Tuesday 24 December 2019

Merry Christmas

..a Merry Christmas to all my reader, and "fair winds" in 2020...

..Max over at Bursledon Blogger [clicky] reminded me the other day that last Sunday was the Winter Solstice, so to all my fellow sailors I will leave only this comment...

Saturday 30 November 2019


From one of the guys on the Practical Boat Owner forum came this awesome link to all things Suzuki [clicky]...

Which gave me an excuse to fix this:

...honestly, why would you use a soft metal fitting on a marine outboard??

Part identified..

Ordered a new bolt, and more importantly the spacer, from Suzuki UK..  5 minute job to then slip out the old and replace with the new..  I re-used the nut and washer...

...the engine used to live in an outboard well - the following is one of the side effects...  better fixed than not, I think...  

Wednesday 20 November 2019

That was the year that was.. 2019

Time for the traditional review of the year past; it's cold, 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 seventh 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 some happy (and some not so happy) memories of good times, bad times, warm weather, not so 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 not started on the winter jobs list, 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. There is no major job this winter , other than a general clean up, and perhaps a coat of paint in the cabin..  not so much to do this year..

I would say that it was a "Dreadful" year; one of, if not the, worst season's I've had to be honest, either in 'Sparrow' or 'Papillon'... looking back my perception was that it was one long succession of poor tides, gales, and few weather windows, and then having the car break down on me for three months, and the outboard engine getting stolen was just the icing on the cake..as little'un said, it's yin and yang for the awesome summer we had last year... 😒

Solent trips this year were limited to 'Ocean Waves' and 'Liberty' though (as ever) the Jolly Boys had a superb outing on our 'Ocean Waves' charter this year though for weather reasons I don't think it was as good as last year - it was a blowy/blustery few days - but the sailing was superb, we really are growing in confidence as a crew.

...the resemblance is uncanny...  Jolly Boys 2019...
Of last winters jobs [clicky] the big one was the wiring in of the tiller pilot which was an absolute game changer in what little sailing I managed to get done this year - it makes life a whole lot easier, and the freedom to get away from the tiller is an absolute joy...

The other big jobs last winter were the alterations to the main sail and genoa - another unqualified success that has made a huge difference to sail trim - and the new VHF which after initial teething problems has worked, and continues to work, well...

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..

...but all in all, that still rates as a poor year....  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 - nowhere out of the harbour this year: 

...and the following in "Ocean Waves" this summer on the outrageously entertaining  Jolly Boys Outing [clicky].

Friday blue, Saturday pink, Sunday green, Monday yellow..
What a(nother) stupendous trip that was, some simply superb sailing, never dropped below F4 all three days, often up to F5 or F6, in fact the only day the wind dropped and the sun came out was the last day on the way back ..  good memories...

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

Jolly Boys 2019 - that sums up the weather nicely...  grey, windy, but superb!


Number of visits down to the boat (ie. actually on it): 16 or 17 (couple/three 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 last week alone.. 

Total distance sailed:  77.59 miles, which compares with 151.21 last year - least miles I've ever done in a season in either Sparrow or Papillon... weather not good, a succession of poor tide weekends, engine getting nicked kicked the stuffing out of me for a bit, and I also had car problems for two or three months..  'nuff said..  onwards and upwards...

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

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.. 

Cruising range: Mooring to the west, Emsworth Quay to the north, Snowhill in the East and HISC to the south.. much reduced sailing area this year..

Biggest Cruise: The day I saw the seal in the cut [clicky].. just less than 13 miles on a single tide on a breezy day in the harbour - so good I turned and went back when half way home..  

Closest I got to the Solent this year...
Best Cruise: With dew to choose from this year the first trip down to Snowhill [clicky] was hard to beat..  perfect day..  

Worst cruise: The row out to confirm the engine was stolen, without a doubt..

Oddest cruise: The end of season trip [clicky] probably...  not much sailing but the mackerel was good  

Best anchorages: None this year, no need..

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

Worst mooring: Not a one to be honest.. they've all been good..

Plans for next year: The America's Cup is picking up, Sir Ben has launched his first boat (they're allowed two) and I'm hoping the Jolly Boys will get a trip out and see her at some time..  no idea of there are any warm up traces scheduled..  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.. I have a new (to me) engine though, and would like some time in the Solent .. and a better season, please... 


Date Distance: Wind: Direction Sail
Speed (knots):
21st Feb 27.23* n/a n/a n/a 8.6 5.1 Trip out on Liberty for lunch in Cowes..
5th May 4.51 F3 gusting F4 NxW through NxE Full main and jib 6.0 3.8 Gusty, cold day, shakedown cruise..  first use of the magic wand..
25th May 12.08
Both ends of  F4 SW  going WxS Reefed main and jib 6.3 3.8 First time out in a fortnight on a sunny breezy day - seals and Snowhill
2nd June 9.74
Top F3 gusting F4 SWxW Full main and full/reefed jib 5.4 3.4 Down to Eastoke on a single tack, a Harrison Butler yacht was lovely..
14th - 17th June 62.76*
F4 to F6 SW mostly Full/reefed main and jib 7.4
5.1 (avg) The 2019 Jolly Boys Cruise!
22nd June 11.34
F3 gusting F4 SE Full main and jib 4.7 3.1 Tack, tack, tack, down to Pilsey in glorious sunshine...
30th June 12.54
F3/F4 then F3 WNW going WxS Full/reefed main and full jib 5.3 3.5 Both ends of the harbour
Both ends of a F4 SWxW going WSW Reefed main and jib 5.3 3.5 To the end of the harbour twice, a seal in the cut, and my first jammed roller furler!
24th August 4.07*
F0 n/a Engine 4.7 3.1 First day out following the theft of the outboard, but no wind and blisteringly hot..  
31st August 9.25
F4 gusting F5 WxS mostly Reefed main and jib 5.5 3.0 Sunny day got dark and grey quickly - plan to go to the Bar Beacon abandoned
14th September 5.19
F2 going F1 E going SSE Full mon and genoa 4.9 2.0 Round Hayling on a hot and most wind'less day..  mackerel caught
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .

Year total (to date): 77.59 miles

2019 total (in Sparrow): 77.59 miles 
2018 total (in Sparrow): 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

Saturday 9 November 2019


Time to try the new (to me) engine for size on the back of "Sparrow" as I was concerned about space and fit, especially with regard to lifting the prop clear of the water when not in use..

So it was, that on a grey wet Thursday morning, I found myself in the all in one green waterproofs (it's a sight for sure) grovelling in the mud and the blood and the beer* under Sparrow while wielding a pressure washer lance to get the crap of the season off her bottom...   there is a circle of hell that specifically features having to pressure wash between the keels of a small bilge keeler in November, but the job was done and she looks good and ready for next years new coat...  some extra fine wet and dry removed some remaining scuffs (including the marks left by whatever boat the criminals were in that stole the last engine 😒) but a wash over with Oxalic acid is on the cards as she's still a little yellow, and I have some stubborn green staining to remove under the transom, at the top of the rudder, where I get wave slap...  items added to the 'to do' list

*only one of these was actually present..

Once this was done it was time for the engine fit..

..looks good I think.. 

Time to try the lifted position..

...because of the tiller configuration - centre of the front of the engine rather than the more normal to the side position - as I suspected the tiller stops the engine tilting any further forward, as it hits the back lip of the outboard scoop...

...fairly usual two lifting/resting points - bottom is fully down, then half up (1st) and fully up (2nd)

...need to replace that bottom spacer bolt..
With the engine as tilted up as it will possibly go, the restraining bar is not quite able to click in to the fully up slot..  bugger...

I think though that it would be fairly easy just to trim off half a centimetre of that lip with an angle grinder and jobs a good'un...  the alternative would be to shorten the holding arm (the silvery grey mechanism) - more to check and investigate I think, but certainly no serious issues with the fit, and the engine is currently in for a service and to have the leg painted..

...thoughts then turn to security as this is really not an engine for wresting off the back of the boat every time I want to go for a sail...

Monday 28 October 2019

...and he's out...


Yeah - not often I say I'm glad to be out of the water at the end of a season, but I was for this one...

The work party on Saturday I was due to be on got cancelled (somewhat serendipitously, as it meant I got to see England doing the dirty on the All Blacks), heavy weather was forecast, and indeed appeared..  solid 7's and 8's with rain - disgusting weather.. as it was, the club lift out party managed to lift extra boats on the Friday, but there were still 20 or 21 boats on the list for Sunday when I was due to come out..

With the clocks going back, I at least got a little extra time in bed, but the HT was still 10:30'ish so I was down the club for half 7 stroke 8...  and I wasn't the first!

Cup of tea and a natter, and I dragged the tender down to the foreshore (the launch trolley really is at deaths door and needs looking at this winter - one wheel is seized again, but more irritatingly the support struts for the pad the dinghy sits on have rusted away completely on one side) for that last row out to the boat..  to be met by this....

F**king wind!  
..that's it - I give up - I am not buying another windex - I'll make do with a burgee, or bits of wool on the stays, or whatever - I refuse to buy any more of these expensive shoddy plastic pieces of cr*p..  the arrow was there when then mast was taken down - clearly the design can't handle the lateral forces (of wind) we had on the Saturday..

Bolted the engine on the back - the Mariner/loan'er rather than Suzy - and that was playing up..  wouldn't start, then would, rough idling, then cut out, restart, repeat...  finally got it going and with additional rev's and a word to one of the club support boats that I was having problems, dropped the mooring and motored under the bridge to pick up  mooring on the Langstone side and wait my turn..

..not a bad place to sit and wait..
During the storms one of the club boats had broken free of it's mooring and ended up against the bridge on the foreshore on the right in the above picture, but with a 5 and a bit metre tide, two of the lift team got a rope on her from one of our big carriers, plenty of throttle, and off she popped - her mast is down but she really has had a very lucky escape - just scrapes on the rubbing strake down one side..

The boats were going ashore in a steady stream, but as a tiddler with less than a metre draft Sparrow was clearly well down the list, and sure enough on hour or so after HT one of the lift leaders asked me to put her ashore on the shingle next to the slipway where she could be recovered at leisure later..  once again the engine was giving grief, but after multiple starts, finally started and kept going...

Either way, job done, safely on the shingle, though it isn't ever going to be something easy to do when it is so counter intuitive! 

Ready for picking up later..
While I waitied for the tide to disapear, and me be lifted, I cadged a lift for me and a bucket of tools back to my tender which had been left on the mooring...  time to recover the mooring gear, and somewhat amazingly, as per last year, the shackle again came undone! Waterproof grease on the thread clearly the way forward, but after two years it had had it's day anyway - new one for next season..

Back to shore - tender away for the winter stored upside down - put the mooring gear away and then nothing to do until Sparrow got lifted..  which finally happened about 2 or 3 hours later - think I was the last but one boat. Getting on for evening, swift rinse of the outboard - same issue again with starting, until it had warmed up when it ran fine (I'm thinking spark plug.........) - tidy up on the boat - removed the boarding ladder and did my first repair of the winter on that (sheared bolt on one of the support legs) - chocked up the boat, and home for a long shower...  knackered...

I'm down again on Thursday for a trial fit of Suzy, and a pressure wash of the hull..

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Has he sunk?

...no..  still here...  bowed but unbroken.. 

...so what the hell has been going on?? Very little sailing for sure*, but enough activity in other directions to offset it...

First, the search for a replacement for the stolen outboard is now complete with the purchase from a fellow club member of the beast above..  it's a Suzuki 6HP long shaft 4-stroke, somewhat spookily it is a 2007 model as per the Tohatsu it is replacing. It was kept in an outboard well for a number of it's years so is not in as good a condition as the old one..  the leg in particular needs a rub back and paint, but all in all it is a good engine, it runs, it's quieter than the old Tohatsu, and had a good cooling water stream.

The only concern is the size of it compared with the outboard scoop..  the Suzuki is unusual in that the steering arm/throttle is central to the front of the engine rather than hinged on one side..  it's on a wishbone type arrangement and my concern is that I won't be able to fully tilt the leg due to the wishbone getting in the way - we shall see once the boat is out of the water... if it doesn't fit, then I may well move it on and continue the search...  what would be perfect is a 4HP 2-stroke in good condition..  much lighter/smaller power head..  easier to move about..  it also has a charging coil and I thought one of my winter projects may be to plumb in a permanent socket to attach the output to - the following is what's on there, I suspect this is Suzuki proprietary as I can't find anything similar anywhere on Google so I will probably just hack it off and replace with something else...

 ..thoughts then turn to security - but I'll face that issue once I know it fits the scoop - I really don't want to be fitting an outboard pad just to keep the engine...

The other thing occupying minds is lift out - yup - that's it - no more opportunities to sail this year*...  went out to Sparrow last Saturday (which I worked out was the first time in 5 weeks!) and took off the boom, mainsail, and genoa, and fitted the mast crutch...




...ready for Monday when the jolly boys once again convened for alcohol and pork pie fueled fun dropping the mast and getting her ready to fit under the bridge...

Superb drop - we had the mast down and everything put away, with the mast tied down and secured insde of 45 minutes...  where we then showed our true colours and legged it nto the cabin to drink tea and eat biscuits rather than quaff foaming bumpers of ale..  we're getting old.. 

Stay tuned - she come's out Sunday, and it'll be time for the annual most boring video award contender...

*without a shadow of a doubt I would say that this has been my worst sailing season probably since I bought Pap all those years ago...   my little'un reckons it is a simple ying and yang thing - last summer was so brilliant that it really is no surprise that this one would be so rubbish..  multiple reasons..  having my engine stolen certainly kicked me in the mental nuts, but in addition it was just one long succession of poor weather windows (gale after gale, rain after rain), poor tide times, and other priorities on those weekends where a sail was an option..  so it is that the 15th of last month was the last time I sailed..

Friday 4 October 2019

Southampton Boat Show 2019

Shtandart [clicky]

Much overdue, but I've been busy.. 

A good show this year again I thought.. my feet certainly told me it was the next day anyway..  I refuse to get excited about going on the big expensive one's, but I never tire of looking at them, and there were some crackers to look at.. 

Given my usual sailing experience I am far more interested in the smaller boats..  less of the newer/development one's this year (though the tried and trusted Cornish/Bay were there in force as usual, and also some smaller boats I've seen before in the main arena)..  this one did catch my eye however.. BTC-22 from Buckley Yacht Design [clicky] entirely British made..  and in Southampton as well...  more here [clicky], but I had a long and interesting conversation with one of the builders/designers (for which kudos, as it was the last weekend of the show, he'd been there a week, and still took time out to talk to a 'tyre kicker'.. )..  reasonable price, and from a quality builder (they build the Hawk 20), I do hope they do well..

They usually have a tall ship at the show (Kskelot last year) but this years was a bit special..

The frigate ‘Shtandart’ is a full-size replica of the flagship of the first Russian Baltic fleet built in 1999. There were no plans so they used naval historian, Victor Krainyukov, who had been commissioned in 1987 by the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg to find out everything possible about the ship.

After extensive research in the archives and records for multiple nations, and with the discovery of an 18th Century which showed the Shtandart in action, they had enough to go on to rebuild the ship. She's made in larch and is stunning..  the web site [clicky] has some shots of her under full sail that are superb..

From old style to old school..  Gypsy Moth was also at the show looking good..

Top it off with good company, and a couple of pints of Guinness in the Guinness bar and there's not a  lot not to like..   roll on next years show...