Friday 16 December 2016

Still here!!!

So its been a long time and many miles under the keel since I added anything here. What happened? Well, as for the blog, while we were cruising abroad Hestur, Charlottes blog somewhat took over - She is a much better writer and more diligent, so with limited internet while traveling it was best she kept hers going rather that us both fighting over one laptop. So the rest of our Atlantic adventures can found at starting here wher i seem to have stopped writing.
After Crossing the Atlantic in January 2014 (cant believe it was that long ago) with relentless strong tradewinds in 18 days we spent the season cruising the Eastern Carribean. Following Antigua Classics week we set sail for the Azores but ended up in Bermuda mainly due to a severe lack of wind from the right direction (10 days sail). Then across to the Azores in 18 days and back north to Scotland via Ireland and Wales. Really really great sailing all the way with with a mix of lows and highs in the north atlantic.
Hestur continues to be the perfect boat for us - in fact she has become a 'family boat' as Ella was born on 22/10/2015. She enjoyed her first summer cruising this year around the Outer Isles in north west Scotland.
I have been fully engaged boatbuilding since we arrived home - I have now joined forces with Tim Loftus who has moved back to Ullapool with his family. We have our workshop here and will soon have a boatyard and slipway opening up in summer 2017.
We now trade as Johnson & Loftus Boatbuilders and our website can be found here:
My interest in Junk Rig continues to develop - I have converted a 30' yacht to cambered Junk for a client last year. I need to write that up........ whooo believe me that camber adds power!!

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Down to Gambia

So then its been a while, I thought there would be plenty of time to write blog posts while cruising, but this is not the case!
We spent about a month exploring the Canaria Islands. Great Islands if a little short of good anchorages so ended up in quite a few marinas. Our favourite place was probably the little island of Graciosa just north of Lanzarote, it has one bay that you are allowed to anchor in and a small marina in the village, which i believe is trick to get a place in unless you are 'local'! Its a paradise island with beautiful sandy beaches with great swimming in crystal clear water. There are no roads just sandy tracks even in the one small town on the island. Its also quite (tourist wise) compared to mainland canaries.
While in the Canaries we got ourselves and the boat ready to go to Africa. This involved finding charts (unsuccessful so got from UK) sorting vaccination for Yellow Fever and getting anti malarias. 
We set sail for the Gambia on the 12th November from Porto Rico and 8 days and 951nm later arrived in Banjul the capital and only port of entry into the Gambia. It was a great down wind sail with the wind never dropping below 15 knots, usually 20. It was a busy passage as a lot of ships use this run down the west coast of Africa, on average 10+ per day. We passed within 10 miles of Dakar, so close that we could smell sweet exotic smells and also make use of their mobile phone network! Another 24 hours and we were anchored off the docks in Banjul.
Customs, immigration and harbour authorities took about 5 hours to clear and not too much bother.
Next came the trip of a lifetime which took us 200nm up the river and into the wild.
The people here are really very nice and always on hand to help, also they generally speak english although this gets less further up river. There are a lot of French speaking Senegalese fishermen up river too.
Its been a proper safari with Hippos, Crocodiles,  Chimps, monkeys, to name a few and an astonishing number of beautiful  birds. The flora has also been very interesting, starting with low mangroves then changing to palms and mahogany trees as the river changed from saltwater to fresh.  
We have just returned to the Banjul area (Denton Bridge) to re stock ready for the next leg West.
I will write more details of the river journey in time.....


Sunday 29 September 2013

12 months adrift....


Can't belive it , its now been one year since we uped sticks and left Ullapool, pointing the bows south on an open ended adventure. When we left we had no real fixed plan we just new to head south and take everything as it comes... And that is just what we do and we love it. Adventures and experiences unfold at every junction we come to, no planning could ever organise such a trip. You obviously need some sort of planning, for the safty of the boat and crew, but this is usually only a month/day/hour or so ahead of where we are. We have met quite a few boats in the early stages of a 'trip' who tell us grand plans of "going  around the world" and i have to wonder how many of them atually do so.
 So then, in the first 12 months away from 'home', we have spent 6 of them cruising on board Hestur and 6 of them in Bristol (a new city to us).
I thought I would go through the log book and tott up some figures for 6 months cruising:
Total nautical miles:   2582nm
Best days run (24hours):   135nm
Brompton (folding bike) miles: 117
Nights at anchor: 120
Nights at sea: 18
Nights on pontoons: 5   (all in south Cornwall  and free of charge in winter)
Nights in marinas: 19   (14 of which have been here in Madiera)
Nights on random moorings: 18 (all free of charge)
Paraffin (for cooker): 25 litres 
Engine hours: 241 
Diesel used: 275 litres 
Fuel consumption: 1.1 litres per hour

Hestur has required very little maintenance over the last year, the biggest thing was to
find and fit a new Windlass as the old one (a Lofrans Royal manual) gave up - it was already 15 years old. I bought second-hand Simpson Lawrence Seatiger555 for £500 then had to spend another £235 to get a new gypsy to fit our chain.  Despite the expense it really is the RollsRoyce of manual windlasses.  I sure would not have an electric one. We have 10mm heavy gauge chain and 20kg (44lbs) Rocna . Grips like hell.
We scrubbed and applied new antifoul in Falmouth and now the varnish work on the rubbing strake could do with a refresh. The rig needs very little attention, sometimes having to replace the odd bit of cord (usually the yard to sail lashing where it rubs on the mast) . One oil change on the engine. 
Our tender could do with a repaint but that can wait as i don't mind it looking a little scruffy as it may stop people borrowing it! I have recently chanced the mast head light bulb for the LED type which saves a huge amount of battery power while sailing overnight. 

Friday 13 September 2013

Porto Santo

Blue water at last!
Here Charlotte is painting on the harbour wall Porto Santo.
Had great run from Lisbon 512nm in 95 hours.....

Sunday 21 July 2013


A ha,
We seem to have made it to Spain!,
Here is a quick movie i made! Went Via France then north coast of spain and now we are in Coruna.
will add more when i have chance......

Saturday 20 July 2013

Finished in Bristol...

So its been a while since the last post here, it all been going on .... Where do i start?! Better start with where I left, in Bristol.
Tim and i finished the 17' Gartside Yawl with great results if i may say so myself. She is a fine boat to sail and look at, as with all of Paul Gartside's boats.
After the Yawl was finished myself and Ben Punter laid a new teak Deck on a 42' Swan yacht. This took us through to mid May.

I have to say working with Tim Loftus (& Ben) at the Underfall Yard Bristol was the best, great guys and great work - also all the other top people in
the yard from Star Yachts and RB boatbuilding ( Cheers and I hope to be back some time. Bristol in general was a really fantastic place to stay,
so much going on from sailing in the docks, climbing in the gorge , great cycling , much music, caving adventures...... the list go's on!

Sunday 24 February 2013

Yard Mews

Its been all go this winter at the Tim Loftus Boatbuilding yard . Just before the Christmas break we finished framing up the Cubbage Wood boat. Two days of steaming and bending in one hundred 35x25mm oak frames. We have now left the Cubbage as the planking stock need more time to season as it was freshly cut only months ago. To stop us getting cold we are building a new Paul Gartside Design (see this months 'Water Craft' mag - available all good newsagents...) Its a 17foot Gaff rigged Yawl day sailer. All the details on the boat are very well thought out and beautifully designed. It has looks to die for with sleek low freeboard, plum steam  and 3/4 decked not to mention the stunning wine glass transom. Once the backbone and moulds were all in place Tim started the planking while I have been making all the spars and components for the interior fit out including rudder and centreboard box/centreboard.
8mm Larch planking with 22x12 frames every 150mm (not in yet).....  3 planks to go.

Sawn oak Stem assembled with 9mm copper clench's. Rabbet has been cut.