September 16, 2007

NOT the Southampton Boat Show

I shall not be showing anything at the Southampton International Boat Show this year. I've been for the last 5 years. However, it seems that we are having a long awaited indian summer, ideal for demonstrations of the Magnum 21. So if you want one call me on 0870 770 2728.

I shall, however, be attending instead the new Earls Court Boat Show in London at the beginning of December when I will have something new and exciting to show. Make a note in your diary.

Posted by © Stephen Walker at 09:51 PM

Sunny Colwyn Bay

I figured that yesterday might be the last good day for sailing this summer so after rowing in the morning I went to Rhos on Sea for a sail in the Magnum 21 trimaran. The main purpose of this brief expedition was to test the tell-tails that I had fitted to the genoa to make it easier to trim with the barber-haulers.

I had with me a complete novice who had never been in a sailing boat in her life and I did not want frighten her with rough conditions so I decided to stay in the bay where we were sheltered from the southerly wind, albeit a little stronger than I had expected. After one reach from harbour to pier I decided to stop and take a single reef as we were both lightweights and I was effectively sailing single-handed.

One reef in the main balanced the boat nicely. I love these new Diax sails. So shiney and stiff and with an excellent modern cut even when reefed. Zipping along in Colwyn Bay.

We simply reached up and down at speeds of up to 12 knots. Eventually as the tide went below half tide the wind subsided a little and I swapped the headsails, gybed and ran downwind to test the genoa. This was a great combination for broad reaching; a reefed main sail and the genoa. The boat felt fast, powerful and well balanced. With the change in the apparent wind we quickly had to haul in the genoa and all except the top tell-tail were streaming nicely. Now for the barber-hauler. Perfect. By pulling on it I was able to adjust the angle at which the sheet went into the clew of the genoa and create more of a downward pull on it. This pulled the top of the sail into a flatter shape and the top tell-tail streamed beautifully like all the others. From now on, with these tell-tails, trimming the genoa is going to be a doddle.

We were very quickly sailing away from the shore at 9 to 10 knots so we furled the genoa, unfurled the jib and turned back upwind to get back to the slipway before all the water had gone. Not that this would have been a problem as I have often recovered off the beach here.

Returning to Rhos-on-Sea with the sun glittering on the silvery sea. Steve concentrating.

After packing her away we discovered that the café that I usually call into at Rhos was shut, it now being out of season. But every cloud has its silver lining. After a brief search we discovered a much nicer restaurant called the Rhos Harbour Bistro with excellent sea views and we had sea bass that had been freshly caught just a mile off shore. It was superbly cooked and the service was charm itself. End of a great day spent almost entirley on the water.

Posted by © Stephen Walker at 04:42 PM

September 12, 2007

Round the Isle of Sheppey

I just received this interesting report from a Jonathan Lelliott who participated in this race on Sept 1st.

Hi Steve

Just a quick update re the IOS Race I competed in my Magnum 21:

As you know, we had been handicapped at 800, which was a little optimistic to say the least!
We arrived at Sheppey on the Friday evening and it was blowing a good F6 across a slight sea, Fanbloodytastic, I thought! We can simply sail through the carnage of the little monohull fleets! Of course, on Saturday the wind dropped to a F3! (grrrrrrrrr). Our original 1200 start time with the Tornadoes/Hobies/Spitfires etc was brought forward to 1100, allowing us to go with the mid handicap fleet of monos.

Below is a copy of what I've sent to our Police magazine, 'Patrol', editor for the sports page, just for your info:-


Saturday 1st September was the day of the annual Isle of Sheppey 'Round the Island Race', a 40 mile circumnavigation of the Kentish Island. Billed as the 'largest dinghy race in Europe', three Sussex Officers made the trip with a 21' trimaran. With a good deal of experience between them, including the Round the World Yacht Race, we were looking forward to some exciting racing.

This was our first race in this boat, a relatively new design of multihull. Due to the handicapping system in place for sailboat racing, which is designed to allow boats of different types to race against each other, we were duly given a handicap number the same as one of the faster catamarans taking part. I had my doubts!

Our start was at 11am and we needed more wind! It had eased considerably, but was forecast to increase and change direction in our favour later in the day. As we jostled for position at the start, we were dwarfing the smaller boats around us. Steve was at the helm and we made the decision to follow a couple of faster boats further away from the coastline, in an effort to find more wind. As the fleet split up, most of the dinghies were following the coastline. After 45 minutes the two boats we had been sailing with tacked back towards the coast and we had one of those 'it's now or never' moments! We continued for a short while, then, just before turning towards the headland, the wind shifted in our favour. We were getting good boat speed and as we closed in on the rest of the fleet, could see we were well up with the leaders. This was turning into a great day!

Converging at the headland we were doing well, spirits were high and even the sun was shining. Then the wind eased…..some of the nimble, lightweight boats around us started pulling away. We needed more wind - sailing can be so frustrating at times! To add to our woes, the catarmarans, who started an hour behind us (being much faster boats) were looming up on us, at great speed.

Turning northwest up The Swale, between the island and the mainland, we started to beat upwind. This is always hard work in a multihull, but we were pleased with the trimarans performance, easily keeping pace with many lighter boats.

One of the high points of this race is the navigation under the Kingsferry Bridge. The boats all have to be capsized to enable the mast to fit underneath. This cannot be done in a tramaran, due to its width so we had planned to lower the mast using a pulley system. Steve sailed in close to the mainland shore, allowing Alan to leap from the moving boat to hold us steady whilst I lowered the mast. Unbelievably, it worked like clockwork, and we dragged the hull though the narrow gap, lifted the mast and set sail again, up towards the Medway. We were the first ever trimaran to complete the task, and the assembled spectators showed their appreciation, presumably having wondered how we were going to manage!

Bearing away at Garrison Point, towards the finish, we continued to sail in lighter winds. Nonetheless we had completed the race in 5 1/2 hours, easily the longest dinghy race I have ever undertaken. We hauled the boat out of the water, loaded the trailer, exchanged the inevitable war stories with fellow sailors and headed home.


I have since received an email from the IOS Club, stating that 916 (per Dart 15) would be more appropriate and that their original estimation was based largely on boat length only! Still, I reckon I might be able to race at my local club (Shoreham) now, based on that.

Hope this finds you well….



This boat is now for sale.

Posted by © Stephen Walker at 10:41 AM

September 09, 2007

Fishguard Slipways

On my way home I drove through Fishguard and, as I often do when I visit a seaside place, I inspected the slipways to see how easy it would be to launch a Magnum 21 trimaran. The old town is by a quaint, drying harbour. You can see from the first photo that in the distance there is a nice, wide unobstructed slipway from which it would be easy to launch the boat when fully assembled. However, this slipway is not marked on the chart. The second photo shows the one that is marked on the chart. It is typical of many old harbour slipways in little harbours like this.

Note the wide slipway on the far side of the harbour. Typical narrow harbourside slipway at Fishguard.

As you can see it is steep and narrow and has a wall alongside it. Time was when I would have seen this as quite an obstacle to launching a Magnum 21 trimaran. But not now. Now I would be quite happy to work around this problem, launch with the boat like it is shown here and assemble it on the water.

Posted by © Stephen Walker at 04:13 PM

September 08, 2007

Unconventional launch at Solva

The charts I had for Solva in Pembrokeshire didn't show the drying heights in the harbour so I had to guess how early we had to be there to catch the tide for a launch. 8am turned out not to be early enough for a conventional launch. However, one only needs ankle deep water to launch a Magnum 21 and there is a small river flowing through the harbour and that was just enough. I drove the Toyota into the water and without bothering to open the boat and raise the mast we launched her. Geoff walked off to deeper water with her and I parked the car and trailer. Then we simply jumped in and paddled down amongst the moored boats.

Geoff paddles the Magnum 21 (still unassembled) through the moored boats at Solva. Glorious blue sky at Solva.

The sky was gloriously blue and it was warm and sunny. Following yesterday's spectacular drive down through Wales and with similar weather forecast for the whole weekend we were looking forward to a great day sailing with gentle offshore winds in calm water.

Drifting as though on a luxury raft was perfectly safe and very peaceful. All we had to do was to paddle ourselves clear of any other craft. Smiles all round. As the approached the pool I started the engine and we motored out of this little sanctuary into St Brides Bay.

Motoring out of Solva in the morning.

Ominously as we motored the 3 miles to Newgale beach the cliffs clouded over. There was virtually no swell, certainly compared to usual, and I deemed it quite safe to beach the boat at Cwm Bach beside Newgale and assemble the akas and amas and put on the trampolines. I had to do this to prove it could be done with the boat in the water, as I had said it could. At one point we were nearly left high and dry during a momentary lapse of concentration and we struggled successfully to refloat her. It was quite a battle with only two of us and the waves, albeit small ones, breaking around the boat now and then. But we managed it and pushed off during a brief interlude when the surf was minimal.

We were about to anchor off and put the mast up when the ladies saw us and hurried along the beach to join us. So we went back in to collect them and this time with four of us it was easy to get out into the surf. Getting mast up was easy to and we chatted whilst I rigged the sails. Then it was on with some water proofs to ward off the chill and we were sailing.

No trimaran sailing experience amongst this motley crew!

We bade farewell to our friends in their canoes and we were off. After a quick familiarity session with the jib I broke out the genoa and we were reaching at speeds of up to 11 knots in no time. At this speed it would only have taken us 5 hours to get to Ireland! But we didn't have enough sandwiches and there was a BBQ organised that we all had to get back for.

We did, however, sail past St Davids, the smallest Cathedral city in Britain, and as far as Ramsey Sound. We had a brief look at Ramsey Island, scene of Kate Singleton's epic wild water adventure on TV, and then turned back.

Ynys Berry is the most clearly distinguishable island in this view of the tip of Wales.

The conditions were ideal for sailing through the sound and round the Island but I had not planned to do this and as this passage appears in the "Fearsome Passages" book I decided that discretion was the better part of valour. We were getting hungry and needed to anchor somewhere. We could clearly see Shoe Rock nearby and this was not the place.

So we furled the genoa, unfurled the jib, tacked and headed NE to examine the beautiful coastline more closely. When we got to a Caerfai Bay we beat our way in and dropped anchor so we could enjoy my sandwiches.

Spot the couple perched on the cliff top.

Caerfai is the closest point to St Davids. There were people paddling and swimming, snorkelling and canoeing, camping, climbing and fishing and then there was this couple perched on top of the cliff having a picnic!

The Penpleidiau rocks had a couple of cairns on top but no seals. Only cormorants.

After lunch we weighed anchor and ran down wind past the Penpleidiau rocks. Then we headed back to Black Scar and the Mare, the rocks that guard the entrance to Solva. The wind from the north was funnelled by the valley at the bottom of which lies the harbour. So as we approached the entrance we felt its force somewhat magnified. It meant also that it would still be windy in the pool just inside the entrance so I elected to sail past the entrance and take down the main sail in the lea of the cliffs of Black Rock.

Re-entering Solva Harbour in the Magnum 21. The welcoming view of the Harbour at Solva with the Sailing Club on the left.

Then we motored in.

The first few boats were leaving to engage in an afternoon race and I learned later that a crew of young boys that we passed by, skippered by a 14 year old, won the day.

Then it was off to St Davids to buy some beers for the evening and partake of some afternoon tea. There are quite a number of tea shops in St Davids but when we went into the first one it was closing for tea!

Ramsey Sound with The Bitches on the far side next to Ramsey Island. St Justinians Lifeboat Station has its own railway!

After tea we drove as far west as it is possible to get on the Welsh mainland, to St Justinians to have a look at Ramsey Sound, the Bitches on the far side, and the Lifeboat Station.

For all its being in the Fearsome Passages book, I thought that, on this occasion at least, Ramsey Sound seemed quite benign, especially when compared to The Swellies in the Menai Straits. But I can imagine it to be quite fearsome with a spring tide running against a strong wind.

Notice the dog on the canoe in the water!

We had to drive back through Solva and I borrowed this canoe in the foreground, from a man seen here with his dog on the bows of another canoe, to nip out to the Magnum 21 to lash the tiller and check she was OK at anchor for the night.

Posted by © Stephen Walker at 10:23 PM