I wrote before I bought an Astra IIIb from Ebay for £120. When lockdown started I said I had to accomplish something and it was either lose weight or learn (or at least the basics) celestial navigation. Well that’s an easy choice… I think?

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I had been wanting to enter a race with Sundance for a while but I wanted to sail something that there would be a good number of other boats to race against, having to work Saturdays means I would only be able to pick one. There’s quite a prestige (within NUSC) race against a “rival” (in a nice way) club in Cardiff called the Coxy Cup. There’s also the Holms race which is a bit like the Bristol Channels RTIR, and like the actual round the island race it draws quite a few entrants. Bill from the blog Scapegoats Anonymous an ex (if you can be) Bristol Channel sailor put a post up saying he would like to sail the Holms race and I offered the helm of Sundance to him and his Father Roger.

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Now I’m not normally one for sharing other people’s stories very often but this is a lovely story and I hope I can bring my Son’s up well enough for them to feel the same way about me when I’m past it…

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At the Chart table. The night before we left the harbor for a certain destination, Dad would pull out the appropriate chart to plot a course. He would ask me to do it. I’d get the parallels, determine the heading. Then he would always quiz me. “You’re not done yet, right?” I, of course, remembered to check the deviation table for adjustments. I was proud that I knew the routine, and it felt good. But what felt better was the fact that he was proud of me. Nothing then or since ever felt quite the same. Because Dad was my hero, I got that special feeling when we were together, doing what he loved, and what I grew to love. I have many joys in my life, but that feeling I got being with him is something I will never stop feeling. All I have to do is remember. The sad part is that we can’t talk about those things any more, because he has no memory of any of it. I am working hard with my efforts to encourage anyone who is able, to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association. Every little bit collectively makes a huge difference. The Association is working hard to help end this awful disease. I will be proudly walking to end Alzheimer’s in November.

I picked up an Astra IIIb sextant off Ebay for a bargain £120 a few months ago. Although I’ve not had a chance to take a sight I am very much looking forward to learning to use this fantastic piece of equipment!


Ok, ok I’ve done it again and not kept up to date with the blog. It doesn’t really matter, I’m sure there’s only a couple of people that have a look now and then so it’s only really myself that I’m letting down. I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since the last update, there’s been a lot going on and it seems like I’ve barely had a free weekend, plus it’s so easy to post pictures to Facebook the blog gets forgotten about!

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The nav pod was looking a bit unloved, thick brown woodstain and instruments that mismatched (not that that’s important). The depth repeater was playing up so I decided to sell the Nasa log and combine it with a Nasa Duet, this would enable me to put a small chart plotter between the duet and the wind display to show AIS data and would mean no diving down to the nav table to check paper charts/ a tablet getting wet in the cockpit, or checking the seafarer depth sounder. I’m very pleased with the result, see the difference below.

I mentioned pretty much a year ago that I planned on rewiring Sundance here. Well I’m a step closer after recieveing my custom Blue Sea panels and I’m very happy with them.

They did take a little longer then expected to turn up but that wasn’t the end of the world. Now I just need to make a new panel/box to fit them in to but more on that shortly.

It’s September, the season is almost over and it’s the last sail I’ll get in before the club recovery. It was a springs so a morning tide and I had talked a friend in to coming along. We woke to a beautiful autumnal morning, sun warming the air and not much of a breeze but enough to keep us moving. After breakfast in the clubhouse we cast off and headed out in the channel.


The breeze dropped, well with the tide taking us there was no apparent wind. I decided we would give it a go at flying the spinnaker for the first time, just see if it would pull us along?! Pole and lines rigged I hoisted the kite, rolled away the genoa and she filled ever so gently. Pulling us along no faster then we were before it was a fantastic introduction to the new sail. As we passed Lavernock point the wind died and the kite dangled motionless which made for an easy recovery. We turned on the engine and slowly motored, with the tide mostly taking us down towards Barry.

On the horizon, in the haze it looked like a mass of ships anchored on the far side of the channel, as we got closer it was infact 30 or so leisure fishing boats achored off Barry enjoying the nice weather. With not a ripple on the water we entered Barry harbour and anchored in the fairway, giving plenty of room for the pilot and lifeboat and keeping far enough away from any mooring chains there may be on the bottom. Anchor down which was another first in Sundance we cooked our lunch and ate it in the cockpit.

An hour or so later, after the tide turned we set back off, a slight zephyr ripples the water we upped anchor and motored out. The plan was to sail between the islands but with not much wind and a few boats motoring around we decided a slow drift up on the tide. Only making a couple of knots and with the shifted wind we once again raised the spinnaker which in the ever so slightly rising wind dragged us closer and closer to Newport. The wind now starting to blow over the deck was increasing to about 6 kts apparent and I was starting to get concerned about dropping the kite effectivly on my own as Andy although has sailed with me before is largly inexperienced.

After the drop, which went as well as it could have we wasted a bit of time sailing about under genny outside the Usk for the tide to rise a little more. The spinnaker certainly did it’s job and got us back to Newport in record time! Heading up river we rolled the genoa away, motored on to the mooring and sorted the boat. That was it, a perfect last sail of the season. Anchored, flew the kite and visited a new port I couldn’t ask for more.

A week later I was back slipped her into the wise and onto her cradle, sails, boom and sprayhood off and she was ready for some winter fettling… more about that, soon!