Saturday 6 July 2024

Jolly Boys Cruise 2024

So the annual event that is the Jolly Boys (Extended) Cruise is now all over bar the shouting..  or rather banter'ing..  the washing machine has been emptied, the contents dried, and the sleeping bag has been put away for another year..  time for a write up on what we did, and where we went, and a few of the photo's to give us some memories in future on less sunny and happier days..  πŸ˜€

Our 'normal' ride "Ocean Waves"(a Hallberg Rassy 342) is largely unavailable these days; due to ongoing issues on charters the insurance is beginning to get stupid, so as there were only four of us this year, our ride was our usual one, Rod the Mod's boat "Ami-Ly" (following) a Legend 290...

Four old blokes on a 29 footer for four days, what could possibly go wrong!πŸ˜€

Day 1 - Monday 1st July:

Portsmouth to Cowes - only thirteen and a half miles, but a good days sailing as we rode the tide to the west.

Couldn't help not seeing this beauty arrive as we pottered towards the harbour entrance..

Chilean Sail Training Ship ESMERALDA

Stupidly impressive, all the crew were lined up on deck, the orchestra/stereo banging out what sounded like a national anthem, and they got a spot alongside within the actual dockyard - the crew are Chilean Navy so that might explain it, but also that she has a bit of a dark past. Amnesty International, the US Senate and the Chilean Truth and Reconciliation Commission described the ship as a kind of floating jail and torture chamber for political prisoners of the Augusto Pinochet regime (1973 to 1990). Given the likelihood of protest, a spot within the dockyard would definitely be the safer option..

The ship is fascinating though and given my interest in things historical I couldn't not look up a bit on her background.. In summary, construction began in Cadiz, Spain, in 1946 as she was intended to become Spain’s national training ship (in fact she has a sister ship who still is). In 1950 Chile and Spain entered into negotiations in which Spain offered to repay debts incurred to Chile as a result of the Spanish Civil War in the form of manufactured products, including the not yet completed Esmeralda. Chile accepted the offer and the ship was formally transferred in 1951, she finally launched in May 1953.

Wind was 'lively' in the harbour so we took the opportunity while we had it, and put a single reef in the main - didn't regret it, as the wind slowly built all morning to a solid top F4 by the time we arrived off Cowes..  it was sunny and bright and the Solent was looking beautiful..

A repeat of the experiment in 2022 and we overnight-ed at Shepherds Wharf in Cowes (west side of the river) which was stupidly quiet (a feature that repeated itself all over the Solent for the 3 nights we were away..  compared to previous years where we've had to book ahead almost a week in advance there was plenty of available space..  where was everyone first week in July??)

As we'd arrived fairly quickly, we walked the Red Squirrel trail to Newport in the afternoon (5 miles). A pint and dinner in the Duke of York  finished off the day nicely!

Nice spot in Shepherd's!

Day 2 -  Tuesday 2nd July:

Cowes to Lymington

A quick vote over the breakfast sausages, and a decision was taken to go for Lymington. A quick call identified room available at Berthon Marina when we checked, so a slot was booked for the evening.

Bye, Cowes

We departed late to get the west bound tide (the 'Solent travellator') and it was on this leg that we saw the fastest speeds ..  8.5 knots SOG, in fact we went so fast that we overshot Lymington, but it was getting cold, threatening rain, the wind was building, and we'd had enough so having sailed up wind against tide for an hour, we switched to engine and just got the hell in to Lymington and the warm..   πŸ˜€

Dinner that evening at a local pizza restaurant was cracking - one of the nicest calzone's I've ever had..

Day 3 - Wednesday 3rd July:

Lymington to Hamble

A long slow start to the day as the wind was westerly, strong, and we were heading east - so we needed to wait for the 'travellator' to turn in our favour.

No loss..  a good breakfast, we then lounged, read, popped into Lymington for a look around (and for t'other Dave to make purchases in the Musto shop 😏) before we dropped the mooring about half one'ish and headed out into a particularly grey and dismal looking Solent..

Coming out of Lymington - Needles and Hurst Castle in the distance..

We were getting the last of the wind over tide slop and chop.. but with an almost dead westerly wind, and an almost dead easterly trip, we cracked open a bit of the genoa and did all of the almost 17 miles we did that day under just the reefed foresail..  once the tide fully turned though we were moving fast. 6.3 knots under a half reefed genoa is going some!

Destination for the night was the River Hamble, where to be honest we have history, but I do recommend arriving at slack tide (as we did) as getting into the berth this time (unlike last time) was a doddle! 😏

It was a long, cold and roll'y old sail, I even put on full fouliers at one point as we could see the rain rolling down Southampton Water, but happily we stayed dry - I can confirm though, that the beer has never tasted as good as it did when we finally sat down for one having made fast..  so good in fact I had two..  🍻

Not a bad view to have with a beer.. 

Dinner that evening was at the Royal Southern and was glorious - superb clubhouse, and good food..

1958 British America's Cup Challenger (she lost 4-0 😏) "Sceptre" [clicky].. she's stored ashore at Hamble..

Day 4 - Thursday 4th July:

Hamble to Portsmouth

So as mentioned one of the features of the Solent is the "express travellator" that runs four times a day, either east to west, or the opposite, and which had provided huge amounts of help on the Monday and Saturday to get us quickly from one end of the Solent to the other, but which we now needed help on in the opposite direction, but an early departure was required if we were to get back in time to get on the pontoon with water to spare, and with time to spare for us all to go and vote, and that meant an adverse tide..

So it was that 08:30 saw us ready to leave the berth and heading to the Solent, and that was after a cooked full English! Yesterdays grey, cold and windy westerly, was replaced by sunny, cold and not quite so windy westerly, but the sun was shining (occasionally..  go on then..  mostly) and the Solent was again looking all glittery again..

Another downwind run, but in a lesser breeze than the day before, but against that adverse tide, so we rolled out all the genoa and just hunkered down to make the best of it - if we'd thought yesterday was roll'y (and it was with tide so had a bit of help to keep down) today was double it - wind over tide all the way..  we hugged the north Solent shore contour lines and just enjoyed it for what it was..  and were rewarded with a quick sight of a couple of dolphins sounding off the port quarter no more than 30 yards out..  glorious!

Back on the mooring pontoon by 13:00'ish (we topped off the fuel on the way in, and then made three failed attempts to rescue a lost fender 😏) as the wind was picking up rapidly, we finished off as much of the food as we could, and decanted the boat into Rod's car ; I must have been home by 15:00'ish, and that after having voted..  I can confirm I slept well that night!!

Brilliant trip.. πŸ˜€πŸ‘


 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)

Wind (Speed; Direction): 
  • Day 1: Force 3 gusting 4; N going W
  • Day 2: Force 4 gusting 5; N
  • Day 3: Force 5 gusting 6; W
  • Day 4: Force 4 gusting 6; NWxW
Sail Plan:  Reefed main full/part genoa (day 1 and 2); reefed genoa only (day 3), full genoa only (day 4)
Speed (Max/average in knots): As above..

Monday 24 June 2024

Tack, tack, tack... Marker..

Thirty to be precise, but again I jump ahead of myself...  😏

After another period of naff weather, duff tides, and some time away, at last an opportunity to get out on Sparrow again..  beautiful sunny day, warm, bit of a breeze, but from a direction that is always going to be hard work from where I am moored..

HT was 13:19 and at 4.43mtrs Spring'ish and I was on board by half 10. Took out the reefs from the last sail, warmed u the engine, hoisted the "Hurley Owners" burgee, and then dropped the mooring about quarter past 11 to see what was going on in the harbour..

"Lots" as it turns out, wind was consistent though, but as mentioned SWxS - basically bang on the nose for any trip to the bottom of the harbour. 

Motored to Sweare Deep, and raised the main under motor as apparent wind was from ahead..  bore away, cranked in on the main sheet, rolled out the genoa (rolled a bit in two tacks later), engine off and tilted up, and then started tacking. 30 tacks later (they look flat but that was because of a couple of knots of adverse tide) I was just coming up to Marker, but not before being rudely interrupted by fellow "Jolly Boy" Smithy on his kayak...  snuck up on me from just off the quarter and yelled "starboard!" just as I was contemplating a tack.. scared the living daylights out of me! πŸ˜€
Fellow club boat..  a Devon Yawl..  going up wind on rails, bone between her teeth and looking good..

Brief chat later and he headed off (he had a Sunday paper and lunch in a bag on the back) and I carried on..  tacking on the 1.5 mtr contours either side of the channel, and everyone having their own private little race with the boat closest (Cornish Shrimper in my case) before I turned for home just after Marker, and just after HT.

Dead downwind run, rolled the genoa away as it was doing nothing, deployed the fishing rod (nothing but weed caught), engine put on just shy of Northney and then dropped the main as I was going down the ditch. 

Was joined again by Smithy on the mooring and felt duty bound to offer him a beer.. 😏

Brilliant day out - not sure I'll get out again this week on Sparrow, but next week is the Jolly Boys Annual Cruise on AmiLy, and they're muttering about "Poole"..


Distance: 8.42 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind (Speed; Direction): Top F3 / SWxS
Sail Plan: Full main/90% genoa
Speed (Max/average in knots): 4.5 / 2.7

Wednesday 12 June 2024

Completed job list '23/'24 lay up..

By way of record keeping, and to remind me in the future - here's the completed job list from the winter layover...  all in all I would say it was a good one, mostly because without a shadow of a doubt it was a VERY good idea to bring the tender home - it kept me occupied most of the long dark winter, whenever I got bored I went out and did a few more bits on it..  😏

Completed list...

1/. Titivate the tender - from this.. this..

Most gratifying..  the full list of what was done is here [clicky] and here [clicky] but in essence, washed down, rubbed down (both bottom and inside), all thwarts cut out and replaced with epoxy encased piping covered in three layers of cloth, rubbed down some more, sacrificial strips screwed and epoxied to keel, rear seat removed and strengthened, before sealing both front and rear seat - then painted..  inside with garage floor paint, outside with an off the shelf back oil based house paint, seats used the same stuff I use on the cockpit locker ids and washboards..  I don't have a picture (must get one) but I then permanently attached six fenders I got at a boat jumble over the winter with oversized tie clips. Done...  this winter I think I'll do the central seat, it needs a bit of strengthening.

2/. Jib halyard has worn at the eye strap for the diverter - cut out a foot and then rewhipped in the hard eye 

3/. Outboard well inner and outer pads replaced - for the outer edge I went with (rot free) plastic chopping board - a double thickness of high-density polyethylene chopping board - for the inner edge I used some aluminium plate I had knocking about

Oxalic removed the stain from the old pad at each end..

4/. New Windex sourced, and fitted (as I waited for the tide to come in πŸ˜€)

5/. Tiller got a much needed does of love with a rub down and re-coat...  

After...  nine (maybe 10 😏) coats of varnish later..

Regular/annual items:
  • Locker lids rubbed down, minor crack on one repaired, followed by two coats paint
  • Wash boards - two coats paint
  • Tiller pilot support - two coats paint
  • Tiller pilot clip rest two coats paint
  • Rub down and coat of wood preservative cockpit board - gave it two coats
  • Antifouled - Hempel Cruising Performer this year
  • Serviced outboard - ouch...  I'm not paying that again next year 😨
  • Serviced the Life Jackets
  • Pick up chain - new shackle between chain and swivel, a new swivel, and a new shackle for swivel to mooring buoy connection
  • Pressure wash, pre launch wash, and Oxalic

Monday 10 June 2024


Short old trip out - on paper the forecast had looked good but as so often happens it was not what we got.. 

NW'ly breeze, and there was definitely some bite in it, both strength and temperature'wise - Cambermet was showing similar at the bottom of the harbour..  Pondered while I topped up the fuel tank, and ended up putting in a small reef on the main as the problem was the gusts rather than the general strength..

Dropped the mooring and headed for the ditch, rolling out some genoa as I went down it - wind was on my left shoulder so no need to turn down some extra assist..  even so, on minimal rev's and against tide we were seeing 4.5 SOG. Went past Northney and turned back on myself to raise the main. before bearing away for a goosewing run to Sweare Deep.

The wind was being  bit..  "spicy"...  basically NW'ly, but in the gusts it was swinging 10' either side of that so the downwind run was err...  interesting! 😏

Bearing away as we went past the Beacon the wind came round more on our shoulder again, but in the lee of Hayling dropped, before building again as we approached Marker. Time to decide what we were going to do with the day..  I didn't fancy the bottom of the harbour after a long run/reach as it would be a beat all the way home, but the direction was interesting and warranted an attempt at the channel up to Emsworth (Fishermans on the track picture below marks the northern end of it). I thought it could possibly be done on a single tack

Turned and headed back, at which point the apparent wind honked up a whole force, and the swing in direction from the gusts became even more problematic. I didn't fancy being up that constricted channel, on a tack, with gin palaces either side suddenly being headed, oh, while the tide was still running..

"Sod it", quoth I..  it was grey, I was getting cold, I wasn't enjoying the sailing, so sails came down and I motored back.

Short trip - hour and a half'ish - blew the cobwebs out, but it was enough..

Interesting problem when I got back in to the tender to come back to shore - one of my rowlocks had gone missing! I reckon it had got caught on the tenders mooring rope and just pinged out as the tender moved around..  happily, I had a spare in the bottom of the tender, but otherwise I'm sure I could have lashed something up with some spare line..


** 2 litres added to the fuel tank **

Distance: 5.1 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind (Speed; Direction): Both ends of a F4 ; NW
Sail Plan: Reefed main and genoa
Speed (Max/average in knots):  5.3 / 3.5

Friday 7 June 2024

Westwinnr and back..

Well that marks the furthest south so far this year..  but I am ahead of myself again.. 😏

A period of inclement weather and low tides had resulted in it being far too long since I was last out on Sparrow, and with the Jolly Boys all busy (being Jolly one assumes πŸ˜€) there were no rides on Kings Ransom or AmiLy on offer so I was more than ready to get out on Sparrow when the one good (ish) weather window made itself known..

We're in Springs so it was a humongous tide (4.5 mtrs compared with a meter less on the last sail) -  there was going to be a lot of water sloshing around and not much of a stand. It was a 12:17 HT so I planned to be on the boat about 3 hours before, and then see what it was like as the forecasts were saying light winds..

As it turned out I was on Sparrow by about quarter to 10 (bit of a mud/weed walk with the tender as the tide was still very low), but it was like a millpond, very quiet wind'wise. Got on with some jobs (swapped the genoa sheets back to the lightweight one's, new battery in the clock) but when I popped my head out again, the wind had picked up. "Sod it", quoth I, "if it's crap we can pick up a mooring down the harbour and watch the world go by"..

Engine on, sail covers off, and I eventually dropped the mooring at about 20 past 10.

"Terror" one of the last surviving Emsworth oyster boats - she was curated/reconstructed/renovated with lottery money, but she is gorgeous, and she is surprisingly fast in any kind of a breeze..

Turned out to be a lovely sail - the wind kept building as we went past Northney, where I turned and put the main up (with the direction we had I should have done it by the bridge, it would have been easier!), but then I bore away for Sweare Deep rolling out all the genoa as we went - auto pilot clicking away quietly in the background.. very broad reach...

Tightened up as we went past Sweare Deep, admired Terror as she was putting her gaff main up in the main channel, and realised that it was entirely possible I might get all the way to the bottom of the harbour on a single tack, it headed every now and again, but I was making my west'ing in the gusts, and roared past Marker (well...   3 knots SOG..  but I reckon there was at least 1 or 2 knots of tide against 😏)

The sun shone, the boat was moving well, and the sun hat was on..  slipped past HISC in some very whirly water, I'm guessing it was just shy of high, but there was so much in a fairly small area it was swirling around...  you could even feel it on the rudder.. very pleasant though, and so un-busy, I carried on before eventually deciding the wind was just not strong enough, and the tide too strong, and tacked and headed back up harbour..

The sun went in, it got colder, jumpers were hunted out, the tiller pilot was engaged, and I sat on the perching pad keeping warm, while occasionally having a chat with a guy on a Hunter Ranger 245 [clicky] who was going the same way I was - turns out he had had a Hurley 22 up until the end of last season, but had upgraded.. nice boat..

Rolled the genoa away as we rounded the corner by Sweare Deep, the wind was dead on the nose..  engine on, main down, and headed back to the mooring for what was probably my best pick up this year, unbelievable..  😁

Chat with t'other Dave on 'Kings Ransom' as I went past, and it turned out he had some Tanglefoot on offer - well...  it would have been churlish not to..  🍺🍺

Brilliant day out and a beer in the sun with a mate to end it.. doesn't get much better


Distance: 9.94 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind (Speed; Direction): F4 going F3 ; WxS going SWxW
Sail Plan: Full main and genoa
Speed (Max/average in knots): 5.2 / 2.9

Sunday 26 May 2024

Tack, tack, tack... Sandhead..

Another cracking sail, difficult to believe how good May has been on the (Sparrow) sailing front, compared with previous years it's been outstanding, but then again less trips with the Jolly Boys given last weeks trip to Cowes was the first of the year..

Anyway, I get ahead of myself.. first some other activities...  

While visiting the chandlery at Thornham Marina to obtain new line for the burgee halyard, some different line to provide a restraint for a new hat, and another 3mm R clip, I happened to pass the marina skip on the way home and spied something rather interesting sitting on top of the rest of the cr*p..  splattered with a green'ish paint round the edges, and coated with a slightly dodgy wood preservative of some sort, was what could be a rather nice looking binocular holder...  swiped it, and an hour of sanding at home later, some clamping a gluing of a crack on one of the joints, and I can confirm it appears to be also made of teak..  bonus..  lovely job.. 

Excuse the paid content..  πŸ˜€

It's destined for the bulkhead on Ami-ly (the Jolly Boys ride) as I already have one I made myself [clicky], and besides, Ami-ly deserves it..

So - back to the sailing..  13:52 HT and it's a big old Spring of a tide.. on the boat 11'ish to be met by a pleasant sight..

Smithy had clearly been past on his kayak and left a present.. πŸ˜€πŸ°

Bless 'im, home made Victoria sponge...  so on with a few jobs..  new burgee halyard reeved, then engine on to warm up, reef's on the main taken out from the last sail, and I dropped the mooring at about a quarter to 12..  forecast was F3 gusting 4, and south easterly's, and all the indications were that they'd got it spot on....

Moored almost all the way to the Beacon before raising sails as wind was on the nose, and any earlier would have been pointless. With the main up, we bore away for the bottom of the harbour, and the first of numerous beats..  rolled out 90% of the genoa (with lots of tacking to come, a slightly smaller genoa helps), switched off the engine, disengaged the pilot and settled down for some hard work in the sunshine. Sparrow was going well - I wish I could figure out why, but she was pointing well, moving through the water fast, and I passed a number of boats I would have considered faster than me, and rocketed past Marker..   wish I could bottle it, but on the day, the set up I had was clearly ideal..  30 tacks later (😏) we were approaching East Head - which was absolutely rammed with anchored boats..

East Head, err.. ahead..
Time enough to sweep eastwards along the beach, past Snowhill, and just for a change, gybed and turned back west just past the Sandhead port marker, with the ebb under me, and a broad reach, that was where we saw the top speeds of the day at just over 5 knots over ground..

Followed my outward track over Pilsea sands before bearing off further for a glorious goosewing run all the way up the harbour - just a single gybe half way between Marker and Verner, and then all sails down just shy of the Beacon as the wind had dropped, before motoring* back to the mooring, putting sails away as we went..

*Is there anything more disconcerting than have a split ring drop into he cockpit as you're motoring back to the mooring by the way? 😁 Happily, it was quickly identified as being from one of the twin/split back stays, the old pin was put back temporarily, and a replacement one put back in on the mooring..

Stonking sail!


Distance: 13.89 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind (Speed; Direction):  Both ends F3 ; SSW going S (at HT)
Sail Plan: Full main/90% genoa
Speed (Max/average in knots):  5 / 3

The Jolly Boys go to Cowes..

For the first time since last August the Jolly Boys convened once again for a day of banter, pork pies and Smithy's missus's Victoria sponge cake (and on this occasion Morrison's jam doughnuts as well - apparently they're cheaper than the custard one's 😏)

We'd originally planned to go on the Wednesday (22nd) but had wisely scheduled in a backup the next day in the event of poor weather, and just as well we did, as the Wednesday was disgusting..  force 5 & 6 on the nose with rain, whereas the Thursday (our backup day) was glorious - wall to wall sunshine, occasional cloud, and a wind force less.. 

So, the Jolly Boys convened at Rod's gaff at 9, picked up t'other Dave on the way to the marina, and after a cup of tea on board while we waited for the flood to calm down a bit dropped the mooring ropes at about 11 - destination Cowes...   we go there a lot, but after 9 months we'd missed the ambience, and besides Rod had a yen for fish and chips in the Island Sailing Club

Plot is down below, but as we left the mooring the wind was a little on the spicy side so we decided to put the first reef in on the main with a view to changing our minds if we wanted to once outside the harbour - I'm guessing the wind was just north of dead west, so it was going to be a beat to Cowes, but the strength was good so we were making good pace. Shook the reef out off of Osborne Bay, and true to form the wind picked up 5 minutes after we'd done it (😏) but with Cowes "just round the corner" we soldiered on. 

Two long boards and we were off the breakwater, last short tack and we headed up to drop the main before motoring into the main channel only to spot that no one was on the Island Sailing club's own pontoon - one slightly cheeky phone call later, and we were tying up on it. Money from four lunches, plus beers, my have swung it, but either way as non-members it was very good of them to let us moor up, and for free..

Cowes, ho.. Island Sailing Club pontoon in sight..

One plate of the nicest fish and chips I've had in some time, and a pint of Timmy Taylor "Boltmaker" later and we were back on board snoozing, waiting for the east going 'travellator' in the Solent which was due at 5.

Dropped the mooring ropes at quarter to, and with all sails up we headed east - wind dead behind and a little lighter than it had been and with the main taking all the breeze we rolled the genoa away - we kind of settled for a longish fast drift with tide down wind, when low and behold just off Osborne Bay (again) the wind piped up and switched a few notches further north. Rolled the genoa out and then we started tramping nicely..  top end 4 on occasion, two or three knots of tide and we were definitely covering distance over the ground nicely..  small shift north so as to get out of the way of a humungous liner, and we rocketed past Gilkicker (GPS shows a 9.3 knots in this leg), and in to the outer swash way for the entrance to the harbour - weed well and truly cleaned from the bottom!

No, after you... I insist...

Back on the mooring for 19:30'ish for a swig of rum from a bottle Smithy had bought back from Jamaica, and then home...    apparently we all slept well that night.. 😁  

More of that, please..


Distance: 26.97 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind (Speed; Direction):  AM: F3 gusting 4 / WxN - PM: Both ends of a F4 / NWxN
Sail Plan: Full/reefed main and full genoa
Speed (Max/average in knots): 8.3 / 2.9

Sunday 12 May 2024

HISC and back..

Here in the UK, after a period of settled, wall to wall sunshine, it looks like the weather is about to break over the next few days (wind and showers), so this sail (on Saturday) was to take advantage of the last of it..

14:57 HT, but I was on the boat by 12:30 as I had a few things to sort out..
  • Main halyard was largely sorted out in the shakedown, but even with the
    improved run, it still rubs against the spreader foot when hauling the sail..  then I remembered the mast foot tidy I have, which has a spare pulley on it and might improve the halyard run further by slightly moving the run forward, and so away from the spreader..  my main halyard runs from top of sail, to mast head pulley, but then runs through the mast head, and exits via another pulley down the front of the mast..  running the halyard through the block on the tidy, and then cleating off on the usual cleat gives an inch or so of clearance to the spreader..  going to call that good to go (post sail edit: worked well, but the block was a double - which I didn't need - so I've swapped it for a single)
  • I have a new 'cockpit lounging chair' - had some birthday vouchers left over so swapped my old chair for a new one with a higher back - if I'm going to lounge while at anchor/mooring let's do it in comfort.. πŸ˜€
  • I also managed to source a new holder for the GPS, which over the years has succumbed to knocks and UV damage and is slowly beginning to crumble..  my thanks to one of the guys on PBO forum who was clearing out
That done, it was time to sail...  the wind in the moorings was "brisk", and with Cambermet currently down at the moment due to technical issues I didn't really have a view of what was going on down at the bottom of the harbour, but Chimet (just outside the harbour entrance) was showing a solid F4 so I decided to put some reefs in the main. That done the mooring was dropped about 1'ish and I headed off towards Sweare Deep. 

Winds were SE'ly (more east in it at the start) so a long run on the motor to Sweare Deep before hoisting the main, and then bearing off for Marker and the bottom of the harbour..  almost a single tack to HISC (Hayling Island Sailing Club), tacked once just to get some offing as the wind was coming round more southerly and making it difficult to stay in the channel. Waved to my first seal of the season, and with the wind dying slowly (dropped to a F3 as the afternoon wore on) gybed short of NW Pilsey for a run up the harbour on the last legs of the incoming tide (which is where I got that 5.4 from!)..

Spotted on the HISC moorings..  looks almost stealth as it was pure black all over..  also looks fast!

Glorious, glorious afternoon..  tiller pilot on and just lounging as Sparrow practically flew up the harbour, but of course via the usual Saturday afternoon race laid across the channel.. 😏

Rolled the genoa as I went past the Beacon on a dead run (mainsail was covering it and it was doing nothing) then dropped the main between Northney and Sweare Deep before a pootle on motor back to the moorings for a chat with Simon on "Marcy" on the mooring next to ne - a GOOD afternoon...  balm for the soul, and makes all the winter work worth it.. 😊 


Distance: 8.75 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind (Speed; Direction): F4 going F3 ; SE going SExS
Sail Plan: Reefed main and genoa
Speed (Max/average in knots): 5.4 / 3.1

Wednesday 8 May 2024

Shakedown sail...

Bit of a big one, but a fairly trouble free shakedown it was..  before we get to that though, a few other bits and pieces happening...

First off, sniping a suitable hole in the abysmal weather we've been having recently, the sails finally went back on three or four days ago. I also took the opportunity to tighten up the rig, and to refresh the fuel in the outboard tank..  I get worried when it's over four weeks old, and it's no problem just to drain the tank of the old, shove that in the car, and then fill up again with fresh the next time I'm on the boat..  so 5 ltrs of Super added..

While putting the tender in however, one of the wheels fell off the launch trolley - so that was a slightly bigger job - took it home and found they had been held on with captive/locking washers..

Tidied up the hub, and rather than get new locking washers I decided to drill and pin it with a nice chunky washer between to protect the pin and wheel from rubbing...

Job done - the other one is OK, so I'll just do the same when it (inevitably) fails - let's go sailing..

Quite possibly one of the loveliest days of the Spring so far this year, with a F3 promised (albeit expected to drop later in the day) and wall to wall warm sunshine was chosen for the first sail..  what a blinder, and so good to be back on the water..

HT was 11:46, and I was on the boat and getting ready by 09:45, funnily enough, and unlike normally happens on the first sail of the year, I actually remembered what to do, and even in the right order (😏) including remembering how to reef - the wind in the moorings was a little feisty, and given it was the first sail of the year, I decided a light reef was in order despite the forecast saying it would drop. That done by half past we dropped the mooring and for the first time this year were motoring down 'the ditch' (it's actually called 'The New Cut' as it was dredged back in the day for the barges that ran between Chichester and Portsmouth) towards Northney...  sails up off the entrance to the marina and the (most unusual) NE'ly was swinging around enough for us to get down Sweare Deep to the Emsworth Channel on a single tack before bearing away against a Spring tide flow to have a glorious beam reach to the bottom of the harbour - making 3's and 3.5 knots against a a 1 or 2 knot tide..  most pleasing - clean bottoms are a help.. πŸ˜€

Short cut cross Pilsea Sands, then Stockers Lake (interesting to see the depth jump as we went through, or rather over, it) and over Stockers Sands before tightening up for Snowhill Creek...   remarkably un-busy at East Head for such a lovely day but I guess most people were at work, so a bit of pootling round admiring the boats, and it was round Snowhill buoy and aiming back at the top of the harbour..

Close hauled, and close reach, to the top of the harbour with the wind dying all the time, hove to to take the reefs out just shy of Marker, and then persevered for another half an hour before admitting defeat, dropping the sails and heading back to the mooring on motor.

So "shakedown" issues?
  • Standing rigging is good - all taught and little or no slack on opposite sides when beating
  • Main halyard run was a bit skewwhiff - it was running behind/around the genoa halyard so friction when raising and dropping the sail - dropped the genoa, restored a clean run for both halyards, and re-raised and tied off the genoa..  job done.
  • Dropped the boat hook when I was picking up the mooring - no idea how - but happily I managed to get back to the cockpit, leant over the side, and collected it as it floated past..  another vote for wooden boat hooks..  they float.. but easier not to drop it in the first place! 😏

** Old fuel drained - 5 litres added to the fuel tank **

Distance: 10.18 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind (Speed; Direction):   Both ends of a F3; NE going SxW (sea breeze)
Sail Plan: Reefed/full main; reefed/full genoa
Speed (Max/average in knots):  5.4 / 2.8

Wednesday 24 April 2024

...and up!

...and not with a whimper but a bang the mast is up.. 

The weather is the usual bag of spanners we get at this time of the year so with long experience I always provide the Jolly Boys with a couple of dates so that we can shift if necessary, and so it more or less was this year. Forecasts were shabby for the first day so I shifted to the fall-back only to get up on the first day and the weather being nothing like was forecast a mere 12 hours before..  

The phone started pinging from various Jolly Boys saying 'should we go ahead anyway' - so the plan was changed again, and a mere hour later we were on the boat prepping for the mast lift.

It was a good, fairly trouble free, lift as per the previous efforts (and as documented here [clicky]); the only niggle we had was the topping lift (which I use as a fail safe for the jib halyard) wrapped round the furler - but that was easily resolved, and if anything was a help as it kept the foil out of the way during the lift.. 😏

Nothing for it but to adjourn to the cabin and cockpit and drink beer* and eat pork pies and picked eggs in celebration.. good one!

Will get the sails on next time we have some decent weather..

*Appropriate libations were also made to boat and Neptune for the coming season.. πŸ˜€

Friday 12 April 2024

....and in!

..yep, Sparrow's in, but not before a whole load of extra work and "doings"!

As storm 'Kathleen' launched herself upon the south coast (and her straight after storm 'Olive'!), I heard through the grapevine that the lift in on Sunday was cancelled, so when I did my club "lift in" duty on the Monday I knew it was going to be busy as the guys were trying to concertina the two days into one...

Suffice to say that Monday duty was a 'mare of a day that I was more than happy to finish 18 boats later..  I was doing launch duty which normally I love, but the day was a catalogue of disasters for me..  the spring tides were running stupidly fast so the first issue was wrapping a mooring rope round the prop that I simply didn't see (pick up float was at the wrong end of the warp for some reason, so the warp was floating free just under water πŸ˜•)...  then at the end of the day, as the tide was going out, t'other Dave gave me a shout for a lift back to shore, it looked like there was enough water so I set out to pick him up, but clearly there wasn't as I hit the only submerged rock in the whole inner bay and totalled the propeller! Gaaah... 😩  I blame myself for not weighing the odds better..  lesson learned, and the guys have managed to recover and refit the propeller..  no harm done apparently..

As I was going home I was advised the Tuesday lift in was also cancelled due to heavy winds, so my lift in was shifted to Wednesday. 

Popped down the club Tuesday night to strap the engine on ready for a potentially early morning lift.. Oxalic wash removed the staining a treat to the sides of the new outboard pad..

...which was well timed, as when I arrived Wednesday morning at at half eight I was told I was next to be lifted for a 'dry launch' (which I prefer) from the shingle at the bottom of the slipway.. far more relaxing to sit and wait for the water, than be launched like a missile from the hoist.. 😏

So many expectations... 

The timing was also perfect for the last job of the winter maintenance cycle..  borrowed the long ladder, and then removed the old windex and replaced it with a nice shiny new one...  I am offering no better than 25% odds this one survives the summer, but hey ho.. 😏

That done, it was time for the traditional very last job of the season.. πŸ˜€

...the last job...

..before sitting down in the cockpit with a coffee to wait for the water to arrive. An hour later and she started rocking gently, and 15 or 20 minutes later and I was off..  thanks to the club CCTV for the following.. 

Just floated off and now heading for under the bridge... at 10:14, unbelievable.. πŸ˜€ was good to be back on the mooring even of the weather wasn't the best..

...thoughts now turn to getting the mast up!!

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Few last jobs to do..

Few last jobs to do - 
  • I've bought the tiller home with me to sand down and varnish in the comfort of the garage - didn't take a before picture unfortunately as it would make an excellent tutorial picture to show how not to maintain a tiller - this is the best I can do and dates to end of last season  add on 6 months of outside in winter and you have a good idea of how bloody awful it looked..

Post rub down..

Post nine (maybe 10 😏) coats of varnish..

That'll do, pig... πŸ˜€

  • Sparrow needs a damn good wash - it's been a wet, wet, winter and she's showing a lot of green  - DONE/CLOSED
Cockpit filth removed...  for now..

Plus a wash down outside, a couple of hours with some extra fine wet and dry (to remove all the bump and scuff marks from the tender last year), and then an Oxalic wash along the water line and other area's of staining - cleanest she's been since this time last season..😏

  • The Windex needs to go back on, but that's a last minute job, maybe even on the water to avoid it being damaged during launch
  • Cockpit hatches need to go back on - DONE/CLOSED
Before.. what a grub...   for shame... 😏

After.. note bottom left of the lower wash board - that's what got the item added to next winters maintenance schedule..
  • Tender needs to go back to the club - DONE/CLOSED
  • The mooring tackle needs to go back on the buoy - managed to get a lift out to the mooring on the club launch - DONE/CLOSED
  • Outboard pad needs replacing (job #10) - old and rotted ply (which was always considered to be sacrificial due to the crap'ness of the ply and was installed in 2021) was replaced with a double thickness of high-density polyethylene chopping board - rot proof and maintenance free. Got the biggest one I could find but it was a couple of inches shorter in width, but no matter - she's bolted in, sealed around the edges, and when I get a moment I'll tidy up that staining at the corners to tidy up the installation. I have a square of 3mm aluminium plate for the inner edge of the well, but intend to leave that unattached - the outboard clamps will hold it in place.. DONE/CLOSED