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.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

After a short geology field trip, Maunie's back in Dartmouth

The last couple of weeks have been eventful! Having unloaded Maunie from the ship (and finding, to our relief, that she was in excellent condition) we moved her across to Hythe Marina for a week and promptly started dismantling her. Well, her steering system at least. 

Pedestal and gearbox, restored to smooth operation, ready to be refitted.
Graham, ever enduring the engineer's curse of hating it if something doesn't work just as it should, had tried to adjust the steering in Australia - we had an annoying inch of play in the wheel at the straight-ahead position and the wheel brake (vital to keep the rudder locked when we are using the Windpilot to steer the boat) was slipping. Unfortunately, the vital component that is supposed to slide, easily, off when four bolts are undone had decided that it didn't want to part company with the pedestal after 20 years in situ. So the first job on our return was to unbolt both pedestal and gearbox and take them to Cliff, a local engineer who specialises in Whitlock steering systems. This, of course, was easier said than done as one bolt - and it had to be the most inaccessible one, didn't it? - refused to undo and had to be treated to the application of an angle-grinder. Anyway, after that hot and dirty afternoon spent upside down in the cockpit locker, the kit was finally removed and delivered to Cliff who, three days's of work later, pronounced it fully refurbished and good for another 20 years.

Of course, having no steering for a few days meant that we couldn't sail anywhere so we were very lucky that friends Steve and Barbara (veterans of several sailing trips on Maunie and our previous boat across to Ireland, up to Scotland and in NZ) had booked a National Trust holiday cottage on the Isle of Wight for the week so we took the passenger ferry across to Cowes and had two lovely days doing long walks on the island.The cottage was once used by coastguard staff at the Needles, at the very western tip of the island, so we had splendid views and no shortage of wind.

The row of coastguard cottages is just visible on the ridge at the left hand side of the photo

The evening light, looking down on the chalk stacks of the Needles

The cottages, looking back across the Solent towards the mainland

Another view of the Needles, from our second-day hike. The old coastguard station is now staffed by volunteers of the National Coastwatch Institute and around it are the remains of huge defensive gun emplacements from the 1870's through to WW2
On the south side of the Needles promontory are these huge concrete structures which were once top-secret testing bays for Blue Streak missile engines in the 1950's
We absolutely loved the Isle of Wight. The geology is fascinating and the land, in many places, is definitely on the move. There are some huge landslides, old and very new, around the coast which must make the owners of some otherwise-delightful holiday houses feel distinctly nervous. At the NE end of the island we found woodland that had slipped into the sea, leaving the trees suddenly drowned in sea water and, apparently, rooted in a beach.

After a great couple of days with Barbara and Steve we returned to Maunie, collected niece Laura (ace crew from NZ to Vanuatu a couple of years ago), refitted the steering and headed west in gentle winds and calm seas. 

Laura back in her element
A stop-over in Poole allowed us to catch up with Sue and Laurie, Graham's aunt and uncle, and then, with weather conditions remaining benign, we had two nights at anchor in Lulworth Cove to continue the geology field trip.

Maunie anchored at the far side of Lulworth Cove. The land in the distance is an Army firing range so the otherwise peaceful spot had the rattle of machine guns and the crump of artillery as a soundtrack at times
The amazing arch of Durdle Door, a mile to the west of Lulworth

For those wanting more geology details (click on the image for larger text)

Looking back towards Lulworth - a popular spot.
From Lulworth we moved round to the lovely Georgian port of Weymouth, where we berthed on the pontoon featured early in the recent film Dunkirk, and that allowed us an early morning start to round Portland Bill. The Bill has a well-deserved reputation for dangerous sea conditions - tides can run at up to 10 knots in the shallow race just off its tip so it's vital to round it at just the right time of tide. The options are to stay very close to the shore to stay inside the race or else to go about five miles off. Naturally we opted for the inshore option and did it under sail.

Approaching the Bill at slack water but still with a knot of current trying to push us south into the race

Rounded! The technique is to pass so close to the flat rock that you could throw a biscuit to the seagulls sitting on it.
Finally, at 14.40 on Thursday 24th May, we returned to our home port of Dartmouth, just under six years after we left. It felt a little anti-climactic, to be honest; we'd hoped to be returning having done the whole circumnavigation (in which case we'd be expecting brass bands and naval salutes) but it still feels that we've had quite an adventure.

Homecoming celebration
Maunie's new mooring on the Dart, on a fore and aft trot mooring, alongside a 40' boat called Olive. The pontoon upstream is for visiting boats.
So, this chapter of our lives draws to a close for now. We're looking forward to re-discovering some more wonderful sailing destinations on this beautiful coastline but, sadly, our time will be limited to weekends and the odd week here or there. We'll post the occasional update on this blog but, for the moment, would just like to thank you for following our voyage and sending supportive comments. We hope that you have enjoyed the adventure as much as we have!

Friday, 11 May 2018

We have Maunie back!

It was a very exciting day yesterday as we were re-united with Maunie. The mighty Damgracht had put on a burst of speed in the last few days so arrived in Southampton on Wednesday evening which allowed us to dash down from Scotland; fellow Vancouver 38 owners Duncan and Elisabeth very kindly let us stay with them and we took the passenger ferry from Hythe across Southampton Water yesterday afternoon.

Our first view of the Damgracht from the ferry

From the dock - Maunie nestled up at the bow

On deck it was a busy scene - a Halberg Rassy 46 is hoisted up and Maunie would be next

Lift off!

Ready to splash
We were on the ship for about an hour in total and chatted to Arnold, the Dutch captain who was about to complete a 4-month stint in charge. The unloading process went very smoothly apart from one heart-stopping moment - the key broke off in the padlock on the main hatch which (despite being advertised as rust-proof) had seized solid. A patient application of easing oil and pliers eventually had us into the cabin and we were delighted to find the boat in great order - nothing broken or damaged and the engine fired up first time.

We've moved Maunie to Hythe Marina for a week to allow us to get her ready for sea - sails to re-fit, halyards to reeve and navigation to think about. It's so good to be back on board but it is distinctly chilly so we are going to have to dig out the fleeces!

In the meantime it's back up to Cheshire for niece Amy's wedding so it's all go.