October 28, 2009

Conwy & Great Orme

Maurice sailing in Conwy Bay with Puffin Island distinguishable at the entrance to the Menai Straits and Anglesey in the distance beyond.

Maurice, a hale and hearty, 82 year old, Zimbabwean with a strong farmer's handshake, came for a Magnum 21 demonstration last week with his son, Des.

While I was putting the boat together the flood tide was ripping up the River Conwy against a fresh southerly wind. It was a good wind, not too much, but enough for a good sail. However, by the time we launched the tide was high and the wind had dropped away completely so I motored up the river to show my guests the spectacular Conwy Castle first.

We turned seaward again and after meandering through the moorings we launched the spinnaker. It hung limply from the mast! So we had lunch and waited for the wind.

The main channel follows the coast in a westerly direction but there is a second channel that goes north along the edge of the Great Orme and as the tide was in and the wind seemed to be from the west now we decided that we'd go that way. I'd never been this way by sea before and it is much more dramatic.

We crept alongside the Orme past "millionaires row" at about 3 knots using the GPS to avoid rocks after we'd seen one with a bird standing on it that, from a distance, we'd thought was another buoy!

View from Conwy Sands to Penmaenbach

When we were nearly at the end of the Orme we gybed and, of course were unable to sail upwind so we took the spi down and set the jib so we could beat back to Conwy against the ebb tide. You can see from the track just how well the Magnum 21 points upwind.

Click to zoom

Eventually after ten tacks, as the time was running out and the tide was falling, we started the engine. I'll have to sail here again; it was fun.

Maurice and Des said they'd need a crocodile flap installing at the stern! First time I've ever been asked for one of those.

Posted by © Stephen Walker at 09:19 AM

October 05, 2009

Record Speed for V8

On passage to the La Rochelle Boat Show the new V8 catamaran achieved a new top speed of 21.3 knots. The crew think that they went faster than this before they turned the GPS on!

Posted by © Stephen Walker at 03:05 PM

October 01, 2009

Wind Farm in a Magnum 21

Recently I sailed with Julie in a Magnum 21 trimaran out to a new wind farm being built off the North Wales coast on the Contable Bank, 5 miles from Rhos-on-Sea. Click the image below to view the VIDEO.


It was lovely day with a light breeze and so on the downwind sail back we got the spinnaker out. We sailed very close to a tug, Red Dolphin, which appeared from the land to be in amongst the turbines, guarding them, but in fact turned out to be only half way there!

This is the sort of thing that I love to do in the Magnum 21 trimaran. Take the boat somewhere and go and have a look at something from the sea that others without boats don't get to see. The wind farm was a great objective but the view to landward from the sea was always spectacular with the Great Orme, Llandudno, and the Berwyn and Snowdonia mountain ranges providing stunning backdrops to our afternoon sail.

Track taken by Magnum 21 trimaran around wind farm.

We covered 11.5 nautical miles in 3 hrs 15 mins so our average speed was 3.5 knots. Our max speed was 6.4 knots, achieved when we did a little reaching before we approached the slipway on our return.

The next video I'll be editing together for you all is the final one in the assembly and rigging instructions, RIGGING the SPINNAKER of the MAGNUM 21.

Posted by © Stephen Walker at 03:44 PM

Atlantic Adventure Highlights

The V8 was NOT at the Southampton International Boat Show as it had to go to La Rochelle instead but this video covering the highlights of our Atlantic Adventure is much better anyway. Enjoy.

Episode 1
The outbound voyage is covered in more detail in an article I've written in Multihull Review magazine and you can see a video of Episode 1 of our journey in the V8 this summer here which takes us from L'Orient to Ile d'Yeu. I will be producing other videos from this exciting trip in due course. Something to do over the winter months! In the meantime you can read about the voyage home below.

The Voyage Home

Phillipe bade us bon voyage at Port Medoc as he was going to drive Laouen's car back to Brittany and Loauen's cousin, Gregoire, joined the crew.

All was well at the beginning with a good ebb tide and some wind helping us along. Then as we reached the lumpy water at the mouth of the estuary the wind dropped and we slopped around with the little 3.5HP spare engine barely able to propel us up the steepest waves without stalling. It turned out to have run out of fuel. It only holds a litre! I thought we would never escape. The vessel that carries the Airbus wings from Mostyn on the Estuary of the River Dee near where I live steamed by. At last the wind arrived and we were on our way into the Atlantic again.

Around the middle of the day Laouen attached a rope to the stern and hung off it porpoising along behind the boat whilst we loosened off the spinnaker to keep the speed down. That was until Greg powered it up again to give Laouen a little excitement.

Things you can do with a shallow draft boat

We did not have enough food on board to carry on through the night and the next day to get to Ile d'Yeu so as the wind dropped in the late afternoon we decided to beach the boat at the NE tip of the Ile de Ré, so that we would deviate the least distance from our intended overall course. To save time we went between the two lighthouses after checking our tide tables to see if there would be enough water. There was about 1.5m! But we only drew 80cm so we just had to keep one eye on the sea bed and the other on the GPS! We took the anchor up the beach near some WWII German bunkers, one of which was actually inhabited, then we went for a meal beside of the lighthouse of Le Gillieux.

Things that go bump in the night

Back on board Laouen and Greg erected their tent in the dark and I got inside the starboard hull. But it was impossible to get to sleep as the wind had changed direction and waves were pushing the V8 up the beach creating groaning and creaking noises with accompanying violent movements. We all turned to at the same time in our night attire. Laouen jumped into the sea at the bows and I went to start the engine. It started first time. Thank you, you Japanese. Then two waves entered the tent that Laouen and Greg had neglected to close and simultaneously soaked me from head to foot whilst at the same time lifting the hulls enough for Laouen to push us off the sand. We motored out to the other moored boats and dropped the anchor. Phew!

Ile de Ré - Ile d'Yeu

Next day, up early we set sail after sunrise and coffee with sleeping bags and clothing hanging from the boom to dry. It was another beautiful day of broad reaching with the spinnaker. Laouen managed to drop his phone in the sea! His wife was not surprised to hear this, as he loses one phone each year. I paid special attention to him when he borrowed mine later to tell her.

After half an hour trying to find a suitable beach to land on at Ile d'Yeu, Laouen bid me call up the capitainerie on the VHF as he felt my English accent would be more likely to secure us a place in the harbour. We ended up in exactly the same place as before and employed the same jumble of ropes to secure fenders between the dock wall and the boat.

Night sailing

Next morning at 5am we managed to knock into the water our port side navigation light before we'd even used it. Laouen's head torch took its place. Good job it wasn't the starboard light that went missing. This was to be our longest day. We had to use the engine almost all the way to Belle Ile but this had its compensations. The surface of the ocean had a glassy appearance and the rising sun made beautiful patterns on the hull sides. You could see the reflection of the sky so that in one direction the water was the colour of ink and in another it had the pattern of the clouds in it that looked like a Belgian Waffle.

Strange Fish

Laouen and Greg undertook their morning ablutions, swimming in the ocean! Then once we got going again we came across the strangest fish. At first all we could see was a fin flapping on the surface. Then as we drew near we could clearly see the fish underneath this fin. It had a matching fin underneath and couple of smaller ones on its sides. It looked as though it had had its rear half bitten off. But it hadn't. We later discovered that it was a sunfish and that they eat jellyfish. This must have been a baby as it was only about ½ a metre long and the adults can reach the size of a Landrover!

Looks like fog!

Still motoring we caught sight of Belle Ile and then we were in fog. Dense but not thick fog. We could still clearly see the sun. But would couldn't see through the fog more than 20 metres. I had to keep cleaning my specs with a chamois leather every few minutes. Then the wind came and we were able to stop using the engine. I thought I saw land dead ahead and Laouen, at the helm, exclaimed, “It must be the island of Hoedic and we need to turn to port now!” but I checked the GPS and Hoedic was miles away still so it must just have been a big wave. Then the fog disappeared and we decided to head into Quiberon Bay where the water would be calmer and we'd be able to sail faster.

Where to now?

We were discussing which way to go from here as the wind was coming from where we wanted to go, which meant very slow progress beating to windward. Should we go back between the islands? Which passage to choose? I was very tired by this time and my eyes wanted to close. We'd been doing 10 miles at the helm each but we'd been going since 5am and I'd not slept like the others had because of the fog. Then there was a splash right next to me. “Oh my God”, I exclaimed, “Dolphins! Quick get the camera.” Instead Greg immediately took the helm and I grabbed the camcorder. We were surrounded by about 40 dolphins! The most I'd ever seen at one go. Laouen lay on the foredeck of the starboard hull tapping the sides for all he was worth to entertain them. They only stayed for a few minutes then they went off to investigate another yacht going the other way. Then they disappeared leaving us all wide awake and thrilled. Laouen had been worried not to have seen dolphins in the V8 all this time so he was really pleased.

The plan changed several times. Should we go to Le Palais on Belle Ile? What about Port Haliguen on the Quiberon peninsula? What about Sauzon on Belle Ile. We seemed destined not to get to L'Orient at any rate. We were still heading north as the wind had freshened and Laouen and Greg could not resist the temptation to go fast on a reach. The temperature had dropped with the cold front that had caused the fog and time was marching on. After a couple of tacks we found ourselves almost at the entrance of the Morbihan so we decided to put in at La Trinité-sur-mer.

Bowsprit fixing

Then suddenly the bowsprit fell down onto the forenet. Phillipe had identified a problem with a shackle before we'd set off and thought it would hold but the catamaran had been pitching quite a bit during the beat to windward and the shackle had given up the ghost. As with most things on a boat a little bit of rope solved the problem and we didn't even have to stop to fix it as we had a crew of three.

When I first started selling sailing boats I was quite shocked at how unreliable they were. They were like cars were before the Japanese became involved. I've come to accept it now. This 9 day trip was a really good test for the V8 and she came through it really well. The builders learned a few small but important lessons about the rig that will make it even better. And we all learned to sail it better.

Arrival - but not at home

I was put onto the radio again as we approached La Trinté because I had been successful last time in securing a berth. It worked again and Greg complimented me on my French, with surprise.

On the way in we passed a few very, very big, famous, racing multihulls.

Laouen went to the big motor yacht berthed next to us to borrow a cork screw for our remaining bottle of wine and instead we were all invited on board. After an hour or so his younger brother, Malo, turned up with his Renault Twingo and we all piled in to go for a meal at a local restaurant where everybody knew everybody except for me. Lots of kissing of the Madame.

Yet another cousin joined us and at the end of the meal I fell asleep in the toilet! Then we had to pack the sails away and secure the V8, collect our gear and take it to the Twingo. I fell asleep again on the car park whilst waiting for the others. We dropped Greg off first and Malo off second and Laouen borrowed Malo's car to take me to the house of his mother where we were going to stay the night. We had now been up for 22 hours! I was ready for bed.


In the morning, I did as I was bid the night before and went upstairs to wake Laouen. When I called out his name from the landing I got no response at first. But then in a room to my right a woman sat up in bed and called out in alarm “Qui est vous?” (Who are you?) She obviously thought she was being burgled by an Englishman. “Laouen, Laouen can you please get up and explain to your mother who I am.”

Ten minutes later we were all laughing about it over coffee in the kitchen with Laouen being very contrite about not having told his mother and step-father because he had thought they were away.

So we had a great time, all of us, loads of laughs, lot's of little incidents, a few scary moments, we visited some new places and enjoyed French cuisine and hospitality and we had lots of great sailing with exciting arrivals in the new V8 catamaran. What could be better?

Buying a V8

To ORDER NOW click here

Posted by © Stephen Walker at 03:09 PM

Short Magnum 18 video

New customers enjoying their new boat have just notified me of this clip they have uploaded to YouTube.

Posted by © Stephen Walker at 10:04 AM