Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Postponed Start

The weather forecaster said this morning that the outlook remains unsettled, and having consulted the weather charts for the next few days I’ve postponed the start of my cruise in ‘Faith’ until next Sunday or Monday, i.e., 1st and 2nd July.

I’ll resume the ‘blog’ around that time, or when the boat is on the water at the start of the proposed cruise.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Decisions, decisions ……….. To go or not to go?

Here’s the Inshore Waters Forecast for Wednesday, 27th June between Lyme Regis and Lands End, including the Isles of Scilly.

Wind - West or northwest 4 or 5, occasionally 6.
Weather - Showers.
Visibility - Good.
Sea State - Slight or moderate, occasionally rough in west at first.

Over the coming weekend, a new low will pass over the British Isles, but I am hopeful the Azores High will move slowly to the north over the next week or so. If this turns out to be the case, the weather should improve.

My final decision whether to set off for Brixham on Wednesday morning will be taken after the early Shipping Forecast.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Best Laid Plans

“The best-laid plans o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain
For promised joy.”

Those are the words of Robert Burns in a poem ‘To a Mouse’, but what truth there is in his words! I’m not over keen on accepting the truth that events beyond our control, indeed fashion what happens to us. On the other hand, as I believe in a God who is Sovereign I am happy that He controls all things, including the weather. I can accept that what He determines is right – that’s not a belief in ‘fate’, but in providence.

Because of the weather, yet another day must pass before I can embark upon the ‘planned’ cruise westward from Exmouth, and, as there has been a delay, I would consider launching at Brixham, since it is that much closer to Dartmouth, the first destination for which I am aiming. Meanwhile, Richard, the sailing friend who also wants to make it to Dartmouth in his 40’ classic yacht is port bound in Dover.

Robbie Burns suggests that those who make plans best accept that they may reap pain, rather than the promised joy expected. I have learned to accept the truth that when sailing for ‘pleasure’, so often pain is experienced instead. Why then do I do it? The joy outweighs the pain, like that of a mother when she has her newborn child.

The Inshore Forecast

Lyme Regis to Lands End including Isles of Scilly
Issued by the Met Office at 1800 UTC on Monday 25 June 2007 24 hour forecast:Wind - Northwest 6 to gale 8 decreasing 4 or 5, occasionally 6. Weather - Rain then squally showers, becoming mainly fair later. Visibility - Moderate or good. Sea State - Moderate or rough, but very rough west of Lands End at first. Outlook for the following 24 hours:Wind - Northwest backing west or southwest 4 or 5, occasionally 6. Weather - Showers. Visibility - Good. Sea State - Moderate or rough

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Having taken a year and a half to build ‘Faith’, my Paradox micro-sailboat, and having tried her out on the River Crouch in various wind strengths I’m raring to go!

I hoped to make a start at a month’s cruise on Monday, 25th June by taking the boat on her trailer to Exmouth in Devon and from there to attempt a short cruise to Dartmouth and back before progressing further west, either by road or at sea. However, Prudence calls for a delay in the start because of an adverse weather forecast. Here’s the Inshore Forecast:

Lyme Regis to Lands End including Isles of Scilly

Issued by the Met Office at 1800 UTC on Sunday 24 June 2007

24 hour forecast:

Wind - Northwest, backing west for a time, 4 or 5, occasionally 6, increasing 6 to gale 8 later.
Weather - Rain or showers.
Visibility - Moderate or good, occasionally poor.
Sea State - Slight or moderate, increasing moderate or rough later.

Outlook for the following 24 hours:

Wind - Northwest 5 to 7, occasionally gale 8, decreasing 4 or 5.
Weather - Rain or showers.
Visibility - Moderate or good.
Sea State - Moderate or rough.

This would call for a start by road on Wednesday, 27th when the main series of ‘lows’ will have passed to the north east, but I’ll review the situation on Tuesday, 26th.

If you the reader are disappointed, you can imagine my feelings, and yet a delay of one, two or perhaps three days when seen in perspective is insignificant.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Photos of 'Faith' afloat

Some visitors to my blog have asked to see photos of 'Faith' on the water. Before I embarked on 'sea trials' I launched the boat at Burnham Marina where I took photos of her moored to a pontoon.

You can see two photos by visiting which is a page at my Paradox web site.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Back Home

13th June

I woke early to one of those clear sunny days with hardly a zephyr. As I ate breakfast I thought through the procedure of hauling the boat out of the water. I would lower the trailer by hand almost to the water’s edge where I would secure it with chocks. At the front support I would attach a strong piece of rope for lowering the trailer into the water by using the ball hitch of the car; this system would allow the trailer to be immersed with the mudguards covered so that ‘Faith’ could be floated above the trailer while being winched forward. My daughter would hold the boat steady as I drove the car slowly up the slip.

All this worked perfectly. Had I attached guide posts to the trailer I could have done it without the help of my daughter.

When the boat was home I considered what next to do for improving a few things before the ‘proper’ cruise in the West Country begins perhaps on 25th or 26th June. Exmouth would be a suitable departure port for Dartmouth where I would hope to meet my friend aboard his 40’ classic sail training yacht.

I’ll recommence the daily log as soon as the boat is on the water again.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

New Lessons

Tuesday, 12th June

The 0520 Shipping Forecast for Thames predicted SW 3/4, occasionally 5, with fog patches, showers and occasionally very poor visibility. In the event, that was not a bad forecast for having a bash at reaching the Walton Backwaters. I needed to make 4 knots to ensure I would arrive at Stone Banks off Naze Point before the flood tide would sweep me towards Clacton; furthermore the long range forecast gave a South Westerly 6 for the 13th June when I planned to return to Burnham. A delay hanging around at the Backwaters would not give me the time I needed for personal things that have to be done before I take ‘Faith’ to the West Country later in the month.

As I had not fully tested ‘Faith’ in strong winds I decided it would be more profitable and more pleasant to sail against the SW4 or 5 on the River Crouch to Fambridge, but conditions were entirely different to those of yesterday. Initially the wind was SW 2 which was ideal for tacking through the moored yachts at Burnham. Everything went flawlessly and it was great fun sailing between the yachts, but as we neared Creeksea the wind increased and the tide strengthened which caused short steep breaking waves. ‘Faith’ was over-canvassed as she hobby-horsed without making a great deal of way. At first, attempts at tacking in those conditions were not always successful, but I soon discovered I needed to free the sheet to allow the bow to pay off, especially when changing to the port tack because the sail is mounted on the port side of the mast.

I soon learnt to reef smartly so as not to be over-pressed. All in all, I learnt a great deal about handling the boat and anchoring. I discovered I needed to raise the rudder before anchoring by the stern to prevent the rode from snagging the rudder; in force 3 I found it was necessary to reef the sail when going to windward; in choppy conditions I found I needed to sail freer. Generally, ‘Faith’ moved faster when the sheet was not pinned in.

My day had plenty of excitement as I sailed many different courses with variations of sail area. The fog did not materialize; instead there was sun for most of the day. For lunch I anchored off Cliff Reach then I had a snooze. It was very pleasant at the prettiest spot on the River Crouch. I noticed how badly the red clay cliff had eroded in the last couple of years. Suitably refreshed, it was time for more sailing before returning to Burnham Marina. I wanted to while away the time from 1500 until 1700 when it would be low water to make it ideal for sailing in the marina. There would be less wind because the banks of the marina would bring about a lee from the South West wind.

During those 3 hours I thoroughly enjoyed trying all sorts of manoeuvre before making my attempt at getting into the marina. As it turned out, everything was very favourable. I could steer ‘Faith’ on a reach with only two panels of the sail as I made for a pontoon near the slipway. There I nosed the boat to the pontoon so that she almost paused in stays, but it was not perfect; she gently hit the floating platform bow on, then started to fall back, but I just had time to step on the pontoon to make her secure with a painter.

I’m not overly keen on Marinas, but they do have their advantages: a shower and toilets for example, and electricity for charging my laptop computer. I can charge it from the ship’s battery, but mains power does it more quickly.

Tomorrow morning I’m hoping to take ‘Faith’ out of the water when my daughter will bring my car she has been using while I’ve been afloat; then I’ll see if I can retrieve the boat.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Testing Everything

This morning there was a bit of mist when I set off under sail from the marina berth at 0730. High water was at 0929, and with a light NE wind I made course up the river towards Fambridge. On the way I tried sailing ‘Faith’ on all points and I practiced reefing and using the yuloh. At first I didn’t have much success at using the yuloh, but on my second attempt it all came together and I managed about a quarter of a knot.

Just short of Fambridge drizzle came in which provided a good opportunity for testing the boat with her hatch closed. The forward window slightly fogged up, but I was snug and dry as the boat made her way east towards Burnham. Sailing through the trots was a drifting match, because there was little wind. Once past the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club the wind perked up. What was so pleasing was the boat’s ability to sail on any course for many minutes without me having to touch the steering line. Now I know that Al was telling the truth about having plenty of time to read books while underway.

After eventually reaching the Inner Crouch Buoy I turned ‘Faith’ to the west, this time to anchor on the west side of the River Roach near the entrance. I set the anchor at 1740 and although the wind sprang up from the south ‘Faith’ lay nicely to the incoming tide.

I took the opportunity to try out the pressure cooker which worked well, by providing me with well cooked potatoes, runner beans and carrots which I ate with cold sardines, followed by my favourite yoghurt. After clearing up I planned the navigation Tuesday, 12th June - that’s if the wind will have any southing to it.

As I type this log I do so to the accompaniment of skylarks singing chirpy songs, although the sun has not shone all day.

Maybe I’ll have a comfortable night.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Faith Afloat

Hi All,

‘Faith’ was launched today at Burnham Marina, Essex around 1900. It was not the most graceful of launches for a maiden event, but with a little persuasion by jigging the boat she slowly slid off her trailer.

The yuloh was not entirely a success, as the side wind made progress in the direction I wanted to go difficult, but I ended up where the wind took me, alongside the old Harbour Master launch. Maybe I need to practice handling the yuloh before I can learn to generate sufficient power for forward motion.

I first prepared a meal before filling up the water ballast tanks which made the boat much more stable.

As I write this, the first of my cruise logs, I have laid out my bed for the night. There’s just a light wind from the east, which may mean I’ll have a peaceful night.