17 December 2009
10 December 2009
One thing is finished at last. There was nowhere to keep charts close to hand and I had nowhere to keep my Portland Plotter or dividers (not that I use them, but I like to pretend). I have made a shallow box out of plywood with a timber edging on three sizes. This is glued to the inside of the main bulkhead. This gives a space which will take folded leisure charts or a book of tough charts just by the companion way. They can be reached there from the cockpit or from inside the cabin. The wooden slot on the front holds the plotter and dividers decoratively on view. The area above might be used for a clock or a picture. The wooden bracket above is where I store the GPS/compass panel which slots into the companionway under way.
18 November 2009
My summer sailing area! This is Studland Bay, just outside Poole Harbour, where I like to coast along in the sunshine. Photo from the Daily Mail taken on November 15, 2009. Shows the wisdom of hauling out for the winter. I hope Old Harry and his wife are still standing when I get back next year.
11 November 2009
Daisy G had very few problems, but the only one of significance was the rudder blade, which got steadily stiffer and stiffer in the rudderhead. I could only raise or lower the blade by getting into the dinghy and forcing it up or down from outside the boat. Not good, and when I told Matt newland at Swallowboats he immediately said "That's not right, we'll have her back and sort it out". The little video on the previous post was her going off to Cardigan behind Matt's car.
Two weeks later, Matt towed her back to Gloucestershire and handed her back to me. Brand new rudder blade installed. I had also said that the jib sheets chafed the edge of the cabin top. Now there is a hardwood edging with a brass rubbing strip behind the cleats. As you can imagine, I have the greatest respect for Swallow Boats.
The new rudder blade is interesting. if you compare the old and new in the pictures, you will see that the new blade is narrower and longer. The old blade stuck vertically down, which meant it got quite heavy on the helm in a blow. The new blade will stick down parallel with the transome, which means it will point forward slightly. This should make it much lighter, and is the form adopted for BayCruiser no2.
Now there is just the work that I want to carry out in the cabin to make it a bit more homey. I think Matt is worried that I am going to double her weight and then complain she is not as fast as she was. He probably has good grounds.
11 October 2009
Daisy Grace is out of the water and is going back to Swallowboats to sort out various bits that arose in her first partial season afloat. After that she is going into a big shed near Sharpness, which is not far from my home. I have various plans for alterations and additions and no doubt I shall post them here. It is a good way to keep a record of what I have done to and with her. Relaunch should be in early April, back in Poole Harbour.
The first photo shows her just out of the water with Matt Newland (designer and builder) on the left. The other chap has just paid his own deposit for a BayCruiser, due to be delivered next April. He is going to be in Poole Harbour too, so we will have the core of a racing fleet.
The puddle underneath is the last of the ballast water, drained out before towing.
The second photo show the extent of fouling underneath after 3 months afloat. Matt thought it was a lot, but for Poole Harbour it is astoundingly good. Fouling here is about the worst in England because of the warm, slightly brackish water. A Hawk 20 hauled out last week could hardly go on its trailer because of the festoons of weed and barnacles. The only growth here is on exposed stainless steel. There is practically nothing on the CopperCoat. I am really very impressed.
To summarise the season overall then.
- Launched mid July and hauled out early October.
- Total distance covered 243 nautical miles (that is roughly the sailing distance from Poole to Rotterdam. I'll have to actually do it one year)
- Cruising range, Swanage in the south and Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight in the east, and all round Poole Harbour and Studland Bay
- 10 nights on board, three with my daughter, one with my wife and six on my own.
- Three nights in marinas (Poole Quay and Yarmouth), one night on a mooring and six nights at anchor in Poole Harbour.
- 12 sailing outings altogether, discounting launch and haul-out days, so an average of about 20nm per outing. Not bad considering it is a brand new boat and I live nearly 90 miles form Poole. I don't think most of the yachts moored in Poole go out that much. In fact I know they don't. Most seem never to go anywhere.
- Max sailing speed, 8.3kts, but typical high 6-7. Cruising speeds seem to be 4-5kts.
- Overall impression; I am absolutely delighted with her. She does what I wanted and more. I has forgotten how much I like the ketch/yawl rig. It gives such a balanced boat, with a great range of sail combinations. Very easy single handed sailing. I had been disappointed that the self tacking jib of other Swallowbaots was not feasible, but in practice I think a conventional jib gives more versatility. I like to be able to back the jib to get through a dodgy tack in light winds. I spend lots of time hove to, and that may be more difficult with a self tacker. The jib sheets fall straight to hand from the cabin roof, so are very easy to use. We are going to reconsider the jib furling over the winter to see if there is a better way of doing it.
- I love my boat!
30 September 2009
28 September 2009
Having lowered the mast and stowing it all, I decided there was little point in raising it again as I would have to motor back and then lower it again at the end of the week. I was also interested to see how easy it is to motor with the mast down. The answer is that you can do it, but the mast obscures your view. I actually stood up for the whole journey, which was comfortable as you can lean on the mast. I like to stand when sailing or motoring in very shallow water, as you can see approaching problems much more easily. If I motor her down the Thames, as we plan for next year, I shall leave the masts at home.
21 September 2009
When she is unballasted, you can really push her high up a beach if you want to. I would think that if you were aground on a and bank, pumping out fast could get you off before the tide falls much further.
20 September 2009
As I will be getting her onto her trailer on my own, I thought I had better practice getting the mast down as I have never lowered it myself. So I sailed to Brownsea Island and beached her at about half tide on the ebb. When she was firmly aground she dried out pretty level, with just a little rocking from side to side as I moved around. Then to lower the mast for the first time.
I had asked Matt Newland to rig her with a forestay and a separate furling jib, set inside of the stay. The idea was that I could lower the sail at any time, without having to lower the mast. This means the forestay has to be released first, and then as the jib halyard is loosened, the mast tips backwards. It worked fine, but the mast could swing from side to side in a wind until you can grab it as it comes down. As it is carbon fibre it is "light" but only compared to a wooden one. It is still quite a weight. Once it was down I decided that I would change the forestay arrangement. I have never lowered the jib in practice, so I removed the seperate forestay and moved the jib tack out to the stem head and the jib head up to the slightly higher forestay fitting on the mast (no photos, I fogot my camera). Then the raising...
It would be very straight forward if you had three arms. I don't. You push up the mast with one hand and use the other two to take in the slack on the jib halyard. In practice I found that you can push the mast right up until it is vertical and the shrouds tighten and brace it. Then you pull in the halyard using your spare hand and your teeth. Not sure what the chief medical officer would say about that. The real trick is getting from the cockpit, where you have to stand to start pushing the mast up, to the cabin roof, where you have to be to push the mast vertical in the tabernacle. I can't really remember how I did it. I think I built a stairway of flat fenders to climb on. You couldn't do it solo afloat or in a strong side wind. Anyway it went up without mishap. I wouldn't try to raise it just hauling on the halyard. The sideways leverage on the tabernacle would be huge if the mast started to sway before the shrouds tightened.
Moving the jib to the stem head is a revelation. I am sure that is where it was meant to be. (I think Matt said as much once). The sail sets much flatter, there is less weather helm and you can actually see under it. Before, everything off the leeward bow was a mystery, but now I can see it. She also self steers even more consistently, to the extent that I can leave the helm to go below to fetch things without disaster striking. I spent quite a lot of time sailing along with one hand behind my head and the other holding a drink. A bit like cycling with no hands. I felt like waving at passing boats with both hands, but that seemd to be asking for trouble.
Saturday was one of those beautiful September days we sometimes get. I sailed to Studland and anchored close to shore. Rowed in and went up to the pub (the Banks Arms, a lovely ancient pub overlooking Poole Bay) for coffee. Then I sailed to the beach and learned a lesson.
I rowed ashore in my inflatable tender and there were some very small waves just breaking on the sand. I lined up my transom to one so it would wash me in for the last 5m. It picked me up, spun the boat sideways and dumped me completely underwater and under the boat in less than a second. Five seconds later I was standing on dry land thinking "I'm all wet, that wasn't in the plan". Never under estimate the power of a wave.
Very gentle winds so I sailed slowly back to my mooring, only using the engine for the last mile because the ebb tide was pushing me backwards. Many boast are off their moorings already, so it is very quiet in the channel now.
13 September 2009
The second thing I learned was that you can in fact climb back in with the rudder step, if you are wearing shoes. I had anchored for the night, the wind had dropped and it was quite warm. I wanted to sit between two anchors, very close to the shore of Brownsea Island (like, 5m from it), so I wanted one anchor on the beach and a kedge off the stern holding me off. I took the direct method of stripping off and wading out with the kedge, to drop it at about neck depth (started to realise it wasn't all that warm at that depth). Wading back I thought I would try to climb back in over the stern. With one foot on the rudder step, you can put the other foot on the top of the rudder assembly, hang back on the mizzen mast and heave yourself up onto the poop deck. You need a shoe on the foot on the rudder top as it has two narrow steel edges, which would be very painful to a bare foot. I think this could be made barefoot-friendly quite easily with a couple of wooden blocks either side. You are swinging up over an overhang though, so how feasible it would be in rough water I don't know. You need to be fit. I think I will fit a stern ladder over the winter.
Whilst anchored for lunch the second day I finished roughing out some storage areas behind the galley. I have built it with 3mm MDF and contact adhesive, with the plan to take it all apart and use the pieces as templates to make a permanent unit in decent wood over the winter. I now have storage spaces for most things that I want to hand, without having to root through lockers. The spaces behind the seat backs are particulalry useful. There is also a timber strip under the side deck, which is useful for cup hooks and hanging things from. You don't want to be screwing anything into the hull.
Having succesfully dropped the mooring under sail, I made the worst mooring pickup of all when returning. Did it under engine to make it "easy". Started by getting angry because someone else was on my mooring. Then realised that I was looking at the wrong mooring and that mine was shooting past alongside. Nearly grounded as I swung around, and then I manged to get the pick up float rope caught bewteen the rudder and hull. Forced it down and under the rudder with the boathook (not easy) and then managed to get the main moorng buoy jambed between the hull and the inflated dinghy I was towing. Manged to heave it round by climbing into the dinghy, thinking "This could all go terribly wrong". Finally managed to drop the loop over the samson post just in time to realise the dinghy was no longer tied on and was drifting away in the current. I threw the only thing available into the dinghy, my right leg, thinking "This can REALLY go terribly, terribly wrong!!", but it didn't, I managed to heave it in and grab the painter. Just sat down to grab my breath when my wife rang to see what I was up to "Oh, just picked up the mooring, be home soon." When things go wrong they go pear shped on a boat.
28 August 2009
I sailed from Shipstal with just jib and mizzen. When we topped 6kts I was glad I hadn't put anything else up. It got very bouncy in the North Channel, near Brownsea, so I started the engine and motored to the lee of Arne penisula, where I anchored for a few hours and built a mock up galley store unit in MDF to hold all the plates and cups. Next I plan to take it all apart and remake it in decent wood. Should keep me busy.
The photo shows Daisy Grace anchored off Arne with the Drascombe Caboteur Hippo anchored beyond. A couple of other Drascombes joined her later. I think there must have been a rally on. We waved but couldn't talk over the wind.
I am amazed to see I have already covered over 200nm in Daisy Grace since I got her. Almost as much as I would do in a full six month season normally. Just shows how much more distance I can cover in the time available, which was the initial driver for finding a new boat after my Winkle Brig.
23 August 2009
|Short video of the cliffs of Handfast Point|
between Poole and Swanage
|Old Harry Rocks|
I finally plumped for a new Tohatsu outboard. I chose the 6HP as it is the same weight as the 4HP, so I thought I may as well have the extra power. It only just fits, so I would say that it is the biggest engine the BayCruiser will take. The tiller clears it, but when it is tilted up, it has to be turned on its side so that the stainless steel rudder stock can clear it. I have been delighted with it. The power, when you need, it is great. Having reverse is a God-send, particularly getting onto a loading pontoon which is in the middle of a strong, along-pontoon current. It is also the lightest engine to start I have ever had. I just pulled the cord a couple of times to turn it over before giving it the usual heave, when I realised it was running. Note the basic auto pilot. A knotted rope with a bungy on one end, and an open cleat under the tiller. You can jamb the tiller in any knot position whilst you pour coffee, nip in the cabin for your hat, or just sit back and admire the view if you are on a close reach.
I ran it in by motoring, the next day, down the coast to Swanage. But first I anchored overnight off Cleavel Point in Poole Harbour. A delightful spot, which I shared with a Cornish Shrimper and hundreds of water birds. Terns perched on the navigation marks and wagtails ran around on my spray hood. Anchorages like this are what sailing is all about for me.
Motoring to Swanage was very straight forward. I picked up a mooring and cooked soup for lunch. Then sailed back. Or tried to. I realised after an hour that there was a tremendous foul current against me. Made sailing into Poole practically impossible. In the end I started the motor and by this time had to motor through the overfalls off Old Harry rocks, which was decidedly unpleasant. Once through them I motored into Poole harbour and sailed the last three miles to my mooring.
I have modified the centreboard control lines. Originally they came up through the cabin roof to cleats just in front of the sprayhood. I have added a deck organiser and moved the cleats so that the lines now come into the cockpit. The theory is fine, but the friction is much higher. I will try it for a while and see if it is an improvement or if I should go back to the original layout. I have also added an engine room ventilator over the holes where the control lines come out. This stops too much rainwater going straight down the hollow compression post.
20 August 2009
|Video of a very slow, gentle drift past Brownsea Island with views of Poole and other islands in the harbour.||View up the mast, showing the full length batten giving the sail its distinctive roach.|
I am grabbing every opportunity for a sail in this very shortened season. We had two good days forecast so I set off in the afternoon for Poole (a two hour plus drive, so not a minor trip.) Sailed out through a squad of Gurkhas who are having sail training at Rockley. They seemed to be having a whale of a time. I had meant to motor out, but the engine conked out just as I had cast off the mooring chain, so I had to tack out through the Gurkhas in a narrow channel. Managed it with few mishaps.
I passed an anchored Red Fox yacht, with a grinning skipper leaning over the back. As I passed him he called out "I sat in your cabin in Cardigan a few weeks ago!"
After simply sailng round the harbour I anchored between Brownsea and Furzey islands for the night. The 8kg Britany anchor seems to hold fine, and I will be a lot stronger after I have hauled it and its chain aboard a few times (or possibly dead). Very still, starry night and a sunny dawn. That is unusual, dawn is often grey, cold and a bit grim. I set sail in the tiny breeze and filmed the video above as we drifted past Brownsea Island.
The breeze picked up later and I tried two new things.
First I set off across the Harbour on a close reach, lashed the tiller in the middle and sat back to see what happened. I was delighted that we sailed for about fifteen minutes right across the harbour without touching the tiller or a sheet. I really didn't think she would hold her course like that, lacking any keel at all, but she was excellent. Each time she rounded slightly into the wind, the mizzen would flutter a bit and she would drop back onto her course.
Next I plucked up courage and pumped out the ballast. Takes about fifteen minutes and there were still a few litres left that didn't want to go. Sailed for about half an hour and didn't really notice any significant difference in either handling or speed. Then a stronger puff pushed us over to quite a steep angle. Nothing dramatic, but more than I had experienced in much stronger winds. So I ended the experiment, opened the inlet and refilled her. That took about ten minutes, and I noticed that she took on more water than before, filling right to the underside of the hatch. Now we don't lean anymore.
I sailed out into the sea and round to Studland beach. I anchored there and gave her a much needed scrub in the sun. A remarkable amount of gunk comes on board, particulalry from the anchor. So I dug out my little Indian galvanised bucket (they laughed at me when I bought that in Guahati and brought it back as hand luggage, but it is fantastic, far better than plastic) and swabbed her down. Looked good for about ten minutes.
I also experimented with getting back on board using the step in the rudder blade. I can't do it. Standing on the step, the top of the transom is at chest level and hauling aboard would be near impossible. If the top of the steel rudder assembly could be made horizontal, maybe with a couple of wooden blocks, then that could be used as a second step and it would be possible. You would still be dealing with an overhanging transome, so in anything but flat conditions it would still be hard. I think I will install a transom ladder over the winter.
From Studland I reached at 6kts back to the harbour, beating a couple of yachts on the way. Went firmly aground in the hrabour (it was low spring tide) but managed to hop off and haul her into deeper water. Then back home to the mooring.
16 August 2009
I have fitted an 8kg Britany style anchor, with 12m of chain. This should hold me in anything I am likely to encounter, and is the largest anchor size that will go into the anchor locker. 8kg doesn't sound much, until you are pulling it in hand over hand.
We tried close hauled sailing in about force 4 with a single reef in. No loss of speed at all, still 5-6kts, but the helm is much lighter. As I have found with all boats, reefing early is always a good idea. My old Drascombe Dabber was fastest of all with a reef in a force 5. Even 2 reefs didn't slow her down, it just let her sail more upright and therefor faster.
13 August 2009
- small cleats fitted inside gunwhales to hold the fenders. These were very awkward to fit because of the tight space, no room for a drill or normal screwdriver, so a bradawl and stumpy driver had to be used. I beached the boat to do this.
- Bottom linings fitted to shelves to stop things falling through the slots between the slats.
- Tiller retaining line fitted, which allows me to let go for short periods to carry out essential actions, like pouring coffee, opening beer etc.
- Lazy jacks reorganised so now I can control them with a line from the base of the mast, rather than on the under side of the boom. These now seem to work very well.
- Pictures stuck up to make it look a bit more homey and less stark inside. I'll try to photograph the interior when it is tidy sometime.
- Bow roller fitted. This is a bit inelegant, but I needed it. I keep her on a mooring with a chain. When this goes through a fairlead, it rubs the stem and damages the paint. The bow roller takes the chain right over the stem
Spent the night at anchor, which was the first time. (I've had four nights on board so far, having owned the boat for less than a month, so not a bad season after all.) I am not sure my current Danforth anchor is big enough, but it worked fine on a thick muddy bottom. (I think I could have phrased that better.) The accommodation seems palatial for a solo sailor.
One final test I carried out this time was to drive her up a beach, to see how she took it and how easy to get off. Very well. When the bow was on the shore, the stern is still afloat. Just walking to the stern lifts the bow off and she floated off. Picnics will be easy again. Didn't have my camera, so this is an earlier photo of her on the beach, to show how she takes it.
10 August 2009
My daughter and I went abroad this weekend, to the Isle of Wight. Gentle wind from a good direction both ways so we sailed the whole route, about 60nm in total. We spent the first night in Poole Quay marina, where it rained... Sunny in the morning so we didn't go home but set out for Christchurch instead. Good breeze so we sailed the whole way except for the final entry into Christchurch, where we used the engine. The tide was just starting to run out, and any delay would have shut us outside. The ebb tide from Christchurch harbour is fierce. We picked up an empty mooring and watched the beach huts as we had our lunch. They seem a strange way to spend a holiday to me, but I suppose they were looking at us bobbing on our boat and thought the same.
After lunch we looked at The Isle of Wight, so close. Checked the tidal atlas, which said the tide would run into the Solent in about two hours, and we decided to go for it. Three hours later we entered Yarmouth harbour. The berthing master boat met us and guided us to the prime spot, as far as I could judge, on a pontoon just by the harbour office. We had a rib moored alongside, which was a bit noisy during the night.
After breakfast next day we set off back to Poole. The current was against us and there was no wind in the Solent, so we motored for an hour, out past Hurst Point. A sea breeze caught us then and we tacked to the North Channel buoy and then a long reach for two hours back to Christchurch. Then a couple of tacks around Hengistbury Head (very choppy tidal overfalls there), followed by another two hour reach back to Poole entrance. Full spring ebb tide roaring out and we needed full sail and full engine to get back in over it. It runs at over 4kts. Quite scary. Then a few tacks down the harbour to our mooring. Feel like real sailors now.
2 August 2009
Third time out and a really good sail. Sunny morning with the wind in the south, so we headed for Studland. This meant going out through the harbour entrance and going into the open English Channel. Then south to Studland, where we anchored for lunch before sailing back. On the way out we hit 7.1kts surfing down a wave. On the way back we re-entered the harbour and had a long broad reach, in amongst all the returning yachts, when we shot up to 8.1kts in slack water. Very exciting. Then long tacks the length of the harbour back to our mooring. I noticed after a while that most yachts were reefed, or sailing just with genoas up. We had full sail the whole way and never felt over pressed, although the helm does start to get heavy in stronger winds. Reefing may just make things a bit lighter.
Altogether a lovely sail. About 18nm in total.
My faith in my little anchor was dented. We anchored on a very sandy bottom at Studland, in about 1.5m. We started out about 20m outside a buoyed off swimming area. By the time we had finished lunch, we noticed that we were just edging into that area. The chain had wrapped around the anchor and just lifted it out of the sand. I reset the anchor much more carefully, making sure the chain lead off from it in a straight line and we didn't move again. Technique is just as important as technology.
1 August 2009
While we were anchored off Shipstal Point, a Swallow Boats Storm 17, Little Grebe, sailed by to say hello. The ivory sailed ketch rig is surprisingly distinctive from a long way off. I had spotted her about a mile away.
I am still impressed by the way the little Danforth anchor holds, but it may be that we have anchored on mud, with very good holding properites.
27 July 2009
Sails are very quick and easy to raise. I have had gaff and lug mainsails before and I must finally confess it is a whole lot easier to raise a jib headed Bermudian.
She is fast. We had about F4-5 and she reached at over 6kts easily, without any frights. Very stable with the water ballast. Heavy weather helm in gusts, so I put in the first reef (very easy with the rigged lines, and again, the absence of a gaff makes it much less dramatic). Little loss of speed and helm much lighter.
The winds and current got even stronger, so we motor sailed back to our mooring against both with jib, mizzen and a 2.3HP Honda. She made 3kts over the ground against what must have been a 3-4kt current and F5 on the port bow, so that was very reassuring.
Overnight on board very comfortable, with lots of room for two, comfortable berths and even the PortaPotti worked well (but for lack of privacy, I was banished to the foredeck). Noisy on the mooring as the mooring chain clanked as we swung round in the current. Storage is excellent, probably too good as I tend to accumulate unnecessary junk. Berths long and comfortable. I used the quarter berth and at 6ft 3in found it very comfortable. The only disappointment was the weather. Really too windy on Saturday to try everything, and grey cold and wet on Sunday so we came home. But I'm looking forward to getting back on board.
23 July 2009
22 July 2009
Picture is by Nick Newland, which I scanned and copied here so I hope he doesn't mind. Me at the helm trying to look like I know what I'm doing. Matt is in the cabin playing with the hatch. The first full sail for me, and a motor boat circled round us asking "what boat is that, she's beautiful."
21 July 2009
Matt Newland, her designer and builder, launched her for a test sail at Cardigan on July 16, 2009. I had my first sail on July 17, under mizzen and jib only. She is due for completion July 21 (today!) and I bring her home tomorrow.