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

Monday 31 July 2023

Dinghy cruising is refreshment for the soul?

This is the part one of two videos about our recent day sail after a long winter hibernation. Enjoy. 

Tuesday 25 July 2023

Coffee and Cake 3#DinghyCruisingShorts

The third in the trio of shorts about a quick day sail on Plymouth Sound. A new medium for me - smart phone vlogging! 

Sailing Plymouth Sound 2 #DinghyCruisingShorts

Friday 21 July 2023

Getting Ready#DinghyCruising

I've been invited to create YouTube video shorts, so I thought I'd give it a go. This is my very first effort. I'm sure I will get better. I'm very unfamiliar with using a smartphone for video vlogging so its a steep learning curve.  I'm going to have to do so research on using a smartphone for filming. Summer homework!!

This is the first time Arwen and I have been out on the water since last year. Its been a loonnng winter! A normal blog summary and longer video vlog will appear at some stage. For now here is the short above 


Friday 14 July 2023

Scoping out some overnight dinghy cruising spots along the river Tamar

I spent yesterday, before the howling gales closed in on us today, scoping out some areas of the Tamar I haven't yet sailed on. I was looking for some potential overnight stops. 

A good day. Nice morning coffee and bacon roll at one marina; a nice afternoon tea and cake at Cotehele quay.  

I found plenty of places - both beaches and potential marina pontoons or quayside walls. I'd have preferred to scope them all out at low tide but this was the time I had available and so be it.  I met two very nice people in charge of Cotehele quay and Morwellham quay - who were both welcoming about the odd dinghy cruiser pitching up as long as they phoned or emailed a few days before to check out availability. 

A shout out to Morwellham Quay - they have their 'Tide Over' Music festival this weekend. I am hoping to attend in Arwen, although at the moment, tides and weather seem to be conspiring against that plan, if truth be told. 

The links are in the video description on the YouTube video site below. 
If you are local and can get up there - they'd appreciate it and it looks as if its going to be a lively event. 

Information about the wonderful Cotehele Quay can be found here: 

Thursday 13 July 2023

Small traditional sailing boats on Facebook

 Look what I got in the post today? 

Now the big question - how exactly do I attach it? 

I have three flags flying on Arwen to sort our - my welsh ensign obviously; a Dinghy Cruising Association burgee which I have ordered and now this one. 

Obviously, I need to sort out a burgee halyard of some form - following the starboard shroud. it would make sense to have it attached to a very small block off the top tang and possibly on the lower shroud stay?

I don't know. I have no idea!! 

Suggestions please. I guess if I make it strong enough it can also double as a night 'anchor light' haul up as well. 

The STSB group on Facebook is a place for anyone who who has an appreciation for beautiful traditional boats and a place to share adventures and get advice. key question - is it SMALL? Is it TRADITIONAL? Is it a SAILING BOAT?

11k members and some great conversation, images and video. I have learned loads from the group already. 

Meanwhile, I spent the day visiting different locations up the river Tamar for future overnight stays. 

Three stand out. 

Firstly, a possibility of staying overnight on a pontoon in Millbrook creek. An invitation from the owner a year ago. I didn't get to see him on this occasion which is a pity as I owe him an apology. I have given it on one of my previous video vlogs about my recent sail over to the river Yealm but he sailed up close to me whilst I was out in Plymouth Sound and I didnt recognise him or his distinctive boat. He must have thought me so rude - sorry Richard! 

I was surprised to discover that on neaps there is water under the main pontoon most of the time although it does dry out at springs. 

Secondly, a good stop at Cotehele where I met Barnaby, the National Trust warden at the quayside. He very graciously gave me twenty minutes and was keen to see small boats arriving at the quayside on appropriate tides although he would appreciate advanced warning to ensure that space would be available. 

an overnight berthing just this side of the ladder on the left hand side, far end of the dock - as long as the big barge 'Lynher' isn't visiting!!

Shamrock - I interrupted Barnaby and Chris sorting out her mast in the shed alongside

Finally a call in at Morwellham. Here again, I as warmly welcomed and George was keen to see me give an overnight stop up there a try. There are two possible places to overnight - the quay slip and one of the bigger basins. 

I've not been up to Morwellham for some time and so it was nice to see the area at high tide. George says that the local steamboat association come up often and stop in some of the dock bays. I could certainly get Arwen into one of them with no problem and there is space to dry out alongside the small slipway as well. 

Hopefully the weather will improve over the next fortnight and I will be able to get up river to these venues. The furthest I have been up river is to Calstock so getting up to Morwellham will be a new challenge. 

If you are interested in visiting Cotehele Quay and Morwellham Quay their websites are below and both have a huge amount to see. They both have pubs as well onsite and Morwellham is holding a great music festival this coming weekend.

Sunday 2 July 2023

Summer cruising planning starts

 I have identified five opportunities where spring tides provide opportunities for some extended sailing and overnight trips this summer. 

And so the planning phase begins!  

  • updating old charts
  • working out tide times and heights and tidal flows
  • assessing possible voyage routes, overnight stops and alternatives
  • considering launch and retrieval sites and alternatives 
  • assembling harbour office contact numbers etc
Exciting isn't it, this superficial pre-planning phase!