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

Saturday 27 November 2021

Winter cruising up around Cotehele Quays

 Had the opportunity to pop up to Cotehele with my parents last week to see the annual Christmas garland in the main hall. 

This year they have gone for a minimalist look and it works well 

At the end of the day, I always think Cotehele is still my most favourite National Trust property

Loving the mosaic art work this year
Be nice if I could get sharper photos with my smartphone but today my handshaking seems slightly worse. Ho Hum. 

Took the opportunity to pop down to the quay as well. Thinking ahead to some winter cruising up the Tamar. 

Surprised to find the Tamar Barge Lynher stored up here under wraps for winter
You can find a video of her out on the sound here:

Meanwhile 'Shamrock' remains under wraps but all the exterior awning over her has been removed. I am assuming they have finished restoration work on her. 

I have often tied up at the quays at the top of a spring tide on my way up or down to Calstock but I have never dried out at Cotehele. This was a great opportunity to see what I might dry out on, if I were to contact the NT and ask if they would mind me doing so one night. 

From above, it seems that the three quays have an area of flat mud at the top of a sloping mud bank, just wide enough for Arwen to be tied alongside. 

The steps area where I normally tie up are out of action. Fencing has been put across the steps in several places thus making access to the quaysides difficult. 

Of course, the moment you stand sideways on - it becomes a little clearer. Those slopes are quite steep and the area of flat mud at the top of the slopes, not as wide as one thinks 

The plants continue to thrive in the limekilns 

I have some plans for some winter cruising around the Tamar and its various tributaries, particularly to some old quaysides that might provide some really good dark sky areas for stargazing and astrophotography. 

Friday 26 November 2021

Should I be worried?

 SWMBO: "Now you have a new trailer you ought to take Arwen out"

Me: "I will in the next few weeks. I've missed sailing"

SWMBO: "You ought to Take Arwen out this weekend. It would be a good blog post 'Arwen goes out in storm Arwen'. You are well insured so I won't be worried".

😨 !

Thursday 18 November 2021

Trailer modifications all done by Admiralty Trailers of Honiton

 A 'well done' shout out to Admiralty Trailers. We always knew getting Arwen to fit on her new trailer would be by trial and error. She's a 'beamy' lady to say the least. 

This morning, on arrival and after brief initial discussions,  I was dispatched to a local cafe for an hour .... The Aviator at Dunkerswell aerodrome ..... coffee, a bacon roll, a chat with a small plane pilot and some banter with first time skydiving jumpers on their coffee break. A very pleasant, good-humoured and informative hour. I learned loads. 

On my return the team had fitted three spacer bars to lift the frame higher up on its axle. Now there is plenty of hull clearance over the mudguards.  They also moved the wheel axle forward to give better balance and nose hitch weight. They adjusted the support bunks to a better position under a junction point where three internal thwart bulkheads meet and I got some tips on how to tie Arwen down better and more securely as well, so that she wouldn't move forward or sideways under extreme braking conditions. A winter project will be to make some side deck support blocks which are slightly higher that the coaming and the full width of the side deck. The ratchet straps will go on these rather than across the coaming. 

The drive back was quite illuminating. No rattles, less swinging (although that was very marginal anyway); the trailer is a single beam one so it does flex slightly more than the old one. In the rear view mirror the bow looks as if it is permanently shaking very slightly but its only the beam flexing a little.

 This had already led to a discussion earlier about where to store the two anchors, their chains and rode when going to and from the slipway. A bit of a fiddle but the anchor trays will now go amidships either side of the centre-case and then on arrival at the slip I will move them forward and strap them in their normal place. It will take just a few minutes. 

We couldn't find an appropriate place to bolt on the spare tyre and apart from which we all had mixed views on whether the spare wheel should go on the trailer or not. They are easily stolen unless locked on with a bike lock; if put horizontally they collect rainwater and the rims start rusting etc. I'm opting to just carry it in the car boot. 


So, all being well, back on the water from the end of next week. And, an added bonus, practically all of the hull is now accessible for sanding and painting touch ups.  

My thanks to the Admiralty Trailer team and Tony in particular. Well done guys. Much appreciated. 

 Before shots - you can see that the gap between hull and mudguard was marginal to say the least. When you started to push Arwen along the trailer, the beam midships hull area just scrapped the top of the mudguards. 

After shots - the spacer bars under the spine and the outer frames. This gives around 4.5cm clearance above the mudguards now and the boat slides along without scraping the very top of them. The bunks were moved further outwards as well. 

Again, its trial and error and we will see how we get on this this new arrangement. is the gap big enough? Only at the slipway next week will we finally know. 

At the end of the day, I have got a good quality trailer for the budget I could afford. Yes, it will require practice at getting her onto that first roller and lined up during retrieval but if I take my time and chose my slipways and tidal conditions wisely, I should manage reasonably OK. 

The whole process from discovering my stupidity over neglecting my trailer during the last year and a half of various lockdowns, through to trying to understand what trailers I could get for the budget I had, through to understanding the various in's and outs of hull configuration and trailer design have been a steep learning curve. Regular readers of this blog and viewers of my YouTube vlogs will know that my understanding of anything mechanical or engineering' technical; or anything to do with boats frankly, is 'limited'.  Ask me to solve a problem relating to such matters and we could be there for sometime given my unique ability to overthink and overcomplicate the simplistic 😀

However, on this occasion we got there in the end. My deep thanks to Tony and the Admiral Trailers team, to various blog readers and to some members of the Dinghy Cruising Association forum for contacting me privately to give me tips, advice and encouragement. Your discretion in sparing my blushes and showing up my complete lack of nous and knowledge is deeply appreciated. You all know who you are - thank you. 

Wednesday 17 November 2021

CAD plans for John Welsford boats

 Good news - if you want to build one of John's boats - you can now get the CAD plans. Working with Joel Bergen, the plans are available for purchase and download. Go to Joel's site at

for all the details and some examples that can be downloaded. 

Absolutely brilliant news and well done to Joel and John. 

Tuesday 16 November 2021

Final trailer adaptations

 The final trailer adjustments have been made before we head the 60 miles up the road to the trailer manufacturer to have the new spacer bars fitted. 

Both me and the trailer team have agonised over the best way to do this and we concluded that fitting spacer bars and adjusting the trailer bunks and rollers to fit Arwen's unusual bottom shape would be best.

The issue is that sat on her keel rollers, Arwen only clears the top of the mudguards by around a centimetre. So under the advice of the trailer team, I have been cutting up closed cell foam camping mat into layers and duct taping them to the top of the mudguards. This is to prevent them scrapping the hull. 

adjusting the support bunks one more time using the car jack

I will then drive up 'slowly' later this week and we will fit the axle spacer bars and do the final adjustments. 

I'm just hoping the tape will hold things in place when we go up the A38!!

That means that from the end of the week I can start sailing again. I have several winter overnight trips planned locally; some of them will be specifically to do star gazing from some dark sky beach areas. 

As always I will post here my trip logs, photos and vlogs. 

It will be good to get back out on the water again. I've missed it. 

Sunday 14 November 2021

Whilst waiting for the boat trailer to be sorted

 Well, sometimes you have to give new things a try ....... 😄

..... and welcome back Orion. 
First effort this season .... still much to learn. Not so much with capturing images but the post processing of them. 

Looking forward to some winter overnight sailing trips up the rivers to some little dark sky beaches I know where I can dry out and have a go at some more landscape and celestial astrophotography.