Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Solar project continued...

So the solar project ended up taking a bit of an unexpected turn here.

Battery powered USB chargerAs you can see, the picture shows my iPhone being charged by a few D size regular batteries, with some electronics in a tupperware box all connected to a USB socket.

To step back a bit, the solar project started with Patch and I unable to charge our various devices while at anchor for a few days earlier in the year.

There were two main issues, firstly no mains power to run the chargers themselves, secondly no battery power to use for charging anything as the batteries were not holding their charge that well anyway.

We have fixed the battery power issue, and have now installed a 12V - USB connector so we can charge gadgets. But the core issue of conserving battery power while at anchor remains, to some extent anyway.

My thinking had been to create a solar panel that was capable of directly charging a device, such as a mobile phone, with no intermediate battery to charge. The solar chargers I've previously tried have been useless.

I've made good progress with the solar powered charger already, as you have seen in a previous post.

Anyway, the core issue at hand in crafting the solar charger had been to create a stable 5V for the USB socket from the solar panels I was making.

My thinking being I could create less than 5V with the necessary amps easily enough in almost all reasonable light/cloud conditions and this could be 'pumped up' to 5V with some electronic wizardry.

With some help from my mate Ian over at embedded adventures, he produced this little beauty which does the job perfectly (I deny any knowledge about carnivorous robots).

I had originally used a handy array of batteries to test Ian's device. This got me to thinking that keeping a few batteries around, and using these in a stand-by gadget charger would work as well as, maybe even better than, the solar plan.

The result, you can see, will probably be more useful than the solar panels I was planning, as D cells are ever present in all kinds of places I may need to charge my iPhone. While travelling for any time with no access to mains power comes to mind as a likely scenario where I could use this charger, especially when flying places.

I still intend to make a solar version, as I have a few of Ian's gadgets left, but I can already see that making it sufficiently robust, yet portable, will be a challenge.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Salon refurbished

Down belowWe are still nestled in the marina at Beaulieu (Bucklers Hard actually), and are really enjoying the change from Southampton.

Although it's not far, and even less as the crow flies, Beaulieu is a world away.

Just before coming round to Beaulieu we had the salon spruced up somewhat, with new curtains and covers done. This was done knowing we were going to be having a series of guests over to visit in the run up to Christmas, so it seemed the perfect time to get it done.

The lights you can see lend a Christmassy feel to down below, this to augment the small flashing santa in the wheelhouse and a modest string of Christmas lights up the mast.

Ours was the only boat in the place lit up with Christmas lights on Saturday night. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not! Nevertheless, Arctic Rose does stand out at night now.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Solar project

The solar project has been rumbling on in the background. Solar powered charger

The main problem is that it's generally dark outside when I have time to work on the project, so that's not helping.

Here is a picture taken during a chance sunny period, showing the cells are more than capable of charging my iPhone directly.

All this is an initial prototype so, of course, looks a little messy. I'm planning a more robust version with wooden backing and properly soldered wiring etc. next.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Patch by the fireWe've moved Arctic Rose round to Beaulieau, the plan being to spend December end early January there.

So far, of all the places we have been, Beaulieau is probably our favourite. I know there is still a world out there to explore, but still, it's hard to stay away from the places we really enjoy.

Here's a picture of Patch making the most of the far too comfortable lounge in the Master Builders Hotel, conveniently close to where Arctic Rose is alongside.

The big fire is so much more appreciated as it's been a bit cold this last weekend.

Friday, December 07, 2012


Misty bouyWe were back in Cowes, IOW, this last weekend.

This time by choice, rather than having been blown in by foul weather yet again.

As usual I was up first thing in the morning, so got to enjoy the surreal foggy scenes around Arctic Rose.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Solar power experiments

Solar cellsSpending a few days at anchor in the summer made me realise I needed some way of charging our gadgets without draining the boat's precious battery power.

The solar panels I've bought before have been useless, so this time, I thought that if I made a panel up for myself, I may actually get what I want.

I expect to leave a solar charger out in the sun and have whatever gadget simply charge up as if it's plugged into the mains or a usb port. This has never been the case with anything I've tried before.

Now I'm working on building a solar panel which should produce at least the equivalent power of a USB socket.

So far, I see I need sunlight or at least bright light to produce the power I need without getting silly about the size of the panel.

The work continues...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Yacht aground

AgroundWe saw this on the way back from Bembridge the other day.

It looks like the green yacht had gone aground, on a falling tide, and the RYA boat had stopped by to assist.

There was not much I could do in Arctic Rose, as I'd not be able to get close enough to be of any help.

From what we could see, the RYA boat pulling on the mast to reduce their draft was not working.

As things were, the tide did not have that much more to go out, and the bottom is not rocky anyway, so the vessel itself seemed to be in no real danger.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Adverse weather has kept us tethered alongside at the marina this weekend. Trying to venture out in force eight or nine winds just does not make any kind of sense at all.

FlotelFortunately, there is plenty for me to post on from recent events.

Here you see a picture of a flotel we encountered while in Bembridge, IOW. I had no idea such accommodation existed before the other weekend.

It's worth looking at their website, as their accommodation looks pretty good. We did not go in, so can't tell you first hand if it's any good or not.

The idea sounds fun though.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Flat calm

Flat calmLast Sunday there was no significant wind about. The picture shows the Solent had just the tiniest dimples in the water, not even any ripples or waves about.

With no wind, of course, we had to motor all the way back from Bembridge.

I know this sailing lark is not for everyone, but I cannot adequately describe that feeling of tranquility that descends on Arctic Rose as soon as the engine is shut off and the wind takes over.

I think it's something to do with harnessing the power of nature, as mankind has done for hundreds of years before, plus the fact that the boat is so much quieter under sail.

Obviously the calm atmosphere is somewhat reduced as the windspeed and waves pick up, but still.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


BembridgeSo we made it to Bembridge on the Saturday.

We had very little wind, and what we had was right behind us, so we ended up motoring all the way round there. Mostly because I wanted to catch the tide just right at the harbour entrance.

I had been a little concerned about the approach, but in the event all was pretty straightforward. Being winter, there was also loads of room for us on the pontoon when we arrived.

As things turned out, we loved the place. Amongst the high points was a fantastic evening meal at the Crab and Lobster. I'd say it's well worth a visit, and the walk, if you love shellfish.

Bembridge is also so incredibly photogenic, with all the houseboats and other interesting harbour stuff going on there.

We will have to go back again sometime soon.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mist and fog

Mist & fogThe grand plan was to go sailing round to Bembridge on the Friday, stay over exploring the area on the Saturday, then sail back on Sunday.

As you can see the poor visibility, with worse forecast later, stopped Friday's plan dead in it's tracks.

Arctic Rose is well enough equipped to deal with poor visibility if we encounter it, with both radar and AIS on board, but I'd rather not set out into such conditions in the first place.

To the right of the picture, you can also see a somewhat tatty looking lifeboat which had appeared on what was Lilagina's mooring.

Friday, November 16, 2012


MedusaIt should be obvious, but it is not always the case, that the great thing about starting to travel more on Arctic Rose is the increased range of interesting things there are to see.

I sometimes wonder if I will ever take this for granted. I hope not.

Anyway, here is Medusa. Seen at Hasler just as she was leaving to cross over to Portsmouth to participate in the rememberence day event held there.

Medusa has obviously had a lot of time and money spent on her. She looks fantastic.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


LightshipWe were round at Portmouth this last weekend, having motored around from Southampton with friends Bill and Jenny for company.

Bill was one of Lady Jane's stalwart supporters, and put in more than his fair share of time afore the mast.

Unfortunately there was just not the wind to hustle Arctic Rose along at any kind of sensible pace, hence the motoring.

It goes without saying that I so much prefer the tranquility of sailing.

On arrival, we had ourselves a few drinks and lunch at the Lightship right there in Hasler marina.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Sunrise over Yarmouth
Work and other commitments has got me out of the habit of updating the ol blog. Not that nothing much has been happening lately or anything...

I've been gently reminded by several people recently that my blog has been abandoned and that maybe it's time to do something about it.

By way of getting started, here's sunrise over Yarmouth, from the deck of Arctic Rose, taken a few weekends ago.

Thursday, August 02, 2012


ItchneorSunset at Itchenor, taken by Mike after a visit to the pub.

Arriving at Itchenor provided us with an opportunity to practice picking up a mooring a few times.

The first mooring I was sure the space we had was going to be a bit tight for us and other vessels, so we moved on.

The second turned out to be a red/orange, residents, mooring, and we were advised it would be best for us to move onto a white, visitor's, mooring as the owner was likely to return.

The third, visitors, mooring was already occupied, but the guys in the harbourmaster's boat assured us that they allowed up to six vessels to raft up on one buoy at a time.

I can't imagine a series of up to six boats rafted up on a row of buoys all swinging on the wind and tide without some kind of mishap.

Two of us on one mooring worked out perfectly fine though.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Heading for Chichester

SailingGlen and Mike came sailing on Arctic Rose again.

Here you see Mike on the helm, with Glen supervising, as we head out of Southampton water relatively early on Saturday morning.

Plenty going on, but not a lot of wind for sailing.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

J-Class Yachts

J-Class YachtWorking our way up Southampton water, these guys passed us going the other way.

The boat does not look that big, until you realise there are about twenty people standing on deck there.

As best as I can tell, it is Velsheda.

Anyway, they will be racing around the Isle of Wight on Saturday, so maybe we will get to see them then. I hope so, as with a full set of sails on, they would look pretty impressive - especially a fleet of them going by.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Olympic torch - pah

What olympic torch?So the day we got to Yarmouth, it turns out the olympic torch was going to arrive on the ferry, make it's way through the town then off elsewhere on the Isle of Wight.

Now it has to be said I was already heartily sick of hearing about this torch long before we got to Yarmouth, but thought 'why not - seeing as we are here'.

The picture you see is the actual ferry the torch supposedly arrived on, and some other boats.

There was a fair crowd, and a band, to welcome the torch onto the island, so Patch and I stood with them, craning for a view ... of a motley collection of support advertising vehicles and lots of police.

Anyway no sign of a torch, or anything on fire at all for that matter. What a farce.

Somewhat later I did see some bloke standing around holding one of the olympic torches, or maybe a copy, but still no sign of any actual flame anywhere.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Yarmouth - at last

YarmouthFinally Patch and I managed to sail Arctic Rose to Yarmouth, on the Isle of Wight, this last weekend.

When I say sail, I actually mean motor, as the wind was from directly in front of us, with big rolling waves coming from the same direction, making doing anything other than travelling directly into the wind and waves distinctly uncomfortable.

Anyway, the destination made up for any discomfort we had in getting there, as Yarmouth is a positively charming town.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Garden benchIt's a garden bench, and nothing to do with the boat, I know.

Actually it is relevant, as I've been looking into what to do about the exterior woodwork on Arctic Rose.

I know from past experience that varnish, done well, looks beautiful. The trouble is that beautiful varnish finish just does not last outside in the weather.

Good looks are important, I know, but I want to sail, not spend endless weekends on my hands and knees doing boat work. I've been there and done that.

Enter the poor, neglected, garden bench.

I'm thinking I treated that bench at the beginning of it's life with plenty of teak oil. Now it's been sat there for more than 10 years, with no care lavished on it at all.

Now, after cleaning a section of the top rail with a scourer and sanding the seat, and with both re-coated with teak oil a few times, the top rail actually looks better to me than the seat.

I do not doubt that the bench has survived so well mainly because of the teak oil treatment it originally received.

I think this bodes well for Arctic Rose's woodwork.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Touch up

Touch upSo the preval was a big success, with the spray job turning out somewhat better than I expected really.

What was not so much of a success was the colour of the touch up paint.

I know the picture does not show it so well, but the colour is definitely a sorry match.

At the time I thought the wrong colour blue would look better than the scuffed sides. Now, having seen it, I'm not so sure.

At the extortionate price I paid for the Awlgrip, the guys who sold me the paint have said they will see about putting it right.

No result yet though.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Touch up spray painting


It occurred to me when asking the guys at about the paint I needed, to ask if they knew of some kind of compressed air arrangement, like the spray paint cans you can buy, which would work with small amounts of their paint.

The guys recommended I looked at Preval sprayers.

As part of the whole storm damage repair job, I thought why not get a few - they are not that expensive and perfect for mixing up small quantities of two part paints.

I must say, although quite small, they are very effective. Making a quality coating that is only possible when spray painting.

Next time I spray with one of the Preval's, I'll also get myself a large syringe, so I can syringe up the paint and fill the glass Preval bottle without any mess whatsoever.

The best thing is that the Preval sprayers are fairly cheap, meaning I can touch up small patches, then throw the whole lot away without having to worry about cleaning up any messy brushes or paint containers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Folly again

Arctic RoseHere is Arctic Rose, back at the Folly again.

Soon they will be thinking I want a permanent berth there.

The original plan was that we would visit Newtown, but the weather had other ideas.

So much so that poor Patch was quite seasick before we were even halfway, so we got blown into Cowes and onwards up to the Folly instead.

Together we had quite a bit lot learning on that trip!

It must be said that we felt quite sorry for the IOW festival goers, as the wind overnight was howling with rain while we were tucked up snug in our bunk.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sailing onto a mooring

SailingProbably the one thing I did worst on on my day skippers course was sailing onto a mooring buoy.

Here you see the results of my first attempt at this in Arctic Rose, that green buoy you can see off my port bow was the objective, and this was as good as it got.

I clearly need to work at this a bit more.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lusty in my way

Sunday's weather was so much better than Saturday's, a bit like chalk and cheese really.


Patch and I took Arctic Rose out for a little practice with setting sails and general manoeuvring, seeing as we could.

Sailing along gawping at the spectacle that was HMS Illustrious towering above us provided somewhat of a distraction for a while.

Glen you will be so jealous, as we pretty much had a beam reach in either direction the length of Southampton water.

It feels like I need plenty of sea room to do anything at the moment, and tacking and/or gybing without a bit of engine assistance is still a bit of a hit and miss affair. More miss than hit at the moment, it must be said.

Pretty much the entire time was spent experimenting with just the main sail then the main and mizzen sails, trying to make sense of what the wind was doing to us with various sail settings and wind angles.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Too windy for me

WindThe wind on both Friday and Saturday this last weekend was unrelenting.

This was me on Saturday, left staring wistfully under the Itchen bridge, while the wind raged on.

With it being far too windy for me to even consider venturing out of the marina, I spent most of Saturday ensconced in the wheelhouse, nice and cozy, reading about sailing instead.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Storm damage

Storm damageThe big storms and winds last week took their toll on a few boats at our marina.

Arctic Rose and the boats on either side of her took some rubbing damage due to the high winds we had. Apparently the wind swept right up the Itchen, and straight at our boats.

You can see the result of a burst fender on Arctic Rose's blue hull. What I've learned from this is to concentrate more fenders at the rounded part of the boat, rather than leaving them evenly spread out, as I did before.

What was interesting was the bow of the boat next to me was chewing up the pontoon directly ahead of it, this as a result of stretching her nylon springs. Springs are the ropes that stop a boat from sliding forwards or backwards when tied up alongside.

I would never have expected those springs to have stretched so far, but obviously they did. Another lesson then, is to ensure nylon springs are snugged up tight before a big wind as they really can streach an amazing amount with a load on them.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sailing with style

Mike & GlenHuge grins from Mike, on the left, and Glen, on the helm, as we cruise down the Medina River, through Cowes on the Isle of Wight, in Arctic Rose.

These are not made up smiles for the camera, but the genuine article as we all really enjoyed what was a challenging sail in capricious winds and a somewhat lumpy Solent on Saturday.

I met Glen and Mike on that day skippers course I did a few weeks ago, and this has been the first opportunity for us to sail together since then.

Both Mike and Glen are regular dingy sailors, so well know 'the ropes', though Arctic Rose, being a ketch, caused some head scratching and we did have to resort to a few engine assisted tacks/jibes early on in the proceedings. All good learning though.

Save for a near collision with some idiots in a yacht, who should have known better, it was a fun day for all of us.

I'm looking forward to what will be somewhat of a class reunion next month, with all five of us from the course out on Arctic Rose for the weekend.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

The man

One person who looms large in this phase of my boating journey is Tom Cunliffe

The TV series, boatyard, he did on other peoples work restoring boats was of great interest to me while I was working on Lady Jane, which is where I first heard of him.

As I briefly mentioned before, I've recently done the RYA Day Skippers course, both the theory and practical, for which I prepared by buying and reading Tom's The Complete Day Skipper.

After the course, it was obvious I had to have a Channel Pilot which, co-incidentally, was written and compiled by Tom. My concerns on arrival in strange ports have been greatly eased by the descriptions he has given of the places I've so far been, and intend to go. It's also why I'm so keen to go to Yarmouth!

As part of my further learning, and yachtmaster ambitions, I also recently bought Tom's Complete Yachtmaster. I really bought this as his Complete Day Skipper was so easy for me to understand.

Anyway, this last weekend I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Tom when when we were at Bucklers Hard. What added to the pleasure was that Tom mentioned he was soon to be sailing a Fisher 37 to Greenland.

That Tom is doing such a journey in a Fisher re-affirms the good choice I made in buying Arctic Rose, capable of real adventures far from my home port in Southampton.

Tom if you read this, I'm the guy you did not shake hands with on the Jubilee weekend, as yours were covered in dirty oil! May the winds always blow over your quarter as you sail!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Out and about

BeaulieuOur destination for the jubilee weekend was originally Yarmouth.

Unfortunately, the combination of wind and choppy waves in the  Solent was making for an uncomfortable passage, so we ducked into Beaulieu for the weekend instead.

The harbourmaster staff there were extremely helpful, and we ended up in an excellent berth alongside at the marina.

I had expected the place would be heaving, what with the Jubilee weekend and all, but in the event the place seemed positively serene the entire long weekend.

Perfect for us.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Sleek boat

On the subject of other boats, here is one that I'm not sure if I like it or not.

It is a lovely sleek shape, built in carbon fibre, and I presume has the engine the hull seems to promise, so would likely fly over the water.

I note that even the points where the lines are attached to the boat are recessed.

From a boat perspective, I'm not that sure about it. For a start it appears passengers don't have that much to hold onto when on deck.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A boat

A boat

We saw this boat at Lymington.

It's not something I'd buy, but then I did buy Lady Jane!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Its a hard life...

SunsetThis millionaires lifestyle is hard, but someone has to do it!

Here Andy, Patch and I watch the sunset over Lymington, while sitting out on Arctic Rose's back deck enjoying the lovely warm weather and a glass or two of bubbly.

We will definitely come back to explore more before too long.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lymington trip

Visiting LymingtonHere you see Arctic Rose nestled in at one of the big marinas in Lymington.

After an initial, somewhat undignified, attempt with the sails in Southampton water, we sailed down the western Solent in a good strong breeze, with the main, headsail and mizzen up.

The wind was getting progressively stronger until I got to the stage where I could not steer Arctic Rose that well, so we dropped the main and carried on sailing pretty much all the way to Lymington.

I've learned that I need to get somewhat more proficient with the sails before attempting to tack Arctic Rose down Southampton water.

I now understand so much better why I've always seen so many sail boats motoring about the place, instead of sailing everywhere.

I'm sure that once I've worked things out, and have a system that works for us, we will sail more and motor less.

The learning continues...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wires, lines, masts and thingsIt's not all plain sailing on board Arctic Rose for me.

I still have masses to learn.

Having only skippered the RIB before, and with no real experience in sail boats, the prospect of actually sailing Arctic Rose passably well, as opposed to just motoring about, is still part of the current learning curve.

Looking up at the myriad of wires and ropes and things, I find myself somewhat daunted.

Travelling back from Beaulieu, I tried with just the mizzen and furling headsail. Mimicking what we had done with John previously.

I can't say that I was completely happy with the result, with the sails looking somewhat saggy, but it's a start. I subsequently worked out how to pull that mizzen up tight, I think.

Hopefully this weekend will provide an opportunity to get the mainsail up, now that I've spent some time pondering the function of the various ropes and attachments under the sail cover.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Another Fisher

Regular reader and occasional commenter, Bill, sent me this link

An interesting project!

I'm not sure I'd have the heart to, effectively, start again with another boat as Tim seems to do routinely.

Monday, May 21, 2012


BeaulieauHere you see the tranquility we enjoyed up Beaulieau river last Saturday, once things had settled down for the evening.

It was particularly satisfying for Patch and I, as this was our first ever actual cruise together in Arctic Rose with nobody on hand to give help and advice. All went exceedingly well, both going out and coming back to Southampton.

To be completely clear here, we could not have done this so easily without all the help we have previously had from skipper John (and others), and with the added confidence of my recently completed RYA day skippers course.

I've always loved this time of day on the water, and find it a real treat to finally enjoy it in different surroundings, but cosseted with all the comforts of home.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bye bye rib

Rib goneThis massive change from the old lifestyle on Lady Jane to the new adventures possible with Arctic Rose is finally starting to set in.

A big part of this is the acceptance that all the old Lady Jane stuff that I have stashed in various places has to go. Except for some of the tools, none of it has any place on such a beautiful yacht anyway.

One of the biggest things that has been such a part of the Lady Jane lifestyle has been the rib, this has now been sold on eBay with the money destined for works on Arctic Rose.

I must say parting with this is with a twinge of sadness as, ugly as it was let's face it, it had always been reliable and fun.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sailing already

SailingWhat a difference having a very much smaller, more manageable, boat has made to my life already.

The picture shows us cruising along at just over seven knots in what I thought was quite a strong wind, just past Lymington.

It has to be said that this trip was undertaken under the steady guidance of skipper John, who you all know of through Lady Jane's previous journeys.

I have so much to learn, but the fun part is Arctic Rose is so much more practical to go places in than Lady Jane ever was.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A new chapter

Finally, my new boat.

Arctic Rose - a Fisher 37.

Arctic Rose

The deal was done on Friday.

Monday, April 02, 2012

The dream lives on.

I know it's been a while since posting, but finding the perfect vessel to continue the dream has taken some time.

With luck, the search is nearly over...