Family Sailing Adventures in a Lifting Keel Dufour 32 Integral

07 August 2014
01 August 2014
27 July 2014
26 July 2014
25 July 2014
28 June 2014
20 August 2013
07 May 2013 | Studland
30 April 2013 | Poole
20 April 2013 | Poole
05 September 2012
20 August 2012 | Studland
09 August 2012 | Poole
07 August 2012
06 August 2012 | Dartmouth
13 April 2012 | Poole
26 September 2011 | Poole to Yarmouth via Swanage
01 September 2011 | Studland

Broken Forestay!

07 August 2014
That got your attention didn't it!?

So I wrote my last post while sat in Bembridge. We spent a couple of nights there. The kids enjoyed the beach. Great location for kids. Beach a stones throw from the walk ashore pontoon. Cafe on the beach. Fry ups, beer, tea, coffee, cakes, sand, sea. Not bad eh?

Arranged to meet up with some neighbours of ours at the Master Builders House Hotel in Bucklers Hard on the Beaulieu river for Sunday lunch. John used to be area manager for the company that runs it, so it's a place close to his heart. And another great location for kids.

So just after lunch on Saturday we set off. It was pretty breezy and it was the first day of Cowes week. With a fresh wind on the stern as we left Bembridge I opted to simply roll out the genoa and keep things simple.

We trucked along pretty nicely like that. With main we would have needed a reef and with the wind off the bow she sailed just fine.

As we headed round towards Rye we could see the Cowes Week racing fleets tacking back and forth. We hardened up onto a close reach, still with genoa only. The boat sailed well like that and I figured we'd probably have to make lots of detours to avoid race boats anyway, and with kids I'm essentially sailing short handed, so the one sail is ideal.

Sure enough we did a fair bit of dodging. Mostly when the race boats had right of way, but annoyingly also when it was our right of way. I think some people assume that if they're racing they automatically have right of way. That isn't true. Sure, I'll do what I can not to impede someone racing, but sometimes, it can't be helped, and if it's my right of way. Well, enough said. We had a couple of dodgy situations caused by some bloody minded racing skippers who should have known better. But I've been there before.

Not to mention a marshal in a power boat who decided to sit idling in my path, and a small trip boat, obviously taking sight seers out to see the fleets who clearly didn't draw 25m and wasn't showing anything suggested he was impeded by draft who never-the-less caused me to tack in front of him because he was damned if he was going to alter course by 5 degrees or slow down a knot. I dunno.

Still we made it all the way to the entrance to the Beaulieu river where the Western Solent was funelling the wind and sending some pretty steep chop.

I started rolling in the genoa and half way it jammed. Wouldn't roll away. It was flogging violently in the wind and I wanted to get it away so, stupidly, against all my own advise, put the furling line on the genoa winch and wound.


Suddenly it gave. I looked up and the genoa halyard had snapped about 10 inches from the top of the sail. Yikes.

Well I got it rolled away and there wasn't much I could do at the time, so we went into the river to leave inspections for later.

On Sunday after lunch with John and family John came over to the boat to help me up the mast. I was able to fix and rethread the halyard easily but to my horror there was a twist in the forestay above the foil, with the wires parting, like a spring.

Not good. Really not good.

What had happened was clear - the roller had jammed, the halyard had started to wrap around the forestay and by winching it I had started to twist the forestay. Thank heavens the genoa snapped. Had it not we could have broken the forestay and lost the mast.


Ok, so the forestay needed replacing, fast. Actually I could have got back to Poole safely. We have a removable inner forestay for the storm jib which could have been snapped into place to provide extra support, plus support from the new genoa halyard with sail in place.

But I wouldn't have felt confident sailing back and the I would have the hassle of getting it sorted in Poole. We keep the boat on a swinging mooring so would have to book rigger and marina berth and lose out on sailing time. It seemed to me that it made sense to try and get fixed while in the Solent.

Bucklers Hard has a boat yard, but I don't know how well they set up for rigging services. Just a long the coast is Lymington Yacht Haven where there's a fully kitted out rigging ship - Ocean Rigging - with on site machinery for swaging etc.

So at 8.30 on Monday morning we slipped down the river under engine and along the way I gave Ocean Rigging, one hand behind my back with fingers crossed that they could do the job at short notice. No problem they said!

Half an hour after mooring up in Lymington Yacht Haven a rigger was up the mast disassembling the old forestay. Brilliant.

Three hours later, after we'd had lunch in town, one brand new sparkly forestay. And the price wasn't quite as bad as I had thought. Kudos to Ocean Rigging.

They also increased the height of the furler by a notch and put an attachment on the mast to give a better angle for the halyard and ensure it can't wrap around the forestay again.

I was very relieved to have it fixed and safe again.

We were considering ambling home via Keyhaven and Christchurch but the forecast wasn't looking too good for the end of the week. We decided that it made sense to sail back to Studland before the wind went West and picked up the next day.

So on Tuesday we had a really nice reach back to Studland. The boat sailed really well. Possibly the fastest average speed I've seen El Nino sail.

So the holiday ended the way it started: swimming, beach, sailing the Optimist. And on Wednesday morning we motored back to our mooring in the harbour. Jamie decided he wanted to helm and did a great job helming all the way from the anchorage to our mooring. Cracking job.

Now back home working out how to earn the money I'm going to need to replace the rest of the rigging!

The Mud of Wootton Creek

01 August 2014
Enjoyed the luxuries of Lymington Yacht Haven after a few days at anchor.

Lymington Yacht Haven is a good spot if you have kids and dogs. It has everything really. A lovely coastal walk accessible from the marina, which is great for the dog, and on the way into town is the sea water swimming pool with all kinds of kit including kayaks and zorbing balls, and then a little play park. For the adults it has shops, cafes and pubs aplenty. And let's not forget all the chandleries.

Back at Studland I'd found myself locked out of the boat. We'd left the dog on board for a short while and I'd locked the washboards up. I wasn't worried about security so much but just wanted to avoid the dog knocking the washboards out and disappearing, so I'd locked them.

The key was turning the lock round and round but the mechanism wasn't working. Luckily I'd left the forehatch unlocked so I was able to get in.

So back in Lymington job number one for me was to fix or replace the lock. Unfortunately the bolts holding the lock on had mostly corroded and seized. I was able to remove some and snap the heads off others but needed to drill two of them out. All I had on board was a hand drill. I bought some new bolts and a drill bit from the chandlery and then set to on on the pontoon. Luckily soon after I had started our neighbour turned up and took pity on me, lending me his electric drill.

The fix was simple once the lock had been removed. Two small screws inside had come loose meaning the mechanism wasn't being held together, so the catch was slipping. Once tightened up and the lock reattached with shiny new bolts, security was restored!

Job number two was to clean the topsides. Each year they get a bit stained from the water at her mooring. There's some gel called Y10 which works like magic. You paste it on, all you need is a sponge. Wait a few minutes, then wash it off, and the boat looks like new. I was actually intending to do this while aground in Studland as it is then easier to do standing on the sand, but I'd run out of the magic ingredient, so bought some in Lymington and did it from pontoon and dinghy instead.

On Tuesday morning we left our mooring, topped up with fuel at the fuel jetty and left for Wootton Creek.

Lovely short sail along to Wootton. So far we've had amazing weather and good wind for sailing. They don't always go together!

Wootton dries out. So I'd timed our departure to arrive at Wootton around 2 hours before high water so we could go in on a rising tide and work out where to moor. The entrance is narrow and crowded. I guess the locals have used every bit of floating space. And all along the creek are houses with private moorings. I admit to feeling a little envious!

Friends Nic and Kath live there on a barge. There was talk of us lying along side their port quarter, but I was concerned about space and whether El Nino would sit upright. At Studland she sometimes lists slightly as one side sinks more into the sand than the other and I wouldn't want to lean in to the barge and risk damage to the rig.

In the end I opted to anchor a short way off them, using two anchors to keep her parallel with the stream and ensure the anchors stayed dug in. All the other moorings around there are fore and aft moorings too, so it seemed the right thing to do. We'd not used the kedge anchor before.

Our kedge anchor has delusions of grandeur. It's the same size as the main anchor. Has about 15 metres of chain and then must be 50m of rope. Goodness knows where the previous owner wanted to anchor this shoal draft boat. I keep it down below under a bunk to keep the weight low and central. Yeh, so that means it is rather a back breaking workout to get out.

Anyway, we managed to anchor quite neatly, dropping the stern anchor first, going forward and paling out, then the bow anchor, then sinking back.

Once anchored we dinghied over to the New Close, our friends barge, where we spent the rest of the day, ending the evening with a barbecue on the aft deck, with lovely views of the creek and watched the water recede and El Nino take to the mud.

We were able to get back on board at around 11pm, with just a few inches of water beneath the dinghy.

The following day (Wednesday) we waited for sufficient water to get back to the New Close, and decided we would spend the night on board the barge as it would be too late for the kids to get back on board El Nino. So at around 11am we rowed over and after lunch Nic ferried us in their Transporter to Butterfly World where we saw hundreds of varieties of colourful butterflies and moths.

That evening we enjoyed another barbecue on the aft deck of the barge watching the sun go down. At this juncture it's easy to say "It's a hard life". But for some people it really is.

Kathryn had a near fatal car accident three years ago. The doctors said she wouldn't live. She proved them wrong. But the lives of Kathryn, Nic, Zoe and Rebecca changed in an instant. Today she is in constant pain, has had dozens of operations, needs a scooter and a wheelchair, is learning - very slowly - to move her limbs again, and get tone back to her muscles. Nic has become a full time carer, losing his business. The girls are child carers. Through all of this Nic has somehow found time to adapt the barge from a 30 berth B&B operation to something that works for their family. He works hard. There's still stuff to do but what he has done is amazing.

People always ask me "Why the heck do they live on a barge then?". They moved there after the accident. Well if you visit them I think you'd understand. The environment is therapeutic. The sea air, the views. It's actually pretty spacious. Yes she needs help moving around but she would in a house too. There were too many bad memories where they lived before. And one things for sure, for the money, the barge is the only way to afford such a beautiful location. And Kathryn is a fighter. She won't accept the norms. To accept the norms would be to admit defeat. To do what the doctors and nurses say or accept their prognoses would mean she wouldn't be able to do what she can do today.

But I digress. I don't need to retell their story - you can read more about it here: - please do and please do what you can to help.

So yesterday it was time to leave. We got back on board after a walk in the woods at about noon.

Then came the saga of ... THE MUD OF WOOTTON. Oh. My. Goodness!

The anchors were well and truly embedded in the soft, gloopy, black, tar like clay. Not having a windlass on the stern there was no way I was going to get the stern anchor out where it was. It was well and truly set.

So we pulled forwards to the bow anchor and extracted that first using the windlass on the bow. Up came the chain and anchor absolutely covered in thick black mud. It. Went. Everywhere. In order to free the single bow roller I had to get extremely messy lifting the anchor - quickly - and putting it in the anchor locker.

We then walked the stern anchor chain forwards to the windlass and proceeded to bring that up the same way. MORE. THICK. BLACK. MUD.

Now I had two very messy anchors up front. Mucky chain piled on top of mucky chain. The rope rode from the kedge chain along the deck to where it was secured at the stern.

Ang got the boat under control and I looked gloomily at the mess before me. I already had it up my legs, all over my hands and arms, the foredeck, some of the aft end of the side deck, on my feet and all I could see was an anchor locker full of the stuff. I dared not move for spreading it. I kid you not it was black like tar.

At first I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I figured I needed to just try and make both anchors fit on the bow, shove everything in the anchor locker, wash the decks down and worry about it later.

I managed to do that eventually. By the time we had exited Wootton Creek I had the main anchor in the locker with the kedge anchor lashed to the bow roller, with chain and rope of both bundled in and somehow, after several attempts, I was able to close the lid of the anchor locker on the sorry mess inside. By this time I also had even more of the stuff all over me.

As Ang motored slowly out into the Eastern Solent I proceeded to throw a lot of sea water over everything and eventually managed to get the decks and myself clean enough to start sailing eastwards round towards Bembridge.

In Bembridge once tied up alongside the visitors pontoon I started all over again. Carefully but with difficulty I managed to extricate the kedge anchor, the rope tied to the pontoon, lowering it and the chain into the water. Ang and the kids then got it onto the pontoon and washed it all down.

I again had to wash the decks, and myself. The spare gas cylinder which lives in the anchor locker also needed a clean.

The main anchor and chain is still rather messy, but at least it is concealed inside the anchor locker and will get a clean next time we anchor.

Finally I was able to bundle up the kedge anchor and chain, and rope, and get it back down below.

I'm now thinking if we make a habit of doing that I want a smaller kedge anchor. Or maybe just don't make a habit of it!

I don't think we need such a big kedge anchor and it probably doesn't need chain either. We rarely anchor in more than a few metres. With rope it would be less heavy and we could use the genoa sheet winches to haul up. And if we didn't have the optimist lashed to the transom I could have some chocks on the swimming platform to put the dirty anchor on, keeping the mud outboard.

But actually, if we visit the Clarkes again and now that I know the lay of the land I think we might drop the bow anchor then drop back to the barge and tie stern to to them.

Fun and games. The joys of sailing! But it was lovely visiting our friends and in such a picturesque location where we were the only visiting yacht.

So we are now in Bembridge. We met up with the Clarkes again at the cafe on the beach. What a lovely place and great for Kathryn as they can park right by the beach, by the cafe and she can use her scooter on the promenade.

This evening I took the boys sailing in Sea Biscuit up at the end of the harbour.

Tomorrow we plan to head to Beaulieu for the weekend. Assuming we can get a berth. It is Cowes week, so I'm concerned the entire Solent could be a bit busy! Stay tuned.


27 July 2014
Anchored off Middle Beach last night after refloating. More swimming and dinghy sailing. Brunch at the cafe.

Surprise visit from friends in their motor boat after lunch.

Left about 3.30 and had a great sail to Lymington with a NW on the quarter.

Now moored up in the yacht haven. Kids sound asleep. Us not long behind them.


Studland Fun

26 July 2014
So while the gods played drum and bass in the sky yesterday evening we battened all hatches, discovered some leaky windows and had dinner.

It then cleared up so we motored out to Studland Bay where we anchored close in to South Beach.

This morning was glorious and hot. It wasn't long before we were all in the water. I rigged up Sea Biscuit and took Maria for a sail and the rest swam ashore. The rest of the day continued much like that.

By lunch time the bay was heaving. Never seen it so busy.

On the way from the mooring i noticed the engine didn't seem to be reaching full revs. I suspected this was most likely caused by fouling of the propeller. So we decided that about an hour before low water I would ground the boat so that I could inspect the prop as the tide went down. So at 3.30 while Ang and the kids were at the beach I put the boat aground, managing to find a space between all the speed boats taking up the shallows.

It wasn't long before I could feel the prop and sure enough it was covered in barnacles.

I'm sure we haven't had this many barnacles on the prop before, even by the end of the season. I wonder if the warm weather has something to do with it.

Anyway, I managed to scrape the prop and shaft clean.

While I was waiting for the boat to re float ang took the kids to the pub for dinner. A new looking MacGregor (one of those trailer sailor yachts you can put a huge outboard on .. Not my cuppa) came and anchored near us. They took a few goes, and then seemingly happy the couple waded ashore. Just as I was refloating I noticed this MacGregor drifting past. I alerted the lads on the motor cruisers in its path who were in the water with their kids and they grabbed it and dragged it back into position.

The anchor rode was only about 6 foot long and there was a fender attached acting as a marker buoy. The strop on this was about 2 feet long! The tide had come up well past this and we all laughed ... The fender would have been trying to float the anchor!

The couple emerged about 30 mins later and waded out to their boat in much deeper water than they'd left. I had this feeling the word "tide" is new to their vocabulary. I tried not to laugh as we watched them trying to climb aboard.

Anyway, we then weighed anchor and headed to deeper water for the night so we aren't bumping the ground at 5am. On the way I opened up the engine to full revs and was pleased to see them reached. The barnacles was all it was and it felt good to know I was able to fix that for free without an expensive boat lift!

Now anchored off Middle Beach all feeling very tired and ready for bed. Tomorrow? Maybe another day at the beach? Maybe Yarmouth or Lymington? We will see.


25 July 2014
So we get to the boat. Scorching hot day. Two trips in the dinghy to get all our stuff on board including Sea Biscuit our Optimist and then with perfect timing we are welcomed by Thor. lightning, thunder, black skies and rain. But it will pass. Think the kids found it fun anyway.

About to Head Off on Summer Hols

24 July 2014
Watch this space ....
Vessel Name: El Nino
Vessel Make/Model: Dufour 32 Integral
Hailing Port: Poole
Crew: Marcus, Angela, Ben, Jamie, Maria
About: Maria: 1 Jamie: 3.5 Ben: 5 Angela: ? Marcus: ??
El Nino is a lifting keel Dufour 32. She replaces our previous boat, a larger, deeper Hanse 371 which allowed Ange and I to sail to distant shores. But now, with a young and busy family snatching short weekends and days here and there to sail out of shallow Poole harbour, the smaller, lift keel [...]
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