jimstimes

Sailing my Paradox and country living


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A May trip. some west country rivers.

There was to be a Dinghy Cruising Association gathering at a pub in Bow Creek, which is on the River Dart I’m a member of the DCA but not very active. I’d like  to get to more of their rallies but never seem to be in the right place at the right time.

I’m fond of the Dart – so beautiful and  miles of sailing in sheltered water to be had there and as I managed to get a 10day pass out from my usual duties, I thought that a visit to there and some other west country rivers would be nice.

So I trailed the boat to Dartside Quay at Galmpton Creek for launching and arrived mid afternoon.. The tides  were for HW in the morning and evening, so had to launch onto the dry slipway and wait for the rising tide to float me off. That worked out well – I had to get to Dartside quay during office hours , because the security there won’t allow access after the staff have gone home, which is fine by me,  as I value the assurance that my car and trailer will still be there when I return days later. After launching there was plenty of time for me to park the car and trailer in their secure compound and make some coffee back on the boat.  I was afloat by 6 pm and soon sculled out to spend the night at anchor in the river.

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On the slipway at Dartside Quay, waiting to float off. The yellow vessel in the background is a wartime Air sea Rescue Launch

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Not really sponsored by Amazon. For this trip I experimented with cardboard fixed over the skylight to see if the shading would help keep the interior cooler during hot sunny weather. It worked well so I’ve now made a canvass shade which is held on by Velcro.

The following day was the DCA meeting in Bow Creek, followed by a meal in the pub there.

These photos of our gathering were sent to me by John Perry and not taken by me. I hope it’s OK to use them here

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I’m on the left with silver hair and sunglasses. Alastair Law in the foreground with his arms folded.

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Here I’m in the rear just before arriving. Alastair’s boat, Little Jim is the green one.

Next morning I set off for the Plymouth area.where I arrived a couple of days later. Always one of my favourite places – so much to see and so many rivers to explore. You can go miles and miles up the Tamar or the Lyner and I spent some days there.

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This glorious old gaffer was anchored in the Tamar just north of the bridges.

But it’s possible to get it wrong  even when mooching around rivers. I anchored one day in a little creek just off the Tamar not far from Saltash and neglected to sound the muddy bottom first to ensure that it was level.  This is what happened.

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When the tide came back I soon moved to somewhere more level where I’d be more comfortable.

One day, while still in the Tamar an big thunder storm came.

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Taken in daytime but the sky so dark that the automatic flash came on. The Tamar bridges in the background.. Saltash in the other picture

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Another nice spot to while away time at anchor. Entrance to Tamerton Lake, the Tavy in the background.

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Entrance to Tamerton Lake with tide out..

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The anchor well set in the soft mud at Tamerton Lake.

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This not quite so elegant yacht is a resident on the moorings off Saltash

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Tamerton Lake evening

Then as time was running out, had to make a move to go towards home. Stopped at the Salcombe estuary  on the way back from Plymouth. I hid down one of the minor creeks for a day and watched the world go by until the creek dried out.

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Making silage Salcombe. Fascinating to watch the lads with the trailers doing their stuff  Beautifully choreographed

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Another curious passer-by at Salcombe .Some are a bit shy, others just stare openly.

Another day and time to move on again. Now around Start Point and eventually the Dart again.

I always find tidal eddies near the Start which kill my speed and make it a battle to get round, even when the main tide in the Channel is favourable. I think that no matter at what stage of the tide that you go there, the current is going to be adverse at some stage unless you go well offshore.

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Seen near the Start

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Start Point Lighthouse

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Following the coast around towards Dartmouth.  The beach near Slapton Sands . The scene of a  disaster during WW2 when American troops who were rehearsing for the D day landings were caught out by German E boats. Many died. There’d been very little wind all day  and I’d anchored once just off Slapton to wait for wind and take in the atmosphere

When I arrived at the entrance to the Dart there was a sail training ship anchored there.

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Due to the light wind I had little speed and the tide was setting me towards her and I became worried at one stage in case we were impaled on her bowsprite. But we passed OK.

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Saw this one while approaching Dartmouth too.

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This Paddle steamer is another resident of Dartmouth. There’s also a steam train that runs between Paignton and Kingswear so steam fans are well looked after.

That’s about it for this little 10 day trip. Not many miles covered – much time spent skulking at anchor drinking in the views.

Had another day or so on the Dart and then back to Dartside Quay to meet up with my old car and trailer

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These two picture were taken on the final day of the trip by Jeff of the Yacht Forum.

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little modifications

After nearly loosing the filler cap for my Honda outboard I made it captive. The yellow in the picture is   aluminium  filched from a redundant ‘join here’ AA sign I had lying about. Waste not want not is my motto. I can only wonder why the manufacturer didn’t make it captive at the design stage.

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An issue that I discovered when first sailing my boat was that the mainsheet was determined to get tangled in the engine when tacking or gybing.

To help overcome this shortcoming, I altered the position of the twist grip throttle  so that it’s less likely to get caught up in the mainsheet  and made a copper tube cage to deflect the mainsheet..

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The Honda. A little rant.

The little air cooled Honda 2.3 engine is astonishingly  miserly with fuel . The one litre tank will last for 3+ hours at a low speed, say, 3 knots. But it’s noisy and heavy compared to a water cooled 2 stroke motor of the same power. The carburettor is made so that the slow running jet is nearly impossible to clean out .The mixture control needle can’t be removed without destroying it and there are too many little parts swaged instead of screwed together. The float bowl is made from ordinary mild steel.  All contrived to make it service impossible, so that when some corrosion or muck causes a blockage you’re forced into buying an entire new carb. at 160 quid.

The rocker cover is a mild steel pressing too. Mine hasn’t rusted through yet, but it’s a known weakness and there are loads of rusting automotive bolts holding it all together, most with those very exasperating shallow heads which when corroded slightly are so difficult to grip. It couldn’t cost much more to fit stainless bolts in the factory , and use a non rusting material for the rocker cover and to make the little carburettor fully serviceable..

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I altered the run of the mainsheet where it enters the boat.  It goes in through the deck now instead of through the transom.  I’ve found that the further  the mainsheet is from the engine, the less likely it’s going to get caught up.A short piece of 1/2 inch copper pipe was epoxied into the deck for the sheet to pass through.The other end of the sheet is tied to an eyebolt fitted through the deck on the opposite side of the boat.

With the ends of the copper pipe belled over there is very little  friction . The rope is a snug fit in the copper tube so no water gets in there. There’s a block fitted under the aft deck to help the rope render through

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Another thing is that I cut a piece of sheet rubber from a truck inner tube to block off most of the aft ‘vent hole’ – where the tiller goes through the transom. I fixed it with Velcro ‘temporally’  so that I could easily remove it  but it’s been so successful for improving my comfort and keeping splashes out that I shall now fix it with some stainless strip and screws.

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If I want some extra ventilation I can easily undo the round plastic port in the transom to get more airflow..

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June trip. part 2

After  leaving Worbarrow Bay early the next morning after my exciting stay,  I went to Christchurch for the next night , ( very placid and ideal for a welcome long sleep) and then later on to Ashlett Creek where I stayed alongside a pontoon in ‘civilised comfort” for another day and a  bit… You loose the feeling of privacy when alongside a pontoon, sharing with lots of other boats and I prefer to be anchored out away from it all, but it gives me  a chance to use the showers, go for a meal ashore which someone  else has cooked. get rid of the rubbish, top up the water containers and get any food shopping that is needed. So I have to bite the bullet and use these facilities sometimes.

I left the drying pontoon at Ashlett Creek at 3.00 in the morning because that was when the tide was right.  The pontoon itself was well lit so no problem to get going . I used the yuloh to silently glide away  so  that I wouldn’t wake up the sleepers on the other boats there. It was very dark in the little channel which links the Creek to Southampton Water and the buoys are unlit there, but with a rising tide and my 9 inch draught,  I  avoided running  aground  and soon got into main channel near the Esso oil terminal where it’s lit up very brightly. There wasn’t much marine traffic in Southampton Water and by the time that I’d crossed over to the other side it was getting light.

The light NE wind  took me past Hillhead harbour and the Hovercraft museum at a steady rate for the tide was with me by now.. Soon I was crossing the Portsmouth entrance channel – much more traffic here – and then a stiff beat to get through the gap in the submarine barrier. There was enough N in the wind for me to make the Chichester pole beacon with only 1 extra tack and after rounding the beacon had a hard beat, mainly on the other tack to get into Chichester Harbour. I continued tacking hard on the wind up to the top of the Emsworth Channel where I dropped anchor at the side of Sweare Deep ready to cook an early dinner and to get some sleep.

Had a lazy morning next day and waited until nearly midday to get my anchor before sailing back down the Emsworth Channel and then beat up the shallower Thorney Channel for a look… I really wanted to see the many old wooden boats which were previously there – I do like to see traditional old wooden boats very much,  but disappointingly,  found very few there now. I learned later that the old boatyard at the top end of the channel – Paynes – had  recently changed hands and the new owners had a clearout. I don’t know what happened to the oldies previously there. They must have gone somewhere.. resized_june trip 2014 001 (7) resized_june trip 2014 001 (8) resized_june trip 2014 001 (9)

Only found these 3 oldies  in the Thorney Channel this year. There used to be many more

I went part way up the next channel – the Bosham – and picked up an empty mooring for the night as there was little room to anchor there without risking the anchor being caught up in mooring chains.. It’s remarkable how many empty moorings that there are  now that we’ve into hard times. The etiquette in the UK is that it’s OK to use an empty mooring, but one has to be ready to move immediately if the owner needs it . In the morning I sculled up to the top of the channel with the flood tide to use another empty mooring for a while and took these photographs

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Next  was to move up beyond Dell Quay for while, where I noticed a huge number of jellyfish. I tried to take some pictures of them but they’re a difficult subject, being transparent and ghostly .

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A general view of Dell Quay

The wind picked up markedly that evening (NE4-5) and I anchored in the lee of Cobnor Point for the night. I set off for Bembridge IoW next morning with a fair wind and sufficient of it. Passing this plastic gaffer near East Head on my way out of the harbour.   resized_june trip 2014 001 (20) resized_june trip 2014 001 (21)   The wind stayed with me throughout the trip and I arrived at Bembridge entrance a bit too early, before there was sufficient depth to get me into the harbour, but I slowly bumped over the gravel shoals with the rising tide to  get inside. The bottom of the Paradox is 3/4 inch plywood with several layers of glass and epoxy over that, so pretty tough . I’ve been  cruelly bumping it over stones and lumps for 6 years now and only the paint has been scratched a little. resized_june trip 2014 001 (24) resized_june trip 2014 001 (25)

General views of Bembridge harbour with the tide level low.

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Held by the stern at a borrowed mooring in Bembridge. Lots of weed.

There’s a famous one design class of racing boat in Bembridge  and have been there for donkey’s years. The boats are very old, made before WW2 and so are 80 odd years old, although they look so immaculate you would think that they’re brand new.  The maintenance must take serious effort and money resized_june trip 2014 001 (41) resized_june trip 2014 001 (42) resized_june trip 2014 001 (44)

The beautifully kept Bembridge one design racers set off for the open sea .

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You don’t see many like this either.

I spent a most uncomfortable night in Bembridge. I dried out on the beach, but not where the slope is the least.  I accidentally picked a spot where the slope was too steep. I reasoned that I’d be able to cope by sleeping the other way round to normal with my head at the forward end instead of aft. But that scheme didn’t work very well as my head had to stick out into the forward compartment where it was too cramped for comfort. I slept so badly that I was pleased when daylight came and  was able to escape to outside the harbour once afloat again.

Next stop was to anchor in Osborne Bay, to catch up with my broken sleep and wait for the  fair tide to take me onwards to the west.It was the week-end of the Round the Island Race  So lots of boats had anchored there to see the racers go by. The wind had been very light so the race this year was slower than is usual and most of the competitors had had a slow drift behind the Isle of Wight. The wind that they got while in the East Solent was the best that they’d had all day, so I’m sure that they were glad to get going at last. Sadly they all had to scatter because a big car transporter ship appeared at exactly the wrong moment to demand right-of-way

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The car transporter ship scatters the racing fleet. It’s an ugly thing and difficult to distinguish the front from the back.

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Another plastic gaffer I like . This one anchored in Osborne Bay near me,  to see the race go by.

I resisted the temptation to join in with the race as it went past. It wouldn’t have been fair on them to have a little Paradox overtake them all and show them up like that….

So, eventually onwards to the Newtown Estuary for the night .

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I saw a huge flock of ducks while anchored there in Clamerkin Lake. They  swam  in line astern, to fro, for my entertainment. There were so many that I couldn’t get them all in the picture at once. The length of their line was astonishing and there must have been hundreds of them. There’s no oven in my little boat, BTW.

The next day I set off for Poole. I was becalmed in the Needles Channel for while in company with Edward Hooper, the JRA Hon Secretary  in Amiina, his junk rigged Splinter. The two boats were only a hundred yards apart, both dead in the water, waiting for wind. I sculled over in his direction so we could have a chat while waiting. Then we both got sucked by the tide over the shoal where there was some broken water but came to no harm. When the wind returned Amiina showed me a clean pair of heels and must be a whole knot faster than my Paradox. By the time I reached the Poole  Bar Buoy she was out of sight,  and through the harbour entrance. And that was pretty well that for this trip. I’d had 14 nights on board this time and some interesting places seen. The last night was spent as usual, in the River Piddle so that I’d be near to the boat yard where my car and trailer had been waiting to take me home.

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My old friend, waiting for me  in the River Piddle       .


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The last few days

I noted that the ash trees are shedding their leaves.

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Interesting that this happens much later than the oaks lose theirs

You can see how the fallen ash leaves are fresh looking compared to the oak ones which look brown  and shrivelled which are lying under them

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It’s peak season for fungi now..These ones look a bit frayed as if some thing’s been eating them

When it rains hard  outside it’s only rains slightly inside

My little green Citroen had a new  acrylic canvass roof. about 10 years ago which keeps the rain  out pretty well. Much better than the original one which leaked a lot . I’m pleased with how well its lasting too as 10 years isn’t bad for a canvass top. I treat it with some silicon spray stuff now and again but haven’t done this for a year or so. Took these photos of it when I was caught in a shower a couple of days ago. Impressive how the rain drops bead up on the surface instead of soaking in to the fabric.

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The individual beads.

Today I spent a little time cutting up some firewood for our house.

I made a special bench 20 years ago for cutting with a chainsaw which makes the job go quicker and easier. The bench used  to look decent and and was once even painted, but it’s seen a lot of service, been left outside  since and got bent when a neighbour’s teenage son ran it over with a tractor so not looking so elegant now.

The saw’s a bit tired looking too . The safety chain brake is completely missing , as you can see and I file down each of the rakers to about 50thou so it really zips through the wood. The health and safety police would have a fit if they knew, but it really is a little goer.

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Winter wheat

This field is part of the farm very near to where I live and where I go most days for a walk. I took these two pictures of the same field only three weeks apart. The first one shows the field just after it was ploughed, before the  earth had been worked down to a fine tilth ready for planting.  The second shows the situation 3 weeks later. It’s been sown with winter wheat which has not only germinated but has grown impressively in the short time. We’ve had an exceptionally warm period lately which has helped the wheat get ahead nicely.

In the second picture you can see where the tractor driver made a cock-up. The bare patch in the foreground is where he failed to start the seeds going from the drill soon enough after starting that row. It’s a hazard of  sowing cereals that if you make a mistake  the evidence lasts  so your mates can laugh at you in the pub for a whole year.

I don’t know what they’re going to use the wheat for though. It’s grown as feed for cattle and with the milk price being so poor and the beef trade struggling too, I fear that they’ll never recover their costs.resized_ october 2014 001 (39)

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Maggie’s old car has an airing.

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We bought this little Peugeot 205 diesel brand new in 1990 and we’ve had it ever since. For the last 2 or 3 years it’s not been used on the road as Maggie now finds it very difficult  to operate the clutch so has recently bought a small automatic car for herself.

But since we’ve had this one for 24 years it’s become an old friend and we treasure it, keeping it well serviced and in full working order as a spare car,  available for use should the need arise.  Every few weeks I disconnect the battery conditioner and drive it up and down the forecourt to warm up the engine and generally get its molecules moving.


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June trip. A wild night in Worbarrow Bay

I thought that I’d visit this bay before moving on to the Solent. It’s an exposed anchorage for an overnight stay and only viable when the weather is calm, but the forecast for Friday the 13th was for light NW winds so the bay would be sheltered and I thought it worth a try.

The bay is within the Lulworth gunnery range and one can only use the anchorage while the Army aren’t practising their shooting, which is generally  during holiday times and at week-ends only. This Friday night would be clear of shooting.

I’d spent the Thursday night anchored in Poole Harbour and when I left the harbour entrance under the power of the little Honda outboard on Friday morning,  there was very little wind . The wind remained almost non existent and I was under outboard power for most of the trip. I rounded  St Alban’s head  with the tide, very close inshore – almost within a stone’s throw of the land  – to avoid the worst of the tidal race there, but still had a some little overfalls to get through.

As I got closer to Worbarrow Bay I cut the engine, being tired of the noise and allowed the tide to drift me towards the bay.

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Approaching the bay

As I entered the bay there was enough NW wind to give me steerage way. So decided that the western end, Mupe Bay,  inshore of the Mupe rocks, would give me plenty of shelter. So in the early afternoon I anchored, choosing the best spot,  in 15ft of water not far from the stony beach. Mine was the only boat there at first but a couple of hours later this one arrived and dropped anchor a hundred feet nearer to the Rupe Rocks.

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My new neighbour in Rupe Bay. The Rupe rocks to seaward of us, stick up like fangs and as the tide lowers, more of the reef that they stand on is exposed. The water is placid here as the Rupe Rocks break up the swell which is nearly always present. Even when the tide is in and the rocks are nearly completely covered, they still have a calming effect.

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In the bay. Exposed to the South.

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In Rupe bay. looking towards inshore near the stony beach. The white scar in the cliff shows where a recent rock fall was.

I was surprised to have to share the anchorage as I anticipated having it all to myself. Before dark a couple more boats arrived to anchor nearby. More boats than I expected but not crowded .  I thought we’d all have a quiet night without any drama..

After dark – about 10 ish,  the wind markedly increased. Big violent gusts from the west which had us snubbing to our anchor and the little boat shearing about. After half an hour the gusts were increasing further. We were yawing through 180 degrees with the anchor rode stretching and creaking as it took the strain at the end of each swing. This was really unexpected, the forecast was for light winds and a fine  settled night.

The boat next to us  – the one in the photo with a bicycle on the back – dragged his anchor and was heading towards the east – the other end of Worbarrow Bay at a high rate of knots. I wasn’t sure if the skipper was aware of his situation – I couldn’t see anyone on deck and it would have been useless shouting against the wind. I started to get out my own big heavy storm anchor and assemble it just in case it would be needed.

Eventually the dragging boat skipper woke up – but how anyone could relax below deck in those conditions is a mystery to me – and used his engine to slowly regain his previous position and re-anchor.

After about midnight the wind diminished and calmed down more each minute. I stayed up on full alert until sure that the severe gusts were over before dismantling my big anchor, returning it to its home in the bilge and eventually turning in.

I left the anchorage early in the morning – before 0600 –  for a trip to Christchurch,  the wind being a light westerly again . This time I skirted to the S of the race and had a pleasant enough trip.

To this day I don’t really understand why the wind went so crazy that night for those few hours. Whether there was an un-forecasted thunder storm in the area or if those violent gusts were katabatic, caused by the nearby high cliffs I don’t know. .