Saturday, 18 February 2012

Early Planning

I've always worked on the principle of never doing anything today that can't be left until tomorrow, because by then it might not be necessary. So I had not really given too much thought to planning the route of this circumnavigation. As the delivery date for Vagabond draws near (sometime in mid March), I can't really put it (the planning) off  much longer.

The bad weather last week stopped all work in the garden so, apart from an interlude with the grandchildren (remind me never again to go to the London Science Museum at half term), I spent a few days reading the accounts of previous "Round Britain" sailors, finding out which ports they had visited and pondering my probable route.

I still haven't determined a complete route but have made a few decisions.

The first is that I think it will be silly to try to do the whole thing in one year. This would mean a number of long days sailing (45 plus miles a day) and would lead missing out a lot of interesting little ports. Surely, if you're sailing a small boat that can be run ashore (under control!), you should visit small harbours that dry out at low tide....

It also seems to me that trying to do the whole thing in one year would add pressure to sail in dodgy conditions. Whilst I am not one who requires a G & T on a stable quarter deck at 18:30 each evening, I have agreed with the Owners Agent not to batter on in Forces 6 or above!

Having established the ground rules, I have selected the start point (Burnham on Crouch), the direction (keep turning right) and the start date (on or around 10th May). This is just after the spring tide peak so the next week or so will see the tidal currents decreasing as I flog it down The Channel. It also means that my first challenge will be a successful crossing of the Thames Estuary which is either 'easy' or 'not for the faint hearted' depending on which account you read.. Then on down the channel to The Solent at the end of the first week of sailing. Plymouth should be within reach by the end of the second week. It will then be time to leave the sea for a few days to return home to cut the grass and weed the patio and, of course, take the Owners Agent out to dinner.

Anything may happen: should the wind turn Southerly on that first day I may modify the direction to "keep turning left"!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Vagabond is under construction

News from the boat yard - work has started! 

I'd better get on with planning the route and finding somewhere for her to stay. The Owners Agent has decreed that Vagabond is NOT going to sit on the trailer in our drive.

Whilst I do that, perhaps you would like to see how the working is progressing.

The hull and deck have been made and are now inside the main shed for fitting out and putting together. In simple terms, the cabin fittings are glued into the hull and then the deck is fixed over it all.

Here are a couple of  photos of the hull moulding, viewed from the stern (back).

The blue bits will eventually be the inside of the cockpit lockers.

The black slot in the middle of the pictures is where the raised centre board will fit.

The vacuum cleaner is (I hope) a temporary visitor.

The final photo is a little confusing - it shows the deck moulding but it is upside down!

The bit sticking up at the back that looks like a funnel will be the access hatch to one of the water ballast compartments and the box that it is sitting on is the cockpit floor.

The two triangular shapes at the foreground will be the lockers for the anchor and its chain.

I must go and wrestle with charts, tides and almanacs........

Friday, 3 February 2012

A Couple of Pictures

My one and only (so far) follower requested some pictures. Here's one of the Teifi estuary, taken  the day before that crucial test sail.Posted by Picasa
This is a Bay Cruiser on display at the London Boat Show in January 2012. Sorry about the colour of the carpet.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Vague Beginnings

In the summer of 2010, I was sailing in the Inner Sound, between Skye and Mainland Scotland. We ( a crew of four) had just returned from a trip to St Kilda when we were suddenly surrounded by a flottilla of Drascombe luggers. The sea was calm (ish), the weather fair and the wind moderate and the luggers were exploring little bays and creeks that were far too small for our (chartered) 38 footer. Some even put themselves on the beach to camp for the night and I remembered a talk in which Sam Llewellwen had expounded the safety of "anchoring above the tideline". So the seed of the idea was sown - to sail a small boat round Britain before the zimmer frame kicked in.

During the ensuing 12 months, various makes and types of boats were selected, viewed and rejected. Then I fell in love with a pretty boat that I saw sitting forlornly on the mud of the estuary of Afon Teifi in deepest west Wales.......

A little research showed her to be a BayCrusier 23, a "trailer sailer" with a fully battened main, carbon fibre mast and boom, and water ballast, making her very light to trail and stable afloat. There followed a test sail in a force 4 gusting 6 and two visits to the Southampton Boat show before, after  a deep  breath, I placed an order with Swallow Boats.

Then there was the hassle of minor (major?) decisions - colours for the hull, sails: size of outboard, siting of vhf, solar cells and all the other paraphenalia considered necessary to complete a boat. Who had charts that I could borrow? Where could I store her on land? Where would I keep her when afloat. Above all, what would I call her?

Most of these have been made and she's currently being fitted out by her builders (Swallow Boats) at their yard near Cardigan. She is the 10th of the class, has a grey hull and will be called Vagabond.

Now all I have to worry about is where to go (and the weather).