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

Friday 31 July 2015

Dinghy cruising: sailing the river Fal - Falmouth Adventures Day Three: sailing across to St Mawes and returning home again

Bright skies, cotton wool clouds, winds from the north west at around 10 kts - what more can you ask for?

Saturday dawned bright and sunny. The sunrise painted Mylor yacht Haven in a deep golden tinge; the water was calm, the breeze light and I had the place to myself bar the heron that stalked the shallows close to the slipway.  House Martins darted two and fro skimming low across the glassy waters of the inner haven. A shower, some porridge, a mug of tea. Everything packed away dry! By 8am the outboard had been warmed up and we departed pontoon E with barely a whisper.

Early morning at Mylor Yacht Haven
Old traditional Falmouth work boats drawn up on the beach

Into the fairway at the marina and out into a sunlight Carrick Roads. The breezes warm and steady, the Mizzen was unfurled and raised and Arwen turned bow to wind. Off came the sail ties, downhaul released, some pulls on the topping lift to raise the sprit boom slightly and then a heave away on the main halyard and slowly the top boom rises to that point where the forward section suddenly dips and the aft section suddenly rises up vertically. A few more pulls and the top yard has reached the mast top, it's forward section lying forward of the mast on the starboard side, just where it should be. Sweet!

St. Mawes in the morning sun

Jib sheets released and the starboard one pulled and the furler on the bowsprit rolls into action. Backing the jib turns Arwen's bow South East and the mainsail fills. Easing the mizzen, pulling up the centre board, trimming the mainsail and jib, and Arwen begins her downwind crossing towards St. Mawes castle. Can't get rid of the crease though....maybe I should have applied some more downhaul....perhaps lowered the sail and adjusted the position of the tie point of main halyard on top boom....but hey sail is up, we are moving, sun is shining, warmth on my face.......lazy sailing......shameful!

Few boats are out on the water at this time but CH 16 crackles into life. The pilots are going alongside the port side of the large oil tanker moored in the central area just outside the penryn river. The gantry walkway only descends half way down the sides and a steel ladder is lowered for the rest of the way. It's a fair old early morning climb for the pilots. The buoy monkeys have arrived, a tender at the bow moored to the huge yellow buoy. I think it's called 'shortening up' or 'singling up' but I could be wrong. Anyway mooring ropes are being released and singled up. Two red and white port tugs arrive, one for the bow, the other to the stern. We exchange waves as I sail close by. Lots of smiles on the bridges and friendly waves back. Everything looks relaxed.....they have done it all before.

A Cornish shrimper shadows us off the port stern quarter. Deep dark tan sails and deep blue hill with cream top sides, they are rather elegant boats. He's trying to catch up but failing. Even downwind, Arwen has a turn of just need to fully concentrate. A full powered 'accidental' gybe is not to be recommended! I know from painful and I mean 'stars in your eyes - lump on your head' type painful experience.

St. Mawes castle guarding the river entrance

We ease onto a training run and we scuttle along, the occasional rattle from the centreboard accompanying the sloosh of water gurgling along Arwen's hull sides. The castle looms above us as we pass a large yellow buoy and make the turn into the river. The lovely white houses of St Mawes on the hillside above reflect the bright easterly rising sun. The water sparkles. a thousand surface diamonds. In the tiny harbour is a large marque and bunting. Some gigs are out racing, the rhythmic slap of oars on water , the grunts of heaving bodies and the sharp calls of encouragement from coxwains. Looks like St. Mawes is waking up to party day.

The wind has dropped, the influence of this, the Roseland Peninsula. Fickle breezes fill the sail and suddenly disappear leaving Arwen still and listless. We gingerly find our way between the moorings. It is good practice, I feel, on occasions to sail between moorings. It heightens my awareness of the wind puffs, sharpens my tacking skills, heightens my awareness and sensitivity towards currents and drift. Actually, if truth be known, it scares the bejesus out of me on most occasions. But 30 mins of excessive heartbeat acceleration is a good thing according to my GP. Maybe I misinterpreted what he was getting at and he had other methods in mind,  like jogging or rowing or cycling.

We slowly weave our way up river and around the bend.  The Percueil River stretches up ahead, a boatyard on the port side. The niggle of time pressures begins to invade my brain. It is our last day on the water at Falmouth. The weather for tomorrow is horrendous and no place to be in a small open boat - driving rain and 25kts+ winds howling down from the north. A crossing to Helford today would be wonderful. Getting back tomorrow would not! Consequently if I am to haul out today, then I have to be back at Mylor Creek boatyard for around 1pm. It has a 2hrs +- either side of high water limit! Time and tide wait for no man.

heading back up Mylor Creek

Reluctantly, Arwen turns her bow westwards and we meander back through the moorings past the man pumping out his lovely old wooden carvel planked dinghy; past the oceangoing yachtsman leaning over his gunwale to get the daily paper off the kayaker who has bought it across the water to him. I've seen similar things in the Caribbean. Local people wait until a yacht anchors in their bay and then paddleboard or kayak out with fruit, bottled water, groceries etc. to the waiting yacht crew.  I wonder if the idea would work here?  I feel a business idea coming on! "Wasting time docking that frigate upriver at Devonport Dockyards? Don't want the hassle of  crew waiting time onshore with loved ones?  Then you need Steve's grocery kayaks - we can supply all your victualing needs without you ever having to moor alongside. Save time. Return to sea quicker. Phone Steve's victualing Kayaks on........." . Maybe not. An idea that might need a little more thinking through over a couple of bacon sarnies and G and T's....a perfect breakfast!!

Grockle boats (tourists to the non Cornish/Devonians amongst you) are already out and about as Arwen turns north; sails hauled in and centreboard down further. We exchange waves. Many take photos of Arwen flying across the water. We reach a heady 6+kts. Positively skimming across the water surface we are!  Sadly, in all the years we have sailed together, Arwen and I have never managed to get a photograph of ourselves under sail from a slightly more distant perspective. I guess we tend to be solitary sailors, Arwen and I. However, one day, it would be nice to get just one photo of us from someone else's boat.

we beat upriver hugging the eastern side as far as St Just pool, when we turn onto what is almost a broad reach. We are just slightly above Mylor Yacht Haven over the western side of the Roads.  Within a few precious minutes we have reached the marina fairway entrance.  Sails are dropped and furled away neatly. When we turn the corner into Mylor creek we will be directly head to wind all the way up the channel and the tide is just beginning to recede. Tacking room will be in short supply amongst the moorings and receding seas. It is best to motor back the last mile or so.

We arrive back some 30 minutes after high tide. The slipway is uncovering slowly. The yard is deserted. Somewhere from within come the sounds of mallet on chisel on wood. Someone is having fun. Retrieving Arwen from the narrow slipway between a high quayside and high old rusting barge hulk is easy; no cross winds to drift her off to one side; no currents to contend with. She rolls onto her trailer with one smooth motion. Perfect!  hauled up the slip and onto the hard standing at the top, there is space to offload her; to dry out tent tarpaulins and foulies; to prepare her for her 70 mile journey home.

All packed away and ready to depart.....but we will be back

Yes the trip is cut short; no we didn't get to Helford; no we didn't overnight camp on some secluded creek beaches. But....we do have all those delights to come on another trip back...and we both look forward to that.


not a huge fan of it or that bigger user of it. However, one of the Facebook pages I do visit is this one

It's the home of the John Welsford Dinghy Cruising forum. It's a really useful site full of tips and brilliant inspiration with postings from astonishingly experienced and talented people.

Worth a visit and bookmarking


Dinghy cruising: Sailing the river Fal - Falmouth Adventures: Day Two overnighting at Mylor Yacht Haven

Dinghy cruising: sailing the river Fal - Falmouth Adventures: Day Two - heading downriver to Mylor

We waited. It rained. The wind blew at 20+kts, screaming in gusts down the channel from the east. Boats strained at moorings. Halyards shrieked on alloy masts.

my shelter for much of the morning, passing the time, reading, posting blogs, watching the world stream by

On Friday, things didn't abate until around 2pm. And then we made the dash. Under motor, Arwen chugged her way down past the King Harry Ferry. We hugged the western shores, down past the creeks. The wind did exactly what we had anticipated. It shifted around to the north west. A good call made!

We drifted a little off Loe Beach as the tide fell back. Would it be a good anchorage for the night? Could Arwen be beached there safely? Could we get off in the morning? With open land behind and winds predicted to continue from the north, I decided to move on. Down past the millionaires Row - Enormous houses with extensive gardens that ended in their own personal jetties. Manicured lawns, large ribs under cover on slipways.

The sea had turned grey, a slate grey with odd white tipped waves. Sheets of drizzle swept across Carrick Roads in grey walls as thick grey clouds scuttled past overhead. Turning into Restronguet Creek put us in to the wind and Pandora Inn really didn't seem that inviting. So we turned and moved on south towards Mylor.

A quick call on VHF confirmed space on the outside visitors pontoons at Mylor Yacht Haven. Yes they did have a shower block; yes it was a sheltered mooring from northerly winds; yes a scraggly looking little 14'6' day sailing dinghy with a soaked forlorn looking skipper would be most welcome!

outside pontoon - facing into the winds - perfect

And so I wussed out! We motored alongside and tied up behind a large blue hulled cruiser of some 30' length. It would provide plenty of windbreak during the night. Fore and aft mooring lines held Arwen firmly against the pontoon, aided by bow and stern springs. The boom crutch went up; Sails were furled and tied neatly and the white tarp tent was stretched out and clipped in place. Boat towels came out to wipe down thwarts and mop the floors. The rain started to ease and the wind blew through from bow to stern to provide a drying breeze.

With sleeping kit laid out and tent secure, it was time to explore Mylor Marina. What was needed was tea - lashings of it - big pots......chips would be a bonus too. Warmth and space to write up passage notes and observations; post brief blogger messages via mobile phone.

From my window seat I could see Arwen bobbing in the breezes, her courtesy flags streaming. Occasionally sailors in their red jackets would stop to briefly peruse the white tarp tent......."who is that idiot? He's sleeping in that?"  It was etched on their faces....disbelief! I'm pretty sure it was etched on mine too!

Some chart work - what should we do tomorrow? The forecast for Sunday was grim, worse that the last two days. The plan was to sail across to Helford tomorrow and return on Sunday. Tomorrow would be nice weather....but that return to be back on Mylor Creek slip for 2pm on Sunday would be rough - straight in to a wind 20kts+ and torrential rain from the north!  If I was to end tomorrow then I would need to haul out around 1.15 at latest; after that the tide would have fallen too much at the slipway and I would be committed to waiting until 2pm Sunday. Perhaps I could sail up the Perceuil river tomorrow and find a sheltered overnight spot but that would mean sailing back across Carrick Roads on Sunday morning - it would be rough!
 Decisions, decisions. Lets see what tomorrow brings. Maybe Sunday's weather forecast would be better.

I spent an hour people watching. It is a favourite past time. Don't know why but I suspect it has something to do with being a teacher. We learn fast to read people, to pick up on emotions, movements and little nuanced expressions.
Sailors, walkers, day trippers came and went , seeking sanctuary from wind and rain. Different ages, different interests. Sailors - elderly single men, chestnut brown weathered faces, content to sit and stare out of the window. Rib owners, younger, noisier. Jovial, loud, types, back slappers and all bonhomie. Walkers, kitted out with best gear, quieter, poring over maps and guides. Marina business people poring over tablets and laptops. Career climbers, career focused - ignoring their children; sending emails, making mobile calls, organising and issuing commands from afar; their children left to play on their own tablets. A cross section of society all in one room sheltering from the British summer no change there then!

The foul weather clothing I'd strewn across various stools was drying nicely; the chef bought me another pot of tea with a huge smile and nod of understanding. My foul weather gear has really impressed me. I invested last year in a proper yachtie jacket - Gill - with high collar; neoprene cuffs; foldaway hood. It was bone dry on inside and had done its job well. My lightweight gortex berghaus overtrousers - well - they had performed magnificently as always. Much prefer them to heavy sallopettes.

I returned to Arwen as the rain died away and the evening sun began to break out. The pub across the way was serving pie and chips - sounded and smelt tempting. I was dry; pilotage plans for tomorrow sorted.

Now it was time to find a comfy table in the pub and treat myself one more time - pie and chips; roskilly ice cream, window seat (we welsh are so nosey....) and a good book .

Things were looking up. Definitely looking up! And, moored alongside the pontoon that night, when the winds howled and rigging clanged and shrieked, I missed it all! For I was dry, well fed and sound asleep!

Thursday 30 July 2015

Dinghy cruising; sleeping on a dinghy

living on a small boat should be straight forward. everything should have its place, as demonstrated by Joel on board his navigator Ellie.

Yet despite my best efforts I never seem to get it quite right!

I sleep on the port side, head to stern, legs down alongside the centrecase. My sleeping platform on the port side is supported by inflated drybags and surprisingly, it works! The down sleeping bag is inside a gortex bivvy bag along with some pillows.

I cook on the starboard side thwart. So the cooking crate is left on that side when we are anchored or moored.  Food is on the thwart towards the stern.

At night, along the stern thwart goes my PDF, marine radio, large lantern torch, mobile phone and glasses; a drink and some snacks. In a dry bag also located here are spare fleeces and my foulies. Everything else is packed away for the night in dry bags which lie along the hull sides in the front cockpit well.  Cooking kit is always packed away leaving the starboard side of the boat for moving along if I need to get to anchor well. Entry/exit into the cockpit tent is via the bow, starboard side.

Having now seen how Joel does it, I can lots of areas where I can make adjustments so that, hopefully, in the future, Arwen will look tidier and less cluttered! 

Dinghy cruising: sailing the river Fal - Falmouth Adventures: Day Two Leaving The Smugglers Inn and heading south

Drip, drip, drip, drip. The musical accompaniment to my first night afloat. It started raining late evening and didn't stop until late afternoon the following day.

that bucket was overused during the night........!!

A pattern. A million circles scattered randomly across deep, slow flowing, grey-green rivers. Mullet bumping the hull at night. The rising winds blowing in the starboard side of the tarp tent until it bowed so much that half the space in the boat was lost. The constant drumming patter of rain on the tarp; the getting up in the night to check mooring warps and retying bow and stern springs. Through the opening at the stern, glimpses of cows on the hillside above, heads down grazing, silhouetted against the dark night sky. The occasional ominous rumble of distant thunder. The screech of wind through masts and the interminable clanking of wires against aluminium masts. Arwen tugged at her moorings. Fenders squealed in protest as she banged back against the pontoon.

It was a long night!

still raining next morning
just lie back on the cushions and do some reading!

The rain and wind stayed all morning. I sensed that further downstream things would be wilder and these fears were confirmed with the arrival back of ZaZu. Tied up at the hammerhead, her disembarking crew ere quick to advise staying put for a few hours more. Carrick Roads was 'choppy'!

I had breakfast, hot porridge with giant raisins and sultanas, hot sweet tea, and more hovis biscuit.  I strolled around the foreshore. Scandinavians say 'there is no such thing as bad weather...only bad clothing'. Um! To a point. My foulies held rain at bay. I was snug and warm. And dry! I sat under the carport and made tea; I read more from 'The lugworm Chronicles'.

 I scrutinised charts and re-read my pilotage drawings and notes. I planned afternoon sailing routes - a variety of options depending on the wind. I studied the swallows swooping low across the water and return at high speed to their nests in the carport rafters above my head. A grandstand , front row seat for some spectacular aerial acrobatics. Boy those swallow chicks are demanding!

low tide

Some would find all this boring. I found it relaxing, such is my normal hectic pace of work life, the chance to have no one around, time to is treasured.

Swans visited; hissing and searching under the tarpaulin edges for some tasty morsels and titbits. They eyed me suspiciously. I clearly wasn't playing the game. I studiously ignored them. Arwen sits only some 40 cms above the water line and Swans heads easy come up to deck level if not slightly above. I love swans but past experiences have taught me - don't feed them, they come back for more and get really irritable if they don't get it! And so a few minutes later some highly disappointed swans departed, their graceful necks making S shapes, the occasional head turned backwards with forlorn looks.

And finally, around 2pm, the weather broke. The winds dropped, the rain eased and we made our break. Our aim, to row, motor and sail back downriver to Mylor, stopping off on the way at Restronguet Creek.

I was sorry to depart The Smugglers Inn. It was a beautiful, hospitable place run by a lovely couple and I will be back.....hopefully when it isn't raining!

The Smugglers Inn
Good luck to Clive and Ellie on their business ventures

Wednesday 29 July 2015

dinghy cruising: sailing the river Fal - Falmouth Adventures: Day One part 3 - overnighting at The Smugglers Inn

Dinghy cruising: Overnight at 'The Smugglers Inn'

The Smugglers Inn is a lovely old thatched cottage, ivy clad, overlooking the river. Formerly a ferryman's cottage in the 15th century, it was also pivotal in the D Day landings in 1944! It was one of the main embarkation points for US troops and so a beach, slipway and pontoon were installed at the Inn. It is also part of the famous, historic Tregothnan estate

Now it has new tenants - Colin and Ellie. they oversee managed and serviced moorings and shore side boat access. They also charter a lovely boat 'ZaZu' under the business name 'Kernow Charters'.

The pontoon is wide, with 2m depth at all states of tide and a hammerhead ending - a concrete platform. The area is sheltered and more moorings are being put in.  the views are breath taking and for my first night's anchorage I could not ask for better. The welcome was warm. Here are a young, ambitious, caring and hard working couple who want to make a go of things. It was a pleasure and privilege listening to Colin briefly outlining his plans for the future. I deeply admire those with entrepreneurial spirit and a determination to make a go of a business.

Arwen and I arrived late afternoon after a steady row back down river from Malpas. Storm clouds were gathering and Clive had wisely advised me to moor on the western side of the pontoon. It would afford me more overnight stability and protection from what would be strong easterly winds. After setting up the boom tent tarpaulin, sorting out and re-stowing equipment for the night, it was time for a stroll. The beach either side of the pontoon was fine stone and a graded profile.

Covered in seaweed, dead jellyfish littered the shores. South Western shores have seen an invasion of the very large barrel jelly fish - some are the size of dustbin lids, their sting, tiny and harmless, but their appearance - fairly large and fearsome to those not in the know. Unusual in our waters, they have arrived in their hundreds of thousands, partly due to the warmer waters and partly due to last years severe winter storms. The severe storms washed nitrates off our farmland, which have subsequently led to huge growths in plankton and algae - a veritable feast for jelly fish!

The peace, quiet and solitude were lovely. Enough river traffic to keep one's interest; enough wonderful natural history and views to admire and enjoy. A privilege.
Half way up the wooded slopes opposite, a clearing. Large folded, bright green parasols, just visible - the elusive tearoom! kayakers paddle by, voices laughing, enjoyment evident. One kayaker paddled his home built Aleutian style canvas on frame kayak, its razor sharp bow slicing through the water, his Aleutian style wooden paddles, lightweight and of little wind resistant. Here was a man who could paddle far without tiring; his paddle style effortless, strong rhythmic strokes with turns of the torso to supply the power.

Mullet swirled in the shallows and jumped out of the water to catch flies. Yes, you read correctly, mullet were jumping. Their splashes, loud and prone to make me periodically jump with surprise. They took to congregating below Arwen's hull, playing games with each other - tag and chase! Flashes of silver from the depths of dark green water signalling their speed and manoeuvrability. twenty minutes past watching their games. Fish can be quite fascinating.

A lovely old 25' boat past by, a gaff rigged vessel of some sort. Called 'Puffin Bach' I think she was a tamarisk 24 cutter but I could be wrong.  Her hull looked like it was GRP but her topsides were definitely wood. A bottle green hull and deep creamy coloured topsides - elegant. A large cockpit and huge ash tiller. Wonderful and a joy to see.

As dusk drew in, other boats came to anchor in the channel to be protected by the hills. The rumble of anchor chain over bow rollers drifted across the waters to the accompaniment of the shrill cries of oystercatchers. Arwen's Welsh flag and Red Ensign fluttered in the building breeze; the water surface rippled as little wind zephyrs shot across still waters. egrets stalk the shallows; herons lurk under the low trees at the waters edge. Another small flounder meets its maker, this time in the beak of a cormorant.

The trangia is fired up onshore. A comfortable seat is found on a boat cushion leant against an old winch post. Veg soup, Spag Bol, Jelly and fruit; Hovis biscuits and cheese, some nice cuppa's of Typhoo. the hiss of the meths; the rattle of the kettle lid as water reaches boiling point. The world floats by.

As darkness descends, two fishermen arrive on the far bank and set up tripods and beach buddy tent. Here for the long haul, their voices periodically carry across the channel. I remember those days well, for once I was a keen, in fact very keen fisherman. But now I am content to watch them in the shallows. I think my daughter may have influenced me!  The generator on the moored 'Dona Amelia' upstream starts in melodic thud thudding. Total darkness descends but stars? There are none to be seen!

And then it rained............and rained.......and rained........and rained. It became the 'night of ten thousand leaks'. At one point I am pretty sure, around 3am, there was more water in Arwen than actually underneath her supporting her hull! And the damned mullet kept bumping her hull all night too.......!

Hey ho - its all good fun really, seriously!

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Dinghy cruising: Carrick Roads and the channel up to Malpas: Falmouth Adventures Day One - part 2

We had Carrick Roads virtually to ourselves. A huge open expanse of water, the third largest natural harbour in the world.

looking south towards the English Channel

We sailed south, mainly to trim sails, sort out and reposition stores and because I was curious to get close to the very large oil tanker moored just outside the Penryn River entrance. I was to later learn that it had bunker fuel on board for all the large boats, tugs and tourist trip boats in Falmouth. Another one was anchored out in the bay off the Helford river and on Saturday, we witnessed the 'river based'  one being tugged out to sea and the other one bought in to replace her.

Carrick Roads is narrower than Plymouth Sound and to be frankly truthful, we prefer the latter. However, with winds from the south west, we were able to zip around achieving a maximum speed of around 6 kts at one point. But as early afternoon drew on, the call of the upper river was too strong. The flood tide bore us northwards. Maplas was calling!

And so we sailed upriver, hugging the western shores, past Restronguet Creek, past Loe Beach and several other small inlets. We nosed into Pill creek, a lovely sheltered anchorage, past the boats and then out again into the main river. A cream hulled Drascombe coaster past us to starboard, its tan sails full. Um, a cabin on board.......looking up at the grey dark swirling clouds, that did seem to be a sensible addition to any small boat!!  A lovely gaff rigged traditional 30' boat passed us, its cream sails full; its bottle green hull glinting in the sun shafts that broke through the ominous nimbus clouds.

looking upriver from Turnaware Point

one of the river tour boats heading upriver

Rounding Turnaware point and passing Tolcarne Creek, the wind died away and so I resorted to a very gentle pace of 2 kts. Past the oyster beds, past what looked like some fish farm, up past the deep blue King Harry ferry. The river narrowed, the water remained a deep green. Tying up at a mid channel pontoon for a quick bite to eat and ignoring the signs which said 'Dangerous pontoon do not moor here', we admired the large wooden trawler moored at its southern end and then, fully replenished, we once more headed north, further upstream.

What looked suspiciously like a curlew flew overhead and landed in the shallows on the port side. A great backed seagull swooped and caught a baby flounder; carrying it off to near by rocks to be shredded and devoured mercilessly. White egrets roosted in the green tree tops, their white plumage stark against the dark green oak leaf foliage.

At the junction of Cowlands and Larmouth Creeks we came across the first of what would prove to be many, an old 18th century stone quayside. Built of local dark grey, slate type stone, all set vertically, each quay was broken up by a narrow slipway which ended half way up the quayside. A cart width wide, the slips led onto a huge flat quayside area. In olden days this was where agricultural produce was stored; maybe local stones too. Now the quay walls were covered in bright yellow lichens above the high water mark; and tangled masses of bladderwrack seaweed below it. The quays spoke of a more prosperous time.

The further north we went, the narrower the channel became. Oak woods fringed the adjacent valley sides, their deep green summer time foliage hiding the local fauna. I am always mildly surprised at how the base of the trees immediately found at the water's edge are all horizontal and in line with each other, as if some giant hand has been along with a knife and cut them purposefully straight. Another pattern in nature!

Below the trees, rocks and below them glimpses of mudflats and stony beaches. At random points withy poles mark where oyster beds lie. The sounds of the woods drift across the waters. Jackdaws squawk; jays 'chatter'; house martins swoop low over the water to catch flies.  Swans glide in the little creeks. We pass an old wooden landing jetty to port. It is silvery grey and has seen better days. Two large yellow wooden silhouettes of teapots adorn its end. Clearly, somewhere on the hillside above is a tea room. Tempting, really tempting to stop but how far up the hill is the tearoom; how safe will Arwen be, left alone, moored at this landing jetty; all that equipment on board! The little 'cautionary' voice in my head urges me to move on....and I do........maybe I shouldn't have. An opportunity missed?

And then hoving into view two surprises. The first, our first glimpse of our night time destination....The Smugglers Inn. And just above it the rather large gentleman's motorboat yacht, the 'Dona Amelia'

The 'Dona Amelia'

She is a superyacht - 233 long, 13' draft and 30' beam. She can hold twelve guests in 7 state room cabinsand 16 crew and her top speed is 14 knots. She was built in 1929 and has a cottage like theme throughout her rooms. She underwent a refit at the famous Pendennis yard down at Falmouth. Further details on that can be found here

And she is apparently for sale. Um, I am tempted! Rather classy and elegant. I could see Arwen on the stern deck, ready to be winched down into the turquoise Mediterranean waters off Greece!

Monday 27 July 2015

Dinghy cruising: Mylor Creek and its boat yard: Falmouth Adventures Day One

The boat yard was down a narrow lane and I missed it! No signs to show where it was. As I reversed the boat in a narrow lane at five ways junction, I wondered how many other boat towers had had to make the same manoeuvre. Must provide locals with hours of amusement!

Reception was in a converted green shipping crate with a wooden bridge off some old boat on top of it. Rather quirky - I liked it! The welcome was warm, friendly but business like and good humoured. A great start to our adventures.

A traditional boatyard with lots going on. Different smells carried on the air; freshly planed wood; sawdust, paraffin; tung oil and fresh paint. several sheds, some old shipping containers and one or two large white tarpaulin type sheds. Lots of young people in their early twenties and thirties busying around with various tools. In one tarpaulin shed, a young gent was re-planking a long boat - traditional carvel - it's bare ribs poking skywards.

moored at a vacant buoy whilst final shifting of on-board camping gear
takes place to get better trim and balance

The slipway was about two car widths wide and ran between what looked like a very old and very large old rusting landing craft of some form (or perhaps a barge) and then a quayside on the other. two floating pontoons at the high water mark; and another through a narrow inlet on the outside in the creek. A gentle gradient - it was protected from winds and you launch 2 hrs either side of high water on neaps. There was space for parking car and trailer although on this occasion I had to park tight against one of the tarpaulin sheds as a Drascombe rally had taken up other spaces.

I always pack too much.....never did as a mountaineer....but as a sailor....the same minimalism just doesn't seem to apply itself!  On the port side, sleeping, cooking gear, food and spare clothes. Under the deck, tarp tent, clips for tent, spare fenders. On starboard side, spare boat cushions, boom crutch, mooring warps, main anchor and ditty bag with all sorts of bits and pieces and food for the day sail.
way too much.......way, way too much......only going for four days!

A hidden gem of  yard; open at weekends and I must say I rather liked it. £50 for self launch and retrieval and leaving car and trailer for four days. Given it costs me £18 each time I launch and retrieval at QAB for the day - it seemed a reasonable rate.

Mylor Creek meandered eastwards. Lined either side with stunning waterfront properties, small boat moorings filled it's lower half. the water was a deep green and so clean; as Arwen motored gently east, a stunning 16' gaff rigged day boat followed her out, light blue hull and tan sails. Waves exchanged, Arwen and I headed around the bend and into the Mylor Yacht Haven moorings. Past the fishing quay and public slip, we searched out the fairway between the large number of linear moorings. The breezes began to pick up and Arwen surged forward, the sounds of the open seas beckoning her forward.

Its a good start to our annual 'micro adventure'.

Friday 24 July 2015

Are cheesy chips the greatest food ever?

In all honesty, probably not but after a Torrential night, delayed start waiting for 25 kt winds to drop slightly and non stop raining since 10pm last night..... Well right now they are!!!!!

Thursday 23 July 2015

Reaching Truro

Well didn't quite make it to Truro as tide was ebbing fast and mudflats appearing even faster either side of channel but did stop at Malpas.
Under sail, top speed 5.8 kts. Average speed 4.2 knots. Distance covered 8.4 nautical miles.
And now time to do some rowing......heaven forbid

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Untidy packer

I never seem to get the hang of organisation on  Arwen. Because I was as 'green as grass' when I built her, I didn't spot the obvious flaw in the plans! The forward locker hatch! It is directly behind the mast meaning that it is virtually inaccessible. I wish I had had the foresight to offset it to one side.
Anyway, the upshot is that access to that huge underdeck locker is non existent. Consequently gear has to be stowed alone the sides of the hull.
So, ready for the Falmouth trip, storage on Arwen, is as follows:

  • Under the front thwart - 12 litres of water and spare fixings and tools
  • Port centre case locker - tape, electrics, spare radio, bits and pieces
  • Starboard centre case locker - safety gear
  • Rear stern locker - power monkey, spare radio, spare batteries, sponges, towels, 
  • Along the starboard hull side under side deck - boat cushions, spare fenders, warps
  • On the cockpit floor starboard side - main anchor, chain and warp in tray
  • On cockpit floor port side - kedge anchor, chain and warp in tray
  • Port hull side under side decks - clothes, emergency grap bag, tarp tent and fixing clamps, spare mooring warps
  • Along port side of centre case - food and cooking gear drybag
  • In rear footwell - dry bag rucksac containing documentation, keys, money, lunch; dry bag with foulies
It will be cramped! Let's hope she floats! 
I will be launching from Mylor creek boatyard. Then it's heading up river to visit Malpas and overnighting a little further downstream at Smugglers Inn. The next day, down Carrick Roads and across to the Helford River, overnighting at Tremayne Quay. A final day returning to Carrick Roads and exploring Falmouth and St Mawes, overnighting somewhere up the Percuil River. Then, next day, sailing back across to Mylor and hauling out. 
Well that's the plan. The weather may have a different view!

Friday 17 July 2015

In the next few weeks....

due to other circumstances the Falmouth trip will be taking place but exactly when is .....err.......a little difficult to pin down precisely.
What will be happening is that for various reasons it will be a four day trip. I will be sailing up to Malpas, overnighting at Smugglers inn. Then there will be trips to various pubs, up various creeks and probably an overnight in percuil somewhere.
Then there will be a sail across to Helford and an overnight at tremayne quay before heading back to Mylor and carick roads.

I also intend fitting in the plymouth Classic boat rally and possibly an overnight trip to Salcombe as well.

I'm looking forward to some good sailing this summer.

Thursday 16 July 2015

Slight change of plans

Due to some other emerging issues, Falmouth will now be Thursday to Sunday and mainly creek crawling. I'll update the blog more when I have finalised plans.

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Another new navigator blog

can be found at


Sunday 12 July 2015

Final plans being drawn up

for my trip to Falmouth. Pilotage sketches of various waterways and harbours are being finished off in my waterproof notebook. Today I will spend ages entering way marks into my hand held GPS. I need to start thinking about food rations. I have to finalise overnight anchorages although part of me says "go with the flow and see where I end up".
I have my reading materials......."the lugworm chronicles".

Now the only decisions to be I sail from which case I lose four days sailing to and from Plymouth, although I get the excitement of coastal passage planning and sailing? Or do I trail the boat down to Falmouth? Several Dinghy Cruising Club members have suggested launch sites....Pascoe boatyard, Trevissime House, Mylor Creek boatyard.....this option would give me five days sailing around the Fal and Helford Rivers but not much coastal inshore sailing. I guess I could sail to Fowey and overnight there. That would take two days. Or sail around to Mevagissy and back again in a day.

What do people think? I'm feeling very required please!

Monday 6 July 2015

The other videos

from eyeinthehand
Worth watching. Elegant simplicity.
Enjoy at


Friday 3 July 2015

And one more


Another nice video

A lovely video of the navigator 'Slip-Jig'.
Enjoy at