Thursday 27 December 2018

Post Christmas sales.. that'll do...

...thanks very much, don't mind if I do...

...the new season starts here!  

Monday 24 December 2018

Happy Christmas!

Shortest day has passed so from this point on we're heading to warm days, good breezes, and shorts and t-shirts on the boat.. bit of a way to go yet though, oh and a bit of work on Sparrow...

While we wait for that to start though - I'll wish any readers who follow the blog Merry Christmas, and an exceedingly Happy New Year!

Picture of this years Emsworth Lobster/Christmas Tree copyright John Tweddle - a local photographer who's offering is a magnitude better than the dreadful one I took..

Sunday 18 November 2018

That was the year that was.. 2018

Time for the traditional review of the year past; it's cold (actually it's been surprisingly warm), dark, grey and wet outside, so this exercise provides a much needed mental fillip to get me motivated to start work on the job list.

This is my sixth year as owner of Sparrow and I still continue to learn and I still have absolutely no interest in parting with her - she does everything I want in spades... so the following is happy memories of good times, warm weather, sunshine glinting on the water, and fair weather sailing in shorts and t-shirts... I always enjoy putting this together, it's a good excuse to read all the old posts, and look at the video (not so much of that this year) and pictures from this years logs....

As of this moment work has already started on the winter jobs list, but plenty more to do - unlike last year I'm fully enthused to get on with it - what's holding me back is available time, or lack of it! 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 complete the wire up of the auto-helm and fit it, also a paint and prime of the keel reinforcement bars..  not so much to do this year.....

Looking back, the whole summer felt like this...
I would say that it was an "Excellent" year; one of the best I've had, to be honest, both in 'Sparrow' or 'Papillon'... looking back my perception was that it started fairly slowly with light winds, not many trips in June and July, but the second half of the season was a belter! Undoubtedly the weather helped..  it was the hottest summer in the UK in 20 or 30 years but wind'wise not as windy a summer as last year, looking at my logs I only reefed the main five times this year compared with seven last year (the logs show a lot of sub-3's and 4's), August and September were truly bliss'ful.. good winds and hot sun...  it was like boating in the Med.

It was also a good year for Solent trips on both 'Sparrow' and on 'Ocean Waves' when compared to last year - I had an absolute belter of a trip to Bembridge with cruise down to Seaview on 'Sparrow', and then I/we (the Jolly Boys) also had a superb Solent outing on 'Ocean Waves' this year - I don't think we could have had 4 better days - with perfect wind and decent weather - no repeat of Lymington's weather this year (which was a quite astonishingly awful weather window that kept us holed up in Lymington for an unheard of two nights!).

Solent at it's finest... Jolly Boys trip 2018
Of last winters jobs [clicky] the big one was the renewal of the outboard pad for which I used my new oscillating power tool and which I already love to bits - one of the best bits of kit I've bought... The repair has behaved impeccably, especially as I also took the decision mid season to start leaving the outboard on the back (albeit well locked and secured) - I don't think it's an overstatement to say that that decision really has transformed my sailing - it makes life a whole lot easier to get going and pack up, I must save 30 minutes a trip..

From this... this

The other big job last winter was fitting the boarding ladder [clicky] happily I can't confirm whether it was a success or not, as I didn't have to use it (though there were a couple of close calls), but I was pleased to have got it done, and I thought it was an unusually good job for me!

Currently unused...
...just one modification, I hinge it up and secure it with a line, as in the down position on port tack it drags in the water...

Of the previous years jobs - the hatch covers are still good (all hail, West Systems), the cabin lights are still good (£7 from China and still no issues!), the battery is good, and also the solar charger is good and despite being small is providing more than enough juice..  the second hand VHF has seen better days - it works, but is pretty poor, I have an eye on eBay for a replacement...

Of the other jobs I want to get done this winter, one not in my hands is the genoa, which has continued to be a handful, and which I've finally decided a 'enough is enough' on - it's going for a re-cut this winter...

So all in all, that rates as a brilliant year....  10 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 - not so much the east of the harbour this year, but we did have a higher than average run of easterly winds this year:

...this made me laugh..  an entire seasons series of tacks to get past Marker...  I missed some bits - I'll fill them in next year...  

....tack tack tack tack tack tack...errr, repeat... etc.
...and the following in "Ocean Waves" this summer on the outrageously entertaining  Jolly Boys Outing [clicky].

What a stupendous trip, some simply superb sailing, an all you can eat buffet in Gosport, Smithy falling off the pontoon in Lymington, lunch in Newtown Creek, t'other Dave pulling the red emergency chord in the toilet of the Royal Southern Yacht Club believing it was the toilet flush (honestly ) ..  good memories...

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

I have no idea what Rodders was doing...  but I have a suspicion...  

Number of visits down to the boat (ie. actually on it): 19 or 20 (couple down on 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:  151.21 miles, which compares with 141.91 last year - within what I've come to expect ie. about 130-150 miles a season unless there's something unusual on (like a big day out/weekend trip or whatever). I am constrained (mostly) to single tide sessions once a week and with a season largely fixed the number of days I get to sail is set by tide availability... having said that it's the most I've sailed in a year for 6 years now..  15 sailing sessions - one less than last year - start of the season was slowwwwww, mid season I got knocked for six by some health issues, but end of the season I took a greater than normal number of days off for much needed cheeky mid-weeker's....

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

...sneaky bugger...  didn't hear him coming the first time and scared the living daylights out of me..  this was second time..
Crew on occasion: None...the whole year was solo...  I don't mind, I'm good company.. if I start talking to the tiller pilot I know I've got a problem.. 

St Catherine's in the distance..  Solent at it's finest..
Cruising range: Mooring to the west, Emsworth Quay to the north, Snowhill in the East and Bembridge to the south.. bigger sailing area this year..

Emsworth Quay..
Biggest Cruise: The Solent Jolly to Bembridge [clicky].. just less than 29 miles on a double tide on a lovely warm sunny day in the Solent - I knew it was a cracker even before the day was out... By the by, that is the longest trip I've ever made on 'Sparrow' in all the years I've owned her, and all hand steered...  

St. Helen's - off Bembridge..
Best Cruise: It was a "choices choices?" this year... the Bembridge trip was good, but the trip to Snowhill [clicky] late season was also superb - a right royal drag race....  

Mouth of Chi Harbour looking towards the Isle of Wight
Worst cruise: The bird poo kind of a day [clicky] without a doubt

Oddest cruise: The end of season trip [clicky] probably...  no sailing but the bacon was good  

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... but the BEST mooring all summer was that lunch stop in Newtown Creek on the Jolly Boys cruise, and perhaps the one I used for the bacon sandwiches on the last trip of the year...

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 still be busy developing their new boats this coming year so no match racing to watch, but Sir Ben does have a prototype out already - wouldn't mind seeing it...  we haven't started planning yet, but I have no doubt there will be a Jolly Boys cruise (no idea where we'll end up, and we're 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" including more time in the Solent ..

Love this .. so atmospheric..  

Date Distance: Wind: Direction Sail
Speed (knots):
7th May 7.04 F3 going F2 SWxS Full main and 75% genoa 3.4 2.2 Late afternoon bimble to Marker on a hot BH Monday
13th May 10.24 (17.28) Both ends F3 WNW going SWxS Full main and full/75% genoa 4.4 2.9 Harbour bimble.. HISC and seals in the sun; cold breeze...
20th May 6.33
F3 gusting F4, going F3 SE going SW Full main and full/75% genoa 5.0 2.7 Bird poo day...
3rd June 11.27
Both ends F3 S going SWxS Full main and full/75% genoa 4.9 3 Gloriously warm trip to Snowhill on a dying breeze
15th to 19th June 70.92*
F5 / F6 SW Full/reefed main and jib 6.7 4.0 The 2018 Jolly Boys Cruise!
15th July 9.42
F3 going F4 SW going SWxS Full main and 90% genoa 5.0 2.3 First time out in an age - caught a fish and saw HISC twice!
17th July 18*
F5 gusting F6 SW going SWxW Reefed main and jib 7.1 5.6 Delivery trip on AmiLy - Portsmouth to Northney
3rd August 8
F3 SWxS Full main and 90% genoa 4.0 2.3 Afternoon tacking against tide..
5th August 28.62
F3 ENE going S Full main and genoa 6.5 3.1 Double tider in the Solent - Bembridge and Seaview
17th August 10.13
F4 gusting F5 WxS Reefed main and 75% genoa 5.7 3.1 Blustery old day racing to HISC and back - close range seal sighting
24th August 10.79
F4 gusting F5 WNW Reefed main and 75% genoa 4.5 3.2 Another blustery old day racing to HISC and back..  Spitfire sighting and a lovely shot of Terror
31st August 9.77
F3 gusting F4 SE going SxE Full main and 80% genoa 4.9 2.6 Tacking to Verner on a sunny late season Friday afternoon..
F3 gusting F4 SE going S Full main and 80% genoa 5.3 2.6 Verner redux with a hull scrub..
F2 gusting F3 WxS through WxN Full main and 90% genoa 4.2 2.1 Up to Emsworth on a sunny Thursday off work
F4 gusting F5SWxW going WxS. Reefed main and 75% genoa 4.9 2.9 Reefed drag race to HISC in a soldiers wind..
28th September 11.21
F4 gusting F5 NExE Reefed main and 75% genoa 4.4 3.0 Snowhill or bust...NE'ly run down to East Head only for the wind to head me..  buzzed by a Moth.. 

Year total : 151.12 miles

2017 total (in Sparrow): 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 Papillon): 173.29 miles
2011 total (in Papillon): 193.41 miles
2010 total (in Papillon): 154.23 miles
2009 total (in Papillon): 125 miles

Tuesday 30 October 2018

Gone... and first jobs...

Three days later and I'm out, and work has already commenced, but after four days of hard work I'm glad to be back at my desk for a rest!

So Friday was mast down, Saturday was work party at the club for lift out - eight boats lifted and plenty of time on the water (which is a good thing), on a variety of boats (also a good thing), it was mostly sunny (ditto) but my goodness it was chilly...  some biting northerly's..

Sunday Sparrow was due for lift out so arrived early, got a lift out to Sparrow (so no tender required) and motored her under the bridge for one last trip this season before picking up a spare mooring in the pool between the bridge and the old railway line to wait for my turn on the tractor..

Not so bad this year - fourth out I think - and an absolute prime position right by a power/water bollard, and just in front of t'other Dave's boat (he of Jolly Boys "fame")... most chuffed..

Note broom pole as temporary central mast support...
The following makes it look like it was hugely gray and stormy - but that would be because it was ..  we had at least two deluges during the lift out..  hideous....

Enough was enough - outboard engine taken off and flushed with fresh water and I headed home for a warm shower...

With a plenitude of holiday still in the bank at work I had booked off Monday for wash down and hull clean - I had a list and I was going to stick to it! ... 

First on the list was a better mast support - all the years I've had Sparrow I've just hung the mast between the two end points (crutch and pulpit) but with no central support it bounces, and I am wary of issues with putting weight on it while moving about the boat, so for lift out I put in a temporary broom pole and lashing to support the centre, but I wanted to make something more permanent - bit of 3 x 2 later and all done...

Next job (while I waited for the tide to fill in) was to start job #8 which is one of my priority jobs for the winter..  Sparrow has a couple of glassed in metal stringers running from one keel to the other - my guess is that it is keel reinforcement - over the years the glass has split and let in water so the stringers were beginning to rust - not a good thing..  so Monday with the help of the awesome oscillating multi tool I cut away all the glass fibre, to get a good look at what was underneath.. 

Not so bad I was relieved to find - just surface - but needed treating..  I also noticed that the stringers are not directly attached to the surface of the boat underneath which reinforces my view they are not part of the hull reinforcement, but purely for keel reinforcement... I think..  no matter have asked some experts and we shall see...

In the meanwhile I cleaned them off with a wire brush, and then coated them with Fertan [clicky] and left them for the prescribed 24/48 hours

Depending on what I hear, I will either just paint them and leave them exposed (I prefer this one as I like to see stuff, not hide it under glass fibre) or glass them back in (if they are also hull reinforcement). Whatever I choose to do, I will also clean and paint the bilges in the immediate area...

That done and it was time to go recover the mooring pickup chain and buoy - I always do this as I take the view that the pickup chain will last a lot longer living in my garage over the winter than it will lying in the mud and the crud of the harbour bottom..

Last time I installed the chain, purely to see if it would help, I sprayed the thread of the shackle that attaches to the mooring buoy with waterproof grease, and I was hugely pleased to see that this year I could actually undo it rather than having to hacksaw it as I usually do - bonus...

Safely ashore and tender stored, last job of the day was the pressure wash of the hull (which was much needed - see video evidence below) - in the great pantheon of sh*tty jobs that have you to do on a boat, pressure washing underneath the hull, between the keels, is right up there as #2 or #3 (antifouling will always be #1), but an hour later, a considerably soggier Steve was done (O rings had gone on the pressure washer lance, so it was leaking up my sleeve )

Note new mast support...

Got a weeks holiday coming up, so one last session before I go - need to give the decks and cockpit a wash down, and I'll hoover out the dust/debris in the bilge, and wash down the stringers ready for a coat of paint - if they're dry in time, I'll give them a coat of metal primer there and then...

Last of all, the worlds most boring video - purely for interest I like to document what state the hull is in each year on lift out - this is this years, look at that crop of barnacles!

Saturday 27 October 2018

Going, going..

....the Jolly boys convened yesterday for our usual festival of fun as we got the mast down.. remarkably trouble free this year.. damn cold though, and the first major frost of the winter this morning..  roll on next summer, but not so fast as last year please, as I fancy getting some work done this winter!

Monday 22 October 2018

End of the season... a little under four weeks ago when I said those words "I could come out tomorrow content, but a few more trips would be nice..." they turned out, unfortunately, to be famous last words....

Faced with a succession of low pressure systems featuring rain, wind, rain, storm Callum (must be bad if it got a name), plus a number of family drama's, and so it was that I arrived at the last weekend before lift out to be faced by a high pressure zone over the UK that was so high you'd need a Hubble space telegraph to see how big it was...  beautiful warm sunny weather but not a breath of breeze....

So what does a man do when his boat is coming out of the water the next weekend for a long cold winter and there isn't enough wind to sail? He fires up the metal donkey, drops his mooring, goes in search of an empty mooring, and then starts frying bacon while he watches the world go by...

Bacon sizzling - my permanent mooring is in the far distance - look at that water, flat as a flat thing...

Lovely day on the water, the bacon was good, the coffee was good, I got to watch the boats coming out of Northney, and I sat in the sun..

Bare feet in mid-October - unheard of..

Regrettably time and tide wait for no man so I motored back to the mooring and then stripped the sails, boom, and halyards - the jolly boys are coming on Friday to drop the mast, east pork pies, and drink beer...  I have a work party Saturday (lift crew), Sparrow comes out on Sunday, and I have the Monday off to pressure wash and clean the hull...

Few more jobs added to the winter job list - first one, storm Callum did for my sail cover and the cheap and cheerful I bought way back in 2013 has finally given up the ghost, splitting along the top seam - long term exposure to UV had done for the stitching...  I have a choice - repair it or buy a new one, but given the material is also now as thin as tissue I think a new one can be afforded - it cost me £50 five years ago..  tenner a year? Bargain...  Second, I need to renew the whipping on the genoa/main/topping lift, eyes...

Saturday 29 September 2018

Snowhill.. or bust...

Just over 3 hours on the water on a crafty Friday afternoon off.. a little over 4 weeks to lift out so I'm enjoying it while I can, but at this stage of the game I have to say it's been an outstanding season - possibly one of the best I've had, certainly the best while in Sparrow's ownership..  I could come out tomorrow content, but a few more trips would be nice... 

So...  on the boat by 1300, HT at 14:30, neaps, and a breezy gusty old day..  and an unusual wind direction post storms Ali [clicky]and Bronagh [clicky] which had put paid to sailing last weekend.. we don't get very many easterly'd of any kind but this was a NE'ly..  so a little on the cool side..  still in shorts but the jacket stayed on for the whole trip..!

Hurley  22  - "Sea Rose" - grown up "Sparrow"....

Reefs had been left in after the last trip so preparation was suitably quick - with this wind direction there was no point in putting any of the rags up until well past Northney, so engine on and off down the cut..  Well done to the Conservancy (the guys who look after the harbour) for replacing the missing navigation marks, by the way..

So main up past Northney as that's the point I can bear off a little and get some wind assist..  motor sailed to Sweare Deep and then rolled out some genoa (five or 6 rolls in) and bore off for a fairly brisk run down harbour - 3 knots against tide, with foul bottom, and on a run.. not too be sniffed at...

...the only thing you hear is the light clatter of the sensor wand on the front...

At NW Pilsey I bore off for East Head, I'd had an idea for a trip to Snowhill.. usually I'd do that at Verner, but on a tide about to start falling, and a Neap, I didn't want to chance the sands..

Lovely trip down to the Head, the beach was looking beautiful in the late afternoon sun..  only a few boats anchored off the beach today but the wind was heading me (it swung about a fair bit today - easily 10 or so degrees either side of NExE, and sometimes it was handy and sometimes - as now - it was not)...couple of tacks against the tide, but time was running out, so with Snowhill tantalisingly close it was tack and bear off for the top of the harbour on a beat against tide..

Happily one long tack saw me almost to Marker - three or four further tacks and I'd made my north'ing and bore off for the cut..  rolled the genoa away but for the first time this season sailed all the way home only dropping the main when I got to the bridge..

Brilliant day out...  and smashed last years mileage record in the process...  in fact, it must have been a good year as in 10 years of boat ownership this year is already the fourth best for mileage, and the best for Sparrow.. and still four weeks to go...

Jobs added to the winter maintenance..  some patching and repairing of the sail cover...  all those storms, and 6 years of UV damage are beginning to make their presence felt, and it's paper thin in places..


Distance: 11.21 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind (Speed; Direction): F4 gusting F5, going F4; NExE but 10 degrees either side of that at random intervals..
Sail Plan: Reefed main, 75% genoa
Speed (Max/average in knots):  4.4 / 3.0

Monday 24 September 2018

Southampton Boat Show 2018

..another year another Boat Show, and for me a "must do" event in the year..  I love it - the buzz, the boats, the crowds, the "stuff" you never knew you needed, and the Guinness bar...

So here's a whistle stop tour of "my show"

View from one of the boats on the pontoons to show the weather the day I went - blustery and occasional splat of rain, but mostly sunny.. 

..this was mid blustery period - and being a boat show there were oplenty of wind speed instruments to have a look at - this one clocked 30 knots so a good F7..  happily they didn't last for long..

.. for some of the days of this years show the pontoons were closed so we were lucky..  my sister works for the National Oceanography Centre and this was taken from the upper deck of one of their survey ships which was open to visitors - very interesting ship by the way...

..this is her on a far nicer day..  not my piccie..

...ugliness personified following - though I suspect her owner loves her ....  motor cat... and absolutely mahoosive...

This however was fascinating - prototype of a new model of yacht being built by these guys [clicky] - lovely people, very welcoming, and very proud of the new innovations...  full on induction hob, lift keel not so revolutionary I know, carbon fibre rig (the whole mast weighs only 14Kg.) dyneema rigging, spacious open cabin, sliding doors to forecabin.....  my sister was much taken with the wheel which pivots between port, centre and starboard steering positions but stepping on that step at the bottom of the wheel that locks it in place once moved - very clever...

..but this was very clever - electric propulsion with a drop down drive - if you're not using it just lift it up and out of the way...  I recommend a read of that web page for more... 

My boat of the show this year - Halberg Rassy 58..  I sail an HR 342 on the Jolly Boys trip every year so was keen to see what a stretched one looks like....  nothing like in summary though that's not strictly true - there are little hints but this thing was absolutely stunning...  so ..  twin wheels, centre cockpit... I recognised the glass dodger - same as the 342 (just bigger)

...those seats are the dogs nadgers - bro in law and I would be entirely happy to have one of those in our sitting rooms - very comfortable. They are an option, I think you could have a bench seat if you wanted, but the cabin is huge and airy with a full bench seat and table the other side already, and for relaxing in they have no equal..  this (following) is looking to the stern and one of the three double cabins - the aft one en-suite

..nav station..  I recognised the upholstery style, the door.cupboard.draw knobs and of course the superb wood work...

..this was very clever...  proper washer/dryer in the shower behind a clear perspex door..


Wasn't all wind and bluster (following)...  sat on the foredeck seat on one of the big sailing cat's - didn't like it as much as the HR... 

Racing sledge...  superb, lovely clean design, and looks super fast but with room to get below for a cuppa when the weather breaks... 

French of course...  very pretty...

...finished off with a look round these two old ladies who were moored next to each other..

Lively Lady in particular was in stunning condition after the major part of a full restoration in previous months - worth following their Facebook page...

..and Suhaili - solid as a rock...

Great show - layout changes every year, but just as enjoyable as ever...