Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The 2016 Season begins

I retrieved Margherita from her winter barn storage at Easter.  I was able to do the odd maintenance task and varnish removable items, but as I have to work on the hull in the open, the varnishing of cabin sides and bulkwarks was frustrated by awfully variable weather during April.  One minute too hot, then too cold; or a day with a 10 minute shower in the middle!  Anyway, it all got done in the end.  The hull white paintwork is still in pretty good nick, as is the cream of the superstructure.  I gave most of it a light T-cut and polish, which livened it up again. There is some fading and dulling of the light cream paint used, most evident when I touch up the odd ding.  It is all Epifanes two pack polyurethane, which is very nice to use. 

One interior addition this year was to make and install a small rack for the tea and coffee making materials.  It was an interesting exercise in spiling to get the components to match the compound curves of the hull. The piece of foam is to stop it all going walk about while being towed to Poole.  Not sure if it will be needed when sailing.

I launched Margherita into Poole Harbour on May 6th, which was warm and sunny.  My first trip out was over the weekend of 13-16 May.  Three cold nights on board, huddled in my sleeping bag with most of my clothes on.  I did get some good sails though, and bedded everything into place ready for the season.  Here are a few pictures taken while moored at Shiptall point in Poole Harbour.

all neat and tidy

sunset over the nature reserve

Looking SW towards Corfe

Sunrise at 04.30


Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Some of my favourite pictures from 2015

Best Pictures of 2015

Here are my favourite pictures of the year.....

Margherita waiting for the tide - off of Furzey Island, Poole Harbour

Sunset in Arne Bay Poole Harbour

Cattle on the foreshore in Newton Bay,, Poole Harbour
Ghosting along near Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour
Sunrise in the upper Wych, Poole Harbour (taken by Tim and Jackie on "Pentire")
Sunset at Shipstall Point, Poole Harbour
Sunset looking west from Cleavel Point, Poole Harbour

Seen in Christchurch Harbour opposite the Christchurch Sailing Club

Margherita's Autumn Eight Day Cruise - Poole to Portsmouth and back

The 2015 boating season produced some strange weather, but overall I had a good one.  I spent 43 nights on board Margherita (185 now since first using her in 2008) and about 36 days sailing.  Most of that disparity came about from being stuck in Yarmouth after YOGAFF (see earlier entry). The last big event of my season was…….

Solent OGA Race and Rally 2015

This was probably my best and longest cruise yet, taking me from Poole to Portsmouth and back over the 8 days and nights I was on-board.  I left Poole on Tues 1st of Sep and made good progress towards Christchurch, on a brisk NW breeze and favourable rising tide. I had lost some of the rising tide waiting to get off my drying mooring so I knew it was going to be tight getting past Hurst Castle before the ebb set in, but I decided to go for it anyway rather than stop at Christchurch….how hard can it be? Well, quite hard actually.  By the time I got to the lighthouse at Hurst the ebb was well under way and I snuck through close to the shore with full sail on a broad reach and the engine flat out, making 0.5 knots over the ground at one point, surrounded by lots of eddies and small standing waves making hissing noises. I was happy to eventually turn the corner to port and get into Keyhaven harbour out of the way.  I picked up a vacant buoy, just astern of the lovely Ed Burnett-designed “Zinnia”.  
Keyhaven - moored aft of Zinnia

On Wed 2nd Sep, I drifted, sailed and motored with the tide along the mainland shore of the Solent, into Southampton water and into Ashlett Creek.  Somewhere I had never been to before.  Tucked in behind a line of oil tankers and between the derelict Fawley Power Station and the refinery, it does not sound idyllic, but it is a lovely little spot, complete with a tide mill.  I moored on the Ashlett Sailing Club pontoon for the night, and was made most welcome.

Ashlett Sailing Club

Tide in at Ashlett Creek

Tide out - bottom Springs

I arrived at the top of the tide, which stood for ages - and then vanished rapidly, leaving a vista of deep, deep, mud.  After a good supper with a friend in the tide Mill, I found that Margherita had settled at a jaunty angle onto the edge of a pre-existing hole in the mud , which made sleeping rather uncomfortable. 
On Thurs 3rd Sep I waited for some water to re-appear (it took ages) and after lunch motored across to Cowes to berth in Cowes Yacht Haven for two nights.  It was cold, grey and windy. Several of the Gaffers fleet had already arrived, including the Secretary, who plied me with gratefully received hot cups of tea.  On Friday 4 Sep, the rest of the gaffers began to arrive and it was nice to see interesting boats and old friends again.  The marina also filled with lots of Fairey Marine powerboats, who were also having a rally on the back of the Cowes-Torquay race that was starting on Sunday.  We all had supper in the Island Sailing Club, and as the sun set, saw the ghostly shape of the Russian three-masted Frigate “Shtandart” waft in to the harbour.

Sat 5 Sep was the Solent Old Gaffers Association (OGA) race day, to Portsmouth.  I do not race as it has never really appealed to me and, from what I have observed, gaffer racing is often afflicted by too much wind, or too little wind, or a foul tide, or buoys in the wrong place - or indeed any combination thereof. While the racers this year struggled with adverse currents and falling wind, I had a perfectly pleasant sail from Cowes to Portsmouth and In company with a few others, I was all settled in Haslar Marina by lunch time on a bright sunny day.  Supper and prize giving at a local restaurant was the usual hilarious and good natured evening.

Haslar Marina Gosport
On Sun 6th Sep the fleet dispersed again.  I spent the morning at the excellent Submarine Museum and departed Haslar after lunch, motoring out of the busy harbour with some trepidation, before hoisting sail and heading for Ryde pier and then to Wootton creek.  It was a slow sail against the wind and across busy shipping traffic, so I motored the last part and moored on the Royal Victoria Yacht Club Pontoon, intending the stay the night.  But it was bouncy and exposed to ferry wash, so I motored to the top of Wootton Creek and, after stopping for a cup of teas with Dave and his wife on Maude (we had been at the same rally) I moored in the shallows and settled down for the night. I was having a bad mud week as I was awoken to find the boat at a strange angle.  When I looked out, all was flat mud, except for the ditch that was under my bilge keel!

Three views of Wootton Creek
Up at 06.30 on Monday and motored out to Wootton fairway buoy where I raised sail in a decent early morning breeze to sail across Osborne bay and back past Cowes. I misjudged the path of a large container ship that came rather too close and produced a tsunami-like wash that I was able to ride by turning into it. 

Too close for comfort...
It was a lovely sunny day and as the sun rose, the wind dropped.  I motored across the busy Cowes fairway and sailed and drifted gently with the tide to the Newtown River, gifting the NT £17 for the use of one of their buoys for the night (it is in a good cause).  A very still, sunny and hot afternoon (32c on the cabin thermometer!) spent reading in swimming trunks…in September.

Newtown River - North or South?
On Tuesday 8 Sep, I was up at 06.30 and under way by 8.15.  A cold sunny morning, with a 12kt easterly breeze - ideal. Hurst Castle by 9.30 and a decent sail to Hengistbury Head before the wind began to die out again.  A frustratingly slow sail to Branksome Chine and then losing the favourable tide made me give up and motor into the harbour before a gentle breeze allowed me to sail into Lovells Lake, where I enjoyed a sunny warm afternoon reading a book.

Up early on 9 Sep to find it grey with an East wind, so back to the boat club where I put Margherita to bed on her mooring. 

A fantastic week’s sailing and lots of good company..........

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Introducing the Florin - Margherita on steroids!

For a while now Phil Swift, who designed the Shilling, and Dick Philips who now builds them, have been discussing a larger version  - now christened the Florin. Part of the rationale was to offer better accommodation for the crew and also enhanced value for money as the labour to build a 21 foot boat is much the same as that for the 17 foot Shilling. I have been fortunate enough to be party to several design meetings and I have to say, Phil is doing a great job and Florin looks as sweet as Shilling does and should sail as well too. Here he is with the model he has made to develop ideas on.

Although only four feet longer, Florin is materially larger than Shilling.  Here is the Florin model along side Phil's original Shilling model.

This was really brought home to me at YOGAFF when I found myself moored alongside the first production Shrimper 21.  It was significantly bigger than Margherita in all respects - and much bigger than a nearby Shrimper 19 too. The cabin interior layout was hugely better than the 19, which I have never rated very highly. Looking at the pair of them, I think that the Shilling is far the prettier boat and I think that Florin will outshine the Shrimper 21 in every way.

Here are a couple more pictures of the Florin model, showing how well Phil has kept the sweet lines of the Shilling

There was a write up about the Florin in the May/June 2015 Issue of Watercraft Magazine. from where these drawings are taken. Meanwhile, detail design continues.

Vital Statistics at the moment are:- 

LOD 21ft (6.4m)
LWL 17ft (5.2m)
Beam 7ft 9in (2.4m)
Draft 18"/42" (0.46/1.07m)
Displacement 2535lb ( 1150kg)
Sail area for yawl 260sq ft ( 24.4sq m)

If you want to know more, contact Dick Philips at Willow Bay Boats, who will happily build you one - at a very keen price for the first customer!

Go on, you know you want one....................

2015 already.....Well, time flys doesn't it?

Sunset in Keyhaven
If you are looking at this Blog to learn more about Shillings, perhaps to buy one or have one made, take a look at the earliest postings where you will find lots of build photos and other details.

I never intended this Blog to be a blow-by-blow account of everything I do with my Willow Bay Shilling "Margherita", but I am a bit ashamed of one post per year!.  

I keep a diary (not really a log) of what I do and, to date I have spent over 150 nights on board since 2008 and a similar number of days sailing.  I have learned to live with and love little Margherita. she does everything well and is much admired.  Any limitations are mainly down to her modest size, but as I mostly sail on my own, she works for me!

In summary, 2014 was a good season for me with several trips to the Solent for Old Gaffer Association events, and lots of local trips too.  2015 has started well with another successful YOGAFF at Yarmouth, although I spent rather longer there than planned due to ferocious Westerly winds.  When I did sail back to Poole it was in the company of several Yarmouth 23s, which quickly fell behind in my wake, and a friend in a lovely Yachting World 5 ton cutter with which I was neck and neck all the way to Poole.  Margherita is fast when you have a decent breeze and calm(ish) seas.

Here are a few pictures from YOGAFF 2015.

Entered in the race this year was the wonderful Mariquita, designed by William Fife the third. She rather dwarfed all of the usual gaffers. There was the usual gaffer competitions as well, with Gaffer's Log yacht racing, broom pole jousting and scratch dinghy sailing. Lots of fun.

Nutmeg - a David Moss Sea Otter 18 Canoe Yawl

And then the wind got up and it rained! - so I stayed put for four more days!

Sailing Home to Poole - taken from the YW 5 Tonner "Joelle"

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Yarmouth IOW and the Old Gaffer's "YOGAFF" Rally

On Wed 28 May, Tom and Catherine Taylor in "Marjory" and myself in "Margherita" left Chichester early in the morning to sail to Cowes.  It was a grey drizzly day with an uncomfortable stiff wind over tide chop and was a hard beat all of the way.  We spent Wednesday evening in Cowes Yacht Haven, drying ourselves out. On Thursday, we had a pleasant broad reach under grey but dry skies to Yarmouth.


Two shillings dressed overall
On arrival, we were efficiently escorted to our pontoon berth amongst a growing fleet of Gaffers all dressed overall.  This was our first YOGAFF and it had attracted over 100 entrants, ranging from the Thames Barge Alice and the Pilot Cutter Jolie Brise.... all the way down to us!  The whole town was alive with people and activity.  Some seemed in keeping with the boats and the sea, and there was some good street music but much was (in my opinion) tending to street market tat.  

In the evening the YOGAFF organisers held a welcoming drinks party on the pontoons and on Friday evening they held an excellent nautical music evening at Yarmouth Sailing Club, recapturing much of the fantastic atmosphere of the OGA 50th Rally the year before at Cowes.

On Saturday morning there was the great YOGAFF race....but very little wind!  the fleet sailed and drifted over a shortened course for an hour or so and there was much confusion.  Tom entered Marjory with a borrowed crew, I did not.  At the evening prize giving in the Royal Solent Yacht Club, it was announced that Tom and Marjory had won their class....and the overall race on handicap - beating three times Fastnet winner Jolie Brise!!! Tom was amazed and delighted.

Marjory second from right

Marjory tucked in to the starboard side of Jolie Brise

On Saturday afternoon the sun came out and there was (scratch built) log yacht racing in the harbour and other races for the kids (of all ages!).  While others just relaxed in their yachts.

The Rally dispersed on Sunday.  Tom and Catherine left early to get the easterly flow of tide to Chichester.  I left at 13.00 to get the flow westwards past Hurst Castle.  Another hard and lumpy beat with wind over tide to Poole, arriving at 7pm, cold and damp.  I moored up in the harbour and fell on a tin of heated up beef stew .....and a whisky.  Back onto my mooring at Sandbanks on Monday June 2nd.   

All in all, a great trip from Chichester and a fantastic time at YOGAFF.  I will do it again.