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

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Sleepless nights and power sled kites

I promised some Christmas seafaring stories but so far I have failed; too tired to write my own and despite some searching on internet – nothing thus far. But! I haven’t given up yet!
In the meantime, I have had a few sleepless but enjoyable nights trying to work out the intricacies of flying a kite cam off the back of Arwen.  Can it be done? What will it involve?

I blame Joel!

He said ‘you will need to design a picavet Steve’! That did it. Sleepless nights spent surfing the net – what was a picavet; how did it work; how could you make one….questions, questions, questions………..!!

The man just constantly makes me think! It’s unnerving. First there was his simple roller furler – ingenious. Then the collapsible fold away sleeping platform – pure genius. Got to make one of those in the New Year for Arwen.  The tent! Stretched and tensioned by water bottles – simple elegance! Got to alter my tent now!!  Admittedly, introducing me to those odd guys smeared in blue latex splashing paint about on drums…..whilst on ocean cruise liners…….wierd? Scary? Not exactly Bryn Terfel now are they?

Anyway, latest project? Design a picavet, make it, test it!

Now mistakes here could be costly – GoPros are expensive and the floaty backdoor won’t save one that falls off a kite 40m out from Arwen! I have been researching kite type and size; length of line and line storage; line diameter and strength – soooooo much information on the net – now paralysed with info overload.

Of course, many will ask the obvious fundamental question…..why do you want to do it?

To which I reply – why not? I rarely go sailing in company and so I have no shots of Arwen at sea. I have designed a float rack for my GoPro as mentioned in a previous post and that can be set adrift to get waterline shots of Arwen sailing past….but aerial shots….from afar…… that is different and it would be quite nice to see a perspective on her which I have yet to see!

So over the next few days I will post a brief summary of what I have discovered and in the new year I will try and build a prototype; along with putting in a new front deck bulkhead hatch, a new front seat hatch, a new clip on side deck for a mooring pole, painting over the dings, getting the trailer to the mechanic.......and so the list goes on......and on..............


Alden Smith said...

There is a famous old traditonal William Atkin double ender named 'Vixen' that recently completed a circumnavigation. The skipper wrote a few articles that appeared in Wooden Boat magazine - one of these was all about the use of a kite and camera that he flew to take photos of his boat - I thought the photos pretty impressive - perhaps do a general Google search or search Wooden Boat and see it the articles available.

steve said...

Hey Alden. That's a great tip, cheers buddy.
Can I take the opportunity to wish you a really merry Christmas and a happy new year too

Joel Bergen said...

Lol! Gosh Steve, after reading your post I'm not sure if I should feel flattered or a bit sinister hahah (evil laugh)!

I too am contemplating some aerial kite photography this Spring. It will be my first chance to play with a Picavet as well.

Then again, the proper way to film a Navigator from above would with a remote control drone, as was done here:

Lovely, eh?

Perhaps we can compare our aerial vids next spring? I still have some Blue Man Group scores for mine, on my BMG CD that I have not used yet. Which reminds me, I'm overdue for a trip to Las Vegas to see their new show.

Cheers my friend! And have a wonderful Holiday.

steve said...

Ha! Your fault, I periodically have to now check these BMG just to see how they are doing. Definitely your fault!! Lol!

I did think about drone s but A. Can't afford one. B. I'd end up ditching it C. You haven't met SWMBO so A isn't going to happen and if by some miracle it did, B would get parts of my anatomy removed with rusty scissors and a plumbers blow probably its best I go with a picavet. It wil be difficult enough convincing her that I need a 1.5m powers led Parafoil. I might just swing it on the grounds that I am starting up an aerial photography club at school ......but I suspect she will see through it

You and your lovely family have a great Christmas too. May your holiday be filled with joy.
Take care now