Thursday, 20 December 2012

A Voyager in need of rescue

Whilst at my local sailing club I couldn't help but notice this poor little Voyager 14 that looks in desperate need of rescue.

The name "blue dragon" did appeal to me and I had seen her out on Rutland Water about 5 years ago but now she is looking rather sad. The cabin is full of water that has leaked through the hatches but at least this proves there are no holes under her water line!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Garmin 401 GPS review

Having owned the Garmin foretrex 401 GPS for a year now I have decided to write a brief review.

Firstly I don't use this just for sailing, so far my waterproof wrist mounted companion has been kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, running, cycling and even on a canal boat. Indeed versatility and portability is my favorite feature of the GPS.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


Next year my plan is to sail on the sea a bit more rather than just on holidays. My nearest local sailing spot with a link to the sea is Fosdyke on the river Welland which leads into the Wash. At only 30 miles from my house I am hoping I can use it as a day sailing spot.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Self-steering options

After sailing on Quest a couple of times, I have decided some sort of autopilot is high on my wish list. Here are my musings on 4 common solutions.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Happy Birthday to the blog

One year ago I started my blog, so I felt the need to post some cake! Im not sure if many people read it although the site has had 3500 hits to date. Regardless I enjoy doing it and I hope you enjoy reading it!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Trailer refurbishment

The lopsided right wheel
As I plan on doing a lot of trailer-sailing in my voyager, the trailer was in need of urgent attention. The right hand axle was bent and neither of the mud guards was sat over wheels correctly.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Voyager Day Sail

This was only our second time out with Quest, but worth the wait as we went for a sail on our usual stomping ground Rutland Water. Weather: Force 2, sunny but only 13C. It took us just 30 minutes to get sailing, including removing ratchet straps and stepping the mast. I noticed yet again that performance really was lacking upwind in comparison to my old Wanderer dinghy which really excelled in light winds with its large sail area and minimal weight.  I think the Voyager would definitely benefit from some new sails (on the wish list) and maybe a small spinnaker for downwind? Of course if we were on the coast I would of just motored. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

AIS on your smartphone

I recently discovered a cool looking app for anyone with an iphone or android phone that goes coastal sailing. Basicly it turns your phone into an AIS receiver  It costs £6.99 and you will need to register for an MSSI number with ofcom (UK).

  • Real time map view of your boat and boats near you via AIS.
  • Over the horizon collision avoidance and alarm using Closest Point of Approach (CPA)
  • CPA calculations and AIS position updates continously in background
  • Compass mode to sight ships on the map
  • Current Speed, Course and GPS location
  • Man Overboard tracking (iOS only at present)
  • Anchor Watch and Theft Alarms (iOS only at present)
  • Ship to Ship instant messaging – chat with other Boat Beacon boats.  (iOS only at present)
  • Magnetic or True North setting.  (iOS only at present)
  • MMSI numbers to contact nearby boats on via VHF.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Launching & recovery

I had to get the boat off the trailer today as it was going to barnwell trailers to get fixed. It gave me the opertunity to try a new method if launching singlehanded.

The problem I was having with launching was getting the trailer deep enough to float off without driving my car into the water. The simplest way to overcome this is to attach a rope from towbar to trailer and reverse back. However this relies on a second person to "steer" the trailer into the water as the boat can go were it likes on the jockey wheel. So when launching single handed I tried a new approach which goes like this:

Monday, 3 September 2012

Voyager - First sail review

One of the advantages of buying Quest was that she was ready to sail and I intended to take fully advantage of that by going sailing the day after I brought her.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

New Boat!

Well that didn't take long! After my previous post I started searching for the 4 boats that met my criteria: West Wight Potter, Shipmate senior, Redstart or Voyager 14. I found a couple of abandoned boats at my sailing club and left notes on them. I saw a Redstart for sale online but it had a fin keel and I wanted bilge or lifting keel.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Small Trailer Sailors

Our Dream Boat: Baycruiser 23
So having sold the Wanderer dinghy the hunt is on for a new boat, which must meet the following criteria:

* an all up trailing weight of less than 500kg (maximum my car can tow unbraked) 

* a boat with a simple rig that is quick to rig

* a cabin with room for 2 people to sleep and good stowage

* a boat that is seaworthy and looks good!

* 18 foot or under so it could be parked on a driveway

* the ability to dry out in tidal waters

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Updated blog!

Having sold Tardis last week, the blog was suffering from an identity crisis. However rather than binning the old blog I have redesigned it, all the old posts are still available but the old URL ( is now dead. Instead use

As I am currently without a boat, the blog will focus on anything and everything to do with small boat sailing, with a focus of cruising. Anything else that I fancy including will be labelled off_topic. I do hope to get another boat at some point and my next post will look at some of the boats that fit my requirements.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Tardis has been sold!

Well obviously quite an interesting few weeks since my last post which has seen our beloved Wanderer dinghy  Tardis being sold to a new owner. So why did we take such drastic action?

After many months of discussion we have decided that Tardis doesn't meet all our requirements, which now include:

* a cabin to keep out the British weather whilst having our lunch!

* a cabin which will facilitate sleeping on-board for the odd night

* some form of ballast so I can be lazy and not have to spend hours hiking.

Whilst a 50 foot yacht would meet all these requirements, we feel that a trailer-sailor would be a better fit for our holidays and my bank balance! However I would like to point out that Tardis was a fantastic boat to own, every time I took the cover off other members of the sailing club would come and admire her, she sailed beautifully and kept me safe whilst sailing in some quite large swell on the sea on more than one occasion. I would recommend a wanderer dinghy to anyone who is looking for a safe, versatile and fun boat to sail. I think it is also worth noting that the customer service at Hartley boats is nothing short of fantastic and a pleasure to do business with.

So I now have to decided what to do with the blog, will it fade away into internet history or do I have something else planned for it? Stay tuned!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Sail around Penzance Bay

Having had such a nice time in Devon, myself and Laura decided we would see what Cornwall has to offer and went camping down in St Ives. Fortunately unlike previous trips this venture was blessed 20 - 25C and gentle winds. 

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Ludo Finishes sail around UK

As I previously posted Ludo had undertaken the massive challenge of sailing around Britain in a wayfarer dinghy. After 76 days from departure, Ludo has completed his fantastic voyage and at the same time raised over £50,000 for charity. What an amazing achievement and his blog makes a very interesting read!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Visit my harbour

Recently I subscribed to the Visit my harbour website which is a fantastic resource for anyone that has to navigate around coastal waters. For a once only payment of £25, members get access to 600+ UK charts.

From this you can take screenshots of your intended sailing area and print + laminate them to make A4 sized waterproof charts to take afloat. Fantastic for planning a trip. You can also overlay the charts on google earth allowing you to review you GPS tracks on a nautical charts.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Round the Island Race

Whilst not in a dinghy, I recently completed the round the island race. Crewing as the bowman on a 21 foot e-boat, I got thrown about in windy and rough conditions. However, fortunately I was not seasick unlike 2 of the other crew members who found the rolling swell as we rounded the needles a bit to much for their stomachs. 

Monday, 25 June 2012

Long Day Sail

Sunny and force 2 NW. Great day sail on Rutland Water. I wanted to try and sail at least 10 miles to practice for my planned trips on the coast, although light winds I managed to sail 12.1 miles single handed.

I used my new Garmin 401 wrist GPS to take this track. I plan to do an equipment review on this in the near future.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Friday, 8 June 2012

Devon Cruise

Our second trip away with Tardis was to Watermouth Bay in Devon. This small naturally drying harbour on the north shore is primarily associated with fishing, with the odd bilge keel yacht thrown in for good measure. The harbour is really too small to sail in so we had to try our luck in the open sea.....

Friday, 11 May 2012

Testing a Contour HD camera

The Chandlery at RSC very kindly let me demo the waterproof Contour HD camera whilst windsurfing today. Great results for a first go using the head-cam mount. I may well consider investing in one in the future!

Even "yachties" like dinghy cruising!

Read an interesting blog post on yachting world today, seams even "yachties" like the idea of dinghy cruising!

Read the article here.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Wayfarer starts around Britain trip

Well I recently read  about a 21 year old that is aiming to sail a wayfarer dinghy around Britain. Aiming to complete the trip in 71 days, Ludo will be the youngest and fastest person to sail a wayfarer around Britain.

Of course I emailed him offering my time as a crew, but something tells me that he will have more than enough willing crew members to help him along the way! You can follow his progress on his website, currently 12 days into his trip.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Removing the centreboard

I recently noticed that my centreboard had a chunk missing from the leading edge, I'm not sure how long its been like this but its there is enough missing to warrant a repair. So today I removed my centreboard and this is how to do it!

1. With the boat on its launching trolley, prop up the front of the boat so you have enough room to lie down under the front of the centre board slot.

2.  lie under the boat and locate the metal retaining plate on the leading edge of the centreboard.

3. with a cross head screw driver in hand, remove the 2 screws holding in the retaining plate -- put them somewhere safe

Friday, 4 May 2012

Wanderer Boat Tent

Found this today, if you are after a tent for your boat the Canvas Windmill has wanderer dinghies... covered!

Obviously there main business is wayfarers but a quick email confirmed they do wanderer boat tents.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Norfolk Broads Cruise

So here is my post on the first trip away with Tardis. The blog has been a bit thin on the ground recently but only because I have been so busy doing things on the boat and getting ready to go away that its had to be put on the back burner! Anyway included is a summery of our trip.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Mast & Boom crutch

In continuing preparations for the Norfolk Broads trip I decided a boom/mast crutch would be invaluable for lowering the mast  to navigate under bridges.Unfortunatly, this has proved to be difficult to make for a  hartley boat, partly due to my shoddy woodworking skills but also because the clean lines of the deck provided very few options to support the legs of a boom crutch. However I think I have finally found a solution.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Topping Lift

I decided to add a topping lift to Tardis recently, which I consider advantageous for the following reasons:

* it keeps the sail and boom clear from the bottom of the boat (useful if lowering the mainsail afloat).

* by hauling on the topping lift whilst moored to buoy it de-powers the mainsail considerably.

* it works as a halyard for masthead float and burgee.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

March and 19C!

Great sail on Rutland Water, it was so sunny I only bothered with shorts and t-shirt. Very light winds.. perfect for lazing about on the boat, took a quick video, enjoy!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Making Mast Chocks

Before attempting to unravel the mystery of setting up a wanderer rig, I thought it wise to make some mast chocks.  They are by no means perfect... no individual chock is exactly the same but here is how I did it. [...]

Monday, 20 February 2012

Honda 2hp Outboard

Well another ebay purchase and got myself a little bargin if I do say so.  A honda 4 stroke 2hp aircooled  outboard (the advantage of aircooled being no impeller to go wrong or change) for £250 (RRP £600). It uses a centrifugal clutch so no gears, saves a lot of weight. So much so that this is the lightest 4 stroke outboard you can buy, 12.2kg. I gave it a test run today but I will give it a service before it gets used in anger. You can read a full review of this engine here.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Winter Sail

The first sail of the year and the weather was fantastic: 10C, sunny and SW force 3. I was joined for the second time at Rutland Water by my novice but willing crew member Laura. The aim of the day to be to have fun, try some new kit out and for Laura to get more confidence sailing. [...]

Monday, 13 February 2012

Second Reef Modification

Since I collected Tardis in Nov 2011, I have only twice sailed on her with full sail because its either been too windy or because I've been sailing single-handed or with my novice crew member Laura. Therefore I have been putting a reef in until myself and my crew get more experienced. However, with only one reef available which isn't that deep, I am concerned that I could still become overpowered in Tardis. [...]

Friday, 3 February 2012

Tardis gets a Silva 70UN compass

I having been searching for a suitable compass for Tardis recently, as in my opinion no cruising boat should be without one. I had decided that a Silva 70UN compass would be perfect as it was lightweight, removable and could be used as a hand bearing and steering compass. The retail at approximately £50 - £70, however I managed to win a good second hand one on ebay for £30. [...]

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Book Review: Margaret Dye Dinghy Cruising

I recently got Margaret Dye's book "Dinghy Cruising: The enjoyment of wandering afloat" which you can get for £9.89 from Amazon. Margaret Dye is a very accomplished dinghy cruiser and wife to the well known Frank Dye.  [...]

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Choosing an Anchor

Recently I have demonstrated a fine example in poor decision making, as I stupidly brought a "bargin" 6kg Delta anchor for a 14 foot dinghy. Followed by spending more money replacing it with a much smaller 3.5kg danforth anchor [...]