Monday, 23 December 2013


Looks to be a windy week ahead...... bloody pleased I'm ashore!

Friday, 13 December 2013

That was the year that was... 2013

Time for what is now my traditional review of the year past; I really enjoy putting it together as it's a good excuse to read all the old posts, and look at the video and pictures from this years logs.... I would say that it's been an "OK" year but it's not been a classic. The summer was one of the best we've had in ages, but despite that it seems to me the sailing days were either windless, or too windy!

This was my first year as owner of Sparrow so it was a bit of a learning curve - in many ways a blank canvas boat is a wonderful thing, but it also means the job lists can be huge as you work towards putting together the boat you want as quickly as possible... I'd also say I got a bit of harbour'itis as I really should have been out in the Solent by now, but as it was I didn't even get to the West Pole! That will change next year

Day before launch - click again for slightly bigger view of any of the pictures in this post

The summers big project was the re-rig of the standing rigging which went well but took longer than I'd thought - it was however done very well and I was really pleased with the standard and quality of the work. Even so, that lost me a couple of weeks right in the middle of summer (and about 30 or so cruising miles missed)

I had a couple of occasions where the engine conked out - happily, not in a situation I couldn't cope with, but it's always worrying for a mechanical numpty - I don't like to think what would have happened if I had had the problem while doing those delivery trips to have the rigging done....  on the plus side, I now know about Easy Start (and for the first time heard about "Start Ya Bastard" [clicky] ), I now have a spare plug (and more importantly I know where to put it), and I sailed back on to the mooring....  oh yes....

So all in all that rates as an OK'ish year....  7, oh go on then 7.5, out of 10.. 

Like a spider dipped in blue ink and left to wander all over Google Earth - here's where Sparrow went this year:

...and the following in "Ami-Ly" this summer on the Jolly Boys Outing

No cross Channel trip as we'd hoped (weather casualty) but a brilliant weekend - highlights being my first trip up the Beaulieu river...

...and the hunted look on Rod's face when he thought a lady was chasing him in Cowes....

Number of visits down to the boat: 19 (6 more than last year on "Papillon") but once again if you count all the times I visited in the mornings/evenings while she was on shore (usually two to three times a week), and the days I worked on her pre-season, and the cups of tea visits (and pot noodle visits!) - easily triple that...

Total distance sailed: 113.73 miles, which compares with 173.29 miles last year, and 193.41 miles in 2011, 154.23 miles in 2010 and 125 miles in 2009... a poor year - harbour'itis struck and that always does for your mileage..

Nights on board: None - but that will change as Sparrow is far more comfortable than Papillon...

Crew on occasion: None - youngest is good company and was turning into a more confidant helm... but she tells me sailing is "boring"...

Cruising range: The mooring in the west, Emsworth to the north, Bosham/Itchenor in the East and the Bar Beacon to the south..

Biggest Cruise: Snowhill [clicky] on a lovely cheeky day off, mid-week.... (just shy of 15 miles on one tide!)... a beautiful day full of good sailing......

Best Cruise: Choices choices...Snowhill possibly, or the day out with my sister [clicky] (not laughed so much in ages as I did the moment the tiller got stuck in her pocket mid-tack) but for the sake of diversity I'm going to go with the delivery trip from Bosham [clicky]- lots of chuckles with "Coral" Paul, cold, but also stunning speed, some sunshine and lots and lots of breeze..  errrrr bracing.....!

Worst cruise: Bosham or bust [clicky], when the outboard conked out...... 

Oddest cruise: Sailing through a cloudburst [clicky] was certainly an eye opener...  but also a bit of a confidence builder!

Best anchorages: None... didn't anchor this year again...  really need to do something about that, I've never anchored in all the years I've sailed! Part of the problem of course is that everywhere I sail there are huge numbers of empty moorings so there's little need but I can't help thinking a bit of practice might help...

Best mooring: club mooring continues to be a delight; water 3.5+ hours either side of high tide...  my trip into Emsworth Yacht Harbour was my first time on a pontoon with Sparrow, and the access to electricity and water was cracking - I could get used to it ...

Worst mooring: None on Sparrow...  but that one off Seaview on the last day of the jolly boys outing was very uncomfortable..

Plans for next year: Solent....   pure and simple......  I fancy either Bembridge or Seaview (depending on wind/wave direction), The Nab and Cowes... then there was talk of a  jolly boys outing to Cherbourg next year, but in a bigger boat which would be good!


Click on the date to be taken to the post..

Sail Plan:
Max Speed (knots):
Average Speed (knots):
12th April
F6 gusting F7
Bit of jib - mostly engine
Delivery trip, Bosham to mooring.. cold, wet, sunny, a real convoy to Murmansk.. no issues, new boat is fast!
28th April
F2 gusting F3 (occasionally)
Full jib and main
First trip out under sail... memorable if only for getting 6.5 knots plus (tide assisted)! Right lash up collecting the mooring but it cheered up a couple of on lookers...!
16th May
Full jib and main
Gentle (and short!) evening sail after work
26th May
F1 to F4
W to NW, to SWW
Full jib and main
Down to Snowhill in the sun
2nd June
F4, but both ends of the scale..
Full jib and main
Up to Emsworth early one sunny Sunday morning - into Fowley Rythe..
5th June
F3 gusting F4
Full jib and main
Cheeky mid-week day off - back to Snowhill and up to Prinstead on what must be one of the best sailing days I've had so far on Sparrow...
30th June
F4, but both ends of the scale..
SW going to WSW
Full jib and 3 reefs in the main
Tacking practice trying to reach Marker. Back to mooring and sails off for standing rigging replace
3rd July
Delivery to EYH for mast drop & standing rigging replace
EYH to mooring while I wait for the mast & rigging to be finished.
Delivery to EYH for putting mast back up
EYH back to mooring - all done!
26th July 8.76 F1 gusting F2SSW going SW Full jib and main 4.7 2.1 More Marker tacking practice - first trip after re-rig
9th August 12.5 F4 gusting F5 W Full jib and 3 reefs in the main 4.3 3.1 Bar Beacon for the first time in this boat on an afternoon of (mostly) ups and some downs  (on the putty)
11th August 10.02 F4 gusting F5 W to WSW Full jib and main 5.9 3.5 Both ends of the harbour with my sis.. getting weedy but still a fast trip
22nd August - - - - - - Bosham or bust - trip aborted due to engine failure
26th August 7.11 Force 2 E to NE Full jib and main 4.1 2.3 Light wind bank holiday trip - lot of motor sailing
8th September 8.31 Force 5 gusting F6 WSW Full jib and 3.5 reefs in the main 4.7 3 Gusty nasty conditions, thunder and a cloudburst
26th August 9.49 F3 E to SE Full jib and main 4.1 2.4 Cold, grey, light winds, but then we had two Spitfires (no not beers!) and it all got better
28th and 29th August 50.66* F4/5 Sat, F3/4 Sun E Full jib and main 6.4 4.2 Jolly boys outing in the
Solent on "Ami-Ly"
October 20th

Lift Out

* Not counted in year total...

Year total (to date): 113.73 miles
Here's to 2014! 

Monday, 4 November 2013

East Hampshire Boat Jumble....

Good weekend, as it was the local boat jumble....  always worth a browse and I had a shopping list...

These events are always a bit hit and miss - usually they're good for blocks, fastenings and stuff, and every now and again you get lucky on electrics ... Either way - I was looking for clevis pins, split pins, penny washers, a replacement lens for the masthead tricolour, cam cleats (with or without fairleads), and a fairlead for the bow of the boat...

 The tricolour was always going to be an outside chance and so it proved, but I got lucky with the cam cleats - two for a tenner and brand new (which must be half the new price). I also got a couple of split pins for the spreaders to replace the existing ones, and I also got a handy little deck organiser (only a fiver and looks brand new) which I plan to use as part of my plan to lead the main halyard and topping lift back to the cockpit - not my boat, but this is the idea..

Double block and eye bolt (bought at the Netley jumble) in blue, with the organiser (in red) to lead the halyards outside of my grab rails and back to the cabin roof at the cockpit - where the two cam cleats will be provide the fixing point....  more pictures later,

Spotted these in various places on the web and providing food for thought.....

These are the cockpit lockers on a Hurley 20 called "Big Easy" - three things came to mind - a handy place for battery storage, and also a manual bilge pump, but also I like the removable locker floors - at the moment mine are open so stuff can roll under the cockpit floor......  brilliant...

This is the cabin of Hurley 20 "Lydia" - I like that surround which provides secure storage, but also the anchor point for a second shelf...   hmmmmm....

In the meanwhile Sparrow's fine - I emptied her of boom with cover and mainsail, jib, and also cabin cushions this weekend to store in the garage at home - it's no drier there than in the boat (being unheated) but it means I can get a good go at the cabin without messing stuff up....  only had time to do that and empty a bucket of rain water from the bilges (we've had a lot of rain, and a lot of wind, and I think it's blowing in via the cockpit lockers...) before heading for home...

Itching to get started on some of these projects.. time to start work!!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Ashore... and first jobs done....

...and with the weather we're having this week thank goodness for that....

So having dropped the mast on Saturday I then had to leave early to do some other stuff, so Sunday was my lift out...  when I drove down to the club in the morning there was a rainbow so the omens were clearly good, but they didn't last long, and the first of the short sharp showers that were to dog the rest of the day soon swept through, and it was windy...

Cadged a lift on the club rib out to Sparrow to save having to dip the tender, where I rigged a mooring rope to my mooring  while I had a go at removing my pick up buoy and chain...  I try to take this home rather than leave it floating in the harbour all winter....  to be honest I wasn't hopeful as I've had to hacksaw the shackle off most years, but this year despite being really rusty it came off a treat - in fact I think it'll be mostly good for next year.....

Having done that, I then sat for a while watching the world go by, but not wanting to be caught the wrong side of the bridge as the tide continued to rise I powered up the donk and motored over to the slipway side of the bridge - it took four attempts to pick up a spare mooring as by this time the wind was well up...  (in fact the guy manning the club rib said he saw a waterspout towards the bottom of the harbour this one had struck earlier [clicky])

Spent the time tidying up the rigging and straightening up, then raided the ships stores for Pringles and Coke while I waited some more (takes about 20-25 minutes per boat), was soon joined by my lift out crew (a new idea this year is to put 2 or 3 extra crew with a boat hook on each boat as it is lifted out) and sat for a chat - turned out one of them was the very same club member who I had sailed with on the day I went out to Bar Beacon [clicky]

Either way we then got called over, motored gently into slings (need to put some sling markers on this winter), no issues and soon enough we were on the gravel in the car park and I packed up and legged it home...

Long'ish day (started at 9, finished at 3) and enough was definitely enough - delighted with my winter spot however, I've got water and power about 5 yards to the left of the picture below, and the bar is just behind me to the left...

Came down next morning and pressure washed the hull, ran out of time, came back after work to finish off the last bits (scraping off a good crop of barnacles between, and just on front of, the hulls). She is to all intents and purposes ready for the next coat of anti-foul next season....  wheww.....knackered!

Last of all a few of the job list for the winter - see page above for the full list...

Items 3, 4 and 19 in the job list in one picture - the fitting is bashed but sound - the nose GRP looks worse than it is,
being watertight but damaged - if I was to hazard a guess I'd say that at some time in a previous ownership
a mooring chain has jumped off the roller, and rested between rail and bow roller grinding away over a period of time......

Job no. 18 - when the mast came down I'm going to guess the cap shroud below the spreader caught on the
mast crutch causing the rivets to shear - they are original - the ones on the other side were replaced this year as part
of the re-rig - the damage is minimal, I'll just drill out old and replace with new.

Monday, 21 October 2013

...dropping the mast.....

A-frame in use on my old boat "Papillon" - looking towards the 
stern - line from the top of the frame to the top of the mast is the 
jib halyard - you can just see the mainsheet, which leads from the top 
of the frame to the stem fitting behind me....
With many thanks to Giblets (actual name Pete, but he'll always be Giblets ) skipper of the good ship Boobalena, and his crew Mike, on Saturday despite rain and general inclemency, we dropped the masts on the aforesaid Boobalena (a Leisure 17) and Sparrow...   no one fell overboard (apart from a padlock on Sparrow - my fault for leaving it on the cabin roof..), no one was hurt, more importantly the masts are good.

So what did we learn??

The mast on a Leisure 17 is small enough not to need an A frame [clicky] - which happily we figured out before the exercise, thus saving us some time. All we did was undo the lowers (which run forward), slacken off the uppers, tied the jib halyard to the main sheet (which was 3:1), and tied that off to the nose fitting. We then cranked on some pressure with the main sheet, undid the now looser forestay, and while I straddled the mast facing backwards to stop it swinging side to side, Pete let out main sheet, and as the mast lowered Mike guided it into the mast crutch at the back of the cockpit*...  jobs a good'un.....

So over to Sparrow to repeat - the differences being the mast is bigger so we did need the A frame, and I have roller furler foil, and my mast is a tabernacle type foot. Other than that it was largely the same - I used the jib halyard to the upper edge of the frame, with my main sheet providing the motive power to the lower edge. The A frame was tied off to the forward lower chain plates (the stays from which were now disconnected) - we then loosened off the aft lowers and the uppers, and I also loosened off the backstay so I could crank on enough down haul to the get the forestay undone. I then had to loosen this off quite a lot to get the lower bolt out of the mast foot/tabernacle (I also had to loosen off the top bolt), but out she came, and after that the same people took the same roles, and the mast was safely in the crutch...  we had to lift the mast slightly when we were two thirds down to move the mast crutch forward, but largely it went OK. I think the starboard upper must caught on top of the crutch or been squeezed by the crutch, at some point, as I lost a few pop rivets on the spreader, but no serious damage done (and a quick fix this winter)...

I then had to leave while Giblets took Booby under the brdige for her lift out, as my lift out was on Sunday..  which will be the next log update...

* ..and if a sentence that includes the phrases "straddle", "swinging" and "crutch" doesn't get me some extra page views I don't know what will.... 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Lift out approaches...

...and thoughts turn to winter jobs....  

 List so far....

  1. Fit a more chunky cleat on the foredeck
  2. She's missing a fair-lead on the bow, on the starboard side - replace.... Currently the holes are plugged (bolt embedded in frame sealant) so she no longer leaks but the fair lead still needs replacing..
  3. Drill the bow roller to take a locking pin (to keep the rope or chain in the roller)??
  4. Check and see if I can find a replacement roller for bow fitting....
  5. Repaint hatch covers - stern hatch needs it, the others are ok but as I have the paint brush out...
  6. Paint cabin - just the white bits...
  7. Fix leaks in cabin roof - coach rails may need re-bedding/windows??
  8. Lead halyard/topping lift back to cockpit:
    • Pad eye and block to lead main halyard and topping lift bought just need fitting..
    • Jam cleats, cleats, clutches to secure ropes - not decided which yet
  9.  Cockpit drains - sea cocks need replacing, need to check hoses and cockpit fittings
  10. Washboards - need a repaint...
  11. Hinges/locks for cockpit locker lids 
  12. Fit electrics - battery to drive nav lights/VHF/stero/cabin lights/masthead light
  13. Solar panel for battery charging
  14. Replacement/new jib
  15. Tiller pilot and electrics
  16. Cockpit drain at rear of cockpit - remove and glass over holes...
In terms of importance - if I don't manage to do anything other than 9/. & 16/. I'll be very happy but clearly I'd like to do a bit more than that.. 

Lift out for me is Sunday (20th), and before then we have to get the mast down.. oh and did I mention the weather forecast is rubbish??? 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Southampton Boat Show 2013

Low key Boat Show this year for me so these are slightly late being posted.. I went on the last day and enjoyed it as much as I usually do, but ended up not going on that many boats for some reason..

Either way, the Guinness was good, and the company (bro-in-law) was better, and a good day was had by both..

These two were eye catching... they're both Open 40 class [clicky]..
Spot the pizza box... 
....and another, this time from the same guys who make the cars - this one is destined for the Transat Jacques Vabre [clicky] on the 3rd November...

This one made me laugh....  spotted on a copy of a replica traditional Phoenician ship "Phoenicia" [clicky] - it makes my shiny new bucket from Tesco look positively palatial... 

This is always a favourite - and one of the boats we did visit - this is a refurbished RAF crash boat [clicky] used in WWII in the North Sea to rescue pilots who had crashed into the sea..  absolutely magnificent... all wood, and in her hey day she carried 500 litres of petrol and could hit 40+ knots - brave, brave men....

..and last of all my boat of the show - this is my money no object, I've won the lottery twice, boat..  designed by Tony Castro who is the same guy that designed the current generation of Clipper boats - hence my bro-in-laws interest.... 

..absolutely delightful - not a hideous/shiny/nasty fitting to be seen - just lots and lots of high class electronics and hand crafted wood in a pleasing looking hull....  "James, take the boat to the Caribbean will you - I'll join you later in the Lear"

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Jolly boys outing...

"Ami-Ly" - click on any of the pictures to embiggen..
It's been on the cards for some time, but last weekend (and by way of an alternative to a much hoped for, but doomed on this occasion, trip to Cherbourg*), a few of us departed for a weekend in the Solent on Rod the Mods Legend 29, "Ami-Ly" (see left) ...  delighted to report a damn good time was had by one fell overboard, no one died (though it was a close run thing on the Saturday night due to noxious post curry fumes in close confinement) and no other boats were hit/damaged or discombobulated in any way..  

The Solent has to be one of the most lovely places to cruise a boat known to man, and the extra 10 feet on Rods Legend compared to Sparrow makes for consistently higher average speeds, and therefore brings a lot more option to your  choice of destinations...

Winds this weekend were consistently easterly, and on the Saturday at least were good top end four, if not five - perhaps a little less on Sunday.

Plans for Saturday were to head to Bucklers Hard on the Beaulieu river, grab some lunch, and then head for Cowes in the afternoon for an overnight stop (complete with beer, curry and dancing)...  with a fairly brisk easterly, and a smidge of tide under us, we made good time for the entrance to the Beaulieu river - we left the pontoon at 09:41 and just under four hours and twenty minutes later we were moored up to a walk ashore pontoon at Bucklers Hard...

Up river from the fuel pontoon we were moored at..
The run up the river was exceptional - the scenery is spectacular, and for at least the first two or three hundred yards runs parallel to the sea (with a sand/shingle bank between sea and river). You then get a good mile or so of winding river before you get to Bucklers Hard...

Down river from the fuel pontoon ..
Harbour master usually meets you as you come up river and will give you a pontoon reference, in our case we couldn't find it and just pulled in onto the end of a line of boats moored up on the fuelling pontoon (they didn't mind)
Blue inbound, yellow outbound...

The pub - the Master Builders Arms [clicky] - was OK - decent pint of Ringwood Best (as you'd expect) and the food looked good, but on the pricey side - we settled for two pints of liquid nourishment, followed by cheese and crackers on board...

Bucklers Hard - the pub is just to the right of the flag - down river picture above is just to the left of the flag
Having satisified the inner man, we then upped sticks and headed for Cowes - short hop of a couple of hours, an upwind leg this time though, which was brilliant - just right for a full rig, and we saw 5.6 knots on this leg...

The overnight options in Cowes are manyfold - we decided to give the Folly pontoon a miss as we fancied a curry, and we decided to give the marina's on the west side of the river a miss because they looked rammed as we went past - in the end we opted for East Cowes Marina (my first time here) - hats off to Rod for getting us into the slot which was small and well back from the river ... it also came up trumps for being very quiet...

Mooring N14 - wouldn't fancy trying to reverse Sparrow out of here
To be honest the thing we all wanted most was a sleep - no idea why but we were all exhausted, but having got here it would have been a shame not to have a beer so we wandered over to Cowes (via chain ferry) and had a couple of pints of Fuggle de Dum in a new pub (to us) just down from the Island Sailing Club - cracking pint (errr...  "interesting" clientèle)  followed by a very nice curry in the Bahar two or three doors down....  we decided to give the dancing a miss...... 

Slept well - as well as I ever do on a boat anyway - and after multiple bacon butties, tea and a read of the paper we decided on destination for the day - Seaview...  plan was to pick up one of their visitor buoys and call up the water taxi for some beer and food in the clubhouse...

Every man and his dog was exiting Cowes that Sunday morning...
Long up wind haul to Seaview - but the wind strength was again ideal, conditions were perfect, it was sunny and even beating up wind is good fun when the weather is like that...  there was also plenty to see...  it was damn busy, and I wondered if it was "end of season looming" syndrome

Fellow crew - Smithy (left) and Dave - Rod was probably making the tea.... fast upwind jaunt - took us a little over 3 and a half hours Cowes to Seaview - picked up a buoy - really roly conditions (tide coming in and easterly wind??) made it damn uncomfortable - then the rib from the club told us that they were closing in 30 minutes!  Bah....  cheese and biscuits again, with beer, Smithy's missus supplied home made cake.....  not comfortable though, and when one of the fenders slipped off the back we took it as an excuse to pack away, chase the fender, and turn for home.....

Followed this guy into Portsmouth - discretion being the greater part of valour and all that....

Hour and a half later and we were tied up back at Rods home base...  brilliant weekend!

This guy had been waiting for that ferry to go past so buzzed by very close.....

Distance: 50.66 miles (not included in the cumulative total as it wasn't on Sparrow, but listed in the 2013 mileage tab at the top of the page anyway)
  • 21.28 miles Portsmouth to Bucklers Hard
  • 9.22 miles  Bucklers Hard to Cowes
  • 20.16 miles Cowes to Portsmouth (via Seaview)
Wind: F4 gusting F5 (and occasionally F6) on Saturday 3 - E to SEE. Sunday was lighter started off F4, ended up F3, and gusting no more than top F4 all day - E to NEE.
Sail Plan: Full jib and main - engine for manoeuvring, and to get across the Solent from Seaview when the wind dropped off for an hour or two..
Speed: GPS track says max speed was 6.4 knots (that was under sail, and on the Portsmouth/Bucklers Hard leg) - average speed 4.2/4.3 knots over the weekend
Blue and yellow were day one, red was day two..
* the trip to Cherbourg is back in the planning stage, and currently scheduled for 2014 - Rod is a member of the RNSA and tells us that he may be able to get his hands on a club forty footer for the weekend....