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

Thursday 30 January 2020

What could possibly go wrong?

One bilge pump, kindly donated by good friend Dave (for which I  owe him a meal and trip up north to explore some harbours)

One 12v 7.0 Ah lead sealed battery.

One borrowed 'The 12V bible for boats' book.

One idiot with less electrical knowledge than a garden squirrel who still has to get a waterproof toggle switch, an in-line waterproof 2 amp fuse, some extra wire and some heat shrink tubing.

What could possibly go wrong?

Blog post and video to follow in next few weeks when it stops raining!

Wednesday 15 January 2020

Writing articles

Writing articles for journals is hard work. I am currently grappling with this now - trying to work out what the magazine audience might want. Alas, I am not the most concise or erudite of people.

The audience are small boat sailors and dinghy cruisers. I've just submitted two articles - a part one and part two about a recent voyage up the Lynher and Tamar rivers close to home.

One of the very best small boat magazines available and I'm not just saying that because they have accepted two articles from me. It is of an amazing quality with a mix of rally reports, letters and a wide range of in-depth feature articles 

I think that a good recount article (in this instance)  should have a clear start middle and end; be anecdotal, informative and past tense (although I may have used some poetic licence here by writing it in the present tense).

I went for strong opening paragraphs, I hope - recounting a situation and then spending time leading up to how it happened. I tried to move the reader forward using a variety of approaches - timings; my inner voice thinking; our position on the river; by state of tide etc.

I included some dialogue I encountered form locals I met and really focused on trying to bring the places I passed through alive - smells, sounds, sights, emotions, scenery, wildlife, events and encounters, history and landmarks. I wanted readers to have a strong sense of place through little stories about features, local history - trying to build a picture of the rivers and how they might have looked and changed through time.  I was aiming to paint a picture in a readers minds eye - tough task!

Was there any drama - yup - some - whether I conveyed it well enough and the tensions that ensued, I don't know - guess we will find out from reader comments and correspondence in next few issues.

I tried to 'show' and 'tell' and 'ponder/muse' throughout. I hoped I conveyed the joys of single handed sailing a small boat on local voyages up stunning rivers. The skills learned well and not so well to move a craft by sail, oar, wind and current alone.

Did I use enough signposts to help readers keep a focus on the goals of the article - don't know. Did I use sufficiently vivid language? No idea but I hope I did my English teachers who taught me justice. ringing deep in the recesses of my brain are their entreaties about reining in prose, moving it swiftly along so that it hits the emotions of my readers.
One teacher always talked about the poetry of prose, the hidden rhythms of hard nouns and startling verbs, where nouns burn pictures in the mind and verbs move every noun along. the stab of sudden moonlight, the ripples of the lake in the darkness; the murmuring, chuckling voice of the outgoing tidal waters in the upper most river creeks? i read these examples somewhere some time ago and they stuck with me but I cant remember where I read them - but I liked them.

Another teacher of mine talked about letting a reader 'see, hear and feel' - I definitely went for that in both articles. Oh and take the reader down 'startling paths' - mystery, surprise, logic, tension, suspense, vulnerability.


I've just submitted another article about my inability to master the simple standing lug sail rig. 'Tips for sailing up tidal rivers' lies here on the computer in front of me - a work in progress!

Wednesday 1 January 2020

January 1st 2020

Joining us throughout today have been some fat squirrels which I suspect we need to put on a diet and two new visitors - a young stag and doe. All taken through our kitchen window just after first light this morning but they are still here now in the late afternoon.

Happy New Year everyone from our woodland garden.