Saturday, 19 May 2018


D recently bought me a card which I think pretty much sums it up as the sailing season starts. Need I say more.

Quickly moving on, we raced Satellite for the first time last weekend in a new event, the Cowes Spring Classics. A small group of gaffers and Bermudan boats gathered to participate in what was billed to be a three race series. Unfortunately the weather had other plans and Saturday saw absolute calm descend on the fleet leaving us to find other things to do. I have to say this turned out to be a potentially productive afternoon as a visit to the boat from another competitor to look at the rigging work I had done on Satellite lead to an invitation to provide some of the rigging and leatherwork for a restoration of 'Naneen' currently in build in Kilrush in Ireland and potentially the first of a fleet of seven, the original hulls of which have sat in a farmyard, rotting. See the link below for the restoration story.
The project leader is planning a modern build and so was interested in the work I had done with Dynastay and also the leathering.

I have decided that I would like to assist with the project and although it won't immediately lead to the ability to escape the world of the day job, one never knows what it might lead to. I plan to enter into negotiations and see where we end up.

In addition, I got the chance to fit the rest of the cover and whilst it was not fully fettled, we did use it in earnest on Saturday night and it proved its worth.

Furthermore, a little downtime allowed me to indulge and, as a Captain Curry riggers kit arrived with the card (birthday in case you haven't guessed) then the rather fine combined shackle key and marlin spike demanded a suitable lanyard to prevent it going overboard. Maybe I went overboard instead...

Whilst wandering round the marina waiting for any wind to turn up, I got chatting to one of our friends whose lovely gaffer has not quite so lovely a sailcover. A bit of a discussion later, and I am taking my tape measure to the next rally to measure up for a replacement for the sad worn cover. As you can see below, the only thing going for it was it had its own ecosystem.....There is a spray hood to replace as well but I plan to watch the four hours of Sailrite video on making spray hoods before making any commitment as it would have to be up to my standard. That's dedication.

And what about the sailing ? Well, Sunday morning dawned fair and windless but with a promise of a breeze building. The race officer held his nerve and got us out into the Solent in just enough wind to creep over the tide for the first race and then the second had a bit more breeze to play with. By the time we headed home after prize giving (we managed a 2nd and a 4th place so were 3rd overall) the wind was a stiff 4-5 and we had a spectacular reach home.

Photos of Satellite racing are at


Reaching home (both pictures copyright R.Jacobs)

And what of the seagull deterrent ?.... keep watching this space....

Monday, 7 May 2018

Add Venture x2

You know me, I like a pun and the title refers to the fact that the reason the blog has been a bit quiet is that I have been wrestling with making a cover for the boat and the best thing since sliced bread in the world of cover making is 'Venture Tape'. Really sticky double sided tape that is very thin and means that you can stick long seams together prior to sewing thus avoiding pin holes in your nice cover or wobbly miss matched seams - I couldn't have done it without this stuff.

For the technical amongst you, the cover is made of Odyssey fabric, the colour is 'Sand' and the binding tape that is the best colour match is beige.  The Odyssey fabric is a little lighter weight that the usual canvas for protective coves and this is for two reasons, Firstly, the cover in production will be used to extend living space, protect from too much rain/too much sun and provide privacy when on board, not for leaving the boat covered on the mooring.
Secondly, covers take up a lot of space. This one packs down quite well for storage. It zips into two parts using two 4ft beige open ended YKK marine zips,
good and chunky with plastic teeth. Canvas, zips, binding supplied by Kayospruce.  Thread was heavy duty and UV resistant. Go for ordinary thread and you risk having constituent parts of your covers not attached as the thread rots.

Cover - front part - first fit

Because the flapping canvas always wears, I have taken the opportunity to strengthen the tie points and wear points with some marine quality suede (marine quality so the dye does not run) acquired from Clyde Marine Leather. They sell leather for steering wheels but also they sell hides. I didn't want a whole hide but asked and they sold me half one which was more than enough and I am contemplating what projects could make use of the remaining buttery soft gorgeousness.

What I have learned in making the cover....
  • The sewing machine purchase (see last post) is more than man enough for the job although I hand sewed the suede as I am not sure it would have made it through the suede and cover material.
  • Your table will not be big enough.
  • Unless you are a professional, be prepared for a number of fittings.
  • If you gaff ends short of the full length of the boom, (and let's face it, whose doesn't) then the cover will droop at the end unless you do something about it (I took some material out of the centre panel so it now doesn't droop).
  • Use Velcro judiciously. I know it solves a lot of problems but it wears out. For accommodating the topping lift, I put a cut in the cover running from the topping lift aft and then cut a transverse slot to take the topping lift. I then had to come up with a closure method that was strong, would not rust, did not wear too quickly and did not require the cover to be put on millimetre perfect each time. I went for ye olde latching so we will see that goes on (See picture below) .First mentioned in the 1600's and used by circuses to connect canvas panels the only picture I could find was in good old Ashley's book of knots. This is my 'desert island' book, leave me on a desert island with this book a selection of cordage and a fid (yes can I have a fid as well please Kirsty ?) and I would die a happy woman.
  • Pay someone else to make your cover if you are at all fainthearted.

Latching demonstrated, Rope loops sewn to cover at appropriate sizes and distances to pass through eyelets and preceding rope loop.


And what about the boat ? Well we got out to sail again on a cold grey day with a little more wind than our first sail and as we messed around outside the entrance to the Hamble, out came our friends on Ivy Green. They
sailed alongside us and I have to thank them for the photograph - the first of Satellite sailing but not the last.

The next 'Add Venture' was really an 'adventure' in as there was a rally organised to Chichester Marina. This was the first opportunity to take Satellite on a proper trip and to work out living on board. Setting out on Friday morning, we hit fog crossing the fairway into Portsmouth. We had managed to check left and right as we could see boats disappearing as the fog rolled in and were OK to cross quickly at a narrow point of the channel. Once at the entrance to Chichester Harbour the fog lifted and in sparkling conditions, we made our way to the marina. 

Sunrise over the skipper

Now I know you don't want to bore with tales of 'what I did on my holidays' but suffice it to say that things worked and we had pretty much got it right in terms of interior layout and the right kind of stuff on board (not too much but the right stuff). Berths were comfy and stuff fell to hand easily. I don't think there will be much that we would have done differently. One small addition I have yet to fabricate is a handy pocket to fix between the companion way grab rails to keep racing instructions etc handy when racing as I will really miss the space under the previous boat's sidedecks where this used to go.
I will report on progress once I have made it and used it.

The only other slightly more significant thing concerns the staysail. We are well behaved with our sails but we made a concession with the jib by having a sacrificial strip added so that we could keep the jib out when not in use without the thing rotting away. The compromise is looks and although it is not too ugly, it is not how we would do it if we had rigged her with a bowsprit traveller, which we haven't. The consideration for the staysail was whether to protect the luff in the same way or commit to the slightly easier job of taking it down each time and stowing it - but where ?: The only place is down below but this is not favourable if the thing is wet when you come to leave the boat. So what's the solution ? A trip to the 'Sailrite' website to view a video on how to make headsail covers and another bout with the sewing machine.

What else is there to report ? Ah yes, an experiment in seagull deterrents but I shall leave that for next time - It has worked so far and I am patenting it if it works for longer as anyone who can keep seagulls from depositing on your boat should earn a fortune. There, a cliffhanger to end on.

Monday, 2 April 2018

What goes up.....

So, yesterday was the day we got to sail her for the first time. We spent a couple of hours alongside deciding on more bits to screw on....(debate about arrangements for chute halyard and pole uphaul cleats, type, location of, I won't bore you) interrupted by a lovely passer by who cast a very appreciative eye over her as the sun glinted of the fresh varnish and proclaimed her a 'thing of loveliness ' so we invited him on board. Here, he scrutinised most parts and then went and bought his family back to have a look as well. We were warned you needed to be sociable with a Golant Gaffer as you are seldom alone on a pontoon.
What is also true, as we were told when she touched the water for the first time, 'She'll never look as good again as she does right now' and whilst one doesn't wish to contemplate that, I have indulged myself with a few more pictures for posterity.

So having wrestled the staysail out of its bag and attached it, we motored off down the river to find some wind. We emerged into a quiet Solent with smooth water and a light breeze which was perfect for checking that everything was working. Main went up smoothly and jib and staysail unfurled with ease and we pottered about just getting the feel of her and grinning like idiots until the rapidly falling temperature encouraged us to return to the mooring. Job done with the exception of the chute which still needs a bit of setting up as we need to actually buy the cleats we decided on earlier.

What else is on the horizon ?  Well the thing I have dreaded I can avoid no longer.... the material to make the cover has arrived. I look forward to many hours wrestling with recalcitrant canvas which muttering the mantra - get someone else to do it....For the technically minded I am using Odyssey fabric made by Marchem, colour 'Sand' with Sauleda binding (colour beige is best match) and two YKK No. 10 zips (beige) again. The fabric is reasonably lightweight as this cover is just for use in harbour and we don't have much room to store it. I will reinforce where the eyelets go for good measure. The plan is a two part cover providing shelter over the hatchway or with a back section zipped on to provide a cover over the whole cockpit.

 Also, I appear to be developing a sideline in boat leatherwork. having helped out a friend in fixing their steering wheel cover, I was presented with a large bowsprit traveller which needed some TLC. Having contemplated it, I felt it was worth of some very special leather I had begged to buy from a 'seconds' room at a Northampton leather factory. It is supple and really well oiled, took the curve of the ring perfectly and with a bit of assistance, the owner was able to transform the sorry looking thing to something more respectable (see below).



Sunday, 25 March 2018

A question of provenance

When you bring your new Golant Gaffer alongside for the first time, all fresh and shiney, be prepared....she will turn heads and attract all kinds of questions which is nice that folk show appreciation. Yesterday as a large yacht moored up behind us on the pontoon, the owner approached cast his eye over Satellite and asked about her restoration.... we explained she was built by us.. next question 'Did you buy a kit ?'....... No she was built from looking at hull, Did you buy the hull ?... No she's cedar strip and casting eyes over coachroof..'Did you make the fibreglass sections yourself ?..........Oh well you can't win them all.......

Later in the day, as dusk set in, another gentleman scooted over to say hello and that he had the plans to build one but hadn't started yet. We wish him all the best when he does.

Also we had a visitation from D's family. The younger element having fun bouncing up and down on deck and flicking all the switches which is essentially what sailing is all about I feel.

Today is finally the day of celebration with 30 friends and further family coming to celebrate with us.


We are now home again having had a truly lovely day with friends and family. We are so grateful that they were able to make it as it brought us together with friends we had not seen for a while as well as our incredibly hospitable newer sailing friends. 

They were so hospitable in fact that we came away with a number of things to affix to the boat. Two friends were not able to attend as they had other commitments but they were very kind to send us a name plaque with Satellite's OGA number and her name.

Also we have a new clock..very nice...

Plus an excellent folding down washing up bowl and two fab Union Jack mugs (see below) and a lovely stropped block with Satellite's name on it. Ah and as you can see that's the wine cellar sorted.

The stropped block is pictured below and as you know, I like a bit of ropework and this has a nicely made rope grommet which has then been whipped to hold the block and a brass thimble. We were very touched by this and think a suitable use for it will be to support the 'Bucket of Declaration' (see earlier post).

Also there were some really nice cards  which I appreciate, not being an artist myself.

One of which was very appropriate (with the exception that she is not spritsail barge) but I guess there are not many cards for builders of Golant gaffers.

It seems I have been waylaid by all things shiny and stringy... so how about the boat itself ? I took a few pictures in a quiet moment but have yet to really document the final result.

The (pointy) End...

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Waiting game

Well, best laid plans and all that. Last Sunday we were due to celebrate with friends and family the fact that we had made it however weather intervened and in the face of snow, ice and a biting easterly wind keeping temperatures close to freezing, we decided that we would forestall and move our 'party' by a week. No one wants to stand on the pontoon discussing the niceties of boat building whilst essential bits of them fall off and roll from the pontoon. Enough said. Anyway, after an afternoon of phoning round we have succeeded and are looking forward to seeing everyone soon.

Oh dear...

But not wishing to be idle in the meantime, I had a bit a time on my hands and what did my thoughts turn too ? well 'string' of course ! Actually to be more accurate, rope. I had still to finalise the arrangements for the cruising chute and so I set to and created a halyard for it. This is going to run through a small low friction eye and as such, a tapered splice has potential to get stuck in the eye and so, rather than attach a nasty white plastic 'stopper' I decided to pack out an area below the serving and then dress it with a nice turk's head which I think will do the job. We will see. Obligatory photograph (showing serving, Portuguese sennit to aid the release and turk's head as an ornamental stopper).

Monday, 12 March 2018

Wet bottom

The last few weeks have rather drawn out as we awaited today. There have been a few jobs to do preparing the trailer to take the spars and finishing off a few bits and pieces. But today, in between frequent heavy downpours, we launched. I think now is the time say a huge thank-you to a long list of people, D, for staying the distance and calmly working through the build. I knew when we committed to this build that it would be completed, I had no concerns that we would end up with a half finished shell at the bottom of the garden where some folks' dreams start and finish. Also to T and S (they know who they are) for their support and for sharing their learning from their built, I am sure Satellite is a better boat for that. And finally to all our OGA friends who showed interest in what we were doing, particularly M who rendered much practical assistance and hospitality at critical points along the way. Oh good grief this is sounding like the Oscars, but seriously it has meant a lot to us to have you all rooting for us. Thank you.

Whilst this blog was set up to share the process of building in real time for anyone else who has a plan to do this, it does not end here. We will have a debrief and share the things that work well and the things we would probably do differently. 

In the meantime here are the pictures. Below shows the wood and leather holders for the spars fixed to the trailer.

Here is M applying seizing wire to various shackles (nice job). If you ever need your shackles seizing, she's your woman. Behind the boat is the enormous fork lift truck which was used to launch the boat.

Here she is being lowered into the water by the huge fork lift which makes her look like a toy.

Here she is on the water with an engineer commissioning the engine which went like a dream.

Once she had the boom, gaff and jib added, we took her off down river to her mooring.

I have to say that I am feeling a bit overwhelmed so I think its time for a lie down after having been awake half the night like a kid waiting for Christmas.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Many hands make light work....

Now she's on the trailer and out in the open, it gave me the chance to stand back a bit and take photos from a greater distance so you can see a bit more in one shot.

And more to report as another milestone passed. Today's challenge was to get the mast up and determine final lengths for forestay and shrouds. This involved attaching the shrouds, the backstays and the forestay to the appropriate places on the mast along with a decent length of strong rope to where the forestay attaches and then heaving the mast onto the deck. The foot of the mast was located into the tabernacle and the rope run forward to a block on the stemhead and then back to the cockpit through the halyard jam cleats. This was designed to provide some control and protect the mast from falling backwards once it was up. Before hoisting, the backstays were attached to provide some lateral stability and to stop the mast going forward. Next job was then to 'walk' the mast up. It helped that D is tall and strong and between us we managed to get the mast up but the decent piece of rope to the stemhead didn't provide much help to get the mast up due to the steep angle. Consequently, we stuck the bowsprit on and re-ran the rope to a block at the end of the bowsprit to give a better angle when dropping the mast down again.

NOTE. If you are going to do this then apply rope to the bowsprit to stop it going skyward as the mast comes down as you can't put the bobstay on as the trailer prevent this and it would be a shame to break it when we've come this far.....

Anyway we got the mast up and marked off what we guess is the final length of the shrouds so I can finalise splicing the hard eyes into the dynastay and D can fit the turnbuckle for the forestay (the only bit of rigging I am letting him do only 'cause he's done it before !). 

Handy hint....Also we took the opportunity to test the navigation lights on the top of the mast at this stage in case there were problems. Which there weren't (hooray).

Getting the mast down we decided to call on another pair of hands and our obliging neighbour helped out which made it rather easier, and so dear reader in the gathering gloom we came in to thaw out and celebrate (can you see the theme here ?).

Also, we have been contemplating vehicles as D's vehicle is just about at the limit for towing so we have now identified a secondhand Mitsubishi L200. It is less of a beast sizewise than it looks (see below) and the interior is less van, more car.