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 22 October 2016

Routine maintenance at the end of the season

A nice day doing routine maintenance on Arwen. Now all she needs is a paint!

Friday 21 October 2016

some maintenance work tomorrow

All being well, after my elbow and then a rather unexpected pit stop in the local casualty unit because everyone thought I was having a stroke (which turned out to be inflammation of a cranial nerve), I might just, just mind you, be able to do some low level maintenance work on poor Arwen tomorrow. I'm not sure who needs it more - her or me at the moment!

The weather should be fine tomorrow with bright sunny spells and winds from if I turn her around after pulling her down off the drive, she should point into the wind and I should be able to raise sails whilst she is on the road......well that is the theory...................

My intention is to

  • run the snotter control line back down through the deck and along the port side of the centre board so that it is easier to hand in the aft cockpit
  • take off the slab reefing system and simplify reefing so that it is just a case of attaching luff reef cringle and leech cringe appropriately - I haven't explained it very well but I know what I have to do. I will then remove various cleats on the boom and fill the holes left behind. 
  • tidy up where the various control lines run along the centre board sides by running them through new deck eyes
  • sort out one or two cam cleats which are falling apart
  • replace the one cam cleat for the mainsail halyard with a horn cleat. 
  • sort out my various tool kits and spares - I carry way too much so rationalization is needed
  • remove the jack stays and just clip the extra long harness into a hook attacked to the keel plank in aft cockpit
  • sort out the tiller tamer which keeps jamming for some obscure reason as yet unfathomable to me
  • sort out and replace the tell tales on the shrouds which keep catching
  • re position the fishing rods to a more secure location
  • attach more deck hoops for another gas pipe length for the cockpit tent
  • try and make the topping lift on the mizzen more effective 
  • lengthen the down haul on the mizzen boom snotter
  • remove some storage bags i made on side coamings - they aren't large enough and it would be better to just have one canvas bag of ropes with loops in attached somewhere forward into which sail ties etc can go for storage. I have an old mesh dive bag somewhere which will suffice 
  • tidy up the new cockpit bags 'her indoors' made for Arwen at the start of the summer
these halyard bags made such a difference during the summer cruise to Fowey

I would also like to try and put down some rubber mat flooring so it is easier on bare feet which rightly or wrongly is how I normally sail in the summer months.  Anyway, we will see how we progress tomorrow. I'll take photographs of my poor handiwork!

she needs a good clean up and de-rigging for the winter months although I am tempted to try and get out in her a couple of times in November if I can

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Whilst rushing through the barbican at the weekend

I came across...............

Alec from the BBC One Show

being filmed by this chappie...

I then paused to admire this beauty.......

before my eye was caught by something unusual in the Barbican!

And having walked towards the tall masts, I came upon this special one......

A Russian tall ship on a fleeting stopover.....................

with lots of masts and rigging..........

plenty of crows nests.......................

and a rather fine mizzen sail 

quite a fierce some figure head.......

which proved to be one of many carvings on board ...........

ooohhh! They are I see them from a different perspective!!

the police paid a visit to admire the ship...................

whilst the crew re-tensioned the rigging

and made sail repairs.................

I suspect they will get around to repairing the scrapes...........

clearly they have bought spare timber for such eventualities.........

she sort of fitted in well with the ambiance of the old Barbican

Sunday 16 October 2016

An update

Wow. Never known a term like it. Feet haven't touched ground. Sixty five hour working weeks. The educational world has gone mad. There is a whole list of things to do on Arwen, not least of which is to paint her but at the moment that is a distant pipe dream. My hairline fractured elbow hasn't healed. In fact it turned quite nasty, puffy, inflammation and fluid build up which has been painful to say the least and a downright nuisance. Can't lean on it, can't use arm to push self out of chair, can't pick up heavy bags with it. On course of anti inflammatory and antibiotics which make me nauseous. It is a good job I am generally a cheerful chappie. Work kept me busy and slowly it is beginning to show signs of healing. It has been a long nine weeks!

So now thoughts turn back to poor Arwen, neglected, unsailed, lying on the driveway under her tarp. I emailed a few boatyards locally and all want to take a look at her and give me a quote for painting her hull. Some suggested ridiculous things like scrapping paint back to bare wood and spray painting her with awl grip paint something or other. All I want is her to have a sand down and then repaint. I would do it myself but I suspect doing so will aggravate the elbow and so common sense must prevail.  'Banger', a local legend in Salcombe gave me the name and number of his friend, 'Podge' who would be interested in doing it. Baltic wharf at Totnes, the Weir Quay Boatyard and The Salcombe Boatyard all said they were interested if I could get it across to them. So, all being well, sometime during the week after next, the elbow will be strong enough to get Arwen hitched up to the car, driven off our awkwardly sloping drive and taken off to these various places to get quotes. 

In the meantime, the winter to do list looks like this.........................

  • Sort snotter so it runs down through deck and back along to the aft centrecase cockpit area
  • Remove Jack stays and just try attaching safety harness to rear eye pad at back of aft cockpit 
  • simplify reefing system by making attachment to hold sail as you transfer leech cringle from lower to upper cringle hole; and removing the slab reefing system lines; and by attaching clip to rear of sprit boom  
  • Paint interior and deck
  • Varnish interior wood coaming 
  • Sort out tiller tamer so that the rope passes through the rope slightly more easily than it currently does
  • Make a sleeping platform or doctor some old camping shelve tables I have  to make a platform (recycling something - it appeals to my sustainability part of my brain)
  • Remove jam cleats; replace some; reposition others at aft end centre case for downhaul, centreboard up haul, main halyard, topping lift
  • Replace main halyard cleat with horn cleat
  • Sort wind tell tales on shrouds so that they don't keep getting caught on the shrouds
  • Put thin rubber tube around rollers on trailer to see if that stops them chipping paint off the chines
  • Repair trailer roller at aft of trailer
  • Reposition fishing rods on side decks so that jib lines don't get caught on them
  • Add more deck hoops for gas pipe for tent
  • Repair bow end tear in tarp tent
  • Install manual bilge pump with outlet hose into centrecase
  • Build a small galley box for trangia and other stove and cooking utensils
  • Repair stitching sail batten pockets
  • Check sails for wear and tear
  • Sort out topping lift for Mizzen to work more efficiently
  • Sort spare trailer wheel
  • Sort ropes running either side of centrecase so they run through deck loops and don't get caught up on each other 
  • Check seals on all hatches 
  • Sort out tool kits and spares boxes....rationalise!
  • Sand and paint rudder
  • Repair rudder split in casing
  • Lengthen downhaul on mizzen boom snotter
  • Remove the side plastic bags and clean varnish up there 
  • Make new row blocks and position slightly further aft
Better get to it over half term. Could do many of these jobs then if I get organised!

Sunday 2 October 2016

Arwen's travel bug aims

Arwen's travel bug mission is as follows......1. To visit all seven continents;  2. To visit as many different countries as possible;  3.  To visit as many different volcano summits or near summits as possible;  4 to visit as many mountain summits as possible;  5. To visit as many ancient buildings as possible.  6.  To be returned to somewhere on Plymouth Hoe, devon, England for the 22.03.2022  when PlymouthWelshboy himself will be sixty years old on that day. What a great birthday celebration that will be. Whoever you are, add a note, log your find, drop me a note, have fun, travel safely, enjoy life to the full, smile, be kind and generous of spirit and learn new things. Life is short and it isn't a practice! �� 

Arwen has a geocache

Arwen has a geocache travel bug. It is a movable geocache, one that goes with travellers from geocache to geocache until they decide to drop it and leave it in one for others to find and move on.
Arwen's travel bug started on Vulcano, one of the Aeolian islands off Sicily. It seemed a good idea at the time!! Down in the crater was a geocache. The one in the fumarole field proved impossible to find, her skipper choking from sulphurous fumes and losing his way in a yellowish haze! Apart from which it was rather hot and his legs kept getting scalded by fumeroles.

Anyway, one brave couple from Germany, Alex and Bridgit, rescued the travel bug and carried it with them to several other Italian places before they returned to Germany, where upon, the bug was off travelling various geocaches. One proved attractive and so the bug was duely deposited.

And now it is off on its travels again. Across the Rhineland.

For a geographer, it's all rather exciting!