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

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Dinghy cruising up the River Lynher 'part one'

At long last! On the agenda for many years, I have finally got around to cruising the Lynher.
The Lynher is a beautiful river flowing through East Cornwall before entering the River Tamar just below the bridges at Saltash. Some twenty odd miles long, flowing off Bodmin Moor, it is an SSI and SPA (specially protected area) and is home to some rare species of bird including Kingfishers, Black Tailed Godwits and Avocets. I didn't see any of these but I'm pretty sure I saw a spoonbill on one mudflat but I suspect that was 'ropey mis-identification' on my part. A long time ago I was a member of the Young Ornithologists Club in the RSPB.....but age has dimmed my memory of which bird is which!

Passing along the upper Lynher
The viaduct marks St Germans quay; on the starboard is Erth Hill and at its furthest end, Erth Island and the entrance up the river to Boating World

The Lynher and its tributaries have many intertidal mudflats and coastal marshes; many creeks with little hamlets at their head; and I was looking forward to seeing this stunning beauty. I was also determined to sail its course, unlike my trip up to Calstock, when a lack of adventure and some timid-ness on my part led me to abandon sails from Weir Quay in favour of motoring!

Coming downriver from St Germans
I have no idea what type of boat this is, but isn't she so pretty?
Tides were not in my favour regarding the time of high water. They were, however,  in terms of tidal flows. Low tide at Devonport on the Thursday was 0930 and 1.9m flooding to a high tide at 1519 at St Germans and a tidal height of 4.60m. The evening low tide at 2208 was 1.70m. Then came the tricky bit which caused me quite some consternation (see later)...the corresponding high tide on Friday morning was 0355 and 4.60m. Being neaps, tidal flows were minimal and the risk of stranding too high up a beach  much reduced.

Early morning on the river

Thursday's winds were light 3 - 5 knots or so from the north, north west and north east......just the way I wanted to go! Ce sera and all that! However, the bonus? Glorious sunshine throughout the trip, warm temperatures and blue skies. I'm not complaining.

Um!  All those boats; all those people!
I think I need solitude on this it time to turn around?
Arwen and I departed QAB just after 0800. An early start, but as has been done previously on most of our extended cruises, we wanted to stretch our sails and sort out rigging within Plymouth Sound. A couple of hours sailing to and fro, waiting for tides to become favourable and sorting out equipment, stowage and rigging would benefit us both.
And so it was we tacked to and fro; developed our heaving to skills and generally soaked up the glorious atmosphere of Plymouth Sound until 1030 when the tide went slack and we could enter Devils Point and Cremyll area. As always, a precautionary stop was made to check outboard fuel levels. The lower Tamar isn't the place to be 'caught short' in that department! Tying up at the large yellow buoys north of Drakes Island provided an opportunity to watch some teenagers developing their sailing skills around the buoys and to recap over my pilotage notes in my yellow waterproof note book. Gear was stowed, Arwen was trimmed and balanced; rigging had been tested; all was well and so we set sail across the north of the island heading for the Cremyll narrows.........and the wind 'it did die just at the wrongeth point'!
Fruitless tacking; we were not gaining ground against the current. I have never quite mastered sailing Arwen in very light winds. I just don't quite compute what to do with the sail and the sprit boom to gain any advantage. Frankly I need someone with me to show me what to do but to cut a long story short, with tide building and a need to get up the Lynher to reccy possible mooring sites....I resorted to the motor! I sinnethed!
I did try to sail some parts of the Tamar; I managed a stretch around Millpond Lake but it was short lived. Other boats were motorsailing and so I decided to head for Henn Point at the mouth of the Lynher and moor up between the Cornish Shrimpers.
Moored just off Henn Point downstream from Saltash and the bridges
I was determined to sail the Lynher and for me that meant sailing off the mooring buoy! Not something I have done very often. In fact only once before! Pride was at stake. A Cornish shrimper owner had arrived by small rib and was readying his boat for departure. We'd exchanged waves. He looked an experienced type! I couldn't let Arwen down now! 
Determining wind direction and tide and working out that sails raised safely were best done head to wind, I sheeted in the mizzen and made sure centreboard and rudder were raised. The sails lifted and Arwen stayed put. Her sails flapped along the centreline and I let out some mainsheet to make sure that in the event of any change of heading before departure, she'd sail away very slowly!
Rudder went down; jib was hauled out and backed and gracefully Arwen turned to starboard lining up directly with the gap between planned for departure route. centre board down, she slowly sailed off the mooring. The only incident? The mainsheet had been too loose and had draped over the mooring buoy. Fortunately we had gone only a few metres when I noticed resistance. A quick flick and the mainsheet cleared the buoy couldn't do that again if I spent years practising!  Was it the impressive sail off I was looking I crash into we enter the Lynher under sail.....yes.......was I stressed.......surprisingly no. I'll settle for all of that!


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Your pretty boat is a Westerly 22... quirky little thing... they always remind me of a Dutch clog! :o)

steve said...

Cheers steve
Nice to know what she wd