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, 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!


Enrico said...

I think the use of oars is depending a lot on the weight of the boat. Heavier the boat, the shorter time spent on rowing before getting bored. But sometimes, with no wind and calm water it is a pleasant exercise.

Bursledon Blogger said...

Nothing wrong with your approach re motoring out of they way and then picking up a buoy to get sorted before sailing, i pretty much do the same, either row across the river and pick up a buoy on the other,less crowded side or motor out of the river to avoid the Hamble scramble. It's sensible but also nice to know you could do it under sail or oars if you needed to.

Spent many a happy time anchored Cawsand/Barnpool - great places

steve said...

I have done it once - sailed off and back but it can cause chaos in such a confined area. Rowing Arwen is pretty difficult in any wind as well. I always feel guilty motoring out even the short distance 100m away. Part of the issue is there isn't enough space between the mooring pontoons to get the oars out. many will argue that it doesn't develop my skill set well enough and I guess it is a fair point.

steve said...

I agree Enrico. Arwen is quite heavy and in still waters and no wind she is enjoyable to row; as I did recently up at St German's. However in a breeze she becomes difficult to handle as I discovered one year in the River Fal. Then it becomes very hard work.

Alastair said...

I think boat weight is a red herring. Little Jim displaces 640kg yet I can push it around with a single sculling oar without a problem; once it is moving it keeps on moving. Into a strong wind can be hard work but, unless on restricted waters like a river, you will never have far to go before there is room to sail. Leaving the motor behind will also probably improve your sail shape as, when not making as much progress as you would like, you will no longer be able to give up and start motoring. After a while your sailing ability will improve, your desire for the motor will decrease and your satisfaction level will soar.

steve said...

I agree weight isn't the issue. Windage, beam width etc might be although sculling oar might work. I'm using motor less and less and only tend to use it if I want to be somewhere at a fixed time so I can meet someone or go off exploring. Sail shape? Well I'll probably never get the hang of that but it doesn't worry me too much and I'm pretty happy out on my trips. Just being out on the water is all I desire. How I get from a to b has never worried me too much. Im happy pottering. 😉

Anonymous said...

Fun, surely, is the number one priority!?
I know where you mean at qab and there's no way I'd sail out when it's busy. Ever tried sculling? If/when I get that Drascombe Scaffie (after I get and am over the knee replacement); I am planning to scull it in/out from the planned mooring at Stoke Gabriel on the Dart as it's a narrow channel at most parts of the tide. I'm hoping a friend can show me how it's done when I'm up to it.
There must be plenty of chances to practise the rowing/sculling on the Plym or Hooe Lake before trying at qab.
Rather jealous of you having a boat to sort over the winter - a nice gentle project and a chance to improve it for next year. All the best. Graham Abbott

steve said...

Hi Graham - hope knee replacement is going ok - take it steady. Its always fun being in Arwen, irrespective of how poorly I sail. I have thought about sculling - must look into it - don't know whether mizzen would get in way or not - assume not.