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inc. pasttimes, not puzzles or tricks

Belaying to bollards, cheesing down ropes and other joys


One of the things I’m now having to do is go back and relearn my sailcraft.

Modern boats reduce a sailor to dependence on devices and I was no exception with the Harken blocks, travellers etc. but with the square-rigged vessel, even a small one, it all has to be remembered, relearned or learnt from scratch.

The one I’ll need to gather all the cordage is how to hang to a belaying pin properly. This pdf for naval cadets is a great starter:

hanging a coil

Oh yes, that cheesing down of ropes – here’s how to do it:

cheesing down a rope

Quick report

Quick look around the MSM – not a lot new, too much to do to be worried about that just now, some posts in the pipeline, not a lot of time to do them justice either. Possibly Sunday morning. No time to food shop in town, shall make do with corner shop.

Imagine you’re pretty busy too, either with back to school or those late August jobs or last minute trips. Imagine some of you have the first couple of weeks of September planned for your getaway.

Just did a Yougov and the Rotherham issue was the one of course. Carswell didn’t appear in it. Nor Dave’s speech. Maybe that’s later.

Shall check blogs tomorrow morning as I like to read rather than skip through.

Build report

It was a far more momentous decision than I thought, opting for the square rig approach. It’s not just the position on the deck but the whole way the boat sails.…


Posting’s been thin today because of the building – making progress.

One of the things I had to do was finalize the rig dimensions, particularly the sails and it came down to two choices – a junk rig and a traditional square sail and jib affair.

Advantage of the junk is that with those heavy slats, yards and boom, plus the thick mast, there really is almost complete control but the downside is very flat drive in the sails.

Advantage of the traditional is that the area is broken up into smaller chunks, more handlable by someone older and allowing a large number of combinations. With 9 sails, 3 to each mast, would I be wrong in saying the combinations are 9! ? Downside is more work to raise and lower but it’s also an upside as sails can be tucked away in a storm.

So it’s swings and roundabouts and I was dithering, to be honest.…


You read about places like Pisa and Stonehenge – not allowed near the stones, not allowed out on the loggia.

This girl has just been to Pisa apparently and enjoyed it:

pisa view

Actually, I’d like to shoot every one of those prats who pretend to be holding up the tower in photos – Uzis have to be good for something.

When I went, they let people up inside and then out onto the loggia:


As you can see, the columns are fine to clutch onto on the downside but that floor is mighty slippery after rain. I was there on one such day, put one foot on and began to slip, thought it best to stay in the doorway. Think it was about the third stage from memory, quite high up.

Another memory is the train journey from Rome – all those fields of sunflowers. Lovely place in parts, Italy, but you knew that.…

Model aircraft carrier

This is a tribute to James. For so long now we have been following all the details he has given about his boat-build.

He is not alone in the endeavour despite working alone. Others have been working for quite a while too.

Some years back some boat modellers built a model aircraft carrier and made a pretty poor stab at launching a model plane from it. The utter fiasco that eventuated resulted not in dismay but in the very best Higham spirit. They built a bigger and better one so that they could launch a plane that could be flown off and land back on the carrier again.

They are not far off the day.

It remains to be seen who finishes first.

The four videos  below are mercifully short and well edited. They bring us up to date.

More info on the father-son effort at:

[I inserted Amfortas's link here - JH]

The Knight & Drummer Tavern


Self-steering vanes can be hugely expensive and as with every other bit of equipment on board, there are a set of simple questions to apply:

1. If it’s so expensive, is it also complicated? Complication means one more thing to go wrong at sea;

2. Is it delicate, exposed and easily broken;

3. Is it a thief magnet;

4. Is there a far cheaper and 70% to 80% as effective alternative?

With electronic self-steering, as the chap says in the vid above – yes, there very much is an alternative which has been proven to work in most conditions. It just takes manual setting up and adjustment from time to time.

While the electronic version does the job well until something breaks, there are downsides, in line with the general 4 point principles above:

1. It relies entirely on the electrical system not wavering or failing and chews juice up like it’s going out of fashion;