Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog. My name is Steve and i am the lucky owner of a John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. I built her over three years with the help of my father, father-in-law and two children. She was launched in August 2007 at Queen Anne's battery marina in the barbican area of Plymouth. This blog is a record of our voyages together around SW England.
Arwen has a YouTube channel of her own. Search "plymouthwelshboy".

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Casting off.....

Deckies off and dropped in the footwell of the rear passenger seat. Sealskinz socks pulled on and trousers wrapped around lower legs before socks pulled up tight. Feet slide into wellies.
 Bow painter grabbed in left hand, trailer security strop lifted off Samson post and winch gear disengaged. Right hand pushes against stem, right hand rests on starboard bow gunnel. Arwen begins to roll backwards. A gentle splash as her stern enters water. Another heave on the stem and a balancing act stepping onto the cross bars of the trailer and she floats free. The painter coil unfurls as one moves sideways towards the pontoon. One knee rests on the wooden edge whilst the other tenses and then pushes off the slipway. It's not graceful but both knees arrive on the pontoon. Walk along and gently tug the painter forward, Arwen's bow turns and she glides through the water. A quick push of a foot on the bowsprit and she comes to lie alongside, fenders squeak in protest as they rub along pontoon edges. 

And there she lies. I edge back and bend to retrieve the coiled stern line on her starboard aft quarter side deck and using the two warps, she is moved forward along the pontoon and cleated off. A bow spring line is added for security whilst the car and trailer are driven back up the ramp and stowed above the tide line. 

Her side deck bobs as I step aboard, one hand on her furled sails and boom to steady my entry and step down into the cockpit. The bowsprit tackle is tightened. The first of a set of routines in preparation for cast off. Systematically we move stern wards. The downhaul tackle is attached to the mainsail tack. Anchors are checked for secure storage. Centre board tackle is checked, does it run freely?  The mainsail halyard is attached and sail ties checked and tied up.  Odds and ends get stowed under side decks. Camera, hat and gloves starboard behind the coaming with the little ditty bag containing water, munchies, lipsalve and suncream. Binoculars are taken from locker and stowed below the handheld compass rack.  Bungees are checked and tightened. Anything that has come loose during the journey secured in its rightful place. 

Fuel tap on, air vent opened, choke pulled out, throttle set to start, gears in neutral. Starter coil rope grabbed. Three pulls and the muted rumble of a four stroke outboard kicks into life. Choke pushed in as engine begins to race. Good water stream out the back.  Throttle to idle. Bubbles emerge from below the transom. 

The ash/mahogany laminate tiller moves freely. The helm impeder functions correctly. The tiller extension is secure. Rudder downhaul and up haul correctly strung and cleated. The main sheet is flaked into the footwell and is cleated off on the transom block thus preventing the boom from swinging overhead. 

The final check. Glasses on their cord. Sunnies on my head. PFD zipped up, straps adjusted. Radio on and dual watch 16 and port control 14. Knife, anaenometer, mobile phone, car keys and cash cards in waterproof container. A final look around and final check from port aft quarter up to bow and back down starboard side to aft quarter both inside and out. 

A check on wind and tide, what are they doing now? A glance across to the Barbican lock...what's happening there and then the mid ship painter is attached to a cleat and I step up onto pontoon. Forward morning lines are released, coiled and stowed. Ditto aft mooring warp. Mid ships warp is released and Arwen is pushed away from the pontoon. A turn on tiller to starboard and a gentle twist of the throttle and she slowly eases away, her bow pointing along the 'canal' between pontoon moored boats to the open Sutton harbour pool. 

Another day out on the water has just begun!

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