Thursday, 31 October 2013

Committed to a start date for 2014

My regular reader will recall that I was wondering what to do, now that Vagabond and I have been awarded the Ruby Cup by the GXSA and no doubt were on tenterhooks waiting for my pronouncement.

Here it is: 

Vagabond and I have now registered to join Sail Caledonia for the jaunt (raid?) northwards along the Caledonian Canal next May.

This will be the starting point for a circumnavigation of Scotland in the widdershins* direction.

Sail Caledonia starts in Fort William and finishes at Inverness.

After the final party, my hangover, Vagabond and I will try to find the bit of sea where we abandoned our voyage from Lossiemouth to Inverness****. Having picked up the thread (as it were), we'll turn north up the east side of Scotland to Wick and then, depending on weather, tides and all that sort of stuff, turn West along the "top" of Gt Britain ****** to Cape Wrath. Then south, passing all those wonderful places like Lochinver, Ullapool, Gareloch and Loch Ewe. Depending on how brave (or foolhardy) I feel at the time (and weather and tides etc) we may visit the inside of the Outer Isles and, eventually, back to Balvicar.

Yes, I know: I'll publish a map of the proposed trip in the next edition.

For those of you really interested, here's a link to the Sail Caledonia web site :

* anticlockwise **
** turning left every day ***
*** unless anchored near (not on) **** an island, when it might mean turning right......
**** or tied up to
*****  Remember to turn right out of Inverness, it's up an estuary
****** or the bottom, if you have a Southern Hemisphere map with South "up".

Friday, 11 October 2013


To the first meeting of the Gerrards Cross Sailing Association on Wednesday night for this winter session.


They've given Vagabond and me a cup for our adventures so far.  


Now what do we do??

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Bedding down for winter and the beginning of a new rig

Off to Balvicar at 08:30 last Thursday, to make sure that Vagabond was settled for the winter.  Arrived, hot and sweaty (the car, not me) about 9 hours later, to find Vagabond apparently quite happy under the tarpaulin.

Pottered about the following morning, replacing the piece of string that controlled the jib roller mechanism with one of a smaller size. Several times now, I had tried to furl the jib in strong winds, only to find that there were insufficient turns on the winch to fully furl the sail, despite the winch being "full" when the jib is flying. Replacing the furl line with a smaller size has let me load the winch with a couple more turns. Sods law suggests that the next thing that will happen will be that the furl line will break under the strain. It's bound to be during some critical event........

I waited for the post - the day I left for Scotland, Swallow Boats had dispatched to me, c/o the boatyard, a couple of D rings - but they didn't arrive on Friday.

Off to the local pub in the evening, to be entertained by a duo singing Andy Williams songs out of key......The beer and food were OK but the noise was beyond suffering so back to the Herbalists daughters cottage to the book.  (How many apostrophes should be in that sentence?)

Next morning saw me varnishing the rails and checking one or two things. To my surprise, the after ballast tank was still full of water. No wonder the tow from Lossiemouth to Balvicar had been a nightmare, with the dreaded snaking cutting in at about 45 mph...Just to help matters, various rollers on the trailer prevented me from opening the drain, so my arms got some much needed exercise using the pump.

By noon on Saturday, the D rings had arrived, complete with instructions for positioning them on the cabin top.

Matt (owner of and designer for Swallow Boats) has introduced a new, stiffer rig for the Bay Cruiser 23. It was on display at the Southampton boat show and includes an extra set of stays and spreaders on the mast. Big boat stuff....He and I had discussed rig stiffness after Vagabonds interesting voyage from Holyhead to the Isle of Man last year and I like to think this new rig is a result of that conversation but there again......

Drilled holes in the cabin roof
Covered for the winter
Anyway, I had decided that it was worth considering as a retrofit on Vagabond. So, on  Saturday afternoon, taking the Power Drill in hand, I set to work drilling six holes in the cabin roof.......The process involved removing the cabin headlining, drilling the holes, cleaning the foam core way from around the holes and refilling holes with epoxy, before redrilling to size and screwing on the rings.

I got as for as filling the holes with epoxy before the weather turned awful and I covered Vagbond with the tarpaulin for the winter.

The following morning the weather was still poor, so there was no point in staying. I pointed the car south and all was fine until the M6 froze solid for half an hour or so, just south of Stafford....