Saturday 31 December 2016

Swallows and Amazons.. a review

It is probably a little known fact that Steve the Wargamer (for that is I, a pen name I took from my other interest ) developed a love of sailing purely as a result of Arthur Ransome ... seriously... I have no other explanation for the fact that I have always wanted to sail, own boats, and be on the water since an early age...

I must have discovered Ransome when I was about 11 or 12? So over forty mumble mumble years ago..  and I devoured them...  repeatedly... and in fact I still read them now.

The books hark back to a quieter time, when kids were allowed out to have real adventures, before mobile phones/computers and all the other "labour saving" bolleaux that now infests our every activity, existed..

Ransome wrote a number of children's sailing books which featured the Swallows (the Walker family children) and the Amazons (the Blacketts).. he also wrote a few featuring the Callum children (Dot and Dorothea) who featured in the Swallows and Amazons books, but also featured in a  couple of stories Ransome wrote set in the Norfolk Broads - the majority of the books though were set in the Lake District and featured the Walkers and the Blacketts and their sailing and camping based adventures...

Which is a long preamble with the aim of pointing out that I had very high expectations of this film based on a life long love of the books.

So this is the film of the first book, and I'll say up front, I do hope the company responsible please please please makes some more, as I thought the film was extraordinarily good..

Set in the mid-30's (which is slightly later than the book but not enough to make a difference, and by the way the period detail in the film is fantastic) the book is about the first meeting of the Swallows and the Amazons, while the Swallows are camping on an island in the middle of the lake...  there is the same back story of Captain Flint (the Amazons Uncle Jim who lives on a houseboat) as in the book, there is also the same story of the "war" between the Swallows and Amazons over the island, and the midnight raids to capture each other boats..  so far, so very much like the book..  and the boats and the sailing clips were really good....

What the film has done though, is to also put in a sub plot where Uncle Jim is being hunted by a couple of Russian spies...  not in the book, and a lot of people have got quite hung up on it, but I thought it fitted well and was quite clever - Ransome himself was alleged to have been involved in Russian politics (he lived there for a time and was married to a Russian). It didn't overwhelm the original story, and I thought it was a clever way of explaining the theft from the houseboat (which in the book was just burglars)...

An excellent film - well worth a watch - 9/10

Thursday 29 December 2016

Prinsted looking south...

..sorry Max - 'nother cracker from the daily commute... 😍

Sunday 25 December 2016

...and so it starts...

...ships stores and enhancements are arriving... 

These were a bargain - four half metre strips, warm white LED's,and change from seven quid all the way from Hong Kong - how do they do it..??  So these are destined for underneath the shelves in the cabin as downlighters for some much needed lighting..

This is a two fold purchase - one it allows me to trim the boat better by sitting further forward in the cockpit, and two it allows me to reach into the cabin to get stuff without letting go of the tiller..

...nuff said [clicky] ...though to be honest, I have no idea why I've bothered as I have a dreadful track record with these buggers..  
Safety feature more than anything else.. "pre-owned" but a decent price and good condition


...and last, Santa delivered this, this morning - looking forward to finding out what I've done wrong so far.. ! 

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Seasons Greetings and Best Wishes....

Best wishes to all of my reader - here's to fair winds in 2017, and soon back on the water...... way of a seasonal picture here's the now traditional lobster pot tree in my local fishing village (Emsworth) snapped on the phone while I was on my way to work the other morning..

It really was a beautiful morning...

Sunday 11 December 2016

Thursday 1 December 2016

Go Alex!!

The guy is a complete and total racing animal.. he's wondering around that deck - in the middle of the Southern ocean - like I walk around my lounge...   😲

Brilliant footage and only posted today....  for more on his position and his race in the Vendee Globe click here

Tuesday 29 November 2016

That was the year that was.. 2016

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 ...happy memories of good times, warm weather and fair weather sailing in shorts and t-shirts...  and besides, I 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 a renewal of the cockpit lockers after the dogs dinner I made of coating the last lot and as a result their subsequent disintegration... 

I would say that it was a "Good" year; slightly better than last year (which was in turn better than the year before).... looking back my perception was that this was another windy summer, I spent a lot of time under various states of reef, but on the other hand it was warm and sunny quite a lot of the time, so definitely better on that front than 2015....

This is my fourth year as owner of Sparrow and the learning curve continues but I'm more than pleased with what I can do with her - she'll go the direction I want, stop when I want, and I can seemingly manage her - lots still to learn, but she's more than capable of doing longer trips it's only my time/availability that stops me legging it off to Cowes, or whatever...

A better year for Solent trips than last year, I was out there on a few occasions, but still only one major trip when I wombled towards Bembridge, almost got there, but not quite... I blame lack of wind..  I/we did have some superb Solent outings this year on "Ocean Waves" or "Ami Ly" though - the now traditional "Jolly Boys Outing" and a superb day watching the  the America's Cup followed by a fantastic blast over to Cowes...

Of last winters jobs [clicky] the big one was the 12v electric installation [clicky], and leading the topping lift/main halyard back to the cockpit. Of the two the stand out was the electrics - they've worked faultlessly all summer, but over the winter I'm going to add some internal lights, may be some navigation lights, and wire in the fixed VHF to make use of the power.

The topping lift access is a major improvement - I used it a number of times during the summer, probably every time I went out. Main halyard is back on the mast though as I have to have to there in order to reef anyway so no point in leading it back..

Last summer I replaced a further form of motive power when I managed to score a new mainsail [clicky] (after the outboard and the genoa the year before I've done them all now!).  I'm delighted with it..  it's made from quite a light material so I have no long how it will last, but for the price it was/is an absolute bargain...  the only thing I need to do I think is to take a few inches off the length/luff - easiest would be to cut and re-do the head board...  I just need to find a sail maker who can do it for me....

The genoa continues to be a handful but there have been half a dozen light wind days where the size has been useful so I have no plans to get it re-cut..  I just accept that if I'm close tacking then rolling some of it in is a pre-requisite...

So all in all that rates as a good year....  8 and a half 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 Jolly Boys Outing [clicky] I have fond memories still of the mooring buoy we picked up at the head of the Beaulieu river for lunch, all the banter, the beer, and the champagne sailing..  we've already booked for next year (beginning June)

...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 (a couple more than last year roughly) 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: 138.29 miles, which compares with 141.29 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)..  and 13 sailing sessions - exactly the same as last year... I'd like to do more but time is not available

Nights on board: None - no need really, I know she's comfortable enough, just never had the burning desire to swap nice warm wife & bed, for slightly down-market camping...!

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

My absolutely favourite picture of the year - sums up 2016 that does

Cruising range: Mooring to the west, Emsworth to the north, Bosham in the East and (almost) Bembridge to the south.. I squeezed a lot of sailing into a small area this year..

Biggest Cruise: Solent womble [clicky].. just over 26 miles, on a double tide - wind was light hence the distance! Lovely warm sunny day though...

Best Cruise: It was "choices choices?" last year, but this year there was no competition... despite a whole host of good days out, the Bosham trip [clicky] was stupendous - I can still see that humongous heavy wind beat back up the Itchenor Channel to East Head in my minds eye now....  absolutely bloody amazing...  

Worst cruise: None..  I had a couple of driftathon's, but even they were warm sunny days on the water...

Oddest cruise: Probably a tie between the two driftathon's (here [clicky] and here [clicky]) not that they were specifically odd, just slow... on balance the first one takes it!

It was a year for pictures of Sparrow seemingly....  this was me and her at the beginning of the year (8th May)

Best anchorages: None this year, no need..

Best mooring: club mooring .. It continues to be a delight; water 3.5+ hours either side of high tide...

Worst mooring: None again... as a (mostly) day sailor I don't pick them up that often as sitting around on a mooring means not sailing.... uh uh....

Plans for next year: The America's Cup has now moved to Bermuda for 2017 (and may I say "well done Sir Ben" ont he results!), so no racing to watch this year, but we are already planning for the Jolly Boys cruise (no idea where we'll end up, though I know Rod the Mod thinks we still have unfinished business in France..) ..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"..


Click on the date to go to the log entry post....

Date Distance: Wind: Direction Sail Plan: Max Speed (knots): Average Speed (knots): Comments:
2nd May 3.36 F4 SW x S Reefed/full genoa only 5.2 3.4 Brief (only an hour) trip to the end of the channel and back..
8th May 12.87 (16.23) F3 up to F5 gusting F6 SE going E x S Reefed/full genoa, and reefed main 4.9 2.8 Lovely sunny afternoon up and down the harbour - first Spitfire spotted, and made a cock up of sailing on to mooring...
21st May 26.35* F4 gusting F6 SWxS going S Double reefed main & #2 jib 9.5 6.1 First day of the Jolly Boys cruise - Portsmouth to Yarmouth
22nd May 36.27* F2 going F4 WNW to S and then back Main and genoa 7.7 4.8 Second day of the Jolly Boys cruise - Yarmouth to Cowes via Southampton Water
23rd May 25* Top end F3 into F4 NWxN to N Main and genoa 6.8 4.3 Third day of the Jolly Boys cruise - Cowes to Lymington
24th May 26* F3 going F4 E going SE Main and genoa 8.6 6.1 Fourth day of the Jolly Boys cruise - Lymington to Portsmouth
29th May 14.04 (30.27) F4 gusting F5 NNE Well reefed main and reefed genoa 5.8 3.6 Late afternoon run down to East Head/Snowhill, and a cracking beat back to the top of the harbour on a very windy day
19th June 8.96 (39.23) F3 going F4 W going SW Main and reefed genoa 5.2 3.5 Grey day but two classic yachts warmed it up nicely..
17th July 13.45 (52.68) Both ends of a F3 WSW going SSW Main and full/reefed genoa 4.6 2.9 Emsworth to the Bar Beacon on one tack - VHF testing not good, but hey ho..
24th July 29.96* F1 to F5 WSW Main and full genoa 6.3 
America's Cup racing on Ami-Ly followed by a blast to Cowes and back
31st July 6.9 (59.58) F1 to F2 N going SWxS Main and full genoa 4.8 2.0 Sunny morning easy drift/sail to Verner and back
7th August 17.9 (77.48) F4 going F5, gusting F6 SWxW. Well reefed main and reefed genoa 5.8 3.5 Beautifully sunny but windy run to Bosham channel.. stupid conditions beating back to Emsworth channel! 
26th August 26.1 (103.58) F2 up to F3 WNW going SWxS  Main and full genoa 4.8 2.8 Solent womble..  double tider, got nowhere in particular but a fine view of the Dutch tall ship 'Stad Amsterdam'
29th August 4.12 (107.7) F1 and less NW Main and full genoa 4.9 1.5 Drifting in F1 and less..
7th September 5.37 (113.07) Both ends of a F3 SExE going ESE Main and full/reefed genoa 4.4 2.7 Post work evening sail to unwind.. mission accomplished!
25th September 8.43
F6 going F5 WSW Well reefed main and reefed genoa 5.7 3.8 Blast down to HISC and back late in the afternoon.. "Big Easy" spotted...
2nd October 6.9 (128.4) F1 gusting F2 NNW to NNE Main and full genoa 5 1.6 Quiet day drifting down wind against the tide..
7th October 9.89
F3 ExN Main and 90% genoa 5.3 2.8 Cold grey last sail of the season to Eaststoke
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .

Year total (to date): 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

Thursday 20 October 2016

..and we're out...

..particularly good this year as I was first out on the Sunday..   

Humungous moon = BIG tides..

Midday high tide, and it was 4.7mtrs so I knew I'd have to get under the bridge sharp'ish, otherwise even with the mast down I wouldn't clear under the bridge..  I think probably an hour and a half either side of HT and it would have been a no go, and as I didn't want to wait until the middle of the afternoon I had to get some skates on...

Got to the club about 9'ish, not enough water yet, cup of tea, made myself known to the lift team, noted very few other skippers around and a yard almost full of boats already, watched them trying to start the tractor (and without that I'd be staying put as it powers the hoist and does the towing..) until in the end they got round the burnt out relay by bridging a connection with a screw driver...

Got a lift to Sparrow on the club runabout - engine on and fired up and I then took 5 minutes to try and remove the pick up tackle but was interrupted by the arrival of four blokes with boat hooks - time to go in....

Wind was blowing a good top end F4 as I came under the bridge, and sod's law it was directly behind as I came into the hoist at far too much speed on just about tick over...  quick blast of reverse, boat crew latched on, and I was plonked in my winter berth 5 minutes later - reckon I was all done and dusted by 1030'ish?

Nice crop of barnacles (as usual) but absolutely delighted with where I am - that's power and water in the blue bollard to the right...

Plenty of weed and slime..   but better than the year before to be honest so I would say the cheap jollop I put on the bottom was a bargain compared with the slightly more expensive jollop I put on other years!

Once Sparrow was safely chocked up, I flushed the outboard and loaded it in the car for home, put the left over fuel in the car, and then grabbed the tender to go and complete recovery of the pickup tackle.

I know a lot of people leave it out but I've always taken the view that the chain is better off in my garage than wearing out on the mooring..  I'd assumed I'd have to hacksaw it off (new shackle at the beginning of the season, but I've never known a galvanised shackle yet that hasn't seized up after anything over a week in salt water! ) so you can imagine my surprise when I actually managed to unscrew it....  all done within 10 minutes, said goodbye to the mooring until next April and loaded the car for home (by 2 - an all time record)

Post edit note: Monday evening saw me down the yard after work and connecting to said power and water with the pressure washer - barnacles removed by wallpaper scraper, weed by the aforesaid washer, followed by a damn good blast of deck and hull and by dusk (6:30!) she was done....  to all intents and purposes, with a coat of antifoul she could go back in straight away, but I have a few things to do this winter that I'm quite looking forward to....  let the maintenance begin!

Thursday 13 October 2016

Mast down and ready to come out....

So on Sunday the intrepid band of brothers (well...  sub annnexe...  as Smithy and t'other Dave aren't safe to be let loose on a small boat) of Rod the Mod, Dave and I convened aboard Sparrow for the bi-annual wrestle with the mast foot bolts that is the mast raising/lowering...

Have to say that this years was probably one of the best mast lowering's we have - didn't really do anything significantly different to previous attempts [clicky],  and we must have done this about a dozen times now as a team... 

I'd bought a small pry bar to help with just "ooching" the mast up a bit to help getting the bottom bolt out of the mast/tabernacle - not a massive success, but Dave had a suggestion to just slightly increase the size of the bolt holes on the tabernacle..  will do that this winter...

Other than that, the drop was smoother than a smooth thing and fairly soon we were reduced to this ==>

The sun was shining as we took the mast down - chilly though as last weeks easterly was still with us - true to form the showers came in just as I cracked open the boats bar, but I can't say that it interrupted the chat and the joshing...  we were then joined by "Solitaire" David who was down to check the aforementioned ready for this weekend when he will sail and motor round for the lift out..  ace - never had four people on Sparrow before...   we were errr..  'snug' 

Few beers and some pork pies later and it was time for home - good result, good afternoon... and that's what it's all about...

Saturday 8 October 2016

Last sail of 2016..

...well on Sparrow anyway.. 

So a crafty half day off to get a last sail in before Sparrow comes out of the water next weekend.. she's due to be lifted on the 16th, and Rod and Dave are booked tomorrow for the bi-yearly fun and games that is the raising/lowering of the mast..  always fun, and I've already got the beer and pork pies in for after.. 

Last weekend was a bit quiet so I thought I'd sneak out and hopefully get a better one, alas was not meant to be.. it was windier, but no more than a F3 all day, but what we did get was an easterly (well, just north of east to be precise) which is about as far from the usual direction as it's possible to get (we have prevailing SW'ly's round here)

So full main, 90% genoa (just because it makes it easier to handle rather than wind conditions) and motored into wind to the end of the "ditch"..  then turned and reached down harbour - kept well over to the side of the channel to keep out of the main tide which I estimated was about 2 knots on the nose..  seemed to work, as even with the tide it was a pleasant trip averaging 2/2.5 knots, would it been fantastic without the tide..! 

Reached HISC, and watched the Moth boys getting some coaching - they were having a hard time getting up on the foils though and gave up shortly after I arrived..

HISC or Hayling Iland Sailing Club..  big racing club - lot of racing for RYA and Olympics done here...

...carried on past the sailing club and into the harbour entrance but the tide was still strong, and the wind was dropping so turned just past West Winner, and just shy of East Stoke....

Building is the RNLI station - Eaststoke is just in front of it

Cold and grey.. and I had four layers on by this time.. so with one look over my shoulder towards East Head for the last time this year, I turned for home and rode the last of the tide back to the mooring.. OK sail - cold though, not my cup of tea - I've come to the conclusion I am (unapologetically) a warm weather sailor..  no interest in keeping Sparrow in over the winter!

Back on the mooring I took off the genoa, and then the main and boom...  I'll fit the A frame and mast crutch tomorrow (9th) when I get on the boat..   fingers crossed all goes well!


Distance: 9.89  (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind: Both ends of a F3 / ExN
Sail Plan: Full main and 90% genoa
Speed: Max speed 5.3 knots (under motor, saw some 4.7's SOG when I turned at Eaststoke) average speed 2.8 (good considering wind/tide/fouling!)