messing about in boats

Moderate wind and sun

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on March 6, 2011

The weather man can officially go to hell. A perfect forecast of a force three and sunshine for moving Nervous Tension from Langstone Harbour up to the River Itchen last weekend… Well, it was when we set off, for about half an hour before degenerating into blustery, rainy greyness. By the time we’d reached Portsmouth the sun was back out however. All well and good before the wind died and Calshot disappeared in the blackest cloud I’ve ever seen.

We stuck the reef back in, but nothing quite prepared us for what happened next. Best described as armageddon in hailstorm format. 90 degree wind shifts, massive squalls, clouds black enough to turn the distant streetlights on and hailstones like jagged little peas. It was quite something. The leech of the ageing mainsail tore, the window in the dacron no2 genoa blew out and the end of the tiller exploded. I threw the now useless extension down below and hunkered down on the cockpit floor for the rest of the trip – it was actually remarkably cosy. The really exciting bit was that in this melee of being knocked rather flat repeatedly and trying to spill as much of the surplus power that we could we were heading straight for a moored Condor Ferries ship. Typical.

Weather soon passed though, nothing serious broken and my confidence actually greatly increased in the boat. If she could survive a squall like that with far too much sail up then she was still robust underneath despite her shabby appearance. From then on in, with three reefs in the main to stop it tearing further and with tide and time against us we had the outboard on tickover to just help power through the chop and make some good progress. Even so, the sun was going down as we passed Calshot spit and we carried on in the fading light. Just off Netley we had a stern but fair ticking off from the Harbour Master about being in the shipping lane with no proper navigation lights. He did seem to take pity on us after hearing we’d been out in the squall earlier and we carried on up to Southampton shining our torch at the tiny triangle of mainsail.

So the boat’s now happily on a pontoon at Lauren Marine, and what have we learned?

  • The echo sounder works
  • The main isn’t in very good condition
  • Neither was the tiller
  • Working navigation lights would be a good thing, just in case
  • The boat’s actually quite robust and behaves very well despite the beard on the keel and the lack of weight on the rail

Oh, for a pontoon…

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on September 7, 2010

Sent off my application for a winter berth at Emsworth Yacht Harbour this morning. Seemed to be a nice, friendly place and just about the only pontoon berth within my tiny budget. Access over the fixed sill is about 1.5hrs either side of high water with a 5’1″ draft on all but neaps, so that’s fine by me. At least there’s more chance of some sailing than if she was ashore and much less chance of anything going wrong than if I was to leave her on the swinging mooring in Langstone Harbour.

I also sent a cheque for £10 to Cowes Harbour Commission to be put on their waiting list. Berthing’s cheaper on that side of the Solent and the Medina is the sensible choice for a fin keeler – always plenty of water and access at all states of the tide. I have to chuckle at the way they’ll only discuss availability with you after you’ve paid to join the waiting list, but if it’s £10 down the drain, so be it. At least I’ll know the chances of keeping a boat there next year.

Really cannot wait to be on a pontoon with all the associated convenience. There’s nothing wrong with a swinging mooring – it’s just that the one in Langstone is over a mile from the nearest launching beach, so after you’ve faffed around with the tender, motored out there, bounced around in the chop and shifted all the gear aboard, you’re kinda ready to pack up and come home. It’s just a bit boring and ever so inconvenient. A water taxi would make life much more pleasant – but in that harbour the distances are too great and the traffic too low. So roll on a pontoon berth with all mod cons of fresh water, electricity and dry feet!

Bank holiday boat repairs

Posted in Boat Building & Maintenance, Sailing by Joseph Moore on September 2, 2010

It hardly seems possible that the August bank holiday has passed already. This summer’s flown by in a flurry of boat-related mishaps and long hours at work. Summer’s coming to a close and the wind’s already picking up as if it were well into Autumn. Time to take stock and figure out where to go from here…

The good news is that Nervous Tension‘s essentially ready to sail. Sarah, Chris and I spent the weekend hammering, sawing, screwing, scrubbing and painting. The stem’s braced back to the first bulkhead, the old vent holes have some rather fetching plywood screwed over them, the port side stringers are back in place and most of the surfaces down below have had at least one coat of fresh white gloss.

Something had to go wrong though – it wouldn’t be boating otherwise. My shiny new (well, new to me) Mercury 5hp which had done a sterling job starting first pull and chugging us, towing one heavy old clinker dinghy, over to the marina waiting pontoon lost it’s prop just as we tried to leave the pontoon to berth in the marina. Fortunately with a force 5 on the beam we were pretty much pinned to the pontoon so there was very little chance of getting into trouble. Couple that with a Sigma 38 getting itself wedged into a corner and crushing Chris’ elderly clinker boat so it now takes on water and we were a bit stuck for getting back to the mooring the following day. Thankfully the chaps at Southsea Marina are fantastically friendly and agreed that the boat could stay there if Chris went back the following day and helped them tow her back to the mooring using their launch. Nice one guys!

So; taking stock. I’ve got a boat that’s just about ready to use at a time when most people are preparing to put theirs ashore for the winter. Maybe I should take a leaf out of Dylan’s book and indulge in some chilly but peaceful winter sailing. Something needs to be done about that mooring though. I can’t leave an elderly racing yacht on an exposed buoy through the winter storms again – it’s just asking for trouble.

I’ll write more on my thoughts and efforts to find a reasonably priced, accessible and practical mooring soon no doubt. In the mean time, a few photos from the weekend.

Panoramic "before" shot looking forward

"Before" shot looking aft

Port quarter berth with damaged stringer

Starboard quarter berth - what a difference a coat of paint can make!

"After" shot looking forward - mostly shiny and white now

On the waiting pontoon at Southsea Marina

A cockpit full of junk - painting down below

Stem braced back to front bulkhead

Repairs to front of boat - not pretty. Solid though!

Panoramic shot on Southsea Marina waiting pontoon


Eastney Lake from near Locks SC

Southsea Marina waiting pontoon and channel

Progress at last

Posted in Boat Building & Maintenance, Sailing by Joseph Moore on August 2, 2010

Had a cracking day down at Langstone yesterday. Really great.

Got up early enough that the roads were clear and the beaches around Eastney Lake almost deserted as I went for a stroll before knocking on Chris’ door.

It was a 4pm tide and Chris’ clinker dinghy I use to get out to my boat wouldn’t be afloat until after lunch, so we spent the morning tinkering on his Matilda, 4Jays. The plan originally was to give her a bit of a shakedown sail and take her over to Nervous Tension, but a couple of days earlier while rigging the sails on the mooring in a bit of a blow he’d put the rudder down in the cockpit and somehow the flogging sheets had tossed it overboard. Murphy’s law strikes again, as Chris said “He’s got a lot to answer for, that bloke…” – so a new rudder’s being cobbled together this week.

I’m still having engine issues, in that none of them work at the moment. Well, the Seagull 102 would work if I put some time and effort into servicing it but I’m relatively busy at the moment so it’s kind of easier to just resign myself to throwing a chunk of cash at a decent engine and rebuild the others when I come across some cheap spares.

Nervous Tension’s now happily sat on her mooring in Sinah Lake. Access is a bit rubbish at spring lows, but the tide flows very slowly there – in stark contrast to the deep main channel where it must run at easily 7 knots. It’s also a damn long way in a laden boat with a Seagull Forty Plus chattering away. Anyone locally with a powerboat who’d like to ferry me to my yacht could be my new best friend.

Repairs are going nicely. The stem’s now braced back to the first bulkhead on one side. The saw I’d picked up was so blunt it was quite hard going so we didn’t get the other side done before it became a little uncomfortably lumpy when the tide turned and the wind picked up.

The electrics need a good going over as well. Took the battery aboard but nothing was working – might just be the corrosion on the terminals. Either way it’s a job for a calmer day. There’s nothing like sitting in the bottom of a boat focusing on some work in a short steep chop to make you want to be back on the shore.

I’m also working on a plan to get her back home over the winter for a serious tidy up. So she’s getting there, slowly…

When It’s A Strong Northerly…

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on May 4, 2010

…it’s pretty hopeless to try and get to a deep water buoy in Langstone Harbour without getting utterly soaked. Massive thanks to Stu and Ross for getting soaked on the way out to the boat. Unfortunately the outboard also got soaked, so the chances of moving her to somewhere more sheltered to finish the repairs were zilch. Still, the heavy motor’s on the boat and Chris has offered use of his fleet of hard dinghies to save lugging the inflatable down there in the Land Rover so there’s a good chance that real progress can be made next time.

It wasn’t a bad day in the end. The sun came out for a while, Sarah read a large portion of her book from the shelter of the Land Rover and I actually remembered the binoculars for once. The windsurfers were out in force, blasting across the harbour fairway and Eastney Lake. One poor chap in a Freelander had driven down the loose shingle on the end of the peninsula and beached himself with two wheels off the ground and the chassis on the floor. Not much room to drag him off backwards but a falling tide meant there was enough room lower down on the beach to get the Land Rover in and tow him forwards with Stu, Ross and a bunch of passers-by bouncing off his rear bumper to help with traction.

Stopped off and delivered the last parts of the Fireball to Charles in Bursledon on the way home and had a quick look at his floating work in progress – Deneb K.

Made a bit of a rookie error and completely forgot to take any photos for the whole day. Maybe next time I’ll remember…

A Boaty Bank Holiday

Posted in Everything Else, Sailing by Joseph Moore on April 6, 2010

Sarah and I took my old Fireball down to some friends in Bursledon yesterday. It was good to have a catch up and a chinwag over some excellent grub at The Old Ship just a short walk from the boatyard where they live on board a 37′ gaff ketch named Deneb K. Incidentally, Charles pointed out Mutineer on the hard, waiting for someone to buy her.

Good job we’re heading back down there to go on holiday in a few weeks time anyway, as I managed to leave the boom, cover and rudder at home. Oops…

The plan was then to head down to Langstone Harbour and refit the bow roller to Nervous Tension. The sun was out by the time we arrived, but full of lunch and with white horses racing across the water I decided that rowing the mile out to the mooring could wait for another day and we opted for a wander around Eastney peninsula and a peer through the fence at Fort Cumberland.

Eastney Lake

Eastney Lake

Sarah messing with her camera

Sarah messing with her camera

Drunken boat - her leg's collapsed since last time I was there

Drunken boat - her leg's collapsed since last time I was there

Eastney Lake

Eastney Lake

Eastney Lake - Ironicly "Suffs Folly" doesn't look like she's been sailed in a while...

Eastney Lake - Ironicly "Suffs Folly" doesn't look like she's been sailed in a while...

Langstone Harbour In Spring

Posted in Everything Else, General Boating Stuff by Joseph Moore on March 3, 2010

Just a few snaps of Langstone Harbour taken recently. Excuse the phone camera, my proper camera was AWOL at the time and turned up in the car of all places, so I had it with me after all…

East ferry pontoon - with the tide running fast

East ferry pontoon - with the tide running fast

Langstone Harbour main channel and the east ferry pontoon

Langstone Harbour main channel and the east ferry pontoon

Langstone fairway with the tide rushing out

Langstone fairway with the tide rushing out

The Kench

The Kench

Langstone harbour and kench

Langstone harbour and kench

Langstone harbour looking towards sinah sands

Langstone harbour looking towards sinah sands


It’s a beautiful spot, very quiet compared to the hustle and bustle of Portsmouth just nearby. I guess the acres of mud and sand at low water and the strong tidal streams through the narrow fairway are enough to send most sailors on to Chichester.

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A Sunny Day On Nervous Tension

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on March 2, 2010

Took the opportunity of the sunny weather to get down to my new project yacht, Nervous Tension. Langstone Harbour was absolutely beautiful despite the rather chilly southerly blowing straight up the main channel. Massive thanks to James for giving me a tow to the boat after I missed the tide quite spectacularly (Thanks, M25 roadworks!). It runs fast and strong through the fairway at the harbour entrance; much faster than my little arms can row.

There’s no doubt there’s a fair bit of work to do on her to get her sailing and even more to get her tidy, but there’s potential!

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" Starboard Quarter

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Starboard Quarter

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Looking Forward

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Looking Forward

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Starboard Midships

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Starboard Midships

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Port Quarter

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Port Quarter

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Twin Spreader Rig

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Twin Spreader Rig

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Controls & Instruments

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Controls & Instruments

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Mast

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Mast

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Bow

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Bow

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Bow Damage

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Bow Damage

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Looking Aftward

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Looking Aftward

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Twin Spreader Rig

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Twin Spreader Rig

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Damage To Port Deck

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Damage To Port Deck

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Down Below

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Down Below

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Down Below

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Down Below

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Cabin Roof

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Cabin Roof

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Damaged Stringer, Port Side

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Damaged Stringer, Port Side

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Damaged Stringer, Port Side

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Damaged Stringer, Port Side

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Port Quarter Berth

Extension 24 "Nervous Tension" - Port Quarter Berth


Most of the damage is on the topsides with a big chunk missing from the starboard side of the transom, starboard bow and port midships (causing the stringers to come away on the inside). I figured you guys could just imagine this for the time being as the tide was running strong by this time and I didn’t fancy dropping my phone in the bottom of the rather leaky inflatable.

The plan is to get my old seagull outboard running, re-hang the rudder (requires a new pintle and probably some repairs to the transom crossbeam) then motor her down to Southsea Marina for a weekend of cutting, gluing and painting.

A New Addition To The Fleet

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on February 19, 2010

I’ve been a bit rash this week and bought another boat! Nervous Tension is an Extension, which is pr0bably pretty meaningless to most people but I’ve got a folder full of bumph with her including old magazine articles which I’ll try to get scanned in. Essentially, she’s a 24′ flush decked quarter tonner from 1975, designed by Jac de Ridder and built in cold-molded mahogany. Currently in dire need of some repairs after coming off her mooring a few weeks ago. Still, I love a challenge and am looking forward to some great summer’s sailing.

Nervous Tension at anchor in Langstone Harbour

Nervous Tension on her mooring in Langstone Harbour