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 www.YouTube.com/c/plymouthwelshboy 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, 19 November 2019

Bits and pieces

I haven't forgotten the blog or my YouTube channel. Family matters have taken priority for a bit and it has been fairly blustery or very wet over the last few weeks. I'm looking for a break in the weather when its cold, crisp, dry and winds are below 20kts!!

I have a few winter projects on the list.
I thought I would try and make some nice wooden blocks for Arwen, so I'm researching that at the moment.

I'm also about to construct a cordura travel roll for my GoPro cameras. 

Lower rub rails on Arwen need a good sand and re-treatment with Burgess wood sealer. 

On the last trip out, it became clear that the new oars are now in the wrong position and/or I need to alter my seated rowing position. So I am researching the construction of a removable rowing seat, extending the rowlocks height wise so I could row standing up. I might even bite the bullet and try to put a sculling rowlock on the transom deck so I can learn to use one of the oars over the transom as a yuloh - if that is at all possible. 

Finally, with an elbow which is prone to hair line fracturing on its own accord, I wonder whether I have reached the time to try and install some two part tackle purchase on the mainsail halyard. I have no idea how to do this so any suggestions would be most welcome.

Meanwhile I'm delaying emptying Arwen completely for winter as I'm hoping to sneak a trip in the next few weeks.

Roger Barnes has posted another 'Masterclass' video - masterclass on how to create an engaging film as well as everything to do with small boats and sailing.  Such a creative guy. Amazing stuff. Enjoy.


Thursday, 24 October 2019

Charlestown near St Austell

Went for a stroll with a good friend around Charlestown this morning - plenty to see and admire

Four boats in today for maintenance







Harbour entrance looking away across towards Fowey

Winter rigging 


















Sunday, 20 October 2019

The joy in sailing a John Welsford designed navigator

Tim Ingersoll, over the pond, posted a stunning picture of 'his last sail before the fall' on one of the Facebook dinghy sailing forums I follow and he's kindly allowed me to share it here.


It is a stunning image isn't it, encapsulating all that we enjoy about dinghy cruising. Those 'anticipated moments' to come just before we depart the pontoon. The peace and solitude of the outdoors. With the lovely foliage fall colours just beginning to turn and the rippled reflections in the water, it is a serene scene. I just want to get in the boat and sail up that waterway.

Which reminds me that it is almost time to pack Arwen away for the winter and to start some long needed maintenance work.

Before then, I do have a window of opportunity next week for some pleasant day sailing. The forecast promises sunshine, 10C and light northerly winds. With a high tide around 8am, falling from spring to neaps, it should be a lovely day for a quick potter around the sound and an opportunity to try out some new action cam mounting points on top yard and boom aft area. if the sea is calm, then I can try out my new, improved 'floaty cam' as well, my attempt to try and get some shots of  Arwen sailing,  from the sea. The new rudder repairs can be checked out and with luck, no more leaking petrol tank on the outboard.

I can't promise stunning serene photographs like this though. Our trees are starting to turn and leaves are beginning to fall but the colours haven't fully developed yet. On the other hand, some lovely close up shots of the multi coloured cottages of Cawsand and Kingsand in the autumnal sunshine should suffice.

Well done Tim. Thanks for reminding us of what the joys of dinghy sailing in our hidden creeks and backwaters are all about. 

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Rowing a navigator


On my recent trip over to the river Yealm the winds were fickle and so becalmed just off the western end of the breakwater, I had my first opportunity to use Arwen’s new oars. 9’6” in length, built to plans from CLC, my first rowing session didn’t go well.


Several issues emerged in rapid succession. The oars are a little heavy and I haven’t quite positioned the oar leathers and collars correctly. My seating position is definitely an issue. I perch on the aft end of the centre case top, on a cushion to soften the pain of sitting over two deck eyes and the cleat for the jib sheets. In this spot my feet touch the aft cockpit sole but the oars are too high up my chest; change position and they are too low. Too close to my chest. Too far away. Hands overlapping, hands too far apart.


So, some adjustments are needed and I turned to the hive collective on my favourite five Facebook forums – Duckworks, Dinghy Cruising Association, Wooden Boat forum, John Welsford Small Craft and Pocket Yachts and Trailer Sailors.

The first suggestions are obvious and sensible – remove the seat cushion as it could be elevating my position badly; move the deck eyes and jib cleat and sit on the top of the centre case and see if that makes a difference.


Then we got into some technical stuff to consider.

The measurements of seating position, height of oarlocks above the seat and position of the oarlock blocks are apparently critical. A number of people commented that optimal distance from aft edge of seat to the oarlocks should be 13 or 14”. Height of the oarlocks U bend should be around 6 - 8” above the seat level depending on the angle of the oar. Such positions would allow room for looms to swing and dip. Some people suggested building a removable thwart that could be added at seat top level just aft of centre board case. This option wouldn’t necessitate me having to move the centre case jib sheet fittings. I would, of course, have to think carefully about seat design – storage of it etc.


Some people commented that my height might also be an issue and that I should sit upright on the thwart, place the oars on the gunwales and put my hands as far forward as they will go without leaning forward. The rowlocks need to be at the point where the oars are aligned and at right angles to the boat. Then, I’d need to adjust the height of the rowlocks so when the blades are in the water the handles are at a convenient height.  And, most important apparently, I’d need to fit a footrest (or ‘stretcher’) so that I can use my leg and back muscles effectively.  Lack of a footrest loses most of my power. That will take some thinking - a footrest that doesn’t interfere with the sleeping platform boards which get stored on the sole between king plank and thwart side wall.


There is another alternative – sculling instead of oars. There was some discussion about the benefits of sculling but my concern is that trying to find a sculling position off the transom might prove difficult. My understanding is a scull would need to be near the centreline of the boat transom. On my transom is a permanently mounted outboard bracket on the port side, then the rudder head with tiller, the offset mizzen mast and finally the boomkin. Its pretty crowded so unless I could design an offset sculling position of some form….. However, one exceptionally experienced dinghy cruiser suggested that perhaps the oar could be kept in place by a rope loop around the oar and the mizzen mast. He felt there would be no need for a sculling notch since that would cause excessive friction with the oar. 


And then there is the standing up – rowing forward option.

“Rowing while standing--if pushing on the oars--is quite effective and comfortable, once the hang of it is gotten.  I speak from river raft experience, only” said one forum member.

Another, Rick suggested that extended rowlock crutches were easy to make from bronze pipe and rod. The ID of pipe needs to be same as OD of rowlock, then a rod needs to go in the other end with the OD equal to the ID of the pipe and the ID of the rowlock socket. Depending on the geometry and leverage I make, I might need to extend the rod into some kind of step but for most light boats the socket should be plenty strong enough. Um! 


Rick helpfully allowed me to see photographs on his flickr account, some of which are found above and below. Thanks Rick – the images have really helped – much appreciated.



A couple of people pointed out that in going for tall 12” rowlocks, I should make sure I brace and support the base as there will be lots of force generated and through-bolt the oarlock base to the block of wood I’ll use for support. 



 Richard, of ‘Bootstrap’ navigator fame, has his tholes 12” above the gunnel and slightly overboard. He says “Works well but very slow due to wide boat. Biggest issue is - where to store the oars when not in use?”

So, some winter work to do - sorting out the rowing on Arwen.  Last word though goes to Joel of navigator 'Ellie' fame. He carries a 6' paddle and an outboard - no oars - which made me sit up and think....do I really need oars?

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Can you see what it is yet 2?

Tarrah......it is finished. Can you now see what it is?

Sounds like Playschool or Blue Peter........I liked those programmes as a kid - huge fan - anyway......finally I present one small duffle bag and a ditty tool bag.


I find simple canvas work therapeutic. I have always fiddled with things  I can never keep my hands still - whether I be reading a book, watching TV, listening attentively in a meeting - fiddling with something or doodling constantly - used to drive my teachers mad. In later years, when a teacher myself, I tried to remind myself not to lambaste the kid who incessantly tapped his pen or ruler against the desk - but I did begin to appreciate how irritating I must have been for my teachers!

The ditty tool bag has already been put to use carrying tools and fittings to fix a broken rudder and the skeg brass rubbing strip. The duffle bag will carry a camera and windproof on my little sojourns ashore to the pub when dinghy cruising.


I guess over winter I might try my hand at some rope work as well - a bow fender, some simple mats, and perhaps a whipped handle end for the tiller and the tiller extension handle.

I'm on a roll this week - I fitted a new outboard fuel tank, refitted a warped door, finished the canvas work projects, rebuilt and fitted the back garden gate after storm damage and have been busy sticking the plastic laminate back onto six wardrobe doors, where it has started to lift away.  Her indoors is rattled! She wants to know what I want.....I'm just earning brownie points so I can ask if I can build a Scraps tender for Arwen over the winter!!

The blogs on making the duffle and ditty bags can be found here - start from the bottom and work up the web addresses

https://arwensmeanderings.blogspot.com/2019/08/can-you-see-what-it-is-yet-2.html

https://arwensmeanderings.blogspot.com/2019/08/can-you-see-what-it-is-yet.html

https://arwensmeanderings.blogspot.com/2019/08/making-canvas-sail-ties-storage-bag.html

https://arwensmeanderings.blogspot.com/2019/08/making-sailors-rigging-ditty-bag.html

https://arwensmeanderings.blogspot.com/2019/08/sailors-canvas-riggers-ditty-bag.html

https://arwensmeanderings.blogspot.com/2019/08/how-to-make-sailors-traditional-canvas.html





Sunday, 29 September 2019

Returning home from the River Yealm in the John Welsford designed navigator 'Arwen'

Here is part two of my mini day sail over to the Yealm and back - enjoy.  Part one can be found in a previous post last week.


Saturday, 28 September 2019

outboard maintenance - switching out an integral fuel tank

Those who follow this blog will know recent tribulations with my outboard. A 2011 four stroke MFS 3.5B Tohatsu outboard, it developed a slow seeping leak of fuel from around the cap area when tilted upwards on its bracket.


Infuriatingly slow seepage but enough than a tank would empty over a four hour trip. It wasn't the loss of a litre of fuel that infuriated me rather than the pollution issues. I hadn't noticed it until the last trip so I can't honestly say how long it has been like that - not long I think.


You can see from the photos below where the problem is - initially I thought it was the tank cap seals had rotted away but evidently not!  Around the neck of the cap area are three hairline cracks.  Now what has caused these cracks is probably age. It could be I have unwittingly over-tightened the cap on occasion as well.


A new tank duly arrived - the company I got it from kindly took it out of a new outboard they had. They have another fuel tank on order from Japan and it is currently in transit - so they were reducing my wait by a few weeks, which was good customer service in my eyes.


Initial inspections showed that the swap out should be simple - three bolts hold the fuel tank and there is only one hose attached. And that is it. The tank is attached to a black plastic base.


Removing the fuel in the tank posed me some thinking. In the end I tipped the outboard up to as steep an angle as I could and drained the fuel into a kitchen jug.  I stuffed lots of paper towel under the fuel hose area where it attached to the tank and then slipped the clip down the pipe with pliers. The fuel pipe was wriggled off and the last remnants caught by the paper towel and absorbed.


The three screw bolts were removed and the tank was wriggled off gently and separated from its black base. One brass tube bush surrounding one of the screw nuts shot off into the lawn but I found it!

A few minutes were needed trying to work out what way the black base should be attached to the new tank - I was never that good at jigsaws or tessellations in maths! But we got there in the end.


Tank and black based assembled, it was easy to put in place and secure with the screw nuts. The tube went on easily and was re-secured with the clip. A quick wipe around with paper tool of the base of the engine compartment and all that was left was to put over the neck of the new tank the foam cushioning and then insert the new cap off the old tank. The outboard cover was put back on and that was it.



Back on the outboard dustbin full of water, the engine started first time and chugged away quite happily. After closing the fuel tap the engine continued for a little while longer and then ran out of fuel. The carb is now dry for winter.



Having gained some confidence on this simple task, I am considering draining and replacing the engine and gear oil over winter, along with changing the spark plug as well. 

Friday, 20 September 2019

a leaking outboard tank

Nope, it isn't the petrol cap. I discovered a hairline fracture crack on the neck of the tank, just below the screw thread area. It runs about 4cm around the neck on the 'up' side when the motor is tilted up in its locked position out of the water. After closer inspection, I then discovered another one above that!

I have for many, many years been into recycling and doing my best to avoid being part of the 'throw away and rapidly replace' culture. Dad, God bless him,  has always been an extremely talented make do and mend guy and some of that has rubbed off on me now I am retired. I am beginning to appreciate his jars of accumulated screws and nails, under the workbench boxes of scraps of wood and plastic, bundles of string and frankly lord knows what else. Dad has never yet failed to find something that answers the question...."Dad, you wouldn't by any chance have.........?" 
His shed is the TARDIS, despite how much junk Mum has him store in there!

Over the years I didn't do as much as I should have towards this 'make do and mend' philosophy - working 60 hr weeks in the teaching profession put paid to that and, interestingly, as an aside, the first long term survey/monitoring report ever into teaching workload hours in the UK has just been published today  - damning verdict - in 25 years despite successive promises from successive governments - nothing has changed on teacher work load. 35% of new teachers quit within five years of joining the profession; 25% are working 60 hrs plus; 50% work 50 hrs + per week. Excessive administration, marking etc takes 22 hrs per week minimum, 3/5 teachers have to work in their evenings just to stay afloat for the next day. We are offering £28,000 training bursaries to recruit enough geography teachers to meet a national shortage crisis - and that's just to geographers!

Teachers in Finland, which consistently ranks the world top education tables - work 34 hrs per week with smaller class sizes and spend several hours a week training and updating their skills. Their professional and social status is highly regarded by their nation. Says it all really. I retired reluctantly as soon as I could after 35 years of this and lost a quarter of my pension in doing so for the rest of my life - it was I surmised, worth it to protect health and sanity - you don't get those years back - but I left with some regrets - I'd have liked to have carried on until I was sixty, under better circumstances. Don't get me wrong - teaching has been a joy and an utmost privilege but it came with costs to family life, health and personal sanity. But then I guess in our country that can be said of very many professions and our successive governments just don't get it - maybe the New Zealand approach of looking at what is important to people and investing more time and capital in those things to raise happiness is actually a good idea. I'm sure New Zealand readers will have views on this and as always comments in the box below are welcome.


Anyway, back to the outboard, sorry for the slight frustrating deviation.


 My initial thoughts have been - "how do I repair this fracture so it is no longer a problem?"

There are various options that have been supplied to me by various FaceBook forum members and I am grateful to all those, who as usual, came to my rescue generously with their time and comments. The 'burning cartoon' memes were perhaps less helpful although a salutary reminder of the dangers of getting this wrong!!

After emptying the tank of fuel (typically I had just filled it when I noticed the slow trickling seepage stain over the foam sponge ring around the cap area)


  1. flushing it out with water and letting it thoroughly dry, heat gun seal through plastic welding the offensive crack
  2. rough up the area with 80 girt sandpaper and clean it thoroughly with alcohol wipes before applying epoxy - JB weld or G/Flex seemed the popular suggestions 
  3. using self amalgamating rubber plumbers tape - a piece stretched to x 10 its original length wrapped tightly around itself several times, apparently seals anything!
  4. get a new fuel tank
And that was basically it.

Sourcing a new fuel tank has been frustrating. My local chandler which I have used to get most fittings for Arwen said they could get one and fit it. Apparently it would be complicated work needing an hour and so the cost of getting and fitting would be £130 - £140.

It is a four stroke Tohatsu short shaft MFS 3.5hp outboard. The tank I can get for £90 in UK - cheapest I can find thus far although that search continues because that strikes me as outrageous.  careful investigation shows that all the nonsense given me yesterday about how the carb will need moving etc is pure tosh. I'm no engineer but all I can see is one fuel pipe coming out of that tank. It sits on a frame above the engine parts secured by three bolts. I have restored from a complete breakdown a 1960's Vespa scooter - how hard can it be to replace a petrol tank?  Am I missing something?

OK, I admit I'm not sure about the consequences of taking off the fuel pipe - does it mean I get an airlock somewhere after fitting it back? 

I don't know about these things, but fortunately, I am a member of  several forums who have members who do. I have a Dad who is a talented engineer and turns his hands to all sorts of things and a brother in law who works on the very best aeronautical engines you can get. Someone will be able to help this idiot!

And so, some decisions - do I try the repair and see what happens - or do I just go for the straight replacement.......answers on a postcard....soon please.....via the comment box.......because I don't go sailing in my neck of the woods without having a motor hanging off the back. I'm just not that gooda a sailor!

Postscript - after a suggestion from John Welsford, I found a plastic welder who charges around £40 an hour. He thinks it can be done but isn't sure. I guess it is time to exercise some common sense and bite the bullet by purchasing a new tank. It is, after all, a safety issue. 

Postcript 2 - talk about a struggle to find a new fuel tank - most retailers say a 6 week wait whilst it comes from Japan - however, one retailer of outboards took pity - but at a cost - £81. Anyway, he took the tank out of a new four stroke and has sent it to me so I can be out sailing next week all being well. He has a spare already in transit, about two weeks out. I guess it was a kind offer and so the extra £12 has been worth it. His nearest competitor was charging £69 but a wait of 6 weeks. 

Monday, 16 September 2019

I was supposed to be heading for Salcombe but......best laid plans and all that

I was on the launch ramp at Salcombe. Steve, the Batson Creek boat yard manager had just been disturbed by me and bought across so I could pay the harbour dues. The intention was to have a three day sailing trip around the estuary, over-nighting somewhere at Kingsbridge and up Frogmore Creek where the last of the SW DCA rally cruise programme was taking place. We'd all moor on the pontoon and head for the pub Saturday night.

Well that was the plan but just as I was about to pay, her indoors suffered an eye injury which necessitated a trip to the local eye hospital, boat literally in tow...and that was the end of the sailing trip. Her indoors is OK and that is the main thing but it makes you suddenly realise how vital sight is and how much we all take it for granted.

I did make the pub the following night and it was a lovely evening - great food great company and great chat, as always.

So, yesterday, I sneaked off for a sail to the Yealm and possible overnight. With winds from the WNW around force 2/3, obliging tides (outgoing until 1430 and morning high tide at around 8.00am) and plenty of sunshine, conditions were perfect.


So, I am still trying to work out how I returned early with a damaged rudder, a chunk out of the centreboard and the skeg brass rubbing strip hanging off. 


The day had started well with my usual launch at QAB marina. I know there are free places to launch like Mountbatten but as I have said before - you can't always find parking on the road over there and you have to leave your boat drifting around the foot of the ramp whilst you go park the car a few hundred metres away. Directly on the SW coastal footpath I'm not convinced I'd come back to find everything in the boat!

Queen Ann's Battery on the other hand, always have parking; have a good ramp with pontoon and plenty of rigging space. The staff are knowledgeable, skilled and good humoured. Over the years they have become friends and I've taught some of their children to boot. Great cafes and other facilities too.

Anyway, with plenty of tide at the slip, it allowed me time to sort out cameras, warm up the outboard and do last minute checks. Which was good because I discovered I had managed to twist the lazy jacks which would have prevented the top yard from reaching the mast top. Glad I spotted that one before departure. I also discovered that the petrol cap seals on the outboard integral tank have failed. With outboard tipped upwards and locked, a small dribble of fuel emanates from the cap area - highly irritating. A new cap assembly is required as I can't work out whether it is gasket or air vent 'O' ring - or both!


With the possibility of doing an overnight in the Yealm, I was unable to offer the Spanish gentleman who stopped by a trip. He did ask if he could come for a sail. Stopping over in Plymouth for a few days after delivering a yacht from Spain, he was clicking his heels. Back home in southern Spain he was a boat builder and was greatly impressed with the design of Arwen. He thought she was well equipped and well travelled but clearly needed some TLC - it was a fair assessment and I felt bad not being able to offer him a day sail. He knew his stuff, asked pertinent questions and shared his plans for building a small gig for children in a sailing club. I felt sorry for not being able to offer him a trip  and I did point him in the direction of a good coastal walk which involved a trip across to Cawsand on the little ferry and then another trip on another small foot ferry back across the Tamar and along the front of Plymouth Sound.  I don't know whether he went off and did it but it is a journey well worth doing with fantastic views across the breakwater and the sound.

Easing out into Sutton Pool and then into the Cattedown, I chasing a fleet of at least a 100 toppers past Mountbatten Breakwater. I was surprised to see how crowded the Sound was. A national Topper meeting, at least another 20 big 30 footers - a local sailing club.  I raise sails just off the eastern side of Drakes Island and focused on just making a safe passage through them all towards the breakwater in a series of tacks and reaches across the sound.


A final beam reach bought me rapidly to the breakwater fort. The outgoing tide was taking with it flotsam from a major port area; plastic bottles of various sizes, mis-shapen pieces of wood, rafts of seaweed. Wind shifts around to the NNW allowed me to close haul westwards and out past the splendid western breakwater lighthouse where I encountered an old wooden motorboat, the 'Kingfisher'.  Bright varnished timber frames and a fetching light green hull, the skipper had practically parked his boat right up against the outer rocks at the base of the lighthouse and was just getting ready to drip a line into the tidal race around the end. Bass fishing I suspect. We exchanged waves and greetings and I left him astern and headed south west for the Knap buoy.


The sun shone, the sea was glass, the winds died completely and Arwen and I lolled. That stomach churning loll that induces nausea. Floppy sails, the upper leech flagging, I resorted to the new oars.
These are definitely a tad heavier than the old ones. A foot longer, it became clear that the seating position is no longer right. I need to be at least 8 inches further forward on the centrecase since I just sit on a cushion on the centre-case top, this is going to be difficult. Sitting further along it meant my feet were no longer reaching the floor - after all I am, as my son reminds me frequently, "a short arse"! So, I guess I will need to move the rowlock blocks back astern a few inches. However, I will check with John (Welsford) first. His wisdom is needed. He will have encountered this problem many times before.

Arwen was never designed to be rowed long distances. I managed around 400m and then decided to just wait. Fortune shone on me, the winds built and soon Arwen and I were plodding along at 3.8 - 4.8 knots. The breakwater fell astern and the Great Mewstone hove into view.  The big yachts from the Sound were out ahead of me, huge spinnakers being released in the light winds. Now on a course between a reach and a run, we wallowed along and crossed Wembury bay in good time.  Keeping a careful eye on the boom, for there were one or two sudden sail shifts in vicious gybes, I admired the stunning cliff side scenery and the villages of Heybrook Bay and Wembury on the rolling hillsides.


I'd already spied from afar that Cellars beach which is just at the end of the first straight channel bit into the Yealm was crowded with many moored boats off the beach and immediately behind the bar. Entrance to the River Yealm is very tricky and I was going in on low tide when the bar was almost exposed, the entrance channel very narrow and the left handed bend stacked with moored boats. The yellow cans on the bar were tilted over, barely enough water beneath them to keep them afloat.

Discretion is the better part of valour. I dropped sails just off the mouth entrance and slowly motored in. It was nice to see all the sail boats ahead of me chose the same option. I hugged the starboard shoreline without veering into the protected eel grass beds (sea horses breeding area) and slipped between the moored motor cruisers and big yachts. Around the next bend, I trundled up through the moorings into the sheltered harbour area (somewhat crowded)  before turning around and pootling back out where I picked up the last empty mooring can I could find.


Mooring up gave me time to sort camera batteries, take a few photos, have a bite to eat and some fluids. I watched the departure of a lovely old 40' wooden sail boat and the unravelling consternation on board as they discovered that in slipping their mooring they had run over the one of the boat rafted up with them. It all ended well, the mooring buoy and rope slid along the hull bottom and popped up from under the transom. No damage done other than to pride of the crew!

SUP boarders passed by making good progress into the stiffening headwind, a seating and kneeling position being favoured over the normal standing one. Yacht shrouds began to rattle a little and with no moorings available in the inner river area and no chance of anchoring out at Cellars beach, I decided to head for home.

A wise decision, winds had shifted to WNW, straight into the mouth of the Yealm. I motored out through the bends avoiding the swimmers off  the boats.

Once clear of the channel entrance, I raised sails and immediately something went wrong. The top yard just wouldn't go fully up the mast stopping a foot short each try. I adjusted topping lift, lazy jacks and down haul to no effect. I altered the boom snotter to no avail. I freed all ropes out of halyard bags - nothing. Try as I might, that sail stopped a foot short of the normal mast position.  For the afternoon return sail, the mainsail had a large diagonal crease and the top part of the sail failed to fill fully. The top part of the leech just kept caving in and spilling wind.  Amazingly frustrating given it was a stiff beat back to the Great Mewstone in increasing wind strength and an increasingly lumpy sea.

From the mouth of the Yealm to the Mewstone took an hour and a half - a distance of no more than two miles maximum. On a starboard tack we went faster. On the port tack it was dismal.


I headed out to sea and just kept going on the starboard tack until I was sure I could make the turn to starboard which would put us onto a port tack that would clear the island. It was very touch and go, testing to say the least for a fair weather sailor like me, but we made it and once past the south of the island I was able to turn onto a port reach down past the Heybrook Bay, Rennie Rocks and Shagstone into the eastern entrance of the Sound.


But not before an unusual encounter in the middle of Wembury Bay, well away from sore line, island or rocky outcrops marked on the charts and navionics app on my phone.  Right in the middle of the bay I hit something, well I glanced over something and kept going. A large thud and that was it. I didn't see anything astern and I lost little forward momentum but the damage had been done, although I didn't discover it until the end when I took the boat back out of the water on the ramp.


I couldn't get the rudder off. It just wouldn't lift off. No amount of wriggling would persuade it. I tied it to the outboard bracket in the up position for the journey home.  I heard something tinny under the hull and discovered that the brass strip along the skeg had been virtually ripped off, hanging by only a couple of screws. It had trapped a fair bit of seaweed between secure end and skeg as well.  Whilst investigating that, I noticed a large dent in the leading edge of the centreboard as well.

I still remain baffled as to what I hit.  this morning was spent jacking  up the trailer and repairing the damage. I had to unscrew the pintles and gudgeons from the rudder to remove it and then the brackets just lifted off. Bizarre. Put the rudder stock back in and it jammed again. Eventually, some work with a hammer and moving an eye on the rudder to a new position and the it worked once more.  An hour's work.

The brass strip took an hour to take off, reshape, and then re-screw back onto a bedding compound.
The centreboard has a dent but no other damage. It seems to lift as it should. I do maintenance on the centreboard every couple of years so I may lift it out over this winter and make cosmetic repairs.