Friday, June 14, 2013

Homeward bound

Lisbon, very late. In Lisbon airport at stupid o clock and everything, and I mean everything, is shut for the night. There are plenty of peeps wandering around, so you would have thought keeping one all night caff open would be doable, but no. My flight gets called at 0520. just hope my luggage goes to Manchester with me. .................................................................. It's now 2am ............Does anyone remember the film 'In Transit'? That's how I feel at the moment. No one around except a few stranded souls and the night shift cleaners. Only difference is that Tom Hanks got a place to sleep. I'm reduced to attempt it sitting up in chair, not even a comfy chair at that. I daresay I'll wander around some more and then contact any fellow insomniacs out there, always assuming I can get some more wifi time for nowt ............................ ................... It's now 3'30am and for a place that has only a few over-nighters and security staff, it isn't half noisy, what with all the chillers and freezers going full blast, and for some unfathomable reason, myriad tv monitors all on different channels, but with he sound turned down just far enough that you cannot hear what is being said, but it's still loud enough to annoy you. Can't get any zzz's, too noisy, but not helped by the itching mozzie bites I collected last night when the local population decided to invade the boat and proceeded to dine on me. Dennis escaped without a bite. Staff now starting to turn up, maybe I'll get breakfast before I leave ............ .............................. 4'50am and /shock/ I dozed for like an hour. A quick wash and brush and I feel more awake. The place is starting to come alive now, and praise be, I can smell coffee and toast! ................................................. 0612, and I've made it to the international gate, about a km and a bit of walking, fortified by the first cup of coffee of the day. No one else here at the moment. Dawn is breaking, late here, it would have been light for an hour or so already at home. With luck I should be home by early evening- the train from Manc to Bangor takes longer than the flight! ............................ Well I made to the plane, fully loaded up with a couple or 3 strong portuguese black coffees and had an uneventful flight back to Manc. The landing was somewhat 'hard', due mainly to the strong cross winds buffeting the plane. Caught my train to Crewe which was a sub zero windy hell hole.... I'd heard that the weather had'nt been that good but this was back to January! The weather was much improved by the time we got to Chester, but things were to turn very bad... a huge fire at Flint had closed the line to Bangor and around a thousand frustrated people were waiting in vain for the fleet of buses to carry them onwards. To be fair the railway had got a fleet of buses but there were just too many people to move. I spotted someone I knew and we decided that there was no point standing in the cold so we went had a coffee. By now I needed one as the earlier caffein had long worn off. We decided to stay put since, we argued, the queues were so long that by the time they were loaded the fire would be out and the trains running again. And we were right. Suddenly there was a mad rush of people back to the station and onto a Llandudno bound train. Hurrah. We had another coffee as we also argued that another would be along in an hour or so and less crowded. By now we had been joined by another, heading to a job in Abersoch. I needed to get from Bangor down to Pen Llyn and Gwenan came to our rescue. She would pick us up and bring us down to Pwllheli [so she could go shopping in asda on her way back to M. Nefyn] So after being on the road for over 24 hours and not having slept properly for more than 48 hours, I was finally home and a sound nights sleep awaited. And this morning [lateish] I awoke to clear skies and bright sunshine. Pen Llyn at it's best.

back in Terceira

This morning dawned grey and not a little damp. By 11 it was beginning to brighten and we prepared to move Gwawr over to the dock, in readiness for the hoist. The boat is 4.80m wide. The dock is 5m wide. A bit of squeeze then. 4 of us walked her in carefully and she fit, just. Out she came and was duly chocked off on the hard, ready to be powerwashed and antifouled.. Went down to the capital, Angra, yesterday. Interesting, but I prefer Pria. Had thought about hiring a car today, but time's getting on and we're yet to have lunch so might just leave it. Sun has just come out and it's quickly warming up, so I think a cold beer and a good book will suffice for the rest of the day.

Photo: Madalena front and harbour. The guilty boat is one of those tied up. I suggested to them that when it comes to buying a new RIB they get a twin engine setup.

Azores 2013 Day 5 Pico.

Well what an epic day. Started off ok on my whale watching trip. There were whales off Sao Mateus on the south west coast of Pico, so that's where we were going. Down to the RIB we went and off on the 20km trip out to where the whales had be spotted. And there they were, a pod of sperm whales. I got a couple of decent photos, but getting shots of any caetacean is never easy, and today was no exception. When the dolphins arrived there was great excitement aboard, which continued when the radio crackled with news that a blue whale had been spotted, some 15km further out. Of course everyone wanted to see a blue whale, so off we went. Blue whale was duly spotted and oooed at, and so we started for home, only for the engine to suddenly cut out after a few minutes. The guys fiddled around, but to no avail and pronounced that the fuel was contaminated, but a boat would be sent for. This was at 2pm. We fiddled some more, but the problem seemed insurmountable. So there we were, now around 20 something miles south of Pico and drifting off towards Brazil, with broken engine and several passengers starting to feel rather queasy. A sea anchor was devied from the ropes we had aboard. This at least would slow our drift and bring us head to wind. We fiddled some more with engine. It was now 3pm. After a while the call went up that the replacement boat was nearing us. Pretty much the same time the guys discovered a split in the fuel filter, the cause of the problem all along. 5 minutes later it was fixed. However it was decided that all of us passengers should be transferred to the big RIB, just in case. This turned out to be easier said than done, and in the end a couple of us stayed on the original boat to help bring it in. We eventually got back in at 4.30pm, somewhat tired, and one or two rather ill and a little 'emotional'. We were offered our money back, but no one took the offer. It was, as one lady said 'an adventure' and no one lost out and we all saw the whales. Back to Terceira tomorrow and a less than good wireless connection.

Day 4 17th May

So, today I rented a car and went exploring. First I headed through the vinyards, huntinh for a restaurant reputed to be the best on the island for the money. I must of driven past it, but I never found the place. I'll try again later. Afterwards I drove down the coast to Lages, where most the whale watching trips leave from, but nobody was heading out this afternoon. Come back tomorrow they said. Unfortunately, I won't have car then. I took the highland road back, which was like a back road in NWales, except it went up to 1000+m (that's nearly as high as Snowdon). Lots of the ubiquitous white cows taking the place of our sheep (white to stand out against the black lava, reputedly). Overlooking all of this was the brooding bulk of the Pico volcano, which as you drove towards it, you never seemed to get any closer, so high does it stand. Sorted a trip out to spot whales for tomorrow morning, when I got back to Madalena. Now where's that restaurant?

Azores 2013

this may I took advantage of the fact that Dennis has his boat out in Terceira and so I visited the Azores, a place I always wanted to go to. Here's a potted resume form my FB postings. Day 3 Well I made it to Pico. A very bumpy ride, which the pilots and air crew took in their stride, ulike the passengers, who were somewhat put. out, judging from the groans emanating from behind me. I, of course was made of sterner stuff, until particularly horrible jolt had me looking for bag, 'just in case'. Mercifully it was only a short flight and I caught sight of the summit of the volcano as we descended into the murk. Safely landed we all exited the plane into the warm drizzle of a Welsh summer, except that we were 2000 miles south west of Pen Llyn. The weather here was worse than it was back in the marina at Pria Vitoria. But now I'm comfortably ensconced in the b&b, with cup of coffee to hand, I'll try and work out how to post a few photos.

Friday, May 03, 2013

My solar hot water system was'nt holding pressure like it should, so I contact the firm that installed it. 'just cinch up the outflow joint at the collector' they said, 'the large temperature differences can cause this sometimes'. This was in all the appalling weather we had Feb/March/April, so I was'nt inclined to go cavorting around the roof, so I left it as was until things improved a bit. Well they have so this morning up I went, three sets of laders and some nifty ropework and there I was, taking off the insulation and shroud, and just as they said there was a little bleed from the compression joint. I carefully applied the spanner to the joint and cinched it up a bit. The bleed turned into a trickle, so I give it a little more and....... kablooie - the whole connection gave way, spraying me liberally with 60*C antifreeze. since I had'nt shut the pump down [I did'nt need to, I was only cinching it up a bit]. I eventually got off the roof after stripping off my soaking wet and very hot clothes [ I was in real danger of scalding myself], and stomped off to call the fitters. 'Oh dear. please send us a load of photos so we can advise you what to do next'. Well what I wanted was for them to explain how an 18 month old system costing several £K auto-destructs because of the failure of a 10p washer, incorrectly fitted by their expert team. 'We'll get back to you on that' So I wait in vain. Meanwhile a small cloud of steam can be seen coming from the now open-to-the-air system as the remaining coolant evaporates away............

Friday, March 22, 2013

Hols at last!

When I 'retired' two years ago now, one of the things I said I would do before the end of the year was to go on holiday to somewhere different. As it transpired circumstances stopped me from achieving this, not only for that year, but also for the whole of the next -2012. during this time I had been transferring a small amount monthly into my 'holiday slush fund'. It has now accumulated a healthy balance, which I could either use towards a damn good holiday or rely on to take me through a potential lean time money-wise in the next few years. Guess what? I'm going on holiday. Now I've been to Madeira a few times and really like the place, and even though it's a bit touristy, it's not your average euro-resort type of place. But this year I though I'd like somewhere similar, but more remote, so I'm off the the Azores. So 12 days in the middle of May, going independent as always - flying Manchester-Lisbon-Terceira. A few days there then off to the neighbouring island of Pico to do some walking, whale watching, surfing if I get the chance, then back to Terceira for a few more days of something similar. I'll try and take some photos and put them on this blog, Honest.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

February, and bloody cold it is too

Well, what a winter it's becoming. Wet, sunny, cold, miserable, very windy from whatever direction you can think of, talk about four seasons in one day. We've had the lot. And it's not over yet, far from it. Coming after the most god-awful summer and autumn I can remember, it just blended seamlessly in and continued the theme of direness. But spring lies waiting in the wings and I am confident that we will have a cracking spring and summer this year with just the right amount of sun and rain to make everyone happy. well hope always springs eternal as they say, but I honestly won't be putting any money on it being any better than this last year.

Monday, January 07, 2013

happy New Year everypeeps!

Well here we are in 2013 and father Christmas has bought me a late prezzie. My Finn Dinghy has arrived! John turned up in a mizzle of rain which seemed to get in everywhere, making the removal and transference of both dinghies into a bit of a wet slog. But we got it done and then John was gone - on a 4 hour trip back to Cheltenham, and I put my new acquisition to bed. next day I went down with the camera to record the boat and note what needed doing. there's a few jobs, to be expected in a 30+ year old boat but they're mostly of a tlc nature.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Yay! I'm still alive!

Well the op went well; the recovery went pretty well, even though I picked up a chest infection; and the convalecance is going OK. I'm even a bit fitter than expected at this stage according to the rehab guys. That's the plus side. The minus side is that I've gained weight which I have to lose, and then another 10KG to bring me down to a target weight. Now diets have never really worked for me, not enough self-discipline I guess, so it will have to be done via more exercise and less food rather than a strict fat free diet or whatever. It's not really the time of the year for that though, what with winter drawing in and the nights getting longer. One can only pass up a certain number of rice or syryp sponge puddings with custard you know! So in anticipation of having to make a massive effort in the new year I've sort of swopped my single handed, sit on a sliding seat/ plank sailing dinghy for something slightly more sedate, but equally difficult to sail- an olympic Finn dinghy [a la Ben Ainslie]. This should really sort out my back, stomach and quads. At my age this is really the last chance I'll get to sail a dinghy like this. I'll pass it on to someone who has outgrown a Lazer in due course

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Oh Bugger II

Well it's been a good few months since I last posted. I'm wondering if it's worth it any more, as I don't appear to get any readers. The gall stone problem as mentioned now appears not to be a problem, but unfortunately the reason for the discomfort is far far more serious. It seems I have a congenital heart problem, which can only be sorted via the application of a heart bypass, which is as you can imagine, is not a quick fix job. Mind you there does'nt seem to be any urgency so it's not as if I'm going to keel over any time soon. That's my summer sorted then, no strenuous exercise, no sailing, or biking, or surfing until at least September. I would'nt mind so much but I was just getting fit again, and now all this enforced idleness is starting to pall.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

not real Porn

In the true spirit of handmade houses here's a site devoted to out-of-the-way cabins in places we would all like to be at.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I've lost all my photos!

The filehost I used has gone belly up and just shut down; no warning, nothing.

so if you are looking through some of my older posts and cannot see anything, that's the reason why.

I've have a new host, so when and if I get the chance I'll re-up the various photos I've placed on this blog over the years.

If I can find them on the computer that is.

Oh bugger

Since I 'retired' last May I've had loads of time on my hands, to do all those things I needed to do. I spent the summer upgrading my wood burner and installing solar hot water and a new plumbing system. This took me as far as the end of July.

The rest of the summer I sent playing with boats and trying to complete the Sibrwd rebuild. Pleasingly I'm about 80% there, 'All' I needed to do now was paint the deck, build the spars, turn the boat over and sand back the hull, prime, paint and install a new keelband, turn her back over and start on the fitting out.

The mast build carried on apace, but in October I went off on a 'creative technology' course which, although great fun, did'nt progress the build whatsoever.

So then it was December and those gall stones I first found out about some 5 years ago have finally made their presence felt. And how! I've spent the last few weeks laid up with excruciating pains every time I eat or do something strenuous. But there's light at the end of the tunnel.... next week I get to see my very own consultant, hopefully with a view to whipping the damn things out and returning to life more normal!

Then I can get the project finished. I may even be able to post some pics again.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

back to basics = mat surfing at HM

what with everything else I need to be doing, I've had no chance to actually get in the water this year, as opposed to being on it.

So today, no wind, tides all wrong for the boat, too hot to sit in the garden, fed up of doing plumbing/painting/masonry I decided to just 'go to the beach'

A quick look at West Coast surfs daily web grab and it would be a trip to Hells Mouth with the mat.

Ok it really was only 2foot dribble, and with a load of guys out, but it was warm,windless and hey it's July - usually flatter than a hedgehog in the middle of the road.

So, in the hour or so window of opportunity as the tide dropped I had what passes for a decent sesh for me these days. I'll keep an eye out and maybe tomorrow will get another visit if anything is building [the + side of not currently working]

Sunday, May 15, 2011

another year gone by.........

... and I've written nothing in this blog. You could consider it moribund, or that absolutely nothing has happened in my life over the last year.

Welllll... that's not true. Quite a lot has happened actually, but sibrwd is still sitting in the shed, a stalled project. But things have changed, since I have now retired from work - or more accurately, I have taken voluntary redundancy from the job I stopped loving several years ago.

So what now? There's sibrwd to finish, a mast to build, another dinghy to refurbish, my house to work on, that shed to build. then there's repainting my mothers house, refitting her bathroom. So lot's to do - none of it paying though.

Oh and a bit more time to add to this blog


Sunday, May 02, 2010

Moving along

Well, as they say, never look a gift horse in the mouth. However any of you that have ever been given the aforesaid horse will know that what with vet’s bill, feeding the thing and generally seeing to it’s well being, you quickly appreciate that you go from a position of maybe having money in the bank to definitely not.

In some way’s this is what has transpired with Sibrwd. Not that I’m complaining exactly, since I was looking for a reasonably cheap project to begin with and this fulfils that rather nicely. It’s cost a little more than I had envisaged – the biggest item being the sails but there again, I suppose I could have taken her back to a bog-standard 18 instead of trying something different.

So here we are, the boat is coming along well, decks are on, cockpit coaming is on, ash gunnels ready to fabricate and put on, various bits of trim roughed out and ready to go, and lots of sandpaper ready to start sanding down the exterior of the hull preparatory to painting.

There’s still a load to do, like finishing off the new rudder, fettling the heavy cast metal plate and then there’s the elephant in the corner – a whole new mast and all the spars needed to finish the rig off.

So…. It was’nt something I was looking for when I received an email from someone on the Classic dinghy website, wanting / asking me to go and look at another old Merlin Rocket a few miles away. Seems a Lady’s late father had stuck it in a shed when his dinghy sailing days were over – around 30 years ago apparently and there it had languished, until now. They wanted it out and away since the house was being sold, and if they could’nt get rid of it then it would go as scrap.

Anyway it was’nt far so I took a look. There it was in this open fronted shed looking a little forlorn under a tatty old canvas cover. It was pulled out and the cover literally torn off – to reveal a piece of furniture in mahogany and varnish. It looked as though it had been last used yesterday.

After taking some photos and heading off home with the promise to put the word out, I duly did that and posted them up on the board and sent them to the MR association. Cue absolute disinterest from everyone, mainly due to the boat being distant to those who might want a go.

A few days later and the lady contacted me again by now in a bit of a tizz since she had heard nothing from anyone and she wanted rid asap. She’d give it to me. Well I said, that’s nice but I can’t afford to buy it off you, all my available funds are going towards Sibrwd. No she said – it’s yours, just come and pick it up.

So I did.

This was one occasion when looking a gift horse in the mouth would be a bad thing.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Madeira floods


The news from Madeira lately has been shocking, but maybe not so surprising. Given the way the island was deforested shortly after it was discovered, the Maderenese have been paying for it ever since. Friable volcanic rock and steep unstable slopes in a semi-tropical oceanic position, flash floods like this appear to be a seasonal occurrence, although in most years these floods, although devastating, are fairly localised and small scale in their effects. I saw many landslips whilst walking on the Levadas last November, and they were all being fixed by the resident workforce the Levaredos within hours of being reported. This time it is’nt going to be so easy to sort things out.

From the photos and video reports I have seen so far the flood appears to have come from the area to the east of Monte in the Barbosas /Curral das Freitas area, where a huge bowl in the escarpment funnels much of the seasonal rains into the two main Levadas, which on this occasion were probably overwhelmed and destroyed.

When I was there last November, the locals were already complaining that it was the wettest Autumn they could recall and one of the guides on a walk I did thought that it would’nt take much to cause a significant event, although I think he expected it to take place in Ribero Brava [which in any event was hit quite badly] but not in Funchal with it’s pretty wide and efficient flood channels. As it was the flash flood was so ferocious it just overwhelmed the defences and as usual the debris brought down the slope blocked up against the bridges linking the old and new towns.

I found this photo on one of the News sites and it shows the channel that ran down the middle of the main drag into downtown Funchal. That channel is at least 3 or 4 metres deep at this point and at least 10 wide – so that’s a lot of water heading down to the sea.

The hotel I stayed in is just behind the red roofed building and the trees on the left of the picture, so I’m hoping they got away with little damage. This channel leads right down into the old town, the market, bus station, and lots of small local shops and cafes, restaurants which make this part of the town the best part of Funchal especially if like me, you are a low cost frugal traveller.

So what now? I guess it’s going to depend on how quickly they can get things cleared and repair the damage, although the tourist trade – which the island depends on to get by- will have inevitably taken a hell of a knock.

Was I intending to go back? Well yes, but I had’nt really put a date on it. I like the place and there is something good about acquiring a familiarity for somewhere else, where you can go and relax in your favourite harbour front café and watch the world go by without having to discover something new, because it’s your first trip there. I can still ‘explore’ as I’ve not been to the neighbouring island of Porto Santo yet and there places on Madeira that I’d like to take a look at.

Having said that, for this year I was actually intending to go exploring – in the western Canaries- which are largely free of the lager/family type of tourists, and probably worth a look, before mass tourism takes hold.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fat Man Goes Walkabout

Well here I am in sunny Madeira, or rather in a wet and windy Funchal.

having left the UK just as a rather nasty low pressure system brought in the real Autumn with rain and howling winds, I felt rather smug when I arrived in a sunny and warm Madeira.

The smug feeling did´nt last that long though when I discovered that I had left all my short-sleeved shirts at home and that- apart from the shirt I was wearing, everything else was aimed at high level walking in cool conditions - this should have been OK since it was the reason for my being here in the first place.

The purchase of a couple of shirts has moved up the priority scale though, after a guided walk I went on started out badly and got worse.

I´d signed up for the trip back in the UK, it promised the lakes of Madeira - somewhere near to Rabçal on the Paul da serra, the western plateau which gathers all Madeira´s waters and channels them into the numerous ponds, falls and rivulets before being diverted into the Levada system.

On the morning of the walk it was´nt promising, clouds covered the tops and since the wind was in the west it was likely there would be rain at some point. By the time we reached Urze - the meeting point for the walk - the rain had reached biblical proportions, more Capel Curig on a bad day than a semi tropical island. We as a group decided that it was´nt a good idea and that a lower level walk would be more suitable, so we headed down slope a few miles to the Levada do Norte for a pleasant if misty and somewhat windy walk of around 10k. All went well, until the last 15 minutes or so when the rain that had been lashing down at Urze decided that it might as well give us a seeing to as well and within minutes we were soaked through. Even my super-duper new Marmot raintop gave up the ghost, although it might have been the fact I was pretty warm anyway.

By the time we reached the bus I was wet through, everything was sodden, and now not only am I short of shirts - but I was short of trousers, pants, socks - you name it, it´s drying on the balcony.

The forecast is for more rain, with some bright spells. Oh well it´s just like home but at least it´s warm.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Well, I’ve really gone and done it now.

Well, I’ve really gone and done it now.

I tried to put it off until next year, but it’s something that has to be done and whenever it happens it’s going to cost money – quite a bit really.

I prevaricated about it and no matter how I cut the cake, there was no shortcuts, no utilising cheaper materials, or doing it myself. No I was going to have to spend and let an expert do the job.

So yesterday I gritted my teeth and went to see JKA and ordered a new engine for Sibrwd.

I already have an engine, two actually – a 3 hp evinrude which although working is’nt a the best looking thing around, is heavyish and does’nt really set her off at her best. I also have a 1.5hp seagull of uncertain vintage, but has bags of character and is just so for a modern trad boat like Sibrwd.

No this was for the real engine in any sailing boat, the massive expanse of cream coloured cloth forming the lugsail – the main driving engine, the bit that makes it go, as silent as an albatross gliding over the sea in a zephyr with just the sound of the ripple from the cut of the bow in the water or the exhilarating hissssssss as she planes down the face of a wave in a broad reach.

Surprise’s rig

This also has other implications, not just financial. Although I had gone down the route of having an unstayed lugsail rig in the eyes of the boat, I had also taken steps in the design to allow for a more conventional rig if everything else turned sour. Now it’s too late. The deed is done. It will be a lugsail for Sibrwd, nothing else

So over the next few months, in addition to finishing off the hull, sanding down and repainting the exterior, rebuilding the rudder and stock, I will have a 20’ mast to build, a 12’ mast to build, 8’ of bumkin to build and install and joy of joys 14’ of ultralight, ultrastiff carbonfibre yard to shape and glass up – all to hang a large hankerchief off.

The timber for the mast is here already 20’ of 5”x 4” Douglas fir to be sawn up into thin lengths for me to shape and glue back together.

Well it will keep me out of mischief until next summer.

Oh and the car really could do with being replaced. It’s done over 200k miles, but you know, it really does’nt strike me as being a priority right now ;).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

the cars of Walmart

Another of those gems of the wierd and wonderful that you find on the web

Can't help thinking that if this was the UK the vast majority would'nt get more than a mile from the house before being pulled and taken to the crusher

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Well, I'm still building!

Things are moving along slowly but surely. The cockpit sole is down all sealed and proper like, and the side deck framing has at last been finished - just a couple more bearers to install, but those can wait until the ply deck is glued in so that I can make sure that I have a decent landing for the joint on the quarter.

of course like all boats, glass or not, there is a bit of asymetrically to the hull, nothing extreme, but enough to ensure that you need to measure both sides and not assume what fits one side will automatically do for the other.

The next bit is sanding back all those drips and smears, applying another coat of eposeal, installing the c/plate case top, painting everything that needs painting inside the boat, and then turning everything over so I can get to the underside.
I had intended to do that as the first job, but I thought that the shell was too flimsy to do that and decided to add some stiffness. I got sort of carried away and now have to possibly resort to 'plan B' careening her over far enough to do one side and the bottom and then shifting her the other way to do t'other side. It's no biggie really.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sibrwd - still at it

The 18 project is still puttering gently along since I decided that an all out, one-hit rebuild was'nt on.

the realisation that given that the time available to me was'nt going to be enough to get the job done before the end of the summer, I might as well just take my time, do the job methodically and think things through before applying saw to wood or even glue to hull. as someone said 'measure once, curse twice'.

So from getting the boat undercover last winter, I have spent my time acquiring wood, sawing it, measuring up, buying epoxy and sealer, measuring more wood and ply and just generally feeling my way forward, essential when you have few plans to go by and have to make it up as you go along.

So today was a bit of a milestone, the cockpit floor has gone in, and has been glued and nailed down, edges sealed and sikaflex applied to make it nice and watertight.

The hatches are cut out and when the ordered stuff arrives [3 weeks and waiting]I can bond them in and that part of the build will be done- for now. i am reasonably happy with the outcome; it's not perfect but it's ok, and to the cursory glance you would'nt know that it's ever so slightly twisted.

The next and more difficult secion is about to start - building the decks.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


My new project is running somewhat behind the schedule I had set myself.

After picking up the boat – hereafter renamed ‘Sibrwd’ , which is welsh for ‘Whisper’ and getting it back to Sian’s house in one piece I started on the takedown. The cockpit floors were just so much weetabix and had to be shovelled out. The ply had completely degenerated, ditto the bearers holding it up, the centreboard cheeks, the decks and the carlins. Once all that was removed, it was the turn of the outer and inner gunnels which although not rotten, were suspect enough to warrant replacement. What I had left was essentially a glass fibre shell.

Sibrwd gutted

I decided against leaving Sibrwd at Sian’s some 8 miles away and after we returned from holidays in October, I carted her home where she sat on the trailer for the next couple of months whilst I made abortive attempts to grind away all the loose and suspect glass fibre inside her.

Whilst this was happening I was also vainly looking for a suitable building to use as a workshop, so she could dried out and worked upon in somewhat more comfy surroundings than the parking area opposite the house. After a couple of weeks of looking, I stumbled upon a building barely a mile from where I lived, in a place I had long known about but had completely overlooked.

The garage

There was room aplenty at the new site – an old stable/garage attached to the outbuildings of a large house, now a restaurant. The range was still owned by the original family and although in a state of some disrepair would do nicely. The rent at a mere £10 a week swung it. I spent Christmas clearing the ivy off the roof and trying to push some of the looser slates back into place. Then I lined the interior with the tarp that was covering the boat; tacking it to the principal rafters with battens. This would ensure that any rain getting in would run down the tarp and then the stone walls, not that much would. Once summer is here I can do a better job of it. The place was a bit damp, a brick floor ensured that, but I can warm it up courtesy of a gas fire donated by my sister. Once I’ve salvaged the decent workbench which I found in the ruins next door, I’ll be ready to go.

The boat was duly installed, sliding of the trailer and onto wooden bearers without much bother. Now I could start work in earnest; grinding back the nasties being the first job, followed by prepping the floors and cockpit sole, turning the boat over using the already installed Large Piece of Timber up above to attach my block and tackle to. I fired up the generator and prepared to do battle, only for it to die some minutes later. The engine was running lovely like, it just wasn’t pumping out any juice. So it will be off to the repairers and I guess I’ll be hiring one in for the w/end.

Sibrwd ensconsed, ready to go

I’ve been quietly amassing the timber needed for the rebuild and seem to have most of what I require for the first part. Now I have to go and be nice to an old guy who has a nearby timberyard and sawmill.

The rebuild brief is simple: put in a new cockpit sole on new floors, seal the edges to make a watertight compartment so that in the event of a capsize the boat won’t sink – easier said than done I suspect given the ease by which water can get into things – especially boat shaped things. For years I was pumping out rainwater from the Soling, and wondering where it all got in. I eventually traced it to a tiny screw hole in the deck that had’nt been sealed properly.

Once the sole is down and the gunnels, inside and out are renewed I can start on re-building the deck: again this is reasonably straightforward on paper, or would be if I had plans. No, I’ll be doing it ‘by eye’ where things will sort of *hang* where I want them to be, whilst I make up bearers and wedges and whatnot to make them permanent.

Then, once all that is completed and the bright work done and everything painted and varnished, and all the hardware installed, I can start thinking about building two masts, various spars and then acquiring sails…

But that’s a way off yet so I’ll just have to entertain you with all the trials and tribulations I meet along the way.

Monday, March 02, 2009


Ok maybe a little OTT but this rant is aimed at the tv orientated, big money and egos end of the the scale band I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of this.

So, the recent news that the recession and semi-demise of some of our major financial players has resulted in the cutting back and even the curtailment of sponsorship deals is music to my ears.

Sure I love rugby and will watch most televised matches, but the sports I want to do involve a more non-competitive slant even to the extent that I abhor surf contests – believing that getting money for how well you can zip up and down a wave goes against the whole ethos of the sport/ pastime/ experience or whatever you wish to call it.

The usual organised sports, by and large pass me by; either I’m not interested in them or if I am they are things that cannot really be televised in the normal way. For example I enjoyed a series of programmes on the Iditarod dog sled race which transcends the usual idea of a race – in that it takes around 10 days over several hundreds of miles in extremely inhospitable conditions – ‘match of the day’ it surely aint, but it's an event that cannot be televised in a way a football match can be, and does require a level of interest that transcends the usual 90 minutes of either running around kicking something or sitting on your bum eating sweets.

Maybe that’s what it is – I don’t like the way things are neatly packaged up to conform to tv schedules and the attention spans of the more ‘slow’ in society – believe it or not there was a serious move to try and split international rugby matches into 4 quarters not so long ago, in order to appease the advertisers. They were rightly told to go take a run.

So what if the lack of advertisers sponsors etc mean that some sporting events are downscaled or even become extinct.

I’ve always thought football is alive and well and taking place on myriad muddy fields every Saturday and Sunday followed by a pint and a pie for all the players.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Get a Grip!

as a trained environmental scientist I was aware that there was something seriously amiss with both the way we as a species 'conduct our business' and the long term impications of this: overuse of resources; an exploding population; pollution; imbalances in wealth; and underlying all this - those impossible to measure things which only become apparent when the whole process is in train and getting harder and harder to sort out - the whole climate change/global warming is a case in point.

I'm afraid I'm a cynic when it comes to mankind's actual ability to do something about the man made elements of this process - not the practicalities - stop driving cars, use less co2 producing energy.

No, the difficulties lie in the business-as-usual mindset of most governments, be they western capitalist economies, centrally organised dictaorships or emerging third world powerhouses.

The rows between those who believe that climate change aka global warming is a done deal and those who deny it's existence or think we might as well carry on as we are because it's a natural event we can do nothing about are unhelpful in the scheme of things and just give ammo to the real blowhards like Jeremy 'big car' Clarkson; who are making a great living from rubbishing the environmental community as yougurt eating beardies... a stance made easier by some of the deep green crusties out there who see the environmental field as a lifestyle choice rather than a field where hard science, together with it's proofs must reign supreme if we are to move along with the major problem we have ahead [a similar argument is occuring within the homeopathic/alleopathic medicinal field]

So it was with some surprise and relief that i was sent this little nugget which emenates from the UK Met office which [BBC weather forecasts aside!] are not noted for their sensationalising of facts.

Go take a read and then take a deep breath stahnd back and look at the situation rationally and then take appropiate action.

Friday, January 30, 2009

RIP John Martyn

One of my favourite singers/guitarists died on Thursday; it's a sad day, even though all his fans knew he was on borrowed time and had been for a while.

John Martyn was a gentleman, a pain in the arse,a brilliant and sensitive songwriter, a man of principle, a pisshead, and someone who could reduce 3000 people in a concerthall to tears with an extraordinary rendition of somewhere over the rainbow, and the next minute have everyone stand openmouthed as he fought with his band over something the bass player said.

Some gigs were superb, some rather less, all were memorable.

If you have never heard John Martyn then I urge you to pick up the double album 'Sweet little Mysteries- An Island anthology' which will turn you on to this hidden gem.

Carry on raging against the night John


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

acronym challenged?

Are you one of those who does't know their LOL from their ROTFL?

don't know the meaning of YMMV?

or are you always getting the correct wording of NASA and OPEC wrong?

Then go take a look at the latest of my weird sites on the interweb thingy:


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

another weird and wonderful place

number 233535 in an occasional series

go take a look.. most interesting [well it is to me anyway :) ]