Sunday 19 December 2010

Coot Covered in Water Craft

A couple of months ago I had a cover made for Coot by the very nice people at Trident, 

They do a made to measure service which I think is very reasonably priced, and I was really pleased with the result.

Then, being a real cheapskate,  I wrote a review of the product and sent it in to Water Craft Magazine which you can read in the latest edition.

Available from only the finest newsagents.  Its probably best to get a subscription.

Saturday 11 December 2010

Cheaper Boating

An ordinary bloke with an ordinary job buys an ordinary boat, its the same age as he is, a little over forty and a bit under fifty. He doesn't have much cash this ordinary bloke because he has an ordinary job and an ordinary wage which goes to support his ordinary family.

The boat is getting a bit tired and needs some jobs doing to it but as he doesn't have much cash the bloke has to do all of them himself.

He can't afford a haul-out and scrub off at an expensive yard so he takes it to the beach at high water and lets nature do the rest. He's got some paint left over from the garage and some red lead which was "surplus" from work. He gets his shirt off and gets on with it.

Not quite a bygone era but as more yards close and more marinas open, doing it yourself is getting less common and sailing beyond the purse of the ordinary bloke. 

We have an Oxfam second-hand book shop near us and being near the Solent quite a few old sailing books come up. I've got quite a collection. Yesterday I picked up this little gem, originally published in 1977 its just old enough to contain some superb money saving tips. 

I love any book which suggests that galvanised fence wire and ratchet tensioners as used by farmers make suitable rigging, it also suggests that the GPO might be a good source of bottle screws from old telegraph poles.   It even has a section on how to make your own oil skins.

 If you ever see a copy grab it, my copy cost £2.99, it will probably save you 100 times that, but its worth it just for the nostalgia trip.


Sunday 28 November 2010

Cold enough to freeze your rollocks off.

Winter has set in to most of the UK a bit earlier than normal this year. Cold winds from Russia and Scandinavia are blowing down from the north bringing heavy snow showers and the usual chaos.

The Dinghy Cruising Association are a veritable bunch who like to get out and enjoy themselves whatever the weather so they have a programme of rallies right through the winter, and this weekend they had planned an outing to the Horse & Jockey Pub at the tidal limit of the Hamble. 

A few of the HBBR members are also DCA members so it was a loose gaggle of both groups who gathered at Swanwick Hard on Saturday morning.  The temperature was around 0 centigrade and that's where it stayed all day.  Unfortunately the overnight forecast of snow didn't transpire as that would have brightened things up a bit.   

Standing around rigging at the hard was a bit on the chilly side but once away the row up under the three bridges warmed us up. 

Cliff and Len from the DCA had their dinghies, Gavin had his Solway Dory sailing canoe, while   Cee Dubbs brought Octavia his rowing Skiff, and Paul H  brought his Illusion development platform

Once above the bridges I got the sail up and had a nice wee sail once I'd sorted myself out. Tiller under the horse AGAIN! must pay more attention, then I had a Cobnor moment when I got too close to a muddy lea shore, AGAIN!  I'd just got going after that when the phone in my pocket started to ring, almost no one has my number so I thought it might be urgent, so I ignored it, but when it rung again soon afterwards I went diving round all my various pockets and eventually found it, just as it rung off. I looked at the missed call list, Paul H ! 

He was only about 500 yards up river, I rang him,

"whaddya want?"  
"where are we headed ?"

"The Pub where else?" 


We were joined at the pub by Phil and Jo in their kayaks, and a jolly convivial time was had by all. 

Once I'd rowed down the narrow twisty section of the river to where it opens out I got the sail up again and managed to keep up with Paul H and his electric oars but once round the next bend  the wind died to a whisper so it was out with the oars again.

 Chris Partridge fellow HBBR stalwart and rowing fanatic had brought the Langston Cutters' huge Solent Galley " Bembridge" up to a beach nearby so that the Hamble Rowers could all have a go, so I had the ignominy of having to row past that lot of experts as I wiggled from side to side and caught crabs galore. 

A little bit farther on I managed a nice sail again until the bridges came into view, then it was back to this facing backwards and rowing  malarky.  I'd done all my homework and checked I had enough "Air Draft".  I hadn't calculated for the reduced headroom on the railway bridge due to scaffolding but thankfully Phil. had caught up by then and he held back giving me the nod that he thought it looked o.k.  Bursledon road bridge is even lower and is arched so going through the middle is fairly important, thanks again to Phil for keeping me right,  no left a bit , no right.  He reckoned I had about four feet to spare, which sounds a lot but doesn't look it when your looking up over your shoulder and the breeze and current are taking you down onto the bridge.

Safely back there was the usual confusion of boats, trailers, vehicles, and general milling around in the rapidly fading light. 



Sunday 7 November 2010

Swanwick Hard

As well as filming Cee Dubbs prototyping his latest project I managed to get out for a sail, well a drift around, before we headed to the pub. 

Lots more Photos on the Wolstenholme Coot page. 

We were ostensibly there to see Chris Partridge and his chums row their Solent Galley up to the Horse and Jockey pub. You can read all about it here.

Cee Dubbs Rhythm Stick

My very good friend Cee Dubbs has been inventing things and designing boats since he was in short trousers.

When we took part in the Thames Raid last year he complained that he never got to see the Kingfishers and other wildlife, because being a rower he was looking backwards, and it had been scared off by the time he could see where it used to be, if you catch my drift.

So he decided it was time to develop a forward facing rowing machine.

Some of the HBBR folks met up at Swanwick Hard yesterday for a gathering, and Cee Dubbs brought along the design platform for his new invention. 

You'll see that it isn't quite finished yet , you still have to face backwards, but when  those strings get attached to those pedals......................

Best watched with the sound turned right up!

Saturday 23 October 2010

Pettifox and Dolly Pentreath

Another newcomer to St Ives this year was Pettifox of Scilly.  I thought she looked a bit like a Bristol Channel, or Scilly Pilot Cutter, maybe a bit smaller, though she is in-fact based on the Breton Crabber.
She was designed by Francois Vivier and there is an article about her from The Boatman here

She was built in 1992 and normally plies her trade on the Scillies, I'd have taken the opportunity to have a sail on her but unfortunately due to the high winds she was only motoring.    

really like the lines of this motor boat, she is obviously well looked after and loved.   I do like raised topsides.

This is Dolly Pentreath, she was built in St Ives in 1993 and is a St Ives Lugger.  Its interesting how different she is to Pettifox, designed to be used for chasing herring and pilchards she is double ended, with a massive lugsail and mizzen and huge bumkin. 

This photo was borrowed from the Mounts Bay Lugger Association

An unknown Gaffer out near Godrevy Lighthouse.

Sunday 17 October 2010

St Ives Jumbos

A while ago I wrote about our holidays in St. Ives.  The harbour there has always got something going on, whether the tide is in or out.   


We hadn't been for a couple of years and its always interesting to look and see what has changed. These two superb boats have appeared recently.  They are St Ives Jumbos, which is a bit of a misnomer as they are actually one of the smallest types built and sailed there. 

These two were built by Jonny Nance who is himself descended from a line of St Ives Boat Builders. You can find out all about these boats at the association's excellent web site.

Saturday 9 October 2010

Gaffers Three

And now, despite enormous public demand, what the world has been waiting for;
Gaffers Three........

We got away to a pretty good start, I don't think many boats actually beat us across the line, there were gaffers all round us but mainly to leeward, some ahead and quite a few behind which meant we had a grand view as they all came lolloping past us. 

The start line was conveniently tucked into the lea of West Cowes, so the water was still quite calm and the breeze stiff to moderate for a while after the start, enough to stop you lighting your pipe but, not enough to blow it out. TW had a double reef tucked in, she was wearing a jib maybe one size bigger than required for the occasion, mainly due to the Storm Jib being on the kitchen table awaiting repair.

The course took us across the entrance to Cowes, squeeked down the Island side of Gurnard then on to Saltmead.  The wind was blowing from the south west, bang on the nose, and the tide was giving it a run for its money, so this meant a big tack out towards the New Forest shore. As we sailed out from the lea of the island the waves and wind increased, by the time we'd started to come out into the middle of the Solent the wind and waves were getting up, maybe a 6 by this time.

There's a chart of The Solent here

Away over on the New Forest shore Fawley power-station chimney could easily be seen with its vertical row of red lights.  By this time the larger boats, the ones which hadn't shot away at the start were getting the bit between their teeth, Ocean Pearl came past looking glorious, and very very big.

TW battled on, shouldering into every wave. Now and again a big green one would come, she'd give it an extra hard nudge and the spray would come over the bow, giving the crew a good soaking. Normally I hate wearing a hood, it feels really claustrophobic, but when a bucket of salt water comes at you they are the best thing for stopping it all running down your neck and filling up your wellies.

Once Cee Dubbs had thought we’d gone far enough he thought we’d better put in a tack, there was a fair bit of lea helm due to the slightly oversize jib and it wasn’t certain she’d actually go if asked, but Cee Dubbs waited until there was a bit of a lull and a flattish spot.
"Righto, here we go, ready about, wait for it, wait, back it, back it, back it, right now, Yes! excellent."

We were now on starboard tack heading over towards Salt Mead which was to be left to starboard heading for East Lepe which meant an almost 270 degree turn to head north-east-ward again.
Cee Dubbs thought we might not get round, the tiller was almost over on the rail trying to keep her straight and there wasn't much more helm to give her. "We might have to wear ship, gybe round in a figure of eight,  but with a bit of luck, a bit of a lull and good seamanship meant she sailed round with the mark to starboard, like the amazing little ship she is. 

We were now on a run, and the sound of the wind died away as it always does when you're going with the wind, TW took off surfing down the waves.
I looked behind and saw Pegasus rounding the mark, a few seconds later she appeared to be sailing back towards it.
 "Must've missed it, going round again"

A minute or so later I heard an almighty bang, sounded like a starting cannon going off. It took us a minute to realise what we'd heard but when we turned to look Pegasus had lost her mast. 
When she'd made it round the mark and the wind had come onto her stern the pressure of the wind in her sail must have been too much for the rigging. By this time we were surfing down-wind, the sea lifting us from the stern and catapulting the wee ship forward, looking back the following sea seemed bigger than ever.

That’s when we decided to call it a day.

Fun’s Fun etc, but when much bigger boats start to get into trouble it may be a foolish man who ignores the signs.

We found that mobile phone number and called it in.

It was a straight run all the way home, by around 4.30 pm we were rolling in over the bar into the gentle waters of Chichester Harbour, and maybe wondering whether we should have gone on a bit longer.  

A few days later I noticed on Chris Partridge’s Blog that Ocean Pearl had lost her bowsprit, probably the same day.

I got this e-mail from Cee Dubbs;

It seems reasonable to assume that Pearl lost her prod about the same time as Pegasus lost her pole.  Actually I looked it up on Bramblemet archives and around 11.00 it was blowing some twenty knots, gusting to twenty-seven; it then had a little hissy fit at about 11.50 blowing twenty-five knots, gusting to thirty-seven.  Thereafter, it settled back down to merely grim.

That is top of five going to top of six, with middle six going to middle of gale eight.  Glad we noticed.

I have to tell you seriously that if I had had the storm jib on board, I think I might have gone on trying, but forty squares up for'ard was giving her something of a lee helm when it might have been essential to luff up, or be laid a long, long way over and I don't think she would have tacked without it, or really been able to keep moving through the lumps.  It would have been endless bashing about, wearing ship and scouting for marks in the murk.

Makes me shiver to think about it.    

Me too! 

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Wolseley no come back again.

Regular readers will remember that I sold my old Wolseley 1500 back in late June.

Well, Didier the new owner came to collect it on Tuesday. Not a man to rush things is Didier.

When I got his original e-mail, in French, he speaks no English I speak no French, I thought it was a kid having a laugh, but eventually thanks to a friend of his I realized he was very serious.

Serious enough to drive up from La Rochelle and come over on the ferry to collect it, the trip must have cost more than the car!

Many people have said I shouldn't sell it "How could you sell it, its wonderful" they cry, but when I ask them if they'd like it they all back off.

A few days before he came I thought I'd better check to see it was still running, it went something like this..........

Last Friday I decided to fire up the old bus in anticipation of Didier’s arrival.

I turned the key, nothing, not even the tick tick tick of the pump, so I hit the pump with the blunt end of a fourteen inch screwdriver.

Tickety Tickety Tickety ah now we’re getting somewhere. Ignition on, touch of choke, press the starter, catch her with the throttle when she fires, CONTACT! blurble blurble clakety clackety, away she goes..............

sounds like a bumble bee with a burst arse. Not sure whether all four pots are actually taking part.

Mmmmm better try to improve things.

Distributor off, points out, emery cloth rub rub, back in, feeler gauge, adjust, fiddle fiddle adjust.

Plugs out, Black Black, scrape scrape, back in.

Start her up............................No change

Ignition! Timing light, crawl under, dab brilliant white on the pulley and pointers, shut the garage doors to keep out the day-light, flash flash like a 1960’s disco squint squint , no Ignition's spot on.

Stuck Valve? Piston Rings, Compression tester. Plugs out again, test each cylinder, whizz whizz fut fut. All the same, a bit low but o.k.

Check mixture, too rich? Exhaust looks fine, plugs as black as the earl of hells waistcoat, Twist twist, too lean, back a bit,, seems O.K. smell exhaust, sweet as can be.

Total effort 4 hours, result = aching back, oil engrained fingers, still sounds like a burst arse.

Didier’s reaction ? Zooot Allorez I ave eard worse!!!

I am very glad to see the back of that pile of old rust, but I am also sad as I’ve owned it for getting on 30 years.

Still Didier already owns a Wolseley 1500 which is rally prepped with MGB engine and gearbox so he knows his stuff.

Its gone to a good home.

And here, is my Wolseley which has gone off to retire in France together with my Whilly Tern which went off to live in The Netherlands.

Right then, time for a new project.......................................................................

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Two Old Gaffers Part 2

After our mornings' exertions it was nice to sit on our cosy pontoon and watch the other boats arrive, there were gaffers large and small but it has to be said not many smaller than Tit Willow.

Now and again the Harbour Master would tour the pontoon in his RIB and do the water equivalent of a Doughnut, creating a fair bit of turbulence, knocking the boats around, and generally annoying everyone.  I suspect he wasn't the real Harbour Master who, in a place like Cowes, must have loads of scrambled egg on his peaked cap, this was some upstart, probably a retired accountant who only gets to show off when the real Harbour Master is off  talking to The Queen or chatting to Dame Ellen. 

A late arrival in the evening was none other than Ocean Pearl, so maybe I'd see her in full sail after all. 

There was to be a Gaffers Briefing in the Corinthian's Yacht Club at 9.00 so we went to investigate the prospect of food. Mmm Cod and Chips, eaten outside, out of the paper, Yummy.

We got to the Corinthian's a bit early and sat there like Derby and Joan waiting for the bingo to start.  
Tom Cunliffe, famous Yachtsman and now TV personality was there to give the briefing which he managed with a fair bit of flair and not a few laughs.

We were told what VHF Channel would be used which would have been very useful had we a radio.

And what to do in the event of retirement, perish the thought, ha! we all laughed. So as not to clog the VHF frequencies with the sound of baling a mobile phone number was given out.

Sailing Directions were in the programme, the actual choice of course would be given over the radio tomorrow morning.
" but we don't have a R......."
and shown on the board next to the start line.
 " Ah O.K." ....................................which is the Island Sailing Club start Line,
 "but this is the Corinthian's" ?

For those sailing without the benefit of GPS, Chart plotters etc, turn left as you leave Cowes and stop before you get to Hurst Castle . 

The weather forecast was given as "worse than today, Force 4 -5 gusting 6 occasionally with more rain".

Tomorrow Evening's festivities, for those who survive, will be a BBQ at the Lymington Town Sailing Club. Not to be confused with the posh place over the road which is the Royal Lymington Yacht Club and who will throw you out if you turn up dressed like that!

Wind - Rain - BBQ, great. 

Saturday Morning brought everything it had promised.  Flags stood horizontally, pointing north east, the sun refused to come out and play, the fine rain came through in drifts soaking everything. 

Cee Dubbs looked at the sky again, "I don't like it, what do you think?

" Well its just what they predicted........bloody awful"

"Do you think we should go ?"

"give it another half-hour its brightening up over there"  it wasn't.

After half an hour we were still saying the same things. In the end we agreed, lets just go out and see what it looks like we can always call it off if we don't like it.

As we set off down the channel towards the start the rain started again, the sky was almost dark, brooding clouds obscured the sun.
We found the twin vertical transit lights of the Island Yacht Club start line beaming through the gloom like airport landing lights.  "can you see what course we're on? " I could identify a square box with a number in it, what that number was, 3 maybe maybe 4.  Must be 3 . 

"Time what time have you got?"
" fourteen minutes ish,"
"O.K. we'll get down over there out of the way a bit" we were back in the moorings where we'd been yesterday, in a pretty good position, well below the line on the windward end.

Its always exciting just before the start of a race, you have to keep an eye on the time, listen for starting guns, watch where other boats are in case you have to give way, and in the mouth of the Medina there's always the Isle of Wight Ferry and a lot more boats to watch out for.  

"What time have you got now?"
"Just coming up 11mins."...............Bang
"That must be the 10minute gun, I'm a minute out"
"O.K. going about, we'll sail away from the line for 5 mins then turn round"   Bang!

"No that must be the 10minute gun"
"Right going about now, we'll head for the line," squinting through the rain and gloom it was easy to see the transit lights "there's the near distance mark "

" one minute gun" trying to judge the speed towards the line. 
"40 seconds."
"O.K. lets harden up"


"Looks like everyone else is going "
suddenly looking in the other direction, down the start line the confusion of boats which were tacking gybeing and jockeying for position have all come round to head in the same direction, they are pointing as high as possible with as much sail as they dare which is a pretty impressive sight.

Bang! we're off. be continued. 

Monday 27 September 2010

Its a small world!


A few months ago Google added a "Stats" tab to the Blogger dashboard, it took me a while to notice it but I'm now fascinated by the results. It lets me see how many hits this blog gets, I think these figures start from May 2010.

Pretty small fry in comparison to other sites but its great to know at least someone out there is looking, thanks.

Flushed by my small success I've added a few extras down the side panel, added a scrolling gallery to the pages section and have re-started work on the individual Boats pages.

And just because I can, below you'll see where my hits are coming from.

keep coming back and I'll try to keep it interesting.

  Cheers Graham (Port-Na-Storm)

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