Two weeks away on holiday in America but back afloat this weekend. We have had the best weather of the year now it is moving into Autumn. Two new things I have discovered. You must tilt the engine out of the water when sailing. I left it down and found I could barely tack, even though wind and speed was good. The leg of the engine sticks down too much like a rear dagger board and stops the stern swinging round. I only forgot to tilt it up as for the first time I had risked leaving the mooring under sail. The beauty of the mizzen sail is that you can pull it right up on one side, so the wind catches it and pushes your stern the other side as you drop the mooring. I had it all planned out and it worked perfectly, i.e. I didn't clobber any other boats.
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.