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".

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Dinghy maintenance over winter...........

Winterizing Arwen, ready for her planned refit, progresses in earnest. I'm even having the garage rewired with more lights and sockets so I can see things better and use tools more easily.

If only I could find someone with a large shed for minimal rent. Then I could then paint her undercover at my leisure......

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

It sometimes surprises me....... little time I actually spend sailing. I did some record keeping this weekend and to my surprise discovered, whilst updating my RYA dinghy sailing log, that this most recent trip out in Arwen was my 130th with her.  It feels more than that but it isn't. I update the log religiously after every trip. The figures are right.

My average trip length if I am not dinghy cruising, is around 6 - 8 hours. I tend to favour winds between force 2 and 4. I've never been out more than a handful of times in a force 4/5 for example.

My favourite day cruise would appear to be off over to Cawsand; and then around the breakwater and then back across to Barn Pool at the mouth of the Tamar before cruising back home across the front of Plymouth Hoe. My favourite cruising destinations from Plymouth appear to be Fowey, Salcombe, Newton Ferrers, Calstock and St Germans.

I inevitably launch from Queen Anne's Battery Marina. I know most of them. They know me. They are a great bunch of people, friendly, talented, good humoured and hard working.

I rarely practice any skills and it shows. Only occasionally do I find entries specifying things like anchor practice off beach; sailing onto/off moorings etc.

Um. Over reliance on the motor - I think it is time to start abandoning that more and more. And on this point, I discovered I have now got into the habit of motoring out of QAB and up through the narrow Sutton Pool area where all the tourist boats and water taxis are based, straight into the Cattedown where I immediately pick up a vacant mooring buoy for a few minutes. A quick sort out or a quick video introduction to something I am vlogging and then I raise sails and sail off the mooring and out in to the Sound. I haven't yet used oars to get out of that area; nor have I yet sailed out of it. It is a very busy area with marina lock gates, port pilot berths, water taxis, tourist boats and small ferries all converging on that one narrow point. It is a matter of courage and faith in your own skills and just going for it.

Anyway, it is always fascinating what my very brief log entries reveal about my sailing habits. I really should spend more time analysing them and identifying those areas which perhaps need further work on. There again, maybe I should just do what I keep doing....going out for day sails and enjoying it!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Galley Box video

After much discussion and interest on FaceBook forums about the galley Box, I have done a brief video overview of it. Thank you to all those who contributed ideas and comments. I valued everyone's thoughtful comments.

If you search October in the blog bar on the right, you will find previous blog posts on galley box construction and there is a Duckworks magazine article imminent as well. Arwen is winterized for now and there is a huge amount of maintenance to do on her. A proper test of the galley box will have to wait until Spring time. This is version one. It is rough around the edges. I suspect it will be refined and a version two may well emerge at some stage. 

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Anchor Buddy part 2

The sound quality on my last video diary was not good. Sound is an issue that is bugging me badly. I find the GoPro sound quality poor. There I have said it. Many GoPro fans will beg to differ but for me it has always been poor. I refuse to pay outrageous money for a gizmo to plug into the side into which you can then plug a mic, which then doesn't allow the camera to remain waterproof. But there we go, you pays your money and you takes your chance.

To try and resolve these issues I have invested in a Zoom H1 digital portable recorder with mic and windshield. It will record sound and conversation independent of any camera I am using and hopefully improve video sound quality. When I am 90, and not as active, I want to be able to access my video diaries and at least hear what inane commentary I was making all those years ago.

And so to anchor buddy video part 2.......without the help of the Zoom H1. I am hoping that sound quality is better although I am limited by what I can do with it in GoPro studio and Moviemaker. A good friend has suggested I download Audacity and then compress and normalise the sound tracks in that. He says it is simple and foolproof. I say, considering he has been my good friend for nearly thirty years or so, he seems to have forgotten who he is talking to. Foolproof and simple are not words you'd associate with my unique abilities to mess things up.

When I posted the part one video some subscribers were a bit nonplussed to find there was nothing on the anchor buddy in it. I did explain in the video link notes below on YouTube that this video, for some obscure reason, would not load up in it's entirety so I apologise if people felt misled. By the same token, in part two much of the action is filmed on a headcam and as anyone who has used one will testify, they are a real irritation trying to get the correct view and everything in the frame. I rarely use it if truth be told.

so the anchor buddy.......

The Anchor Buddy seems to be popular in the NW pacific coast area of the USA. Given as a thoughtful present from a family member,  I thought I'd try it out. European sailors will know an anchor buddy as something else. For the purpose of clarity, in this context, I am trying out a yellow bungee cord!

So, after a first test, I like it. It worked. Will it stand up to a season's use, I have no idea. How will it perform in choppier water, I need to find out. Will it stretch in a hard running tide and so cause anchoring problems in a crowded anchorage? don't yet know. Is it better than my normal method of pulling the anchor off the deck with a trip line? can't say yet.  Is it worth the money it sells for......jury out on that one for the moment too. And what about tidal range, incoming and outgoing tides - how will it perform in those varying conditions?

So many unknowns but for now I will be using it again all next season when I stop for short on shore picnic breaks. Perhaps then I will have answers to these and other questions.

In the meantime, those who are interested can find out more at

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Dinghy anchoring

Some time ago I was given an anchor buddy as a present. I've been meaning to try it out for some time. Essentially it is a long bungee cord that you attach to your anchor and anchor rode. It stretches about four times its length and allows you to pull your dinghy offshore for a temporary beach stop. In the past I have used the anchor on the edge of the side deck, pulled in by a trip line. Explains all the scratches on Arwen's deck and coaming. So I thought I'd give it a try. Here is the first part of my vlog on using the anchor buddy. I split the video in two because it would have been too long otherwise. part 2 next week.

Dartmoor roaming