Setting sail solo

Well last weekend I actually went sailing solo… a couple of friends had helped me with fitting an autohelm and my nav lights and my new (2nd hand) Mercury 4 engine was in place… what was stopping me!? (apart from being terrified of course!) 
Well it was a beautiful day, and light winds so perfect for me to shake out the sails! So I get Poppet all ready, hank on her foresail with a down haul, get the main ready to go and just as I am sorting the mooring lines out the marina chatterbox comes along (no it’s not actually me!!) and we chat about nothing for a while, as I am trying to get away along comes someone else and stops and asks if he can take our photo – oh heck no! But a photo he takes (apparently for marina marketing! Aren’t there any other solo females setting sail for the day chatting to a chap leaning on his stick? Oh apparently not!). 
Well I manage to leave the berth in one piece, and set off towards Puffin Island. I didn’t get the hang of the autohelm, so I may as well not have had it. I motored out of the channel and then pulled up my sails… off comes the engine… it was lovely out there… 
I then get a call from a friend out at sea – your foresail is rather small is that the biggest you have? Oh poop! The sails were put back in the wrong bags last weekend! So, down comes the foresail, unhanked, up goes the slightly larger one… 
Well it did make a difference, from 2.5 to 4 knots (I do love Poppet but I really don’t expect to get anywhere in a hurry with my sail trim skills!!) 
​Anyway… just as I arrive at Puffin, the electrics all fail, battery flat. Engine going but not making a difference to the electrics, I get the sails down, then motor (apparently way too close to a sandbank  – oops – where is the depth sounder when you need it) over to my friends boat. Then of course, I panic, engine dies, I go up front to get the anchor down anyway and struggle with the foresail being in the way! Nightmare! But once the anchor was down and I sat down it was sooo lovely (just a tad too cold for shorts lol!) and I saw and heard some puffins flying by.



So I had a cuppa and a bite to eat while watching all of the sand banks appear around me. Yep – I had definitely been over them! But I had anchored on my own for the first time! Yey! 
Well once the tide was high enough again we head out of the anchorage, so I pulled up my anchor, nearly mowed my friends boat down and once again manage to get the sails up, I did panic a little once when I saw a muscle farm area and turned the engine on instead of tacking! Then I thought what on earth did you do that for and then tacked and turned the engine back off again! I tell you this is still all very new to me! It is one thing sailing with someone else who knows what they’re doing, but it’s a completely different thing when that someone is you and there’s no one else on board! A blooming massive learning curve for me this is!!! 

Anyway – I sailed to the Conwy Channel and then motored back in. When I got back to my berth I did ok at getting in but managed to catch my bow on the life ring at the marina while I was stood on the pontoon. Oops! They are keeping an eye on me now – I recommended they don’t fix it for a while to give me time to get a handle on getting into berth! 

Well – I enjoyed my first solo sail – and my first visit to puffin island. Loved it! All told, a lovely day…

Sails everywhere and yet stuck in a marina

So the next weekend it was time to check out my sails… I’d had them out of the bags but not actually tried to “hank on” a foresail or pull up the main… 

I had said goodbye to my borrowed engine but as it was such light winds it was perfect…

So here they are…


So with the option of white or tan sails, a working jib and a storm jib I have gone for the tan… they look really pretty, it was just such a shame I couldn’t go anywhere without an engine! Thankfully I only had a couple of days before it arrived… 

Smooth as a baby’s bottom

A few weekends ago (26th March), it was glorious weather in Conwy, over the previous weeks I had tried and tried with the Honda 7.5 (engine no.1) but to no avail. So it was a Saturday morning and I was all set with my newly serviced Yamaha 3.5 (engine no.2) to motor across to Deganwy Beach to dry Poppet out and get her antifouled. Well the engine wouldn’t tick over, it was all or nothing, and I found out later that I could have got there without idling but I don’t know what I’m doing and didn’t want to risk anything. Off came the engine and it was given the once over in the Bay of Colwyn boat yard at our BBQ and it was soon clear that her rusty fuel tank was the problem. So after a few offers to borrow an engine (my sailing friends are amazing!) I borrowed a Mercury 4 (engine no.3 – not actually mine so not sure it counts!), the next day I chugged across to the beach (Poppet was moving like a brick through sludge with all her sea life attached!) and spent hours scrubbing her and then antifouling her… she was very crusty and covered in Marina poop.


Just before I started painting a friend turned up with cake and a cuppa – life saver… then by 5pm it was off home to scrub the antifoul off me!!! Later we were back to Poppet with an Indian meal and awaited the tide to come in and motor back home to Conwy. Poppet moved through the water so nicely, she was more responsive than she had been, so that was good.


Well I was a tad terrified about getting back into my berth (something I really struggle with!) especially with my friend being a yachtmaster instructor (pressure was on!) and although it was a little hairy in the dark I actually did it without bumping anything! I have to say it was the first and only time I have managed that! 

So the hunt for an engine was on… at least now I knew that I was going to have to buy one. Well a message from a friend showed an engine on eBay… and although it was based in Truro and local collection only, I got in touch with them, bought it and it was arranged to be delivered… yey! 

Sew much fun!

Well, it has been a while since I’ve posted anything on here. It has taken lots of time and energy (oh and cash) to get the lovely Poppet II sea worthy… first the engine (I am now on engine no.4 and have a Mercury 4 which is great, but gonna be slower than everyone else I know through the water!). The latest has been the battery. But all of that is to come…. over the next few posts I will catch you up 😉

In the last post I wrote about my new cushion material, so after what felt like days and nights of sewing (on my 80’s sewing machine that I’ve used for years but hadn’t read the book – but now I sort of know what I’m doing!) I made myself a seat cushion for the v-berth and turquoise curtains – to match the plates! when making the curtain tie backs, I had help from a furry friend… not! But anyway – my first sewn zips and chorded seams… I think I did ok.