Tag Archives: New Zealand


Sailing like a pro

So I worked up the courage to get the main sail out and give it a whirl. There were several things that stopped me doing this beforehand.

Firstly I wanted to get the hang of using the fore sail, tacking, gybing and getting used to the angles and trimming possibilities.

Secondly, when the boat heeled it would frighten me. I knew that the boat wouldn’t just tip over, but that didn’t stop it feeling like WAS going to tip over. I needed some time to get used to it.

Little did I realise until after using the main that all my issues would be solved.

I was having problems sailing to windward, the main sail fixes that making it a breeze to get decent speed when close hauled with minimum fuss. With a genoa alone the helm required was significant and was a bit of a fight.

I was having trouble getting the speed required for tacking in light airs. The main sail gives me that speed, and the jib can just be used for manouverability.

I was haivng trouble getting my hands free from the tiller to adjust the genoa’s sheets because Esprit would just head up into the wind immediately. The mainsail balances the helm wonderfully so I can tinker here and there.

All in all using the main sail is the best idea I had yet and after a bit more research I am confident that I can pilot Esprit safely even in moderate seas. The main is held to the runners in some cases by cable ties, true, and I am sailing with a permanent reef so there is no chance what-so-ever of me banging my head off the boom. This is a compromise I am more than happy with.

I may even replace the cable ties one day.

Here is the video! Under the harbour bridge and back. You can see the heel as I go upwind, and I kindly cut out the long boring tacks so the video is just one long, intense thrill ride. Hang on!



More things

The bottom scrape that I managed was almost two months ago! Means Esprit is long overdue some attention in that department.

There was nothing serious, some small barnacles and whatnot, and I managed to eject the sea squirt that was clogging the toilets intake nozzle…more on that story later…




Yes! Laughter indeed! I traded in my serviceable yet inadequate kayak for an inflatable dinghy and engine!

Nothing huge, 2.4m hull and a 2.3hp motor, but it means I can now travel safely in rough weather and not fall in again, carry gear to and from Esprit, and ferry fishing companions across.

I can also hoon around for no reason at all.

Totally going fishing sometime soon. Should really clear off Esprit’s butt gak before I try and sail again.

Anyway, enough jibberjabber! Here is the video!


Third sail, to Little Shoal Bay!


A much more modest mission today! My housemate and I took to the waves for a two hour ride to little shoal bay.

The wind was low to moderate for the duration of the sail, picking up to be consistently moderate once we passed under the bridge for the second time. I failed one tack because the wind was not strong enough to take the bow through the wind, but it was fine, I just turned it into a gybe. Tacking back and forth across ‘regular’ Shoal Bay we got some reasonable lean, enough to make Sarwan exclaim. This was his first time sailing.

I had my usual ambient terror, which ebbed once the day went on.

Third sail:

Things learned: 50

Shit yo’ pants moments: 0

Second sail, to Rangitoto!!


You can see above my approximate route. It was rather a hectic day and I think I bit off a little more than I could chew, but damn it! I chewed none the less!

Started out pretty chill, blowing a low to moderate south westerly and I cruised slowly under the genoa alone all the way out to Rangitoto. It took probably about an hour and a half. That was when the fun started… It was around two o’clock and I thought getting on home might be a good idea, the wind had picked up and I was getting hungry.

I would like to mention at this point that until now I had only ever actually completed two manouvres, which were the failed tack into a gybe and the successful gybe shown in my first sailing video. I was terrified to say the least, but I am of the opinion that if something is scary that does not mean it should be avoided, instead it should be bested, if possible.

So I started a series of close reaches, tacking back and forth across the mouth of the Tamaki Straight. The boat was heeling at some points until the gunwhale was skimming the surface, and I was terrified, but it felt under control, and when the wind gusted too hard I would turn off the wind to de-power a bit. I realised after a while that I was not going to be able to point high enough to get a decent angle on the channel, and there was no way I was hoisting the main, but I persevered thinking that it didn’t matter if it took a while as I was learning a lot.

As I was approaching the star marked on the map a stronger than usual gust hit, and I tried to turn off only to have the boat wrenched down at the nose as the sails caught the full force of the wind. The prow nearly buried and there was an awful groaning. I was terrified, somehow even more terrified than my ambient level of terror. I loosed the sheets, pulled down the sail and jammed it into the anchor well. Then I turned on the motor and blasted head first into the force five wind and waves for the 40 minutes it took me to get home.

Once moored I ate an entire packed of chocolate chip cookies and drank some lovely warm tea. The sugar and warmth restored a bit of sanity, just in time for the winds to drop… Typical.

But now I know to turn INTO the wind to de-power.

Second sail:

Things learned : 200+

Shit yo’ pants moments : 2 (one lasted the entire day, and one was rather acute)


And now for something completely different!

Goodness me! Four months since my last post! But it has been an eventful time, for example I am in the other hemisphere now, probably exactly opposite my last residence should I discover a manner of drilling and traveling safely through the centre of the earth.

There will be more videos, pictures, blogs, and art forthcoming now that my life has settled down once again. I have probably hours of video that I need to edit and many many new drawings and ideas that I need to communicate. For now I hope you enjoy this video of my recent acquisitions 🙂

(note: The people featured in this video are my friends and flatmates, and in no way represent my possessions or acquisitions. Slavery is bad people!)



Thinking boating

Another week, another umming and aahing about boats. Thinking about boats, watching videos about boats, drawing boats. It’s a new hobby of mine. Soon I will actually get to sail a boat!
Can you imagine the hilarity if I end up hating sailing…

What was I thinking about? It was about my lovely little design for the Salmo 19′. I spent a long time looking at the plans for the boat, sketching out bits and pieces and working out how much it was all going to cost. Including any modifications that I would need to make to help it fit onto the most economical amount of plywood. Turns out I would have to reduce the sides by a hundred milimetres to fit all the pieces on the fewest plywood sheets.

Then I imagined living on it. Seems stupid that after all this time I never actually considered living on the boat I was hoping to build. Turns out I think it would be pretty horrible actually, like perpetually camping in the rain. Salty rain at that. With nowhere dry to go. It turns out that the most boat I can build for my budget is just not enough boat. Three thousand pounds is a lot of money to spend on somewhere I cant even sleep comfortably in (At least it seems a lot when I am trying to save it up!)

I want a boat that I could comfortably live in for months and months. I am just not going to be able to manage that. I think there has been another use for my hundreds of hours thinking about and drawing boats, even if I am not going to build one at the moment. Even the hundred or so pounds I spent on the plans and Junk rig book were well spent because I feel now that I have  a greater appreciation of what some of the different aspects of a boat actually mean.

I used to think that a boat was basically a little box with a sheet attached that got blown around by the wind. Now, after all that effort learning I can appreciate how little I actually know about boats. If it seems like a bit of a long way round to realise that you don’t know much then think again. If I were to think that I understood the full amount of anything immediately it means that, either it is really simple (and therefore hardly worth devoting effort to), or I have failed to grasp the subtleties of something that, in this case, cound actually get me killed!

Even though I will not be building a boat for the forseeable future does not mean the time thinking about it was wasted, because now I feel a little over prepared for the rather more simple task of merely choosing a boat to buy.

If only it were so simple….

I have been scouring trademe.com (The New Zealand version of ebay) on a regular basis. Turns out the turnover of boats is pretty slow, which is good for me if one catches my eye. Follow this link if you are interested.


My parameters are a yacht between 5 and 9 metres and up to $15,000. My actual budget is more like $6000 but there is not specific option for that. It is good to see that there are around fifty boats within my price range, so a good bit of choice. What I am mainly considering at the moment is the correct balance between condition and size. Within my price range there are the full range of boat sizes, but of course the larger ones are the ones that require the most work, and I don’t want to have to do any work at all.

So do I want a slightly smaller boat in excellent condition or a larger one that will need more maintenance?

I am leaning towards the small but sound option. I find myself a averse to complication (no doubt one of the things that makes me want to try this lifestyle in the first place) and I have absolutely no interest in gambling. A small, good condition boat with a swing keel and enough foredeck to strap a kayak or two to is preferable to roomy yet leaky (or one of the other potentially infinite repair jobs a yach throws up constantly)

My thinking is this. Plus sides: if the boat is cheap then I will have more money and be able to cruise for longer. If the boat is in good condition then it will require less time and money in repairs so will be cheaper so I will have more money to cruise for longer. If my boat is small (between 18 and 20 feet long) then it will be cheap and in good condition. You get the idea.
Down side: If my boat is small then I can fit fewer friends on it.
Thats the only downside as far as I can see it. Looks like ‘they’ might have to get their own boat…


I am feeling in a kind of limbo between old life and new life, though things are moving forwards. Just a sample list of things that I have to do before I actually leave. Hopefully writing the list will help me remember to do these things!

1: Get my british certificates for my various qualifications approved by the New Zealand government so I will be able to teach while on my working holiday (£400!!!!!!)
2: Join the New Zealand teaching council
3: Find a method of transferring my savings to a New Zealand bank account
4: Apply for a short term Australian holiday visa
5: Sell my remaining unnecessary posessions
6: Kit myself out for mobile blogging and youtubing (This is the fun bit!)
7: Finish editing my book
8: Draw more
9: Finalise the rules for my game

The list can be split into three sections. The top few are absolutely necessary for me to be in a good position when I finally get to NZ. I want to be able to teach while I am travelling, much better than all the other unskilled jobs that would otherwise be available to me, like bar work or packing vegetables. I have done enough of both of these jobs to last me a lifetime. Honestly I have probably spent a total of around five weeks working in a bar and/or picking fruit, and it was definitely too much! SO boring I can barely describe. However teaching is great fun. Despite the fact that I was hit with a surprise £400 bill to have my qualifications checked I think that it will be worth it in the end. An added bonus is that it puts me a few steps ahead in securing a perminant work visa if I have a skilled job already.

The middle few bullet points are things that would be very helpful to have done before I go. I have a bunch of boxes of miscellaneous stuff that I have hoarded in my parents loft for the past few decades. Probably about a quarter of it is any good. Its off to a car boot and then charity shops.

Something that I have enjoyed doing is getting everything I need to youtube and blog on-the-go. My basic kit that I have to work with is an iPad which imposes some limitations as it has not got as much easy versatility as a laptop or even a mac, however I wouldn’t change it for anything else. I don’t care what people say, for my needs its better than a computer. Here is a picture of my kit, excluding the iPad of course.


Circling clockwise from the top we have: A surprisingly powerful speaker, a gopro hero, a USB powered external microphone, an SD adaptor and a selection of micro SD cards, and finally my drawing stylus. I got some waterproof tupperware to carry it all in.

The gopro is ace, even my few little test videos just walking round the house look crisp, I cant wait to get it out on the water. Having said that I was frustrated because initially I could not get videos off the device and onto my ipad. I thought I was going to be stuck holding videos on the camera itself until I got to an internet cafe or something. Hardly ideal. The ipad camera cable does not work for this function for some stupid reason so I had to get the SD cable. I am sure this is all part of Apples cunning plan. Long story short I can now get videos onto my ipad. Three cheers for a small victory!

I also got a microphone that vastly improves the sound quality of my recordings. Again, it did not work straight away, but ingenuity prevailed and is the subject of my very first youtube video! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpVl1RksKMg

There are still a few things missing from my ‘kit photo’. My ipad and wireless keyboard of course, but also a protable solar panel and waterproof battery! This type of gadget has to be the coolest thing I have seen in a long time. Check out mobilesolarchargers.co.uk or the picture below. It means that I can be completely self sufficient with my electronic devices no matter how long I am going to be spending in the wilderness or the ocean. No having to worry about my batteries running out, so I can write, draw and film to my hearts content!!

imageclick for higher resolution

Obviously I will need to get back to civilisation to get some internet to actually upload things, but still, an entire media centre that weighs less than 5kg, fits in a day bag, charges itself and is 100% portable is, in my opinion, amazing! I will no doubt make a video when I have everything packed. Its too tempting not to!

Finally the last few items on the list are personal projects that would be really great to have pretty much done before I go. Unfortunately having to work all day does not lend itself to creative juice, so drawing is suffering a bit. Havent drawn in weeks and weeks. My book however is coming along nicely if a bit slowly. I want to have it for sale on itunes and kindle before I leave this hemisphere. I also have my last warhammer model to paint and sell. I started the conversion almost four years ago, started painting it two years ago and hopefully will get round to finishing it in the next six weeks.

Looks like I will have to pull my finger out!
(No hints as to where I have to pull it out from….)

Junk Rig

I know, I know! It’s been almost three weeks since I posted anything. Ithere have been many things happening, but nothing much to do with drawing or with my boat so I thought I would spare you the drivel. I am editing my book. 100,000 words to edit, am about halfway through and needing (so far) to completely rewrite about 3-4000 of them. The rest are looking pretty well chosen (thank goodness!).

In boat news I got my copy of Hasler and McLeod’s Practical Junk Rig. Basically THE definitive tome on all things to do with Chinese style rigs. They are notoriously easy to sail, cheap to make and require minimum of stresses on both the hull and the sail. Perfect, no?

Thing is that my boat plans do not come with a junk option so I had to design one. It took all day and about eleven slightly different sails to arrive at the perfect configuration. I initially thought that you just plonk a siutable piece of cloth on a stick and call it a sail. Sadly it is about a hundred times more complicated and involves several things including your LWL, CLR, CE, rake and displacement (ballast in my case). You can see I am deliberately being cryptic.

Basically it is very important that the ‘average’ centre of pressure from the wind on the sail is more or less directly above the centre of lateral resistance of the hull. If not then your boat will not easily sail in a straight line, sacrificing speed and handling. If the point is too high above the boat then you will easily capsize, too low and you miss the swiftest winds. The height of your mast depends on the depth of your hull, so a little boat can’t have a tall mast because the mast will fall off and/or my boat will tip over in a gust. Finally the mast has to be the right proportions fore and aft of the mast to allow space for the rigging, and the right height above the boat to not hit you or trail in the water.

Anyway brace the contents of your various sphincters for the finished article!



I know…amazing…

Anyway, the important thing is I have plenty of sail (15 sq ft) and my CE is above my CLR, and my mast is a decent 19/20 ft. It should go like a scolded cat even in light breeze but I will have to reef early or risk taking a dip.

I was tempted by many things, extra masts, funky sail shapes, but I am going to keep it simple, this time.

You all knew

The boat I designed doesn’t outright suck! Yay!
I spoke to the people on boatdesign.net and the comments were mainly about details. So I was very pleased that my little piece of egestion would go somewhere.
Of course there is a however. It was a half decent boat, however only really useful for lakes or protected waters. This was due to several of the design aspects including it’s long straight hull. I designed it like this because I can’t get my head around how to design curves that curve in two planes. I want to sail in the sea, and my boat would not have been able to cope with probably even average sized waves, or have been able to ride surf onto a beach.

Luckily for me a very helpful chap who runs the website tacking-outrigger.com pointed me towards a few excellent designs. I had lots of fun designing some (awful) boats, and I feel that thinking about all of the various aspects of design will undoubtably help me when it comes to the build. However I will leave the design in this instance to the pros.

In the end I chose this design: Salmo 19 by Andrzej Książyk. Here are some photos of it in action. Click for higher resolution.




As the name suggests it is 19′ long, weighs 185 kg and is a tacking outrigger. That means no shunting and no worrying about having to reverse the rig.

I will be making a few modifications. Firstly and most importantly for me I will be adding a ‘sacrificial’ keel to the underside so I can hit rocks and drag it up the beaches without too much worry.
Secondly I will be using a junk rig instead of the Gunter shown in the photos.
Thirdly I will be increasing the potential displacement of the outrigger by making it a bit taller. The benefits will be that I can carry more weight, and the crossbeams will be horizontal so I can attach a nice wide platform for chilling out.

Those are the ‘simple’ modifications and the ones that are guaranteed to happen.

After that I am considering raising the deck so it is more of a ‘sit on’ boat rather than a ‘sit in’ boat. This will give me more storage and less time bailing water. Plus then I can have ‘scuppers’ and a ‘poop deck’!

Finally I really do not like the idea of a keel stepped mast because it necessitates a hole in the deck, so I will see if there is a way for me to attach the mast to the forward crossbeam. This will be the most dificult thing to accomplish properly so I will spend plenty of time getting it right.

I bought the plans yesterday, and I bought a book about designing junk rigs for a bit of light reading.

One step closer.