Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog. My name is Steve and i am the lucky owner of a John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. I built her over three years with the help of my father, father-in-law and two children. She was launched in August 2007 at Queen Anne's battery marina in the barbican area of Plymouth. This blog is a record of our voyages together around SW England.
Arwen has a YouTube channel of her own. Search "plymouthwelshboy".

Friday, 21 October 2016

some maintenance work tomorrow

All being well, after my elbow and then a rather unexpected pit stop in the local casualty unit because everyone thought I was having a stroke (which turned out to be inflammation of a cranial nerve), I might just, just mind you, be able to do some low level maintenance work on poor Arwen tomorrow. I'm not sure who needs it more - her or me at the moment!

The weather should be fine tomorrow with bright sunny spells and winds from if I turn her around after pulling her down off the drive, she should point into the wind and I should be able to raise sails whilst she is on the road......well that is the theory...................

My intention is to

  • run the snotter control line back down through the deck and along the port side of the centre board so that it is easier to hand in the aft cockpit
  • take off the slab reefing system and simplify reefing so that it is just a case of attaching luff reef cringle and leech cringe appropriately - I haven't explained it very well but I know what I have to do. I will then remove various cleats on the boom and fill the holes left behind. 
  • tidy up where the various control lines run along the centre board sides by running them through new deck eyes
  • sort out one or two cam cleats which are falling apart
  • replace the one cam cleat for the mainsail halyard with a horn cleat. 
  • sort out my various tool kits and spares - I carry way too much so rationalization is needed
  • remove the jack stays and just clip the extra long harness into a hook attacked to the keel plank in aft cockpit
  • sort out the tiller tamer which keeps jamming for some obscure reason as yet unfathomable to me
  • sort out and replace the tell tales on the shrouds which keep catching
  • re position the fishing rods to a more secure location
  • attach more deck hoops for another gas pipe length for the cockpit tent
  • try and make the topping lift on the mizzen more effective 
  • lengthen the down haul on the mizzen boom snotter
  • remove some storage bags i made on side coamings - they aren't large enough and it would be better to just have one canvas bag of ropes with loops in attached somewhere forward into which sail ties etc can go for storage. I have an old mesh dive bag somewhere which will suffice 
  • tidy up the new cockpit bags 'her indoors' made for Arwen at the start of the summer
these halyard bags made such a difference during the summer cruise to Fowey

I would also like to try and put down some rubber mat flooring so it is easier on bare feet which rightly or wrongly is how I normally sail in the summer months.  Anyway, we will see how we progress tomorrow. I'll take photographs of my poor handiwork!

she needs a good clean up and de-rigging for the winter months although I am tempted to try and get out in her a couple of times in November if I can

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Whilst rushing through the barbican at the weekend

I came across...............

Alec from the BBC One Show

being filmed by this chappie...

I then paused to admire this beauty.......

before my eye was caught by something unusual in the Barbican!

And having walked towards the tall masts, I came upon this special one......

A Russian tall ship on a fleeting stopover.....................

with lots of masts and rigging..........

plenty of crows nests.......................

and a rather fine mizzen sail 

quite a fierce some figure head.......

which proved to be one of many carvings on board ...........

ooohhh! They are I see them from a different perspective!!

the police paid a visit to admire the ship...................

whilst the crew re-tensioned the rigging

and made sail repairs.................

I suspect they will get around to repairing the scrapes...........

clearly they have bought spare timber for such eventualities.........

she sort of fitted in well with the ambiance of the old Barbican

Sunday, 16 October 2016

An update

Wow. Never known a term like it. Feet haven't touched ground. Sixty five hour working weeks. The educational world has gone mad. There is a whole list of things to do on Arwen, not least of which is to paint her but at the moment that is a distant pipe dream. My hairline fractured elbow hasn't healed. In fact it turned quite nasty, puffy, inflammation and fluid build up which has been painful to say the least and a downright nuisance. Can't lean on it, can't use arm to push self out of chair, can't pick up heavy bags with it. On course of anti inflammatory and antibiotics which make me nauseous. It is a good job I am generally a cheerful chappie. Work kept me busy and slowly it is beginning to show signs of healing. It has been a long nine weeks!

So now thoughts turn back to poor Arwen, neglected, unsailed, lying on the driveway under her tarp. I emailed a few boatyards locally and all want to take a look at her and give me a quote for painting her hull. Some suggested ridiculous things like scrapping paint back to bare wood and spray painting her with awl grip paint something or other. All I want is her to have a sand down and then repaint. I would do it myself but I suspect doing so will aggravate the elbow and so common sense must prevail.  'Banger', a local legend in Salcombe gave me the name and number of his friend, 'Podge' who would be interested in doing it. Baltic wharf at Totnes, the Weir Quay Boatyard and The Salcombe Boatyard all said they were interested if I could get it across to them. So, all being well, sometime during the week after next, the elbow will be strong enough to get Arwen hitched up to the car, driven off our awkwardly sloping drive and taken off to these various places to get quotes. 

In the meantime, the winter to do list looks like this.........................

  • Sort snotter so it runs down through deck and back along to the aft centrecase cockpit area
  • Remove Jack stays and just try attaching safety harness to rear eye pad at back of aft cockpit 
  • simplify reefing system by making attachment to hold sail as you transfer leech cringle from lower to upper cringle hole; and removing the slab reefing system lines; and by attaching clip to rear of sprit boom  
  • Paint interior and deck
  • Varnish interior wood coaming 
  • Sort out tiller tamer so that the rope passes through the rope slightly more easily than it currently does
  • Make a sleeping platform or doctor some old camping shelve tables I have  to make a platform (recycling something - it appeals to my sustainability part of my brain)
  • Remove jam cleats; replace some; reposition others at aft end centre case for downhaul, centreboard up haul, main halyard, topping lift
  • Replace main halyard cleat with horn cleat
  • Sort wind tell tales on shrouds so that they don't keep getting caught on the shrouds
  • Put thin rubber tube around rollers on trailer to see if that stops them chipping paint off the chines
  • Repair trailer roller at aft of trailer
  • Reposition fishing rods on side decks so that jib lines don't get caught on them
  • Add more deck hoops for gas pipe for tent
  • Repair bow end tear in tarp tent
  • Install manual bilge pump with outlet hose into centrecase
  • Build a small galley box for trangia and other stove and cooking utensils
  • Repair stitching sail batten pockets
  • Check sails for wear and tear
  • Sort out topping lift for Mizzen to work more efficiently
  • Sort spare trailer wheel
  • Sort ropes running either side of centrecase so they run through deck loops and don't get caught up on each other 
  • Check seals on all hatches 
  • Sort out tool kits and spares boxes....rationalise!
  • Sand and paint rudder
  • Repair rudder split in casing
  • Lengthen downhaul on mizzen boom snotter
  • Remove the side plastic bags and clean varnish up there 
  • Make new row blocks and position slightly further aft
Better get to it over half term. Could do many of these jobs then if I get organised!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Arwen's travel bug aims

Arwen's travel bug mission is as follows......1. To visit all seven continents;  2. To visit as many different countries as possible;  3.  To visit as many different volcano summits or near summits as possible;  4 to visit as many mountain summits as possible;  5. To visit as many ancient buildings as possible.  6.  To be returned to somewhere on Plymouth Hoe, devon, England for the 22.03.2022  when PlymouthWelshboy himself will be sixty years old on that day. What a great birthday celebration that will be. Whoever you are, add a note, log your find, drop me a note, have fun, travel safely, enjoy life to the full, smile, be kind and generous of spirit and learn new things. Life is short and it isn't a practice! �� 

Arwen has a geocache

Arwen has a geocache travel bug. It is a movable geocache, one that goes with travellers from geocache to geocache until they decide to drop it and leave it in one for others to find and move on.
Arwen's travel bug started on Vulcano, one of the Aeolian islands off Sicily. It seemed a good idea at the time!! Down in the crater was a geocache. The one in the fumarole field proved impossible to find, her skipper choking from sulphurous fumes and losing his way in a yellowish haze! Apart from which it was rather hot and his legs kept getting scalded by fumeroles.

Anyway, one brave couple from Germany, Alex and Bridgit, rescued the travel bug and carried it with them to several other Italian places before they returned to Germany, where upon, the bug was off travelling various geocaches. One proved attractive and so the bug was duely deposited.

And now it is off on its travels again. Across the Rhineland.

For a geographer, it's all rather exciting! 

Friday, 30 September 2016

jam jars...............

Our evening meal happened by accident. A punt really. Where we are staying serves no meals and so we headed out of the area towards the nearest beach on a hunch that maybe there might be a pizza place. No ristorante but there was the Havana Beach Bar. A wooden floor built out over the beach next to a flimsy narrow wooden jetty built on scaffolding poles. The floor had a wooden white cabin with the hatch covers held up and within was one very clever barman. He knew all the cocktails and so we sat next to the sea in a stiff but warm breeze and watched the sun set over the Egadi Islands. Mojitos in large jam jars.......did the trick very nicely for her indoors who became very chilled out. A girl played live music, a talented singer and guitar player and the crowd of twenty and thirty year olds and us, chilled out and dug the beats and rhythms. A meal of potato and cheese with salami, lettuce, rustic bread Cobb and aubergine and olives in tomato sauce staved off hunger and chilled us further. The sun sank and glowed deep orange for us all to the accompaniment of cocktail shakers and a girl who sang really really well. Magical. 

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Ancient history......................

My wife is an excellent map reader which is a good thing because satnav lady is throwing more hissy fits. She clearly does not like Sicily. 

Today we said goodbye to our wonderful host Antonella at Coscio di Badia and made our way along coast road 115 to Selinunte. Here are more Greek ruins and in some ways they are more spectacular. I have never been allowed to wander between ruins before. We crossed temple floors, meandered between great stone carved columns and walked through ancient doorways of long ago collapsed homes. Across the windswept dusty plateau in the searing 37C heat we ambled over fallen steps, blocks of stone and toppled columns. The scale of this Ancient Greek city site is awe inspiring. Actually, Sicily is awe inspiring!

Anyway, the city walls, 8m high, were an achievement in themselves. Selinos was once one of the richest and most powerful cities in the world, 100,000 inhabitants and many, many temples. Established in 625BC, atop a hilly promontory between two major rivers, it had its own secure natural harbour and fertile river plains. Its history was fascinating. They allied with the Carthaginians, then the Syracusans from further east, who had defeated the Carthaginians. Later, as a result of territorial disputes with Segesta to the north of Sicily, who called in the Carthaginians to help them defeat these impudent Greeks, Hannibal, my all-time favourite historical person to teach about, destroyed the city to the ground. A nine day siege slaughtering all except those who took shelter in the temples. They were taken as slaves! Later with the arrival of the Romans, more of the city was destroyed and an earthquake in the Middle Ages did the rest.

No wonder there was so much rubble. But look carefully at the rubble and you appreciate the skill. Master craftsmen and apprentice stone masons with slaves carved this great city. The pillars for temples were fluted. The great supporting stones on their tops, sculpted into great bowl shapes. Each pillar piece had a square peg hole some 30cms across through which another stone in the one below pegged with the one on top. Each block of a wall was fitted carefully with the next. 

Terracotta wash bowls, almost the size of small baths lying overgrown outside temple steps. The tiny houses and side streets. To step off a main street and down into the skeletal remains of a small home or shop is to walk back in time, to see how ordinary folk lived and worked. A narrow entrance flanked by upright stones; small rooms and an entrance out the back onto an alleyway; and roofs long gone. Much of the stone has been taken down the centuries but here and there original mosaic marble flooring show through. 

To place your foot on a floor where once Ancient Greeks, Syracusans and Carthaginians once stood is powerful, emotive stuff! Of course, there was also the site of sacrifice, Twelve thousand of them to be precise; and not all animals, for many were humans. Archaeological finds included many human skulls stuck on ancient spears and spikes. Grisly stuff! 

And just in case you wonder what it may have looked like, well here are the historians artistic impressions of what they think you would have seen thousands of years!