A blog about sailing a John Welsford
'Navigator' yawl around Plymouth Sound
in South-west England
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".
There is something exciting about planning a simple camp
cruising voyage. In the preceding weeks leading up to the departure, food
stores are bought on a drip feed basis; a ‘little
something for the trip’ added to the weekly grocery shop. Jellies with
mandarin pieces. Oat muesli bars. The odd packet or two of mixed cashew nuts
with dried cranberries and sultanas, a peculiar mix I know, but one that suits
my strange palette.
Then there is the passage planning. It starts with a vague
notion of wanting to go somewhere. My small craft almanac gets leafed through
to find suitable tides and the family calendar checked. Yes, a few days
unaccounted for in family life that coincide with suitable early morning and
evening high tides. Opportunities to be seized.
Google earth gets pored over. A possible passage route
scrutinised for sheltered anchorages, alternative camping sites, interesting creeks
to explore, mudflats to avoid.
In the few days before Arwen and I set off, Arwen is cleaned,
her equipment and rigging checked and everything unpacked and re-stowed along
with the additional camp cruising gear not carried on normal day trips. Her outboard
gets started up and trailer rollers are greased appropriately.Food stores are assembled, the galley box
packed. The emergency grab bag is opened, its contents individually assessed
In the two evenings leading up to voyage day 1, the pilotage
and detailed planning takes place, based on the most up-to-date forecasts and
tidal information. My little waterproof notebook gets filled in with tide
times, sketch maps, buoyage details, important phone numbers and is added to
the other pilotage equipment I carry in a small waterproof bag, a plotter,
compass, handheld GPS, dividers and a few commercial flipcharts of useful
skipper notes and reminders.
And then departure days dawns. June 25th 2018.
A 0730 departure for the local marina QAB, arriving at 0800.
Arwen is rigged and checked; everything securely stowed. Ditty bag and day
snacks and drink easy to hand. Launch fees paid, a quick chat with boat yard staff,
some of whose children I have taught or wives worked with.
Arwen slips off her trailer easily and floats well, her trim fore and aft well balanced albeit slightly
lower than normal given the extra supplies. She drifts slowly across the launch ramp to lie
alongside the floating pontoon with barely a bump. With little wind and no
other boats launching, she is moored with stern and bow warps only and lies
there in the sun, a pretty boat often admired by those with bigger boats moored
on finger pontoons further along, as they walk by to and from the marina
office and local cafes.
After warming up the outboard, we ease out into the Sutton pool
area and pass the tourist boats and water taxis. No motoring into Jennycliffe
bay today. The moment we clear the old quaysides, sails are hoisted and we set
off across the front of Plymouth Hoe, making for a string of large yellow
visitor moorings that lie in the lee of Drakes Island. Sailing straight onto
the first mooring buoy under mainsail and mizzen in the gentle ESE breeze, I allow
myself a fleeting congratulatory moment. The aim of this voyage is minimal use
of the motor and objective one has just been achieved. The sail was raised the
moment we cleared into the Cattedown. Job done! of course, it will be a proper job done when I raise sails at QAB pontoon and sail out of Sutton harbour. But I have yet to develop the confidence to do that, and yes, I know, if I don't try it one day, then how will I develop that confidence?
Its 9.40am. The little yellow log book says ‘depart mooring cans 10.15 at start of
incoming tide’. The heat is building, the sun intense and shade is little. I
pore over the chart and the log pilotage notes. GoPros and cameras are checked.
A camera mount moved to a new position. A litre of water is consumed; sun cream
reapplied. It is going to be a hot ’un. I try to fix in my mind’s eye the passage
notes and little sketch maps showing key buoys, bearings, distances and times.
Small craft moorings to West vanguard starboard channel
green can 273 deg Mag0.5NM with a tidal
stream of 090 deg at 0.2kts.
Sails get raised, flapping in the building breeze. We drag the big buoy down the starboard side and unclip and stow the short painter with its Carabiner hook. The jib is unfurled and and we drift off to port, leaving the mooring can behind; rudder and centreboard down we pull away on a gentle reach before doing a gentle gybe onto our first course stage. We are off, powered by gentle 6kt breezes from the ESE. The camp
cruising voyage begins.
Well here we are. The first in a series of vlogs/videos. This first one is a slight departure from my normal approach, more commentary and slightly longer length. The sound occasionally has some faint background noise due to a malfunction with my camera and mic that I only discovered on my return but it is audible. Anyway, as always, it is a video diary for my future 80 year old self, but comments are always welcome.
The next leg of the journey, part two, up the Lynher, is less commentary and more sailing in serene, stunning scenery. Look out for that sometime next week along with a short vlog on using the galley box on board Arwen.
Have a lovely weekend when it arrives and 'Com'on England'!
How does one deal with a wobbly bit on a transom bracket? A 300mm long x 3mm across crack in the wood which wobbles under engine vibrations caused some consternation last week when motoring back for an afternoon appointment across a rather choppy, windswept Hamoze against a building spring tide. My how that wind shifted around and built unexpectedly!
Having just repaired and strengthened the transom bracket a few months ago over winter, it is clear I am both a poor designer and carpenter.
Anyway, this morning, several cuppas were consumed whilst I worked out the least amount of work needed to make a better job of it this time around. I have concluded that a new piece of 9 mm epoxied and screwed onto the back of the broken bracket bit, along with some galvanised steel corner brackets to reinforce corners will do the job.
So, the ply panel has been measured and cut with curves cut out along its top where the outboard bracket tensioning screws will sit. The paint has been chiselled off the back of the broken piece so that there is a bare surface for the epoxy to adhere to. Tomorrow epoxy gets mixed, the new piece gets clamped and screwed on. Epoxy fillets at the corners and then the whole thing is left to dry. After sanding, there will be three coats aluminium primer, 3 coats Prekote primer and then 3 coats Toplac.
It should all be fixed by the end of next week. A mildly irritating but necessary lesson about navigating upper creek channels and submerged logs!!
On a brighter note, the new sleeping panel worked a treat. Built over the winter it comprises two uprights which are made of two ply squares which slot together to form an upright cross affair.
the sleeping platform itself - slots just under the thwart coamings
Across these two sets of 'X's lies the flat sleeping board. Everything is cut to shape and contour to fit nicely in one side of the aft foot well.
here are the two 'X' pieces - ignore the piece with the semi circular curve in it - that is a deck mast rest for transporting mast. The two 'X's' un-slot and collapse flat. The flat board rests on them. All is cut in such a way that the board fits under the thwart coaming lips under tension.
It all collapses flat pack style to fit neatly on the floor, strapped in all secure. Thanks to Joel Bergen for this brilliant design - appreciated Joel - thanks buddy.
A welshman displaced to wonderful Plymouth in SW England; a novice sailor and boat builder with a passion for all things to do with the sea. My learning curve is vertical....but hey that's what makes life interesting isn't it! So follow my journey as I learn to sail Arwen,grappling with charts, tide tables and passage planning so that I can become 'a dinghy cruiser'
And by the way, just occasionally, little snippets about 'Stacey' our beloved 1968 motovespa super 125 scooter may feature along with odd insights into our family travels< but these will be kept to a minimum, I promise!
subscribe at www.youtube.com/c/plymouthwelshboy
The 'Navigator' is a 14' 9" yawl with a beam of 5' 10". she weighs in at 309 lbs and has a sail area of 136 sqft. She has a standing lug sail. She has side, centre and front thwarts and space for six although she is an ideal single hander. there are a huge number of potential locker spaces. For more details about the design of navigators go to www.jwboatdesigns.co.nz/plans/navigator/index.htm
Follow by Email
This content isn't available over encrypted connections yet.