Monday, 26 August 2013

Sailing, I am Sailing

It being a bank holiday I went sailing today, for a change. I volunteered to crew in Wayne Oliver's ultra-traditional looking boat Ever Hopeful, down in Cobnor for the DCA/HBBR camping week.
Ever Hopeful used to be the slow boat of the fleet, but Wayne has changed the rig from a ketch (mainmast plus mizzenmast mounted forward of the rudder) to a schooner (two masts, the main at least equal in height to the foremast). Performance is a lot perkier as a result. Graham Neil has some nice pictures at Port-na-storm.
Wayne kindly allowed me to steer, and once I had my hands on the tiller I held it with a grip of death for the entire day (Sorry, Wayne!). At least I didn't go aground or hit anything. And we got nearly to the top of Prinsted Channel where we came across that lovely Scottish fishing boat Ocean Pearl.
Now, I distinctly remember Ocean Pearl's owner, Nick Gates, promising me a sail in her which hasn't happened yet so if you are reading this, Nick, I have a few free days in the next few weeks....
It was also a privilege to meet Chris Peacock, who I knew must be a jolly fine chap just from the name. He has a very beautiful traditionally-built gaffer called, coincidentally, Pearl. Here she is, pictured on her way up to Prinsted as we came back down.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Clovelly Scull at Cobnor

To my surprise, a Clovelly Scull appeared at the DCA/HBBR camping week at Cobnor with proud new owner Gerald.
It is one of the prototypes, sold off by the IoW builder. Gerald spotted it on this blog (I'll have to start charging commission).
I took it out for a quick whirl. The wheels on the sliding rigger had snagged on protruding screw heads and a couple had shredded rather badly so the action was less than silky smooth but Gerald is going to attend to that when he gets it home. He is also going to have to attend to the retractable skeg which won't drop down without a prod from a blade.
But it was nice to experience the smooth action of the sliding rigger, eliminating the hobby-horsing you get with sliding seats, and the reassuring stability of of the broad hull.

Thursday, 22 August 2013


When I got Snarleyow on the water on Sunday I realised the horrible truth. The oars were too short. The handles don't overlap and I couldn't get used to the feeling of disconnection between the hands and the lack of leverage on the blade.
I have been rowing the Teifi skiffs at Langstone Cutters a lot over the last year and poor old Snarly has been languishing rather, so I had forgotten how the oars feel.
However, a couple of pairs of recently-acquired second-hand blades just happen to be lurking in the shed for another project. Perhaps they would fit? No - they are too long.
Unfortunately, the buttons (the green and red collar thingies) can't be adjusted enough to bring the handles together because the leathers (the plastic sleeve thingies) are not long enough. I don't want to shorten the oars because that would mean losing the nice new rubber grips as well as ruining them for the future project.
So there is nothing for it but to suck it up and use the short oars. It still beats staying on land though.
Today, the DCA/HBBR sails round to Prinsted for lunch at the great little cafe in the marina. Full English for lunch, yum yum.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Snarleyow Resurgam

Snarleyow, my Chippendale Sprite sliding seat skiff, has changed colour again. The maroon has been replaced by Oxford Blue, chosen mainly because Homebase has a pathetic selection of water-based exterior paint - all the alternatives were shades of grey or olive drab.
The gunwales  had come adrift in various places and have been epoxied back. All the varnish has been sanded back and re-coated and she is looking very smart.
I even took the oars back to the wood, painted the blades a rather fetching cherry red and put no fewer than four coats of varnish on the shafts, ready for the critical eye of the sailors at the Dinghy Cruising Association and Home Built Boat Rally week of boating at Cobnor, a lovely estate on Chichester Harbour.
It was not until I got the boat on the water and put the oars in the swivels that I realised that something was horribly, horribly wrong. Can you guess what it was?

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Marblehead Dory for sale

Langstone resident and boatbuilder Sadie Snowden is looking for a buyer for her 14ft Marblehead Dory that she built a few years ago but doesn't use so much these days.
Dolly is beautifully built and rows nicely. Comes with oars, rowlocks and trailer so all set to go. Sadie wants £1,500 ono for Dolly - email me and I will pass offers on to her.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

A Rowing Canoe

Jim Graham came to a couple of open rowing sessions at Langstone and realised he was going faster under oars than by paddling. So he made an ingenious wing rigger for his home-built canoe and rowed it over from Emsworth.
It is really nicely made, with wooden clamps that connect the wing to the gunwales in just a turn or two.
The canoe is a Paul Fisher design - Christine.
On a separate issue, I was really taken with a boat on eBay that looked as though it could be made into a great camp cruiser.
It is a single Salter skiff in a very dismal condition but seemingly structurally sound. Rip off all that rotten woodwork and strip it back to the bare hull and it would be fine. I imagined installing a floor wide enough to unroll a bedroll, and making the thwart removable. Add a tent, and I would have an ideal boat for the inland waterways.
With a hull in that condition I couldn't see the bidding rising above about twenty quid, which would make it a lovely project.
Was I ever wrong. Bidding is not over yet and it is well north of 200 sovs. Madness.

UPDATE Bidding ended at £270. Insane.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Hurricane Alert!

My chum Steve rang early on Saturday morning to say that a 'mini-hurricane' had passed through Langstone overnight and Gladys had been turned over on her mooring.
Luckily, a crew was due to go out on an expedition row and they managed to bring her in and turn her right way up. The cover kept the oars and everything safe inside and she was not damaged, though the boatswain put a few more screws in the floorboards just to make sure.
Thanks to Christine Ball for the pic, taken from her paddleboard.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Duct Tape is Brilliant

More proof, if proof were needed, that almost any boating problem can be cured either by WD40 or duct tape.
The seat on the coastal double scull I have been trying was snagging on the floor of the boat, making sliding forward difficult. The solution? WD40 would have alleviated the problem temporarily, but for a permanent fix the rails needed to be raised ever so slightly. So I unscrewed the slides at one end, moved them over, and stuck three layers of duct tape underneath. Now the seat slides gracefully forward for a perfect catch.