5 Things that Worked Well (and 5 that Didn’t…)

October 5, 2014 at 10:30 am

So, after a summer of cruising, here are 5 things that worked very well…

#1 Cheapie Battery Monitor off eBay

Hopefully you’ve seen my previous post on what this is, but I was rather pleased how well this worked! I used my multimeter a couple of times to compare results, and the multimeter always showed a couple of points above the plug in, which I’m OK with as I would rather it under reported than over reported… When the solar panel is charging it can over-read, but they do say that you should leave a battery half an hour to settle after charging before taking a reading.

Cost: £4

12v Voltage Meter hurley 22 duet

#2 Barton Winchers

Once I’d got these on, they were great.  They worked really well with 3 turns of my sheets round them (without even trying to get the sheet into the groove on the top).  The only time they slipped was when I clearly needed to reef.

Cost: £60 odd… But worth it I think!

Barton Winchers Hurley 22


#3 Oilie Stowage

After a few weeks of cruising I realised that what with the vaguaries of the British Summer I needed to have my oilies to hand from the cockpit. If I left them on the quarter berth they would without fail end up on the floor and out of reach from the tiller.  So I put this together from a piece of decking teak bought at Beaulieu that I just varnished, and then added some brass hooks from the Pound Shop.  I stuck it on with some 2 part epoxy glue and it was pretty life changing to be honest.  Funny the little things…. Pretty proud of the mitre too. It fits nicely and looks good.

Cost: £1 for wood, £2 for hooks, £6 for glue

Coat Rack Hurley 22

#4 Cider Jug

I’m not going go into detail but hopefully you can guess its use?  Much safer than dangling over the stern, use a cider jug in the cockpit and then tie a sheet to the handle and just lob the lot over the side (downwind). Perhaps more useful to the singlehander, as with crew where a modicum more privacy might be appreciated?  Don’t forget to bring it back aboard after 5 minutes or so… It will slow you down 0.3 of a knot (I know this for a fact).

I also found that initiating its use was generally likely to invite a search and rescue helicopter flypast. Maybe it was a question on my CG66? I must amend that…

Cost: Free

Cider Jug Hurley 22

#5 Galley Storage

I wasn’t sure if these would be secure enough.  They were.  Even though the compass on a few occasions became unfastened from its stowage and ended up on the floor, the cutlery and salt and pepper never did! Thank you IKEA.

Cost: 60p for cutlery holder, £3 for salt and pepper holders

Galley Stowage Hurley 22

#5 Galley Storage


And now 5 things that were a bit disappointing…

#1 The Tender

I bought a secondhand inflatable from Bussell’s before I left Weymouth, as every cruising yacht needs a dinghy, right? Well, er no I don’t think so.  I towed it about for a couple of weeks and then stowed it behind the mast before I left Portland to go round The Bill. 400 miles and 14 harbours later it hadn’t moved.  At 2.3m it is over 1/3 of the length of Duet and it is a small tender! In all the harbours I have been to I either had a walk ashore mooring, was on a buoy and there was a water taxi service, or I was at anchor and probably wouldn’t have felt comfortable going ashore and leaving Duet on her own anyway.  Admittedly the water taxi’s weren’t *that* cheap (from £3 to £5 per person return) which can quickly add up if you are crewed, or want lots of trips ashore.  But if you have crew, then presumably you would also have assistance to get the thing blown up and launched. Not sure it works for a singlehander.

Okay, so it could also be deployed as a liferaft in the event of a sinking, but I’m not even sure I could have done it on my own, and I don’t think the cockpit is big enough!  Blowing it up from the water doesn’t even bear thinking about. Besides, I have not so far been that offshore.  And I have a PLB on my lifejacket…  The dinghy’s going on eBay.

Cost: £150

Dinghy Stowage Hurley 22

#2 Bungee Self Steering

So I got this working twice, when the wind was forward of the beam.  All the other times, either the sea state or the wind was too high and I had to hand helm. I need better power and a tiller pilot, or a wind vane.

Cost: £5

#3 My phone.

I got my smartphone wet rounding The Bill and fried it. I bought a cheapie replacement phone in Bridport, but I then had no easy internet access for the weather etc.  Annoying as I actually have an Aquapac Stormproof cover, but wasn’t using it. Lesson learnt.

Cost: £hundreds…

#4 The Rigging Tuning

I messed about all summer with the rigging tension, and it’s still not right. There’s too much pre-bend now, and I think I need to slacken it all off and start again! The mast’s coming down for the winter anyway… There will be more on this I’m sure.

Cost: FREE

Hurley 22

#5 The Compass

Duet came with a big bracket mounted compass that is fixed just below the companionway in the cockpit on a removable bracket.  It looks retro and cool. However, it makes getting in and out of the companionway in anything other than a flat calm more tricky.  It’s also showing nearly 20 degrees deviation, and is invisible in the dark (no backlight or glow in the dark markings).  Sadly it has to be replaced (but I actually have a plastimo bulkhead compass on my day boat so I might just swap them.)

Cost: FREE (came with boat)

Would love to hear what you found this summer…

One Pan Fry

August 20, 2014 at 1:06 pm

So you’ve been sailing all day and are moored safely somewhere relatively peaceful now.  The cockpit has been tidied up, and the sail cover may even be on.  You can still hear the wind in the rigging, but you’re well sheltered and on a buoy (so no need to worry about the anchor setting)

…But you’re tired, a bit cold, and hungry. Yes, definitely hungry. First things first; get a brew on. Then what to have for dinner?  Clearly nothing too adventurous on a one-burner stove (and we’ve had enough adventure for today anyway…)

Well, this really hit the spot one day last week:

One Pan Fry

Serves 1.

Slosh of olive oil
1/2 courgette
1/2 onion
handful mushrooms thickly sliced
1 tin ham cut into chunks
handful cherry tomatoes sliced in half
Salt and pepper
1 tin baked beans 
(Clearly you can substitute the veg for what you have, and if you’re veggie leave out the ham or substitute it with another protein.)


Slice all veg and the tin of ham so they’re about the same sort of size.

Heat the oil and add the courgette, onion and mushrooms with a pinch of salt and fry on a medium heat until til they are nicely browned (a little salt at the beginning helps draw the moisture, which then cooks off and they brown better)

Add the ham and let that warm through and start to brown too.

Add the tomatoes last and just let them soften.  Too much and they will disintegrate…

Season really well with lots of pepper.

Empty the pan onto your plate and re-use it to heat the beans (who likes washing up anyway?)

Serve with bread and butter if you are that way inclined (the beans are carby enough for me…), and of course a big mug of tea.

Harbour Fry

Eat with a spoon, wearing pyjamas…


Bloody Rain…

May 28, 2014 at 9:47 am

I’m sat here in Bristol watching the rain spatter against the window, with a tidy house, the house sitter has been furnished with his key (and is due to move in tomorrow), and I am itching to get down to the boat to get on with the 4 coats of epoxy and 2 of antifouling that she needs before relaunch (booked for next Tuesday!). As well as all the interior work I need to finish to get her back to habitable (let alone sailable!).

But it’s raining, and besides, I have the dregs of a nasty cold I picked up last week at Keswick Mountain Festival where the weather was glorious and I sat on my stall for 3 days with a fabulous view of Derwent Water, Catbells and Skiddaw, reading a dog eared copy of Atlantic Britain by Paul Nicholson which a neighbour back at Beaulieu Boat Jumble had given to me. It was a great read, but I just knew the weather wouldn’t hold!


So here we are. We’ve had a washout Bank Holiday weekend (which I spent cleaning the house). Looking at the forecast it is going to continue to rain for the next few days and I feel kind of stuck. I need it dry to paint with epoxy, and although there is stuff I could get on with inside it needs electrics and I’m a long way from the sockets in the yard so need a double extension lead which is not waterproof. Also I need to sleep in the van, which is not much fun in the rain as (like the boat) you can’t really escape getting wet and bringing wet into the van, and then of course you get cold. And with the dregs of this cold still lingering I don’t want to get more sick or miserable… And anyway the dog hates the rain: If she’s miserable, I’m miserable.

So I am going to go off and get my sails from Clevedon this afternoon at least, and I may bring the bilge boards in from the shed for a final few coats of varnish in the kitchen.

If we’re honest though, it looks like I’m probably not going to make 3rd June… Which is not the end of the world as I’m actually paid up til 13th June, and a close friend has decided quite last minute to have a 40th birthday party after all (after a period of denial I think) on the weekend of the 10-11th June, which is a bit of a logistical nightmare as it is in Wiltshire, but I can’t not go really. We will be ready when we are ready.

In the meantime, I tried out a recipe over the weekend which I think will translate very well to the boat. It uses veggies that store very well un-refrigerated, and I think it would go very well with mackerel (you hear me? ;-). I’m trying to think of healthy stuff to supplement the standard yachting fare of Fray Bentos and Fish and Chips, and this fits the bill rather well.

It was really tasty and quite robust.  I made far too much, though it kept well for a good few days staying crunchy til the end!

Raw Cabbage Salad

Very sharp knife needed

Raw Salad

2 parts white cabbage finely sliced
1 part carrot grated or finely ‘julienned’
1 red onion
1 mango excavated, and chopped
Bunch of parsley
Bunch of corriander
Mixed seeds


Juice of 2 or 3 limes
Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper
1 tsp Tahini (or sesame oil)
Good glug of olive oil (depending on how oily you like your salad)
You could add some honey as well if you wanted/had some.

Simply mix all the salad, make up the dressing and pour it over, mixing that in well too.

Eat with smugness knowing it’s packed with loads of nutrients and goodness.  Unlike a tinned pie.

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