Saturday, 19 July 2014

Wacky Blacky rides again

Wacky Blacky wallows at the club.
Over the last few weeks I have been cursing this dinghy every time I walk down the garden, as it has been taking up valuable space as well as looking untidy.   I decided that it was time to either finish it or move it on.
While it had been sat a couple of bits had deteriorated.  Although I'd painted it previously the taped seems on each side had split and were letting water get under, also the rubbing strakes had gone soft and needed some attention.
I used a flap wheel on the angle grinder to wizz through the damaged resin and tape... I was in no mood for tip toeing around.  Surprisingly it didn't end in a bonfire and I was soon able to retape and epoxy the join.  I think it had probably originally been made with poly resin and it was loaded on really thick so had split.

Another coat of paint

The next task was the rubbing strakes,  they had both gone soft where the rain water had been running over them.  I used some of my recycled hardwood, I think these were old window frames, to make the new bits and let them in.  I quite happy with the results.
New bit of rubbing strake.

Finally the hull needed another coat of paint, the rails were coated with epoxy and varnish and the whole of the decks and interior were given two coats of varnish.
Then last night I took her down to the club for her bum wetting session... all went well,  I tipped myself out on the slipway but I don't think anyone noticed :)  It was very light winds and I had not been in a dinghy for a long long time.  I started to get the hang of it after a while.  Thing seeming much easier when the breeze blew just a little stronger.  I was out for a couple of hours before the shock cord on the rudder snapped so I had to call it a day.  When I jumped out at the club I noticed the wheels were still attached to the skeg.. Do'H...once again I don't think anyone noticed!   So I have a couple of jobs to do.. Replace the downhaul shock cord on the rudder and the centre board case was leaking slightly so needs resealing.  Apart from that all seemed well.  
I'm really looking forward to getting to grips with dinghy sailing again.

Ready to put away again

Wheels made by A.B.T products in Ross on Wye 3656 maybe the product number.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Round the Island Race

Friday 20th June:
I'll start with an apology, this is out of sequence and a few weeks late. However the disarray is a result of the amount of sailing that I've been fitting in recently.
I had booked Thursday and Friday off in order to get there early enough to grab a berth.  In the end I spent Thursday on the boat with James, going to Studland, and set off for the Isle of Wight early on Friday.
The forecast was for barely any wind at all for the whole weekend, Saturday being particularly quiet.  I was beginning to think that it probably wasn't worth going over.
The trip over on Friday was actually really nice and suited Ciao Bella really well.  There was a light North Easterly, emboldened by the sea breeze which let me close haul along Bournemouth seafront, only having to tack out to avoid Bournemouth pier and then again for Hengisbury head.

Bournemouth pier on the nose :)
As the conditions were so good I tried a little sea fishing, propping the rod in my flag staff socket and towing some mackerel feathers... unfortunately I snagged a lobster pot and the rig snapped at the handle before I could get to it.  There'll be a fisherman wondering what he'd done to deserve winning a crap old rod like mine.  Hopefully he will recover it and dispose of it properly.
Across Christchurch bay and the auto-helm was pressed into action while I heated a tin of bangers and beans... I was entering a highly competitive race and I needed athletes food.

As I approached Hurst I heard my name being called, Martin, the club commodore was passing in 'Silver Lady' with beer in hand... he was clearly in training as well.  By now the wind has turned to a westerly and I was able to pole out the genoa and goosewing through the channel.

Back on the Folly pontoon
I was at the Folly by mid afternoon, surprisingly there was plenty of room; I was half expecting to have to go up to Newport.  The ferry's to the pub and Cowes where free for this weekend which was a pleasant surprise.  After a rest and cuppa I scuttled off to the pub, had a quick hello to Joe, who was scrubbing 'Derwyn' on the beach in front of the pub, then settled down with a pint of Goddards while I awaited the arrival of Cap'n Liam of Peggotty.
The view across with 'Derwyn' H22 being scrubbed on the beach

Liam scrubbing Peggotty
Friday evening was spent holding a rope for Liam to hang onto while he snorkeled under Peggotty with with a yard broom.  The highlight of this was when he surfaced with his whole head covered in weed... I nearly fell in laughing :).. Sorry Liam.
We also swapped Liams enormous 9.9hp outboard for my somewhat smaller 6hp.  The idea being that we'd be able to raise it clear of the water, the rules don't allow engines to be tilted so Liams would still be in the drink even with the bracket raised.  The bad news was that after going through the pain of swapping the engines, mine still wouldn't clear the water line.  The Folly was rammed with no chance of being served this side of christmas so we took a drive upto Newport for some nosh in the 'Bargeman's Rest'.  Plans were drawn up for the morning and Liam returned me to the Folly.
Saturday 21st June:
Up with the sparrows and Liam and crew came to pick me up from my pontoon.  It start to get busy as we motored down the river, by the time we were at the entrance it was hectic.
Heading towards the start

Looking back into the Medina

Top crew ready for the race.

 With very little wind and a strong tide it was difficult to keep ourselves the right side of the start line, Liam pointed the boat east to fight the tide as much as possible, with seconds to go he spun it round and we were off.  We made a reasonable start and stuck with the fleet but it was slow going,, more of a drift than anything else.
To help reduce drag we lifted the engine off completely and stowed it in the cabin.

and they're off
We picked boats around us that we thought we could compete with, we did pretty well.  The one which seemed to be pulling us along was a small red boat with a junk rig, sometimes we were quicker, sometimes they were.
The tide was starting to turn as we went through Hurst, It was a real slog up to the Needles.  As we were beating towards the needles, we were hoping that we'd be able to get the cruising chute out when we turned but even so time was running out.
The Shingles bank claimed a few unwary competitors.
We'll have no jokes about women drivers.

Just to be fair.. Some chaps on the same bit of gravel :)

at the needles.. still in the race.
At the needles Liam made the inspired desicion to call it a day.. The fleet were still beating into wind, even though they'd done a U turn, towards a mass of hanging sails in Compton bay. We had to be at Bembridge in four hours and that was just not possible.
change of plan.. back to the Folly
The ride back to the Folly was ace... we finally got to use the cruising chute and flew back, able to keep up with much bigger boats.
Cruising chute up... chugging back down the solent.

Taking it easy

Better than being becalmed at Ventnor
Back at the Folly and we tidied up, swapped engines again and made our way to the pub for some food.. All the tables had reserved written on them names and times... 7:30 was popular but most would not turn up as they were still coming past Ryde long after their reservation had gone.
An iconic boat

After Liam had trundled off I caught the ferry down to Cowes to soak up some of the atmosphere.  I stayed til about 10:30 then caught the Ferry back.. As we plodded up the river we went past a yacht after yacht that were just getting in. One was called Shamaya, she was at the needles the same time as us.. glad we retired.
1584 entered, 596 finished with the fastest time just under 9 hours... not really challenging Ben Ainslies time from last year.

Sunday 22nd June:
Another early start to catch the tide back to Poole.  The wind was none existent in the morning so motor sail was the order of the day.  By lunchtime the sea breeze had filled in and I was scooting along Bournemouth bay.  2pm and I was back at the club.  Martin had got there just before me and had set up the remains of his barrel of beer on the beach, offer to all and sundry... would have been rude to turn down his offer.
All in all not a very successful race but a great week end.
I have to congratulate another club member, Quentin,  who managed to come away with some silverware and came 20th overall in his J24.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Big Easy spotted

With the weather so good, it seemed a shame not to rush out to Ciao Bella after work last night. I knew my friend Roger would be out for his first proper sail on his Hurley 24/70 'Big Easy'.   It was a bit of a stress getting out, the tide was disappearing so quickly that I thought I wouldn't get off the mooring.  With inches to spare I motored away with sail covers still on... That could wait until I was in deeper water.
There was a fresh North Easterly blowing, just right for full sail.  I called Roger on the VHF, he was outside the harbour entrance fighting the Ebb to get back in.  I took the opportunity to go out with the tide to meet him.

Roger has spent a huge amount of time fettling this boat back into tip top condition.  It is absolutely superb.  All the time a hard work must have seemed worthwhile last night as he put her through her paces.
Roger kindly reciprocated with this lovely shot of Ciao Bella... Shame about the fat bloke on the back :)
Big Easy continued on her way into the harbour while I headed for the Banks Arms... Paul was already over there so thought it rude not to go and share a beer with him.  I had heard Dom, another club member with a Swift 18, on the VHF and invited him join us but I didn't hear a reply.  I bumped into him later and he said he'd replied, I can only assume I'd knocked the channel switch or something.. Shame, always good to meet up.
I think I may be slowly improving with my mooring techniques.. I picked up a mooring, undersail, at Studland on the second pass and also when I returned to my mooring I picked that up under sail alone with no dramas.
The run back from Studland was lovely,  Close reach from Studland to the end of the training wall then close hauled and tacking back along the Swash channel.  As the way was clear I even swung in through the entrance without dipping the outboard.  A great evening sail.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Tinkering part two

After work last night I nipped out to see if the new solar regulator was doing anything at all.. The good news is that it has now overcome its error message and is showing 10.9V flicking up to 11V and charging at 2mA.   The bad news is that as the light started to fade so did the voltage, down to 10.7V by the time I left so I fear the battery may be goosed.  It's a tricky operation transferring heavy batterys from the tender to the boat so I'm happy to leave it as it is until at least Sunday to see if it makes any real headway.

My other nerve racking experiment involved the use of my iPhone to investigate the rudder trouble.
Didn't really help as I couldn't tell where I was pointing it and could have done with someone waggling the tiller to show the play.  I couldn't see the lower pintle but the bush at the top seems very close to the rudder so may have dropped off.. I will have to beach her to investigate properly.
The phone was protected from the water by this natty waterproof case which I got from the RNLI gift shop. I can't remember how much it was but it was certainly less than a fiver.

RNLI Phone case.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014


Last night I popped down to Ciao Bella as there were a couple of problems that need looking at.  The first and most pressing issue is that the battery has either stopped charging or there is a drain on it.   Last time I was on the boat I bypassed the solar regulator as it looked like it had stopped working.  The voltage on the battery then was 11.6V... last night it was 9.8V, I think I can safely say there is a drain.   I can't find the cause of the drain but I have isolated the circuits and replaced the solar regulator with this natty control unit.  The E07 error message just says that the battery voltage is too low... well done Sherlock :)  It does display some useful information.  Charge /Discharge rate,  Battery condition, voltage etc.  It also uses PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) to charge / condition the battery.  I don't proclaim to understand this BUT it is said to be far superior to on/off regulators.

Next on my list was the way the Genoa sheets are attached.   I hadn't had a major issue in the past but this year my rudimentary method of tying them on has caused them to snag on the shrouds more often than before. 

The, hopeful, cure is to seize them on with a simple whipping.  This only took a few minutes to do and looks much better.  I tried dragging the Genoa back and forth while on the mooring, It didn't catch but the proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the sailing :)

In other news the tiller seems to have picked up some excess play again so I need to investigate that before I travel too far.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Afternoon trip to Studland

I had booked off Thursday and Friday to Go over to the Isle of Wight ready for the Round the Island race.  The weather forecast for racing was a little uninspiring, with 0 knots forecast for times on Saturday! Not sure how you put a direction on 0 knots? :)
As James is home from Uni and not the most enthusiastic sailor in the world I thought it would be ideal conditions to entice him out for a sail... particularly if I mentioned the pub.
We got down to the club at lunch time and ate some sandwiches before going over to Ciao Bella. There was barely any wind but enough to put some shape in the sails.   Alison (Club Pirate Captain) was out in her Mirror and asked if we could take some pictures of her goosewinging to help with teaching.  We tried but the breeze was so weak it would change direction every few seconds.

We moved on out towards the entrance and started the motor.  We motor sailed all the way to studland expecting to pick up a banks Arms buoy but they were all taken.  We motored closer to shore and dropped the anchor.
As James is still young fit and slender it was easy for the two of us to paddle the coracle ashore... A different story for most of my occasional crew.

We spent a pleasant afternoon at the pub just chilling in the garden. We thought about eating there but decided to grab a cuppa and a Jamaican pattie at Joes Cafe down on the beach.
The lane down to Joes Cafe with Ciao Bella just beyond

Waiting for our grub
Back aboard and tender stowed, the wind had picked up a little so we were able to sail back to Poole.  It was great to see James enjoying the boat. I don't think he'll be rushing back but this is an improvement on just not going.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Dartmouth cruise part 2

Wednesday 11th June.

The long slog across Lyme bay hadn't exactly been our idea of fun, more a necessary evil.  On the way back we wanted to break the journey, so on advice from a mooring neighbour we planned to overnight at Lyme Regis. One on the benefits being that we'd have a civilised start time from Dartmouth, we're not much into getting up to early!

Ciao Bella and Lapwing rafted up on the Dartmouth Sailing Club pontoon.
Initially the wind was fairly none existant and we had to motor out past the mew stone stone but eventually it filled in, just a little, but enough to let us pole out the Genoa and goosewing at a reasonable speed in the right direction.

Part way across Lyme bay I caught the weather and safety announcements from the coastguard. The mention of range activity had me a little nervous, especially as the chart shows pretty much the whole of Lyme bay as a range! After several minutes of trying to work out where was safe I resorted to calling up the coastguard, gave him our position and destination; he gave us the all clear to continue.  On the track at the top of the page you can see the temporary change of direction, glad we could continue as didn't fancy rerouting around Portland.

Approaching Lyme Regis
It was nice to see Lyme Regis coming into view,  with Devon to the West and Dorset to the East it seemed like the right place to stop.  High on my list of priorities when we stepped ashore was an ice cream.
Looking back along the Devon coast - Dorset in front of us.

Interesting pontoons at Lyme Regis
The pontoons at Lyme are a little disappointing... They are outside of the harbour so would be uncomfortable in any wind with an East in it and they are really wobbly.  I think you would have to crawl along them if it was rough.  The facilities, which we didn't use because we couldn't find the habour master to get the key, were a good 15min walk away.  All this luxury was £20 per night.  We would have to pay in the morning if we saw him.

Thursday 12th June.
Fantastic morning sail.
Up at 5am and off we went, what a beautiful time of day to be on the water.  The sun was very low in the sky and the wind was a good f4, Ciao Bella was in her element. The Hurley and the Corribee are quite well matched.  The Corribee tends to come into her own when the wind really picks up but through out this cruise it's been swings and roundabouts.

The best sailing all year 

Tired crew
 We headed for Chesil Cove, which is where Chesil beach meets Portland, and dropped the anchor.  We'd have quite a wait before being able to go around the bill so we pumped up the tenders and paddled ashore.  It's like a christmas cracker puzzle,  Paul and I paddled ashore in our Coracles then Paul towed mine back for John to get in.  An interesting operation and not without it's wet moments.
Coracle gymkhana at Chisel Cove

Anchored at Chisel Cove
 There is a nice cafe just on the beach here, Quiddles, which I'd never noticed before. We took a stroll down to the sailing academy at Portand harbour before walking back along the beach.  Strange that we could walk there in 20 mins but it would take a few hours the sail there :)  More coffee and cake at the cafe, then back in the coracles and aboard for a nap before setting off again.
Coffee at Quiddles with boat in background

Motoring along Portland
We pick up the anchors around 3pm and motored down the side of Portland.  I'm not sure why I raised the sail, It would play no further part in todays proceeding... Glad that we set off early from Lyme and had a proper sail this morning.

Guillemots on the Bill
 As we approached the Bill we noticed a small colony of birds which looked a little odd to our untrained eye.  The moved ungainly and looked a bit like penguins... unlikely :)  As they dived off the rocks we were convinced that they were puffins. It was only when we got home and could zoom in on the pictures that we worked out that they were Guillemots.. I guess Chris Packhams job is safe from us!

Rounding the Bill was as uneventful as it had been the other way. The water was as calm as it could be, strange to think this can be a really inhospitable place for a small boat within hours.  Once round I tried to sail again but it was pointless, we motored into Weymouth and tied up near the Ferry.  The harbour master seemed reluctant to let us stay here and wanted to move us across to the Cove where we'd have to raft out.  We convinced her to let us stay, although she said she'd move us if bigger boat came in.  A little unfair I thought, happy to take our money at the same rate as others but wants to treat us a second class.

Weymouth was busy and had a good buzz with a motorcycle gathering on the quay.  Paul and John went off for some food, I didn't feel like it so cooked on the boat and met up with them at the pub later.
Lapwing and Ciao Bella on the far side 

Friday 13th June

We messed up a bit on the timings for leaving Weymouth.  It should have been easy, we'd had to wait until 3pm to get around Portland the day before so thinking 11 am was a good time to leave was clearly going to be wrong.  It was 10am by the time we'd realised we should have gone at 7am so we decided to crack on and fight the tide as far as Lulworth Cove and wait for the tide to get us around St Aldhelms.  
Looking back at Durdle Door

We did get some good sailing in although it was a little slow SOG.  We kept close inshore to keep out of the tide as much as possible.  It's the first time I've hugged the coast along this spectacular Jurassic coast, it was great to see it from the other side.
Lulworth Castle beyond Arish Mel

As we approached Lulworth the constant stream of RIBS from Lulworth out to Durdle Door reminded me that I did not want anchor there.  We pushed on another mile and a half to Warbarrow bay.  What an inspired decision.  No one about, absolutely gorgeous.  We anchored about 60 yards from the beach and Paul dived in and swam to Ciao Bella.  After a bit of lunch Paul swam back, I decided to overcome my nerves and dived in to swim to the beach.  I thought if it was too hard John could paddle the tender over... As I surfaced from the dive I heard John splash in... I guess I was committed :)

Swimming in Warbarrow bay
After some time gassing on the beach we swam back and prepared for our last leg home.  In a few hours we'd be back home.
Back on our travels
 The breeze was not enough to push us on to St Aldhelms so the motors went on again. This was to change as we got to the head.  Gradually the wind filled in from a gentle assist until we got to Swanage bay where it built to an estimate top F4 with F5 Gusts.
Lapwing before the breeze kicked in.

St Aldhelms head
 From Swanage to Poole became quite exciting with an impromtu race between Ciao Bella and Lapwing.  Lapwings ability to make a better heading in a blow sealed it but it was close. It was a great end to the cruise.  I've tried to keep this down to a reasonable length, I have hundreds of photos and anecdotes galore but this is the basics.  We'd covered about 250NM, seen Dolphins, swam off the boat, anchored and moored in new places.  It felt great, just sad it was over.
Lapwing off Swanage (Durleston in background)