees are felled in the search for the king of pine trees; each apprentice increasingly frustrated in the self knowledge that every toothpick they carve isn't quite the one lifetime ultimate specimen.

 For many wannabe toothpick carvers the skills required are past down from father to son. Each family has its own traditions and approaches but all agree that the strength of a superior toothpick comes from from a lengthy but delicate process. Each hand carved pick is soaked for five years in the spring waters emanating from beneath Pyha mountain. Then after this tempering process is complete, the pick is soaked in the lanolin oils hand collected from the hair of the master tooth picker craftsmen within each family;  for once the seven year apprenticeship is complete, a  craftsman undertakes never to wash his hair again. Such frivolities are distractions from the toothpick carvers art. 

After two years of lonely semi nomadic existence with only sleigh and reindeer for company, would be apprentices are ready to come in from the cold. Here at Pyha, they hold the 'once in a decade' apprentice toothpicker selection process.  Here potential apprentices demonstrate their skills. family pride and honour is at stake; along with the chance of finding a lifetime spouse, for here in the lands surrounding Pyha, it is the wooden toothpick carvers who are the real heros; treated like premier league football players, the chance to be the wife of a master toothpick carver, attracts fair maidens from across the northern lands.  

Yet from this festival and the thousands who attend dreaming of fame and fortune, only two will be chosen.  These lucky two become that decades master tooth picker apprentices. The rest will return to their reindeer farms, disappointment etched on their faces, their shoulders drooped. Of course,  there will always be another chance next decade!

For the following three years the two newly appointed apprentices learn to fell trees, saw off branches and whittle trunks down to toothpick sized splinters with only an axe, a Swiss Army knife and the stubble on their chins for sand paper. At least one of the apprentices fall by the wayside, seduced by the easy money to be obtained mass producing toothpicks for hotel tables across Scandinavia. In some decades both are seduced by the darkside. The dedicated few, those silent, strong, Scandinavians with steely blue eyed glacial stares will persevere. For them quick money is not the goal;  it is the desire to perfect such a straight sharp tipped toothpick, one that could grace the tables of The Dorchester, Claridges, The Savoy in London, or Pizza Express in Plymouth. Perfectionism takes time; it takes a year just to judge by eye the direction of the grain in the whittled down trunk. One mistake and a tree is tossed; nothing more than firewood to be used to amuse wimpish southern softy tourists from the UK, a people unable to cope with extremes of temperature below minus 1C. It has been said that some apprentices have gone without sleep for six months at a time in pursuit of creating the perfect octagonal gauge needed to create the eight sided splinter from which the toothpick will finally emerge. Such dedication and passion to one's art is to be deeply admired. 

Of course, the discerning among you will know that none of the above is true; nor is it April fool's day. These were the musings that past between father and son as they swung stuck on a ski lift in the pinewoods. At minus 27C your mind wanders and your teeth chatter. Ridiculous stories stop your brain from freezing!

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Reindeer are daft but so cute!

A 30km snowmobile safari; at night; in search of the elusive northern lights. A Russian guide who is an ex national park ranger with a wonderful gentle manner and dry sense of humour; who endeared himself to us immediately because of his wonderful mockery of Brussels and EU Eurocrats. 

Snowmobiles are like wild horses, they have a mind of their own and need to be ridden firmly. Simple machines, they have a throttle and a brake......don't forget which is which.........unless you want to shoot off track.....and  they require some firm steering and control. Heat vents keep engine heat directed at your hands; the windscreen deflects windchill but is often useless to see through as it completely ices over and thermally lined jumpsuits and boots are a must. 

The tracks were bumpy and rutted, narrow and hemmed in by large pine trees laden with snow. The headlights cast a warm orange glow across an unforgiving landscape. You had better understand winter snow survival skills out here. An accident could spell disaster in minus twenty degrees at night!   When it becomes so bumpy, standing and absorbing the shock through your bended legs is advisable. 

Occasionally we came to junctions with indecipherable wooden signposts. Snowmobile tracks look very much like railway tracks......they remind me of the simple wooden toy train tracks my son had as a three year old.  We whizzed through the forests, well crawled in places. Periodically forest tracks would appear at right angles to ours, long straight lines disappearing towards the horizon. At such junctions would be found tall rickety wooden towers, reminiscent of the watch towers around WW 2 prison camps you'd see in films like 'the great escape'. There for elk hunting, hunters use them to shoot downwards onto the elk. If you point your rifle at the elk from a horizontal position and miss.....the bullet will travel some two miles. This way, if you miss the bullet buries itself into the ground. Thy say travel broadens the mind; it always fascinates me what trivia I learn when I travel. I'm sure knowing this snippet will come in handy one day.......or maybe not.

Every so often the trees would thin and disappear and we would shoot out across frozen lakes, windswept expanses of white punctuated by snowdrifts. It is surprising even at night how much light is reflected off such areas. Your eyes adjust quickly after engines are switched off and the warm headlights fade. A tip.....avoid snow drifts. Snowmobiles don't like snowdrifts!

 I don't think the other party with us were too happy to hear tales of wolves and bears eating the local reindeer but we enjoyed the tales. Our midway stop was at a traditional reindeer herder teepee. The Finnish name for them is unpronounceable and frankly unspellable too but they are basically same as native North American Indian tepees but with reindeer skin instead of buffalo. A metal fire cooking pit with swingable levels so that kettles and pots could be swung over the fire as and when, some wooden storage boxes, exterior seats carved from snow and covered with reindeer hides and some small wooden tables completed the scene.  Surrounded by small pines the air was dry, crisp, freezing and utterly silent. 

Utter silence is a strange phenomenon. We so rarely ever encounter it in our busy lives. For some, it is un-nerving. For me, it is enchanting.  This silence became punctuated by the crackle and hiss of dry pine kindling as it burst into flame. At minus twenty, little heat is given off but the roar of a fire, the steam rising from an old blackened kettle and the rattling of its lid as boiling point is reached are welcome distractions from your eye lashes freezing together! The hot syrupy juice was devine and the ginger cookies had just the right level of snap, crunch and tang. 

Our guide shared his thoughts about European bureaucrats and how it seemed amazing that Brussels had Eurocrats who lived there and imimately understood reindeer herding and the need to avoid shooting wolves that killed 50% of new reindeer calves each year in Finland. Russian sarcasm, so funny! My daughter, a conservationist did laugh but I also knew she was biting her tongue.....itching to get in there but I think frozen eyelashes, sore throat and brightly red burning cheeks from windchill silenced her. She certainly made her views known back in our hotel; conservationist sarcasm, equally as funny as the Russian variety. I am sorely tempted to invite the guide to dinner in a local cafe and let the two of them loose on each other. It would be a brilliant encounter!!! I'm not sure who would win. 

We  also enjoyed the sudden stop, mid narrow track, because reindeer refused to budge off the snowmobile track. Very funny animals, rather like sheep in their behaviour! Our guide got off shooed it out of the way, climbed onto his snowmobile and turned to find said reindeer back in front of the vehicle, and mysteriously joined by another. Ten minutes this game of shoo and return played out. I came to realise that  reindeer are kept in herds and modern day herders use quad bikes  and snowmobiles to deliver hay and food. So at 10 pm in the dark, some friendly, caring herder would of course be doing a food drop....daft animals, cute but clearly daft! On the other hand, how more Christmassy can it get.......deep in the enchanted forest, snow laden pine trees and reindeer stuck in deep snow surrounding you, expecting food and a present laden sleigh to arrive at any moment!

Monday 22 December 2014

So cold.....

Well it is minus 20 Celsius and the inside of my nose is freezing as I breath in. I'm north of the arctic circle skiing in Finland. My last time skiing....the knees suffer badly now. I've just done a couple of blue runs and I'm watching my offspring having lessons with a guide. They have made substantial progress in only an hour and a half. He told me I was the worst skier he'd seen in a long balance and technique are non existent. He is of course absolutely right. I taught myself to ski!! He did say it with a smile. He is also a sailor of very big boats 40 m plus! Just rubbing salt into a festering open wound; made worse by the fact that he has just retired, is as fit as a fiddle and makes me feel positively ancient.

The views are spectacular. I'm on a mountain of 514 m above sea level. Russia lies 60 km to the east. Before me is nothing but lakes and forests. A flat plain with a distant set of smaller hills some 30 km away.

The pine trees around me are thickly covered with snow, their boughs almost bending vertical with its weight. Up top the wind has blown snow up against trunks so it has crystallised as a thick ice layer on the downwind side. The side of the small cabin restaurant is barely visible beneath this solid wind blitzed snow layer.

The pistes are well groomed; the snow machines operate 24 hrs a day. There is five hours of sunlight....and that is pretty weak. You don't need tinted goggles and sunglasses make you blind!! Reindeer amble across the pistes... A serious health hazard! They plod and amble with no sense of danger from skiers. The pistes are uncrowded. Often you get entire stretches to yourself! Wonderful. 
No lift queues, seats at piste side cafes readily available......the alps look less appealing every time I visit winter Scandinavia.

Thursday 4 December 2014

Becoming a techy geek

When 'her indoors' allowed me to have a new Xperia Z1 compact, I thought 'ah ha!' Time for some new sailing apps. Now the big advantage of the phone is that it is waterproof. Some charts would be I downloaded 'marine navigator' and then visited 'visitmyharbour' 

Here, I purchased a complete set of UK charts for under £15. Their clarity, level of detail and accuracy are outstanding. The app/charts allow COG, SOG, compass direction, waypoint marking, route planning and more. I haven't yet had a chance to test in Arwen out in the sound yet but I'm looking forward to doing so. 

Another fun app with a serious use is 'marine traffic'. This uses google maps and tracks every vessel offshore. Click on the boat icon and up comes its course, speed, track, a photo of it and vessel details. So cool! As I write now, nine fishing vessels, line astern are passing down the eastern side of he sound, heading for the Cattedown. The sailing vessel 'one sail' is heading across from Weymouth and is just passing through Wembury Bay, closing on the sound. 

With an anchor watch app as well I think I have enough to be getting for the time being!

Sunday 30 November 2014

John has been updating his blog. Glad to see someone is having fun with a navigator. Poor Arwen and I have yet to make it onto the water so ar this winter.

Well done John!

Sunday 23 November 2014

bits and bobs

catching up with a few posts.......Number one son and I found ourselves in Portsmouth on a whistle stop detour during half term. Came as a surprise, not planned but we managed to get a fair bit done; and we have a ticket for a year which allows us to go back and see what we didn't see this time round.

The weather this weekend was a surprise as well - the rain didn't turn up as forecast - irritating because I could have sailed! Still a lovely stroll around the Hoe and Barbican. At this time of year it is still surprisingly warm; leaves are turning now but still clinging to trees - you would think it September, not end of November! Seasons down here are definitely weird!

That would strike fear into you  if you were in a smaller ship!!

The Flag ship 'Victory'

Um! Dodgy geezer or one of our best monarchs?

The Mary Rose

What's on view in the gallery

replica of the Mary Rose's kitchen

restored parrel beads for the main mast

Brings a lump to my throat
And then this morning around the Barbican.........
the first water taxi of the morning

the pilot boats all tied up at the pontoon

the cannons facing towards Jennycliffe under a watery sun
During the English civil war the opposing armies faced each other over the cattedown

returning home with the morning's catch

remember me posting about the January storms in 2013 and the huge waves and 90 mph winds?
well the damage is still being repaired!

her in-door's and I were trying to work out what the large flat area is/was! some research needed!

and a little bonus.....a buzzard sunning itself on the fence over at Millbay docks


Saturday 22 November 2014

Where does time go?

When was I last in Arwen? When did I last post a blog? Where has time gone?
It's back to that 6.30am at my desk; leaving school 5.00pm and then doing three hours in the evening. Every year I say the new term will get better...........

My resolution to do more winter sailing doesn't seem to be coming to fruition.....yet. Maybe in the next few weekends..........

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Unseasonal weather

Her indoors and I have been up to north devon. Woolacombe and rather nice it was. A sort of surfy place with some former glamorous Georgian buildings and a stunning beach. We liked it. The bike ride over the hills damp near killed us but the views were breath taking and it didn't rain. Murky drizzle on occasions yes.rain no.

Saturday 25 October 2014

nothing particularly boaty................

The chance of getting out on the water this half term looks remote; the next three days are taken up with a very welcomed visit by my sister's family; then its three days away up north with 'her in-doors', followed by a day visit to some historical sites with my son. That leaves the last weekend and alas all of that will be taken up by the seven supermarket re-useable carrier bags full of school work currently residing in the car boot.
Ho hum, that is the way it goes. Every sailor knows the tensions of family and work commitments.

What has been exercising more of what little brain power I have at the moment hasn't been sailing but rather UCAS! Its UCAS application time and my son, along with all his friends at school are immersed in the annual writing of the university personal statement!

For the last few years I have sensed a struggle! The student's struggle to make himself or herself sound passionate about the subject that they wish to pursue at undergraduate level. I'm not saying I don't have passionate young geographers. I do. However, their ability to evidence their passion for the subject beyond what they have learned at school is clearly an issue. I cannot really remember the last time a sixth form geographer burst through my door enthusing about a geographical tomb or article they had read and how it had set their curiosity alight. Such is the life they lead that sixth formers merely want to know what will get them the A grade; the UCAS points to their chosen course; nothing 'extra' matters. Between three A Levels, an AS level, jobs and whatever else life throws at them, that desire to do the extra beyond the syllabi, just for the sake of learning for learning's sake.....seems to have disappeared, despite my herculean best efforts to imbibe them with a growth mindset!

I wonder what that says about us as a nation? Have recent governments with their zeal for targets, comparison indicators and performance related criteria really caused the teaching profession to lose its way? Have we sacrificed 'the process and passion of learning for learning's sake' for just 'looking good' in the performance league tables? Are we spawning a generation who will never go beyond what is demanded of them in their daily work; because all we end up doing is teaching to the syllabus so that they pass exams?

My students are struggling to exemplify how they have pursued their passion for their subject beyond what I have done with them. Their crestfallen faces show they just don't understand the point I am making as I review their statements with them. Perhaps, I am not making it clearly.

After 33 years in the profession, I think I have reached a sad contradictory day. I inspire passion for the subject in my students whilst they are in school. Many want to take it on at university but I fail to inspire them to take it further, beyond what we do in the syllabi....that extra reading of a topic we are not doing for the exam but which is of just brilliant geographical interest anyway......I think it is time to retire as soon as I can, for I fear I am know longer doing them justice.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Getting back in a capsized navigator

I have posted on this issue in the past and I did comment about thinking about some way of putting lines around Arwen to help me get back in should she capsize; along with righting lines that are tied someway around the centre thwart area and then stowed under the side decks.

Well an ingenious fellow, Peter Kovesi, has come up with the way to get in. He posted on the jwbuilders forum the following 

" I saw with interest on John's blog at
his description of the rope sling that is being used for reboarding on a SCAMP.

I recently set up a similar scheme on my Navigator but to keep the rope sling out of the way I elasticated the rope by replacing the rope core with shock cord. It consists of some 12mm rope that runs along the outside of the hull just under the gunwale for the length of the cockpit. It is attached at each end through holes in the hull just under the gunwale and then through holes in an adjacent bulkhead where it is knotted off"

"The rope length is set so that when the rope is stretched out the centre of the sling is about 600mm below the gunwale. When released the shock cord holds it up against the underside of the gunwale. Climbing into the boat simply involves pulling the rope down to under your foot and you step in with very little effort"

I have to say seeing his photos is rather ingenious and certainly the elasticised approach keeps the rope tight against the rubbing strip gunwale. Peter goes on to say that safety wise the ropes give you something to hang onto when in the water alongside the boat.  Some questioned whether his feet would slide under the boat. I have rigged something similar on Arwen over the summer for getting back into her when I had jumped in for a swim. I wrapped a mooring rope across two cleats bow and stern and then let it drop around 700mm. I found it really did work. Your feet do go under the hull initially but then what you do is use your knees to press against the hull and in doing so kick you feet back out away from the hull. From this sort of leaning stand position, you are then sort of tipped forward enough to fall over the side deck. It does involve some hauling yourself over the side.....mainly to do with my excess bulk! But it was so much easier than trying to get a foot onto my brass step mounted on the transom and the reaching up for the boomkin and mizzen mast to try and haul my weight out of the briny.

I think it is an excellent idea. I haven't quite worked out why he put elasticised bungee through the 12 mm rope......why not just get bungee that size......but I suspect there is a really good reason for doing so and I am too dim to have worked it out yet. 

One thing is for is a winter project that will take place on Arwen. Cheers Peter (and John and the Scamp team). An excellent, worthwhile addition to Arwen. Thank you. 


an update on Suzy's blog and the building of 'Elena'

I came across a woodenboat forum post about Suzy's progress. It is embedded below. The link to her blog is in my blog roll menu on the right hand side.

This navigator build is reminiscent of 'Yuko'...and Barret's build a few years ago. Sheer quality of craftsmanship and thought about design principles.

I look forward to all launches of navigators because I am such a big fan of John's boat and design work. I think this navigator is shaping up to be pretty special. But then, all navigators are special in their own little ways.

Enjoy the discussion and much to learn and little time to do it in......

Thursday 9 October 2014

some videos of navigators in action

I occasionally trawl YouTube for videos of navigators in action. Light relief from the rigours of lesson planning, marking and self evaluation in the evenings!

Here are the fruits of tonight's 5 minute search:

Many of these videos feature Joel and his wonderful navigator 'Ellie'. As always, Joel's site is worth a visit at any time. Go to
I promise it wont be wasted time. A mine of information and inspiration. If the link fails, there is a quick link in my right hand side blog roll menu.


Wednesday 8 October 2014

Weekend sailing

Huh.....I forgot! Family calendar....we are away this weekend and next. I could at a squeeze get on the water Sunday afternoon if we get back from travels. I knew it was too good to be true. There is a DCA rally close by and reminded about it by Alistair, I thought ...great.....can do it......then 'her indoors' reminded me why I couldn't and why I hadn't bothered to reply to DCA about attending in the first place.

It is typical. Rushed off my feet like so many in teaching at be moment, I have already missed one meeting this week; double booked myself on another evening.....and forgotten about this weekend and next.

I love my job but not the ridiculous hours and stupid paper work , form filling and silly tasks. Teaching students like those at my school is an immense privilege......but working 6.30am until 5pm and then 7pm until 10pm for four days a week is taking its toll. The to do list never gets shorter and I am not getting any younger and the job is getting infinitely more stressful. Sunday afternoons are written off in marking and planning.  The demand or ever higher examination results has changed teaching and not all for the good. Worrying times ahead I feel. And then I meet my classes each day and think how privileged I am to be able to learn alongside them.....well most of them!

Ho hum. Maybe, just maybe,  sneak a couple   of hours on Sunday......if I work Friday night and take some marking with me on Saturday. I really am missing being out on the water. 

On yer bike!

From two weekends ago........where does time fly?

Tuesday 7 October 2014

so far.....

looking good; it's looking good; come on stay this way!

Images from Frank Singleton's Passage

just finished four hours of

marking at home tonight.......need to go sailing.

Definitely need to go sailing.........

Absolutely, definitely, need to go sailing.............................


What's the betting it will be force eight all weekend?

Being cheered up

It has been a funny weekend. Not funny haha, just slightly strange. Yesterday we were away all over be place and all the day and evening disappeared in an engagement booked sometime ago. When we got back today, all the afternoon from 1ish went in lesson preparation, schemes of work planning and marking; and sadly I still didn't remotely dent the 'to do' list. It resolutely stayed, like an iceberg......75% unseen and unachieved so to speak.

Still a nice surprise awaited. A new boat waterproof. I have been making do with my mountaineering coat but it isn't really appropriate. It was never designed for a saltwater environment. So I bit the bullet, found a good deal and went for it.

I bought a Gill Coastal Jacket. It seemed to have good reviews and seems adequate for the kind of sailing I do along the inshore coastline. Made of Dot 2 fabric, breathable and waterproof, it is also fully taped seamed and comes with a water repellent finish.  It has a number of highly reflective strips, a fluorescent roll away hood which is fully adjustable and a high cut thermal, fleece lined collar with face guard. Large capacity cargo pockets with drains, adjustable hems, fleece lined hand warmer pockets and double cuffs, fully adjustable, completes the spec. Hopefully, I can try it out soon. Anyway, I found a good deal for one, somewhat reduced.

Retail therapy progress! 

Sunday 5 October 2014

Winter plans

Autumnal weather arrived today. Sunshine and gusty winds from the north. The front garden trees are whipping about and leaves are beginning to fall. Arwen sits on the drive under covers. I have promised myself this winter that I will sail in rougher weather. I will need a new waterproof coat but my wellies although somewhat holey, with waterproof sealskinz socks, will keep feet warm. I have sallopettes and the ret of the gear. 

Sensibly, I'd develop rougher sailing skills inside the safety of the breakwater. The sound gives a fair old sailing area! I should be able to keep out of mischief. 

I've bought a new roll mount for the gopro. Replacing the screws it came with now allows me to open it to around 8cm and it will easily fit on the mizzen mast. 

I fancy a day on the water just doing coming alongside, MOB, reeling and heaving to. 

Half term is three weeks away. If the weather holds I may just be able to get a sail in along the coast to Salcombe and back. 

Fingers crossed. 

Sunday 28 September 2014

Last bits from Southampton

Was it worth it? Well yes I guess. Nice day out, bought a really cheap but very high quality waterproof dry bag from a supplier not heard of before and it looks really good.

Will I go next year? Probably not.

I quite liked this trailer step.  I wonder if I can find some yr 11 GCSE engineering students who need a project for their assessed coursework?

The ship above was the Phoenix out of Charlestown in Cornwall. I have posted photos on blog of her before. Lovely.

Cornish crabber boats....stylish, simple, clean lines. I love them. Simply stunning.

Another set of interesting boats came from Swallowboats out of Wales. Clever design features, crisp lines and self righting due to water ballast tanks. Great and deservedly popular boats.