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".






Thursday, 26 April 2018

Tregurrian - Camping and Caravaning campsite, Cornwall


Tregurrian camping and caravan club site is clean, well kept and located on the clifftops above the wonderful Watergate Bay. A small site split in two with hard standings at the start and grass pitches at the rear, it has this season received an upgrade. New hard standings, new roads around the site, new drainage and new hosts. The welcome from Jackie and Ian, site hosts, was warm, friendly and made the start to our Cornish adventure relaxed. Good humour, smiles, a tour of the site and then a personal lesson with patient instruction on how to reverse a caravan onto a pitch. A first for me, a man normally quick to use the motor mover. After several false starts, with Ian’s patient instruction, I did get the caravan in the right place.  Later he rescued us when we hadn’t quite got the electric supply to the van sorted. Such extraordinary hospitality from such lovely hosts, we weren’t expecting.  With views out to sea, cows and fields surrounding us, the roar of surf from Watergate bay at night and early morning birdsong from the low stone wall/hawthorn hedgerows; with a view of the setting sun from the front window each evening, it is a lovely location.



Of course, in westerly winds, it is pretty exposed as well. The Kampa rally 200 inflatable awning almost took off several times Tuesday night. Pegs were torn out; the limpets attaching the awning to the van side were ripped off. Some of the inflatable tubes collapsed under the force. Interesting times!!! 


I discovered that adding to our list of boy and girl jobs whilst caravaning (see last year posts), boys jobs now include getting up in the wee hours in the middle of a lashing gale  to bang in extra pegs, grapple with an awning throwing a paddy fit and re-positioning the car to act as a windbreak.

To be reprimanded for getting back into bed slightly wet and very cold.......was the final straw!!



If you haven't come across our caravan Etiquette to avoid divorce then you can find it here. 

If you have anything to add to it, drop us a comment in the box below the post.  Other posts on our caravan adventures - try the RH side folder for October 2017



Progress report

Two more coats of International 'Interdeck' on the cockpit floor and sides; three coats of varnish to the coaming and sanding and painting of the thwarts and all the planned seasonal maintenance will be done. Aiming to have Arwen back in the water for mid May.

Completing an RYA Day Skipper Theory course in next couple of weeks. I know quite a bit wont apply to navigating coastal passages in a dinghy, but it cant harm to update myself, learn some new tricks and exercise the old grey matter.

I know one or two of you have been trying to contact me by Skype recently and have been unable to do so. I am sorry. My laptop crashed itself into a permanent reboot loop that confused everyone including Microsoft help desks. Caused by a bug in windows 10 Edge, eventually it was resolved by having to do a factory re-set. However, we lost plenty, including Skype contact details etc. Basically, if you are trying to contact me via Skype, could you try via messenger instead; or as a comment on this blog and my sincerest apologies for the inconvenience caused. 

It will be good to get back out on the water. I am hoping for a busy camp cruising season. In no particular order I'm hoping to


  • attending a couple of rallies with the brilliant Dinghy Cruising Association 
  • catching up with the planned tour of the 'Southern Cross' and supporting the project in any way when it, Howard Rice and John Welsford visit the UK
  • doing a series of sailing vlogs about dinghy cruising around the waters of Plymouth Sound, the rivers Lynher and Tavy and the upper reaches of the river Tamar
  • towing Arwen down to Falmouth to complete voyages up the Helford and some tributaries of the Fal (see forthcoming post about visiting Devoran)
  • completing an RYA Day Skipper Theory course (note completing, I'm not so confident of passing.......the old grey matter is very rusty since retiring) 
  • completing a voyage up the Fowey, possibly to Lostwithiel
  • some supporting/volunteering for local youth sailing charities
  • lots of practice - anchoring, reefing, rowing, pilotage etc
  • a capsize test drill of Arwen
  • a vlog about using the galley box and the new sleeping platform on my first camp cruise of this season
  • sailing in company with my friend Dave and his new boat
And a potential winter project - designing and making a 'proper' boom tent for a Welsford navigator using gas pipes and tent fabric; and installing a whale gusher urchin bilge pump.......if I can afford them.  

Will have to do some more supply teaching to fund those projects! 



Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Arwen gets a new paint job

All the deck loops and fittings have been removed
The sander is ready

The hoover has been emptied and stands waiting

The detail sander is pressed into action

Not everyone is going to like the new look..........cockpit floor and sides will be International 'Interdeck' grey............thwart tops in aft cockpit will remain Toplac brilliant white. The aft cockpit sides and floor will be the same as the front........grey.

Even the cockpit interior coaming will get a re-varnish............and then we start on the fore deck, side decks and exterior coamings 

The Mahogany planks and centreboard casing tops can wait until the end of the season - they will be winter work!

And depending on the weather and sailing opportunities I may, or may not paint the exterior hull. Best not to rush everything at once I always say!!



Monday, 16 April 2018

You can take the geographer out of a classroom.....but you can't take the geography out of a 'retired' geography teacher

A short bus man's holiday. For years I have taught about the Isle of Purbeck, both at GCSE and A Level. But, alas, it has been many, many years since I have been there. This weekend with her indoor's and my in laws, we put that right!
First port of call was Charmouth Beach and its thick mudstone beds

.......and the wave cut platforms

...although there are odd metallic 'fossils' of unidentifiable origin.......



From Charmouth we headed east to Lulworth Cove and Stair Hole

......a discordant coastline, if anyone is interested......



.......sea mists were thick and constantly rolling in.............

.....and Lulworth Cove was hidden in the murk........


mass movements in action............

geologists were out and about..........


visitors arrived and anchored...........


.....managed a bit of rock turning and crab hunting...........

lots of shelly rock to examine........

......the gloom lifted.........revealing stunning colours.........


by midday the car park was full as the sun bought the visitors

want to guess what these are?
(psst........fossilised tree trunks....)

.......the adventure centre sent its budding canoeists around to stair hole


and then we went over to Durdle Door........


....before heading off to the Kimmeridge Ledges for more fossil hunting....


Saturday, 14 April 2018

RYA Day Skipper Theory

I have finally signed up for a week long day skipper theory course. Thought it was time to develop some basic navigation skills
Ho hum should be interesting

Thursday, 12 April 2018

re-boarding a dinghy 2

I took a leaf out of Joel Bergen's approach on his navigator and installed boarding loops; I also installed righting lines as well.


The approach was simple enough. The green webbing is a 20 inch loop which is attached to two stainless steel eye bolts under the side deck behind the coaming. The eye bolts were attached to two neighbouring bulkhead ribs. I drilled through the rib and added extra 10mm ply blocks either side to strengthen the rib. The eye bolt went through rib and both blocks and was secured with nuts. The webbing was whipped at each end and then secured to the eyes with bowlines. Each loop is stored in the plastic wallet on the coaming. 


After righting from a capsize, the theory is that I can reach over and pull the loop out. It will go over the coaming and side deck and hang just below the hull bottom. I put a foot in the loop and there should be enough leverage to get me up and over the side, back into the boat. 

The rope is 12mm diameter braid. With big knots every 8 - 10 inches - for cold hands! It is about 14 feet long and each one (port and starboard sides) is attached by a bowline to another stainless steel eye through a bulkhead rib with strengthening blocks.  They store behind the coaming under the side deck. The idea is when Arwen lies on her side after a capsize, I can reach into the submerged cockpit, find the rope, throw it up over the higher side, swim around and use it to pull myself up onto the centreboard whilst at same time start to pull the boat back upright.

Well that's the theory. As always, theory and practice don't always match up. 

Hating IT

Microsoft edge has crashed again, this time causing my laptop to go into a permanent locked out reboot cycle, which thus far Microsoft help techies haven't been able to solve.
To those people who made comments on the blog, I will answer asap. Borrowing a friend's iPad at mo.
Normal service will resume sometime today or tomorrow. If you have been trying to Skype me, apologies. Bear with me.

IT sooooo frustrating at times 😢😱

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

spring launch time approaches

so...here are some winter reflections.....of a sort.............lots got done, if not done well!


from this CAD

to this..........

and the finished thing......a galley box for Arwen




The rudder got some TLC






as did the mast and the mast fixings



Frayed ropes and halyards got rewhipped


A new sleeping platform was made, Danish oiled and varnished




Life jackets and PFD's were checked and cleaned




Square spars were rounded



varnished, painted and had leather bindings put on 

and halyard rings were lashed in place



The outboard bracket was repaired and refurbished. Let's ignore the fact that I put it on back to front!!



All that remains is the attaching of eyes and setting up of re-boarding loops; and the installation of two knotted righting lines under each side deck

and some extra strengthening blocks in construction to reinforce where these eye bolts will go 

and of course, that ever nagging issue,
the painting of interior and exterior hull!!

Phew. Nearly there!