Sunday 20 August 2017

1st .... and 3rd

The return trip to France has started. Our Pathfinder Astrid will also serve as a carrier to transport our Stornoway 9 foot dinghy back to France.
The St 9 was our first build, a stitch and tape hull with nice lines and 5 strikes per side right out of a Selway Fisher stock design.
We built it as a small outboard dinghy for motoring around our well known bays here in Sardinia in the off season or as a utility tender to my dads boat, which shares its the same color scheme. We actually built it as a gift to my parents back in 2002. It had very little use, mostly because in 2005 I added  an aluminium outboard skiff to the family fleet, proving to be more roomy and powerful for off season use, and able to take a 15HP outboard.
The St9 spent the last fifteen years upturned under a tarp in my parents garden. It is still in perfect shape, bar the varnished transom flaking quite a lot . It will be now ferried back to France to be converted to a lugsail sailing dinghy for my boys Emilio and Filippo to learn how to sail straight from our new house on the waterfront. I will build a sailing rig using an existing gaff mainsail from a previous project,  daggerboard case, rudder, tiller and watertight side benches.
A new life for our 1st build , carried back home inside our 3rd ...
It wil also get a new paint job, possibly a little more striking and wild than the existing to match it's new owners/users eagerness to learn how to sail.

Sunday 13 August 2017

Sunset sail

This picture was taken from afar, my parent's house actually, while we were sailing in the bay. We were probably a good kilometer and a half away so when the photo is zoomed in it actually gets quite blurry.... to me it almost gives a watercolor painting effect to it. A good memory of a nice sunset sail with wife and two kids. And no, they weren't wearing life vests.

Thursday 10 August 2017


Today we went out for a sail on a light northeasterly knowing that the mistral (northwesterly) was forecast for the day. It was forecast at 15 knots . It caught us a little off guard on our return trip (about 5 miles) as it rather built up to 25 knots gusting at 30. We had a longish stretch downwind rounding the island of Molara, and then to beat to get back to our mooring for the remaining two miles. We did so under jib and mizzen as we showed the mainsail already during the downwind stretch. The boat felt safe despite the fact that we had to gybe each time as tacking was not feasible due to the strong wind and waves. Waves, wind gusts, big splashes.... good fun . Our four year old son slept through it all in the shelter of the foredeck....

Thank you John Welsford for designing such a safe and seaworthy boat.

Saturday 5 August 2017

Some heritage

Going for a sail and a swim with the kids and snorkeling gear.
As one starts looking at the seabed around here it is very common to find fragments of terracotta vases. Most are small and don't carry much of a recognisable shape. They are what is left of Roman amphorae that went down as the boat that transported  them hit the coast.
Olbia, the closest town to here, was an important and rich Roman settlement, at the heart of the trade routes in the Mediterranean . As of such many sailing and rowing  boats were navigating these waters hundreds of years ago. The lee shores of the predominant winds , mistral (NW) and scirocco (SE) still carry traces of this traffic in the form of these amphorae fragments.
I have always found it special  to pick up these objects for inspection before putting them back where I found them. The last person handling them was probably a mariner setting up the cargo hold of the vessel he was assigned to,  about two thousand years ago....

Friday 4 August 2017

All eyes peeled

Out with dad's boat we motored to the nearby island of Tavolara where a score of small and not so small boats were circling and admiring  S/Y A. 
S/Y A is the largest private sail-assisted motor yacht in the world.
Built for a Russian zillionaire, she measures 140m LOA and rumored to have cost 400M€. Grace not as abundant as her tonnage in my view...

I was actually more drawn towards this other boat, a traditional fishing boat from our waters. Rigged with a large lateen rig,these are very seaworthy and load carrying capable  boats. They have several variants throughout the Mediterranean , but sharing the same base principle of double ended, wide bilge, and wood carvel construction .
This particular example, converted to a family pleasure craft, was motoring around the Dunkirk like flotilla of bystanders admiring the mind blowing size of S/Y A .
Later during the day,  I noticed a lateen mainsail at the horizon. They probably reverted to hoist the sails to enjoy the afternoon warm thermal winds.

Thursday 3 August 2017


Batman and Robin dropped in during our summer holiday in Sardinia ...

Sunday 30 July 2017

Thursday 20 July 2017

A memorable weekend

The first weekend of July, "Astrid" and her crew took part to a traditional sail gathering organised on a nearby alpine lake.

The  Lac de Serre Ponçon is a large artificial lake created by a dam built in the fifties to provide hydro electric energy and safeguard the local valleys from risks of over flowing.

A local association organises a traditional sail gathering on the waters of the lake every two years.
Camping on the border of the lake with the boat's bow a few steps away was fantastic. As so was the sailing in company alongside more than forty beautiful boats, including traditional lateen rigged mediterranean fishing boats, traditional crafts from Marseilles called "bettes", a bantry yole, traditional breton luggers and many others.
Our Pathfinder was also much admired which was really flattering.

All in all a great experience to be repeated in 2019, including the best handmade driftwood model boat contest.

Monday 17 July 2017

Sunday Picnic ... and a splash

Launched Astrid from our new private slipway (that serves the 20 or so houses in our residence) and enjoyed a great weekend sailing. Saturday still a bit of fresh northwesterly that had been blowing for the past three days (the famous mistral). Probably a force 2 or 3 but with a residual swell. Caught off guard while sailing solo and fiddling at the mast by the gooseneck and ended up thrown overboard into the water. On my involuntary way out of the boat I grabbed hold of a jib sheet to maintain a link to the boat. I managed to get back onboard in no time. Thinking in hindsight about what happened (I was wearing an inflatable life vest) I realised for the first time a down side of the yawl rig: it's inherent sail balance means that in most cases the boat will continue sailing straight in its course despite the only sailor being thrown  overboard.... a similarly sized bermudan rigged dayboat would probably round up into the wind pretty soon after the helmsman has left the party.
Anyhow, an interesting experience.

The weekend continued on with a fantastic sail to the nearby St. Pierre island on Sunday where, thanks to the lifting centerboard and the beach cruiser nature of the pathfinder, we could reach one of the secluded small pebble beaches for a family picnic . What a privilege!

Monday 19 June 2017

Season opener

This weekend we finally kicked off the new sailing season in grand splendour.
It has been a long time coming due to work and family commitments and the new and time consuming project of moving to a new house.
Winter and spring went away quickly with house refurbishment works having to be designed, planned, authorised and finally kicked off. That took all of our spare time.
The rationale behind the future move is that the house is located in close proximity to the water, about 50m, and it shares a private slip with the other neighbouring houses.

Launching this weekend was an eagerly awaited exercise since testing the slip (which is quite steep) was a long time priority as it ties with the overall idea of buying the house in the first place.
(thank you Laurent for the photo and the help! Thanks dad and Mike for the help too!!)

Launch and recovery went without issues. How nice it is to rig the boat right in front of one's house. I also took a nice picture from our future bedroom window.... where Astrid is seen at anchor in the bay ... while the "real" Astrid and the kids await to walk down for a sail.

The season is officially open!!

Wednesday 12 April 2017

Season preparation

Season preparation is starting. So far I've only begun hacking at the to-do list that I wrote while lazying on the sofa during the winter.... improving hatches, improving onboard flexible mounts, clean up and treating the teak floors.... most importantly I'd like to find a solution for a better positioning of the jib sheet fairleads.
The notable achievement so far is that I have fixed the centerboard pivot that had the tendency to come unseated to expose the sealing o-ring leading to leaks. Now it is secured by a bolt holding it into place....

Before: with the retaining latch gone missing the cb pivot has crept out of its intended seating position exposing the o-ring thus leading to leaks

After: the cb pivot secured in place with a M6 bolt