Saturday, 15 July 2017

Slight change of plan. We may have found a buyer so Vagabond stays in the farmers barn for a week or two.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Still going somewhere

You may have heard a rumour hat Vagabond is for sale. Yes, she is. BUT we're having a last (?) cruise together. After an appearance at the Swallow raid in Mylor last week, she's sitting on Terence (the trailer) waiting to be hitched to Martina and towed to Oban - tomorrow!

Mylor was deliciously warm and sunny. Oban looks to be cold and wet but the islands and all that crinkly coastline are calling.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Shake down sails

It's almost the end of April. Vagabond has been on the briny twice since I hitched her, Terence (the trailer) behind Martina and drove the ensemble south to the Marina at Northney on Hayling Island for the summer quarters

A couple of "shake down"  outings showed that  the changes made during the winter work, some better than others.

The "undercarriage doors"  in the outboard well are a partial success, in that the amount of swirl in the chamber is much less that it was with the battered Mylar strips that used to try to keep the worst of the water out.
But raising and lowering them is a bit of a palaver.
One has images of naval officers shouting commands to Petty Officers, who pass them to the AB's who actually do the work :
"Close up well crew"
"Well Crew ready sir"
"Let go under carrgage doors."
"Aye Aye sir undercarriage doors let go"
"Haul in opening uphaul"
"Aye Aye sir, uphaul hauled in and doors open"
"Lower engine and prepare to start" etc etc

You get the idea: Lot's of shouting and tugging of forelocks.

The electric winch and bilge pump are both a success. The first is fixed to the trailer, together with battery and solar panel, in place of the hand winch of yesteryear.   I had noticed towards the end of last season that age was  starting to tell on the owner and getting Vagabond onto the trailer was almost too much of an effort. So, with a bit of bracketry knocked up by Swallows metal smith in Cardigan, a "Warrior" winch was fitted to the front of the trailer and various electrics were designed and fitted (cobbled together). The winch came with a wandering hand held "wire free" controller, so, once the dyneema string on the winch has been unrolled enough to clip it on to the eye on Vagabonds bows, one can stand on the pontoon alongside the boat, press the "up" button and watch as the winch draws her up onto the trailer. If necessary, a casual push or pull on the side of the boat keeps her in line. So far, it seems to work OK, although I am very aware that there is no manual back up should the electrics fail......

The electric bilge pump (about a tenner from ebay) emptied that ballast tanks in about 5 minutes, so you can leave it to get on with the task whilst positioning the trailer..

The sailing on the two days was pretty uneventful - a slow drift down with the ebbing spring tide on day one, and a fine display of short tacks on an ebbing neap tide for day two. The fine display was a little disrupted by gently running aground a couple of times as I left the tacks a little late but no damage seems to have been done. I must remember that 1.3 metres on the echo sounder means 1.3 metres and not 2!

On the first day, we had the harbour to ourselves and on the second a BRE joined in the tacking excerises.

The skipper is off to have another eye operation next week, so there's be no more news until towards the end of May.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Mad march days

It's been a bit blowy in the last few weeks. I quite glad that Vagabond slumbers in the barn. The perceptive amongst my readers will have notice there were no blog posts at all in 2016. Vagabond joined in the excitement of the Swallow Yachts raid in Mylor and the owner broke the mast when preparing to tow her home. So she spent some time at Swallow Yachts yard having it repaired and a few bits and bobs fitted.

She now sports the "wider berth" option to account for the ever increasing girth of the owner, a sparkling new coat of varnish on most of the wood work, and a few repairs to things that broke. The owner has fitted an electric winch to the trailer to account for his increasing feebleness, together with batteries, control boxes and solar panels to keep it charged. In place of the slat arrangement in the outboard well, there is a pair of under carriage doors, controlled by suitable pieces of string.

None of theses new devices have yet seen action.

The owner, whilst mulling over the results of his MSc course has also made some mounts in the well for the dinghy oars in the outboard well . Not that the owner is planing to take Vagabond rowing .....
It's just that an incident occurred during the Swallow raid. There was a strong wind blowing down the channel approaching the berthing pontoon and, despite Freddy's frantic efforts to slow us down, Vagabond's stem made a bit of a dent in the pontoon. Had the oars (or even the bucket) been readily to hand, rather than buried in a locker, we might have slowed down sufficiently to make a dignified entrance.

We're off to the sea soon to put this lot through their paces.
Watch this space.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

The Wrong Sort of Sailing?

Vagabond had been back in the barn for a couple of weeks whilst I wondered what to do next. The two trips, (Scotland and Cornwall) had provided enough evidence to show that the idea of trailing somewhere, rigging, launching, sailing,  de-rigging (un-rigging?)and trailing home in a day was not a sustainable way of using her. And yet, in the next few months, there weren't spaces in the family calendar for  any longer period away from home.

I thought there were three choices:

(1) sell her
(2) Leave her, fully rigged, on Tarquin, somewhere where she could be easily launched, close to a good sailing ground
(3) Plan some more long voyages and negotiate with the Owners Agent for the time away.

As some of you may know (readers who have been at Sail Caledonia and the Swallow Boat Raid, option 1 has been toyed with for the last several months. Despite the lack of sailing for the family at Mylor, they ruled out this options for at least another year.....

Option 3 appeals to me but there is a problem for next year - as some of you may know I have returned to University (after a break of some 48 years) and am studying (part time) for an MSc. The dreaded dissertation is due next summer and, whilst I can see that I might like a break from the research, thought and writing that it will involve, I don't think I can afford 3 or 4 weeks.....

So Option 2 has been adopted. Vagabond sits on Tarquin at Northney Marina, which gives access to Chichester Harbour and the Solent. She's been there since the beginning of August and I have sailed in her precisely five times.

We have yet to make it out of Chichester Harbour into the Solent. We've run aground twice, the jib had failed to roll up twice and the outboard gear selection has failed.
The outboard needed a new plastic  part (the selection lever!) and it wasn't in stock in the UK.

Rollers fouling the "keel"

Now that Tarquin is being used fairly intensively, it's clear that the set up of his various rollers was not optimised for either launch or recovery.
Extensive trials, adjustments and lubrication has now got Tarquin to behave and, just as the season draws to a close and the college term restarts, we might be able to go day sailing again.

Chichester Harbour -
 not much water under the keel

My limited experience of messing about in Chichester harbour has led me to have full sympathy with the (sadly late) Viking, who was always unhappy when he had less than 30 metres of water below the keel of Shenanigan.

In addition, I find I don't like traffic. Or boats on moorings.

Boats on moorings

Not only does the presence of it make me aware that my knowledge of the "rules of the road" is a bit flaky, it's quite clear that so it is so for everyone else!

So, whilst I think that option 2 might last for next season, it is not, I think, the right kind of sailing for me.

Options 1 or 3 have to be back on the table. I've some ideas for 3 (in 2017) but fear I might be getting a little long in the tooth for them. Time will tell!

I've just heard that the Swallow Boat raid is on for next June.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Review of the summer (what?)

Two posts in two days - please do not expect this service to last, dear reader!

Scarcely had we had time to recover from our break in Albania (well worth a visit by the way, if you want to see an unspoiled Mediterranean country) before it was time to tow V & T* south west, to Cornwall, for the first "Swallow Boats" raid, where were learnt of the forthcoming re-branding to Swallow Yachts. I'd forgotten how far Mylor was from Bucks. You think you are there when you fall off the the end of the M5** at Exeter, only to realise that there's another 100 miles*** (and at least three hours) to go....

The fleet at rest
The weather was sunny, with the winds somewhat fickle, particularly on the expedition up the River Fal. There were a couple of unexpected capsizes and Vagabond ran aground (we kept quiet about it) but this time we managed not to hit anything!

It might rain

In the Pub

I think we are meant to go this way

 There were the dinners (but few speeches) and, somewhere down the line we were awarded a bottle of wine (for reasons that now escape me).

At the end of the event, Vagabond was due to be left alongside the pontoon for a couple of weeks for the family (The Banker, the Irish lass, cabin boy, cabin girl and Owners Agent) were scheduled to come to stay a local farm house and it was planned to have some jolly family sailing.......

Just before I left Vagabond at Mylor, I thought I'd check over Tarquin, the trailer. To my horror, I found that one of the tyres was badly worn on one side, to the extent that the steel bands that compose the core of the tread were exposed all the way round on that side.
"Something's wrong here",  I thought.
Using a convenient piece of string (there are lots of them associated with boats) I established that the axle was out of square with the centre line of the trailer. The left hand wheel was about an inch and a half *** ("behind" the right hand one - it can't have been like this all the time? And I thought back to the pot hole in the Scottish layby, when the wheel was damaged and the tyre deflated.
So, with the aid of the piece of string, an adjustable spanner and a large "lump" hammer (always part of Vagabond's tool kit!), I set about aligning the axle. Of course, once this was done, the brakes needed re-adjusting and the (rather dodgy) spare wheel used to replace the bald one.

And so I came home only to return a week or so later, with a new wheel and tyre, and the family.

By then, of course, the weather had broken: we had a week of sea fog and wind, overcast days and wind and pure wet days and wind. Vagabond left her mooring once, when the weather moderated for a few hours one evening. Otherwise she bounced up and down beside the pontoon and was used as a base for crabbing by the Cabin Boy and Girl.......

The Banker and the Irish lass left early for appointments "in town"' leaving the Owners Agent and I in charge for a couple of days. More crabbing. More wet weather Still no sailing.

At the end of the week, on "changeover day"****, the Owners Agent, Cabin Boy and Cabin girl were dispatched home by train and Vagabond, Tarqin, Martina and I had a quiet, though long, journey home. The tedium was relieved by the sight of a large Range Rover on it's side at the bottom of a hill on the other carriage way with a large rib, sitting serene and smugly on its trailer, some way astern of the vehicle, but ahead of a long tail back of frustrated west bound holiday makers, businessmen and truck drivers.

I drove very slowly for the next half hour or so......

It's only the middle of July - where am I going to go sailing next? What's the right sort of sailing?

Conversions, notes etc

* just to remind you all V (Vagabond) is the boat which sits on top of T (Tarquin) the trailer
** The M5 here is a motorway , not a sort of BMW
*** 160 kilometres
**** say 60 cm
***** Changeover day - the day when the owner of a cottage deems it for the holiday rental periods to start and finish. In Cornwall, it seems to be universal the all  such changeover days are FRIDAY. The resultant traffic to and from Cornwall brings the creaking infrastructure close to gridlock......

Monday, 5 October 2015

Not Dead Yet

Regular readers of this irregular blog will probably have given up on me. I am entirely to blame and can't claim too much work, too many family commitments or even a surfeit of sailing as excuses for not blogging through the summer.

The real reason is that there hasn't been enough of the right sort  of sailing - but I'll come on to that in the next edition of this blog....

In a lock, somewhere
between lochs
You may recall the excitement of towing Tarquin and Vagabond north. The Purser and I joined Sail Caledonia on the raid through the Great Glen.
The Purser at rest

The wind was behind us for the whole way which made coming to rest in the various locks and alongside the various pontoons tediously difficult with the result that Vagabonds gelcoat is a bit the worse for wear.

The points that spring to mind (apart from the bumping and bashing) are:

  • forgetting to engage the shrouds with the spreaders when raising the mast.......
  • the tow car getting a puncture on Sunday in the Highlands.......
  • an exciting cross wind sail across Loch Ness, where, despite a reef in the main and a total crew of 3, a 35 kn gust lead us to spend an uncomfortable couple of minutes (or so it seemed) looking down onto the water, the nearest Vagabond has been to a capsize yet 
  • a downwind sail at about 6 knots under foresail only
All too soon it was over and we were up at crack of sparrow what's it to take the Purser to Inverness airport and Vagabond (on Tarquin) was under tow across to the West Coast. As a gesture, we paused in a lay by to let the traffic build up pass. I failed to notice a large pothole on the exit from the layby - it knocked a trailer tyre off the wheel rim, buckled the wheel and (of course) deflated the tyre. 

Praise to the electric jack, the wheel was changed in a jiffy and we arrived without apparent further ado at Balvicar, where the wind and rain raged incessantly. At this point the trailer brakes proved defective and required major adjustment. The local merchant could not source a new tyre but did straighten out the wheel and put the old tyre back onto it so we sort of had a spare.

The weather forecast was atrocious for the next week...
The Owners Agent and I were due to go to Albania in 10 days.....
So I trailed uneventfully south and stored Vagabond and Tarquin (V & T) in their usual barn space in Bucks.