Sunday, March 18, 2018

____________ CANOE YAWL 'AUTUMN LEAVES' 2018 UPDATE ____________

Shipmates, you may remember a couple of raves (or is that rants!) regarding Chesapeake Light Crafts 'Autumn Leaves' canoe yawl designed by John Harris. I have posted about this little packet a couple of times here:


I have been wondering and searching online ever since the design became available for any photographs of a new build to this design. Then bingo, yesterday I received a comment from Al Stead on my 'Autumn Leaves' - Update story. Al encouraged me to take a look at his postings on the BYYB site. Al Stead is either an American or Canadian who I think lives somewhere in the Great Lakes area. I am only guessing this based on his postings regarding his build of 'Autumn Leaves' on the Back Yard Yacht Building site (BYYB) here:

The BYYB site is a free forum, but you have to register and get a user name and password to be able to view Als' photographs and read his narrative. It is well worth the small effort.

My heart soared when I viewed photographs of the build (there are a lot more on the BYYC site), because she looks even more interesting and enticing in three dimensions. I think she is a right little cracker of a boat and I am now more determined than ever to build a canoe yawl to this design some time in the near future.

Al Stead is aiming to get this little gem of a canoe yawl in the water in the next few months. I will be keenly watching Als' progress as he completes what I strongly believe is going to be a very capable shoal draft sail boat. In my book, this is truly a design that dreams are made of - and because of the relatively simple construction method those dreams are very accessible.

I think this little boat is a very worthy descendant in the Canoe Yawl tradition begun all those years ago by Albert Strange, George Holmes and members of the Humber Yawl Club in the UK in the 1890s.

I eagerly await her maiden voyage and an assessment of her performance under sail!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

________________________ GEAR BREAKAGES ________________________

 Rivet holes exposed after the goose neck fitting sheared off.

Last weekend I raced in the Onerahi Yacht Clubs two day, 8 race annual championships. There were 4 races on each of the two days. I came second in my division but not without incident. It blew very hard over the two days, these days being just before the downgraded Tropical Cyclone 'Hola' arrived. During the second to last race on day two, I gybed heavily and sheared the booms' goose neck off the mast. As you can see from the above photo the force of the gybe popped all rivets holding the goose neck to the mast.

 Goose neck fitting before reattaching with new rivets.

I continued racing although my speed to windward dropped as the boom lay on one side of the mast not unlike the boom of a lug sail rig.

Double sheave pulley with rope attachment becket.

As I continued sailing there was jerking of the main boom again and a rattle. The pin that held the mainsheet pulley becket (black plastic roller above) that the mainsheet ties to somehow fell out (probably due to all the flapping and rattling during and after the punishing gybe. The bowline I tie  that holds the mainsheet to the becket stopped the mainsheet from running through all the mainsheet blocks, and I continued with reduced purchase on the sheet. Luckily the pin and the little plastic roller fell into the cockpit and I was able to reassemble it after the racing was completed.

After the race when the goose neck failed and with one race to go I had the choice of either retiring from the racing or continuing and completing the last race. I chose the latter and tried to tie the goose neck back on the mast with a piece of cord. I succeeded in doing so but not before capsizing the boat while standing forward in the boat in a gale of a wind (first time I have capsized the Zephyr) ...... the boat went over and I went under with a big splash. Unfortunately the mast dug into the mud on the bottom and bent the wind vane which I had for the very first time attached it in its alternative position at the top of the mast. But despite everything I was able to right the boat and roughly tie the goose neck to the mast and complete the last race.

 Reattached goose neck filling.

I have been able to re - rivet the goose neck back onto the mast, fix the becket on the main sheet pulley and was able to sail again yesterday in the regular Tuesday twilight series. All the gear worked well again and we are really not that much worse for wear.

The OYC champs and the Tuesday twilight race were both held in high winds and I am pleased with the improved speed to windward in heavy air I am achieving since setting up the boat according to the advice I gleaned from Andy Knowles while sailing in the NZ Champs at Worser Bay. The Zephyr is a technical boat, challenging to sail well, and as I have said before I have only scratched the the surface of what's possible. Only time will tell whether I am able to race the boat at the top of its potential performance - in the mean time I will be enjoying immensely finding out!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

___________________ SARTORIAL CONSIDERATIONS ___________________

"Been there, done that, got the T shirt", is how the saying goes. I didn't ever think I would find myself getting caught up in that kind of 'hoop - la', but I am glad I did. It's a very nice (and useful) 'keep sake'. A 'keep sake' shot through with the wind blown memories of a hard contest in tough conditions on Worser Bay Wellington in 2018.

 Nice Zephyr graphic on the back of the shirt.

Courageously I ordered an 'L' rather than an 'XL' size. This has meant that when engaging in conversation whilst wearing my commemorative shirt I prefer to display a frontal rather than a side  profile (The side profile is somewhat reminiscent of a Blue Whale). But shipmates you know that hope springs eternal within the bosom of this overweight dinghy sailor. By the time I am race fit and down to weight for the Zephyr Nationals in Tauranga in 2019, this shirt will fit me like a glove. I will be as sleek, lithe and wily as a Whangarei racing sardine and this shirt full of memories will ripple on my six pack with the subtly of a slow gybing spinnaker. LOL!

__________________________ CROSSROADS ___________________________

Yes! That's correct! If you look and think carefully about it ... these ARE the answers.

- Silence
- Meditation 
- Beginning exactly where you are now.
- Having a resoundingly good cup of tea.
- Being kind to animals - give them a break - (Don't bloody well eat them if you can avoid it). 

Do this and watch the flowers bloom around you.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

__________________ ALL STORMS HAVE SILVER LININGS _______________

Ben wrote: " Hi Alden, Finally after many years we could skate on natural ice again. See pictures with windmill and the “Koek en zopie. The latter meaning a stand for hot drinks and food. In a separate mail I will sent a clip of me skating made by my friend Gerrit. Cheers, Ben."

Mijn vriend Ben die in Nederland woont, heeft me deze video en deze foto's gestuurd. Ben en zijn vrienden schaatsen voor de eerste keer in vele jaren op de waterwegen rond Tiel in Nederland. Een gewoon winters tafereel zoals dit in Nederland lijkt lichtjaren verwijderd van het normale dagelijkse leven hier in Nieuw-Zeeland. Dit schrijven is een product van Google Translate - ik hoop dat het grammaticaal correct is.

My friend Ben who lives in the Netherlands sent me this video and these photos. Ben and his friends skate for the first time in many years on the waterways around Tiel in the Netherlands. An ordinary winter scene like this in the Netherlands seems light years away from the normal daily life here in New Zealand. This writing is a Google Translate product - I hope it is grammatically correct.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

________________________ Zephyr Nationals 2018 ______________________

'Slipstream' and I were placed 60th out of 73 boats in the 2018 Zephyr Nationals. After less than two years experience in the Zephyr this placing wasn't really unexpected and I have to emphatically say it didn't dent my enjoyment of the event in the slightest. I had a truly wonderful time. It blew like hell ( 20 knots gusting to 28) for the first race (23 boats withdrew) and wasn't much better for the remaining 8 races.  I really struggled in the first few races in the high winds. I reached the top mark in these early races with the cockpit half full of water having been unable to control the heel of the boat when the big squalls drove through.
You Tube video - 2018 Zephyr Nationals

All kitted up and ready to go. Launching off the beach had its moments with small waves creating a bit of chaos at times. One boat got away from its skipper and rammed me in the side - my ribs are still recovering.

My mate Bernie never made it to the first race. He sheared off his Zephyrs rudder stock on the way to the start.

Bernie managed to purchase a new rudder stock and we spent a couple of hours drilling and bolting on a new set of rudder gudgeons to the stern of his boat. He raced the next two races but unfortunately strained his back so severely he had to retire from the contest.

The Cook Strait ferry was a constant background presence throughout the sailing on windy Wellington Harbour.

Happily we didn't race on the official last day (Sun Feb 24th) of the contest because the predicted weather prevailed and it blew a steady 35 knots - gusting to 45 knots all day. An extra race was held on both Friday and Saturday in light of the predication of high winds for Sunday. 

Secretly I actually wished we could have sailed - the downwind runs would have been spectacular. I took this photo (above) on the wharf on the seaward side of Te Papa Museum. I also took this photo (below) which is a good symbol of Wellingtons legendary weather.

All construction site scaffolding and various tents on the wharf were held down with arrays of concrete blocks.

Christine and I stayed at the 'Beachfront Wellington Bed and Breakfast' (Extreme left in the photo). This was a beautiful spot across the road from the yacht club, the rigging area and the beach. We went to sleep each night and woke in the morning to the sound of the surf breaking.

After the 3rd race I had a talk to Andy Knowles a former Olympic sailer and very experienced Zephyr sailor about my struggles going to windward in the tough conditions. He gave me some excellent technical advice regarding raking the mast, sailing with the centre board raked and raised about 120 -300mms and freeing the mains'l leech by putting on as much boom vang as I could. This worked well, I was able to keep the boat upright and water free and my placings improved somewhat.
The lesson I learned from the contest was that the Zephyr is a very technical boat to sail fast and that I have only scratched the surface of what the boat is capable of doing. Of course I also need to improve my basic small boat racing skills - getting clear wind right from the gun in a big fleet will be a start.
 The starts were pretty crowded places with a lot of jostling for position.

Zephyr 322 was sailed by Peter Stokell. Peter is from Christchurch, Canterbury in the South Island of New Zealand. We both attended the same school  -  Central New Brighton Primary School. It was good to catch up with him and have a good talk about the old days. He is a long time Zephyr sailor.

The positives I took from the whole experience were:
- Completing all 9 races.
- Not capsizing.
- Learning how to sail better to windward in high winds.
- Stonking along with the boat balanced on a knife edge as she planed like hell in a ferocious following wind. 
- Enjoying the company of wife Christine and Lynn and Bernie our traveling companions.
- Meeting some old friends and new friends.
- Being amazed by the skill and fortitude of Zephyr sailors (Over 40 of the skippers were aged 60 or more - with one over 70).
- Enjoying great breakfasts every morning cooked by Craig the B'n'B owner (I told him I am going to nominate him for TVs Master Chef).
- Racing in a really big fleet
- Watching 73 beautiful, beautiful Zephyrs sailing.
- Experiencing a really well run contest; well done Worser Bay Yacht Club!
- Going to sleep and waking to the sound of surf breaking.
The 2019 Zephyr Nationals will be held in Tauranga - I will be there.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

____________________ INTO THE EYE OF THE STORM ____________________

 Fiberglass series 6 Zephyr sailing at Worser Bay 2016 - A series 6 would be a nice upgrade : >)

If the weather gods are kind to us we will be soon be sailing on Worser Bay in Wellington in the 2018 National Zephyr Championships.  My fellow Zephyr skipper Bernie and his partner Lyn started their journey down to Wellington today; Christine and I start our trek south tomorrow. The weather for the Wellington region doesn't look good at all - severe gales forecast for the next few days. I hope things have settled down by Thursday when the sailing begins. Yesterday I went for a practise sail on Parua Bay to make sure all the alterations and recent tweakings of things nautical on 'Slipstream' were all working well before heading south into combat. With Cyclone Gita influencing the weather over the coming week that combat may well become a war of attrition - watch this space.

Worser Bay Wellington in non cyclonic weather.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


The last National contest I sailed in at Wellington was at Evans Bay in 1968 - that's 50 years ago. I remember it well mainly because it blew like hell - I mean it really blew; ("It's smoking at Point Jerningham" the locals at the Evans Bay Yacht Club shouted excitedly) .........  and I broke the mast on my little 7 foot 'P' Class yacht. Next week the weather looks like repeating itself for the 2018 Zephyr Nationals at Worser Bay.

Shipmates, without wanting to get too obsessive about all this cyclone malarkey the above weather map is one of the predictions of the cyclones position in 5 days time. At the present moment it is about 1000km or more north between Fiji and New Caledonia.

Tuesday 20th February shows the Cyclones closest predicted approach with the north eastern quadrant of the storm raging over Wellington.

Tuesday the 20th is the day we arrive in Wellington.

Wednesday the 21st is boat inspection and measurement day.

Thursday the 22nd is the major race briefing day with the first race at 1400hrs.

............ so my guess is that if the above weather map projection is accurate the worst of the storm will have continued its southward direction and moved away from the gladiatorial Zephyr Colosseum of Worser Bay ........... butt (and I use that word advisably) there is going to be plenty of wind, so when my butt is stacking out over the the gunwales I hope my weight of 90+kgs will come into play and help me to fly to windward like a Zephyr with a 90+kg canting keel. (hope springs eternal).

........ and no, that's NO! I don't want history to repeat itself in the mast department ...... or I shall be very, very, very pissed off indeed.

Monday, February 12, 2018

__________________________ CYCLONE GITA __________________________

Shipmates; here in Northland (above) we are watching with interest the track of Cyclone Gita which is bumbling around just below the equator at the present time and is predicted to hit New Zealand sometime next week. This is interesting and somewhat disturbing as I (and to date 70 other contest registered Zephyr sailors) will be lining up on Wellington harbour for the 2018 Zephyr nationals as this great lumbering Category 5 cyclone strikes - yikes!!

(Click on the link, then click/hold/rotate/enlarge the globe to take a look)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

________________________ CHANGING STOVES ________________________

This (above) is my yacht 'Mariner's stove. It is a primus stove that uses kerosene under pressure (Stored in the tube on the bottom of the stove). The kero burners are pre-heated at their bases with meths which has the effect of vapourizing the kerosene which then burns with a clear blue flame. When they are in good working condition they are great little stoves and I love them. When they get old and worn they develop a number of alias's - 'Flame Thrower', 'Grenade' and 'Bomb' come to mind. New Kero burners for primus stoves are now available again but they are very expensive and have to be specifically imported into NZ.

So reluctantly I modified the old primus by lowering the burner tray and purchasing a couple of gas camping stoves which fitted neatly into the recessed trays. I don't much like gas on a boat but I thought this might be a compromise as I would only be using small canisters rather than having a professionally fitted installation complete with a large gas bottle.

Right from the start I had a bad feeling about what I was contemplating. Instead of listening to my gut instincts I simply forged ahead. I sobered up when I read the instruction leaflet that came with the camping gas stoves, which gave this advice:

- "This appliance uses oxygen when in use. DO NOT light or use indoors, in a tent, vehicle or other enclosed areas. A fire or carbon monoxide poisoning could cause injury or death" - Yikes!

- " DO NOT obstuct the flow of combustion and ventilation air. - OMG !

- " DO NOT use any windscreen (ing) with the stove. Any windscreen, including a standard windscreen, may cause the canister to explode. - Fucking hell !

- " DO NOT use the stove.......... in close proximity to another stove, or near any heat, fuel or ignition source." - Shite! You mean I have two bombs side by side!


- Sounds as though if I was to take the gas option I would have a stove ensconced in my boats galley with the explosive power of an Exocet Missile! Yikes! and Yikes!! again!

Only a fool would not take this advice. So I used that old adage that changing my mind is a males prerogative and went in another direction.

So shipmates, I did the research I should have done right at the beginning of this little sojourn and decided to change fuel.

I have purchased a new stove with a couple of nifty adjustable pot holders. It's a Swedish built Dometic 3000 two burner stove specifically designed for use in tents, campers and boats. It burns meths which is not pressurized in any way which is a big safety factor. It eliminates the pressurized flare ups that can occur with a primus. Any meths fires can be put out with water.

According to the Utube videos I have viewed and literature I have read a meths burning stove is the safest option available and has the advantage that meths can be extinguished using water in the unlikely event of a fire. The only disadvantage that I can see is that meths doesn't burn at the same fierce temperatures as gas or kerosene, so the kettle will take a little longer to come to the boil..... but shipmates if you are a sailor traveling everywhere at 6 - 7 knots or less, what's the bloody hurry?

The big advantage is that the stove is relatively safe, simple, easy to use and fits neatly into the modified gimballed frame of the old primus stove. It is also a compact, non intrusive and reasonably attractive looking little unit.

So I am happy to have this job ticked off the list. One down, three more jobs to go and then we can go sailing again.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

___________________________ RACING AGAIN ________________________

This week I raced 'Slipstream' for the first time this year (That's us on the left with the distinctive roach in the mains'l). The wind was very light, at times dying away to nothing. The most important part of the whole exercise was that the new self bailers I have installed didn't leak!! Excellent!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

_________________________ RACE READY ____________________________

 'Slipstream' is now race ready. The work I have completed on her includes:

- Raising the splashboards to the regulation minimum 65cm height including new varnished trim.
- Fitting varnished wooden trim around the cockpit perimeter.
- Lengthening the cockpit floor slates to the regulation lengths. This will also help to strengthen the hull and help it hold its shape.
- Painting the deck and cockpit, including non skid paint on the cockpit floor and on the hiking area of the deck.
- Fitting two new Anderson self bailers in the cockpit floor.
- Having a 'D' ring sewn into the stern end of the hiking straps allowing them to now be adjustable.
- Removing the laminated crossbeam with its heavy traveller and car and replaced it with a simple adjustable rope system.

 New Anderson bailers.

 Stainless steel 'D' ring.

 Simple light weight adjustable main sheet track.

Non skid areas on both side decks and cockpit floor will keep me from slipping and sliding.

 Fresh and bright varnished trim helps break up the paint job.

On Tuesday evening racing begins again at the Onerahi Yacht Club, so I will pop 'Slipstream' on the road trailer and head off for some sailing training - The Zephyr Nationals in Wellington are only four weeks away! Yikes!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

_______________ PLEASE EXPLAIN MR EDGAR DEGAS _________________

The famous French artist Edgar Degas said, "Painting is easy when you don't know how, but difficult when you do". He would never have said that if he had seen me painting a Zephyr sailing dinghy.
Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do. Edgar Degas
Read more at:
As I have mentioned before, painting is really not my forte, so happiness and contentment for me in this context is a simple job well done. Today the paint brush, the tin of paint and I enjoyed an easy alliance. The results are a huge improvement on the first painting job I completed on 'Scout', which looked as though I had painted the hull with a yard broom.

I have painted 'Slipstreams' deck and cockpit using a foam roller and 'tipped off' any bubbles with a paint brush in the recommended way. The quality of a paint job is dependent on good application and thorough preparation. This time round all went reasonably well.

I will paint the working area of the deck and cockpit with a non skid deck paint in a slightly darker shade of grey.

As usual 'Murphys Law' came into play. As soon as I started painting, the wind rose and little seeds from a tree started to blow into the carport and float down onto the fresh paint. I hastily put up a couple of tarpaulins which happily stopped what could have been another painting disaster.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

______________________________ SCOUT ____________________________

Today I bolted on 'Scouts' name plate. I like the name 'Scout', it sounds purposeful and active. It has an eyes wide open feeling to it; a tugging at the anchor chain let's go sailing feeling.  I know without a doubt that admiring glances would be cast in 'Scouts' direction if she were to sail in company with Arthur Ransomes' purposeful 'Swallow' and 'Amazon' - no doubt about that at all Shipmates. All I need now (apart from rudder and sail) is a spy glass and a parrot.

After gluing on the splashboard alterations to 'Slipstream' and the nameplate to 'Scout' I pulled both boats as far forward in the carport as I could as a major storm is approaching Northland from the Tasman Sea. The whole country is in for a bit of a battering. While the storm is raging I shall read, meditate, and think about a name for the parrot.