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

Sunday 20 February 2022

A pleasant surprise with the Dinghy Cruising Association

 I have just returned from an emergency dash across the country to see my son who was rushed into hospital a few days ago with severe food poisoning - serious enough to scare the paramedics anyway. He is now discharged but it is a very slow recovery and it will take time for him to return to normality. 

So, it was a very pleasant surprise to find an email from the technical adviser of the Dinghy Cruising Association, informing me that my article about making ditty bags had won the association's  'Peter Bick Memorial Trophy' award for the best technical article in the association journal this year. 

Apparently I described the process in great detail with clear photographs and diagrams and in an entertaining style. 

If you are not a member of the association and don't have access to the journal, you can access my 'unrefined' original posts about making the ditty bags here

I have to say I am surprised. The Journal is an amazing magazine with such extraordinarily well written articles on a whole host of topics to do with dinghy cruising. It is, frankly, one of the best small boat magazines out there and that is due to the amazing editor Keith Muscott, his editorial team and the  association contributors. There were, in all honestly,  many excellent technical articles this year, all far more lucid, analytical, thoughtful and inspirational than mine, but I'll take it. Let's face it when it comes to dinghy sailing and cruising everyone knows I am a 'work in progress'

David also said he was impressed by my articles about vlogging as well but since they were inevitably more focused on the film-making process, he felt the ditty bag article was definitely more nautical. You can access my unrefined posts on vlogging here:

 I’ve enjoyed writing for the journal over the last couple of years and Keith as editor, has always been very patient and forgiving of my rambling efforts, whether it be technical or cruising articles. Let's face it, I’m not really a sailor, rather an ex mountaineer, whose knees are shot and who turned to ‘sailing’ later in life, doing some starter lessons with Zoe and Ross down at Salcombe in a Wayfayer at the Island Cruising Club.  I think we can all agree that whilst I haven’t killed anyone yet and to my knowledge thus far, not been responsible for any dangers on the water, my sailing knowledge, skills and sail trimming and setting leave much to be desired. John Welsford, is very, very patient and kind. As a life long learner and educationalist, I believe that making mistakes and sharing them honestly, is an important life skill, as does he I think, although I suspect he just wishes I could make fewer of them in one of his boats 😊

 I’m never sure that anything I write is actually this worthy but I try and hopefully at some stage I will improve. Contributors to the Dinghy  Cruising Association journal are amazingly talented and their writing is fluid, informative, entertaining and awe inspiring. Maybe I will get there one day.   

 I have always maintained that for me, dinghy sailing is enjoyable but also an ‘ends to a means’ – exploration of the nooks and crannies and communities of my stunning local waters. Just as important as the sailing, are the hobbies that dinghy cruising allows me to pursue – my love of marine biology, expeditioning, camera work and also my fledgling interest in astronomy and astrophotography. (I am just trying to work out how to safely carry such gear on a dinghy to exotic far flung dark sky corners up the Tamar and Lynher ).  Hence previous articles about vlogging! If anything I do inspires others to dinghy cruise (only doing it better than me), then brilliant.

In this light, I am at the moment working on a blog post about taking nautical and coastal themed photographs from a beginner's perspective. It will be followed up by another one about astrophotography from little creek beaches!  If you search astronomy in the blog search bar, you will find some beginner tips about this as well. 

 Anyway, my sincere thanks to the judges this year at the Dinghy Cruising Association. As a tea-totaller (necessity not choice), I will refrain from drinking tea out of the tankard and raise it to all the DCA membership with a tipple of Perrier....... DCA members have been inspirational and I have learned so much from them all. I just wish I could do them justice by pulling it together in a better way than my normal shambolic approach to sailing (and anything technical 😊)  

If you haven't joined the DCA and might be interested in doing so, here is the link:

There is also an active Dinghy Cruising Association Facebook forum - well worth joining. 

Saturday 5 February 2022

Bits and bobs

 Down time whilst the new trailer is being modified. Its length is being reduced so that there is more of a boat overhang at the stern. Adjustable rollers are being switched about so that the bow is slightly higher off the T beam. The bunks are being replaced with two sets of pivoting rollers which move both fore and aft and laterally side to side.  The aim is to make sure that Arwen slides along the trailer a metre or so before I run the trailer into the water, so that then the stern is likely to float off more easily. 

It doesn't come as a surprise. Both I and the trailer manufacturer knew that some adjustments would be needed given Arwen's wide hull and slight banana shaped keel/skeg. 

So, I have been strolling the coastline looking for places to sail to where I could get a reasonably sheltered overnight anchorage.  I have also been brushing up on my understanding of Affinity Photo for my astrophotography processing. 

Taken from the top of the cliffs at Bolt Tail looking sort of westwards towards Inner and Outer Hope Cove. In the far distance is Thurlstone

Looking westwards back along the coast. The furthest headland you can see is Rame Head which is the western side of Plymouth Sound. Beyond that, the very low, faint smudge at sea level is Dodman Point down in Cornwall.  

Inner and Outer Hope Cove - the latter is the beach in the distance protected by two concrete harbour walls - seen in the picture below 

Inner Hope Cove - it has a number of lines running up the beach for boat moorings 

My first attempt at Orion Nebula

My second attempt........

...and finally my latest attempt. Finally I am beginning to understand how to use Affinity Photo