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

Tuesday 28 March 2017

further updates from Howard Rice

You may well have been following the extraordinary adventures of small boat sailor Howard Rice who attempted to sail his Scamp 'Southern Cross' around the far south of South America. It was a bold adventure with some extraordinary seamanship.

Follow his updates here. Grab a coffee or tea and get a comfy chair. Set aside some time. It is quite a read.


Sunday 26 March 2017

Rather Breezy

A short stroll along the Slapton coast to see the semi resident humpback whale which hopefully is taking up a residency over the forthcoming spring and summer. His/her speciality is 'breaches' which do seem rather spectacular when seen from the cliffs along Hallsands.

Recently our cetacean friend made national news by getting caught in one of the lobster pots off Beesands but all is well thanks to British Divers Marine Rescue Unit and the RNLI and some local fishing boats.

Of course, with the sun shining for the first time and spring in the air, we forgot to check the forecast. I know. I know!
Say nothing!!

Saturday 25 March 2017

Pumping out a John welsford navigator.........several times!!

Winter brings constant rain in our part of the world and that brings the need to constantly pump out poor old Arwen.
She sits on the sloping drive under her tarpaulins and the rain finds its way in whatever precautions her skipper takes!

As I have ruefully said many times before on this blog, I wish I had had the foresight to put the forward hatches not on the vertical baulk head of the front thwart, but on the actual thwart seat itself.  that will be this summer's project.

In the meantime, Pumping out Arwen continues to be a regular winter ritual!

Sunday 12 March 2017

New Youtube channel

Apparently I have qualified for my own YouTube channel url. I'm not sure what I did but for what its worth you can find it at


Monday 6 March 2017

further update on 'southern cross' and Howard Rice

seems new plans afoot.........

brilliant news and a testament to Howard's resilience, skill and experience

Sunday 5 March 2017

GoPro Hero 5 Black action camera review

‘Forgive me Father, for I have sinned’.
Well sinned is a little strong, so let’s try succumbed. 

After resisting for several years, I have finally bought a new laptop (Dell XPS 13 13.3 inches) and a new GoPro Hero 5 Black action camera. I’ll review the laptop another time – it is a startling bit of kit, which we bought with an eye to the future. Lightweight, extremely powerful with huge processing speed, we intend doing lots of travelling eventually and this will fit the bill. From blogging to vlogging and from processing photographs to writing articles, skyping and managing our travel plans, this wee beastie will do it all…….fast!

Anyway back to the GoPro. I have been a long-time fan of these. I bought a Hero2 many, many years ago and it has done extraordinary service. I have a couple of cheaper SJCAM’s and these have bobbed up and down on my ‘from water filming platform’. They take regular dunking’s and have also stood up well.
However, with all three the ability to stick them way forward on the boat or up high on the yards or down a long footpath to get ‘walking or biking towards’ shots is difficult. One doesn’t have Wi-Fi; the other two connect intermittently with the mobile phone and so it is hit and miss.
But this new camera?
Well, frankly, it has been a revelation to me. Now I have only had it a couple of days and so I am still learning the tricks, hoovering up any scraps of information I can find on how to set it correctly and how to play with all the options but here is an initial summary of its features and my first impressions.  I will give a fuller report on it with more video when I have mastered the basics. Suffice to say, I am reviewing this camera from two viewpoints   a) using it on an open, slow day sailing boat and  b) as an action camera in my ‘travel kit’
So let’s get started.

Packaging and ‘what’s in the box?’
·         Normal GoPro Perspex box top and cardboard bottom.
·         Mounted on a black plastic plate with moulded mount. I save these. I haven’t found a use for them yet but I know there is a use out there somewhere. First thing to note – loving the new mount clip – gone are the hexagonal nuts, replaced with a flat nut – much better; as is the rubber insert in to the mount which locks the clip securely in place. Again much better than the old white plastic rubbery C clip thingy. 
·         Sadly, and of concern, the perplex box had a whacking big crack in it indicating some heavy impact somewhere – despite it being wrapped well in several layers of bubble wrap. I informed the seller on eBay and made it clear that if the camera malfunctions in any way I am putting it down to this impact and I am getting my refund.  I’ve sent photographs as well (so far it seems to be working on video and photo mode with no problem – touch wood)

·         In the box – the camera, the outer securing frame, one buckle mount, one curved adhesive mount, one flat surfaced adhesive mount, a USB cable

·         Comes with 4K video, at 30fps/1440ps80/1080p120/4k30
·         Waterproof to 10m
·         a 2 inch touchscreen which accesses the settings,
·         Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
·         voice activation
·         12 MP photo/30 fps burst; time lapse;
·         one button control
·         longer life battery
·         one button power up and immediate recording

·         USB C port
·         Two microphones – I think I read it may have three -  so stereo at least
·         Side located mode button
·         Location capture
·         Advanced wind noise reduction
·         Video stabilisation
·         Mic input
·         RAW and WDR photographs

The associated apps
GoPro have a whole host of apps for this camera and I am only getting to grips with these. There is the standard editing suite GoPro Studio, which I am familiar with and use occasionally although thus far all my videos have been done on basic windows moviemaker, which alas, Microsoft, in their infinity wisdom, have seen fit to discontinue support for…….a pity…..I was a fan of moviemaker. Maybe that was the problem….maybe I was the only fan of it worldwide!!

Back to the GoPro apps. I won’t review these here because I have barely got to grips with them but I did install Gopro Capture on my mobile smartphone. It linked instantly with  the camera and hey, it does exactly what it says in the blurb……..I can activate the camera, switch it off, see what views I have got, change settings, toggle between the different video and photograph modes and download the images and video to my phone. Awesome! Initially very impressed.
(It is so sad. Simple things impress me. Clearly I am soooo behind with technology but coming up 55 I never thought I’d be into video editing or using smart phone technology so hey, I’m happy in my little ‘luddite’ bubble!)

  • ·         Quik  - allows rapid cutting of quick movie from photos and video footage; and Splice apps  - offers more control over editing but is only for use with apple systems – I think - still getting to grips with them but seem easy to use. Apps give some simple project themes. Quik analyses video clips, finds the good stuff, allows further trimming, adds transitions, effects, and I think then sync’s to music chosen  - I’ll let you know further!
  • ·        Capture – see what I said above

First thoughts on switching it on in the house

·         Voice activated camera controls are fun
·         Impressive video and image quality at 1080/60
·         Easy to use GoPro Capture app for tethering to smartphone – really useful for framing shots and using from distance
·         Rubberized outer shell makes it grippier
·         Allows attachable filters for snorkelling and diving – useful
·         Can use exposure controls for photos (but I don’t have that expertise….yet!)
·         Ditto - The built-in spot metering
·         Electronic image stabilisation is very useful
·         Easy to understand menu system – based on swiping screen and touch
·         Can use both top and side buttons together to change settings using small front screen when under water etc. This will be useful
·         Can use up to 128mb SD micro cards  - much better than my old Hero 2
·         Being able to go to 5m at least in water without any bulky waterproof casing
·         Good sound quality indoors
·         Will wind noise affect my voice commands?
·         Plastic mounting frame – how strong is it?
·         Lack of protective waterproof case makes it feel fragile
·         Will touch screen work when covered in water droplets? (I think you may need to lock screen before going near water so it doesn’t keep altering)
·         EIS uses up battery juice rapidly; so does GPS, as I discovered within twenty minutes
·         Can’t do GPS overlays to show speed or elevation etc. as video overlays - irritating!
·         Recording lights are tiny and difficult to see so I suspect I will sometimes not realise whether I am recording or not
·         How will managing settings be using touchscreen if camera is attached to helmet? Guess that is where Capture app comes in
·         Doors are pretty stiff to open and took me a little time to work out
·         Scratching the back screen is a concern (so I have ordered two screen protectors)
·         Need to use the ‘bumper’ casing in order to use different mounts but then that is no different to having it in the old waterproof casing I guess
·         I just wish they would come with manuals but that is just my ‘luddite’ tendencies escaping again

It takes a time to get to grips with the swiping touch screen and it doesn’t always work but I think that is more my technique and it will become easier as I get more familiar with it. I like the rubberised exterior. Feels grippy, probably will protect it a little more against knocks. The touch screen is very clear, the commands appear clear in good sized font.  The EIS does, indeed, make the videos less bouncy. I’ve been surprised at how much smaller it is compared to my SJCAM’s and GoPro Hero 2. It is taking time to remember the voice commands!! And it does sound slightly daft talking to yourself out in public “GoPro, power down”, “GoPro, start video”!!

Talking of voice controls, as far as I can work out so far, these are

·         "GoPro, stop time lapse"
·         "GoPro, video mode"
·         "GoPro, photo mode"
·         "GoPro, time lapse mode"
·         "GoPro, burst mode"
·         "GoPro, turn off"
·         "GoPro, start recording"
·         "GoPro, highlight"
·         "GoPro, stop recording"
·         "GoPro, take a photo"
·         "GoPro, shoot burst"
·         "GoPro, start time lapse"

The voice commands are cool.
I tried them on the wife, “her-indoors take the rubbish out”; “Her-indoors, make the tea”.  The bruise on the back of my head is still throbbing. It was worth a try though!
Anyway, lots of homework to do now getting to grips with an extraordinary little piece of technology.
Favourable first impression – well done GoPro.
Please note: I do my reviews as an independent user. I have no sponsorship with any supplier. It is my own independent findings and thoughts 

Thursday 2 March 2017

a further update on Howard

Wow. double wow and fantastic news he is safe. I admire Howard and his preparation, fortitude and bravery. Read more here


sad news

I am taking this news directly from this website

It would seem that Howard has sadly lost Southern Cross on the rocks. He is safe but had to be rescued by the Chilean Navy. clearly he faced an immense struggle and it is wonderful to see he is safe. I am sure he will share more via the Facebook forums when he is recovered