Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Happy Christmas

This comes to wish you all a Happy Christmas.

I’ll be taking a break from the blog for a few days – possibly until the beginning of January next year.



P.S. Father Christmas wanted a keepsake ‘selfie’; so I obliged.




Thursday, December 19, 2013

Slow Going for ‘Minnow’

Surprise, surprise! I only managed to find 15 minutes for ‘Minnow’, and during that time I applied a third coat of varnish to the yuloh. This cold and damp weather is not ideal for varnishing, but by keeping the varnish warm I was able to brush an even layer over the second coat. Somehow, the varnish dries and hardens by the following day. One more coat will see the job finished.

I’m still considering how I shall make a bracket for securing the shaft end of the yuloh to the foredeck. When I was at B & Q I saw a stainless steel hanger rail that had a curved piece of metal almost, but not quite suited to making a semicircular bracket. Another idea that appeals to me is utilizing a large curtain ring that could be modified for the purpose. I have two rowlocks that could be converted into semicircular brackets, one in plastic and another in alloy.

Coming up with satisfactory solutions for this sort of thing is rewarding. The challenge is to do it in the most effective way, which is often the simplest, and sometimes the cheapest. Everything on a boat has to be robust enough to withstand strains likely to be placed on them. In the case of stowing the yuloh on the side deck, the fittings have to withstand forces that may be imposed by waves washing over the side deck. In the unfortunate, but unlikely chance of a 360 degree capsize; the fittings must be pretty strong to keep the yuloh in place.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013



Renovating ‘Minnow’ is a long term project; especially as many things intervene between working on her. Today, I could only find 10 minutes for varnishing her yuloh, but I tell myself that 10 minutes was better than no time at all.

Preparations for Christmas have suddenly become urgent; despite my wife’s tireless efforts over the last two months. She’s had loads of fun baking and decorating cakes; preparing and cooking pies and sausage rolls, plus buying and wrapping presents. Today was set aside for final decorations and last minute shopping. The tree was placed by the window; Father Christmas was stood ready with a bag of goodies at the front door; the Snowman wearing a top hat and stuffed with sweets took up station by the TV, and my wife made a decorative display on the sideboard.

We had planned that Christmas would be a quiet affair - a low-key happening. Instead, there will be jubilations as several family members get together. Mostly, the focus will be on our grandchildren and great grandchildren, but the adults will have fun too.

The real meaning of Christmas will not be forgotten; for the joy of Jesus will warm the cockles of our hearts. Divine intervention in staging His birth, where and when it had been foretold, was and is fortuitous to those upon whom His favour rests. (Luke 2:10-14)


Bible Gateway – Luke 2:10

What are the Cockles of Your Heart?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Melonseed Video

Roger Rodibaugh who owns Melonseed, ‘Three Cheers’, got in touch to thank me for featuring  his poem ‘Shore to Shore’ on 15th December. He has a YouTube Channel ‘Indianamelonhead’, where he has 30 wonderful Melonseed videos. The poem was inspired by his ‘2013MSMR (part 2)’ video, ‘Rompin’ and Stompin’’.*

Take a look at his YouTube Channel.** You won’t be disappointed – all free entertainment for the small sailboat enthusiast.

Thanks Roger.


*2013MSMR (part 2) Rompin' and Stompin'

**Indiana Melonhead

Melonseed, A Classic Modern Dinghy

Monday, December 16, 2013

Facelift for a Change

I felt it was time for a change; therefore, as an experiment I’ve changed the appearance of the blog.

Please let me know what you think. There may be divided opinions, because people often like familiar, well known paths, but others welcome change.

Everything changes with time – even the pyramids. I’ve certainly changed. I’m no longer the sprightly 16 year old I was 64 years ago, and my views on life have markedly changed. I like to think that I am wiser and more knowledgeable, although in truth, I’m probably just as foolish and as mad as a hatter.

Anyway, I could do with a facelift, and as my blog has become part of me, changing my appearance will give me a boost, and I hope that you will be encouraged to continue bearing with me.

Having changed in many ways, my fascination with sailing craft remains. In the early days my interests spiralled outwards from small craft to larger ones, but in later years they have spiralled inwards, and now I am focussed on one tiny boat, my 13’ 10” Paradox with the appropriate name, ‘Minnow’.


As Mad as a Hatter

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Melonseed, A Classic Modern Dinghy

In 2009 I wrote an article* praising the attributes of a beautiful ‘maiden’, designed and crafted by Roger Crawford. She has become a classic dinghy available in modern materials today.

Shortly after posting the article I received a super original Christmas card drawn by Roger Rodibaugh, featuring his Melonseed skiff. I was captivated by the enticing lines of his lovely boat. She is still my favourite from the point of view of aesthetics.

A few days ago I received my fifth Melonseed greeting card from Roger, each of which features a few words extolling the joys of sailing Melonseed skiffs.

I feel sure Roger would like you to share what he has written:

Shore to Shore

We’re close-hauled to the wind, rail down, and perched on the tilting edge of water and sky – miles to windward on a single tack, east to west, shore to shore. Whitecaps flash in the sun on the rolling blue horizon. With every dip and rise, the bow wave washes the deck, and spray flies into the curve of sail that scythes the sky.

When we fetch the western shore, we tack in the shoals, ease the sheet,  and raise the board for the broad reach back, west to east – a loping, galloping rush,  tearing along the shore in the turquoise shallows, chasing our shadows across the sand, shore to shore.

Roger, if you are reading this, I want to say thank you for the joy you have given me. Each of your cards has been individually designed and presented differently according to the media chosen for expressing your thoughts, and apt words have been included to enrich the theme.

Roger, I wish you a very Happy Christmas, along with all other readers of this blog.


Melonseed Skiff Again

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Perfect Day

The weather has been lousy, but it’s been a perfect day for catching up on things such as writing Christmas cards, writing letters and making phone calls. The boat didn’t get a look in, and tomorrow I have a feeling it will be the same. There’s just too much going on at this time of year, but I count my many blessings. I have so much to look forward to.

Much of what we see of news on TV and hear on the radio is very depressing: the execution of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un; fears of possible conflict between North and South Korea; the Lee Rigby trial; Elisabeth Grillo maintaining she’s the only one telling the truth at the fraud trial involving the Lawsons; gunmen kill 18 oil workers in Iraq; rebel attack kills Syrian civilians in Adra, and so on.

Not all news is bad, for example: the Irish Republic is now on the road to recovery, having met requirements imposed when they accepted a £71 billion bail out; the Ukrainian Court frees nine pro-EU protesters; giant Spanish casino plan abandoned; two men arrested for posting anti-Semitic tweets; massive offshore wind farm plans for turbines off Tiree dropped, following environmental and technical studies; expensive calls to helplines to end, and so on.

The news that outstrips all other news is over two thousand years old and continues to be news today - the good news that Jesus was born on Christmas Day! Why is this good news? It is because He is God’s means of telling the world of His forgiveness and the means whereby men and women, boys and girls can accept His forgiveness.

Nelson Mandela, known as Madiba, will be buried on Sunday, 15th December in his home town of Qunu. The South African nation mourns his departure, but inherits his legacy, the legacy of forgiveness and reconciliation as championed by him. This is but a mere shadow of the forgiveness given by the Saviour, Jesus.

Christmas Day reminds us of the day of perfection when Jesus will come again for His saints – i.e., those who believe and trust in Him.

“And forgive us our depts, as we forgive our deptors.”

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

(Matthew 6:12, 14)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Stowing ‘Minnow’s’ Yuloh

Today I bought and fitted an anodized alloy support bracket for stowing the yuloh. I have to make a fixture for securing the shaft end of the yuloh to the foredeck.

These fittings must retain the yuloh when not in use, and yet they must allow immediate access to it.

I have not followed Matt’s plan in this respect, but I think the arrangement will be satisfactory; in fact, I think it will be stronger than loops of brass tubing as shown on the plan.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Other Things for 'Minnow'


In addition to applying the final coat of paint to the yuloh, I started improving the mount for the ship’s compass. The mount was an ungainly piece of mahogany that was screwed to a cross member below the front window. In that position the helmsman could not see the compass because the hatch cover intervened. Furthermore, if the helmsman ducked below the hatch cover, he found it almost impossible to read the heading because of glare from the front window.

I propose setting the compass lower than it was, so that the helmsman can see it. I shall also add a bracket to the aft end of the hatch for my Bosun compass. The Bosun will be essential when I’m sitting on the aft deck with my feet dangling into the cabin, because the ship’s compass will not be visible from that position.

I’ll make a tiller extension for steering when I'm on the aft deck.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

‘Minnow’s’ Yuloh – Part 11

A half-an-hour was sufficient for applying a second coat of orange paint to the yuloh. That was just as well, because I didn’t feel like doing any more. In fact, there wasn’t much time before sunset, and outdoors it was cold. Working on the boat under artificial light does not appeal to me. As long as I can do a little at a time on a daily basis, I’ll eventually get the boat in an acceptable condition for taking her out on the water.

I’m beginning to think of what I may be able to do with ‘Minnow’ in 2014. If she comes up to my expectations regarding handling and performance, I’m hoping to take her for a cruise – exactly where I’m uncertain. My favourite cruising ground is the whole of the south coast of England. Battling against the prevailing SW winds from the eastern end of the English Channel to the far SW, Cornwall and beyond to the Scillies, presents a wonderful challenge for the sailor of small boats. Maybe, I’ll try it again. One thing for certain, I really want to be at Plymouth on the 11th May to watch the start of the Jester Challenge.


Jester Challenge

Monday, December 09, 2013

'Minnow’s’ Yuloh – Part 10


Everything seems OK. The yuloh moves as it should on the support pin. I attached the pin with its mounting block to the transom. Hopefully the unit will stay put, because I epoxied and screwed it to the transom.

I gave the lower part of the shaft and the blade a coat of orange paint. Another two coatings of paint and three or four applications of varnish to the upper part of the shaft will see the yuloh finished.

It looks right and feels right; therefore I’m hoping it will work well.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

‘Minnow’s’ Yuloh – Part 9

Things didn’t work out as I expected, because I lost my nerve. Instead of leaving the support pin in the epoxy, I withdrew it. I had visions of the pin being trapped in the hole. I took the view that it would be safer to form the epoxy paste with a spatula. While I was about it I filled abrasions on the shaft. I also filled gaps between the pin and the wooden block into which it was fixed.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

‘Minnow’s’ Yuloh – Part 8

I made a new plywood backing piece for the yuloh support block and epoxied the pivot pin in place to form an integral unit.

Before attaching the unit to the transom I must drill a hole into the shaft of the yuloh to receive the pinhead. It is my intention to line the hole with epoxy to form a cup that matches the shape and size of the pinhead. I can best do this by inserting the pinhead into the epoxy, but I must first apply Vaseline to the pinhead to prevent the epoxy from adhering to it. I’ll have to devise a method of supporting the block and pin to keep them stationary until the epoxy hardens.

Friday, December 06, 2013


My wife and I had unexpected invitations to a Christingle service for pupils of the school our grandchildren attend. The parish church was packed. I was overjoyed to see and hear so many happy children. Our three grandsons had rehearsed the singing over several weeks, and with the other youngsters they made a joyful noise.

The vicar tried to explain the significance and meaning of Chistingle, which some of the pupils seemed to grasp, despite the intrusive chattering of parents and grandparents. The vicar was not amused with the adults’ irreverence, and he appealed for quiet, but with little effect.

Their teachers were more than glad to part with the children at the end of the service, and the pupils were delighted not to have to return to school.

Back at home they played with their favourite toys, which for two of them included a desktop computer and an iPad!

Another surprise was in store for us, because as we were thinking of heading home, we were invited to have a meal at a nearby pub. This turned out to be a jolly time for all.


The Children’s Society – Christingle


The Meaning of Christingle

Thursday, December 05, 2013

‘Minnow’s’ Yuloh – Part 7

Here we are again. I was unable to spend much time on the yuloh, but I was able to determine at what point and at what angle I should drill a pivot hole into its shaft.

Originally Derek placed his yuloh in a rowlock that slid into a hole in a block of wood fitted to the starboard side of the transom. The hole in the block was 300 millimetres from the centre of the top of the transom.

My plan is to permanently fix a pivot pin into the same block, and bond it to the transom where it was before. I’m not keen on additions such as this, but I believe the yuloh will function better with the pivot pin angled away from the transom and clear of it.

All of this is theoretical, and I’m hoping it will work in practice.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

‘Minnow’s’ Yuloh – Part 6

I don’t know what the temperature was this morning, but it was cold enough to stop me working on ‘Minnow’s’ yuloh. As I suffer from Reynard’s phenomenon, the circulation of blood in my fingers was inadequate, causing them to go white and to feel numb. However, in the afternoon the temperature rose, so that I was able to experiment with the pivot pin.

I wanted to work out where best to mount the stainless steel pin. Matt’s plan shows it to be on the starboard side embedded in the aft deck. If it is not close enough to the edge of the deck, it is possible for the yuloh to come into contact with the deck. If my memory serves me correctly, I have seen a yuloh pin embedded in a wooden block attached to the top of the transom. The upper surface of the block was angled away from the horizontal to rake the pin aft. This arrangement had the advantage of keeping the yuloh clear of the deck and setting the pin at right angles to the shaft of the yuloh when the yuloh was in its operative position.

Hopefully, with more time to think things through, I’ll be able to decide what will be best.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

‘Minnow’s’ Yuloh – Part 5



Upper Side

Stowed Position

Pivot Cup Block

The yuloh is looking much better. I’ve more or less finished sanding it, and I’ve started making a hardwood block for the pivot cap. I shall epoxy the block to the shaft where it will also be epoxied to the old oar retainer ring.