Archive for April, 2015

Sumara gets some TLC

Sunday, April 26th, 2015
Sumara Varnished up to the Rubbing Stake

Sumara Varnished up to the Rubbing Stake

I seem to be more pushed for time than ever, not helped by the fact that we have entered the very hilly Stroud Marathon on 10th May. Nevertheless, Sumara needs looking after and anything to save time is going to be a big help this year. I can actually varnish the hull up to the strake in just two hours. Sanding takes about the same time using a Festool Rotex connected to a Festool extractor. So I can easily get these tasks out of the way before going into work. The thing that takes the time is

where the varnish has failed and that is always on the margin boards and the odd bit on the top of the coach roof. To get a build up on the damaged patches of six coats of Epifanes varnish, waiting a day and sanding between each coat was going to zap up too much time so I have opted for Epifanes Rapidclear which dries fast enough to get two coats on a day and, most usefully, doesn’t need sanding between coats. Now I have achieved the build up I will sand all the upper brightwork and slap on a coat of Epifanes gloss varnish. (Rapidclear is not a full gloss varnish). Ideally I would give it two coats of gloss but that won’t happen so I have promised myself to give the margin board an extra coat one day at anchor – that probably won’t happen either!

While I was working on Sumara yesterday Marcus de Mowbray called through the fence. Marcus is the grandson of Jack Laurent Giles. He came into the yard the take some pictures. On Sunday while I was working in Arthur Beale’s Arthur de Mowbray called in buy some bronze rudder pintles. Arthur is the other grandson of Jack Laurent Giles! Arthur makes amazing dug out boats amongst other creations.

Sailing plans for Sumara this year are very modest. I feel like some very gentle East Coast pottering, catching up with some friends who have boats at Wrabness and Walton on the Naze. Last year we really enjoyed our fleeting visit to Brightlingsea and will be happy enough just mooching around. I am hoping to base Sumara at Woolverston on a swinging mooring so I can make use of those rare weekends. Having Sumara in London right outside the house is handy in some ways but hopeless for weekend sailing as the combination of tides, weather and lock opening restrictions conspire against a simple weekend sail. Hopefully the new location will ensure I get sailing whenever a spare day is available.


Norway will be busy!

Sunday, April 26th, 2015


While I’ll just be pottering in Sumara around the English East Coast, Norway will still be in my thoughts. Charlotte will taking Pouncer overland from Umea in Sweden to Narvik in Norway to commence the big Russian adventure sailing around the North Cape into the White Sea and through the canal to St Petersburg. Definitely more of that trip later! Tim and Alex with Yacht Thembi and John and Selma with Yacht Brimble will not be joining the Russian adventure but have decided to enjoy the Lofoten Islands en route back from Tromso to Britain. Brimble can be followed on They may well bump into Gareth and Frances in Hal who are heading northwards up to Spitsbergen. They can be followed on So I may just be supping a fine pint in the Butt and Oyster but I could well be thinking of all the wonderful times I’ve had sailing in Norway.

Ski Touring in Arctic Sweden

Sunday, April 12th, 2015
Beaver Attack

Beaver Attack

Team Photo at Skaite

Team Photo at Skaite

Team Jump

Team Jump – note the handy vehicle which is a four wheel drive Volkswagen pick up with a cab to take five people, a big flat bed to take a couple of snowmobiles and a tail lift. What more could anyone ever want!

Our Hosts at Skaite

Our Hosts at Skaite

Svarte making flies under Erik's instructions

Svarte making flies under Erik’s instructions

Making Flies

Making Flies

Return from Kabla

Return from Kabla

Fishing Trip

Fishing Trip

29th March until 5th April 2015

Raffi Ki

Raffi Ki

Lunchtime Fire

Lunchtime Fire

Kabla Mountains

Kabla Mountains

Erik in the Hut

Erik in the Hut

Tsielekjokk Hut

Tsielekjokk Hut

Luckily we were invited for another skiing holiday in the Arctic by Charlotte and Svarte, an opportunity which of course we grabbed immediately. We flew to an airport which sounds a bit like a spicy Greek sausage and is just north of Umea. As we landed a little girl shrieked at the top of her voice “Christmas Trees – Hundreds and Hundreds of Christmas Trees!” which made me smile. We hired a car and headed off for a five hour drive northwards through well hundreds and hundreds of Christmas trees. It wasn’t long before I learnt to just use one foot when driving an automatic. We stayed the first night at Njavre and learnt the delight of the new tree bark toilet.  On Monday morning our gang of six drove up to Kvikkjokk to start the mini tour. Jokk means small river in either Swedish or Sami.

I’m not quite sure who it was (actually I do know but that would be churlish) but someone started to apply some sticky wax to their skis and we all followed like lemmings – more of lemmings later. This was a big mistake! The wax was so sticky that the skis constantly balled up and made progress very slow. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.  We tried to get the stuff off but with little success. Perspex compasses make good wax removers. So my Lesson Number One is “Go for a ski first before applying any wax”. Bet I forget that before next year. The days ski was to be all uphill save for a long trek across a lake which I normally find tends to be flat. After about 14 km we arrived at the tiny mountain rescue hut of Tsielekjokk. On the whole route we had only met one other skier who happened to be British and was towing a pulka. He had stayed in the same hut which made us worry that he may have eaten all our food but luckily our food drop remained intact. Charlotte and I took an axe and a bucket to try to get some water from the river. This is potentially a bit dangerous but we succeeded without falling in. The hut was wall to wall bodies as it was very small. Once the fire was lit it was very cosy and we all slept well. I suspect carbon monoxide poisoning may have lent a hand. We had a very lazy and long breakfast before setting off on the short distance to the fabulous farmhouse of Skaite where we were guests of the joint owners of the estate. Apart from a large and very beautiful main house there was also the most fantastic log sauna house next to an iced over river. There was a hole smashed through the ice were you can plunge yourself into icy water after the superheated sauna. Quite an experience! In the evening we had a scrumptious meal with a spectacular dug out cake filled with marzipan and cream. This stay was an unexpected luxury. Skaite can not be reached by road at any time of the year. It is only accessible by snowmobile in the winter or boat and a long walk in the summer, although helicopters are often used. The north of Sweden still has places that are 80 km from the nearest road and I mean any road at all, even a track. It is the biggest wilderness in Europe. On Wednesday after a fine breakfast we set off on the 14 km route down to Oarrenjarke which means squirrel peninsular. Every day that we go out skiing there is the ritual of the lunchtime fire. I love fires! There is quite an art to building a fire on snow but with Svarte’s excellent training I think we have the knack of it now. Our last few days were to be spent on day tours from Njavre. The first day Charlotte, Grit and I went to ski up a distant mountain (OK hill). We were able to pass our fire building badge with honours and we only got lost a couple of times. The second day was to be a mass snowmobile ride into the lovely Kabla mountains where we would all have lunch around a fire (of course) and then some of us would ski the 20 km back to base. The Kabla mountains are gorgeous! We saw a fluffy ball of a lemming frolicking in the snow. I haven’t yet mastered steep downhill skiing with these cross country skis so there were some long traverses and flip turns to lose height. I’d love to grasp the graceful Telemark turns. We only got lost once of the way back but still arrived before dark. The final day was another snowmobile trip to go ice fishing. Erik was the winner of the fishing competition by about ten times but Eric is a real expert – we all spent an hour or so one evening captivated by his fly making skills. There were all sorts of tools and clever tricks to produce what I think was called a Royal Coachman. We skied back down the narrow and sometimes steep tracks for last time. We were joined by Eleanor and the lovely dog Rafi Ki. There is a point when the snowplough just will not slow you down enough so you need to choose whether to let ‘em run at a breakneck speed (breakarm in my case) or to bail out into some deep snow. There must be another way! After a big meal of salmon(s) and cakes we said our goodbye and thankyous to everyone for we needed to head of back to the airport very early in the morning. Ryan air decided to greet us both with a £70.00 fine for not checking in online – at least the coffee on their planes is first class! Another lovely holiday – thank you to everyone who made it happen.

Ski Touring Kit List

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

11th April 2015

Last week we managed to escape to Arctic Sweden for a wonderful week of ski touring. Once I find my camera I will put up some pictures and describe the mini adventure but I thought it would be helpful for me, and who knows maybe someone else, if I list the kit that I took. There were a few things that I would have liked but did not take (DNT) and some things I took but did not use (DNU). That doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be used on a future trip. So here we go:

35-45L Rucksack  Lowe Alpine AirZone Pro 35/45,

8 mm rope (10 m) plus small length of 6 mm rope to tow skis (which have 6 mm holes in the front) DNT

Folding saw. Very useful for fires and lighter than an axe. DNT

Shovel. Definitely essential.

Multitool. Leatherman Skeletool. Used a lot.

Matches Sun glasses DNT

Googles – surprisingly good. I used them a lot because I forgot my sun glasses. They did not mist at all and were comfy and warm.

Thermos with gaffer tape wrapped around. Essential when below 10 degrees to prevent water from freezing. Did not hold enough water for one person for a long day.

Water container. If above 10 degrees a light water container would be useful. I drink more in these cold fairly high environments than normal. Probably 750 ml a day plus coffee  DNT

Compass, essential,

Thumb compass DNT but would have been really good. These are made by Silva. I will buy one immediately!

Asnes NATO combat skis. Performed well but I would love to master fast downhill stretches with them. Telemark skiing seems tricky to me.

Velcro strap for skis,

Poles Pole mirror (not yet invented but very handy to keep track on group),

Skins – NATO Combat skis take short skins directly under the boot.

Ski boots – Alpina

Gaiters DNT but Charlotte used hers a lot. I didn’t get too much snow down my boots but on colder weather they could be good.

Hut shoes (Merrel barefoots). Lightweight shoes that you can drive with serve dual a purpose as driving hire cars in ski boots is tricky.

2x Bridgedale liner socks,

3x Devold thick socks Merino,

Glide wax,

Two types sticky wax,

Cloudburst day sack 15L (if going on short day tours these lightweight sacks are perfect)


Oranges – surprisingly good,

Decent coffee and means of brewing it.

S hook (Long one to fit shovel handle and be used to hold pot over fire),


Devold Expedition merino top,

Devold Expedition merino zipper top,

Merino Long Johns,

Devold underwear,

Pro Gortex brace trousers Artyrex – brilliant piece of clothing but not cheap,

Gortex or Event shell jacket – Montane,

Rab belay jacket Pertex Endurance and Primaloft – crucial!

Rab Waistcoat Pertex Endurance and Primaloft DNU but it wasn’t so cold this year (last year it was minus 26),

Gortex mittens,

Lighter gloves – my hands overheat in conditions 0 to minus 10,

Spare mittens – they can blow away and people forget to bring them.

Merino Beanie,

Lowe Alpine peaked hat with ear flaps,

One wrap, double sided Velcro for general lashing.

Snood – cosy,

Credit card – one never knows,

Health Card,

Sun screen,

3x Compeed blister pack – crucial,

Down sleeping bag – to pack very small,

Blizard pack – for emergencies DNU,

Dyneema sling 2.4 m circumference – not sure why but we used it as a dog lead for Rafiki this year,

Tibloc DNU,

Side swing pulley DNU,

HMS Screwgate Karabiner,

Spirit Karabiner,

Lenser P5 torch – favourite torch,

3x AA Batteries DNU

Petzl TacTikka Headtorch – reliable even below 20 degrees,

6x batteries DNU,


Phone charger,

Camera DMC-FT2,

Spare fully charged camera battery DNU,

Spork titanium DNT,

Plastic mug – bright orange to hang on the back of rucksack to help visibility in bad weather,

Coffee filter mug could be good DNT,

Diary or waterproof notepad plus pen (maybe waterproof) Handy for jotting down emergency phone numbers,

Needle and thread DNT,

Montane technical trousers – didn’t take on tour but great for airport transfers and general use,


Candle – can be used to wax skis if no glide wax is available.

Well I think that is everything but I expect I have missed something!  The other thing to watch out for is that fellow members take adequate gear – especially water.