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 www.YouTube.com/c/plymouthwelshboy 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, 4 January 2014

Housekeeping

The new tarpaulin arrived. I'm not overly impressed. It says waterproof but we will see. I spent an hour sorting plastic sheet and tarps. I think I will have to bite the bullet this year and invest in a properly made waterproof cover for Arwen. It will cost but at least I won't constantly be pumping her out or emptying the under front thwart locker.

The binocular and compass bins are fitted. Although they look good, I'm not convinced about whether they will be useful or not. The binocular one went down the side of the centreboard on starboard side just forward of the centre thwart hatch; in arms reach of where I put all my charts etc when coastal cruising. The compass one attached to the coaming next to my little plastic handy wallet which stores pencils, sharpeners, rubbers, notebook etc; again within arms reach of my navigation area!

I have a gut feeling both are going to get in the way and I'll end up removing them. You know what they say.......'KISS........keep it simple stupid'!

'Stupid' Steve

Friday, 3 January 2014

compass box and binocular rack

built out of scrap wood.......a windfall of mahogany of some sort out of an office refurbishment, the binocular rack and compass bin just await attachment to the coamings.


Doused liberally in Danish oil which seems to have done the job (I wasn't sure to be truthful about whether this would be sufficient waterproofing but it seems to be so far in 'under the tap' tests), they now need to be attached at prudent points.


A place where they aren't out of reach if I sit mid-ships but where they won't be in the way of leaning back against the coaming; where I could reach forward and grab them if sat at the back using the short tiller on the outboard whilst underway. this will need care and thought.


I'll attach them with stainless steel screws but also may use some marine sealant as well to stop water going down the back of them.


In the meantime, when I can get into the boat without having to pump it out......I want to take measurements to build two 'wanigan's for each side of the centreboard - basically lidded bins that will fit neatly into the front cockpit section. Here I can store stuff whilst on camping trips and generally make the cockpit a neater area clear of clutter. Wanigans are made for Canadian canoes but some inventive souls have used similar ideas and principles in their open boats as well. this web link will give you a general idea of what I'm thinking about:

http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?155078-Waterproof-boxes-for-my-Sooty-Tern&s=6d69b71b785539ca6266d5171f81f435

 The idea is that they are portable; strapped in with clips to stop them moving when underway or during a capsize; but easy to remove if camping on board or onshore. I'll build them out of exterior ply and paint them to match Arwen's colour scheme. I'll probably fibreglass their base and sides. One will be solely for camping equipment - kitchen and cooking stuff; bottles and food. The other great idea behind these is that they extend the side thwarts forward more to make a better sleeping platform for me when I camp on board. There is method to my madness on rare occasions!

Some of you will be asking - 'isn't there enough hatch space already on a navigator'?  Well yes there is. In the storage bins either side of the rear centreboard go toolkit; fire extinguishers; spare ropes; sponges; radar reflectors; spare torches; fuel containers etc...and that is them virtually full. In the under seat one at rear goes spare lifejackets; spare clothes etc and when camping.....food supplies.  The forward locker under the foredeck is virtually inaccessible because the mast is in the way and I didn't have the foresight of other navigator owners to make two hatches one either side of the mast!! Hence getting the single large hatch cover off underway is impossible and at best inconvenient whilst at anchor - so I rarely use it.

Anyway, long lists of things to do and think about...along with re-varnishing the mast. All to be done before Easter.....so best get cracking on!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

A complete failure

The tarpaulin has given up. Three times in three days I have had to pump water out of the boat. It collects down towards the bow as the boat sits on the drive. Of course, water then seeps through the lower forward thwart hatches as well. It's a real pain. Anyway a new tarp has been ordered and in the meantime plastic sheeting has been placed over the boat as well.

Just as well for severe warnings have been given about the forthcoming storm due this evening. Coastguard teams and police are on alert for the huge storm and the very high spring tides. People have been asked to avoid promenades, going on beaches etc. there are a huge number of flood warnings and fear of strong winds and high waves overtopping sea defences. Tragically, one young man was washed off a beach New Year's Eve and the coastguard search was called off this afternoon with him not being found.  In Devon and Cornwall this evening we are battening down the hatches for what will be fairly major flood disruption in all low lying coastal areas.

The latest weather warnings can be accessed at
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/uk/sw/sw_forecast_warnings.html?day=2
http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/forecast-video/21416949

News on the floods can be accessed at 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25572390

Steve 



Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Jobs done

Reefing ties have been lengthened and replaced using hardy hemp rope 4mm.....it's in keeping with my policy of  changing halyards over to synthetic hemp which has a more traditional look. The eye on the boomkin has been replaced with a homemade mahogany block which seems to be working better. The boat has been baled out...the tarpaulin seems to be failing. All sails have been removed and dried out and hung in garage over the winter months.

In the meantime I have constructed from mahogany offcuts, a binocular rack. This will be attached to the coaming mid ships and the binoculars held in ace by a Velcro strap. No more scrambling around to find them under the side decks behind the coaming. In a similar vein, another little rack has been constructed for the handheld compass. I just need to attach them in such a way that they don't interfere with being able to lean back against the coaming when relaxing.

In the meantime, I now have to compose a difficult email to my brother. My nephews have just started fishing. Very excited they are. Santa bought them new rods and a generous uncle sent them a huge parcel of spinners, rigs, floats etc. my nephews live in New Zealand by the way. So the news that my 7 yr old nephew has just spent sseval hours in casualty having a deeply embedded hook extracted from his thumb....well uncle's popularity has probably hit an all time low and I have no idea how to redeem myself.  Any helpful suggestions gratefully received!!!

In the meantime, whilst not such a great start to the new year....happy new year to everyone else!

Steve 

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Whilst studying some photographs......

In the yahoo folders, I discovered a number of things which I may need to alter on Arwen. There is no doubt that my mast seems wrong. The sheave box is definitely in the wrong place and I will need to dig out the ans to check but it does seem around 10" lower than everyone else's. this would explain why trying to tighten the luff using the down haul is such a problem and why there seems to be a gap between the luff and the mast.

On the boomkin out back, I think I will replace the current eye arrangement with a metal screw in eye that can be repositioned to face the transom. It will mean the mizzen sheet leads right back to the transom without any turns in it. Less friction must be a good thing.

The down haul is attached to the top of the deck to one side of the mast......a roller arrangement and the halyard comes through a hole in the coaming or is tied to a cleat attached to the inside of the coaming. I actually think I prefer my down through the deck arrangement but I will take another look at it.

I think the top boom is too heavy and I need to taper it and shave some weight off it without losing the stiffness. Again I can take a look at the plans. The length is right and the width at one end is right but I didn't bother to taper it and I think doing so will help enormously.

I like the way some nav owners have drilled a series of circular holes insets of threes along the bottom edge of the internal coamings. Here they have tied on fenders, stored oars etc and actually it is a clever idea. So I will see what it might look like on Arwen. It would mean re varnishing the coaming but then it does need doing anyway.

I need to redo the reeling ties as well. A recent outing in which I had to double reef demonstrated that they were slightly too short...so lengthening them will make life easier afloat.

Someone has made two uprights that slot into the mast holes against which the mast and booms can be tied during transport.....a far better arrangement than the one I have now.  Someone in Sweden had made lovely wooden slatted floor bases out of ash which looked stunning and practical.

I need to alter the lazy jacks. I need a triangular piece at the bottom of the sail either side so that more of the sail is caught between the two lazy jacks as it collapses down.  In the meantime, some people have put a topping lift on the mizzen boom as well and I need to alter the lazy jack there so that it does both functions.

Some people have used halyard organisers to guide ropes back to the cockpit....wooden pieces with holes drilled I which are attached to the small sides running either isle of the centre case.


Thursday, 26 December 2013

Windy gizmo

I got given a very thoughtful pressie at Christmas.......a windy gizmo............an anemometer. Bright yellow and protected by a thick rubber bumper it is cheap and cheerful but really works. Excellent value for money and I'm thrilled. I've been looking for one for ages and this is just right. Photos and a better review to follow when I can get out on the water again but it has simple controls and settings and wind speed in knots with Beaufort scale. Perfect and really thoughtful.


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

what the difference a day can make

the gale is blown out. What a difference a day can make.

Hidden away in a corner of Sutton Harbour marina lies this little gem


the skies clear for a brief period
 

stormy times ahead


I have never seen it so rough. The winds were howling through the rigging. Screaming would be a better adjective. That metallic tinkling sound as lines rattle against metal masts.   
 
 
Even in Queen Annes Battery marina, boats tossed slightly as the currents found their way through the normally impenetrable outer wall. And what waves! I cannot ever recall seeing waves being driven down that narrow area of the barbican before.
 
 
Angry, foaming, grey waves with bright white foam tops......white horses on a mega scale! They piled up against the lock gate of the Sutton harbour entrance. No one in their  right mind would have attempted an exit or entry through those narrow lock gates.
 
 
At the harbour masters pontoon, the harbour launches rose and fell great heights, secured fore and aft. Even the pontoon was rising up and down on its steel pilings.

And this was the sheltered area! We drove around onto the hoe. No one was trying to walk along the hoe foreshore road. You'd have needed to be insane.
 
 
The breakwater was hidden under a maelstrom of malevolent breakers,  spume rising high in the air and being whisked shoreward. The sound was a boiling mass of white caps. Waves crashed against the base of the hoe, white water breaking high over the restaurants at the waters edge. It was genuinely quite impressive and awe inspiring. Nature's fury at its best.

 


And we have more to come. Christmas travel plans disrupted, many homes without power......flood warnings out everywhere. Railway travel severely restricted. I'm glad we live on a north facing hillside!!!



My thoughts and prayers and best wishes go to all those travelling, to those affected by the weather......take care in your Christmas journeys. And thank you to all our emergency services, from the fire brigade to the RNLI, from Police to the AA and RAC, from council workers, to environment agency and electricity board workers.....and those struggling to get our railways moving again. Thank you all for keeping us safe this Christmas


Steve

Sunday, 22 December 2013

I saw three ships come sailing in


 I saw three ship come sailing in,
on Christmas day on Christmas day.
I saw three ship come sailing in,
on Christmas Day in the morning.

And what was in those ships all three?
on Christmas day on Christmas day.
And what was in those ships all three?
on Christmas Day in the morning.

Our Saviour Christ and His lady,
on Christmas day on Christmas day.
Our Saviour Christ and His lady,
on Christmas Day in the morning.

And where they sailed those ships all three?
on Christmas day on Christmas day.
And where they sailed those ships all three?
on Christmas Day in the morning.

All they sailed in to Bethlehem,
on Christmas day on Christmas day.
All they sailed in to Bethlehem,
on Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the bells on earth shall ring,
on Christmas day on Christmas day.
And all the bells on earth shall ring,
on Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the angels in heaven shall sing,
on Christmas day on Christmas day.
And all the the angels in heaven shall sing,
on Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the souls on earth shall sing,
on Christmas day on Christmas day.
And all the souls on earth shall sing,
on Christmas Day in the morning.

And let us all rejoice again,
on Christmas day on Christmas day.
And let us all rejoice again,
on Christmas Dayr in the morning.

One of my favourites......bound to be really for a sailor. It was a traditional folk song performed by wandering minstrels. The original version of the carol, the Three Ships were the ones taking the supposed skulls of the wise men to Cologne cathedral in Germany. However, there have been many different sets of lyrics associated with this carol and the most common lyrics today talk about Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem.

Some say it dates from medieval times. i suspect that three ships approaching Bethlehem would give new meaning to the phrase 'sea level rise'. i read somewhere that one thought might be that actually it refers to 'ships of the desert.........camels'. Well it would make more sense wouldn't it.

I don't know what kind of ships were around at the time of the birth of Jesus. I read in one blog elsewhere that there is a boat called 'the Jesus boat'. Discover near the Sea of Galilee it has been dated to the time of Christ and was probably used by fishermen on the lake. Romans, Greeks, Phoenicians and many more certainly traded around the Mediterranean shores and lets not forget the Egyptians either. Grain, ceramics, stone, dyes and wine were cargoes of value carried around in large boats with oars and sail.

Rumour also has it that the lyrics are associated with Cornwall and Glastonbury, places both dear to my heart and very co one to home. Both places were the ancient seats of the Celtic tribes in the west of our country. It is claimed that Jesus visited this part of our country and walked along the pilgrims route to Winchester .......along the very ancient tin trade route. My knowledge of history is insufficiently good enough to even begin to verify this assertion. Cornish folklore talks of when Jesus came to Cornwall. St Joseph of Arimathea was a tin man, making his money trading the precious metal between the Mediterranean lands and Cornwall. He made voyages to Britain in his own ships bringing with him on one occasion baby Jesus and his mother Mary. Landed at St Michael's Mount  Penzance bay so legends say!

Other oral legends tell that when the Romans invaded Palestine and the Holy lands, Joseph with the three Mary's sailed to the south of France with the chalice that caught he blood of Christ as he was crucified and then travelled throughout Europe preaching. In this oral tradition the here shi would be the three Mary's bearing the gospels.






Saturday, 21 December 2013

A new navigator blog

Written by John can be found at
http://johnsnavigatorbuild.blogspot.co.uk/