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 24 March 2022

A 'sort of' perfect day

 Arwen rolled off her trailer this morning. It took two big shoves but she rolled back and then floated off in a controlled manner. Her wheels were submerged fully but I had packed them with grease (using a grease gun) before hand so I am hoping very little salt water got into the hubs. 

Arwen's modified trailer - it has had around 5cm cut off the back end 

This hitch arrangement has proved very advantageous on my steep sloping driveway - giving me some extra height above the tow ball 

The bow snubber position has been altered meaning that the bobstay can now be left permanently on 

Two height adjustable rollers lift the bow slightly which helps with pushing Arwen back along the trailer

The bunks were replaced with two sets of double wobble rollers and these have made a real difference. They are also not as rigid as the ones on my old trailer and so haven't been chipping the paint on the hull 

To help the hull clear over the top of the mudguards, the keel rollers had spacers fitted. It also strengthened them at the same time 

10" wheels with simple to use grease nipples. the hub cap has a tiny hole drilled in it and so when you put new grease in, some of the old grease along with odd water droplets oozes out 

The sea on the slipway was clear and clean; little sparkly reflections of sunlight dotting its surface. Arwen waited patiently alongside the pontoon while her trailer was taken up to the top of the slipway and unhitched from Zebedee (our car). 

I have discovered something and I cannot explain it in any way, shape or form. A real strange one. I can rig Arwen quicker when she is on the water and tied up at the pontoon, than I can when she is in the marina yard on her trailer! 

I know! I can't explain it either but on average I'm 15 - 20 minutes quicker. I literally launch her and then do all the masts stepping and sorting from in the boat alongside the pontoon. Its taken me twelve years to discover this! 

I had no particular plans today; what I call a 'potter about' day. High tide was 0948 - a 4.8m one. Winds were from the north east going around to the south - around 6 knots or so.  Plenty of sunshine with a temperature of around 17C. One of those spring blocking high pressure systems for a few days. 

We motored out into the sound and off Jennycliffe, I raised sails but not before I had a second epiphany. For some reason, I know not why, I decided to alter the downhaul block and tackle slightly. And it had an immediate effect. I was able to crank on more tension and the sail crease that has plagued me for so long almost disappeared entirely. Go figure! 

It didnt last long reappearing around midday, but for a time I actually sailed creaseless. Blissful! 

The promised winds did not appear today. The shroud telltales barely flickered. They remained apathetic and on strike all day!  Arwen just drifted listlessly for the first hour or so, carried towards the breakwater on the outgoing tide. the sun shone, the sea was flat calm, pieces of driftwood overtook us. Very galling! 

And then another highlight. A radio call from Matt Goss to say that he and his wife Cher were on the water in his newly built navigator 'Cher Maria'. They were just coming around the breakwater. 

Being somewhat deaf - I misheard and thought they meant the main breakwater and so I headed across under motor towards some small boats in Cawsand Bay. Poor Matt was talking about the Mountbatten breakwater and must have wondered why I was trying to create a greater distance between him and me! have I said before I'm not the brightest in the pack? 

My poor photos do not do justice to Matt's navigator. It is pretty hard trying to helm your own boat and take a photo with only one hand. To make things worse, I was always shooting into the sun as well. 

His boat is stunning. it exudes high quality craftsmanship and sensible well thought out adaptations from the plans. An off white hull and whitish sails with blue sheer plank, she looked a sight to behold. 

We tried to sail into Cawsand and gave up - no wind. we tried to sail the northern face of the big breakwater but gave up - no wind and a a ripping tidal current making us ferry glide towards the western end and the lighthouse rocks. 

When we managed to head north with the wind from astern, the outgoing tide against us bought us to .....a standstill. 

It was quite funny really. we drifted along, had a natter across the expanse between us and then went our separate ways. I had to be back early due to evening commitments. 

Cher managed to catch me photographing them in one of the lulls when neither of us were going anywhere far! 

Back at the slipway, I had a somewhat curt encounter with someone. Not me being curt but someone who has a tenancy at the marina wanted to know if I had paid, if I had asked permission to be on the slip or in the marina and that he had rights as a tenant!  Given I wasn't in his way and that there was room enough to pull out two boats, I just ignored him but it sort of left a slightly sour taste at the end of a lovely day. 

Arwen went back onto her trailer far more easily albeit still a little crooked. I have discovered that removing the masts and outboard, I can lift her over the few centimetres to centre her, before putting mast and outboard back in the hull for the journey home. A minor inconvenience and I will do some thinking as to how I can sort this problem. 

Matt, it was lovely to finally meet you both and your boat is absolutely stunning. Congratulations. 

Thursday 17 March 2022

Whilst waiting for better weather

Trailer is ready.

Boat is sorted. Now just waiting for some decent weather.  


Saturday 5 March 2022

Some recent astronomy whilst waiting for some safe sailing weather

Getting ready for a busy night of astrophotographing

A recent effort from the back garden in suburban light conditions on M45 Pleiades 

My very first effort on the Leo Triplet of galaxies, some 35 million light years away from our planet

Down at the local beach car park with all the equipment ready to go

My first effort at the Orion horsehead nebula. Getting the photo is the easy bit; processing it to draw out the detail and colours - that is indeed a very dark art

Another shot of the Orion nebula in the bottom right and the horse head nebula in the upper left at the lower end of Orion's belt

Wednesday 2 March 2022

Final trailer modifications

 I have returned from the trailer manufacturers and as soon as the weather is better, Arwen and I will be out on the water. 

There was some success as I can now push the boat back on the trailer a metre or so far more easily than before. 

To summarise then:

  1. the bunks were swapped out for two sets of twin rollers which pivot both fore-aft and starboard-port. The flat hull base now rests on these just near the first chine with the first plank up the side. 
  2. height adjustable keel rollers have been moved to the front of the trailer to lift the bow slightly.
  3. all the keel rollers have had their bases strengthened  by 1cm thick galvanised plates. This has had the added benefit of lifting the boat hull another centimetre clear of the mudguards. 
  4. 60 cm has been cut of the central spine at the aft end. This means that Arwen's stern now overhangs the end of the trailer by some 60cm. We are hoping that this means I don't have to dip the wheels as deeply as I have been before she floats off.
When the weather abates a little and tides fall right, we will test this out and I will post an update here.