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 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: 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...