Sailing my Paradox and country living

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River Tamar Meandering

Since my visit to Milbrook Creek I’ve been mooching in relaxed way in the River Tamar. I ran into Bill Churchouse at Cargreen and as Bill’s a very sociable fellow didn’t get any further along the river that day


Here ‘s Bill wearing his Jester Challenge hat specially for the photo. Taken while my Paradox was rafted alongside  Bill’s boat at Cargreen. He’s taking a break on a the free mooring until the start of the Challenge  on Sunday.

I went ashore for a stroll around the village later that day, beaching my boat on the gravel causeway on the falling tide.


A  nice little village but few facilities. No shop there and the pub closed down some years ago, although I see there is a new planning application to redevelop the pub site.


This building is in Cargreen. It looks to me as it has ecclesiastical origins.

The old red telephone box has found a new use.




Some quaint cottages.


And an upmarket bee keeper’s house, witha row of beehives overlooking the river


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I eventually got back to my boat just before the tide floated me off and sat on an empt y mooring near to where Bill was moored

In the  evening, Denis Gorman,  another of the Jester Challengers appeared. So more socialising


and Denis tried out my Paradox for size.


So yesterday was mostly spent socialising with very little time for sailing.

Today, I tried to make up for it by using the tide for a trip up river, but only got a couple of miles when another empty mooring was too much temptation for me and I decided to take break for lunch and a short snooze

The tides run very hard in the River Tamar


Look at the speed of the water rushing past that blue pick-up buoy.

That’s it for now. Not much sailing and lots of relaxing and chatting.





Visiting in Milbrook Creek

After my quiet night in the shelter of Jennicliff Bay I set off across the Sound towards Cremyll Narrows and on to Milbrook Creek

The wind was strong once away from the shelter of the high cliffs and I made fast progress until arriving at the Bridge.where the adverse tide almost stopped me..

Slow through the narrows at Cremyll too. Although I had a commanding wind and sailing at top speed, the foul tide rushes through here and at times I was whizzing through the water but  almost stopped alongside the same place.

Eventually crept around the corner into Milbrook Creek, where  the tide runs slower and made good speed until  I ran out of water. I just had to sit for a few hours until the tide returned to this drying creek and I could sail on a little way to my meeting with  Nick Skeats ..

Nick’s boat, Wylo 11


Nick has been in Milbrook Creek, dried out on legs on the beach since returning from the Caribbean in June., engaged in a major refit job. He’s lived aboard since building his steel boat  36 years ago and has been dealing with some major corrosion problems.for the last few months.

Some rusting must be expected after all those years – twice around the world and loads of Atlantic crossings. He’s had to remove all the interior – bit -by- bit, to get to the hull plating for chipping and painting. Had to weld in a few patches where the metal was perforated here and there.  He’s no mains electricity where he is and uses old car batteries in series to provide welding current. Then has to wait for a long time while his solar panels recharge the batteries.. That’s really showing patience and a laid back attitude.

Nick’s an amazing bloke. He even built the the propeller himself from mild steel. as is all the rest of the boat and it’s been OK since.. The engine, –  yes he has one ., was taken from his 1948 Bradford van which he was using while building the boat in New Zealand.

Try telling that to the members of the Scuttlebutt forum. They all reckon that an engine over 10 years old is only good for a mooring weight. He’s found the knack of living well on pennies = something like 3 thousand quid a year is his average..astonishing.


In the cabin of Wylo 11. The aft end is all chaos because that’s where Nick’s working at the moment.





The forward part is work shop. Also has a bigger than usual fore-hatch so that he can get his old motorbike in there too. Which naturally is a 1950’s shaft drive Sunbeam

Nick took me to see a new boat nearby. It’s a replica of the Bounty’s launch. Lug rigged, no engine. even has proper wooden barrels for the water supply

. Really is a lovely thing and must have cost loads to build. Capt Bligh sailed the original after the mutiny.






A deep transom, don’t you think. The box aft is for the shipwright’s tools.

After my visit which Nick, and back aboard my boat, I sculled out into the middle of the creek to anchor again for the night. Very strange weather. It was a cold evening, so I lit the paraffin lamp to give a bit of warmth


Made a sandwich for supper and the butter was still hard to spread.


Yet, during the night it became very hot and humid and I woke up in a hot flush at 1 am and took one layer of bedding off. Still couldn’t get back to sleep and sat up for ages eating nuts and drinking coffee. When I eventually drifted off again I didn’t awake until after eight.

I( made a big cock-up when getting under way again this morning. Somehow, I lost control of the sail while hoisting, so it jammed with the yard the wrong side of the mast half up and half down. There I was careering about with the boat totally out of control in the strongish wind. Not my best ever performance. To add to my embarrassment Nick Skeats was watching and gave a loud cheer after all was under control.

The east wind has become strong now  and after sailing up stream beyond Saltash with too many exciting vicious gusts and struggling  to get through the bridges against the tide I’ve anchored in the shallows North of Saltash to await developments…


May the force be with you

The force for me, means the the tides and the winds. They were  both  consistently  with me today.very nicely for my trip to Plymouth. Caught the middle of the ebb to help me creep out of the River Dart in the light wind. Once out of the river and out in the open sea found a very nice Easterly breeze which sent me across the bay towards Start Point at a good rate. By then the tide had turned to add about 2 knots to my speed and the wind was giving  me a hearty shove from behind.

After I zoomed across Bolt head and into Plymouth Sound. Only at  the last moment did I have to turn to windward to beat into Jenniclife Bay to anchor in 20ft in the shelter of the cliffs.

From the Dart to Plymouth Sound -30 miles – in less than 6 hours  So, must have broken the Paradox speed record for this week.

I have a small niggle / concern with my reefed sail. It wrinkles at the luff, and to a lesser extent, the leach, as it rolls up. No matter how carefully I roll in the reef this always happens and it spoils the shape of the sail for windward sailing. The pictures below show this shortcoming. I s’pose it’s due to the draught sewn into the sail and the sail would have to be cut flatter to avoid this.





A very placid calm night at Jennicliff Bay. Stir fried vegies and sardines for tea.


The crowds in Jennicliff Bay


Pineapple for afters.


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The Dart again

Still a favourite of mine. A lovely river and has a convenient place to launch with a secure place to leave the car and trailer for a couple of weeks..

The slipway is good too with half a mile of mud to launch into…



But the tide retuned soon enough and I was able to move downstream to anchor for the night in the shallows outside Kilngate House

I saw that the old WW2 motor vessel which was moored near t5he slipway is reduced to a few blackened lumps of charcoal . It was a sizeable craft , perhaps 60 ft long, double diagonal built and  had been an Air-Sea rescue launch during its prime. I find it sad when these old relics disappear. Although there is still one of these in service on the Dart being used as tripper boat.

Kilngate House


looking up the river from my anchorage



Although anchored out of the main channel and in water shallow enough to dry out at low tide during the night, I thought it best to put out my paraffin anchor lamp.


You’ll note how my equipment is all modern and up-to-date….

The Paradox is all stocked up, ready for a 2 week jaunt.



All set for a peaceful night and off to Plymouth tomorrow.



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The Maxwells in England

Glen Maxwell was one of the original pioneers of Paradox sailing, who built the third boat of the fleet -the beautiful  Zoe – many years back.and is a very distinguished figure in the Paradox world.

He’s here in England with his wife Nancy to sail his recently bought boat along the South Coast to Plymouth and  eventually.take part in the Jester Azores Challenge.

See :


He hopes to be the first American to participate.

His boat is a junk rigged Kingfisher 26 which he found in Southampton


Glen and Nancy joined me for a social evening along the Dorset coast last night. We had a very nice time in a few pubs , a nice meal and chat.


They like pubs a lot…. Not sure how that is going to work out for sailing the Atlantic though.

Thanks Glen and Nancy. It was lovely to meet you. A brilliant night.




Easter Storm

IMG_0008.JPGI’ve  just returned home after the first little cruise of the year. Didn’t go far, just mooching in Poole Harbour  and spent more time sitting at anchor than sailing.

The big event of this cruise was Storm Katie which came through on the Easter Sunday night/Monday morning. Winds were forecast to reach  force 10 at their worst with a recorded gust of 70 mph elsewhere in the Harbour

I spent the worst part of the storm anchored in the shallows in Newton Bay where there were some little marshy islands to windward of me and I lay in little pool surrounded by mud when the tide was low.

Definitely the strongest winds that I have ever experienced in this little boat Although I was anchored in good shelter, the waves came well over the foredeck and spray over the deckhouse.  I did worry about the anchor rode chafing through where it exits the boat at the bow and stuck my head and torso out through the hatch from time to time to move the anchor rope a little to make sure that a different part was exposed to chafe.

I got cold and wet with the spray while doing this and had to wedge myself inside to avoid being chucked about by the motion. No sleep that night but made up for it later after the weather had calmed down a bit.


I’d hoped to go for a reasonably long trip during the 10 days that I had available but the weather seemed very unsettled for this period so had to be content with staying in sheltered water


Next day the wind was a lot less although too strong for pleasant sailing. This was breakfast and there was nothing wrong with my appetite. I remained at anchor for another day while it was blowing a little too hard for my taste,

IMG_0012.JPG.had this gravel spit just to the north of me. Would have liked very much to have beached the boat there and go for a walk, but thought the surf would be too much  for safe beaching.



Another view of my bolt hole with the tide in and after the weather had improved. The tiny islands were directly to windward of me during the storm and gave valued shelter.



Did get safely ashore for a stroll the next day. This is the Arne peninsular. Very limited walking A few hundred yards of gravel beach then an area too boggy for walking.


Very few boats out sailing this then. Easter was early this year and the other boaters seem to have little appetite for strong winds and cool temperatures.


On one of the better days I had a trip around the northern part of the Harbour. I’m dismayed that very few of the old terraced rows of houses remain now in the Baiter area.



Came across this sad casualty near Lilliput. A victim of the recent storm? It’s resting on the bottom which shows just how shallow a lot of the Harbour is.


Came across this big ketch anchored off Brownsea. Looks to be freshly painted or, possibly a new build. I don’t like the high bulwarks personally


Another nicely painted vessel. Good for moving small vehicles on and off the Island.


A shot of the southern .shore of Brownsea Island taken on one pf the few calm days.


That’s it. Ten days afloat and good sailing weather for three or four of them. Never mind, summer’s coming.



Improving the boat mattress

When I first acquired Faith, my Paradox micro cruiser, I used a Thermarest self inflating camping mattress to sleep on . I added extra padding by having a closed cell foam camping mat under it.  This was fairly tolerable to sleep on though not  super comfortable.  At first, I would roll up the Thermarest and the foam mat during the day-time and stick both items in the forward compartment while sailing. Later I experimented by leaving the closed cell mat in place on the cabin sole during the day.   I found it nicer to kneel on than hard plywood and it served as padding to sit on when sailing closed down. But it eventually became foul and smelly and stained  by spilt food and no amount of scrubbing would make much improvement.

Worse,  the Thermarest let me down…. It developed a slow air leak along the seam where the two layers of plastic are welded together in the factory.  So before morning it lost all its pressure and forced me to get up,  to get the circulation going again and relieve my bruised frame. Having poor sleep is  a quick way of ruining a nice cruise.

I had a few attempts to repair the leaking Thermarest with various sticky  ungruants , but none worked for long and eventually I gave up. I considered buying a new Thermarest but they’re seriously expensive and I had been put off by the  sudden failure.

I thought it best to make a foam rubber mattress myself. Foam won’t get a sudden puncture but will fail gracefully and slowly due to natural degradation and wear – just like me – and  I could make it to exactly fit the space.

I bought  a piece of tough fabric reinforced and waterproof vinyl in a pleasant red brown colour which I hand sewed with my ‘Speedy Stitcher’ into an envelope to hold the new foam. For the innards I glued 2 closed cell foam camping mats together and then added 2 thin layers of ‘memory foam’. So four laminations of different types of foam , the camping mats making a firm base and the 2 layers of memory foam to give a soft top. Total thickness of foam was about 2 and a half inches.

This gave reasonable comfort for the 2014 and 2015 cruising seasons. I generally leave the mattress in position on the cabin sole and just lift it up onto its edge when I want to get access to the underfloor lockers. It’s nice to sit or kneel on and the vinyl surface is very easy to wipe clean of spilt butter or harbour mud.

But us humans are always seeking improvements to our comfort. Old bones and being a side sleeper means I sometimes wake up feeling a little sore where my hip bone and shoulder have felt the firmness  of the fully compressed memory foam.

So decided to add a bit more padding. This time polyurethane mattress foam bought at great expense as the memory foam isn’t as great as it’s cracked up to be, IMHO.

I tried to source some mattress foam free from our local rubbish dump. There was a discarded foam mattress within easy reach on top of the skip when i went there to have a look. But the attendant stopped me from taking it and told me that everything in the landfill skip becomes  council property but sometimes they rescue a few items for selling to the public……..right…..  .miserable sod.    So I offered to buy it, but he wouldn’t sell it to me as it was without a label to say it was the fire resistant stuff and therefore not allowed to sell it………….

So, not to be beaten I bought a cheap single mattress which Lidl had on offer.. I  used a large kitchen knife to cut the new foam to the size to fit in my vinyl cover and started my experiments. with a six inch thick layer, used without the closed cell stuff under.

I can tell you that 6 inches of mattress foam isn’t as comfortable as I thought it would be. Really nice to lie on,  but, if there was any boat motion, I reckon that I’d roll off onto the hard floor at the side.  When sitting or kneeling on it,  I sink in so far that it becomes really hard to slide around and it made me feel like I was on a bouncy trampoline. Not good, as the mattress has to be all purpose.-  sleeping, sitting, kneeling and make a somewhere I can put down a plate of food without it all sliding off, this would be no good.

Next, after more use of the kitchen knife,  I used a piece 3 inches thick polyurethane foam added to the hard closed foam  mats and one thin layer of the memory foam and tried that   Great success. Just the right Goldilocks combination of hard and soft. I’m content now that the sleeping mattress is as comfortable as it can be., I think.

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luxury for me

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The cover pulled back to show all the layers. 2 firm camping mats glued together, then 1 inch of memory foam, then 3 inches of polyurethane  foam.

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The cover back in place ready to lace up