Category Archives: The Sailing Log

Life on the Water!
Below are posts relating to Louise and my experiences “on the water” in learning to sail and steam!!!

Launching & Initial Sea Trials

 “The Day” arrived!

There was no more putting off to be done – we had to launch her. We had agreed the rental of a swinging mooring on Ullswater with Ullswater Marine.  So on the 27th June (just over 7 years and 2 weeks since the first post here) we hitched the Landy to the trailer, and with our hearts in our mouth we set off. Actually, as neither of us slept much, and recognising it was “bin day” and aside from the normal, farm/post/school traffic down the 2 miles of single track lane, we also needed to dodge the refuse truck so we decided to set off at 7:30am.

The tow went OK (we avoided any traffic down the lane), but the extra weight made her a bit more of an uncooperative partner, so slow and steady was the rule. It was a blindingly hot day – good for photography, less attractive for working on her.


This process was actually easy and drama free, as the marina owner does not allow anyone but himself to launch anything – so, hitched to his tractor, in she went….

While Ullswater is almost 200ft (67m) deep in the middle, it’s quite shallow at the marina, so there is little water to spare at the slipway.

The good news is that once in and tied up, we discovered that all the computations on load were OK and she floated pretty much where she was intended too. 🙂 (actually we eventually added a couple of bags of sand to even her up athwartships).

…and it floats level!

We fired up the boiler and checked that everything worked as intended, realising just in time, that we had the seacocks on both sides of the condenser closed – and the leak from a hose clip indicated that the cooling water in the condenser was expanding! But all the electrical stuff worked, the feed, circulation and vacuum pumps did their jobs and all seemed good.

Maiden Voyage

As suggested we left her on the doc for 48hrs, to make sure she did not sink, and her Maiden Voyage was set for Friday late afternoon when the weather was cooling from the 31C that we seemed to be stuck with for the week.

With Lou at the helm, her sister, Jane, handling the doc lines, 200psi on the gauge and some trepidation, we headed out into the lake!

The decision was made to head up towards Pooley Bridge. All went well, we kept speed down to 3-4 knots and checked the steering, stability etc.

She seems to ride well in the pretty calm waters of the lake, with the rudder able to easily offset the windage of a (slight) breeze across the water.

The varying electrical load as the burner started and stopped, was reflected in the load on the alternator, and thus engine speed – so at this rather stately pace some juggling of the regulator was needed to keep things steady.

The sad news was that the engine developed something of a knock, and the hp cylinder gland was leaking quite badly – so we decided against a more extended journey until these items have been investigated. So, having gotten within a few hundred yards of Pooley, we turned around and  returned to the marina.

Docking was managed with no drama, although we opted not to attempt to reverse in-between the pontoons: discretion being the better part… etc. (BTW the engine reverses readily with the Impulse Valve providing the additional push when needed).

So next week we are being moved to the swinging mooring, we will repack the HP gland, and see if we can locate the nasty knock.

All in all, pretty good – we even saw a vacuum, and the alternator maintained the battery condition.

I had stared a tracking app on the phone, to record the passage, but failed to click the right buttons, so no log is available – but a happy first hour on the water….

The Crew & Views


Chief Engineer for the day!

I really must write to thank Mark Rudall (Chairman of the SBA) for allowing me to take charge of his steamboat Chimera II at the Puffing a’Wey event in Guildford last week.

It was a great experience. Mark’s boat uses a kerosine pot burner which makes the boiler easy to control, and the Canadian compound engine performed faultlessly.

I was very glad to have a man at the wheel, as monitoring the machinery is a “full time” job. Here’s a shot of Chimera with it’s builder (John Winn) at the helm (well on the ‘phone at least)!

SBA Event at Windermere

Each year the SBA (Steam Boat Association) has a week long rally at Windemere in the English Lake District.

This year Louise and I arranged to be there at the same time and joined them for a couple of days. This gave us a chance to take a trip on three boats; Arminta (built by Len Williamson), and powered by a Leak compound of the type I am building; Grayling, built by John Maltby – a tribute to his fine engineering; and Imp owned and built by Chris Davis – a lovely traditional river launch, with a Stuart 6A built by himself.

We also visited the Steam Boat Museum, soon to be reopened following a change of management and major refurbishment.

Some pictures below:

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Steaming with the ABV

Louise and I had a fun weekend with the Steam Boat association, at the Rally they organised with the French Steam Boat Association at St. Ives on the Great Ouse.

In a Lock on the Great Ouse

A collection of UK, French and Dutch Steamboats in a lock..

We were fortunate enough to blag trips on Lady Selsey (owned by Richard Mitchell) and Theodore (owned by Pieter Brittijn) – with brilliant sunshine, and good company we had a great time.

It also helped confirm Louise’s and my view of the style of boat we wanted to build, we are very taken with the more open “working” boat typified by the yacht tender from the turn of the century (1900!), as opposed to the Edwardian river launch style. (as Louise commented these could be characterized as the difference between Ikea and the Antiques Road Show.

There is still a long way from here to having to implement our decisions, but my current favorite design is typified by Lady May build by John King.

John King’s Lady May, modeled on yacht tenders for the 1900’s

Sailing the Southern way…

Well this is a little late, but I decided (on the grounds that Louise is being a bit tardy) I should write a little more about our Competent Crew Course with Southern Sailing School…

a route around the island

a route around the island

While the boat was nowhere near as shiny as many of the other equipment on the Solent, It was clear that we had the opportunity to put the Phoenix to good use! It was very hands on, and we enjoyed and withstood all the weather had to offer – including a first night, late night traverse up the Bewley River, and truly tropical rain at Bembridge.

My personal pleasure was being asked to (and succeeding) in laying out and navigating a course to circumnavigate the Isle of Wight! starting at Yarmouth, and finishing at Benbridge (clearing the entry bar by about minus 6 inches!) – it was GREAT fun and very satisfying!  You can see my sketchy notes above, and once I had managed to translate the scale on the map to real life – (overrunning my first waymark within 2 minutes!) We were off – and while Duncan insisted we experienced no more than a 4 – later experience on Moody B included a “force 6” that was considerably calmer than our rounding of the needles – a really good day’s sailing!

On the other side my biggest failure was successfully “lassooing” a bouy, but forgetting to hold on to the damn rope! Ejit!


After six weeks solid nagging from Malcolm I have finally been persuaded to write about our experiences on the ‘competent crew’ course. Not sure that this will be of benefit to anybody, but hey – here goes.

Part 1

Arrived at the school at teatime on Sunday. Felt mostly nervous and this wasn’t eased any by being the only girl amongst a fairly motley selection of blokes. There was ‘hairy Malcolm’ who we all know and love! John, an older chap (well older than us anyway) who seemingly had lots of experience. Ian, a very organised ex military police person now working in the NHS and Duncan the skipper who looked very chilled dressed in beach bum/surfer dude/not yachty sailor type togs.

Following the formal paperwork we were all dispatched to load the boat with food, clothes and other important stuff. We were given a safety briefing, sleeping arrangements were made and we were off. Too scary for words!