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 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.

What an enjoyable weekend.  Lovely weather and a ride out on 'Stacey', our Motovespa 125 super. Those of you following the blog will know that we acquired her and restored her. Since then we have been out and about on her.
Yesterday was a trip over the moors to Tavistock; a lovely coffee up a little alley way at a hidden away gem of a café and then a return trip back across Dartmoor.
Wonderful. I forget how lucky I am to live in such a stunning part of the UK.
If you can't see he video below, go to YouTube, search plymouthwelshboy.....all one word.....and videos of Stacey should pop up.

Sunday 21 September 2014

Back in academia

Dropping number one daughter back into university to do her postgraduate studies. I'd quite like to return to academia myself. Many years ago I did teacher training and tutoring of masters Quite like to return to that as I sit here on a wonderful university campus!

Sunday 14 September 2014

The 2014 Southampton boat show

My friend and I thought we'd pop across to the Southampton boat show today. Pop across!! Three hours each way by car but actually worth it. We had a great few hours looking around. Here are a few photos to get a flavour. We then dashed back as I had school work to complete for tomorrow.
Anyway, here is a flavour. Enjoy.

Saturday 6 September 2014

Biting the bullet

We have bought new mountain bikes! Part of our new 'we need to something about our fitness' drive. Our old bikes are over twenty years old and we realised when borrowing bikes in Greece last month that bikes have come a long, long, way!

So we hit the savings and have ended up with two new trek mountain now there is no excuse! The old bikes will go to a local bike project where teenagers in trouble learn new bike mechanic skills and do up the donated bikes before they are passed on to local inner city children in need of a bike. It's a great project to support.

So, an afternoon swapping over pannier bags, handle mounted bags, bottle holders etc and then an evening ride into the barbican and back. What's more, the weather is heavenly. Of course it! We've just started a new school term!

Thursday 4 September 2014

Dithering over a bilge pump

You can tell I'm back at school. I have suddenly lost the ability to make a decision. 'Overwhelmed headless chicken syndrome' is a better name for the condition and it affects most teachers. During the last few weeks I'd forgotten what mountains of paperwork looked like. Hey ho.

My initial thinking for the bilge pump was to drain out any rainwater collecting during winter and to clear the floors of seawater during sailing. Whilst the first issue is frequent, the second isn't so. I suddenly realised that with a foredeck and coaming, it is rare that spray actually gets into Arwen. The only water that tends to accumulate on the floor is from rain off the sail.

So can I make do? Do I really need a bilge pump? Up to now the portable hand pump has sorted the winter water collection problem, as long as I remember to check weekly! Can't use the pump when sailing unless I heave to......and that's easy enough to do I need to go drilling holes and installing one more thing to trip over?

I'm dithering again. Last week, prior to school starting, it seemed such a good idea. Now?
I'm dithering! I hate being a ditherer!

In the meantime, I may need some sanity respite and I am wondering about some winter projects.

  • Removing the large circular hatches on the front vertical face of the front thwart and sealing them up with ply patches. Putting new hatches in the front thwart seat. This would make that storage space far more accessible and drier as winter water collection wouldn't seep through the hatches as it does now!!
  • Wannigans.........I.e. portable storage boxes....have raised their head again in my mind. Could I construct a wannigan for the front part of the port side cockpit. It could extend my sleeping platform area and securely store food and cooking gear better than my crate. If I made two....the other one could secure store the spare kedge anchor and warp. The issue is to what extent it would affect boat trim and balance
  • Can I make a wooden raised mast collar that fits on the deck to stop water going down the deck mast hole and collecting in the mast step box?
  • I'd like to make a set of sleeping boards....Joel style.....they are so simple, effective and 'cool'
Having some small jobs which I can spend 30 minutes a night on over a few weeks at a time...will help restore sanity I suspect. I think this academic year is shaping up to another 60 - 70 hrs per week one; which is fine as long as I get a 'woodworking break' occasionally. The smell of planed or sawn wood restores the soul!

Wannigans, hatches, mast collars and sleeping platforms. Bilge pump, jury out this space.