Monthly Archives: June 2015

Plans for wind vane self-steering

If I’m to solo sail Tammy Norie any great distance I’ll need self-steering gear. I already have an electrical tiller pilot (a Raymarine Autohelm 1000 Micro Tiller) but it uses quite a bit of power and is quite noisy. Also, it’s a good idea to have backup.

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Wind vane self-steering is common on long-distance boats and especially junk rigged boats. It uses the direction of the wind and the forward motion of the boat to steer, keeping you going at a constant angle to the wind.

There aren’t many self-steering systems that will work on a boat as small as Tammy Norie. Roger Taylor uses the Pacific Windpilot Lite and swears by it. That was my plan too until I saw the Hebridean in an article in Practical Boat Owner. It’s a cunningly simple design that I can build myself at a fraction of the cost.

This appeals to me because I’ll learn a great deal by making it, and I’ll be able to maintain it myself. Saving half the cost of the boat is also important!

After quite a long correspondence with John Fleming I ordered a copy of the plans and they arrived today.

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Very exciting!

I’ll be documenting my progress with building and using the wind vane here on the blog.

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Filed under autopilot, Constructing the Hebridean, Equipment, self steering

Boats and Tanks

It’s Tankfest this weekend at the Tank Museum in Bovington, in the very lovely Isle of Purbeck. My brother and kids are likely to be going on Sunday.

I can’t quite sail to Bovington, but I can sail to Wareham nearby. Wareham is upriver from the west end of Poole Harbour, and the journey from the Solent to Poole is well known.

The plan would be to catch the morning ebb tide from Fareham at 06:45, sail through the Solent, across Christchurch Bay, into Poole Harbour, and up to Wareham. There are lots of possible stops and sights along the way — Cowes, Newtown Creek, Yarmouth, Beaulieu, Lymington, Mudeford, Christchurch. If things go really well I might sail further to remarkable Lulworth Cove.

PassageWeather predicts fairly light south and south-easterlies, so it ought to be very pleasant. The prevailing winds are westerly, which would make it an uphill slog. I’ll need to look at the weather systems and make my own prediction too.

But it could be a very nice long weekend trip!

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Summer sailing plans

Tammy Norie’s summer is coming together.

2015-07-04/05 is the Junk Rig Summer Rally at Warsash.  Last year I kicked off my east coast adventures at the East Coast Rally and some Cambridge friends came along for the ride. It’ll be great to meet the south coast folks. Various members of my family including my nephews and niece are coming along too.

2015-07-10/13 I plan to sail Tammy Norie to meet her sister Sinobee, recently bought and being restored by Jake McLewee in Brighton. Jake came along to Tammy’s launch and a day sail and is learning rapidly about Coromandels and junk rigs. That is also the weekend of the Brighton Kite Festival. I’ll have to pack and bring my collection of fighter kites!

2015-07-23/24 is a meeting of the Small Sailboat Club at Ashlett Creek in the Solent. I’m looking forward to meeting James Hall in his Paradox Microcruiser.  The Paradox and Enigma are fascinating designs, and I think they’re just crying out for a junk rig.  James has been thinking along these lines and I’ll be discussing it with him.

2015-08 has no specific dates yet, but CUYC will likely be sailing Puffin to Bruges. I’d like to rendezvous with Puffin, then take Tammy Norie to meet her sister Siskind at Edam and explore the Netherlands. Siskind is being restored by Antoine Maartens who you’ll find commenting quite often on this blog. I think that will be my big trip and main holiday this summer. It’s a chance for some passagemaking and coastal exploration in good company!

As always, let me know if you’d like to meet or join in with any of this!

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The solar panel

I’ve just written a reply to a thread asking about solar panels on the YBW forums, and I thought it’d be worth reproducing here for anyone interested.

I have a Nasa 20W through a CMP12 solar regulator to my Platinum SD685L 75Ah leisure battery, from which the main drain is the tiller pilot. I use the tiller pilot a lot as I’m usually solo, and the panel keeps up with the drain on a sunny day, and generally has no difficulty keeping up with the instruments and lights. My VHF is handheld and charged from the main battery occasionally.

I haven’t hooked up a sensitive ammeter and done the calculations yet. However, I do have one of these volt/ammeters with the ammeter in line with the battery and can highly recommend it. (I know then the solar panel is keeping up because the ammeter reads zero drain.) I filled the back of the meter with silicone electronic potting compound to keep the electronics from getting damp.

The solar panel was held down by duct tape on the aft locker for a lot of last year, but now it’s stuck down with a generous bead of Sikaflex. Nasa recommend this as a method. It suits me as it’s removable and doesn’t involve making holes in the boat, and especially not putting screws in the deck core, which you should never do.

Here’s a picture of the solar panel in its new position.  This spot is almost never in shadow.

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I just have to trim those Sikaflex blobs and clean off the old duct tape glue.

The wiring isn’t final either. I’ve looked at a few deck glands but there’s a fairly large connector on the other end of the wire, and I’d like to avoid cutting it off or making a hole in the boat. The wire actually squeezes nicely down the hinge side of the locker, so I might just fix it down (more Sikaflex) more or less where you see it, reinforce where it might chafe in the hinge, and then use some self-adhesive cable fixings inside to connect it forward.

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Filed under battery, Equipment, Repairs and Modifications

Tammy Norie in Bembridge

My plans for the weekend worked out well. I caught the afternoon tide out of Fareham, down to Portsmouth, then out and across to Bembridge.

It turned out that the Fareham Sailing and Motor Boat Club had an organised meeting and dinner over at Island Harbour Marina on the Medina on the Isle of Wight, but I didn’t find out about it until Saturday lunch-time. I had a go at beating up towards Cowes to meet them in the morning, but it was choppy and would’ve taken many hours. The forecast for Sunday was even stronger westerlies. So I decided to reach over to Bembridge and reach back the next day.

Nothing exciting happened, but then it is the Solent. Here’s a nice picture of Bembridge Harbour.

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I’ve selected a few other nice ones for this album including a picture of Tammy Norie with a spinnaker at her bow.

Engine hours: zero. (OK, I did run the engine for five minutes to stop the fuel gumming up and make sure it worked.) Sailed solo upwind onto the pontoon at mid tide in Bembridge in a very stiff breeze and a tight space.

The two important things for me, this weekend, are (1) that Tammy is at last feeling like she’s back in one piece, with nearly everything in the right place, and ready to go, and (2) I am feeling like I’m back in one piece — able to use my left arm almost all the time without difficulty. I was told it would be one year to recover, but I think I’m 80% of the way there after six months. I think I can confidently plan some more adventurous sailing for the rest of the year.

If I’m to take part in the Jester Azores Challenge in May I’d better get going!

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Presenting the Tied Hybrid system: can it work?

I’ve been pondering new sails for Tammy Norie for some time. My goals are to increase performance in light winds and improve upwind performance while keeping things simple, strong, and maintainable. I believe that I’ll need to increase sail area and add camber to my sails to achieve this. I’ve briefly described various methods in my earlier post New Sails for Tammy Norie . I had more-or-less settled on an HHH system for simplicity and maintainability.

On Friday I was looking at figure 10.2 from Practical Junk Rig showing how to attach the sail to the yard.

Figure 10.2 from Practical Junk Rig

Figure 10.2 from Practical Junk Rig

Then it struck me: why not attach all the panels to the battens with string? One weekend-long brainstorm later, and I present to you the Tied Hybrid system for Junk Rigs.

Tied Hybrid sketch

Tied Hybrid sketch

The idea is simple: cut the main panels flat with reinforced seams with eyelets. Then tie the panels to the battens with loops of cord. By adjusting the lengths of the loops you can adjust the camber of the sail in pretty much any way you like. Sprung cord locks allow you to do this easily, but you can of course use stopper knots. If the battens are smooth stainless steel tubes then the loops will slip round easily when tacking, flipping the sail camber to the other side.

In addition, it’s a simple matter to make split panels and get a split junk rig with jiblets. It wouldn’t even be very hard to carry both split and full-length panels on a voyage for different conditions. Since all the panels are the same you can get a lot of flexibility.

This is so simple that I have trouble believing that it hasn’t been tried and somehow failed. I’ll be interested in feedback from the members of the Junk Rig Association about that. If it hasn’t been done then I’ll definitely be giving it a go. It should be easy and cheap to construct, and allow for a lot of research into sail trim.

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Filed under Plans, Repairs and Modifications, sail

Local exploration plans

This weekend I’m planning some local exploration around Portsmouth. The weather looks warm and clear, with light to moderate westerly winds. High tides are in the afternoons. I’ll ride the ebb tide out of Portsmouth Harbour on Saturday afternoon, sail to wherever seems good with the wind, spend Sunday morning exploring there, then catch the Sunday evening flood back up to Fareham. Although I know the western Solent very well, there are plenty of places around Portsmouth I haven’t seen, such as Chichester, Bembridge, Ventnor. And I’m sure I’ll get some maintenance done too.

Get in touch if you want to join in!

I’m also cooking up some longer term plans for the summer and Autumn. Watch this space!

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Little adventures in Portsmouth Harbour

My sailing has had a very late start this year due to illness and injury, so I was absolutely delighted to finally get out on the water last weekend, and then get involved in a rescue (of sorts) within an hour of casting off!

Friday night was dark and stormy, and I spent a lot of it in the bar at the Fareham Sailing and Motor Boat Club chatting to Bob, whose large centre-cockpit cruiser was on the club pontoon next to Tammy. He mentioned his ideas about circumnavigating Europe, and I told him about the Rhine-Main-Danube canal and my ideas for a trip through the Black Sea. “So I’m not the only one who thinks about these things!” he said.

No indeed. Next summer I hope to be in the Jester Azores Challenge, which means I’ll wind up in the Azores. Rather than heading straight back, perhaps I could sail in to the Med. Even more ambitious, my friend Tan has just taken up a research post at Eilat. Could I sail through the Suez Canal and round to Eilat? And then back via the Bosphorus and Danube, finally popping out at Rotterdam?  Maybe, maybe.

On Saturday morning I waited for my friend Chris to join me on board. I finally rang him at 10:00 and caught him still in bed! It was too late for him to join me before his work, so I set off solo. I made a couple of turns up and down Fareham Creek with Tammy being knocked over by 30kt gusts through the trees and buildings on the bank. It was great to be back on board, great to feel her move, and to be able to deal instantly with the changing wind in a tight space thanks to the ease of handling of the junk rig.

Then I set off downstream into Portsmouth Harbour proper.

Tammy never fails to turn heads, and I greeted people as I passed. One chap seemed particularly interested, standing in the cockpit of his moored cruiser.  Just as I passed he called out “Can I have a lift? I’ve dropped my paddle!”

This confused and intrigued me and I tacked back up towards him. He gestured at the kayak on tied to the yacht’s rail. It wasn’t his yacht at all! He was out in his kayak, had dropped and lost his paddle, and it’d been quickly blown away on the persistent 20kt winds. I invited him aboard and we tethered his kayak to the stern.

His paddle was likely on the mud downwind, but we couldn’t see it.  The falling tide would’ve stranded Tammy for some hours if we went over to look.  “Don’t worry,” he said, “I’ve got another one on my boat. Can you take me there?”

“Of course! I’m only out here mucking about. It’s no problem at all.”

So we beat our way back up against wind and tide towards the Royal Navy Sailing Association pontoons. There he showed me his rather magnificent steel cruiser and made me tea. He’d sailed her back from the Algarve and has been working on her for the past three years. She’s just the kind of boat I was thinking of when I was thinking of a larger boat.

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Satisfied that Dave was no longer in mortal peril I set off back downwind towards Portsmouth and Gosport, borrowed someone else’s buoy within sight of Gunwharf Quay for a rest, and then caught the flood tide back up to Fareham.

What a lovely day!

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Legal threats

This is a little bit off-topic, but the lovely Dylan Winter says he’s recently been compelled to take down a blog post because of a letter from a boat haulage provider, because he blogged about a collision incident. There’s an ongoing discussion in the thread Legal threats from boat transport company against very small blogger over at the YBW forums.

These videos have been linked:


One poster reckons this was the outcome:

Accidents happen, and I’m not going to make any statement about the incident itself. But on the face of it, this looks like legal threats being used to cover up an incident, and that bothers me. This article is my way of reporting on what I think is a matter of public interest.

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Through The Wash: Wells to King’s Lynn

Here’s a video account of last August’s journey from Wells-next-the-Sea to King’s Lynn, on my way into the Great Ouse river and Cambridge.

There’s nothing particularly spectacular to see, but it was a fun journey, especially as I got into the channels close to King’s Lynn at low water.

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2015-06-11 · 10:52