Arwen's meanderings

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.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

What goes in your dinghy grab bag?

I am never sure about what to put in a grab bag for a day sail or for extended coastal hop sailing. So here we go. This is my first effort. If you think I have too much, too little, inappropriate stuff......missing something vital, then do get in touch via the comment box. 

Now be kind. I have been laid up in bed for two days with a somewhat virulent sickness bug!


Grab bag contents
Spare glasses
Spare vhf
Spare batteries
Bottles of water
First aid kit
Thermal blankets
Sea sick tablets
Chocolate bars
Radio licence
Powerboat licence
Money and credit cards
Spare knife
Some light sticks
Gorilla tape roll
Head torch and spare batteries
Signalling mirror

Longer than an inshore/ rivers day cruise
Fire kit including waterproof matches, cotton wool balls, petroleum jelly 
Power monkey recharger kit
Sunblock and lip salve 
Snorkel mask
Boil in a bag ration pack
10m braided thin line hank
Beanie hat
Waterproof gloves
Liquid soap
Long burn candle
Spare change of clothes

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Proud of myself

a 60% discount sail on in the musto shop at Salcombe. I walked in, had a good rummage; was almost sucked in by a pair of waterproof trousers, but resisted. I resisted several items as it happens. Consequently I am very proud of my restraint. She wot must be obeyed normally whispers in my ear "new coat/wellies/trousers...or early retirement?"

So I feel I had the moral high ground today when she walked out of whiteface and sea salt with assorted dresses, cardigans and blouses.

"Clothes darling or early retirement?" ..... I thought it but refrained.....after all she has over several years funded a boat and assorted equipment without any complaint. I am indeed a very lucky man

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

the winter blues

OFSTED....a word that strikes fear into the heart of all sane teachers. It shouldn't but it does. That inspection which casts a judgement once every three years or so on your teaching, your school etc. So much rides on that judgement!
Anyway, they are imminent - any time now; school life is hectic, manic, deranged.......choose your adjective!

In the meantime, Arwen languishes on the drive. I had a peek under her covers at the weekend. Not as much water has penetrated the tarp covers as I was expecting. It didn't reach the bottom of those circular hatches that I have so regretted installing in the vertical bulkhead of the front thwart. Removal of said hatches gave me a pleasant surprise - no  water ingress!

Mould? Oh yeah! Black spores everywhere so that will need cleaning out with soft scour pad and soapy water asap - it gets everywhere and is difficult to get at under the decksides! The mast is looking slightly worse for wear, where the tarp has rested over it. It isn't rotting; still very solid but it does have a damp bedraggled look to it!

And so to my list of chores to restore life into Arwen ready for the sailing season.......

  • can I seal off those circular hatches in some way? Can I then cut and install a new 10" circular locking hatch in the flat seat part of the thwart under the deck - so it gives me better access to the storage space? What if I just ran marine sealant around the hatch rims - would that seal them?
  • clean off the mould - a good soapy wash down of all areas
  • paint over the divots and dings where silver grey aluminium oxide paint is exposed - thank heavens I gave Arwen three coats of the stuff and then four coats of undercoat before the three layers of topside paint (no - honestly - I did do that much painting.....I think I have OCD or ADHD tendencies)
  • I have some lead flashing reclaimed from a neighbour's roof extension - about 30lbs weight - can I flatten it into large thin ingots and then epoxy it in to the floors of the central lockers either side of the centreboard case - to give extra weight/stability to Arwen? Is this safe? is this worth doing? Or shall I just carry on strapping in 4 x 25 litre water containers either side of the case when I am single-handing across coastal waters between Falmouth and Dartmouth?
  • new oars - never got around to making them this winter - ur huh!
  • sanding down the mast and coating it with burgess sealer for the season - urgent need to sort
  • getting rid of clutter - Arwen always seems to be so untidy or is it her owner always seems to be untidy?
Well that is a starting list. Of course until OFSTED have been and gone - all Sunday's are work days; I know, if things were going well, then the arrival of OFSTED shouldn't mean any change to routines or normal workloads.......but as all teachers will tell you ...rubbish!  We are so inundated each day that you never tick off any list you have and say "well done - managed to do it all today" are always, despite best efforts, at least 6 weeks behind on marking..........working four hours each night after school and desperately trying to keep up with each new initiative or change thrown at you by each successive government.

I love teaching - it is a privilege - but why does it have to be so physically exhausting and draining every day?

A case of the winter blues - sorry folks - normal cheerful service will be resumed tomorrow - promise.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

winter sunshine

After all the rain and howling winds what a great little pleasure to see sunshine. One of those cold crisp winter days but even on the Hoe with no wind - if you wrapped up warm and got shelter behind a screen, the sun's rays were just enough to generate some much welcome and needed sunshine.

poor Tinside Pool on the Hoe always looks the worst for wear during winter when big storm waves break over the front of it and fill the pool with grimy seawater. However in Spring it gets its annual spring clean and opens just after Easter every year all pristine and clean.........amazing!
This morning we took the opportunity for a brisk walk around Plymouth Hoe from the Barbican and back again. It throws in a couple of hills and some stunning scenery and we always end at a nice café somewhere for a coffee and catch up with the Sunday papers. then it is back home to start the weekly Sunday afternoon school work catch up - marking, lesson preparation etc. for the forth coming week.
barely a breeze first thing in the morning. A few dinghies are heading out in to Jennycliffe Bay past the Mountbatten Breakwater.

looking towards the entrance to the Tamar in the far background, the little stone harbour complex in the mid-ground is West Hoe Pier. the restaurants either side of it were badly damaged in last Winter's storms and still have huge amounts of scaffolding surrounding them and propping them up as they are refurbished.

Welcome to our 'European gateway - Millbay Docks' as advertised by our city council. I'd love to meet the wag who came up with that title for what is at the moment a fairly unglamorous gateway! Still the city does have a vision for this area - which is experiencing urban regeneration. Part of the old docks has been turned into a new marina; the far side is where the RoRo ferry to Roscoff in France berths; the new apartments - will they sell? time will tell.

'Her indoors' outdoors reading the Sunday's at the Terrace Café on the hoe. it is an outdoor terrace café on the side of the hoe with stunning views.

waiting for the footbridge to close after a yacht has passed through the docks, outward bound

A lovely little gem for sale

this is the newly built Plymouth University diving centre next to Queen Anne's Battery marina where Arwen gets launched.

A huge improvement on what was there before - new ramps, new lifting gear, new workshops and classrooms and I suspect a café terrace too.

Monday, 5 January 2015

A Finnish sunrise

Is a sight to behold. At this time of year the sun barely raises itself above the horizon and there are only a few hours of daylight.

This morning, far on the horizon, behind the expanse plains of pinewoods the sky is a dull orange. The colours graduate themselves. Above the orange are faint yellowy oranges; above these, the colours graduate out yellows to light faint green; from greens to light blues and turquoises and from these to deeper blues, navy, and eventually the inky black/purples of the upper skies where distant stars still twinkle.

All this colour spectrum is punctuated by the odd low, flat, disc like cloud, deep grey in colour. Of course, this is only on the horizon in the Far East across the vast Russian steppes. To the west, land and sky merge in one black mass, the horizon as yet indistinguishable.

As the sun slowly emerges for another day, these colours, of course, change. Watery yellows and greens, various shades of turquoise climb higher in the sky. The orange glow deepens at the base and at sometime around 10 ish, the sun will make its first tentative appearance over the horizon line, a deep orange disc that inches it's way higher.

For a few hours we will ski in sunlight before this powerhouse of our solar system starts its gentle journey downwards to once again hide itself on the other side of our planet.

What an extraordinary world we live on!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Husky dogs

I'd forgotten how yappy they are, always getting in a tangle and argumentative with each other. On the other hand when they get themselves organised boy can they go. Our poor team of six had considerable weight to tow and it showed on the hills when I would have to jump off the sledge and push and run. I don't know who got more of a work out them or me!  We did very well with steering, braking and general mushing. Only one incident when the sledge went one way, I went the other, the dog team choose a different route and her indoors hung on for grim life as sledge went vertical onto one runner on a sharp corner. I managed to regain control and honour and she was genuinely impressed. Wow!

By the way, its pointless doing it in the dark.....can't see anything! Makes it fun in one way........uncertainty. Boring in all other ways!