Friday 31 December 2021

That was the year that was (almost).. 2021


Yee gods, it's the end of 2021 already..  that must mean it's time for my traditional look back at the sailing year..! 😁, the little (big?) bastard to the left continued to make itself felt this year despite the general lift in lockdown closures, and consequent greater freedom to sail but in reality, for me anyway, it was a fairly "meh" summer as far as sailing Sparrow went - on the other side of the coin however, there was far more sailing on other people's boats, including what was quite possibly one, if not the, best days sailing for the entire season.. so swings and roundabouts...

This is my ninth year as owner of Sparrow and apart from the amazement at where nine years have gone (it only seems like yesterday that I first drove into the car park in Bosham, saw her at the back, and just knew she was the one I was going to buy) 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...

So many expectations at the beginning of the season as she was lifted in..

 I always enjoy putting this together, it's a good excuse to read all the old posts, and look at the videos (one this year, and riveting it is!) and pictures from this years logs....
      ..on the mooring this year - love the way the sun slanted through the clouds..
    As of this moment work has not started on the winter jobs list, but as usual 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 perhaps one or two major jobs this winter which makes a nice change, neither of them are mission critical though, and other than the aforesaid antifoul she could go back in the water tomorrow if I wanted..
    • the washboards were showing signs of water ingress but the bodged repair has held up well and there is currently no need to replace them - but they will need a coat of paint..
    • the cabin got a freshen up coat of paint and looks all the better because of it..
    • the curtains, after eight years of UV are beyond pale, in fact they are beyond the pale (πŸ˜€), and could still do with being replaced..  if I could get my hands on a sewing machine I'd do my own..
    • I was looking at the cabin wiring the other day and while it all works, and is tucked away, neat it isn't - some ducting perhaps..
    • the gelcoat is beginning to get thin in places - not surprising after almost 55 years of exposure to the elements - the easiest solution is probably to colour match some paint, I am not painting the whole boat, that way lies madness, so patch repairs only where needed.
    • first major is to give the antifoul a good abrading - it's stuck well so the issue is not flaking, but despite being soft/ablative there is build up that has lead to a lumpy and cratered surface..  what I want to do is flatten it off..  thinking a sanding pole and some wet and dry coarse weave sanding mesh at the moment..
    • second project/major of the winter lift out - I have depth instruments, at last (I've never bothered for 13 years up to now!) For the kind of sailing I do they aren't really necessary, but as a project it's going to be fun, and it will allow me to see just how shallow it is when I transit Pilsey Sands! So courtesy of a very good Black Friday deal, I am now in possession of a NASA Target 2 depth sounder..  my intention is to fit the transducer behind the battery box..  it's an in hull, rather than through hull, so no holes needed..

    I would say that it was an "OK" year; not the worst season I've had either in 'Sparrow' (or 'Papillon' for that matter) but it definitely wasn't good... looking back there were three main reasons for that - one I didn't go in until June (four or five weeks later than usual) we can blame COVID jitters for that..  two, my perception was that the weather was not brilliant - it was a damn windy and wet summer at times*..  three, there was a run of weekends where the tide times really weren't optimal for day sailing... four, the outboard was at the repair shop for a couple of weeks which ruled them out... and I was just..  too out of practice to feel comfortable doing any long day's..  anyway there you are..  excuses made for the paltry 44 mile tally in 2021..

    *I don't think it was only me, a number of other guys in the club said the same... 

    Sparrow may have been poorly served, but Rod the Mod and t'other Dave saved my sanity on a number of occasions with sailing offers, and we had some brilliant trips this year, including an "interesting" Jolly Boys trip after a one year hiatus - so damn good to get away despite the "issues"..
    Ten trips this year of which four were in the Solent on 'AmiLy' (Rod's boat) and 'Kings Ransom' (t'other Dave's boat) so not included in my totals. The Jolly Boys cruise after last years hiatus was immensely and stupidly enjoyable, but it blew like a bastard most of the time we were away, and at times it also pissed down with rain and was cold - we'd go again tomorrow!

    Of last winters jobs the one that worked beyond compare well, was the tiller pilot clip - such a cheap and simple thing but it worked perfectly..

    The cockpit lid - which must be about the third - at the moment, touch wood, is behaving...  the epoxy primer undercoat spray is the dogs nuts..

    I can confirm that the new/upgraded "perching pad"™ (πŸ˜„) I was so looking forward to using last year is bloody brilliant - I may have only done 44 miles but it's the perfect place to sit while the pilot does what it says on the tin!

    ...with a coat of paint to the cabin, a new outboard pad, leak proofing, oxalic/wash down, new varnish for tiller/cockpit hatch/grab rails and mast support.. not too shabby a maintenance winter...  6 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.. yeah, nuff said: 

    Finest cruising ground in the northern hemisphere - my opinion anyway

    ...but the following in "AmiLy" (blue) and "Kings Ransom" (red) this summer...

    ...and then there was the Jolly Boys trip..


    Number of visits down to the boat (ie. actually on it): Difficult to say,  6 sailing trips, but sometimes even sitting on your boat on the mooring (and I did that few times - usually flat calm), or even in the car park come to that, is preferable to not being on your boat at all...  sometimes you just miss "boat smell" 
    Total distance sailed:  44 and a half..  'nuff said..  onwards and upwards... but about 65 or 70 on Rod and Dave's boats... and then there was the Jolly Boys Cruise..  120 (!) miles in 4 days - furthest we've been since 2014, and twice the distance we did on the last outing..

    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 (who I love by the way) I know I've got a problem.. 

    Cruising range: HISC to the south, Snowhill to the east, let's move on.. on Rod and Dave's boats, Port Solent in the north, Cowes south and west, the club east..

    Biggest Cruise: Ok - we need to open this up to those trips I did do even when it wasn't on Sparrow.  This one was easy - the first day on the Jolly Boys cruise [clicky] was utterly awesome, I had grin on my face all evening after that sail, it was also long, 45+ miles in a day, and an average speed of over 5 knots...  it was windy, the chop was up, against tide, and Ocean Waves went at it like she was on rails..  brilliant..  beer tasted good that night

    Smithy "enjoying" himself on this years JB Cruise

    Best Cruise: A few to choose from this year, clearly day 1 of the Jolly Boys trip is a contender, but I have to say that the delivery trip on Kings Ransom [clicky] at the end of the season was probably equally as good.. KR is a surprisingly slippy boat when she gets going..  throw in a decent breeze, some warships, and 3 or 4 knots of tide under you and we had a brilliant sail..

    Worst cruise: The day the outboard broke [clicky] clearly wasn't the best of days.. but even that had it's upsides..  no drama's, no crisis, we did what we were supposed to, and we got a result..  lessons learned, one, the anchor works but I needed to make it easier to get to (that's done - anchor and rode now lives in a large rubber trug with handles so it's easier to get out and deploy), the boom crane worked well, and I now know a lot more about the throttle assembly on the outboard..  so all in all, not so bad..

    Such a small and insignificant part...  yet with all the ability to cr*p on your day... 😏

    Oddest cruise: The day I lost my hat [clicky]..  short and sweet!
    Best anchorages: In the moorings by Hayling bridge the day the outboard died! πŸ˜‚
    Best mooring:  ...the waiting pontoon at the Island Sailing Club [clicky] - lovely lunch, and good banter with a bunch of mates...

    Worst mooring: Easy..  day 2 of the Jolly Boys cruise [clicky] when we t-boned the yacht next to us while turning with the tide into a finger berth on the Hamble.. 😟 Frightening at the time - the possibility of people injury was real, but no one was hurt, apart from pride, lessons were learned, and insurance excesses were paid..

    Plans for next year:  
    • The Jolly Boys cruise..   
    • Some decent sailing sessions...
    Riveting video award:


    Date Distance: Wind: Direction Sail
    Speed (knots):
    29th April 28'ish* F2 gusting
    NW'ly Full main
    and jib
    5 3'ish Early season trip on AmiLy to
    Cowes for massive burgers..  Baltic!
    11th July 5.82 Both ends F3 S/SSE Full main
    and jib
    5.4 2.6 Shake down sail with the Red Arrows
    17th July 8.05
    F2 gusting F3 S/SSW Full main
    and jib
    5.6 2.7 Hot late afternoon beat to Verner and a run back
    22nd July 13.63
    Both ends F3 ESE going SE Full main
    and jib
    4.8 3.0 Snowhill and my first seal sighting of the summer
    23rd to 26th July 119.42*
    F0 to F5 SE mostly Full/ reefed main and jib 8.9
    4.0 (avg) The 2021 Jolly Boys Cruise!
    14th Aug 5.31 (32.81) F3 gusting F4 SSW Full main and jib 5.5 3.1 Unexpected evening sail in the sun
    22nd Aug 9.19 (42) F3 gusting F4 NWxN Full main and jib 4.7 1.8 Engine dies after an idyllic day reaching down the harbour
    2.5 (44.5) F4 gusting F5 SxW Full main and reefed jib . 3.5 Very short trip - windier than I was prepared for - MOB on my hat!
    15th Oct 25.44*
    F0 to F3 NW going NE Full main and jib 6.8 2.7 Island Sailing Club for lunch on Ami-Ly
    22nd Oct 13.81*
    F4/5 gusting 6 W/WxN Full main and reefed/no jib 6.9 3.8 Delivery trip on "Kings Ransom"

    Year total (to date): 44.5 miles

    2021  total (in Sparrow): 44.5 miles 
    2020 total (in Sparrow): 0 miles (COVID)
    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

    Monday 1 November 2021

    ...and he's out...

    ..that's a wrap folks...  

    ...the decision to take the mast down on the week previous had been a good one as it turned out, the week delivered all the poor weather that the weather gonks had predicted (unusually). I was left slightly relieved (understatement) that we'd taken it down then, rather than the day I'd planned as I looked out the window at horizontal rain!

    The following weekend however, was a different matter - I was due out on the Saturday, and with a 14:00'ish high tide the lift out guys had already told me that they would lift me out as soon as there was water..

    Rather than waiting for a ride out to the boat, I snuck off and grabbed the tender, and three and a half hours before HT I was on the boat and getting her ready..  

    First job was to retrieve the lifting tackle - this was mostly new this year and I don't (ever) see the point in leaving mooring strops/chains/buoys on the mooring to be trashed all winter..  Yet again the decision to apply some waterproof grease to the threads on the main shackle paid off as with just a bit of grunt, she came undone and I managed to recover the lot..  

    Moored up with just a line from the forward cleat to the buoy, I then sorted out some mooring lines, fired up the donk, and three hours before, motored under the bridge and into the pool to await the crew..

    Not enough water was the message so I grabbed a spare mooring and waited.

    Waiting my turn..

    Soon enough they were on the pontoon and waving me in (it's to the left of the white boat in the picture above) so for the last time this year I laid a boat alongside a pontoon (and without issues), the lifting crew came on board, and after a 20 minute wait for a little more water I was over, into the lift, and plonked ashore...

    She was however a disgrace under the water...  I blame myself..  not enough sailing, so not enough moving water over the anti-foul...

    ...go on, admit it, absolutely bloody riveting...  😁

    Next day I was down with paint scraper for the barnacles, and pressure washer for the rest, and she's 80% cleaner..  I think I'm going to have to do some gentle abrasion over this winter with a pole and some wet and dry sanding mesh - she's lumpy and bumpy with accumulated anti-foul. For now though - all done...

    Sunday 31 October 2021

    Yacht delivery - "Kings Ransom" - 14th October

    So no sooner had the salt dried on our deckies from the hugely enjoyable lunch trip to the Island sailing Club than it was time to deliver t'other Dave's boat round to her winter mooring..

    Now tother Dave is a member of the same sailing club I'm at, and while he enjoys a summer mooring in Port Solent, in the winter, despite it being a marina he likes to bring her out for odd jobs and drying out so the four of us yet again volunteered for a spiffing day on the briny..

    While the two old(er) men spent the whole week deciding how we were going to get four blokes to the launch/start point, while still allowing a car to be left at the destination point for delivering aforesaid to their respective domiciles and cars (and trust me - Hitler's general staff would have taken a shorter time to plan the invasion of Russia.. πŸ˜‚) so it was that at a very civilised hour of the morning I got picked up and whisked to Port Solent for what turned out to be quite possibly the best days sailing of the entire summer (outside of a few of the sessions on Ocean Waves possibly?) - a superb day, though chilly with it..

    Departure point - taken while slaving at the kettle...

    Covers off, lines singled up, and just a brief wait for the lock to become available and we were off..  HT was a big one (4.7 mtrs - we were on Springs) and due at 13:20 - we left the mooring around 2 hours before, which gave us plenty of time to get out of the harbour and then get the east going tide for the short trip to Langstone Harbour entrance..

    The Harbour was busy - big NATO warship meet and greet on that weekend, and we met a representative of the Canadian navy on the way in, as we were coming out...

    HMCS Fredericton apparently, a Halifax-class frigate that has served in the Canadian Forces since 1994.

    Once we were out of the harbour we struck east on the dying legs of a good tide, but with a good breeze..  aiming for the outer gate through the submarine barrier (too cold for any girls in bikinis to be on the beach so the inner gate was ruled out.. πŸ˜ƒ) ..

    Rodders looking bemused as we approach the outer gate (just by the other yacht)

    Broad reach - so the genoa was rolled but even with just the main we were doing good speeds - 6.5 to 7 knots over the ground is not to be sniffed at..

    That yacht ahead had perhaps the smallest spinnaker we've ever seen - pulled all the way to the mast head, and as a result he was rolling like a rolly thing..  πŸ˜„

    Rodders finally admits defeat..
    All too soon we were tramping through the entrance to Langstone listening to mayday in the harbour - sounded like a kayaker had become separate from their craft and was holding on to a mooring buoy and shouting for help - not the warmest day of the year by any stretch, and we were too far away, so we were pleased to hear both kayaker and kayak had been rescued..  good job by the fisherman who'd called it in, and RNLI inshore who transferred him to the slipway..

    An hour later and KR was coming out - job done...

    Damn good day...  and the soup and sausage rolls slipped down a treat afterwards!
    Time for Sparrow to come out as well... but that's the next post..


    Distance: 13.81 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
    Wind (Speed; Direction): F4/5 gusting 6 ; W/WxN
    Sail Plan: Full main mostly, with and without genoa at times..
    Speed (Max/average in knots):  6.9/3.8 (it was a quick trip!)

    Monday 25 October 2021

    Island Sailing Club lunch..

    On what must be the first time since the infamous cruise, the Jolly Boys convened last week for a late minute, last gasp grab at an end of season sail..  

    No plans made we decided to just head where the wind took us, but as is usually the way that was Cowes! πŸ˜€

    As it happened what breeze there was in the morning (and it was pretty light all day to be honest) was NW'ly which is the ideal direction for Cowes from Portsmouth (theoretically it's a beam reach both ways) but as is the way, the wind started to go round, and as it did, died off, leaving a quick motor into Cowes for lunch at the Island sailing Club.

    Bit of a first for us (not the ISC as we've been a few times as they do nice food at a reasonable price, and also a good beer choice) as we managed to bag a space on the clubs own pontoon - now the Jolly Boys are nothing if not hardy but I think all of us may have had some doubts about our first berthing experience since the infamous Bursledon event, but in this case I was most chuffed to say I laid her alongside with no issues...  lessons learned though - was definitely looking for the tide this time!

    Food, chat, banter, a table outside as it was still stupidly warm for October even if it wasn't sunny and it was a good lunch...  we had a flat calm for the trip back, but the wind started to slowly grow albeit right in the direction we wanted to go, so in the end the motor went on, and we were back on our home pontoon by 5'ish.

    Brilliant day out - thanks for the invite Rodders!


    Distance: 25.44 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
    Wind (Speed; Direction):  Bottom end of a F3, flat calm over midday; NW going NE after lunch
    Sail Plan:  Full main and genoa
    Speed (Max/average in knots): 6.8/2.7

    Saturday 23 October 2021

    Time enough.. catch up finally with events on Sparrow, or more properly to Sparrow, and Sparrows current skipper..  

    ...been a while since I updated, and that is not due to lack of water time, and more to do with too much water time... πŸ˜€

    So a quick series of posts covering off the multifarious activities over the last few weeks..  and for this post it was mast dropping time, which with a bout of heavy weather coming in off the Atlantic during the week before when I would normally do it, was much earlier than I wanted in order to meet the requirement for lift out..  my season has ended...

    On the Saturday (16th) then I went out and took sails off, boom off, main still on it, all parcelled up in the boom cover, dropped the jib, tidied up lines, tied off the roller furler swivel, and attached the boom crutch ready for the drop which was scheduled for the next day...

    Sunday dawned bright, but soon started to cloud over as a portent of the heavy weather to come..  went out to the boat in advance and took off the forward lowers (stays), took my glasses out of my pocket to see what I was doing just in time to watch my phone, which was in the same pocket, drop out, take two bounces and hit the briny..  f*ckeration!!! 😠

    A-frame then attached to the chain plates for the aforesaid lowers, jib halyard to the top of the frame, lifted slightly, main sheet (6:1) to the bottom of the frame and stem of the boat, put some tension on, and then waited for the shore party* to arrive (still quietly fuming).. 

    * yet again the mast raising A team of the Jolly Boys had been inveigled out to drop the mast in return for a paltry payment of pork pies, kettle crisps, and beer...

    Quick chat with the advance water party (Smithy turned up on his kayak - think he must have heard there might be beer on offer) and then t'other Dave and Roddders turned up on their almost silent tender (Dave's got a Torqueedo of quite astonishing quietness, and surprising power)

    Best mast drop I think we've had - no more than 15 minutes later and the last was down - another 15 minutes and she was in the cradle - lashed fore and aft and ready for lift out...  brilliant..  like a well oiled machine.

    Beers, pies, banter and crisps later it was time to head for shore - mission accomplished, but not without the usual wrinkles#..

    # PS. Phone was on a contract with early payment charges if I want to end it..  boat insurance specifically excludes phones, house insurance excess was ten pound more than the early payment charge..  new phone bought, replacement SIM and I reckon not having my pocket zipped up cost me about 150 quid..  be warned fellow sailors...

    Monday 27 September 2021

    Toe in the water..

    Been a while, but following the last sail where the engine decided to go "putttt" I took her off to the outboard engineers for a once over convinced that the issue was the throttle cable (despite it being in good condition)..

    With the delivery issues we're currently experiencing in the UK (bottom line a shortage of HGV drivers that may, or may not, be caused by Brexit depending on who you believe) he was concerned that it could take 3 to 4 weeks, but as it turned out 2 weeks and she was done, and yes, it was a throttle cable which was replaced..

    Took a day off and refitted it over one high tide - again using the boom as a crane, and the main sheet for lifting "grunt" - this worked so well that I could almost get it into the outboard scoop  whilst still using the tackle - excellent, and so much easier...

    I'd also noticed that I seemed to be leaking oil from somewhere (I suspect the oil dipper wasn't screwed in tight enough), and after a top up of oil gave her a run just to confirm all was good - and it was..  

    Going forward I have decided to not raise the outboard leg to the top position when I leave the boat..  because the boat is nose heavy, it can mean the prop is higher than the block at times, and that can't be a good thing, so I now leave it in the mid position - the prop is half/quarter submerged while she's floating, but the angle of the leg when she dries is much better, and when I went out this time there was no sign of any further leakage, so job's a good'un I think..

    I had no intention of actually going out at all when I got to the boat, the intent was to give her a once over and make sure everything was OK as the weather when I left home was grey, humid, and wind'less - when I got to the boat however, it was warm , sunny and with a nice breeze!

    Throwing caution to the wind I dropped the mooring and headed off down the cut in a weaving and zig zag manner as I re-learnt some sail raising skills after what seemed like a long time..

    It was a short trip - by the time I got to the headland at the bottom of the Emsworth channel it was gusting a good top end 5, and greying over..  I wasn't ready for it (too much sail up, couldn't be bothered to reef, and just after HT anyway) so turned, dropped the sails and went back to laze in the cockpit on the mooring, but not before losing my prized BAR America's Cup hat over the side... a perfect man overboard recovery (albeit on the the 3rd attempt!) however, and she was returned to the boat..


    Distance: 2.5 miles  (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
    Wind (Speed; Direction): F4 gusting F5; WxS
    Sail Plan: Full main partial genoa
    Speed (Max/average in knots):  3.5 knots

    Thursday 23 September 2021

    Southampton Boat Show 2021

    We're hot to trot...

    So after the huge disappointment of last years late cancellation (and yes I'm fully aware that that could at best be described as a "first world problem" in light of the other sh*t that has liberally besmirched us all thanks to COVID, but as my mate says "that may be so, but I live in the first world") the Boat Show is back - albeit on a slightly smaller scale, and with a few extra hoops to jump through to get in..  minimum requirement was double jabs, but they also asked for one of those to the left within 48 hours of attending...  no skin off my nose, I was just pleased they were putting the show on and attempting to keep us safe.. throw in the fact that the tickets were paid for out of the voucher they gave me last year following the last shows cancellation and I'd say that I was more than a little looking forward to it...

    Plans were drawn to attend with my sister and brother in law, but a week before we were due to go, the brother in law (who works for Clipper) was sent abroad so in the end just me and my sis went - but what a cracking day..

    Number of exhibitors was down - not noticeably so - but at the end of the day, when I looked back, I had missed the usual Chandlery culprits as I was looking for a few bits and bobs that normally I would have got from them - the big trade tents were reduced to one (normally there are a couple). On the plus side the pontoons were as busy as ever (in fact I thought busier), and the food and beverage choices were better (which had had a positive effect on the price of a pint)

    Good day then - so just a few pictures

    One day I'll have one of those (above) - who am I kidding, no I won't...  Morgan were at the show and I couldn't resist the 3 Wheeler - British racing green, RAF roundels, Flying Tigers graphics..  lovely..  and the guy running the stand was a delight - knowledgeable and happy to chat..

    My eldest is an Eleanor so that was for her - lovely day boat..  note the electric outboard - it was something I noticed increasingly at this years show...

    Ludicrous... the Boat Show always has a few niche sellers and this was one of them - above - these are ice buckets on the grand scale - but £500?! Funnily enough the cow was sold already and we saw the new owner taking it home through the middle of Southampton on our way back...  πŸ˜€

    Sunseeker or Princess - above - I forget which, but despite not being a motor boat fan I thought that picture was too good to miss - beautiful sunny day and that row of bows just looked fantastic...

    My boat of the show - above - the Tofinou 10 [clicky] was absolutely beautiful - stunning boat, and look at that varnish - almost French polished...  also very clever as the sheets and lines run underneath it so as not to intrude...  note also the recessed cleats... looking back over previous Boat Show posts I do seem to have a thing about the Tofinou boats!

    From the sublime Tofinou to the ridiculous - above - Dutton...  who buys them???  πŸ˜€

    Lastly - above - no show is complete without a classic - and this years was the Dutch tall ship "Morgenster" [clicky] a sail training vessel originally built in 1919, but substantially altered over the years, including a period of service in the pirate radio line! All I can say is that she was absolutely immaculate - a very well looked after ship indeed...

    No pictures - but another stand out boat was the Viko 21 [clicky] which I first saw back in 2016, there's a pretty good review of it here [clicky] but I still remain absolutely gobsmacked at the price - the one they had at the show was £26K (!) for a  21 footer..  ready to go... amazing..   The one at the show had a built in A frame to lower/raise the mast with integral 6:1 blocks for doing the lifting and dropping...  lift keel with a bulb..  sails..   roller furling... 

     Couple of pints in the Platform afterwards to end a brilliant day.. love the Boat Show! 

    Monday 23 August 2021


    ...well that was a funny old day and no mistake...

    With sunny days few and far between this summer, any day where no rain was forecast, irrespective of temperature or cloud cover, was always going to be a shoe-in for a day on the water, and so it looked for this Sunday..

    13:45 HT and I was on the boat by 11:00 as the first order of the day was to replace one of the two cockpit hatches... these have, without a shadow of a doubt been a catalogue of horrors since day one...  the large sheet of "good quality" "exterior" grade ply that I got is utter rubbish..  voids, gaps, and the mere mention of precipitation and the damn stuff is drinking down water like a Foreign Legionnaire after 7 weeks in the desert...

    Irrespective of what I have done, and that includes full epoxy coating the boards, with paint, and extra edging as well, they have singularly failed to perform more than two seasons - which is rubbish...

    So I replaced the port side lid over the winter, thinking that the starboard side would do, but the summer has been torrential and interspersed with high temperatures..  and the starboard side ended up taking on water... 

    Sh*te..  if you'll excuse the French

     Knocked up a new one this week (getting fast as I've had enough practice), drilled and fitted it this weekend...  I have epoxied all the edges, filled gaps/voids with epoxy and micro ballons, two coats of epoxy primer per side with edges done at the same time (so four coats), and two coats of paint...   if it makes it to the end of the season*, I'll be amazed...   πŸ˜€

    Having done that I fired up the outboard (first time on Super, as the base unleaded in the UK has gone E10 - 10% methanol - but super remains E5 for the time being), dropped the mooring and headed down the ditch on a most unusual reach...   

    Not a bad mooring at all...  😊

    North westerly's are rare round here so the chance to full reach down the channel is rare..  in a south westerly the land mass causes a wind shadow..  even weirder to goosewing to the top of the main channel, and then turn on to a broad reach down it...

    Sun came out, shed loads of boats, not much breeze but every now and again a gust would come through to make you pay attention..  have to say that it was idyllic sitting on the new cabin "perching pad" and watching the world go by as we gently perambulated down the harbour (against tide) at 3 and a bit knots..  glorious...

    Bottom of the harbour was nose to tail, racing dinghy's, cruisers heading for the Solent, fishermen, foiling and non-foiling windsurfers, everyone was out to play - including this fellow...

    Apologies for the quality - he was a bit of a way away...

    Turned and then had a lovely beat up the harbour...   every now and again the wind would come a little more westerly and you gained some magic yards on the north'ing, but the sun continued to shine and as I got to the end of the rythe the engine came on for a fast run back to the mooring...

    Where it then all turned a bit pear shaped....

    As I approached the mooring I lowered the revs to make sure I didn't overrun the mooring and 20 yards short the engine died...  "uh oh" I thought, and went to restart it..  sometimes she doesn't like idle on low revs so it wasn't too much of a concern, but the fact that the engine wouldn't restart at all, was... 

    No way that engine was going to restart, and given it had been running completely well to that point, my immediate thought was carburettor, blocked perhaps?

    Practically teleported to the front of the cabin, threw everything out of the way, finally grabbed the anchor, and headed for the cockpit, tied the end of the anchor chain to the the nearest bit of rope I had (main sheet as it happened), and chucked the anchor over the side, and tied off the rope - anchor held, the Lord be praised..

    Next job was to find a lift, the alternative was to swim with a long rope as the mooring was still only 30 yards away, and once I got there I could tie it off and haul myself in, but just as I got my phone and came back in to the cockpit, my boat neighbour turned up... bless him#, 15 minutes later I was back on the mooring, tied up and tidying up...

    A check of the engine identified that it has revs in plenty when the throttle on the actual engine was flicked..  but not when the throttle hand grip was twisted...  removed the cable - no issues, but noticed that there was drag where the cable meets the metal elbow at the twist end (see diagram) and there were indications of previous damage...  tide was disappearing fast which stopped any further investigation so I  put it all back together, tidied up as best I could, and headed for home and a beer... 


    Went out this morning, completed the tidying, had a little more time to investigate the issue, got nowhere, so with the help of the boom and mainsheet as a crane put the engine in the tender, and have now dropped it at the mechanics for repair and investigation...  worst case two weeks, but if the part is in stock then much shorter...

    Bit of a pfffft day, but on balance, given the number of crisis and challenges, I think it was  good result..  I learnt a lot more about the engine, the decision to deploy the anchor was done quickly (I need to get that anchor hawse fitted though), anchor worked, and the boom crane was brilliant, worked far better than I thought...  

    * the summer is going fast, she comes out the week of the 17th-24th October
    # Chris, many thanks matey, I DEFINITELY owe you a beer...


    Distance: 9.19 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
    Wind (Speed; Direction): F3 gusting F4; NWxN
    Sail Plan: Full main and jib
    Speed (Max/average in knots): 4.7 (motor)/1.8

    Sunday 15 August 2021

    Quick trip out..

    Hadn't even planned to go but was much taken with the sun, warmth, and general loveliness after what seems like weeks of wet, rain, gales, and duff tides...

    Plan was actually to go out on Sunday, but having got down to to do some more first aid on the tender (the thwarts are gravitating to the top of the job list this coming winter) I had planned (with the lateness of the tide) to just have a lounge, read a book, and maybe dangle a line...  but the wind was the clincher, glorious, so I dropped the mooring for an hour and a half of bimbling..

    Boat electric power good, I also put 5 litres in the fuel tank (I've changed to super/premium as the basic unleaded has gone to E10 and for the small amounts I use it wasn't worth the saving and the possible "costs" of the increased methanol content in damaged pipes/plastics etc.)

    Replaced the downhaul on the genoa so that I could lift it the extra few inches (better visibility) - may have some more playing to do there (want to experiment with tensioning on the genoa luff to see what effects there are on the roller furler), we shall see

    So...  three or four transits with and against the tide, beating and reaching, bit of music, decent breeze, unexpected pleasure of a sail, nothing to see here..  move along....πŸ˜€


    5.31 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
    Wind (Speed; Direction): Top end F3 gusting F4; SSW
    Sail Plan: Full main and genoa
    Speed (Max/average in knots): 5.5/3.1 (and those were under sail)

    Friday 30 July 2021

    The Jolly Boys Cruise - 2021

    ...our ride for the weekend...  Halberg Rassy 342 "Ocean Wave of Albany"

    As the washing is now done, I guess it's the time to do the log entry for the now nearly mythical event that is the Jolly Boys Cruise..

    So yet another triumph - they always are - but I would say not without some less pleasant challenges this time round...  however, you'll be pleased to know that yet again there was no Lymington cock up this year..  but only because we never went...


    So it was the team conjoined early on Friday morning at Rod's place for a swift trip to the boat which was reached about 10 for a departure about mid-day (on HT). First days target was Cowes, an easy 2 or 3 hours away, but conditions were good, and also breezy while not requiring reefs despite a number of other boats doing so. Passed Cowes within an easy hour or two, and we just carried on enjoying the Solent tidal escalator that whipped us down to almost Yarmouth within what seemed like a stupidly short period of time. 

    We should have realised..   for every idyllic tidally assisted "downhill" run, there is always the "uphill" slog to get back to where you wanted to be until the tide turns, and with 3 or 4 knots of adverse tide for 3 or more hours to come, and an upwind beat, Cowes was a way away now...   as it turned out I had the helm for this, and have to say that it was the most glorious sail I've had on Ocean Wave..  Halberg Rassy's are not built light, and she just went up wind in a good force 4 like she was on rails..  fantastic...

    Our destination in Cowes was a first as well - Shepherds Marina, where we also had another first as we were rafted outside of another boat.. nice people with two little one's so we tried to be as quiet as we could..

    By the by, all those years of doing Jolly Boys cruises earlier in the year had not really prepared us for some of the difficulties of this one..  a mix of Covid, lack of overseas holidays, start of school holidays, and it being mid July meant that almost every marina in the Solent was rammed..  thousands and thousands of berths and not a one to be had in most places.. Rod ("Captain, my captain") had started phoning round last week and had got spots for two nights - this one, and Yarmouth on Sunday, but we were berth-less for Saturday at this point. 

    Food at the Duke of York was (still) very nice I thought.. it being Friday it was fish and chip night for me which was very good, the restaurant manageress made us laugh, and a good time was had by all.. cracking day, but that upwind sail from just short of Yarmouth to Cowes was a blast, and I was still grinning..

    We should have slept well, but overnight there was the mother of all thunderstorms what seemed like immediately overhead...  sleeping directly under a 40 foot lightning conductor does focus the mind...

    Picture courtesy my Sis..


    Saturday dawned grey, still and mizzly - forecast was not brilliant - we knew we'd get sun later but there was little wind around (and by the end of the day the forecast was proven right). Quick call around while we were waiting for breakfast to cook, and we found ourselves a berth for the night in Port Hamble

    What to do with the day though? Decision taken to have a gentle motor up Southampton Water to have a look at the simply huge liners and container ships.. there were loads of them in... a lovely warm day, no wind, gentle putter back up the Water towards the Solent and then turned for Port Hamble and the mooring.

    Now this was where it all turned a bit brown coloured - suffice to say we were on Springs and there was a fair amount of water flowing out of the Hamble (river) into Southampton Water, but what we didn't realise was how much of that tide was also flowing through the actual marina pontoons. Long story short, our turn into the berth was not fast enough and we ended up t-boned on the anchor of the boat next to us - took out two stanchions on Ocean Wave but with the help of a couple of people on neighbouring boats we managed to haul her in on warps..  shi**y end to the day, but as we said, no one had died, no one was injured, no other boats except ours was damaged^^ (one of us had a roving fender..tick), the damage didn't look awful, but it was very much time for a beer while we sent Rod to the marina office to tell them it was all his fault, and report the accident....

    Berth was about where the red circle is - tide was running right to left (yellow arrows) - pic courtesy Ancasta

    Dinner at Ye Olde Whyte Harte was OK, not as good as the previous evening, but a day on the water does wonders for the appetite, and certainly the beer was good.


    Sunday dawned grey again - with mizzle again - another full English breakfast (this time cooked by t'other Dave) settled the nerves, and forewarned and forearmed by the knowledge of the previous day we made what must have been one of the quickest exits we had ever made from a berth! Plenty of engine revs to counter the tide that was again flowing adversely - even with that we had to do a little shuffle in reverse to get the angle on the exit...  huge sigh of relief to get out without further issue.

    Few hours of motoring and the wind began to fill in, and this turned out to be the second best sailing day of the trip..  we had a good tidal assisted sail down to Yarmouth, albeit at one point in time through a cloud burst, and with the odd rumble of thunder over the island..

    Smithy in full cloudburst mode..  being the caring bunch of mates we are, we of course disappeared down below to drink tea, eat cake, and hurl abuse...

    Such a good sail in fact that we arrived too soon so turned up wind for a little additional sailing time against the tide. a good afternoon..

    Sails down we motored into Yarmouth and were treated to the sight of a large seal surfacing, fresh from a kill - looked like he had a nice big flat fish of some sort. 

    We had our own berth, but were caught out again by tidal flow in the marina (this time from the river we think) which threw us a little out, but a quick push by the marina's rib, and quick throw of a mooring rope ashore got us out of danger pretty quick. 

    A shower, a few beers, and a much needed dinner at the Bugle ended the penultimate day - the food was very good, but a limited choice...

    What a shower... Yarmouth pier selfy...


    Early start to catch the tide east - we were leaving by 0800 - breakfast cooked and eaten on the go - I have only ever seen the Solent so completely still and flat once before. Not a breath or a ripple...

    Leaving Yarmouth

    Despite that, the tidal escalator was in full flow, and despite being on only tick over, we were doing 4 to 5 knots over the ground..  hot sun, Solent, and sausages..  perfect.

    Passed Newtown, passed Cowes, passed Gilkicker, passed Ryde - took just over 3 hours - amazing. A decision was then taken to head to Seaview to pick up one of the sailing clubs buoys for lunch.

    A very enjoyable couple of hours eating lunch and watching the local dayboat class (Seaview Mermaid class) racing - pretty boats..

    Time at last to get back - one of the charter organisers wanted to see the damage as they had another charter later in the week. Good fast sail back to Portsmouth, and after a little flutter when we assumed we had engine issues (no/limited forward drive) that turned out to be weed, we were back alongside for 5'ish..

    "Golden Horizon" - worlds largest square rigged sailing ship - a passenger ship - departed her berth as we packed up..

    ...all food mostly finished except lunch stuff (for one reason or another we didn't do a lot of lunches this time out), all beer mostly finished... a brilliant four days out...  now, where's Sparrow... ?? 
    ^^  Addendum - turned out that there was minor damage/scratching to the stern of the boat we t-boned so at some point there may be a bill, but owner agreed it wouldn't be much. The repair bill for the stanchions on Ocean Wave came to £30- bit of spot welding on one, some straightening of the other, and a couple of new bolts/screws. We got away remarkably lightly for an event that at the time was frankly, quite worrying...


    Red Day 1 (Fri); Blue Day 2 (Sat); Green Day 3 (Sun); Yellow Day 4 (Mon)

    Distance: 119.42 miles (c/w 62.76 last time!) (cumulative totals for the year in the mileage tab at the top)

    • Fri F4 gusting F5; SEE
    • Sat: F1/F2; SE quadrants
    • Sun: Started F2 ended up top end F4; NxW going NW
    • Mon: Both ends of a F4; SWxW
    Sail Plan: Full main and jib all weekend apart from the Saturday when we motored the entire day, and Monday when we motored all morning..
    Speed: See distance section above..  Friday was a day of big speeds and big winds..  10.2 knots over the ground and an average over almost 8 hours of over 5 knots!