Winter Upgrades to our Rival 34 Sailboat

It’s winter break, and I’m spending a few days on the boat.  I had a very good meeting with Kemp Sails and Kiwi Rigging (both in Gosport) this morning about some winter upgrades to be done in the next few weeks.  I’d like to think that I have a small pot of money to use every two years for some nice upgrades to our boat.  Two years ago it was new primary winches from Lewmar.  This year it’s all about the sails and rigging.

First, we are having Kemp build us one of their modern stack packs with lazy jacks.  This should make dropping the sail and putting in reefs easier with a husband/wife crew like ours, and our current sail tie and sail cover system are end of life anyway.  This is a relatively affordable upgrade, and we look forward to it.  (In particular my wife seems to like the idea of me doing less ping-ponging up and down on the fore deck as we enter Poole or similar rough entry areas.)

Second, it’s been embarassing that we haven’t had a good preventer system for the boom for down-run sailing in choppy conditions.  As you might guess, the English Channel is typically choppy conditions.  At the London boat show I picked up all the gear (line, Harken block, stainless fittings) for a nice end of book preventer that runs to the bow and back, and I have that all set up.  Once the stackpack from Kemp cleans up our boom, I might consider rigging the preventer to be under the boom and ready all the time.
Third, we had the genoa taken down today and Kemp is going to shorten the head by 2-3 inches so that we can increase the tension on the halyard.  It runs right to the block now, but we don’t seem to get enough tension and this affects upwind performance.  That should be an easy fix and should be done in a couple of days.  Otherwise, the North Sails genoa is in great shape, and no other cleaning or repairs are needed at this time.

Fourth, now that the mainsail has been measured for the stackpack, I’m taking it off later this week to deliver to Kemp for repairs and cleaning.  That should be done in 2-3 weeks.  I like our North Sails main, but it’s developed some mildew spots and has one or two holes worn through up by the luff of the sail.

Kiwi Rigging of Gosport is visiting our boat next week to install the two blocks for the lazy jacks and to do a rigging check.  Since I’m a touch lazy this year, I’ve also asked them to repack all five of our winches (since it’s been two years).  I don’t expect anything negative from the rigging check, but I like having one done every two years.

Other things– I need to change the oil this week and I plan to upgrade the fuel filter from a CAV to a Racor spin-on.  In previous years, I always get a 50/50 chance that the dumb multiple seals on the three part CAV filter don’t perfectly align and leak, so I have to disassemble and redo a second time (and this is far back behind the engine in a painful to reach space).  I was inspired by Paul Heiney to do this upgrade, since he reminded me that  replacing clogged CAV filters at sea could be extremely difficult and nausea producing.  The spin-on Racors will still need to be bled, but at least they won’t require the three part glass and metal and rubber O ring dance.

If I have any funds left, I’d like some LED cabin lights for reading, but they can wait.  Also, in the future I’d like Lith-ion batteries, but not yet.  If I were sailing the Azores this year (and I wish I were), I might also consider installing a Walden boom-brake (which I also saw at the London Boat Show, or I could bring one back from the states), but I don’t think we need it for this season of sailing.  Maybe next year!

Our next boat?

In the winter months, it’s always tempting to think about our next boat.  We will own Southern Rival, our Rival 34, for at least two more years, but then we might consider a bit larger boat (38 to 43 feet).  We’d like an offshore-capable boat, maybe liveaboard comfortable, but not so heavy and old that day sails would be out of the question.

On our “consider list” are new and used Ovni sailboats:

We like their ruggedness and world-circling ability.  We’re a tad nervous about the aluminum hulls over time and the stability factors of the hull design.  However, having a relatively easy to sail expedition boat is very appealing to us, especially if our desired 10 year tour comes to fruition.

Secondly, the shallow draft and beachability of Ovni are both attractive features.

Ovni on beach

Meanwhile, I’m off to our Rival early tomorrow morning.  It’s time again to heat up the engine, and I’m also taking down recently-bought gear from the London boat show.  I hope to build and rig the new preventer gear tomorrow.

A few weeks of Cruising

We’re just back from about three weeks of sailing on the South/Central coast of England.  We spent more time enjoying individual places instead of hopping quickly from port to port.

Starting from Gosport, we spent several nights in the Newtown River, followed by a sail to Poole Harbour and anchoring behind Brownsea Island.  After that, we sailed to Weymouth to spend four nights (a new destination for us). We then did a long 60 mile run home back to Gosport to miss some bad weather.

After a weekend break back in London, we sailed from Gosport to Chichester (and swung out around Nab Tower for fun) for several nights on a guest buoy at Itchenor, followed by several nights at a long-time favorite, the Folly Inn on the River Medina, Isle of Wight.

Last summer our cruising plans were cut short by work, so it was much fun and very rewarding to take a more leisurely trip this summer.  Kids got to enjoy hiking and beaches and fishing and dining out.  We got to enjoy honing our sailing skills and pretty much having a lot of time on the boat with no thrills or spills to speak of.  Just a good time.

One one dicey bit– passing back into the Solent past Hurst Point, against the flood.  That wasn’t overly fun…

Full photo gallery:

Summer Sailing 2011

Here’s a chart of our overall travels:

Son launching the dinghy from our Rival 34 at the Newtown River, Isle of Wight:

Wife sailing us to Poole Harbour:

Our children, reduced to heads:

Our Rival 34 at anchor behind Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour:

We wait for a bridge lift in downtown Weymouth:

Sunset at Itchenor, in Chichester Harbour

Low water at Chichester Harbour:

Night falls at the Folly Reach, Isle of Wight:

Wife driving us home from Isle of Wight to Gosport on our last morning:

I’m back to work for two weeks, and my family is off for a week in the Lake District.  My brother is going to visit, so our next sail is for a week at the beginning of August.  We’ll go cross-channel if the mood strikes, maybe for a visit to Cherbourg.

Getting Things Done

Long time, no post.

The career has taken over my life a bit for the last year, but the major projects I’ve worked on now look to be growing more tame.  Thus, it’s time to think about sailing again.

One important change– I’ve revamped the entire photo gallery for this site.  It is now located at

Sailing, Travel, Life

It also now contains the very popular “Cal 20 Restoration” galleries that document the 3 month renovation of our 1967 Cal 20.  Go over and check it out.

It also contains some of our older galleries going back to 2003, including when we visiting the San Juan Islands for the first time with our bicycles on the ferries, and wondered aloud how one would be allowed to sail those sailboats around from island to island.

One other need for the revamp– the old gallery fell off of Google images, and this new gallery should be visible again to those searches again in a few days.  Yeah!

How did I find time to do all this?  I got sick over a four day weekend, and I’ve been stuck in bed.  Not a bad time to putter on such things.

An October Sail

Just back from an enjoyable four days of sailing.

Saturday and Sunday were a bit of a challenge– the Solent was packed, and we ended up anchoring outside of the Newtown River in some bouncy conditions on Saturday night.

On Sunday, we had plenty of wind for a reefed sail to Cowes and up to the Folly.

After that, we were lazy and hiked the island for a day, and then we enjoyed a relaxed sail back to Gosport this morning.

Some pics:

More pics:  October Sail

Also, we gradually learn more.  In 18 to 20 knots of wind, SR has less weather helm if we have two reefs in the main.  Our daughter is more comfortable on the starboard settee sea berth than crammed in the V-berth.  Mooring starboard side-to is the only way if reverse is going to be used to stop the boat.

So it goes…

A week of sailing

Just back from our spring break cruise.

Full photo gallery:

Spring Break 2010 Sailing

Basically, we were pinned by some weather, but a week ago we did a 3 a.m. start and sailed across the Solent and across to Poole (for two nights anchored behind Brownsea Island), followed by a sail back to Lymington for a night, and then two more nights at the Newtown River before sailing back to Gosport:


Pretty cold at sunset as we approach the Needles Channel


The type of boat you see at Poole

We had some fun on the passage to Poole,  but once there we had a great time on Brownsea Island:


SR at anchor


Using the bird blinds


Recording the birds seen


Sunset at Brownsea


Brekkie next morning


Brownsea Castle on the way out

On our sail from Poole to Lymington, we had the best sail of the trip.  The English Channel was calm, but there was enough wind for a fun sail all the way back into the Solent, using the full Needles Channel.

We took the inside channel route out of Poole Harbor, and we cleared with only a meter of water under the keel.


The English Channel on a calm and warm day.


Can you spot the Needles Lighthouse?


There it is.


We arrive in Lymington where my son spends an hour in the dinghy.

That night, we have a shower and a great dinner in the Ships Inn pub/restaurant on the water front.

After a night on the town at Lymington, we sail to the Newtown River on the Isle of Wight for two nights.


We had splendid weather for the sail across the Solent.


We picked up a mooring ball for £13 a night.


The kids explored on their own for hours.


A rare photo of the pater familias.  (I’m bona fide.)


My daughter’s impression of my sailing ability…


We hike inland on a public footpath, using an Ordinance Survey walking map.


At low tide, we had .8 meter under the keel.


Our kids map the river and illustrate the birds they see.


A gaff rig ghosts by us near dark for a night sail.  She had sailed off her mooring, of course.

The next morning, we motored to Gosport.  There was plenty of wind, but it was directly on the nose, and the tide soon turned to also be on our nose, so we putted back to our home slip and a warm train ride home to London.