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 13 August 2017

Playing with drones........


It started in Mum and Dad's garden with an endearing little chap.....

...who was finding it difficult to fly about...........

....A family get together....'her-indoors' clan gather at the Glastonbury Torre Abbey festival

The headline act? Brian Wilson...of Beach Boys fame

...and the night ended with a bang...well multiple bangs actually.......

The 'obligatory' stroll to Salcombe to do my annual 'people watching' and I spied this nice 'in sneaking into harbour

a rather 'unexpected and impromptu' bike ride along the Exeter valley Country park - passing Topsham on the way.....

...where the little ferry plied it's trade.......

....whilst we had a well earned break at the pub!
Well, cycling can be very hard, no, ....thirsty work!!

I'm trying to work out whether this little chap is confused, has issues or hasn't read the manual on being a water snail!!
Maybe, he's just different...and different is good!

Some serious anger and frustration at this scene....a once lovely MTB, left wrecked and abandoned

and then there is always sharing an early morning breakfast on the new outside seating area with our little garden buddy, who calls by everyday......around breakfast, lunch and tea time!

Rediscovering my home built canoe 'Angharad' in the garage clear up along with her 'Celtic Cross' design and 'Dragons'

The annual pilgrimage to 'Steinland'..........views of the north Cornish coastline

and across the notorious 'Doom Bar'!

and a rather nice visit to St Enodoc's Church

...finished off with a spur of the moment all night session looking for the Perseids meteor shower........

and trying out my new camera and tripod......getting night shots.....I failed more 'reading up' to do!

Tuesday 8 August 2017

An evening of discovery..........

It started with the discovery of 'Angharad' buried beneath garage detritus that my family insist on storing in my garage!! (Imagine I said that through gritted teeth!)

With her discovery, I shall try towing her behind Arwen when I next go sailing. It may be easier to anchor off the beach and then paddle onto it - quick stop at a pub or café and then paddle back.

Having never towed anything behind Arwen before, if you have any tips - now is the time to let me have them, please!

The other discoveries took place at the first evening of an art exhibition entitled 'Sea Moor - See More'. Three local ladies displaying artwork, one the most extraordinary ink line drawings; another the most exquisite textile embroideries which are then turned in to artwork prints; and finally I think oils and acrylic landscapes. All the works focused on our local coastline and beloved Dartmoor.

Two of the artists I know - Cheri, I used to teach with.  Her line drawings are simply stunning. Her map of Antarctica, commissioned for the 2012 expedition commemorating the original Scott expedition is probably the most stunning map and artwork I have ever seen.

You can find out more about Cheri's work as an artist, a teacher, an art consultant and a gallery owner at her website
I promise you won't be disappointed.

As for Jenny? Well I have had the privilege of knowing her since she was a child. Now she is studying textiles at university and has her own business. Her textile work is imaginative, exquisite, extraordinary and visually stunning. Tonight at the gallery, it was the talk of the exhibition. If I remember rightly, she has twice won national awards in Wales for her work.
You can find more about her work here at

Her website is at
Below is just one picture of her work, which I hope she doesn't mind me posting because I forgot to ask her earlier on at the gallery. She was so busy....and I didn't want to disturb her!

copyright to pictures and designs above and below - Jenny Evans Designs

If you are in the Kingsbridge area of South Devon, do pop along and see this wonderful art exhibition at 'The Harbour House', on the promenade. It is open each day from 10am until 5pm up to next Wednesday 16th August.

If you are nautical - the Kingsbridge waterfront is lovely; great for crabbing with the kids; the high street has charming old buildings and lots of quirky shops.

A long overdue spring clean

A spring clean - some thirty years overdue - very nice to do. Basement is now cleared and reorganised. Study has been cleared out and is now about to be refilled with what we want to keep - so decluttering all downstairs rooms - wonderful! the garage will be cleaned, decluttered and organised tomorrow and Thursday. And then I can start building a workbench on wheels in preparation for my building wannigans for Arwen.

I'm beginning to like this retirement malarkey thingy!

stages in the filling of a skip

The paint pots got removed and what could be taken to the local recycling centre was
We made over twenty trips to our recycling centre - filling the car each time

The basement finally organised after 30 years...with dust sheets ready to cover all the shelves. There are another 10 similar shelf stacks in the basement!

When you have reorganised, there are bound to be things left over - 50 crates and around 60 lifetime shopping bags - now where exactly do we store these?

The first few weeks............

It has felt like a very long time since I have sat down and blogged. So much has been going on in recent weeks.  

My end of term retirement didn’t quite go according to plan. On the Tuesday in the final week, I felt it was unlikely that OFSTED would call so at 8.00am I dumped all remaining teaching folders, assessment data folders etc; I stripped the walls of displays ready for the new teacher.  The school received the OFSTED ‘We are coming tomorrow’ call at midday!

My retirement party for after school laid on by the geography team got cancelled in favour of an OFSTED pre-visit briefing meeting. So did the year 7 pastoral team ‘goodbye’ down the pub on Wednesday after school.

I got one visit…. rather funny really. When asked to present any lesson plans, assessment data, data about who our SEN or pupil premium students were I couldn’t. I had tried. Let’s face it being found dumpster diving in a large school bin on wheels in the pouring rain on a Tuesday afternoon around 5pm must have seemed especially funny; given the guy in the bin was in a suit! I did trawl through the day’s detritus but to no avail; those folders were deep, deep, deep at the bottom of that bin!

To be truthfully honest, I found the whole affair very funny. And I am really glad they came. The inspector who visited me was human and saw the funny side of the whole affair. She went off evidence of good progress in all my students’ exercise books. I think the banner across the back of the room made by my head of geography and his wife, God bless them, probably hinted to her where I was….it read ‘happy retirement Steve’.  It meant that all my wonderful colleagues didn’t have to go in to their summer break worrying about coming back to an imminent inspection. We won’t know the result until September but they won’t be coming back for three years or so and the school has been making huge progress over the last year or two.

The Friday of that week was sports day and that turned out to be funny. We do sports day off the school site at a proper athletics track over the other side of the city. Many coaches ferry over the students in convoys and it’s a big event in the school calendar. The field is raised about 25m above another smaller field and car parking area below and a large, steep grassy embankment separates the two. On this lower area, we were rather surprised to find some police officers, an airport landing land rover with flashing lights and some rather black official looking cars, one full of plain clothes police officers. Cut a long story short, Royalty was visiting the city in the form of Her Royal Highness Princess Anne. As the helicopter duly approached all sports ceased and nearly a thousand students lined the grassy embankment peak to wave her in. One of my colleagues snapped a photo of me and the helicopter in hover mode behind me with the tag line ‘Princess Anne coming to thank Mr P for all his years of service’………the rumour spread like wildfire, students immediately reached for phones ready to tweet to the world……. we just managed to stop an embarrassing moment for the school from spreading across the world. Phew!!  Well, we found it funny, I guess you had to be there. Her highness waved at us all, the pilots came up with the local police to see what was happening up top; we all waved her goodbye when she left. We all got another royal wave. None of us were quite brave enough to pop down and invite her up for a tea and a medal presentation or two…. maybe next time!
HRH Princess Ann calling in to say 'thank you' to me on my retirement after 35 years teaching service to the nation.......or maybe not!!

The following week, activities week proved to be excellent. Water sports with the Mountbatten water Sports centre at Plymouth is always guaranteed to be a huge success. Sailing, gorge walking, canoeing, SUP’ing………. the only incident I managed to break my very expensive waterproof SONY mobile phone when leaning against a bulkhead to rescue a student about to slip off the deck……. the phone was in my outer PFD pocket and the screen fractured badly along with the touch screen – beyond repair. ‘Her indoors’ was not, I repeat, NOT impressed. I was allowed a new phone but I have been severely, severely demoted in the phone stakes. I think the new one is clockwork! I lost all my navigation charts – they didn’t copy across – very annoying!

My first week of retirement was spent with family, one of whom had to spend a few days in hospital but was eventually discharged and is now recovering at home. It was good to catch up with family despite the circumstances.

The second week was spent rescuing a collapsed fence outside the back door. Our outside seating area seriously dilapidated, it needed a quick make over. New fencing, some shuffling around of garden furniture and hey presto – our eating area is back. Sad, it is mainly showers during our summer isn’t it!
Before, with ivy stripped back - the crumbling fence and collapsing concrete old fence from the 1960's

The 'cleared' back run along the house rear

the refurbished seating area

And now here we are – week three of retirement. The garage is ready to be emptied into a skip; the upstairs bedroom, a study full of shelves and folders and books for the last 27 years is now empty, ready for skipping. All that could be recycled has been done so. The basement, untouched for 27 years has been emptied, huge piles waiting to be skipped. My canoe build, ‘Angharad’ has been found against under a mountain of old cushions and duvets.

Over the next three days we will skip everything, and I do mean ‘everything’ that hasn’t been touched or used in the last five years. The kids have been dragged back from university and their job to go through their bedrooms too!
There are another 'sixteen piles' like this one...and the skip arrived as I am typing this blog update...and we don't think it will be big enough...oops!!

Come the wet months in November, each room will be redecorated. New carpets in some rooms. We haven’t decorated for over a decade! New start, new beginnings, next phase of our lives beginning anew. Looking forward to it. Planning trips to China, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and West Coast USA…. not all at once I hasten to add!

Oh, and I have ‘booked’ four days cruising in late August in Arwen. Very big spring tides, early morning high tides, perfect for beaching overnight. Just haven’t decided where to go……. along the coast…. Fowey up to Lostwithiel? Or Salcombe and over to Dartmouth and up to Totnes? Or maybe up the Tamar to St German’s and then up beyond Calstock? Three days sailing and overnight on board….so needed!!!