Adventures of a small yacht

Camper Van

Barnard Castle in the Van

18th November 2021 I was up in Oban working on the boat with Tilman – our Parson Russel Terrier – and decided that a 12 hour drive back to London wouldn’t be fair on the dog, or me for that matter. I had managed to break the northbound journey in half by staying with my sailing buddy Ray in Wetherby, so I was looking for a stopover about half way between Oban and London when Barnard Castle sprang to mind. My eyes had been feeling a bit fuzzy and it seemed the ideal place for a little drive to test

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Boat Maintenance

Scoresby Sund Expedition Update

Dunstaffnage 16th November 2021 A little bit of progress has been made but on lots of fronts. I’m currently up in Scotland carrying out a few little jobs on Sumara, most importantly winterising the engine but also a few domestic improvements like installing the diabolically expensive new sink pump. Running Rigging Back in town, I have just finished a set of new halyards in 10 mm Liros Herkules High Tenacity Polyester so they should be bulletproof for the trip (not that we are that rubbish at shooting). There is still some deliberation regarding whether to use  a snap shackle or

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Sailing Races, Regattas and Events

Marlow Half Marathon 2021

This race has become a bit of a ritual for me and only partly due to the fact that my sister lives in Marlow and treats us to a calorie busting and cholesterol loaded lunch after the run – and she looks after the dog! But the race itself is wonderfully organised and takes you through lovely undulating lanes through the local countryside. It is virtually all tarmac roads, so trainers are fine. I was actually reading the race instructions, not the kind of detailed thing I normally do, when I spotted that the time limit to complete the race

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Camper Van

Crowborough in the Van

31st October 2021 We wanted to go for an autumnal long-distance walk but it seemed diabolically difficult to get any Bed and Breakfast accommodation so we decided to just get out of town in the camper van. As we didn’t want to spend our precious little time driving for too long, we decided to book a spot at the Crowborough Camping Site. Strangely, for a weekend with torrential rain forecast, the site was fully booked for the Friday but had a space for the Saturday. We had to book Sunday too as there was a minimum two night policy at

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Boat Maintenance

The Taylors Paraffin Cooker!

The look of dismay on Dom’s face when he saw that Sumara had a Taylors paraffin cooker was rather alarming. I think he might have even exclaimed something unpublishable. Memories flooded back of him attempting to light the very same beast on Will Stirling’s yacht in Greenland. The burners needed to be pre-heated with both absolute precision timing and exact quantities of methylated spirit. If either was wrong the burner would erupt into a massive flare up followed by clouds of black smoke. Then everything had to cool down before a second attempt could be made. By that time, the

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Boat Maintenance

Varnishing – with traditional varnish

The most common comment I receive when people walk past the fully varnished Sumara is: “Looks great but, wow, what a lot of work!” It does indeed involve a fair bit of work to keep a varnished yacht looking nice and shiny but probably not nearly as much as many people imagine. The trick is to keep on top of it and apply a coat or two EVERY year. It takes me a couple of weeks each spring but I rather enjoy it. The text below is based on some notes I wrote for Flints Marine a while back. Maybe

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Boat Maintenance

It’s a total cover up!

Probably the best investment I ever made for Sumara was her heavy canvas cover. It was Coombes Boatyard in Bosham who organised my first one which was basically a rectangle of heavy tarpaulin canvas with eyelets around the edges. It lasted over 20 years. My new one is marginally shaped at the bow but overwise the same thing but this time it is reinforced with extra canvas along the ridge. The ends should always be kept open so a breeze can blow through and ventilate the boat. The good thing about real canvas is that it shrinks slightly when it

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Inner Hebrides

A little sail to the beautiful Isle of Canna

Log 10699 29th August 2021 Dom and I arrived at Dunstaffnage at 19:30 on Sunday evening. Strangely it doesn’t really matter when I leave London or Dunstaffnage I always arrive at the other end at 19:30 which makes life simple. There was just enough time to transfer a couple of trolley loads of gear from the van to the boat and get settled in for a quiet evening. The marina bar called the Wide Mouthed Frog is still closed so there is no entertainment to had within walking distance. We cracked open a bottle or two onboard – that’s beer

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Boatyards

A Road Trip to the River Fal!

Jo, Sim and their daughter Lotte had been living on board their Inchcape Motor Sailer in South Dock Marina, London, for a year or so when they decided it was time for a change. While they were there we became good friends, with Jo and Lotte often helping helping out in Arthur Beale’s chandlery when it was still based in London. After a minor hiccup on their first departure, they eventually got away from South Dock in August 2020 and ended up wintering in the River Fal. They certainly chose a great spot. So we were delighted when we were

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Running, Walking and Training

Open Water Swimming

18th August 2021 My friend Jannicke has become a very keen, and rather skilful, open water swimmer and she foolishly invited me to join her for a swim in the London Docks. Even more foolishly, I accepted. It meant that I had to join various outfits with long acronyms which became rather stressful to organise, so I gave up, but only after forking out some enrolment dosh. The cold winter passed by and Jannicke persuaded me to try again and with her help I ended up with an app on my phone called ACTiO and I think I am a

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