Tuesday, 25 August 2015

A Concerned Reader Writes

Reader Patrick asks: "New RFP rule? The skipper of the new Snarleyow is apparently a stickler for the wearing of PBAs. Unlike the previous bloke."

Patrick: This blog is committed to safety and always does a risk assessment for its activities, as follows:
Hazardous Event
Consequences
Risk Assessment
Risk Mitigation
Sailing
Sudden immersion due to capsize, being knocked overboard by boom or falling overboard when moving about in boat.
Severity: High
Likelihood: High
Risk: High
Wear lifejacket
Rowing
Rower sits in middle of boat which is stabilized by two 10ft poles.
Severity: Low
Likelihood: Low
Risk: Negligible
No mitigation measures required

Sunday, 23 August 2015

I am sailing

Friday was my first long sail in Snarleyow, from Cobnor to Langstone to see a flotilla of WW2 canoes that took part in the Cockleshelll Heroes operation. They were transporting two blue plaques to commemorate Cdr Goulding, CO of the various naval establishments on Hayling Island that trained and operated waterborne special operations, including the original Special Boat Service.
Approaching Langstone I came up with Mike Gilbert out sculling, who took this picture of me looking very, very smug.
Then I went to the Royal Oak for a quick pint and returned tooking, if possible, even smugger. If that's a word.

New Toys

I have been playing with my new toy at the Dinghy Cruising Association's annual camp at Cobnor, a peninsular in Chichester harbour close to Bosham. 
Yesterday my chum Paul and I took her up to Dell Quay in company with Chris Waite in his self-designed and built sailing dinghy Polly Wee. As the wind was in the east, unusually, I decided to test Snarleyow's performance under oars by rowing the long straight reach at Itchenor while Chris beat up, tacking in and out of the lines of very expensive yachts. I am happy to report that we kept up with him nicely.
Chris had to return early but Paul and I hauled the rig up and carried on to the Crown and Anchor. On the beach was a family experimenting with its new toy, an RS Aero that had clearly recently been bought for No1 Son, seen here installing the daggerboard. He seemed to be having a lot of fun too.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Afloat

My new boat has been renamed Snarleyow (of course) and hit the water at Cobnor yesterday. She sails beautifully.
Out in the harbour I decided to test the rowing position, and began to strike the rig. The balanced lug came down easily, and I was just stowing the mast when a massive rib zoomed up. "Are you in trouble, Sir?" they asked, with that polite assiduouity of people who are determined to do you good whether you need it or not. I assured them that everything was under control and I was going to row. "Are you sure you're OK?" they asked. "We can give you a tow if you want." 
It is true - sailors really cannot understand that anyone might want to row, even like to row. And Snarleyow rows very well for a rather heavy boat.
And when on her trailer she is  EXACTLY the right height to lean on when chatting.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Got me a boat

When I wrote on Tuesday that I was looking for a row/sail boat, I never thought I would own one by Friday.
Browsermeister Brian Pearson pointed out an ad for a boat that seemed to fit the bill, so I schlepped over to Clacton yesterday to take a shuftie.
The boat is a ketch based on a Cygnus 15 hull. Now I happen to know the Cygnus 15 quite well - on the River Hamble it has been rebranded the Bursledon Gig. So I knew she rows well. But would the owner be able to convince me she can also sail?
I was shown her by one of the builders, Alan Hopewell. His old friend John, the owner and the other builder, suddenly and distressingly died three years ago and the boat must now be sold.
Alan took me through the rig and it seems well thought through and even an ignorant sailor such as myself should be able to learn the ropes fairly quickly I hope.
She has a big flat floor that is only a couple of inches shorter than me, so camping in her will be possible. With a bit of chainsaw surgery, sleeping aboard may even be comfortable.
So I paid electronically and towed her home. After a minor disaster (light board fell off) and a moremajor  disaster (trailer tyre blew out on M25) I arrived home triumphant.
A few modifications (change the rowlocks, add a stretcher) and she will be ready for a fortnight of cruising at the DCA camp at Cobnor. Can't wait.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

End of an Era

You may have noticed the blog header has changed. For those of you who have already forgotten what it looked like, here it is for one last time.
It is my favourite image of my sliding seat Chippendale Sprite, Snarleyow, taken at East Head looking out towards Thorney Island about ten years ago.
Since then we have been all over Chichester and Langstone harbours, round Hayling Island, up the Hamble, Itchen and Arun, down the Thames, round the Broads and down the Severn. She has changed colour twice, got new gunwales and had her outriggers lifted. It's been such fun.
But lately we have been drifting apart. I have gone over to fixed seat rowing, partly because rowing with a crew is sociable and keeps me fitter (no opportunity for a little break every ten strokes) but also because my legs don't seem to enjoy being flexed to their maximum extent so much these days.
She has been spending more and more time upside down behind the house, looking more and more despondent.
So I bit the bullet and passed her on to Graham who is an amazing craftsman and rower, and is giving her a new lease of life.
I am now looking for a boat that sails as well as rows, to take part in Dinghy Cruising Association rallies. John Welsford's Walkabout design is the front runner. Has anybody got one for sale? If not, can anybody recommend a builder in southern England who could knock one up really cheap?

Monday, 3 August 2015

A Great Day Rowing

Went to Southend yesterday with Gladys for the Southend Pier Race organised by Lower Thames RC. Started late due to failure to hear 1 minute warning signal or see the flag that should have alerted us that the race had actually started. 
The first leg of the race from Old Leigh to the pier was a long, hard, three-mile slog against the tide and a brisk easterly wind to Southend Pier. We kept our spirits up with the expectation that the wind would push Gladys's big behind and give us a boost when we finally turned. At the pier, the tide turned and the wind dropped so we had a long, hard, three-mile slog back.
We came in last.
At the finishing line we changed sides to make the final paddle back to the slipway a bit more comfortable, and I noticed the handle I passed to the new stroke was bloodstained where it had rubbed the skin off my thumb.
By the time we got back to the slipway the water was slipping away and there was a queue of motorboats behind so we rushed. And I failed to secure the ratchet on the winch properly. And the handle whacked me upside the head.
Hearing 'ringing in the ears' is not just a figure of speech, I discovered. It was like putting my head in Big Ben for a minute. A very odd sensation.
By the end of it I looked like something out of Curse of the Mummy when we had to get up and be presented with the Southend Pier Wooden Spoon.
What a great day. The weather was cracking, everyone put their all into rowing that great tub Gladys, easily the largest, heaviest and slowest boat in the unhandicapped race. Everyone was wonderfully friendly. And I got to be the centre of attention with sympathetic ladies bandaging my fevered brow.
Even the bloody oar was the most stylish trophy on the table.