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 29 June 2023

Installing a small electric bilge pump in your dinghy

 Finally! A job started a few years ago finished today. The videos below are a reminder!

Today I fitted the bilge pump. It also got a new tupperware fully sealable box. 

New brass outlet fitting sealed in both this side and inside.
And I have a bung that go in it as well - just in case! 

It won't get all of the water out of the bilge but in the event of a capsize - a frightened man with a bucket, followed by a kayak stirrup pump and then this - should get most of it out 

The battery is a 12v sealed lead acid battery which can sit on its side safely and it will be bungee attached to the top thwart

Just got to work out how to secure it to the base
Postscript update 

I wasn't happy about it sitting on the front thwart. Its a little inaccessible there. So, I brought some wire and wired in and extension piece thus making the overall cable around 1.5m in length. I then ran this cable up the discharge pipe and then aft right up under the port side deck, securing it with cable ties. The switch/battery box can now go under the side deck along the side thwarts and that makes it easy to reach.  

Tuesday 27 June 2023

almost ready for this season

 It has been a long time since I have been sailing and I am looking forward to getting out on the water soon. My last post has a short video - refitting Arwen after her long hibernation. 

A night up at Treluggan Boatyard on the upper Lynher river 

Today, I have sorted out the galley boxes and cleaned them up and brought some ready to cook in the bag camping meals. 

  • steak and veg
  • pasta bolognaise
  • pasta carbonara
  • meatballs and pasta
  • sticky toffee pudding
  • noodles and bacon
I'm a simple man with simple culinary tastes 😆. Obviously I'll add in fresh veg - carrots, broccoli and sweetcorn along with various coloured peppers. The shopping list also includes fresh fruit (apples and oranges), fruit pots and custard pots, trail mix, granola bars of various types. Bacon and eggs for breakfast one morning I'm sure. I'll make a fruit cake and take some of that too. 

One galley box containing trangia stove and cooking utensils etc 
One food supplies box
If you search 'galley box' on the side bar of this blog you can get all the building blogs including measurements 

Since June last year (and its now June 2023) I have only sailed around four times. There are reasons for this 😞😄

  • we have been travelling on and off for a total of five and a half months out of the last twelve - Iceland, France, Spain and SW USA
  • I have caught Covid several times and have probably lost another month to this and subsequent recuperations
  • the weather, has, at times, frankly, been as my teenage friends would say 'PANTS'!! 😖
So, we are nearly there but one more hurdle to overcome. I'm ill again. Some form of bacterial and/or viral infection which has been with me on and off since February and which, thus far, is defying treatment. The list of symptoms and effects is too long and frankly boring to list here but according to the Doctors I'm doing rather well given the slight onslaught I periodically face. 

So, sailing will have to take place on the good days - no arthritic pain in my hands, no conjunctivitis in my eyes, no tiredness - aches or pains. And there are plenty of good days - they far, far, far outweigh the odd 'knackered' day. I'm always cheerfully optimistic. Trained by thousands of teenagers over thirty five years 😁

My bet is something bit me!  Damn mosquitoes! 😂

So, on the calendar are marked all the spring tides between now and end of October; the DCA rallies as well. Tentative plans are for voyages and overnight trips to: 

  • Frogmore Creek and Kingsbridge over Salcombe way
  • a pootle up the river Dart to Totnes
  • towing Arwen down to Falmouth and doing a few days on the various rivers around the Fal ria
  • a coastal sail across to the Helford river and a tootle up some of its tributaries
  • a coastal sail from Salcombe over to Bigbury on Sea and if condition are right - crossing the dangerous bar and sailing up the river Avon to Aveton Gifford. 
  • a few sails up the Tamar - up to a quay in Kingsmill Lake; up the Tavy as far as I can get on a tide; a revisit to redshank beach on the Lynher - one of my favourites and long overdue; a potter up past St German's and up the river Tiddy as far as I can safely go and, finally, up past Calstock on the Tamar to Morwellham Quay. 
A photo from a long time ago - Arwen moored off Redshank Beach up the Lynher just beyond Dandy Hole and about a mile downriver from St German's

I am also hoping to be there for the launch of Steven Yate's lovely new Pathfinder. He has his own YouTube channel and post a lovely weekly blog - very knowledgeable and considered. A sailor's sailor - not an amateur like me. Look up 'dirtywetdog' all one word on YouTube, google internet and Facebook!   You won't regret it. Brilliant reads and musings! 

From a few years ago - drifting back down river very early one morning after an overnight stop at Southpool creek. the town of Salcombe is ahead. 

Sunday 25 June 2023

I met a subscriber today

 So there I am walking along the coastal road into Salcombe, from North Sands. A stunning lovely walk by the way if you ever happen to be down this way - along the river entrance with the fantastic golden sand beaches of East Portlemouth opposite. Plenty to see and admire. 

Anyway, I digress. Ahead is a man carrying a large pack. A coastal footpath walker, I really admire these hardy folk - the South West Coastal Path is stunning but not to be under estimated. It has some exceptionally steep ascents and descents and some really exposed areas. 

I notice he is wearing a knee brace and ask him how he is getting on. It turns out blisters are the issue and he is hoping to find a coffee shop and a chemist in Salcombe. I tell him where to find these things - make some recommendations and we discuss his progress thus far. 

And then he stops me in my tracks and catches me off guard completely.

"Do you own a boat?"

"Yes" I reply

"You the guy with the YouTube channel and the New Zealand designed boat?"

Turns out Iain, from Oxford way is a sailor, owns a wayfarer if I remember correctly and is one of my channel subscribers. He recognised my voice! Which is kinda scary really!

Iain (Ian) if you are reading this - I hope you sorted the blisters, got a well earned coffee and made it over to Kingsbridge and sorry we could stop longer to chat or take you for a coffee - we were meeting friends and already running late. It later turned out they were running even later than us - so we could have got you a coffee but when I found you - you were surrounded at Capt'n Morgan's looking well looked after and chilled so I didnt disturb you. A real pleasure and privilege for me meeting you - an amazing achievement walking with that pack weight in this heat and those blisters. Hope you made it to Kingsbridge. Stay in touch. Hope you get to sail on the Thames at some stage - an ambition of mine I must admit. If you come down this way with  your boat - drop me a line. 

An amazing guy, an amazing undertaking. 

Thursday 22 June 2023