The Naiad Voyages

Mark Austen

2017.09.26 - Modifying Sails

The modification to the mainsail did not take long. I cut off the excess, folded the sail to form a hem and clamped pieces of wood over the fold to flatten it. Then Tina used her trusty sewing machine to stitch it. Looked nice it did. Still does come to think of it but I must have been having an off day when I did this. I took the modified sail along to the boat on Monday as I had the say off and the wind was light in order to put the sail back on again only to find that it no longer fitted.

I had forgotten that the head of the sail was now longer than before and was now a few inches longer than the gaff to which it needed to be attached.

So, I took the sail off again and modified it, yet again.


I have drapped the part of the sail to be modified over one of the scaffold planks, used two screws through two of the cringles and then stretched a line between two more screws where I want the fold to be.


This is the large end of the piece being cut off, the other end is a fine point. You can see the two screws and string a the end clearly here.


The fold was made about an inch away from the cringle and the seam allowance is two inches. I used a soft pencil to mark the fold line and the cutting line and then a pair of kitchen scissors to cut away the unwanted cloth.


The hem was folded over and tacked down with a hot glue gun and then battens clamped over the fold to crease it. I left that overnight.


The modification will look a little odd as it results in a kink in the leech of the sail as you can see here. I'm not too bothered about this, it is quote common to have a curved leech so this isn't really that different. The reason for doing it this way was to avoid having to cut away the reefing cringles. Me being lazy really.


This afternoon I removed the battens and, as you can see, it has formed a nicely creased fold.


I trimmed the end to give a nice finish. You can see a little of the hot glue holding the seam closed here. This doesn't stick that well but well enough for what I wanted. The sewing needle will probably not go through the cloth and the glue, which is really just plastic, but it can easily be removed.

Now I wait for Tina to have some spare time to run this through her sewing machine again and then I can finish it off with a new cringle in the corner shown above.

Hopefully it will fit once that is all done. Time will tell.

2017.09.13 - Figuring Out the Problem

Something has been bothering me about Naiad since my last sail but until yesterday I couldn't figure out exactly what it was. After work yesterday I was looking through the photos of Naiad sailing when I noticed the problem. The luff of the mainsail is much too long. I had known that this was the case since I first hoisted the sail but I saw problem it was causing.



When hoisted the throat of the gaff, the end closest to the mast, was tight against the block around which the halyard ran. So much so that it prevented the gaff from swinging from side to side. This had two effects, the first being that the sail was difficult to lower and the second that the sail did not set correctly. This last one is certainly adding to the sailing problems that I'm having with the high banks.

Another problem that this causes is that gusts of wind more easily push the boat over sideways as the sail cannot ‘sag’ away from the wind.

The solution to the problem is to shorten the luff so I called at the club on the way to the supermarket this afternoon, today is shopping day, in order to take the sail off so that it can be modified.

I got it off easily enough but whilst I was untying the various lashings I didn't notice the big, black cloud approaching and I got soaked in the downpour. It only lasted a few minutes but I was drenched even so.

Still, the sail is now off so I can make the necessary alterations during the evenings. It won't take long and I won't be able to go for a sail until next week anyway due to an event at Caldicot Castle.

In the meantime I have the shopping to do.

2017.09.09 - Another Early Sunday Morning Sail

Since the forecast for the period of 3am to 9am was force 2 gusting 3, I set my alarm from 05:45. I know disgustingly early for a Sunday. Nevertheless, having fed the cats I was on the boat at 06:00 and put the kettle on. The pre-sailling preparations were carried out while the kettle was heating up and I soon had the boat ready to go and a cup of tea.

It was a murky morning, mist that really classed as fog since the visibility was much less than 1km although if you looked up you could see the sky. The wind was light and the current strong since we have had some rain recently. That a was going to give me problems, I just knew it!

I pushed Naiad out of her berth at 06:15 and raised all sail and then spend the next hour tacking back for forth across the river gaining ground on one tack only for the current to push me back again on the other tack. Eventually I gained enough ground to put me into the consistent wind round the first corner and from there on the sailing was pretty good.

Initially I had all sail up but the boat is not balanced that way and I soon furled the jib and had a good run up to the Ship Inn. In light and fickle airs you have to push the tiller over in order for Naiad to tack but once the wind is steady and force 1 or better then all you need to do it to let go the tiller and she will tack herself round and I could deal with the staysail sheets. Once on the new tack Naiad would return the tiller and as it came amidships I could take hold of it again and sail on. It is very satisfying to be able to do this.

I used to think that I was a fair sailor but sailing on rivers with high banks is very tricky indeed.

The mist blowing in the wind collects on the mainsail, runs down the sail to fall off the bottom and if you are under this, as I was, you get wet. I was. Still but the time I reached my turning point the mist had cleared and the sun had come out and I soon dried out.

For a change, rather than just turning around and return to the club I tied up at the moorings beside the Inn and made another cup of tea. Once I had that done I pushed off again, set just the main and started back. I arrived at the Ship Inn at about 09:00 and set off again at 09:30.

The wind started rising shortly after that and halfway home I lowered the mail and set the staysail. About 50m before reaching my berth I furled the staysail and sailed on under bare poles into the berth arriving and just before 10:00. Naiad handles quite well downwind with just bare poles and it is a convenient way to sail into the berth. I can grab the stern mooring rope as I go past and stop the boat without having to worry about getting the sail down at the same time.

No photos today, I was too busy enjoying the sailing. I also forgot to bring the video camera so no video either.

Maybe next time.

2017.09.03 - So How is it Going?

That is a very good question and to which the answer is very well, not so well and middling. As expected the time I get to spend on Naiad is quite limited, so that is not so good. When I do get to sail it is great but for the majority of the time I like having the boat but wish I could spend more time on her even for just a cup of tea.

The weather combined with the geography is the main problem. Naiad is a small sailing dinghy and cannot stand high winds. I put the first reef in at the top end of force 3 and the second reef in at force 4 and don't go out if it is higher than that. Or I would do if the geography would let me. You see, the banks of the river are around 2m above the level of the water and that causes one immediate problem. If the wind is blowing across the river then the top part of the sails, the part that sticks up over the banks gets a different wind to the rest of the sail since the wind blowing over the top of the banks causes the wind to blow in a different direction to that lower down. I had one occasion a few weeks ago where the wind at the windward side of the river (the side from which the wind is blowing) at water level was in the opposite direction to that blowing over the banks. The top of the sail was trying to push the boat one way that the bottom of the sail was pushing in the opposite direction and I had to resort to using a paddle as it was impossible to sail in these conditions.

It also means that even with a strong wind the majority of the sail is sheltered from the wind where the wind is across the bank and I have to put more sail up, but round the corner, where the wind is blowing along the river, the wind is now too strong and I have to risk sailing for the next 100m or so with too much sail up, sail with the sails slack to take some of the power out of the sail, or put a reef in. None of these are particularly good choices. Too much sail up is putting a lot of stress on the boat, sailing with slackened sails causes them to flog around in the wind and also stresses the boat and stopping to put in a reef for the next section of river takes time and is stressful since you know that you will need to take the reef out of the sail just a few minutes later.

So, I now only go out for a sail if the forecast wind is less than force 4. Force 1 or 2 gusting 2 possibly 3 is a nice wind for Naiad around here, but that doesn't happen very often. I decided a week or two ago that the best way to get a sail in was to get up early and have a 2 or 3 hour sail in the early morning and then return home to wash and get into a clean set of clothes to start work at 8am. I was only able to do this a few times before it became too dark in the morning to do this, but I know for next season that this is how I'll be sailing for most of the season. The wind at this time of the morning is lighter than for the rest of the day but even so, good winds do not happen that often.

The main sail needs to be recut. A job for the coming Winter, but right now it means that Naiad is not sailing efficiently as there is too much sail forward and I sail with the jib furled most of the time.

The plastic cover I made for the cockpit tore after a month or two and I had to make a canvas one fairly quickly as the forecast had lots of heavy rain in the following few days.


This is how it was first put on, you can see that the lacing was not bungee. I didn't have time to make that so I used a thin cord instead.


It seems to have worked quite well although I notice that it has become very dirty and needs a wash. Still, it keeps the rain out of the boat.


I was able to grab an early morning sail on 25th August, this was taken just before 8am as the sun was rising. Looking back over the stern at the Cruising Club with mist rising off the water. There was enough of a breeze to make the mist over but not enough to ripple the water.


This was the view forward at the same time. Naiad seems to move quite well in these light airs but often requires the use of a paddle to tack round. On this particular occasion I sailed almost up to the Ship Inn before turning and sailing back with the rising wind behind me and was able to sail into the berth, a delightful 3 hours round trip.

The next few weekends are going to be busy so my sailing time is going to be even shorter than it has been and I can see the end of the season approaching. That will be interesting all by itself.

2017.06.28 - Changes and Voyages

A fair bit of work has been carried out in the last couple of weeks but not enough individually to warrant a separate post for each. So they have been collected together.


My mooring springs arrived and have been fitted to the lines. The mooring line are not cut and then tied to each end of the spring but rather a loop left in the line so that if the spring should ever break, the mooring line remains safe.


Both bow lines were fitted this way.


The stern line had the tyre tied to the loop so that there are two shock absorbers in the line.


I bough some plastic parrel beads for the mainsail mast lashing. I didn't buy enough which is why only two were fitted but this arrangement did not work particularly well as the halyards kept fouling the beads and preventing the sail from lowering properly.


So I bought some smaller ones to put between the larger beads and this arrangement worked. I bought the plastic ones as they are just a tad cheaper that the "proper" wooden beads. The plastic one cost me £48.70p whereas the wooden one would have cost me £367.80p.

Sometime wood is not the best choice.


The cleats for the forward reefing lines were added to the boom but I had to wait until the wind was light enough to fit the lines themselves.


That finally happened on 17th June. I went down to the mooring early and fitted both sets of reefing lines. Here you can see the parrel beads hoisted as I'm sailing upriver.


These lines are the aft reefing lines. They lead from the cleat through the pulley up and thought the cringle in the leech of the sail and then back down through a hole and a stopper knot stops it from unravelling.


The forward lines are pretty much the same except that there is no pulley, just a stainless steel eye.

The wind had picked up a little by the time I'd finished all that so I cast off and sailed up to the Ship Inn. This time I had my camera with me and was able to video the entire trip. Now 120 minutes of nothing but sailing is boring even if you really like sailing so I've put together a shorter version for you to see. Just 7 minutes long.

Mind you, it took a few days to learn how to edit the video files to get what I wanted which is another reason for the delay between posts.


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