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Diaries 08

Lena diaries

1 Jan 08

New Years Day – Lena out on the hardstanding at Uphill Yard.

Resolutions for New year –

1 – try to stop writing so fast by hand that I can’t read my own writing, even moments after I’ve written something !

2 – Stop thinking about doing things and just do them! Especially sailing – you have to take your opportunities and not worry ‘too’ much about the weather. That said – I think I’ve been wise to be cautious, single-handed, with limited experience, in the Bristol Channel.

3 – Get my eyes tested ! – trouble is, my idea of ‘reading glasses’ is glasses I wear only to read ‘very small’ print – and to work on the violins. All very small stuff. But even the phone book, in bad light, is getting dodgy. I just cannot focus as closely as | used to be able to. My distance is fine

I’m a big believer in ‘eye exercises’- the more you strain them, the better they should get – they are muscles after all. Once you stick on specs for good your eyes get ‘lazy’ and just go downhill.

What I must watch, is using cheap Tesco £3 reading glasses, x 3, as ‘nose mounted magnifying glasses’ – they work great, but my eyes are different – so I’m beginning to have difficulty judging equal spaces – especially when the division is between the top and bottom.

I’ve worked twenty years as a carpenter, trained as a fine artist and make violins – so that worries me a bit. Maybe it will give the fiddles a bit of character !

Anyway – not a bad day. Fitted the solar panel on the coachroof and fitted my roll up rain hood/pvc window over the companionway entrance. That works fine – just flip it down to keep any rain out and I have a nice window on the world.

Fiddly, the solar panel, as I had four fixing bolts drilled through for split pins on the inside as security – and they were a pig to fit and line up. They also are visible inside the sliding hatch – and vulnerable to one head. Made up some small caps to silicone over them – get some of that white electrical capping that they put over cables prior to plastering. It goes all floppy if you put it over the gas stove – then squash it over a suitable sized nut with a bit of tube. Stets back stiff and white again – very useful stuff.

My brand new tube a Sikaflex had gone ‘really’ solid at the nozzle – defeated even me – so resorted to a lateral approach and made a hole in the side of the tube.

Bottom nearly all cleaned off now. The brown, ‘mud glaze’ you get here comes off with Hydrochloric brick cleaner. So I buy a new 5 litre in B&Q, patio cleaner, which was always Hydrochloric up to recently – and it does nothing – then I see they have taken out the Hydrochloric in the formula ! If I need any more I’ll have to go to a proper merchants and read the labels.

Main task is to drop the mast – fix or replace the broken Nasa wind, check the top rigging and sort out the backstays. I’m more or less decide on fitting two separate backstays.

Nearly didn’t bother to come down today – I’ve started on a new cello and got a bit wrapped up in that, so have to get my ‘boat fixing hat’ back on. I did think about starting a Double Bass – as they are potentially easier to sell than a cello or violin – but it’s a bit too close to being a tender – I’d been looking to put on rowlocks!

Nice here though – nice to see some stars in the sky.

See what the weather does tomorrow . Need to finally fix the rain hood with Sika.

Making plans for next year. I’ve a trip planned with Laurie to Watchet to meet up with Patrick from the Bakerlite Museum in Williton.

An extended cruise with Ian is on the cards, maybe to West Wales or down to the S Coast.

I really need to do some sailing in the St Georges Channel or English Channel – as I can then extended my insurance coverage. When I enquired – they were asking for ‘experience’ sailing in either ?.

I’d really like to go out to the Scillies – that’s actually in my range, insurance wise. Its under 24 miles of the nearest point on the S Coast, just !

S Coast would be good enough – I’d feel I’d got somewhere next year if I turned the corner down there.

Hoping to sort out the mainsail lowering – if not the reefing. Reefing from the cockpit is a problem, as my slugs are not captive all the way down the mast track – I have to drop them out to reef. So even if you get over the inherent cordage problems, I still have to try to sort that out, which is not simple to do.

Just the main for now will be a help – and it would be better to have the main on a winch.

Dropping the main on your own from the cockpit is a bonus – as you are generally in more constricted waters doing that, with more traffic around and less sea room – than reefing. Its also useful to be able to drop the entire main, if things get out of hand weather wise – then reef it back up when you have sorted things out a bit.

It should only need a winch on the coachroof – an organiser and a decent 2 or 3 way clutch. Main and boom downhaul – with the topping lift left as it is on a 2 – or go for a three way and stick in the topping lift.

It does not effect reefing at the mast having those three on the cockpit – so o

Long as you have your halyard marked for the reef positions. I still have the camcleat on the mast side – and my main halyard is not internal, so I can always pop it in there at the mast if I want to tension the main a bit – once winched tight, it should pop out the cleat again – or you can just pop up and flip it out when it suits you. That’s a good compromise.

I wonder if we get that glorious, warm, settled March/April we had last year – if so we might be out there pretty soon.

They reckon that in the spring they are breaking up the wreck in the Pill – I’ll believe that when I see it. Close nailed, double diagonal planking, Admiralty built – some scrap man thinks he’s going to chop it up for the engine scrap !

If she does go – I might be tempted to try having the boat up on the pontoons for a while. Once you have the daylight - and are generally going out for at least all day, or more – then its no hassle to just come in on the tide. If I’m late, I always have the mooring on the river. Its just so much easier to get in the boat and go ! – and if its crap for sailing, at least I can spend some time aboard easier than on the river, fiddling about with things.

Very impressed with the Sunware Solar panel – last summer it was giving me 1.5 amps, measured though the multimeter ! – one and a half ‘real’ amps an hour for a 27 watt panel is good.

To bed – at least the sleeping bag is dry. I’ve had it home for an airing. Boat seems a bit damp – but I had some water in the bilge from draining the engine. You notice the difference , all shut up for a while. If some boats always have water in their bilges, then they must be pretty damp boats. No reason why a grp boat should have any in at all – my stern gear is ‘trad bronze stuff’- greaser etc, not even fancy pss seals – and the bilge stays bone dry, even after the engine has run for five hours.

Looking forward now to getting her in this year – 250 miles of sailing has made me somewhat more relaxed about it all !

Sun 6th Jan

Popped down at short notice as the foercast was for warm sun ! – where is it, I don’t see any !

Started the underside cleaning – then the little glimmer of sunshine turned to warm drizzle – which hardly mattered as I was established under the boat in old waterproofs, marigolds, leather gloves and goggles for the Hydrochloric cleaner – and was wetter than the day was anyway. It was warm though, some sort of bonus.

Waterline still needs a bit of work where the gloss paint peeled off in places.

Brought my continental quilt from home – my summer bag was freezing last time, and my down winter bag is leaking all over the place. Could do with a new one really – but really only justify a good winter bag if its down, so is compactable enough to use for winter mountain stuff. If I’m parked by the car, I may as well bring the quilt – yes !

Cooking and listening to the football on the radio. Roast lamb and gravy that I had frozen at home. Fresh kidney beans and Chocolate fudge cake with creme fraiche.

Blowing up some now – which is of no concern to me. Car’s all shut up – don’t need to venture out ! Wouldn’t want to be out on the water tonight – cold, dark and miserable – though ok I suppose on a nice warm, heated, bridge – on your way to the African Coast. It never ceases to amaze me that many of the boats plying down the Channel are just going to keep on going till they reach Japan !

Anyway – good in here, nice and warm and firmly planted on dry ground !

19th Jan 08

T last some more conducive weather – its been so cold and blowing lately and \i’ve sort of gotten wrapped up in the violin making over the winter – see here once if posted it.

Bottom is all done except the waterline.

The starboard rub rail needs attention – stripping the varnish I found its rotting in few places on the underside. Its not really structural – so could be bodged up with filler for a season – need a new piece in really. I’ve enough teak to do it all if I fancied ( reclaimed from a school lab shopfit some years back ) Don’t think it will get done this year somehow. Fixings are fairly easy – as the nuts are glasses in captive on the inside – just a matter of saving the old unf machine screws and some careful measuring for the new holes.

Battened down the hatches once dark and set to on the engine – removed the alternator to get at the engine zinc. Worth doing – as the electrical connections were a pig to get at – obviously fixed up when the engine was out of the boat. Once refixed in situ – at least I know I can get at them again. The zinc was nearly all dissolved – after just 14 months.

Fixed up a dustbin liner, inside a plastic bag, with a makeshift ‘collar’ of cardboard – good way to drain the oil. You can get it under a very small gap – then carefully collect up the bag. Not with the oil too hot !

Should get a good nights kip – not too cold, no wind rattling around the yard full of masts – and my nice warm duvet. Getting soft in my old age !

Lena Diaries

Tues/thurs April 7th 08

Mast is down - using my A frame syatem. Works ok.

Ideally could do with some old rigging wire and a few old turnsrews rather than rope to hold it up. Ought to measure it up before it comes down. Just made off with U-type clamps would do the jpb.

Repaired the Nasa wind vane. Re-epoxied the stalk in the base. If ever anything was designed to fail this thing was. It would have added pence to the price to make it failsafe - they would argue they have to do it that way in case they damage seagulls feet ! Never touch any Nasa stuff again.

Mast top seems to have faired well.

Impressed with the paint coat on the alloy spin bracket - U-pol etch primer then Halfords car spray cans - still perfect.

Changing the rigging to twin backstays, which I have now from S3i - made off at the top with eyes, then staylocks for the lower fitting.Drilled and plugged the coachroof for the spinlock clutch - filled the gap between with thickened grp/microfibres and made up the ply plates for inside. Organiser position better than I thought - though one side needs a stud fixing to get through the entire grab rail and double roof section. I just fire through a long reach drill bit and see where it appears - checking, 'thoroughly' I've no wiring in the way !

So, just mast up, antifoul and a few bits of engine maintenance.

Treated myself to a rule, formerly LVM, high ressure inflator for the dingy - primarily for inflating it while on the boat.Works great - but 'why' can't they sort out better nozzels - and no bag - for £70 quid I'd like a simple bag. My Tecso, £7 airbed inflator came with a nylon storage bag, which I'm now using for the Rule.

Still - it works. Blows past the closed Shalky valves on the Wetline - so can use it with the Wetline proper adaptor nozzel. Gets it as hard as the footpump. The idea is to blow it up hanging over the rail. Pulls 25 amps - at least they recommend a 25 amp fuse. I reckon a 16 amp two pin might handle it ok.

I'm thinking about this one - can't be hassled to croc clip it to the battery terminals.

Sat 27th April 08

At last - mast up. Ian lent a hand - just as well, as the pressure to get it up to 45 deg was 'one hell of a lot more' than getting it down. Two new separate backstays. So much better and stronger too. Nice too have the deck clear again. May take the opportunity if the weather holds good to repaint the anti slip - have the granules and the paint, Blakes Biscay blue. Blakes anti slip, with added granules is really very good.

Clutch and organiser fitted and stand up blocks on. Devised a cunning 6:1 set up for the kicker - sort of 4:1/cascade - with a lead out block at the base to the organiser.

Get the forestay up to tension tomorrow on the Loos gauge - then see what the backstays read. I can then set them at that once the foil is back on. Can't check the forestay tension once the foil is on.

Engine just needs alternator re-fixing. I've made a custom adjusting bracket. It was always a pain to get the tension on the belt - and had some problems with the belt slipping last season. Worried me - saw all the engine covered in black stuff - then realised it was 'rubber dust' .

Zinc was completely dissolved again - about thirty hours ! So was the propshaft annode. At least I can see they are doing something.

Lovely still warm evening. Strolled down to the slipway just before dark, eerily quiet - a few yard light glinting on the LW mud. A rare, undeveloped backwater, Uphill Pill - held in check by the fact that there is no water here for about 75% of the time - and whether you like wildfowl or not - if it wasn't for them Mr Crest Nicholson would have had his oar in here by now.

May 2nd to 4th


Took the Seagull Silver Century with me - minus carb and tank for a trial run on the bracket. Clears the rudder and seems a good height. Can ease it up a bit with a collar if necessary.Needs and extra thickness of ply on the plate to ease the position. But sits well - just on its transom plate - no C clamps at all. May make a fixing for the rail, so it will just lift off one lug up to there.

Now though - I have to find a new home for the Suzuki while sailing. For now one lifebouy has gone and I've put a rail bracket on. May keep the other lifering up on the pulpit ?


Made an abortive atempt to do the deck paint. Taped it all up and down came the rain !! Did the engine instead. Fitted the Belkin 900, 32 amp exterior socket for the inflator - found an electrical wholesaler selling them for a couple of quid more than most marine places sell the little ones !

Lovely morning so hit the deck paint again - got half sorted, then washed out again - heavy stuff this time. Determined not to untape it again - I just managed to get it dry by 8.30 pm and finished it more or less in the dark - sodding British weather !

Tempted to put her in on Friday - just on the pontoons for a few weeks - or it will be the 21st.


Back down - deck seems fine. Altered the sail track catch, so it actually works ok now - and have sussed out that by slightly altering the sail slug positions, all the slugs can stay in the track and all three reefs will set on the horn at the gooseneck - so have arranged to tke the sail to the sailmaker in Clevedon to bump three extra eyelets in.

This gives me potential options of line reefing from the cockpit.

I've been working on an idea to set the Leech reef eye from the boom end - then just tighten one line, on the luff eye to a clutch.

I could put the 1st and 2nd reef on the clutch with the main halyard - then take the topping lift off to a cleat - and the kicker could live on a cleat for now. Potentially, just adding the extra organiser on the Starboard side - I could reef two reefs from the cockpit.

Something I can have a play with under way.

Arranged to put her in on the 20th, 8 am - loaded in the gantry Mon, which is handy for finishing off the antifoul under the keel bottoms. Can still stay aboard on the crane - so long as I eat less than 4 ton for supper !

May go straight out all day if the weather is still like this. If its a bit iffy, I'll put her straight on the mooring and give the engine a good run etc, then maybe take her out on the evening tide for a couple of hours.

Seems to have been more work than I anticipated, having the boat out for the winter. Can't stop fiddling with things I suppose !

18th - 20th May

2008 launch - Sunday, slept aboard in yard finishing off sails etc - Mon lifted into the gantry ready for early drop in. Tues - slept aboard in gantry. Tuesday 38 miles Blue Anchor and back - sleep aboard on mooring. Early tide Wed back to Uphill slip.

Well - she's in and on her mooring.

But what a contrast to the last launch at the slip. Then, the first time in, I was nervous about moving her across the pontoon. This time she went in at 8.15 - 3/4 after HW - and straight down the river and out to sea. A days sailing, on my own, down to Minehead.

What was more pleasing, is that we still had these easterlies - and only on Sunday a NE 5 -6 had boiled up conditions worse than many had seen for a while.

The eastuary is 'funnel shaped' to the NE - maybe the reason - as a 5-6 SW against an ebbing spring is not so serious. Not nice - but sailable. Apparently Sunday was not nice at all.

So I was a little wary anyways - being the first trip out for the season. The wind had dropped off a bit and was now more E to SE. Forcast was 4 to 5, maybe 6 later in west.

I had second thoughts when I hit the edge of Weston Bay - but once the tide settled SW and I was away from the influence of the Bay - it wasn't too bad.

Took her all the way to Blue Anchor just on the jib - didn't even tack !18 miles in four hours.

I still had this gut feeling the day might sour up. I was a little concerned the wind might pick up earlier than 'later'. Id be going back on a 4 kt spring running NE.

Still - for now a pleasant, warm day - gradually clouding up though.

Get her Home Boy

Deciced to get back early - turned an hour before LW, punching the tide on the engine into a now slackening wind.

Still a good chop going though once the tide started running - took her all the way back on the engine - as I was straight into what little wind there was. Ticked her over giving me 2.5 kts - plus the tide, would see me past Steep Holm by 1600. Earliest time for the Axe was 1730 - with HW 1956.

Somewhat Mystical

Quite a balmy and atmospheric trip - very strange light, with the sun in and out.

When it shone, suddenly the sea became a warm golden glowing yellow cloud - then once in, the dark confused chop became really strack in the grey light. Very strange.

As it was she ws cutting very nicely square on to the short chop - the odd splash of foam up over the bows - doing a balancing act stood up in the cockpit, with the tiller between my legs - an doing the odd jig to ease the circulation ! I'm afraid I'm not a die hard 'sail man' - I really enjoy motoring her sometimes.

I could have raised sails and tacked her up with the tide no problem - but I didn't feel like it, simple as that. Anyway - if you have an engine, it thrives on use, not neglect. I wanted to give it good test.

Also - I hadn't even had the main up yet, after altering the halyards etc to the roof clutch.

No excuses - I really enjoyed my trip back up. The wind kindly dropped off - but it wouldn't have taken much to boil up this sea. Had a sort of 'loaded spring' feel to it somehow - just my fancy.

Be wary of the Wind from the East !

Good trip - learned a lot. The main acheivement was going out for the day really - not just running for the mooring and thinking of what it might have been like !

I shall be giving Easterlies a great deal of respect this end of the Channel in future. Just right for the Axe as it turned out.

New Buoyage

Be cautious of the racing buoy to the N of Black Rock - easily confused for the Ist red buoy marking the channel in.

The first red, after the currently missing dogleg buoy has a cross topmark - and is not easy to see.

My waypoint for it is

51deg -19.627' - 03deg - 00.3198' - taken from a mark right alongside it.

I actually used it - as I could not see it at all until very close. And I'm well used to coming here. It just crossed my mind that if I were a stranger to this entrance, I would have headed for the race buoy and been the wrong side of Black Rock completely. I don't see why a race buoy has to be red !

The entrance buoyage is in the process of being altered - with the new outer buoys to have lights.

From the 1st Red, ( currently a wore out old thing, on the piss with a cross top ) just before Black Rock - and unsettlingly close in to the side of BreanDown, swing slightly back to Port and follow the curve of the headland - until the 1st pair of red and green buoys. There are now three green starboard buoys after those - with the deepest water fairly close to them.

2 1/2 before HW here and you only have 2.4 max. But its rising like the clappers so not much of a problem before HW. Different ball game coming in after !

More Mooring Swearwords

Made complete hash of the mooring again - but its a pig coming in early witht he stream astern. After much swearing and spattering of my nice clean boat with very mud soaked guest lines - ( I left a spare guest line on the mooring over winter as it lies in the mud so long ) I made it motoring in in reverse. I think I've done that previously - anything that works !

Quiet night aboard

Stayed aboard for the night - had a lot of things to sort out having just put her back in.

15 deg of heel on the mud - but I slept like a log. The new cockpit cusions coming into there own for a side support on the main berth. They are PVC covered 'camping mat' foam - bought on the Metre run from Points North. Two 10mm layers stuck together. Actually - it would make a great sea berth, if you had a wide one hooked up either side hammock style. Its very warm stuff and quite stiff. - Just like me really !

My hearing must be good - or the mooring must be quiet, but when I blew the dingy up Tuesday evening, over the rail with the new inflator - I was sure I could hear a slight hiss. I took it to be my fancy. It was still reasonably hard in the morning - so topped it again. But by the time I got in to Uphill it was softening again - so I was right !

It got me back. Also the first time I had run the Suzuki since re-building it again with new rings and a new weld to the water jacket leak. That started and ran ok !

Generally speaking - when I hit the slip at Uphill on Wed morning, I felt I'd acheived quite a lot.