Sunday 31 December 2023

That was the year that was.. 2023

Shorts and tshirts... for me that's what sailing is all about..
 you can forget the salopettes and wet weather gear.. πŸ˜€

Yee gods, it's the end of 2023 already..  and with Christmas passed, and New Year fast approaching (at time of writing) that must mean it's time for my traditional look back at the sailing year..! 😁 I always enjoy putting this together, it's a good excuse to read all the old posts, and look at the videos (just one this year, and riveting it is!) and pictures from this years logs....

Amazingly, this is my eleventh year as owner of Sparrow and apart from the utter confusion as to where those 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 memories of good times, bad times (few or none of those to be honest this year), warm weather, sunshine glinting on the water, and fair weather sailing in shorts and t-shirt... so without further ado...

What was the big thing of the year? 

The big event for me this year without a doubt was the new engine! The trusty, rusty, Suzuki had done me proud, but an oil leak (query sump seal shot) that we'd attempted to repair over the winter had failed and started dripping again, and in the end I just decided life was too short, and as the engine is a vital part of the sailing experience, and I needed one I could rely on, I went out and bought the engine that I'd had before, and which was stolen [clicky] back in 2019. 

I'd always liked it, it was powerful (Sail Pro version with the low rev's propeller for extra grunt) and never gave me any issues - for a little less than £1400 it was, to be honest, a no brainer...  I am a cheapskate sailor normally, but as I'm now retired, and the sailing is a key part of that retirement the 'current' Missus told me not to be stupid and just go do it... I'm delighted with it, and am just about to get it in for its first service...

What was the biggest 'downer' of the year?

Few issues this year - although it's my first summer being retired (which I'm still kind of getting used to but means that theoretically I can sail when I like), the need to get the new engine mid/early season (after wasting a lot of time trying to resolve issues with the old one), and having my car totalled by an 18 wheeler just before Christmas and having to arrange a new/second car right at the point when I am usually busiest getting the boat ready, kind of put some flies in the ointment. 

So many expectations at the beginning of the season as they came to lift her in..

As of this moment work has not really 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 aren't really any essential jobs this winter, which makes a nice change, nothing mission critical, and other than the aforesaid antifoul she could go back in the water tomorrow if I wanted...
  • the washboards which were showing signs of water ingress have remained good despite the bodged repair a couple of years back and there is still currently no need to replace them - they'll need a coat of paint and a bit of love this winter layover though..
  • I was looking at the cabin wiring the other day and while it all works, and is mostly tucked away, neat it isn't - some ducting perhaps, and I need to label it better in the switch box..
  • the gelcoat is beginning to get thin in places - not surprising after almost 55 years of exposure to the elements. I am not painting the whole boat, that way lies madness, but the patch repairs I did last layover [clicky] have worked well and I'll be doing more, but with a better colour-matched paint!
  • I am still toying with plans to install bilge pumps - I have a manual one but perhaps something electric this time. The complication for me is the Hurley 20 under water profile which has two half depth bilge keels, meaning two pumps are needed...
  • the new tender needs a little care and attention... needs a bit of glass fibre'ing minimum, coat of paint...  this is my priority job for the winter...  once my garage at home is re-wired, then Rod the Mod and I are hoping to get her in to it using his trailer..  
  • ...and I need (another) windex [clicky].. 😏

Overall though I would say I had a good seasons sailing in what was a pretty mixed bag of weather - it was one of Britain's hottest in years (if not ever), but funnily not the very best season I've had either in 'Sparrow' (or my old boat 'Papillon' for that matter). It was way better than two and three years ago, but  looking back there were three main reasons for the mixed views

One, as mentioned was the weather, which probably gave as much as it took... 

  • April was stormy and resulted in a late lift [clicky]  in for me (which was my choice) - I finally went in on the 21st, two or three weeks late
  • May I was mostly sorting out the old engine which was idling poorly, and then racing most of the time, and then started dripping oil again.. funny old month dominated by Easterly's..
  • June I was sorting the new engine, but with a week away in Greece the first proper sail of the season wasn't until the 23rd (4 weeks after launch) - so I was definitely slow off the mark!
  • July - windy, also rainy..  was picking my days but lost a fortnight at the beginning of the month to poor weather..
  • August - probably my best month for trips out but weather continued to be changeable and inclement weather continues here in the south of the UK with the jet stream [clicky for a forecast/view from the met office] now an almost constant topic of conversation at the sailing club as dinghy race after dinghy race is cancelled due to high wind. .. 
  • September - glorious..  Indian summer, but windy!
Second, and on the plus side, my perception (backed up by the logs) was we had a lot of northerly's and easterly's which are a good direction for me.

Three/last, I had a huge (compared too previous years) number of trips out with the Jolly Boys - always good fun, and always longer trips than Sparrow, we're all retired now so I look forward to that continuing...  the downside though is that also means less time on Sparrow... but I can live with that! 

East Cowes Jolly Boys trip - weather glorious, carb poisoning imminent..πŸ˜€πŸ” 

Twenty four trips this year (c/w 21 last year) of which eight were in the Solent either on 'AmiLy' (Rod's boat) or 'Kings Ransom' (t'other Dave's boat) so not included in my totals. No Jolly Boys (extended) Cruise this year - our usual ride (Ocean Waves) was in for repairs after another bashing, we all agreed AmiLy was on the small size for 5 old blokes, and then we agreed to just go out more often on day trips.. 

Of last winters jobs the one that worked beyond compare well, was a toss up between the nose repair...

..or the curtains...

...I'm going to go with the nose repair, as I had been contemplating it (and putting it off) for years! Milliput is the dogs nadgers for this kind of quick repair..

The cockpit locker lids - which must be about the third iteration, are at the moment, still behaving... I've taken them off the boat for the winter and put the old ones covered in plastic bags in their place., along with a smooth off of the anitfoul, the aforementioned paint patching and new running rigging, I would say it was a good year for maintenance and projects - go on then, 8/10....  😁

Like a spider dipped in blue ink and left to wander all over Google Earth - here's where Sparrow went this year.. yeah, not enough Solent venturing but I did get further south than I did last year...    😏

  ...but the following in "AmiLy" and "Kings Ransom" this summer...

...and the hugely memorable night return from Seaview [clicky] ...


Number of visits down to the boat (ie. actually on it): Difficult to say, but about 25+...  best of all though, 14 sailing trips c/w 15 last year, even sitting on your boat on the mooring (and I did that more than a 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 that "boat smell" πŸ˜€

Total distance sailed:  Just shy of 116 miles , better than some recent years, but not as much as I was expecting given retirement..  hey ho, I had excuses.. 😏 of a number of goosewing runs up the harbour this year...

Nights on board: Nada - 'nuff'ing.. I've done it before and it's usually cold and uncomfortable.. 😏

Crew on occasion: Just the one.. fantastic day the Grandson came out with me for the first time [clicky]..  hoping he'll come again! The rest of the time I'm my own good company.. if I start talking to the tiller pilot (who I love by the way) I know I've got a problem.. 😜

Grandson's first cruise..

Cruising range: Eastoke Point to the south, Camber and the Thorney Channel to the east, Fisherman's to the north.. 


Biggest Cruise: This one was easy - the camber clamber [clicky] was a glorious days sail despite those wind shifts and changes.. 

Three metres under the keel and all is well with the world..  

Best Cruise: A few to choose from this year, Grandsons first trip out [clicky], the Camber Clamber [clicky] and the curiously satisfying day I spent so much time tacking it was a wonder I actually went anywhere! [clicky], but probably the 'sniffing the Solent' cruise [clicky] when I went to Eastoke, and the weather was lovely, and it was so good to be on the water...

...I think without a shadow of a doubt there should also be an honourable mention for the day sail to Seaview on Kings Ransom [clicky] but more specifically that night time return to the mooring was a thing of joy..  the Jolly Boys were like a well-oiled machine!

Smithy's awesome video of our slow approach in the dark.. 😁

Worst cruise: Well "worst" is a stretch, in fact "cruise" is also a stretch, but the day I lost the shackle pin [clicky] from my brand new, and slightly expensive, mooring shackle was a contender...  yee gods how I cursed... 

Man at peace with the world..

Oddest cruise: Every wind direction [clicky] you could think of in a single 2 hour cruise..  mad, but I did catch a fish..  😁

...there you go..  14:15 to 14:25.. 70 degree shift in 10 minutes.. then a 40 degree shift an hour later.. 😏
Best anchorages: None - all moorings and pontoons this year..
Best mooring:  …the waiting pontoon at the sailing club [clicky] while I waited for my lift out - so warm for October, and a lovely opportunity to catch up with a lot of members I hadn't seen all season..

Worst mooring: I'll nominate/proxy t'other Dave for this one [clicky], as somewhat amazingly I had no bad moorings this year - they were all good...  😁

"Groovy, baby"... get it? There's a Croc down there somewhere 😁
Plans for next year:  
  • No Jolly Boys cruise currently planned, but Rodders is dying to get us to go cross Channel (tenner he mentions it in the next few months 😁)..   
  • Looking forward to getting Grandson out in the boat again
  • Smiffy has bought a GP14, looking forward to going out on that.. maybe some racing?
  • Looking forward to being able to sail Sparrow on more occasions next season... 
Riveting video award:

No review of the weeds on the bottom this year as I removed them too quickly... so you'll have to make do with this one... 😏

2023: (Click on the date to go to the log entry post)

NB.* Means mileage not counted in year total... probably because I'm on someone else's boat, or it was all on engine...

Date Distance: Wind: Direction: Sail
Speed (knts)
28th Feb 5* (0) . . All motor . . AmiLy delivery to summer mooring on a bitterly cold Monday!
4th April 33.46* (0) F4 mainly F3 ExS through SxE Full main and genoa 9.3 3.0 First Jolly Boys sail to Cowes - glorious sunshine and a curious alarm.. 😏
19th May 25* (0) AM: F2 PM: F3 AM: SSE  PM: WNW Full main and genoa/asymmetric 7.8 2.2 Over to Cowes for fish and chips and spotted a dolphin on the way
23rd May 2.38 (2.38) F2 SE Genoa 4.5 1.0 Quick shakedown sail
27th May 7.56 (9.94) F3 S/SE Full main and genoa 4.9 3.1 Tacking practice and then a glorious goose wing home
31st May 29.39*
F4 gusting F5 NExE Reefed main and full genoa 7.4 2.6 Carb overload in the Ferryboat.. πŸ˜€
15th June 28.28* (9.94) F1 gusting F2 All over Full main and genoa/asymmetric 3.7 2.8 Windless and hot trip to the Folly
24th June 11.95 (21.89) Both ends F3 SWxS Full main and genoa 4.3 2.8 First major trip on the new engine - "racing" a Leisure 17
30th June 8.0* (21.89) F5 gusting F6 WSW Double reefed main and reefed genoa 6.8 3.9 Very windy day in the Solent => pub!!
2nd July 7.81 (29.7) F4 gusting F5 NWxW Reefed main and reefed genoa 4.4 3.3 There and back - soldiers wind down the harbour
7th July 10.53 (40.23) F2 and building SExS going SExE Full main and genoa 5.1 2.6 Seal, light winds, lovely run back
12th July 30.7* (40.23) F5 gusting F6 going F6 gusting F7 W Double reefed main and genoa morning / full genoa (only) afternoon 7.5 3.3 Hard, hard, work getting to Cowes but worth it for the trip back
20th July 9.28 (49.51) Both ends F3 WSW (but veering W and S of this) Full main and genoa 5.3 2.8 Seals sunbathing - best speed (SOG) of the season so far under sail
3rd August 11.23 (60.74) F4 going F2 NNW going N Full main and genoa 4.3 2.6 Both ends of the harbour
7th August 8.23 (68.97) F5 SW going WxS Reefed main and reefed genoa 6.1 3.1 Feisty trip out - far windier than expected - 7.1 kts seen on the log!
10th August 30.15* (68.97) F3 going F2 SExE Full main and genoa 6.7 2.9 Two carriers and a lamb burger
15th August 10.37 (79.34) F3 W Full main and genoa 4.2 2.3 Sniffing the Solent!
16th August 4.0 (83.34) F1 SW Full main and genoa 4.2 2.3 Grandson's first trip
30th August 26.8* (83.34) F4 W going NWxW Full main and genoa 5.0 3.5 The Jolly Boys go to Seaview, and come home in the dark
5th September 12.44 (95.78) F2 going F4 going F3! ExS going S going SE Full main and full/reefed genoa 5.0 2.8 Camber/Snowhill on a day when I got every wind direction and strength known!
14th September 3.98 (99.76) F1 gusting F2 Between WxS and SSW Full main and genoa 4.2 1.6 Sunny morning drift
29th September 8.77 (108.53) Both ends F4 NW occasionally NWxW Reefed main and reefed genoa 4.4 2.9 Feisty NW'ly
1st October 7.22 (115.75) F4 SSW Reefed main and full/reefed genoa 4.1 2.5 Tack, tack, tack, tack, dodge, tack... πŸ˜€
26th October 15.31* (115.75) F4 W Full main and genoa motor sailing 6.4 4.0 Kings Ransom delivery to LSC..
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .

Year total (to date): 115.75 miles

2023 total (in Sparrow): 115.75 miles
2022 total (in Sparrow): 124.72 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

Saturday 28 October 2023

Kings Ransom delivery and stuff..

What could possibly go wrong? πŸ˜€
Stuff has been happening..

The main course is coming, but by way of a hors d'oeuvre I can advise that the winter job list [clicky, and page link above] on Sparrow is underway - in addition to completing the quick fix on the jib halyard as a result of some wear from the halyard diverter eye strap, I have also ..

1/. Installed the temporary winter cockpit locker lids and brought the proper ones home to keep out of the winter weather - no point in trashing the good one's which are in surprisingly good condition after a long season of hot weather interspersed with torrential rain and wind..  no idea how old these one's are as I've made so many of the damned things I've lost count but except for a few minor cracks I need to seal, and a coat of paint, they're good to go..

I have also 2/. "pressure washed her bottom" - apologies no 'much anticipated' (😏) state of the fouling video this year as she was partially scraped while on the slip waiting for pick up, but the pressure wash has returned her to an almost pristine condition, and except for the usual extended crop of barnacles between the keels, and on the keel just in front of the bilge keels, it was just minor weed - I was fairly pleased with the antifoul performance this year..  6/10..

With my season over then it falls to the Jolly Boys to keep me 'water active' until the end of their seasons... first out, and first opportunity for boat time, was Dave and his boat "Kings Ransom". Dave is a fellow member of my sailing cub but unlike me his boat is a little big for A frames and mast drops, so the only option is a Hayling Island circumnavigation. 

The first attempt to do this was aborted due to weather (F6 gusting 7 and rain), but that gave an opportunity for the other Jolly Boys to make the trip as they couldn't make it anyway, which turned out to be yesterday/the 26th..

Forecasts were marginal/off putting, but as it turned out we were hugely lucky..  10:37 HT and as we have a Hunters Moon (full moon for October) the tides are absolutely humungous - it was 4.8m the day we went round, but this weekend it is topping out at over 5m - there was a LOT of water sloshing round, and as is the way with these things all of it in the wrong direction for a circumnavigation clockwise... 😏

Team rendezvoused at the club at 08:30, followed by a swift('ish) transit out to Ransom in Dave's electric powered rub a dub, and we dropped the mooring and started moving a little after 09:00.

Kettle on, and tea was being drunk by the time we reached the Beacon (swift work! ☕), sails up about the same time, to take advantage of the fairly solid F4 Westerly we had all morning - we needed to get round in 3 hours'ish to allow us to pick up a mooring and sort ourselves out at the other end with water to spare..

Frying pan was put on the heat shortly after Beacon, and a pack of Treagust's finest chipolata's* were soon sizzling pleasingly in the pan to be consumed as we went past the moorings at HISC just about on high water (it was about 15-20 minutes before as I remember..) - utterly delish..

As we passed Eastoke we could see the waves rolling in to the west of the Bar Beacon - most impressive, but with this height of tide Dave had already decided he'd cut the corner and transit west just past the Beacon rather than going the extra 30 minutes further out to the West Pole..  little bit lumpy, but there was plenty of water under the keel and it was a good call.

Rolled the genoa away and tightened up the main sheet for the slog into the wind across Hayling Bay, and we cut the corner of the Winner at Langstone as well transiting north at Langstone Fairway rather than Winner..  we cut the southern edge of the Winner bank, but with that amount of water about we never saw less than 2mtrs under the keel..

Genoa out again as we headed north through the harbour mouth to take advantage of that westerly, easing the main at the same time, and then a relaxing trip up the harbour watching the learner kite surfers from the local sailing school, and the dredger leaving harbour..  lots to see in Langstone despite it being a slightly more commercial harbour than Chichester. A long, long, time ago, the Jolly Boys first met each other in this harbour, when were all windsurfing from a beach at the top of the harbour - been sailing together for over 35 years now..

Finally dropped, and rolled, sails just past Stoke, and then a motor in between the gap in the blocks of the old railway bridge, before sneaking on to the club pontoon with inches to spare - I reckon by the time we'd sorted mooring lines she was already touching ground. At which point as the kettle went on and Smithy's missus's sponge cake was being sliced, the Heaven's opened - we'd had glorious warmish sun all the way round, the rain lashed down only after we'd got to the destination with tea and cake in hand - bonus!

Next trip is Sunday to deliver AmiLy from Whale Island to Port Solent, and then we're done for the year... roll on 2024..

* a word from our sponsor.. "other chipolata's are available but honestly, why would you bother?"


Distance: 15.31 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind (Speed; Direction): Solid bottom end F4 ; W
Sail Plan:  Full main and genoa but mostly motor sailing
Speed (Max/average in knots):  6.4 / 4.0

Tuesday 17 October 2023

Long day.. but she's out..

So not with a bang but a bit of a slow fizz, the season comes to an end.. not without some drama on the weather front, naturally - it is October after all - with one, possibly two (looks like this Wednesday is looking a little fruity) of the lifts cancelled due to strong winds, the lift out schedule was squeezing as boats looked to get lifted in the good weather.

My lift date was originally scheduled for the Saturday, but as I had also been rostered to work that day, I opted to move my lift out to another day, originally thinking Monday or Tuesday. With the winds forecast to build over the first half of the week though, I rocked up on the Sunday, knowing it would be stupid busy, but happy to take my chances on when I'd get out, and that I might have a long wait..

..and so it turned out. 

Either way was on the boat by 10:30, determined to recover my top tackle from the mooring before I left, as .. as..  well it's just easier doing it from Sparrow rather than a small tippy tender. 

Happily that grease I applied liberally in the spring worked it's magic, and with a bit of grunt the shackle freed, and I had the lift chain and pickup buoy with all additional iron monger'y on board..  started the engine, slipped the temporary rope mooring I had attached, and headed off, for the last time this season, under the bridge.. to be greeted with a scene of what I can only describe as 'lift out madness'.. πŸ˜€ 

Boats everywhere, and more lining up as they came up the harbour channel - it was a bit like watching the jets land at Gatwick. Clearly the bigger boats (and we do have a couple of fin keelers) need the deeper water to be lifted, so as a small one, I picked a spot on the pontoon and waited my turn.

Lovely day, the sun shone, it was warm, there was lots of chats on the pontoon as we watched boat after boat being lifted and taking advantage of the height of the high tide, tea was drunk, more chat exchanged, I even got the fishing rod out for an hour or two before, with two hours gone after HT, I was told that that was it for wet lift outs, the last boats would need to ground themselves on the slipway and be collected at leisure by the tractor hoist later in the day..

Always a slightly traumatic thing to purposefully ground yourself, but the key is slowly slowly slowly - and once you touch bottom, just leave the engine to idle in forward maintaining your position as the water disappears.

Sparrow was picked up later that afternoon and finally dropped in her spot in the yard about 6'ish.. a long day for me, but hugely enjoyable compared to the guys on the lift out crew who busted their buns for getting on for 11 hours..  kudos guys.. πŸ‘πŸ‘

Now the fun can start..  pressure wash tomorrow!

Wednesday 11 October 2023

Preparation for lift...

Had no idea that that elongated tacking session the other day was actually going to be my last sail of the season, but so it has panned out.. 😏

A succession of low/light wind days, and insufficient tide, has caused all to come to an abrupt end, as I had commitments to make with the Jolly Boys to lower the mast. With signs that the weather is also about to break (and I've seen more than one forecast showing F8's this weekend) then the best place for Sparrow is ashore, safe and sound in the car park..


Monday, then, I went out in the tender to Sparrow in quite possibly the flattest calm I've seen in the moorings, and took the genoa off, and also the boom with main attached..

During...  genoa gone..

Like a mill pond - and perfect for the operation in question..

After..  all gone.. 

Sails/boom off and there was just time to install the mast crutch, this is the Mk2 version with the folding extendable arms, as trialled last year during the mast raising... 

I foresee a Mk3 version as the folding arms are excellent, but do not fold away as easily as I would like, and it has also been pointed out that the crutch doesn't need to be so high as the mast would still clear the  cabin top even if the cross piece was a foot lower..

Once all the sails were off and crutch on a quick check of all halyards and I noticed this on the jib halyard..

Nothing too serious but clearly where the halyard has been rubbing on the eye strap I use as a halyard diverter for the furler... new line is softer than the old one..

Cut a foot off and re-whipped the hard eye - jobs a good'un and that is officially the first job completed on the Winter '23/'24 list.. πŸ˜€

That was Monday, Tuesday I took the A frame, mast support, and mast rest out ready for the drop which was today, Wednesday.

The Jolly Boys convened this morning at the club (Rodders and t'other Dave) and having checked her availability, transferred to Sparrow via Mylor, the club workboat (makes life so much easier).

The mast drop was completed successfully, and very smoothly, no issues, no problems, all limbs and external body parts still in place and intact - other than using the main halyard as the restraint rope rather than the jib halyard to all intents and purposes it all went exactly as previously documented [clicky] ad nauseum.. excellent result. πŸ˜€

Job done, the team convened in the cockpit for beer, pork pies, and a new delicacy we've recently acquired a taste for πŸ˜‹, before returning ashore triumphant.. good result. Thoughts now turn to lift out which may well be tomorrow..