Monday, April 20, 2015

‘Minnow’ Away – Part 2


Partners


Away


and away

Yesterday there was sadness due to the thought of ‘Minnow’ leaving home. Today there is joy as she has a new home – joy for me because I know she is wanted and will be cared for, and joy for her new owner because he has so much to which to look forward. There will be the initial exploration of what ‘Minnow’ is all about – how things work, and how best to make them work. There will be a time for learning on the water. How do I do this and how do I do that? Where do I put this and that? Mistakes will be made, but the boat is very forgiving. Next there will be growing confidence; then there will come a time of unison when both crew and boat become one. Each will help the other. Their partnership has begun. The future is theirs, whether quiet spells on a river, boisterous sailing on estuaries, coastal sailing or a North Sea crossing, from secluded creek to ocean’s horizons. Just to sit and dream, sip tea, enjoy the sun, watch the swans, wile away the evening and spend a night aboard, may be enough for satisfaction, because that’s what it is about …………. enjoyment, fun and pleasure. If it’s not fun, change tack and forget it.


Happy times ………….. I shall be thinking of you sweet ‘Minnow’. May God bless her crew.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

‘Minnow’ Away



There is a certain tinge of sadness as I see ‘Minnow’ on the driveway ready for her new owner to collect tomorrow. I am reminded of how she came in a bedraggled state and of the work I did to bring her to her present condition. About this time last year she and I were to set off on an adventure, but after a couple of days together I knew I was not up to the job. Things didn’t go well, and I made several mistakes – bad judgments that could have resulted in something serious happening. I won’t go into detail. Suffice it to say, I made the decision to return home. From that time I’ve somewhat lost the desire for long-distance solo cruising. Readers of this blog suggested I should not sell ‘Minnow’, but give time for a change of heart. I took the advice and I did not put her up for sale immediately. As the year went on, it became increasingly obvious to me that I had made the right decision to sell. Several people took an interest in acquiring ‘Minnow’ – some for sure were dreamers. I had enquiries from as far as Australia, and others from Germany, France and Scotland. Closer to home, there were those who came to see the boat, of whom one really had it in his heart to have her. I’m pleased that he has succeeded. She has been his for some time while she spent the last days of winter in the garage. Tomorrow he is due to collect her.

Now a boat is not like a car. When you sell a car you say bye-bye and that’s that. With a boat it is different. A boat has so many characteristics and her owner knows how best she can be managed. He learns this by association with her. Therefore, when she is taken by another, the previous lover wants the very best for her and her new master. He cannot see her go without telling how best to have a working relationship. To that end I usually make a list of observations and advice for the new partner to help things get off to a good start. Below, you can see these, ‘Thoughts Re. ‘Minnow’. They apply to her, but some observations may be useful to owners of other Matt Layden Paradoxes.

Thoughts Re. ‘Minnow’

Trailering: Periodically check that the lighting board is held in place by the turn screws. They can vibrate loose. Taping them might not be a bad idea. Make sure the boat is bow heavy before taking to the road. Don’t forget the bow lashing and the aft strop.

Rigging: Do not unhook the trailer when setting up the rig.  Alternatively jack up the aft end of the trailer before rigging.  This will stabilize the trailer. Attach the pennant to the top of the mast, unless you want a quiet night, because, if there is any wind, it rattles.

Launching and Retrieving:  Make sure the lighting board is removed before launching. Use the thick warp tied to the ball hitch and the trailer to obtain sufficient depth for ‘Minnow’ to float off. You can chock her on the slipway so that the trailer can be separated from the car. (Make sure there is plenty of weight in the bow before unhooking, otherwise the boat may fall back on her rudder.) Move the car up the slipway. Tie the rope to the trailer and the other end to the ball hitch. Drive a short way up the slipway; move the chocks, and slowly reverse until there is enough water under the boat to float her off. Don’t forget to have the anchor line ready for securing the boat before the trailer is withdrawn from the water.

Making Sail: Get the furled sail topped up before hoisting it. When hoisting the sail, make sure the yard does not get caught under the topping lift. Use gloves when handling the running rigging.

Sailing: Try not to allow the sheet to become too slack, otherwise it may catch on the aft cleats or the engine. When tacking from starboard tack to port tack make sure the boat has plenty of momentum to take her round. If the water is choppy it may be better to wear ship. Therefore judge the situation in advance to make sure you have room for wearing ship. When on the wind do not pinch – sail a bit free. She sails best to windward when the windward chine runner is just clear of the water. You’ll need a Force 3 for this.

Rudder: Unless sailing in shallow water, always keep the rudder fully down. You might need to push it fully down. Never use more than about 15 degrees of helm – particularly when tacking, because she must be sailed around in an arc without losing too much way.

Trim: Make sure there is enough ballast up forward to submerge the foot of the stem about 3 inches. When trimmed properly the bottom of the transom should be level with or just above the surface of the water.

Engine: When starting cold, use about half choke. Start the engine in the raised position for getting a good pull with the cord. Then immerse the prop to allow cooling water to flow. Gradually reduce choke until the engine is running smoothly. It may be possible to idle the engine so that the prop stops rotating. (I have had difficulty doing this. Perhaps the carburettor needs cleaning.) Use unleaded petrol with no oil. The engine can always be kept in the upright position – either up or down. This way the sheet can be kept clear. Bungees can also help prevent the sheet from snagging the engine. There is a plug spanner and a spare plug in a tray in the lazarette.

Petrol: Take the greatest care. Make sure the lids of the cans are secure. Use the funnel and its bungee when filling the engine tank.

Yuloh: You can use the little bungee to help keep the yuloh on the pin. Raise the rudder out of the water when yulohing.

Aft Vent Hatch: With the present sheeting arrangement, the hatch must remain closed.

Anchoring: It is best to keep the anchor in a large bucket or watertight plastic container, along with its chain and warp. Keep them out of the way in the cabin, forward on the starboard hand side, ready for deployment. When deploying or retrieving the anchor, lash the bucket or container to the aft deck by the yuloh blade. From there the anchor can be lowered or raised. When retrieving the anchor, flake the warp into the bucket, then the chain, and finally the anchor. Cleaning the warp and anchor is best done with a loo brush as they are being raised. This way, mud and weed are kept out of the boat.

Rough Water Sailing: Before going to sea, I would advise you make a rubber or vinyl baffle for the tiller port. (See attached photos showing how Jim did this for ‘Faith’.)

Battery: This is excellent. It should remain charged by being topped up by the solar panel. It is maintenance free.

Tiller Extension: I sometimes prefer using it to the steering lines.

Safety: A fire extinguisher would be good to have aboard. A loop of rope at the stern, long enough for a foothold would be useful for getting aboard if one were to fall off the boat. The rudder step is too high for getting a foothold.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Note: I’m looking forward to transferring custodianship to the new owner -More about that tomorrow.


Friday, April 17, 2015

The Garden





I enjoy sitting in the garden on a fine sunny day. The experience is always one of relaxation. My wife is the gardener and I am her ‘rotavator’. She knows about plants and the likes of ericaceous soil. I just like watching the birds and the bees. There’s a blackbirds’ nest full of chicks in the bay tree. Their mum and dad spend all day feeding ever-open beaks. Two lovey-dovey collar doves have their residence in the weeping willow. They preen one another, coo and whatnot.  The garden fence is the runway for a pair of squirrels. Hoverflies perform miraculous antics; after hovering for a few moments, they zoom off at the speed of light, then they resume hover mode, before repeating the performance over and over again.

Well, after spending six days rotavating and destroying weeds at the bottom of the garden, today I spent most hours of daylight laying turf. Yesterday I set four laurel bushes in place, exactly where the chief gardener wanted them; they stand erect like guards guarding the lawns of Buckingham Palace. In time they will grow taller and taller to hide the ugly Nissan shed that overlooks the fence separating our garden from the adjacent flower nursery.

Gardens require care and labour if they are to be developed and transformed into personal paradises. I shall become a ‘watering can’ for the next few weeks for providing liquid refreshment to the thirsty turf and laurel plants.

Links

Paradise Found

Job to be done

Autumn Garden Photos

Autumn Leaves

No Time for ‘Minnow’

More Time

Digging for Victory


Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Relaxing Scene



A favourite poet of mine is William Henry Davies. Perhaps his best known poem is ‘Leisure’, which is reproduced below.

In these times, people are always rushing about. They seldom put aside time to unwind. They must be on the go all the time.

Time rushes by. Why not relax now, and spend time to explore the photo above? Be calm; be quiet; let your eye look at every detail. Enjoy being still.

Leisure by W. H. Davies

WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.


Links

W. H. Davies

William Henry Davies
 
Poets’ Corner – W. H. Davies

W H Davies

W H Davies Manuscripts


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Contrasting Photos


Hullbridge


Detail


Thorpe Bay


Detail


Of late I’ve been occupied with a special project in the back garden, and other enforced activities have prevented me from writing articles for the blog because of lack of time. This evening I have a few minutes to upload a couple of photos. They are of places that have significance for me because of their many associations over the past forty-three years since moving to Essex from the West Country in 1972.

The first photo was taken at the Ferry Road slipway, Hullbridge, overlooking the River Crouch, a place that has become very dear to me.  I’ve lost count of the number of boats I have sailed past that very spot. It is a photograph full of action. A mother and her child are feeding swans while opportunist Black-headed Gulls look for morsels too. Contrasting tones and sharp shadows add to the drama.

The second photo was taken at Thorpe Bay. A long way away on the Kent side of the River Thames, there are faint images of industrial structures at the Isle of Grain, the most distinctive being the tall chimney of the old power station. It can be seen just to the right of the starboard hand beacon at the end of the nearby drain groyne. The detail photo shows the chimney more clearly. By contrast with the Hullbridge scene, this is one of calm and peace.

Please note:
The main photos are both over 2 MB. They are considerably larger than is normal for these pages. I did this so that they could be copied and used as wallpaper.

Links

Hullbridge

Isle of Grain

Thorpe Bay

Monday, April 13, 2015

Boat Race 2015







Following on from the previous post, and continuing with the theme of rowing, the annual boat race between Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Clubs took place last Saturday, 11th April. It was a double whammy for Oxford, for both the women’s and men’s teams won against their rivals. History was made, because for the first time since the inauguration of the women’s races, both the men’s and women’s teams raced on the Thames on the same day.

What interested me was the distinct contrast between the efficiency of the boats being rowed and the motorised vessels following in their wakes. The lean, low and long* rowing eights left very little wake; any turbulence came from their asymmetrical sweep oars. Being rowed at an average speed of about 15 mph they clove through the water, whereas the motorized vessels in pursuit threw up enormous washes causing havoc to moored boats either side of the river.

I felt for the men’s Cambridge team, because the Oxford crew were the more powerful. As the distance lengthened between the boats I became concerned as the pursuing flotilla appeared to get closer and closer to the straggler. I did not understand the water flow dynamics, and I couldn’t work out if the Cambridge boat was having a helping hand by being pushed forwards by the combined thrust of the bow waves of the following boats, or if she was being drawn back by the combined flow of water from the propellers.

*17.63 x 0.65 metres Empacher Shells: http://www.empacher.co.uk/

Links

Race Commentary – Men’s and Women’s

Boat Race 2015: Oxford women humiliate Cambridge by winning first event held on same day as the men

Boat Races 2015

Boat Race 2015: Oxford vs. Cambridge Result and Reaction

The Boat Race (Official Site)

Boat Race 2015: Oxford University Women's team rescued from the River Thames after sinking in choppy waters

The Boat Race

High Performance Rowing

British Rowing

Rowing Eight with Sweep Oars

Sweep Rowing

Sweep Eight Rowing

Racing Shell

Empacher Shells

Other Manufacturers of Racing Shells

Pocock Racing Shells

Carl Douglas Racing Shells

Janousek and Stampfli

Phoenix Racing

Swift Racing Boats

Vespoli 8s

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Charlie Pitcher




Curious as to how Charlie Pitcher is doing, I did a bit of Googling to come up with the latest news. He now has a new website* devoted to his planned solo row around Great Britain. So far I have not seen a definitive map showing the proposed route. All I know is that he plans to make a last-minute choice whether to row north or south after exiting the Thames estuary. Apparently this will be decided after studying the weather forecasts at the time to gain maximum advantage of likely wind systems.

Tides he can do nothing about. If he chooses to row around Kent and down the English Channel he will most likely find himself rowing against the prevailing SW wind, and he will also have to row against twenty minutes or so of adverse tide twice in every twenty-four hours. If he chooses to row north up the east coasts of England and Scotland and the wind is offshore, he could keep closer inshore than normal to take advantage of smoother water. The problem is finding time to sleep, and of course there are many obstructions such as wind farms, gas and oil platforms, fishing boats, coastal traffic and headlands.

I do not know if he plans to row north of the Shetlands, which technically he should if he wants to actually row around Great Britain, but if he does, he’ll most likely have to make a very good offing to the west after leaving the Islands before heading southwest and south to be well offshore to safely keep clear of the Outer Hebrides and the western coast of Ireland.

The Round Britain Race starts at Plymouth and the course is clockwise, which makes a lot of sense, because the prevailing wind is from the SW, so that when the yachts are sailing west of Ireland and the Outer Hebrides the wind is from behind or on the quarter. If Charlie were to take a similar route he would also have this advantage. This would also be better for rounding the Shetland Islands. Later, he could take advantage of being in the lee of Scotland and England.

Charlie will have no doubt whatsoever that his planned adventure will be the most challenging to date. I still rate his chances of doing it non-stop at 50/50, but I wish him success. If anyone will do it, Charlie is that man.

Incidentally, a new challenger has arrived on the scene, Sarah Weldon. She plans to be the first woman to row around Great Britain and she will attempt to do so in 2016.**

Links

*Charlie Pitcher Rows Great Britain

Charlie Pitcher talks rowing solo around Great Britain

Big Change

Felsted adventurer Charlie Pitcher aims to do first ever solo row around Britain

Rowing Adventure.com  – The Ocean Rowing Company
Charlie Pitcher

Charlie Pitcher: Founder at Rannock Adventures Ltd


Linked in

Momentum Adventure Guide - Charlie Pitcher Rowing Atlantic World Record

How to Cross an Ocean

Solo rower breaks Atlantic rowing record

**Sarah Weldon: Circumnavigating Britain by Rowing Boat

**Solo Row around Britain Oceans Project (Sarah Weldon)
http://www.oceansproject.com/


**Watch: Row around Britain (Sarah Weldon)