It’s A Plan…

Went down to the boat today. At Teletubbies suggestion we gave the engine a good service, impeller, first and second fuel filters, oil filter, oil change, air filter replaced, fuel tank drained and two gallons of fresh fuel added, anode replaced and the engine run up and tested. The engine started willingly and seems good to go.

The plan is to get her launched this coming week and move her upriver to Bridgemarsh marina (£100 odd per month, a lot less then BYH!). The very helpful chap I spoke to on the telephone said I could pay on a monthly basis. Greenwich Ken (I love the nicknames everyone seems to have at H(B)SC) suggested that keeping her at Bridgemarsh Marina for a week or two would give us a chance to sail her and get used to her ways before the delivery trip. The added bonus is that she will be ready for the off as soon as a weather window appears. Thanks Ken!

So, sails bent, engine serviced and everything in place. Must remember to take a camera to get some piccies for this blog. Text is a bit boring 🙂

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All done!

Well Alex is no longer mine. The new owner paid for her at the weekend. On the bright side the new one (provisionally named Lady Jayne) is now mine. We have made a start prepping her for the sail home.

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The Winds of Change…

So, it seems I am moving into a new phase in my sailing career.  Mixed feelings it has to be said.  I know it is silly and anthropomorphic to get involved emotionally with a lump of plastic but boats are more then objects.  So it is with a heavy heart that I will say farewell to Alexandros.  I have learnt so much aboard her.  She has scared the s**t out of me at times, but has also given me experiences that border on ‘religious’ in their intensity and wonder.  No I mean it.  Stop sniggering at the back there.  Look, I am trying to…

Oh, never mind.

Anyway.  It will not be long now before the new mistress arrives 🙂

She needs a lot of work doing.  The last owner left the foresails hoisted and they have suffered badly from UV.  Both sails are with a sailmaker and I am waiting to hear the worst.  There is an area of rot on the companionway cover and a few suspect areas on deck.  She needs a good stripping back to wood and varnishing to replace the horrible brown paint and all spars need sanding and varnishing too.

The engine is leaking oil and is a bit the worse for wear but nothing an ex agricultural engineer should not be able to cope with, even a visually impaired one.  So, I hear you all asking.  Why change Alex for this?  Well…






…just look at her.  The lines of her hull, the set of her sails, the cut of her jib (always wanted to say that).  She is a beautiful boat.

So, all that now remains is to pay off the bank loan, strip and varnish the bright-work, mast and spars, service/overhaul the engine, decorate and refurbish below decks. Wash and/or replace rigging and fittings.  Drop and check the center-plate.  Oh, and about a thousand other jobs and bingo.  We will be sailing by August 2013.

On that optimistic note I will close this entry.  Farewell Alexandros, Bon Voyage!


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So what is it then?  This love thing, I mean?  Out I go behaving myself to look at a ‘sensible’ motor sailor.  Glance around the brokers yard and BANG, it happens.  There, minding her own business is a tatty, slightly neglected, Crabber 24 Mk1 (yes, the one you can not stand up in).

For the next two hours, middle son and I fondled her, caressed her, tweaked bits and generally indulged in that delusional fantasy that only other smitten owners will understand.

So, I fall in love with a flush decked totally impractical boat.

Missus not happy.

But we only live once don’t we?  Why not be stupid once in a while?

Watch this space, negotiations are ongoing.Not the actual boat, but not THAT different from a Motor Sailor???

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For Sale?

It’s been a long time since the blog was last updated. Like a swan, the has been a lot going on below the surface though.
Number two son, who crews Alex for me, may be moving up north after Christmas, which leaves me relying on me old mum or my sailing averse missus. Not good.

So I got to thinking. How can I continue sailing without James?

Big and stable.
Fit into existing berth.
Room for a couple to spend weekends and maybe longer aboard.
Not reliant on flappy things.
Warm and dry.
Inspires confidence in nervous crew.


Colvic Watson 26′ motor sailor!

So the hunt is on to find a suitable boat and we may have found one that fits the bill. Watch this space.

So Alexandros may be on the market soon. If you fancy a very nice Westerly21 for, say, £5500, drop me a line!

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Pyefleet, anchors and iPhones

Sitting at home feeling tired but happy (sort of) having just returned from an overnight trip to Pyefleet Creek. Pyefleet is a lovely little anchorage that extends behind Mersea Island.

I will stick pics up and a short film very soon but the real reason for this post is that I am trying out an ‘app’ that allegedly allows one to edit blogs etc on yer phone. Cool eh?

Wow! That worked first time!

20120916-212400.jpg. Anyway, back to the post. After a lovely run down the river in a westerly F3, we made our way up through the anchorage and I flaked out 20m of chain and several of rope. The crew took the helm and brought us to a stop at the chosen place and I gently lowered the anchor as we drifted astern. With all the chain out we motored astern and the anchor dug in… except that it hadn’t. We basically spent the night resting on our chain. How do I know this? Well, as we weighed in the morning I pulled up the 20m of chain and lifted the anchor easily, plus the fact that there was NO mud on it at all. It had clearly never set! Lucky it was a quiet night, and there is not much tidal flow in the creek. We learn by our mistakes and we realise now that we should have let out 4 or 5 meters of chain first, motored astern to set the anchor and then let out the required scope to deal with the 4.5m of tide. Putting down all the chain in one go meant that Alex bought up against the drag of the chain on the creek bed and the anchor just sat there! So lesson learned and no harm done!
Second mistake was to drink 4 bottles of bitter and half a bottle of rum (between us) and oversleep, missing the ebb and having to motor as far as Bradwell to make sure we got to our berth in time. Good night though:)


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The Season draws to a Close…

…but not for Alexandros!  I love winter sailing.  Sure, there is nothing like those balmy summer afternoons in shorts and t-shirts, ghosting along to a summer breeze.  But for real tranquility, a winters sail is hard to beat.  Few other sailors about, fewer mobo’s and PWC.  Indeed, more than once we have traveled the length of the Blackwater without seeing another vessel at all, and that’s in the crowded south-east of England.

Most years Alex gets lifted during the winter for  a clean and anti-fouling.  But this year I decided to do it at the very end of August.  When I thought about it I decided it was stupid freezing to death trying to clean and paint the boat in January or February.

Inca reckons the old chap has lost it and run aground again!

One memorable winter my dear old mum was polishing the foredeck when her trousers actually froze to the deck!!!  So, an end of season scrub and brush up was the obvious choice.

Normally upon lift out I find between the keels and the prop are encrusted with barnacles.  I even found some tasty looking mussels last year.  Perhaps a foot of green seaweed around the waterline too.

As followers of this blog will know, Alex was moved to Maldon right at the start of the season.  She lives on a drying pontoon berth and only floats about 11/2 hours either side of HW.

1/2″ of waterline weed and not a Barnie in sight!


I carefully motored her up to the slipway about 1/2 hour after HW and made all fast.  As the tide ebbed and Alex settled I could not wait to see how much marine growth the anti-fouling paint had encouraged.  As I have said elsewhere, the anti-fouling paint I use would be better described as Barnie Food.  Donning my trusty waders, I ventured into the brown water to assess the growth and imagine my surprise when there was not a Barnie, a mussel and hardly any weed to be seen.  The prop looked pretty much as it had done upon launching last winter!

Puzzled I spoke to the yard manager and his ever helpful son and learned that this is normal for the Maldon berths.  They pointed out that there is a high calcium content in the  mud and that a build up of limescale is common but marine growth almost non-existent.   I have an additional theory too.  Up here near the upper reaches of the mighty Blackwater, I wonder if the salinity of the water is reduced by the rivers flow?  Could it be more, sort of brackish rather then salt?  It tastes salty for sure, but maybe the salinity is lower and marine organisms simply do not like it.  Just a thought.  Anyway, a quick pressure wash and we slapped on a fresh coat of anti-foul/Barnie food.  Mrs BS volunteered to nip round the waterline with a 1″ brush, I attacked the hull with a long handled 6″ roller and the aforementioned helpful son of the yard manager dove between the keels with a short handled roller.  I guess it took no more then 3/4 of an hour to do the whole job! a record for us.

Mr and Mrs BS with Inca and Alexandros looking very pleased with themselves.  Alex was moved back into her berth on the following days tide, all ready for her winter adventures on the high seas.

In fact we narrowly missed a weekend cruise to Walton and hope to ‘do’ Pyefleet Creek this coming weekend, crew, wind and weather permitting.


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…on our trip to the Medway Alexandros performed flawlessly.  Not once did we feel that she could not cope, the engine worked like a Swiss watch, electronics likewise.  The heads did not explode (it has done that once before), and despite appalling weather on the return trip, the bilges are as dry as…, well, as dry as a dry thing.

However, it became clear that our reefing system was rubbish.  To reef the main entailed, lowering the main, tightening the lazyjacks, attaching the reefing cringles to the horns, tying in the leach reefing point, raising the main, loosening the lazyjacks.   All in all, a pain in the backside, especially with restricted vision and rough seas.

So a better system was called for, and this is what I came up with…

The first reef is of the ‘single line’ type.  I had a system like this on my old Wayfarer dinghy and never used it.  However, the idea is that one releases the main halyard, pulls in the reefing line, cleat it and re-tension the main.  Simple.  Having tested it many times whilst moored it seems to work a treat, a good flat reef every time and no climbing on the cabin roof!

The second reef, for simplicities sake is slightly different.  The luff is pulled down by a single line but the leach cringle is still tied in by hand.  I do not tend to go out in conditions where a second reef is needed and although not as slick as the first reef method, a second reef can still be tied in without leaving the cockpit.  (I have not actually fitted this reef yet, but have all the bits ready and am waiting for a suitable day to do the work).  Will update this page with feedback!


The line for the first reefing point passes up the stbd side of the main, through the cringle, down the port side and around the first of the cheek blocks.

After traveling along the boom, the line passes the second cheek block and goes up to the luff cringle, down the other side and down to a turning block

All lines are led aft to the cockpit. The reefing line is secured with a jamming cleat

I have still to test the system ‘in anger’ but will be sure to feed back any problems/improvements.

Stop press.  The reefing system works a treat.  first reef is so easy to tie in I did not think it worked at first.  I have also now fitted and used in anger, the second reef.  This also works a treat!  So, first and second reefs can be put in without leaving the cockpit.  They are just as easy to shake out too, which must be a good thing for efficient sail trim.  Brilliant, shame it took two years to get around to doing it.  

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Westerly Owners Ass Medway Cruise 2012

Well, we did it. Maldon to the Swale, around Sheppey and up the Medway to the Medway Yacht Club, and back to Maldon.
A truly memorable experience. I have long had an ambition to sail across the Thames Estuary. A sort of personal homage to my grandad, who knew those waters well working Thames Barges up and down the Kent and Essex coasts.
The trip exceeded my expectations. I was a bit anxious about meeting ‘real’ sailors from the WOA. Having the oldest, smallest boat on the cruise I felt a bit self conscious and worried about being, in some way, second class. Stupid! The other people on the cruise could not have been nicer or more welcoming.

We motored the whole way to the Swale anchorage simply was no wind, nothing, not a breath!  Mind you, not a bad thing in a way as it gave us plenty of thinking time to cross the path of several large ships.

Saturday, we decided to take the outside route around Sheppey.  Mistake.  The wind died off and yet again we were forced to motor until well up the Medway.  The wind did finally play ball though, and we had a stonking sail for the last couple of miles.  Tack on tack around the meanders, fantastic.

Dinner at the Medway Yacht Club was first class, as was the beer! 

The crew of Alexandros enjoyed themselves very much but paid for it at 06:30 the following morning.  I lost my beloved hat overboard and even managed to sit on my sunglasses.  Hangover, what hangover?  Anyway, the video is now up in the video section if you fancy wasting 20 odd minutes.  Just a big thank you to my crew and middle son, James.  Thanks mate.  (he is the one with hair)


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Playing with the big kids…

…well that is what it feels like.  On the 27th of this month, we are taking part in our very first WOA cruise.  The meeting point is in the Swale, just south of the Isle of Sheppey, in Kent.  Yes, we will be leaving the safety of the R. Blackwater and doing a ‘proper’ passage!  It is roughly 40Nm from our home port to the first night stop.  On Saturday AM we are cruising around Sheppey to enter the R. Medway and on upstream to Upnor and the Medway YC, where we will spend Saturday night.  Sunday 06:00 will see us setting off for home.  With the longest passage yet attempted (15 hours) back to the comfort of the Blackwater.  Depending upon arrival time we may nip into either Brightlingsea or Bradwell for the evening as the tides may not work out.  In this case arrival home will be delayed until Monday morning.

I blew the exorbitant sum of £70 on a couple of Imray charts, a 2012 almanac and a shiny new set of parallel rulers.  Oh and a new eraser too.  This sailing lark does not come cheap.

So, all we need now is reasonable weather and fair winds.  Roll on next Friday!

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