Friday, 22 December 2017

Happy Christmas all my reader... 

I hope you have a relaxing break, that the cheese is tangy, the port warming, and the beer cool, dark and fruity...  see you on the other side...


Friday, 1 December 2017

Fifty is nifty...

...happy birthday, old girl...

Little late, but Sparrow was 50 on November 16th...

....look at that - she'd even put her glitter on....

 ...brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr... ...roll on May...!!

Friday, 24 November 2017

That was the year that was.. 2017

Time for the traditional review of the year past; it's cold, dark, grey and wet outside, so this exercise a much needed mental fillip to get me motivated to start work on the job list. This is my fifth year as owner of Sparrow and although I still continue to learn I have absolutely no interest in parting with her - she does everything I want in spades......happy memories of good times, warm weather and fair weather sailing in shorts and t-shirts...  and besides, I always enjoy putting this together, it's a good excuse to read all the old posts, and look at the video and pictures from this years logs....

As of this moment nothing done so far on this winters job list - I'll get going eventually (I always do) but she is scraped and cleaned, and to all intents and purposes is ready to go back in the water except for a coat of anti-foul! The major job this winter is to fit a boarding ladder, wire up/fit the auto-helm, repair the outboard lip, and re-bed the grab rails... not much to do then.....

Junk rig Corribee - took this on the harbour womble trip..  very happy with it
I would say that it was another "Good" year; slightly better even than last year (which was itself the third improvement in a row!)... looking back my perception was that this was another fairly windy summer, I spent a lot of time under various states of reef (the logs show a lot of 4's and 5's and more), and up until the end of July/beginning September it was a classic - after that for various reasons it all went to rat shit for 4 or 5 weeks before picking up nicely..  just in time for the end of the season...!

It was a terrible year for Solent trips (on Sparrow) when compared to last year though, not one trip, I did try on one occasion but the bar at the mouth of Chichester Harbour was not playing ball so I turned back and went and did something else instead... I/we did have a superb Solent outing on "Ocean Waves" though - the now traditional "Jolly Boys Outing" combined this year with the finals of the America's Cup (on TV) and some quite astonishingly awful weather that kept us holed up in Lymington for an (unheard of!) two nights but also delivered some big wind sailing...

Of last winters jobs [clicky] the big one was the renewal of the cockpit lockers after the quite unbelievably rubbish job I did on the first lot (they fell apart when I took them off this spring - so one year they lasted...)..  if I was to give any advice to anyone coming along and thinking of doing the same job it would be "epoxy the damn things first", it may take longer, and add a level of complexity, but you save time in spades when you don't have to do the work again each year... B.t.w - they have behaved faultlessly ever since and are still rock solid...

The other big job last winter was fitting the cabin lights [clicky] which was also a big success..  I couldn't believe how cheap these were and they are still going strong...  four of these strips for less than £7 including postage..  from China! Unbelievable..

I went and checked Sparrow on the way home from work the other night, so it was the first time I'd actually  used them in anger, and was chuffed to nuts with the effectiveness..

The topping lift that I moved the access for back to the cockpit over last winter also continues to be a major improvement- I use it a lot...  the main sail (new to me last year) sets so well - it fits perfectly with about an inch to play with so I may get it adjusted this winter but it's not high priority...  similarly the genoa continues to be a handful but the adjustment for that would be major so I just accept that if I'm close tacking then rolling some of it in is a pre-requisite even if it doesn't give an optimal sail shape...

So all in all that rates as a good year....  8 and three quarters 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 - looks like the east of the harbour was my chosen stomping ground this year:

...and the following in (the new) "Ocean Waves" this summer on the outrageously entertaining (and windy!) Jolly Boys Outing [clicky].

On that trip I have good memories of coming out of the entrance of Southampton water and being hit a veritable tsunami of wind which we were TOTALLY over canvassed for, and yet despite that, the trusty Halberg Rassy just put her shoulder in and went for it.. also the windy night in Lymington - couldn't believe how wet and windy it was...

...a brilliant three days in the Solent - once again Smithy's missus's carrot cake was legendary....  


Number of visits down to the boat (ie. actually on it): 22 (exactly the same as last year) 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 - easily triple or quadruple that...  I've been to see her two times this week alone.. 

Total distance sailed: 141.91 miles, which compares with 138.29 miles last year. It seems to me that that is now what I should expect ie. about 130-150 miles as I usually turn that in unless there's something unusual on (like a big day out/weekend trip or whatever), having said that it's the most I've sailed in a year for 5 years now..  16 sailing sessions - three more than last year... and as I say every year, I'd like to do more, but time is simply not available I am constrained (mostly) to single tide sessions once a week...

Nights on board: None - nada - nuff'ing.. I've done it before and it's usually cold and uncomfortable..

...thanks Pete.. 

Crew on occasion: None...the whole year was solo...  I don't mind, I'm good company.. 

I remember it distinctly...  boiling hot, not a breath, painting the cockpit hatch covers...

Cruising range: Mooring to the west, bottom of the Emsworth to the north, Chichester in the East and Eastoke to the south.. I squeezed a lot of sailing into a small area this year..

Biggest Cruise: The harbour womble [clicky].. just over 22 miles on a double tide and not even out of the harbour - it really is an unparalleled cruising ground. Lovely warm sunny day though windy...

Top of Itchenor reach looking back down the channel to the main harbour on the harbour womble..

Best Cruise: It was a "choices choices?" this year... the harbour womble was good but the early trip to Snowhill [clicky] was superb - a right royal drag race....  

Worst cruise: The wet and windless trip [clicky] without a doubt

Oddest cruise: Pontoon bashing in the Emsworth channel [clicky] probably...  but what an interesting day and at least I can tick it off the list 

Best anchorages: None this year, no need..

Best mooring: club mooring continues to be a delight; water 3.5+ hours either side of high tide... oh and that pontoon in the Emsworth channel was pretty pleasant.. but the BEST mooring all summer was that lunch stop on the Harbour womble...

Sun, breeze, an All Day Breakfast sandwich and the South Downs in the distance - does it really get any better??
Worst mooring: Not a one to be honest.. they've all been good..

Plans for next year: The America's Cup is on a hiatus and I expect most of the teams will be busy developing their new boats this coming year so no match racing to watch...  we haven't started planning yet but I think there will be a Jolly Boys cruise (no idea where we'll end up, and Rod was wondering about chartering something a bit bigger) ..but as for Sparrow?? I've given up making plans and resolutions..  too much pressure.. so I'll settle for "more of the same, please" but it really is time I got out in the Solent again..


Date Distance: Wind: Direction Sail Plan: Max Speed (knots): Average Speed (knots): Comments:
17th April 7.36 F2 gusting F3 mainly NExE going SWx Full main and 90% genoa 5.8 2.9 Shake down cruise in the cold to Marker
28th April 4.32
F0/F1 360' mostly NW/W Full main and genoa 5.4 2.5 Emsworth visiting pontoon on  windless cloudy day
11th April 25.93* F4 going F3 . Full main and genoa 6.5 AM and 5.7 PM 4.7 AM and 3.8 PM Cowes for lunch on AmiLy..
14th May 10.41
Top end F4 gusting F5 SW Reefed main and reefed genoa 5.4 4.2 Sunny windy trip to Snowhill and back - fast sailing
26th May 10.27
F4/5 gusting F5/6 ESE Reefed main and reefed genoa 5.5 3.8 Crafty afternoon off..  fast run to HISC, cocked up mooring, first Spitfire viewing of the summer
28th May 3.43
F0 gust F1 SE/ESE Full main and genoa 5.8 3.1 Wet and windless drift..
2nd to 6th June Approx. 90* F1 to F8 W/SW mostly All combinations 8.5 - Jolly Boys Cruise of 2017
11th June 8.49
F4 going F5, gusting F6 SWxS Reefed main and reefed genoa 6.7 3.9 Short trip out in gusty conditions - saw a 7.1 (SOG)!
19th June 4.3
Top end  F2 S going SxE Full main and genoa 4.9 2.7 Blissful evening sail after work - hot and warm..
9th July 5.93
Low end  F2 SSW going WSW Full main and genoa 3.8 1.8 Sunday afternoon drift in the sun
16th July 13.01
F3 gusting bottom F4 WSW going SWxS Full main and genoa 5.5 2.8 Sunny Sunday afternoon to Thorney Channel and first sight of the ice cream boat.
30th July 7.81
F5 gusting F6 SWxS
going WSW
Reefed/no main and reefed genoa 5.4 3.5 Twin Merlins of a Spitfire and Hurricane overhead..  very windy..
1st Aug 22.61
F4 gusting F5 SWxS through SWxW Full/reefed/no main and reefed/no genoa 5.1 3.3 Day out in the harbour - Itchenor Reach and Dell Quay
13th August 10.23
F4 going F3 SWxS Full main few rolls in the genoa 5.5 2.6 Hurricane spotted (plane not weather event) - sail in company with "Red Stripe"
19th September 4.83
Both ends F2 SW going W Full main (no genoa) 4.7 2.2 Enjoyable drift after a five week hiatus - mackerel caught!
28th September 10.47
F3 gusting F4 SW going SSW Full main few rolls in the genoa 5.1 3.1 Sneaky afternoon off watching the seals
8th October 8.32 (131.78) F2 gusting F3 SW going NW and back Full main few rolls in the genoa 4 2.8 Motor sailing against the wind and the tide!
12th October 10.13
F4 gusting F5 SWxW Reefed main and reefed genoa 5.7 3.1 Last sail of the season down to HISC and Eastoke in the sun
. . . . . . . .

Year total (to date): 141.91 miles
2016 total (in Sparrow): 138.29 miles

2015 total (in Sparrow): 141.29 miles
2014 total (in Sparrow): 137.98 miles
2013 total (in Sparrow): 113.73 miles
2012 total (in Pap): 173.29
2011 total (in Pap): 193.41
2010 total (in Pap): 154.23
2009 total (in Pap): 125

Friday, 20 October 2017

....out, but not down...

...  well I like to think so... 

Thanks to storm "Brian" everything happened a little quicker than we were expecting this year, but I'm jumping ahead of myself so lets start with last weekend, where on the Sunday (15th) that hard working core of the Jolly Boys (sailing chapter; mast dropping sub-chapter) convened on "Sparrow" yet again for what is a genuinely enjoyable session with the A frame, blocks, pulleys, that is the annual mast dropping session..  honest, I love it and they seem to as well though I'll be the first to admit I let them down on the catering side as the bar was empty..

Anyway, one of the most trouble free mast drops we've had I think, though we have it down to a fine art now having done it a fair few times - there was then much tea consumed, banter exchanged (given and taken! ), sultana and oatmeal biscuits consumed, before we headed for shore as the tide began to disappear and the clubhouse bar opened, where I was then able to remedy the catering mishap...  cheers guys - very much appreciated!

Come Monday or Tuesday then and eyes were being drawn to the weather forecasts for this coming weekend - not good - Saturday was showing Force 7 with  Force 9 gusts and a half an inch of rain, Sunday was marginally better - kept an eye on it but it wasn't getting any better so on Tuesday morning I popped into the club to see if there was any contingency and was surprised to see the tractor and hoist going at full chat, and half the yard already full of boats (we don't start lifting until Thursday, hence the surprise!) - either way, the club had also seen the weather and contingency plans were in force...  I shifted Sparrows lift from Saturday to yesterday (Thursday) and she's now out on the hard.. 

Good lift for me - think I was the second boat out? Came under the bridge as soon as I was on the boat, picked up a mooring to wait, and then came straight in - must have been sat on the blocks ashore by half ten/11?

There then followed the usual frenetic-ism..  outboard was taken to the tank and given a bloody good run through with fresh water (first in six months), once that was done and engine lifted into boot of the car, I then went out in the tender to recover my mooring gear..  swivel and chain was new this year and I don't see the point of leaving it in the harbour all winter - as is usual (and whenever has ANYONE not seen a galvanised shackle rust solid inside of five minutes in the sea? ) I had to hacksaw the main shackle but the rest of it is safe ashore now and I'll pressure wash the weed off the chain (and the boat) this Saturday.....

Talking of weed ==>

Some, but not loads - good crop of barnacles this year which I've already scraped off before they case harden - fairly happy with that to be honest, not premium antifoul so I wasn't expecting it to be as good as that..

Next stop, Saturday, with the pressure washer - if it's going to be windy and wet I may as well do it at the same time....   bring on the winter jobs....  of which more in the next, or next but one, post..

Friday, 13 October 2017

Last sail of the season.. that's it..  all done...   end of the season but not with a whimper but a bang...

I'm hoping to get the mast down on Sunday weather permitting (we have a warm dry spell this weekend but it's a little blowier than I might like so time will tell) but with a few days still left in the holiday bank, and a decent forecast, I took the afternoon off for one of those crafty afternoon sails that so often have delivered the goods - my thinking was that if it was rubbish I could always start taking the rig apart ready for Sunday...

As it turned out a biggish tide, sun, and a steady force four resulted in some reefs in the main for the first time in a while, and then a cracking sail down to HISC, and I even poked my nose into the Solent before turning for home.. always a pleasure when you can get on a single tack to take you to the bottom of the harbour - I had an hour/45 minutes where the wind was slightly more west than it was the rest of the afternoon which definitely helped...

Big tides though ==>

..look at that rooster tail.... and this was almost HT...
...and even so, with tides against and a mucky bottom, still tracking up wind at 3 knots... go on girl...

...and so it was found ourselves passing HISC and thinking "we might be able to make the nav marks in the Solent", and we almost did, if it wasn't for the fact that it would be dark in a few hours I'd have gone for it as it was I had an absolutely beautiful view of the IoW in the haze and sunshine, but then tacked and turned at Eastoke for the elevator ride back into the harbour on the last of the tide..  6.5+ SOG..

HISC...   where bad boys are sent for wanting to ...  hssssss...  race...
Back on the mooring I stripped the boom sail kicker and detached the topping lift - that's now in the garage for the winter...  on Sunday just the boom crutch and A frame to rig, and take the genoa off...


Distance: 10.13   (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind: F4 gusting F5; either side of SWxW
Sail Plan: Reefed main/genoa.
Speed: 5.7/3.1

Monday, 9 October 2017

Motor sailing... and why not...

..because it's bloody noisy that's why not! Needs must though ...  "winter is coming"

Big old tide - 5mtrs and I almost didn't go as the weather was distinctly grey and uninspiring, if not also wind-less. An hour before high tide though and the sun came out, and there seemed to be a little breeze, and with lift out fast approaching (two weeks) I took the opportunity..

Kind of pleased I did but it wasn't exactly blowing hard..  started of with a bit of NW for the run down the ditch, bang on cue it went round SW'ly for the beat down the harbour against the end of the tide, and bugger me if it didn't go back NW'ly so I had a nice beat back to the mooring, against the tide again!

In the end the wind dropped completely so it was a motor back - n'er mind - saw friends...

...hung the fishing line over the side (nothing today), and generally chilled to the calming sounds of Classic FM, we'll remember evening like this come the depths of February....


Distance: 8.32   (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind: Force 2 gusting 3; NW through SW and back
Sail Plan: Full main and genoa (with a few rolls in).
Speed: 4.0 max / 2.8 avg

Friday, 29 September 2017

Dog days..

Sneaky afternoon off as the weather forecasts for this weekend are looking a mite ... errr...  equinoctial .. and I needed some boat time.. 


...this had all the hallmarks of being a classic season up until about 6 weeks ago, and then all of a sudden it just went to rat-sh*t weather'wise..  it was almost like someone flicked a switch, and from sunny and breezy, it went to grey and windy, with rain...  I'm kind of used to a hiatus about this time of the season - when I look at my old logs I've usually had a two or three week break by the time the Southampton Boat Show comes round - usually because of tides/holidays, but this time it was five weeks, and reasons were tides/weather/health (I had man-flu one weekend )

So it is that I find myself two weeks away from the mast drop weekend with not enough miles for my liking in the log, where up to the end of August it was looking to be a bumper year... OK so it's not just about the miles, or a tick on a list, but lack of miles also means lack of boat time and that's far more important.... with what looked like a weather window on Thursday afternoon a decision was made to take the opportunity..  glad I did in the end!

East Head... errrr...  ahead

Neap tide, 18:15 HT, but I figured I should be able to get away 3 hours before - as it turned out, because it was neaps she was already afloat when I got down at 1400, and I eventually dropped the mooring and was away by 1430 - gob smacking...  almost four fours before HT!

Wind built and generally settled down to a south westerly - no more than two other boats in the harbour - had a cracking tack to Marker (did it in one!) and then laid a course for the bottom of the harbour - nothing particular in plan other than a niggly idea I'd head out of the harbour for one of the two nav marks in the Solent...

Good seal spotting day for sure - low'ish tide meant lots of sightings....

In the end the wind ooched round a bit making a trip out of the harbour more of a slog than I was willing to commit to (it would have been on the nose basically so short tacking or put the engine on) and in the end I settled for bearing away for East Head, a cruise along the beach, and then turning for home - besides I was getting cold..

Lovely sail - good to blow the cob webs out...


Distance: 10.47 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind: Top end F3 gusting F4 but dropping; SW going SSW
Sail Plan: Full main and most of the genoa
Speed: 5.1 max / 3.1 average