A blog about sailing a John Welsford
'Navigator' yawl around Plymouth Sound
in South-west England
Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog. My name is Steve and i am the lucky owner of a John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. I built her over three years with the help of my father, father-in-law and two children. She was launched in August 2007 at Queen Anne's battery marina in the barbican area of Plymouth. This blog is a record of our voyages together around SW England.
the other day I asked Steve of 'Spartina' fame to explain how the ship had come aground.....he'd posted another superb photo of a very large freighter just stuck on a beach. I wondered if it was error, a storm, a dragging anchor etc. He later posted an explanation....storm and dragging anchor.
So the irony bit.........I ran aground today in South Pool creek in the Kingsbridge estuary! Now those of you knowing Salcombe will know that Easter is a busy time. Lots of people on beaches, especially during the spell of warm weather we have been having.
And there I was.........stuck on a mudflat.....sails up........going nowhere fast.
How I arrived at this ignominy is slightly hazy. Caught in one of those shifting wind positions as a wind squall came off a hillside in a totally opposite direction to the prevailing wind direction; I tacked rapidly to avoid some boats and..........there we were. No warning, no centreboard kicking up......just stuck in four inches of water.
I think it was quite funny......well I do now. At the time it was humiliating! Still, an oar was deployed as a pole punting tool and slowly we drifted off...only to run aground against five metres further along. The wind had us pinned on that mudflat and the tide was still receding!
Sails were dropped; centreboard and rudder raised; outboard lifted out of water and slowly I poled Arwen head to wind. Then slowly using the oar as a punt pole Arwen began to shift off the mudflats; four inches of water..........eight inches..........oh my.......an awesome twelve inches of water beneath keel and suddenly we were free.
Sails raised rapidly and we headed for deeper water. Like towards the outer estuary kind of deeper water. An outgoing tide pushes us along; huge mats of green strand seaweed float by keeping pace with us.
I should have known it was going to be one of those days. I had to wait at the launch slip for a tri-maran to be craned in. It was impressive boat handling. Anyway, digressing. Back to the fairway
The East Portlemouth foot ferries ply to and fro across the fairway. Little ribs shoot by, the screams of glee from teenagers carried away on the wind. Families stretch out across the beaches; windbreaks are never seen at East Portlemouth......no one would be that common! Minimalist is how the Salcombe beachergoer operates. Shoulder bag and straw mat.
The wind continued to be fickle. The topography of steep cliff sides and valleys between caused nasty sideways gusts. But Arwen coped; she heeled occasionally.....but carried on sailing through. Out in the estuary, away from the cliff sides, winds steadied and Arwen went to 5 knots. We sailed across the outer estuary towards Prawle Point before heading back inshore.
And then we joined the beach brigade. It was really quite pleasant.
Apologies in advance for the slight fogginess. I need to get some new GoPro anti fog inserts. The cheapies I bought just don't seem to be working. Really irritating. I guess lesson learned....you get what you pay for
we managed 5.6 knots this morning into Cawsand Bay. Low tide was around 12.30 ish and high tide around 6pm. Just the start of the springs.
Looking at Cawsand
This is Kingsand. In the far right is the clock tower that during the winter storms nearly collapsed into the sea but was saved during frantic through the night engineering efforts
The intention was to sail up the Tamar, turn into the lynher and sail up to Boating World, up one of the Lynher's tributaries. The winds put paid to that....I sort of knew they would. Straight down the Tamar - north and north, north west.......impossible journey. You'd spend so much time tacking into the wind. So plan B went into operation..........across to Kingsand and then over to the Yealm. The sun shone; the breeze stayed steady at around 10 - 12 knots. It was a really decent sailing day.
heading out towards the Yealm with the Great Mewstone off the port bow
The new handheld VHF radio (ICOM M-23; floating, small and lightweight) worked really well. It was able to pick up Falmouth coastguard quite clearly which really surprised me. It clips securely to the buoyancy aid. I've still to work out all the various channels and permutations but its waterproof so no more aqua-pack flapping about.
Entrance of the Yealm ahead
I love listening to the waves sliding beneath Arwen's hull. Almost hypnotic, that hissing and gurgling.
It was a good day. Any day on the water is a good day I guess.
Heading deeper into the Yealm, looking for the harbour masters pontoon
found it at last and botched the approach into the pontoon....mental note - always approach into the tide!!
full of curves and a triumph of design and function
lots of surprises..........and 'oh my's!'
Its a fire place
huge amount of care and attention was paid to how natural light would pass through the house
this was the main room
the oak wood style and craftsmanship was exquisite
everything was themed around the sea and water
there was a central light well that carried light from high up off the roof down through all areas of the house......a brilliant piece of design that channelled light throughout the house
the tiles started off darker blue at the top and became increasingly lighter towards the bottom
Space was so well utilised
Huge attention was given to ventilation throughout the house; in the above photo the slots on the right hand wall open into the central 'well' area around which spirals the stair case - air and light came from this central well to all parts of the house
I was rather taken with the design of this sink
and even the ceilings were works of art
in the garden and out on the roof....the trade mark broken glass and pottery artwork
chimneys cleverly disguised
can you guess what the roof work represents?
think mythical sea dragons.............
Gaudi......artist, architect extraordinaire and genius......
A welshman displaced to wonderful Plymouth in SW England; a novice sailor and boat builder with a passion for all things to do with the sea. My learning curve is vertical....but hey that's what makes life interesting isn't it! So follow my journey as I learn to sail Arwen,grappling with charts, tide tables and passage planning so that I can become 'a dinghy cruiser'
And by the way, just occasionally, little snippets about 'Stacey' our beloved 1968 motovespa super 125 scooter may feature along with odd insights into our family travels< but these will be kept to a minimum, I promise!
The 'Navigator' is a 14' 9" yawl with a beam of 5' 10". she weighs in at 309 lbs and has a sail area of 136 sqft. She has a standing lug sail. She has side, centre and front thwarts and space for six although she is an ideal single hander. there are a huge number of potential locker spaces. For more details about the design of navigators go to www.jwboatdesigns.co.nz/plans/navigator/index.htm