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.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

The pulley anchoring system

Has been bugging me. Mine didn't work quite right and I want a good set up for the summer. Anyway I bought two copies of small craft advisor magazine because I am stuck in a hotel up north (short version story...we moved my daughter and her friend into a rented apartment this weekend so they could start their internment jobs on Monday. They arrived and immediately switched on the boiler. Which caused several pipes to burst flooding walls and electrics......say nothing!!!!!!!)

Anyway in the one magazine was a lovely simple diagram set showing the set up using some pic pipe with two bends one either end, 200' of floating rope, some fishing net floats and a few carabiners. I can set it up ready prepared and then just attach it to my anchors. Hey presto, system long last. Now all I need is some nice sailing weather.

I'm aiming for Wednesday or Thursday. Tides are building to springs and high tide early evening ish. My good friend is semi ready awaiting the where and when (it's weather dependent my friend......but Tuesday is definitely out! So Wednesday or Thursday if you don't mind wearing foulies!!)

I suspect it's a shake down cruise, first of the season, so pottering around the sound, maybe poking a nose up the Tamar into mill rook creek and St. John's lake.

We'll see what the week brings. 

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Arwen finally slid off the drive this morning for a wash and scrub out in the lovely spring sunshine.

 Everything was emptied out and her decks, floors and thwarts washed down to remove the black spore mould that seems to proliferate on her during the winter months.

The grating broke so that needs repairing
So much comes out of the lockers!
The oars need sorting as well. they were borrowed and are only 7' long so are way to short for Arwen. I need to get some 9' 6" ones
Arwen needs a refit. There are one or two areas where delamination is happening. Some of the fibreglass has delaminated on the stringers on the floor as well.

This is where water collects when Arwen is on the sloping drive. Just below the blue bungies on the left hand side is where there is some serious delamination

Dents, dings, down to the aluminium undercoat...lots to do. The question is of course whether to do it over Easter or do some sailing and then towards the end of August repaint and repair her before putting her away for the winter.

So many dents and dings need sorting

The mast is looking somewhat forlorn and worst for wear as well. Maintenance after winter......I think sailing at Easter is likely to be delayed!

I am thinking of burgess hydro-sealing the mast - it does needs a spruce up
Pizza and lemonade snack - so healthy!!!!!!!
'Stuff' going back in slowly

Saturday, 14 March 2015


Well, sadly it has come to an end, my love affair with a cafe on the Barbican. The owners have done some remodelling thus ruining its ambiance but I am sure they will feel it is worth it as it will pull the punters in during the winter months. I guess  I can understand it.

However charging £4.95 for three minuscule pancakes, a drizzle of maple syrup and two small rashers of bacon along with £2.00 for a cup of tea...a cup mind you not a blatant profiteering and ridiculous overcharging. The rest of Barbican cafes don't charge that much and thus they will get my custom.

I really can't abide greed. Making a fair profit yes.....blatant greed no. There are plenty of other cafes across the Barbican who will charge £1 for a pot of tea or thereabouts and certainly not a fiver for pancakes! They can have my custom instead.

The end of a five year love affair, Saturday or Sunday mornings will just have to be in another venue from now on.

Am I becoming a grumpy old man in my early fifties? Hope not.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Some new blogs I will be following

Thanks to Gavin at for drawing our attention to two great little blogs. Although not John Welsford specific, they are worth following. The first is about the restoration of small wooden clinker boats. The second about the cruising of a lovely little cabin finesse 24.


A self steering Arwen

Someone was searching on the blog about self steering and it serves as a nice reminder as the sailing season comes around. Basically the main points are 

1. In 10+ knots I should try to trim the sails, starting with jib, then main and finally Mizzen until such time as the luff is just lifting a little. Then.......
2.  Bring Arwen up towards the wind and let go of the tiller
3. If she goes to windward and puffs then ease the mizzen and/or main
4. If she goes to leeward and bears away then tighten mizzen and/or main

All of this is best done between a close reach to beam reach. 

Alternatively, I could use the centreboard. If Arwen heads windward bring the board up slightly and conversely, if she bears away, lower the board slightly.

Excessive weather helm can be tackled by either
A) pushing the mast forward as far as possible when setting her up on the ramp and then allowing the main halyard to dangle. Set up correctly the gap between Hayward and mast should be around 17cm. 
B) whilst out on the water, tightening the forestry and loosening the shrouds should help

On all occasions securing the tiller amidships using some elastic cord will help as will minimal movement around the boat. In the past I have found Arwen to be very sensitive to my weight distribution!!! Going forward sends her rapidly windward, hanging off the stern allows her to bear away rapidly as well. 

So much to remember........!!!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Having a spring clean 2

I'm rearranging where things go in Arwen. Weight around the centre case, lighter at the stern and bow. So into the stern locker is going spare life jackets, spare clothing, spare foulies and the outboard toolkit along with some towing bridles. In the starboard centre thwart locker will be a collapsible bucket, the radar reflector, foghorn, binoculars, handheld compass, throw line, grab bag and then some spare cloths and sponges. The rest of the space is for daysailing kit......waterproofs, spare fleece, packed lunch and drinks, camera, sun cream and sunnies etc. 

In the port locker will be spare fittings ranging from blocks to screws, shackles, gaffer tape and assorted odd tools, WD40, the little bailer, a mallet etc. 

In the front thwart lockers will go camping gear when I am off on extended gear, food, bottled water, sleeping gear, the tarp and bulldog clamps to hold it in place. 
I am going to buy some more cylindrical fuel bottles from optimist to store spare fuel and they can then go in the lockers as well. 

Under the deck in the bow locker will go the boat cushions I have for extended stops, spare dry bags, some spare warps and two of the four large white fenders I carry. Sadly the big black bucket won't fit through the hatch so that will remain stored under the deck as will the hand pump. 

The kedge anchor and warp will remain in its tray, covered by a large thick piece of black foam matting, strapped on the floor,port side just forward of the centre thwart. It is held in place by bungees. The matting means I can regularly stand on top of it if need be when adjusting snotter on boom. 
The main large anchor is on the floor starboard side, secured in a similar fashion. I will be making a little contraption using a strong painter and loop, to allow its deployment from the centre of the boat. I'll post more on this when I have it clear in my own head how it will work. 
I have some straps either side of the centre case which can be used to secure four 25lt water barrels in place for extra weight when on extended solo sailing coastal voyages. 

The new dry bags will be left in the various lockers and then camping stuff packed into them as and when needed. 
My aim is to declutter the cockpit. I am always amazed at how well Joel manages to do it in Ellie and Steve in Spartina and it is time I learned from them.......some good, seamanlike housekeeping!
For coastal overnight voyages I am also thinking about installing side netting under decks in forward part of friend has offered to make some if I pay for materials and time and actually I am beginning to think they would be much more effective in securing things, especially, God forbid, in event of a capsize. I'd quite like a little net stretching across the back of the aft footwell into which can go the little dry bags with lunch, drinks bottles and flasks, along with GoPro gear. It would stop it all rattling around under the side decks and reduce the need for a rucksac taking up space in the footwell.

Another project I am looking at is how to make my little YouTube videos of daysailing more appealing. I'm looking at story boarding in advance and giving more thought to cutaway sequences. I am also thinking hard about how to get good footage of Arwen sailing on the water from a distance. Two projects come to mind. The first, the creation of a floating frame....a guy running a YouTube gopro channel has a very ingenious design made out of plastic pipe; and attaching a gopro to a small kite to tow behind Arwen. This one needs some thought but a kite surfer friend may well have some answers!
Ill keep you all posted on developments.

Spring clean

Arwen has had her first spring clean. Water sponged out of nooks and crannies. Hatch plates taken off so she can air in the spring sunshine. Some of the black mould removed......still along way to go on that one ....especially under the decks. The starboard centre thwart locker has been cleared out ready for storage of coats, packed lunches, binoculars, etc. the port locker has been re packed containing fittings, tool kits etc. 

I am thinking of commissioning my friend to make some netting for the sides and rear of the footwell to hold things in place better. I am going for the minimalist, uncluttered look this year. Yeah like that will happen.......have you seen my school desk, classroom, study, back room and house hallway? Nough said!

Clutter, I am surrounded by it. It replicates itself when I'm not looking. They say clutter is the sign of a brilliant mind........that's the argument I'm going with. Others, less kind, will say it is disorganisation!