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

Sunday, 18 December 2016

a winter sail

The fog hung deep in the valley as dawn rose, the grey blanket punctuated by vertical grey irregular pillars of smoke from early morning coal fires. Breath froze instantly in white clouds of vapour and it took more brute force than normal to remove Arwen's tarps. Stiff and unyielding with fallen leaves frozen to their outsides, the tarps crackled, their white frosting shattering into myriads of little jagged fault lines. The thin ropes tying the tarp to the trailer were as unyielding; knots frozen solid, refusing to allow a millimetre of slip in a rope. Fingernails and tips became bent sore and raw as slowly their heat thawed frozen string.

The car door refused to open, welded shut by a white rime of frost. Swirly broad leafed patterns intricate across the roof and windscreen showed how cold last night had been. Once the invisible door weld had broken, the engine coughed into life and then purred quietly, the interior fans coming to life breathing warmth to the windscreen. Before long, trickles of water started, each one a meandering rivulet finding its own path down the screen to the waiting wiper well.

Exhaust fumes lay heavy near the ground, unable to rise through the sinking cold air. The smell of diesel permeated the street's crisp cold air whilst lawn grass, way too long, because its growth had been ignored since September, bowed heavily, each blade laden with frost crystals reflecting rainbow slivers of dawn light. Further down the street the eerie fog blanket muffled the sounds of a waking road, the greyness interspersed with the neon glow of new street lamps, their triangular downward facing arcs giving glimmers of hope in a dull, dull streetscape.

The gossamer delicate threaded spider web that hung between winch handle and trailer coupling was admired for a time, minuscule droplets hanging in perfect formation from its hair like threads, before that too was gently brushed to one side. "Sorry Mr Spider!" I always feel guilty about that.

I have no idea why I decided to get up at 7am this morning and go sailing. Who in their right mind would go in the gloom with a promise of 2 knots of wind and temperatures barely above 2C? Even at QAB marina at 9 am, Drakes island was hidden by a dense grey fog bank where the warmer waters of the Tamar met the cold, cold air from the north. It wasn't exactly appealing!

But I'm glad I did. Sometimes it is worth the effort, for behind that fog bank lay sunshine, gentle breezes, stunning sunny reflections on the water and crisp visibility. An empty Plymouth Sound with an almost mirror like quality to its surface. Sometimes it pays to persevere!

Merry Christmas everyone. I wish you and all your families a good festive break. Thanks for joining Arwen and me this year and please do join us on our voyages in 2017. 


Stuart said...

Thanks for the video - it's like I was there! It's great to see the Sound in these conditions.
It looks as though you've made a good recovery from your injuries, or at least enough not to spoil your enjoyment.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Great Hogmanay and best wishes for 2017.

steve said...

Thanks Stuart.
Elbow is recovering. Mental exhaustion was banished yesterday out on the water. What a restorative!
Anyway, I wish you and your loved ones a Happy Christmas and New Year too and may 2017 be all that you hoped and dreamed for
Best wishes, Merry Christmas Stuart