27 June 2010

Another social sailing day, with a jambed centreboard 9nm (159.2nm total)

We went for a sail with some more friends this weekend, so much time given to picnicing. We sailed onto the beach at Arne which worked fine. We nearly got stranded by the tide, but a bit of shoving got us off. We then spent half an hour getting the table top off to free a centreboard jambed by some pebbles. The table was stuck by some sealant which had to be cut through with a kitchen knife, which took ages. I am going to scrape off all the sealent next time I am out and replace it with a strip of foam. Then it will be a 10 minute job to unscrew the table and clear the board. Over the winter I may devise a hinged mechanism for the table so it can just be flipped open when needed. Getting centreboards jambed is an almost inevitable problem at some stage. It has only happened twice to Daisy G. despite drying out many times over the last year.

We had quite a time trying to tack through drying channels around the back of Green Island. The channel markers are so far apart that judging the channnel edge is near impossible (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. The other boats sailing past were just lucky.) We went firmly onto the mud at one point but lowering the mainsail and pushing the bow with a paddle got us across the wind. Then using the jib we managed to sail slowly through the mud and back into the channel. I motored for deeper water from there. No jambing of the board this time, but it was near liquid mud, which just washes out. It is pebbles and shells that jamb.

The friends are thinking of buying a 20ft dayboat themselves and have been out on a Hawk 20 for a demo. They were bowled over by the Baycruiser. They though it was a much handier boat and far better looking! I did warn them that if they want one it will have to be a new one as there are no secondhand ones on the market. I think they may be convinced that a new boat will be worth it.

Very curious weather conditions. In the harbour it was a glorious sunny day. A little more wind would have been nice, but there was enough. But over Handfast Point at the end of the Purbeck hills we could see that low clouds/fog was clinging to the headland. It looked like it was foggy out to sea all day. Then a cold wind blew in from the sea through the harbour mouth. You could literally see it as fog was condensing out of it and arching up over Brownsea Island as it hit it. But bright sun and about 24C all round. Very odd. I wouldn't have wanted to be out in the Channel.

21 June 2010

Short social sail in the sun 9.2nm (150.2nm total)

Short cruise on a lovely sunny day with wife and two friends. Vey light, very fickle wind which kept flipping around. We sailed to Brownsea Island and anchored on the shore for a picnic. Large flotilla of Drascombes building up off-shore gave us a wave. We had an unofficial competition with a Cornish Shrimper to see who could pull their boat closer to the shore on a very gently shelving sandy beach. We won. I managed to get Daisy G about four feet from the high water mark whilst still afloat. They were about twenty feet off. It was one of those Poole Harbour tides when there was an eight hour tidal stand. Makes it just like the Mediterranean for half a day. Even the water was warm and clear.
After picnic we slowly sailed round Furzey and Green Isalnds, with a detour to gawp at the "footballers' houses" on Sandbanks. They are built cheek by jowl with very little garden and no privacy. I wouldn't choose to live there, but in reality they aways seem to be empty, so maybe nobody does. They are just another bit of bling.
Eventually motored back to marina as we were just drifting. All worked well. I noticed I have been grinding into the main halyard cleat by heaving the rope round it. I need to pull direct from the deck organiser or else replace the nylon cleat with a metal one. Taking some more friends out next week. The cockpit will take four, but it is quite cosy.

18 June 2010

Online UK Admiralty Charts

I have been very taken with the online charts of UK waters available from a website called:
It gives access to JPG versions of all current UK and Irish waters' charts for  £25 per year. I have been building up a set of chartlets for the English Raid in July, with waypoints of important locations overlaid via PowerPoint. The one for Newtown river is below. I am printing them at A4 and then laminating them back to back. Several can be filed in a ring binder for quick access. I am really quite impressed. You can set the charts to display the Lat and Long of the cursor point, which makes it very easy to lift off waypoints.
I have added the link to the general link list on the main menu of this blog on the left.

13 June 2010

Rudder blade refitted and voyage to Christchurch 32.5nm (141nm total)

Got to the boat on Friday evening and the first job was to refit the repaired rudder blade (job turned around in under four days by Swallowboats, thank you Matt). Motoring to the slipway from the mooring with no rudder was a challenge, but I had a bit of steering on the outboard and there was no current so it worked without a hitch. I pulled the stern onto the hard and rebolted the blade. A simple job, if you had three arms. An eye on an extendible stalk to peer through the bolt hole to line things up would have helped as well. But got there in the end. Had a near disaster when I let the blade drop down, only to see the downhaul rope get caught between the blade and the steel rudder head. Just like a giant pair of scissors... It cut half through the rope. I was concerned that what was left wouldn't be strong enough, but I managed to knot on a new length of rope. The knot disappears into the rudder head and seems fine after a full day's long sailing. (The next morning I disassembled the whole blade and managed to insert a PTFE disk either side.) The whole blade swings sweetly up and down now.

Anchored for the night off Green Island, one of the private islands in Poole Harbour. Fitted a couple of cork mats as a pin board and a big glazed white tile as a white board on the inside of the bridge deck bulkhead. Works beautifully. I use the white board to note tide times, critical in Poole. The tile wipes cleaner than any purpose made white board, for a fraction of the price.

Had a nasty fright in the morning. I was dried out at low tide, on a soft sandy beach. One yard to the left were 6" pointed stumps of the posts of an old wooden pier. One foot to the right were two old steel joist sticking out of the sand. If I had settled on any of them it could have punctured the hull. How I missed them I don't know. Maybe the Gods wanted to make up for slicing through my downhaul rope the day before. I stood by the boat as the tide came in and pushed her into deeper water as soon as I could. (The tide comes in amazing quickly. From being on dry ground to floating was not much over half and hour, if that.)

It was a lovely morning. (Really morning. I was up at 5:00 am having piered out of the port hole and seen those nasty spikes beside me). I thought of sailing south to Swanage, but the tide would be against me until lunch time and then against me on the way back. So I went the other way, east from Poole to Christchurch.
North east offshore wind, F3-4 all the way. Close reached on one port tack all the way to Hengistbury Head. Some gusts pushed me up into the wind, so I put in a single reef. No loss of speed and much lighter helm in the gusts. Speed generally around 5-6kts with surges over 7, but I did have a weak favourable current.

Then I was close hauled up to the entrance to Christchurch harbour, which is not easy to find. I watched out for local boats going in and then furled my jib and motor sailed in after them. It is almost impossible to enter against a full ebb tide as the current can be up to 6 knots. I was there at pretty well slack high water so it was easy.
I was very taken with Christchurch. Basically it is a river, the Stour, which widens out for a bit before it enters the sea. There is a well marked channel and there are some big yachts, but you really need shoal draft. I motored right up into the town, which is very attractive in the sun. The river is right at the heart, with moorings alonside the park, trip boats and ferries everywhere and everyone seeming on holiday. I must go back and moor for the night soon.

As it was I tied up to an empty mooring for lunch and then headed for home. Millions of swans. What attracts them I don't know. The water is fresh enough for horses to be drinking it from the bank.

On the return I was on more of a broad reach and with a good current was sailing at over 6kts most of the way, and well over 7kts at times. I sailed into Studland Bay and anchored for a while for a drink. Then motored back into Poole. That was a bit hairy. The engine kept cutting out. I had discovered a problem with external fuel tanks. Even though there was about 2 litres of fuel left in it, when you are sailing you only have to lean the smallest amount for the fuel line to fail to dip into it. I had to keep shaking the tank to keep going. Not fun in the entrance with chain ferries, cross currents and madmen in powerboats all around. But got back eventually. Must remember to keep the tank fairly full.

A very good day's sail. The boat handles beautifully single handed. Reefing is easy and makes her lighter in strong winds, with little if any loss of speed. But watch out for nasties sticking out of the mud at low tide.

6 June 2010

Short trip and rudder removal 3.9nm (108.5nm total)

Lovely hot weekend. Went down to Poole Friday evening. Only a minimal sail planned as I needed to get the rudder blade off to be sorted out. It is jambing in its support and needs to be corrected, so I am leaving it with Matt Newland of SwallowBoats at the Beale Park Boat show on Saturday to sort out.

I sailed off the mooring successfully. I still don't have the nerve to do it with the engine raised, but probably will one day as it works very easily. Backing the mizzen allows you to "reverse out", being pulled by the wind. Then unfurling and backing the jib swings you across the wind, where you can pull in the main and sail off. The only near hit I had was when I was raising the engine, not having used it, and not watching where I was sailing whilst I raised it. Having the engine stowed in the first place would in fact make it easier.

I sailed across to Brownsea Island. There were over twenty boats anchored off the western end, so I sailed around to the southern side and anchored in shallow water on my own. Near neap tides so practically no current. I never pulled my anchor chain straight all night, let alone pulled on the anchor. Made a small plywood cutlery holder, which I have wanted to do for some time.

In the morning I climbed overboard and went for a swim. The cold side of refreshing. The very cold side in fact. I then tested whether I could get the ladder deployed from the water. Yes, but not easily. I had to haul myself up by the coaming to reach it and flip it over. Not easy if weighed down by wet clothing. Yanking on a rope tied to the ladder didn't do anything at all.

At one stage in the morning a curious band of dust and debris drifted past the boat. Just sand, dirt and probably some of the notorious volcanic ash. It was so still it didn't sink, and a very gentle breeze was blowing it across the harbour from west to east, accumulating bands of detritus as it moved along.

Motored back to the mooring and unbolted the rudder blade, which came off easily. Not sure how easy it will be to get it back on. I'll probably need to beach her to do it. Over to Matt now.

I had a quick look around the Beale Park Show and saw the new Bayraider 17 hull. I think it will be a really succesful boat. Very simple and clean lined. A perfect upgrade to my old and much loved Drascombe Dabber, but much more stable due to the water ballast. It should fly in a good wind. I hope to see it on the water at the English Raid in July.

There was a gorgeous Nigel Irens designed Dutch Raid boat there, the BJ17. Twin lug sails on carbon fibre spars. No ballast, so pretty hairy in a wind I should think.

Beale Park is getting stale. It was just like last year and the year before. They need to rejuvenate it.