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 17 October 2015

It started so well

.......but ended in trauma. A twenty mile ride out on 'Stacey' our 1971 motovespa across the moors started the day. Wales losing by four points to South Africa. Traumatic. Deeply traumatic, especially when the boys played their hearts out.

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Life lines

I've discussed life lines before. Now here is one which is simple and effective I think! I may add this to the winter list of things to do!

Sunday 11 October 2015

All done....

compass repaired, rather nicely, if I say so myself. New mounting position with all holes filled and sealed. The downhaul cleat for the centre case has been offset to one side. Moisture has been wiped away and cushions removed to the garage. And that has got me thinking about winter jobs

  • Sail batten pockets are unstitching so they need to come out and over to a local sail loft for some TLC
  • The trailer needs TLC too......bearings need checking; one of the rollers has broken and one has come lose. 
  • Having moved fittings around on the boom, I forgot to fill some holes! Don't say a word, very poor boatmanship. 
  • My sleeping platform needs attention and to be truthful, I'm thinking of trying out Joel's flat pack version which sit on the cockpit floor when not in use
  • I'm looking to recut the tent as well to make it easier to put up and down. I am taken with Joel's idea of hanging water bottles as weights
  • The mast needs resealing in places too. 
Then there are spring Easter sailing plans. I would next year like to

  • Sail from Plymouth to Darthmouth and up the Dart, taking the boat out at Totnes. 
  • Go the other way down to Fowey and up to Lostwithiel and back again
  • I'd like to trail the boat to other places too. Milford haven looks interesting. I'd quite like to sail a big lake as well and further along the coast Poole Harbour and the Solent..... And finally the Helford......that one is unfinished business left over from the summer

Saturday 10 October 2015

A mishap

Last time out in Arwen I fell abruptly and managed to bash my kneecap. My poor old steering compass took the brunt of the fall and somehow, and somewhat inexplicably, the sealing ring around it came off. The actual compass glass ball remained intact and works. So a quick scrap away along the ring of old sealant and a quick dash to the marine chandler for some new stuff, now sees the compass repaired and functioning again. I also broke the clip that holds it in place and that has been successfully superglued. Now I have to fix it back on the boat but I want to find a new position for it. I am thinking of mounting it on the centre case cap but I wonder if the lead in the centreboard will affect it; or the screws that hold the centre case cap down. I guess the only way is to hold it in place and use another hand held compass to check the deviation on this one. So it's time to go testing!

Saturday 3 October 2015

Dinghy cruising: GoPro floaty cam - version one

well here is version one

Dinghy cruising: How to get video of your boat sailing!

build one of these! Cost just about a tenner. Made of plastic gas pipe and push fittings and a swimming noodle. It floats. It's stable. You can adjust camera position. It doubles as a stable camera stand in the boat or on the deck.

You just have to get over the first hurdle! Throwing it into the water and then watching it drift off! On the other hand, it will certainly sharpen up MOB drill and retrieval won't it!

You can see more here on Kyle Martin's GoPro channel.

I'll let you know how I get on with it! Am in the middle of making one now!

Thursday 1 October 2015

Feeling dim but getting a handle on things............

So I'm can I have sailed Arwen for seven years and still not worked out reefing? Well lots of fair weather sailing. Nough said!

So what have I just learned?

Keep the snotter loose when raising the sail. Then tighten up using downhaul and then tighten snotter to move boom aft until sail sets nicely with no creases. No wonder I get creases in the sail! Joel thinks this will loosen the leech and allow the yard to stand more vertically. Yes it will. Pity I didn't see that over the last seven years. 

Making sure the throat is lashed tight to very bottom of the yard and halyard tied at one third up the yard will help.  The loop of parrel beads needs to be a little tighter to keep the yard closer to the mast. I need to make sure that the parrel beads are down at the tack as well!  Next, after reefing the tack returns to its normal position with lots of downhaul tension but not so much that it causes creases. Then the yard goes back up but not to its higher original position.

On getting into position, I tend to heave to but Wayne suggests I go head to wind, furl the jib and sheet in the mizzen. He also noted that after easing the snotter and downhaul, I should lower the halyard by the same amount as my reef. Moving the downhaul up to the reef grommet, the halyard should then be raised until the tack regains its original position and then really tension the downhaul. Then my slab reefing pulls the aft end of the boom up to the clew grommet. Finally the snotter is re tensioned. All I need do then is tie up the reef lines in the sail.
Avoid tightening the snotter before the downhaul to ensure no I've been doing that the wrong way for seven years. Well there we go......amazing how stupid I am!

My deep thanks to Paul, Alan, Wayne and Joel. I never ceased to be amazed at how kind and generous people are in giving their time and advice so freely.