Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Making our own entertainment!

A few months ago we bought a Sailright sewing machine - a wonderfully solid bit of kit designed to sew sails and canvas. So far we've made a couple of covers, done some running repairs to the bimini (cockpit sunshade) and have plans to make other bits and pieces for the boat.

However, we decided that we'd have a shot at making some Christmas presents so set about the old staysail from our last boat, Gentoo of Ardwall, with the scissors. After some trial and error we've build 4 bags from the sail, complete with(largely decorative) top flap which uses one of the bronze sail hanks as its clip.

Very pleased with the results (as are the recipients we're glad to report) and we've enjoyed the project.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Out into the cold and damp

After a few weeks in the shed, all the work is now completed so Maunie's back outside for the winter. Luckily, the previous owner had a wonderful three-part tailored waterproof cover made for her so, after a bit of sewing to repair zips and a couple of minor holes, we spent Saturday fitting it (slightly easier said than done!).

The boat's no longer anonymous, with her new lettering applied to the transom.

We'll spend weekends over the winter sorting odd maintenance jobs but she's already well prepared for the coming season.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

More post-repaint work - re-fitting the Windpilot

Whilst Maunie is still inside the Baltic Wharf Repairs shed we thought it'd be a good idea to refit the boarding ladder and the Windpilot self-steering gear onto the transom. Unfortunately we had discovered, through email correspondence with the Windpilot people in Germany, that the original installation was 'very bad' - the designer, Peter, asked for more photos to be sent and advised that the upper and lower mounting brackets were too close together and the angle of dangle was entirely wrong.

So, what we thought would be a case of 'just' re-bolting the 60kg aluminium kit using existing bolt holes turned into about 6 hours of fiddling with the geometry of the beast to get a better angle. Of course, we'd get one bit right, then have to adjust one of the lower legs only to find that it had put the original measurements out. After much fiddling, we eventually got to the best compromise, took a brave pill and drilled four new holes for the lower brackets. Just hope it's OK!

I should, perhaps, explain what the Windpilot does (though the name sort of explains it). On a long offshore passage we can attach a wind vane to the top, lock the main steering wheel and then the Windpilot steers the boat using its own rudder to keep the boat at the same angle to the wind. Unlike 'Constance', our electronic autopilot, 'Winnie' does this completely silently and uses no electricity. However, if the direction of the wind shifts, the boat will just follow it so Winnie isn't great for use on coastal passages.

We finally finished the job at about 4.30pm and now just have to find a neat way of hiding the original bolt holes!

The Vancouver Yachts Association dinner

We drove down to Chichester last weekend for an owners' open day at the Northshore yard where Maunie was built. Sadly, the Vancouver marque is being gently dropped by the company as they concentrate on producing Southerly lift-keel boats but there were quite a few Vancouver owners there.

An evocative sight greeted us as we walked around the yard - the original moulds, from which Maunie appeared back in 1997. It seems unlikely that they be ever used again, which is a great shame.

On a more positive note, we then went to the Vancouver Yachts Association annual dinner and met some really interesting folk - most of them have thousands of miles under their belts. We were particularly interested to talk to Kevin, an ex-Northshore director who had played an important part in the design of the pilothouse 34 and 38 and had sailed on Maunie several times with her first owner!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

The first views of the completed paint job

We've just been sent these first photos of the completed paint job. Quite a transformation, don't you think? Graham visited on Friday morning but that was before the blue stripes were added.

The shiny mahogany-coloured paint below the waterline is the Coppercoat antifouling and they have achieved a really smooth finish so we should be good for an extra half-knot of speed!

We'll get new graphics for the name on the transom, refit the boarding ladder and Windpilot steering system then she'll be ready to go back outside to have her mast rigged. We can't wait to see her for ourselves.

Friday, 21 October 2011

The repainting project moves on

The process has moved on from stripping old paint and sanding the hull to applying the first 4 coats of primer. It was all going too well, of course, until we received an email from the yard saying that, after the first coat of white primer, they'd found lots of pin-holes in the gel-coat. Apparently this can happen with older boats and the suggested solution was 3 more coats of primer, applied with a roller rather than sprayed on, to fill all the pinholes. This has been a success but has added cost (no surprise there, this is a boat after all) and has requred extra sanding down.

The first gloss topcoat will be sprayed on Monday, followed by a couple more. As you may have guessed by the primer colour, Maunie is going to look a lot lighter! She looked huge in the spray-bay!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Ashore for some serious winter work!

Maunie's now out of the water for the first time in over 2 years (the odd inter-tide dry out for antifouling excepted)- we have a big winter makeover planned!

A couple of weeks ago we groped our way up the Dart in seriously thick fog to get to Baltic Wharf in Totnes at high tide. We were hauled out onto the quay by a very professional team and spent the weekend preparing for the next stage of what will be an interesting and expensive few months. We removed sails, boom and halyards then disconnected the mast cables to allow the mast to be lifted off a couple of days later.

After a bit of swearing and some hot water, all the seacock hoses were persuaded to come off and the seacocks themselves (probably the originals) loosened for later removal.

The big project ahead of us? Well, Maunie is about to get a smart new paint job and an anti-fouling system called Coppercoat.

We always planned that one day we'd have to repaint the boat - the original dark blue gelcoat looks lovely from a distance but, in previous ownership, Maunie's suffered a fair few scrapes and dings and we've probably added a couple since. The hull is also quite abraded in places where she's rubbed her fenders and we've joined the commonly-held opinion that dark blue's a nightmare to maintain. It absorbs the heat of the sun like mad, too!

So we're having her repainted in a new colour - won't spoil the suspense by telling you which just yet.

Once the mast was removed the first job was to blast the hull clean of many layers of old antifouling paint. The contractor did a brilliant job, taking 3 hours to do what would take painful days by hand, and the hull is in good condition; it's remarkably smooth after the blasting. We'll have 2 coats of epoxy primer applied to give it a good protective seal before the copper-rich Coppercoat paint (which does the job of antifouling without the hassle of annual scraping and repainting).

The work is being done by Baltic Wharf Repairs; director David Sharp showed me a SS31yacht he's just repaired and repainted after a very nasty collision with a fishing boat, so we're confident that Maunie will look fantastic when she rolls out of the shed in a month's time.

Will keep you updated..

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Dartmouth Regatta 2011

Once again we were aboard Maunie for the Regatta but, for the first time, just the two of us. We had some excellent sailing and the racing fleet enjoyed Force 4-5 conditions for most of the 4 day series so there were some entertaining moments. We went out to the big-boat course on a couple of the days and hove-to near the windward mark to take photos. The absence of the Red Arrows was sad but otherwise there was plenty to watch in the river, with lots of helicopter displays and an amazing parachute display.

Mind that mast (1)

Mind that mast (2)

Mind that seagull!

How not to do spinnakers:

We're planning winter work on Maunie so will probably just have one weekend's sailing left before she's lifted out for the winter. We'll keep you updated on progress.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Proof that Laura saw dolphins at last!

After years (about 10, I'm told, not 7 as previously mentioned) of failing to see dolphins with Laura aboard, her reaction as they (about 20, I'm told, not a dozen as previously mentioned) came alongside this time was suitably euphoric!

Photos from our final night in the Channel Islands and the passage home

This was the view from Maunie on Friday evening from our anchorage in Havelet Bay, just outside St Peter Port. Castle Cornet is a fascinating fort, with layers of ever more recent fortifications including German gun emplacements from the occupation. We enjoyed a very peaceful evening, with a few sea shanties wafting across the water to us - Friday Night is Music Night at Castle Cornet apparently.

Beating back towards Dartmouth

A slightly chaotic handover of the helm - an unplanned gybed followed seconds later!

Order restored - Amy back in control

Last job of the evening, back on the mooring in Dartmouth - Di makes the bread for breakfast

Photos from Sark

Here are a few photos from the past couple of days:

Climbing up from the anchorage at Havre Gosselin on the west coast of Sark

The view down to Havre Gosselin - with the private isalnd of Brecqhou in the foreground and Herm in the distance

The first view of Sark for most visitors - the tunnel leading through the cliffs at Maseline Harbour on the east coast.

Main Street in Sark - the taxi rank and bank

Maunie at the Havre Gosselin mooring, with the tide sluicing between Sark and Brecqhou behind her. Our previous experience of an overnight stay here was of some very rolly waves so we elected to head back to Guernsey for a more sheltered anchorage.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Safely back to Dartmouth

After a great daysail to explore Sark in brilliant sunshine yesterday, we came back to anchor overnight in Havelet bay, just below Castle Cornet at St Peter Port.

The forecast for today remained resolutely unhelpful - a force 4-5 from the north-west so a beat back all the way to Dartmouth making the 70 mile passage a 16 hour proposition at best. So we decided on a 3.00am departure to gain favourable tide westwards along the south coast of Guernsey and had a pretty good sail. We motorsailed for about 4 hours to clear the busy shipping lanes before the wind played ball and shifted to the west so had an excellent close reach back into the Dart, with a few dolphins making a brief appearance alongside.

We're all pretty tired, in spite of having managed some off-watch sleep but it hasn't stopped Dianne from making bread roll for tomorrow's breakfast. Photos to follow tomorrow when we get home.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

From Brittany to Guernsey

Low water at Treguier

We left Treguier just after high water at 10.00 BST and motored down the river and inside Heux lighthouse before heading North-west towards Guernsey.

Mid-morning snacks ahoy!

The weather was just relentlessly damp, with lots of drizzle and visibility of not much more than a mile: we just glimpsed the lighthouse at the Roches Douvres through the mist. The wind was dead astern and just a Force 3 so, after an hour with the spinnaker up, we put then engine on and motor-sailed for the next 3 hours. An otherwise dull passage was enlivened at 15.30 when sea-life-mad Laura finally spotted dolphins after about 7 years of sailing with us. We had about a dozen Common Dolphins (with some very young calves) with us for about 10 minutes, with much whooping from the crew.

Guernsey appears out of the mist

We arrived at St Peter Port at about 18.30 so joined a huge, 8-deep, raft of boats at the waiting pontoon until there was enough water at the sill to enter Victoria Marina.

Today, joy of joys, we’ve had bright sunshine all day! So we’ve dried all the damp foul-weather gear and had time to explore ashore. The La Vallette museum of the German occupation, housed in a WW2 German underground bunker, really brought home the challenges faced by the 23,000 civilians here during the 5-year occupation. In light relief we’ve just had an excellent meat at La Nautique restaurant and are planning the next couple of days – we’ll probably do a daysail to Sark tomorrow and then sail back to Dartmouth on Saturday.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Some photos from Treguier

We're writing this having just returned from a great meal at the Restaurant Ponton at the top of the marina walkways. A huge iced plate of shared langoustines, followed by a varied selection of main courses that featured steak, canard and moules, was topped off by some pretty special desserts. We're now contemplating a 9.30 (UK time) departure for Guernsey (after a quick dash to the boulangerie, of course).

I'm trying to add some photos from the passage across from Dartmouth but the website keeps hanging so it may have to wait till we get back home.

Just sorted the problem so here are the photos: