24 May 2010

Long weekend in the sunshine, at last. 56nm (105.5nm total)

Daisy Grace sailing herself off Handfast Point, May 23, 2010.

We had the best weekend of the year so far, so I spent two nights on board and took an old friend out for a sail on Saturday. On Friday evening I sailed up the Trent River to Wareham, stopping off there at the top of the tide for a quick drink in the pub. The river winds about 3 miles from the mouth to Wareham, through glorious reed beds and past endless rows of moored boats. Wareham is a delight. One of the few public quays where you can just tie up and stay. No charges and you are directly alongside the market place, with good pubs and restaurants overlooking the quay. Not for deep keels but ideal for Swallows. I anchored overnight back down in the Harbour in the Wareham Channel, surrounded by swans.

In the morning sailed back to my mooring to pick up an old sailing friend to show him my boat. After lunch we sailed out through the harbour mouth into Poole Bay. First time out this year. Light winds heading us and a foul tide, so we didn't get far, but sailed around to Old Harry Rocks, out to an anchored ship and then back into the Harbour. After dinner at the Life Boat College, I got back on board and motored in a flat calm out to Redhorn Quay and anchored there for a second night. I used battery powered navigation lights for the first time as it was getting quite dark. I felt very brave. The night was not peaceful, there was a very loud wedding reception going on on Sandbanks, and they clearly wanted to share their appalling choice of music with the whole of Dorset.
Sunday morning was wonderfully sunny. The previous dawn had been thick fog, with nothing visible bar the swans. After a fattening breakfast (cooked on a flat fender laid across the cockpit, these fenders really are versatile) I sailed back out to sea. As the video above shows, I hope, she is extraordinarily well balanced.

Sailing on the wind, I lashed the tiller and then sailed for about two miles without touching it. A just made a couple of corrections around obstructions by pulling in the mizzen and then letting it out again. By the end of the day I was sailing as a matter of course by jamming the tiller and letting her get on with it by herself. Not so sure downwind, but across and into the wind she just sails on a rail. I was going to sail down to Swanage and beyond, as the tide was in my favour, but the wind died and I didn't want to motor, so I drifted onto a beach and went for a walk. Before I beached I had a very cloes range view of a gannet fishing. Just a single bird (I have never seen one off Poole before) which circled my boat as it dive bombed fish below. A beautiful creature.
Then finally I motored back into the harbour in a flat calm. I bought the boat for weekends like this.

Sadly, half the population was sharing teh coast with me, so it took me hours to drive home through the traffic.

15 May 2010

Just a short sail 8.4nm (49.5nm in total)

Today was promised as a warm spring day at last. Some promises are worth more than others. In fairness, it was sunny all day out to sea, but it was one of those days when the cloud just formed over the land, so it never really got sunny in the harbour. But a bit brighter, which was something. I spent the morning scrubbing the decks. Daisy G was filthy. I still had straw on board from the barn where she was stored over the winter. She doesn't quite gleam now but at least she is not embarassing anymore.

I have fitted a semi-bulkhead between the centreboard case and the galley unit, below the table. Just a single sheet of plywood, screwed to the step in the floor, where I stepped it up over the bilge pump pipe. This now gives a narrow space I can store the lamps in when sailing, along with a rubbish bag. You need one somewhere.

I have fitted a three dial weather station. Barometer, thermometer and hygrometer. They are set in a smart stainless steel surround which I have fitted to the compression post and all seem to work. Cost a grand total of £7.99 from my preferred chandlers, Lidls. The last barometer I bought from a real chandlers cost me £25 and never showed a change in atmospheric pressure in three years, so I'll give Lidl's the benefit of the doubt for now.

The rudder blade is jamming. Why, I don't know. I anchored off Brownsea Island and got into the water to fiddle with it (very cold.) Working it up and down seems to have loosened it off, so it may just be some salt crystals in the rudder head. I shall keep an eye on it. The rear boarding ladder works extremely well, which is a relief. I would still be shivering in the dark by now if it hadn't.

8 May 2010

What ever happened to global warming?

It's May. It should be lovely and we had planned to take some friends sailing in Daisy G this weekend. It is feezing cold, I have just lit the log burner and we're not going anywhere near the sea this weekend. There's a north east wind and it's freezing. :(

3 May 2010

Very windy day (too windy for me) 6.8nm (41.1nm total)

Holiday today but not holiday weather. I went down to Poole for a day sail (4 1/2 hours driving there and back, how's that for dedication). We were promised "cool breezes with prolonged sunny intervals". It was freezing and gusted to F7 in squalls. The prolonged sunny spells started just around sunset...

I only sailed out to Brownsea Island and anchored in the lee and went ashore for a walk. The photo shows Dasiy G at anchor with Furzey Island behind. That's where BP pumps oil out of the biggest oil field in the UK. You wouldn't know. Sailed out with a double reef and was way over-canvassed. Shot back behind the island and came out again just jib and mizzen. Still overpowered in gusts, but I could tack if necessary.  My dinghy flipped over and the seat washed out. I managed to tack back and pick it up before it sank, which impressed me, but there was no audience. It wasn't fun, so I stowed the jib and turned the motor on. Pleased to find I could motor directly into the wind at 4kts, so was back to my new mooring in 20 minutes. Cabin lamp swinging round like mad and chipping the paint on the compression post. I need to stow it when sailing. Packed in sailing and went for a bike ride along the sea front to Poole Quay. Brompton folding bikes are one of the World's  great inventions.

I have tinkered in the cabin. I have filled in the opening to the water tank with some T&G boarding. This looks better and stops the flexible tank squeezing out when it is full. don't know why it was left open. Now I can fit my cool box down between the galley unit and the centreboard case, so I no longer take up the end of the short berth with it. It also forms a useful worktop and is low enough for the cabin table to unfold over.

One interesting point to note with the rudder blade. When fully down it angles forward very slightly. This makes it wonderfully light in use, but you have to be careful in shallow water. I anchored with it just touching soft mud. When trying to pull it up, I found it almost impossible. It has to swing through the vertical first, which means it digs slightly deeper into the mud. The lever arm on the uphaul is nothing like that of the mud's on the blade tip, so it is practically impossible, even if the resistance is minimal. A point to watch, especially on a falling tide. You could end up with the blade stuck down.