17 December 2009

Serious daydreaming: winter boat house

Finding a winter store is such a hassle and having Daisy G. in a cold barn about 12 miles from home is not ideal. I have been doodling ideas for a perfect boathouse at home. We have the land, but it is a funny shape at the end of twisty narrow lanes. I have been experimenting with a remarkable free drawing program from Google called Sketchup. I hadn't been all that impressed when I tried it some months ago, but now I am really looking into it I am very impressed. It really came into its own when I discovered that you can download endless things other people have drawn. No one has done a BayCruiser (yet), but I found a Whitehall pulling boat and a trailer. With some judicious strecthing they are now the sizes of mine. I can pull them in and out, and test whether they fit in or not. This is the result of just a few hours practice. Fuly 3D, dimensioned and the roof cut away to show the interior. Need to check the detail sizes of the real boat and then see if I can fit it in my garden.

10 December 2009

Winter jobs: chart store

Finally getting a few winter jobs done. Daisy G. is now being stored under an old straw barn roof on a farm "somewhere in Gloucestershire". Out of the rain and well ventilated.
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

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

Updates on winter work to Daisy G

Daisy G is now ashore for the winter, currently under a tarpaulin, but I hope to get her under a roof at some stage. I have recently been reading about dreadful after sales service from some yacht builders, so I thought I would give my own experiences.

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 out of the water for the winter

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!
No specific plans for next year, but we want to take Daisy G. motoring on the Thames at some stage, and I would like to extend my sea-range to Weymouth in the West and deeper into the Solent in the East. All depends on weather and time.

30 September 2009

Daisy Grace under sail

Had a photo from the Shilling that I sailed with last Sunday. Always hard to get pictures of your own boat under sail, so this is nice to have.

28 September 2009

Last weekend afloat 10.4nm (243.2)

The season ends glorioulsy, some of the best weather we have had all year. Hundreds of boats out. A huge fleet of Mirrors and Toppers was starting a race and their sails were continuous right across the harbour. Every anchorage was packed, with boats rafting up five or six deep. Winds were light but I managed to sail round Green Island in company with a beautiful the Willow Bay Boats Shilling gaff cutter Margherita. Beautiful little boat, but too small for me. The skipper said he had seen my boat at Beale Park. Seems like everyone did.

This view ahead shows the benefit of mounting the jib directly on the stem. The view forward is much improved. Matt Newland is concerned about sailing like this in case the bearings fail in the drum, or the furling jams as you can't lower the sail without dropping the mast. We are going to look into alternative arrangements over the winter. You can aslo see the lazyjack tightening mechanism, which works very well.

I haul out next weekend so I thought I had better get more practice at dealing with the mast. I beached her on Redhorn Point near the mouth of the harbour, stuck my brand new mast support thingy into the mizzen socket and lowered the mast without any consequences at all. I unbolted it at the tabernacle and slid it forward to see what the overhang was at the rear. It is not too much at all, so I shall tow her like that, with the mast in one piece.

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

Further thoughts on water ballast

One thing I experimented with again last weekend was the water ballast. Pumping out takes something under 15 minutes. That still leaves a reasonable amount of water in the rear tank that doesn't pump out. I would estimate 10-15 litres. I am sure that self bailers would help, and might even empty the tanks completely. The main time you might want to empty the tanks is when you are going to do significant motoring, and then self bailers would just do the hard work for you. The front seems to rise higher than the stern, so water should just drain naturally to the back. The whole boat rises 75-100mm out of the water when unballasted. I can't really say I notice any significant improvement in speed without the ballast. Motoring I may have got an extra 0.6kt, so could be worth while for a long drive. Sailing, I couldn't really sense any difference. If you were racing it could help, but for general cruising, I think I would say just keep the tanks full.
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

Nearly the end of the season, but still tweaking the boat 19.4nm (242.8)

I have to get my boat off her mooring in Poole Harbour by the end of the month, so not many sailing days left. I'm not a winter sailor. I like a break from any activity and the anticipation of the next season.
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

Back afloat for the best weather of the year 20nm (223.4)

Evening sunset at anchor off
Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour

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.

Mocked up crockery store behind sinkWhilst 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

Near gale force winds 15.9nm (203.4)

Last sail before we go away on holiday. I met Nick and Vicki Savage, who are thinking of buying a BayCruiser. I took them out for a sail towards Brownsea Island and back. They seemed to enjoy the sail, but Nick was saying he wanted to sit out and use a tiller extension. Not my kind of sailing, I like to sit inboard with something behind my back. Anchored for the night at Shipstal Point, which gives good shelter from the west. A good choice as there was a gale warning issued for sea areas Wight and Portland (i.e. where I was) from the west. Three Drascombes had anchored in the same area for the same reason I should think. The night was quiet, but the next day got quite wild. Sunny but very windy all day. The Poole Yacht Club weather station recorded a maximum gust of 36kts, which was force 7.

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

Swanage and new engine 27.5nm (187.5)

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

Cruising in the sun at last 26.1nm (160.0)

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

Weekend sail 19nm (133.9)

I took my wife out for the first time this weekend. We sailed to a windward beach and put the boat bow on it for lunch. Worked very well except that we got stones in the centreboard case which jambed it. I had to take the table top off to push it down, which freed it easily. A hinged table might be an idea. We reached around the harbour and then went into the local marina for the night. Trying to work slowly into a narrow pontoon berth with no reverse gear was quite a challenge. Spinning a little engine round to go backwards is fine in theory. Doing it to get some immediately needed braking is something else. I think I'll be getting a Tohatsu next week.

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

First single handed sail 13.2nm (114.9)

We had a couple of days of "possible sunny intervals" which is as good as it gets this year. So I took the opportunity to go and try out Daisy Grace single handed for the first time. I also wanted to spend some time sorting out various items which is always easier on your own.
Changes made:
  • 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
She sails beautifully single handed, which was an essential requirement. The main and mizzen look after themselves when tacking. The jib sheets come to hand perfectly on the cabin top. I tried a few tacks to start, just to see how she managed, and then carried on tacking just for the pleasure of it.
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

Poole to the Isle of Wight 55.8nm (101.7)

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.
Note of interest. I have bought two long flat foam fenders which are excellent. Hung horizontally they protect the boat on a pontoon berth perfectly. They don't role out of the way like conventional fenders.

2 August 2009

8.1 knots! 18.6nm (45.9)

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

Second day out 16.8nm (27.3)

We went for a second sail this week which was very successful. Gentle winds and warm sun, which is my kind of sailing weather. We still hit over 6kts and cruising speed seems to be between 4.5 and 5.5kts as a norm. I was scrambling back and forward to the fore deck to anchor, fiddle with the foresail and just soak up the sun. The handrails on the roof are essential and work well. It also shows how you have to get used to a new boat. I just hopped up and down on the cabin of my old Winkle Brig. When I did that here I nearly broke a leg, it is a lot further down and you do need to use the side decks to go forward. They are wide enough to do this easily afloat.
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

First sailing impressions 10nm (10.5)

My daughter and I went sailing for the first time this last weekend. Not the best of conditions as it was very windy and very strong spring tidal currents. But some quick first impressions.

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

Daisy Grace now on her mooring 0.5nm (0.5)

I towed Daisy Grace down to Poole this morning and spent the day rigging her and getting her ready. Raising the mast was straight forward as I got someone to pull on the jib halyard whilst I pushed the mast up. Being carbon fibre it is quite light. It took a long time to get all the strings sorted out before that, as I had managed to twist the top section of the mast around as I inserted it, and the resulting cat's cradle took some sorting out. I also replaced the temporary topping lift with a set of lazy jacks, which I think work, but won't know until I go sailing. She launched very easily, just slid off the trailer. Quite a job getting out to the mooring as there was very strong wind and spring tide and it was hard getting steerage way. In the end I motored backwards, which worked surprisingly well. No time to sail so she is bobbing on her mooring. I hope to go sailing with my daughter on Saturday.

22 July 2009

She's mine!

I went for a three hour sail with Matt Newland yesterday, and at lunchtime today I signed the cheque, Matt signed the receipt, and I drove off with Daisy Grace in tow. I have parked her at my College overnight (more room) and will take her down to Poole Harbour tomorrow. She sailed beautifully, even though I barely knew which rope was which. When she seemed to have too much weather helm, just easing the mizzen lightened her up. It will take me an age to figure out how to put her together tomorrow, but we'll get there in the end.
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

Daisy Grace launched July 16, 2009

Now that Daisy Grace has been launched, I thought I would record early impressions of her here. A lot of people are interested in her, as a brand new design of radical concept (Light weight, high performance, water ballasted, high accommodation shallow water cruiser. Is it really possible to do all that?)

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.