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Tweaks & Tribulations



This small piece of essential kit features large in the Drascombe weekend. The conventional items from your B&Q are not compatible with a BBQ afloat. The cool art of an effective BBQ afloat evolved through the following DIY application:  

1. For simplicity of use and no cleaning afterwards, the disposable BBQ is the business. Cheap & convenient (but see below!).

2. The holder. Your average kitchen shop or supermarket will sell you a turkey tin for about £6. A disposable BBQ fits a treat. Buy one.

3. Cut two plywood brackets to bolt to the sides of said turkey tin, shape the ends to clip over the gunwhale capping.

4. Cut some aluminium plate (or whatever comes to hand) and make a wind shield. This is essential. You expect wind to go sailing - it will still be there when you stop for food & whisks heat away from cooking at a tremendous rate.

5. Hang the BBQ tray over gunwhale. Erect the windshield. Install a disposable BBQ. Light & bask in smug self satisfaction while you imbibe the beer and cook the pork chops & vegetable kebabs to perfection.

Many a pleasant evening has been spent BBQing with Drascombe friends - absolutely marvellous.  

Eventually, of course, I found the single disposable BBQ too limiting for the full meal for self & friends. This lead to a purpose built, stainless steel fabrication that takes two disposables at a time - the Party Animal model!                                                                                                                                                                                                              We could now cope, simultaneously, with the prawn kebab starters, meats, vegetable kebabs, corn cobs & naan bread (with garlic, of course) & large, flat mushrooms with Stilton cheese in them. This still leaves enough heat for the banana with coffee liqueur puds!                                                                                                                             

Drascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe BBQ large



Drascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe BBQ, with tray & grille      Drascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe BBQ, with cardboard            Drascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe BBQ, with charcoal

After many years, my love affair with the disposable BBQ is over! 

Maybe it’s not quite that dramatic &, to be totally accurate, it is the commercially available ones that I have fallen out of love with. The quality of them has been consistently falling & there now only seems to be a 50/50 chance that they fire up properly & last long enough.

I have now started producing my own.

I have added a grill to my folding BBQ. It is a cake cooling tray, costing £1.50. 20 minutes with the small angle grinder & a drill cut it down to size, leaving some bars projecting to fit into holes drilled in the windshield.

A trawl of the internet found MG Partyware (www.mgpartyware.co.uk ], who supplied the foil trays - Chef Master Half Deep Foil Roaster 321 - for 88p each, although I have recently seen the same thing on sale in The Range.

An old box contributed corrugated cardboard for a couple of pads to go in the base, each given a dose of BBQ Lighter Gel.

Top it off with about 450 - 500 gm of lump wood charcoal with the big bits broken down. When ready to fire up, carefully give the charcoal a good dousing of Gel.

Fire it up with your long matches or long-nose lighter & the happy GastroGnomes will dance a jig!



The sheer joy of sailing is reason enough on its own but you might also do a bit of fishing. Most of your catch can be eaten. There is nothing tastier than a fresh fish you have just caught yourself.

Drascombe Quirky Page, Delta paravane for fishingI use a paravane (modern, high tech Mackerel board) & a string of hooks with silver foil on each. This is a successful bit of kit. I also have a rod to fish with a spinner in the hope of a Sea Bass but, to date, that remains only a hope. Friends do seem to have better luck. On a feeder cruise to a Chichester Rally, I did catch a Garfish: a strange fish but quite tasty. Unfortunately, between hooking it & landing it, something bigger had several bites out of it so all I got was slimy hands & blood all over my decks!

One day, out in the Solent on a sunny afternoon, the wind went from F3-4 to F-rustrating as it died away to not a lot. The Mackerel paravane went over the side & I hauled in 6 of them in half an hour. Back in Ashlett Creek, the fillets went into a hot frying pan. Served on wholemeal bread with Olive Oil spread & a glass of red - mouth watering!  


As Mackerel is a very oily fish, you don't need extra oil. Recommended recipe: Fillet the Mackerel, place the fillets, skin down, in a very hot, dry pan with lots of black pepper. When almost cooked through, flip over for 30 seconds & serve. Rick Stein, eat your heart out. 

September 2014: a tale of neglect & loss. A Delta paravane has been part of my Drascombe kit since the 1980's. The swivel between line & paravane was the original but it rusted through & I have lost it all! I should have thought of that & checked it over, but I didn't! Luckily, the Delta Paravane is still in production so I was able to exactly replicate my lost gear.



The sailing weather in 2012 was unpredictable & generally awful. On the South Coast, we had a Poole Rally that didn't get to Poole & a Solent Cruise that went to Poole! However, I think some of us have found that we can take our Drascombes out in heavier weather than we were previously comfortable with. 

Only a few years ago, as soon as F5 was mentioned in the forecast, we didn't go out. My response to the inevitable question of 'How safe is a Drascombe?' was to say, 'Go out in F3-F4, stay out in F5, come home in F6. This year, we have had 'Gusting 30kts' & said, let's go, it will be OK - & it was! Challenging, not always a pleasure but safe. This was sometimes rewarded by a great sail the next day. 

As everywhere, but particularly relevant to Solent sailing, the interface of wind & tide is critcal. Wind over tide generates a steep, short wave pattern that can be very uncomfortable & make for long hard beats. Running before a F5, going with the tide, can be glorious (& too fast to catch Mackerel!) 

Thinking of wind strengths, here is my consolidation of the Beaufort Scale. You will probably already know the numbers but some of the descriptions are interesting. I can't remember where I first found these but thank you to whoever created them. 

Force no.










Below 1

Below 0.2

Sea glassy.


Light air

1 – 3


Smoke ashore goes straight up. Ripples on water.


Light breeze

4 – 6


Wind vanes ashore moved.

Slight crests on waves.


Gentle breeze

7 – 10


Flags blown out fully. Crests begin to break up.


Moderate breeze

11 – 16


Small waves, white tops on many of them.


Fresh breeze

17 – 21


Deeper, longer waves, most of them have white tops. Medium size craft would tend to shorten sail.


Strong breeze

22 – 27


Large waves, much spray. Quite loud whistling in rigging. Definitely double reefing.


Moderate gale (Near gale)

28 – 33


Scudding foam. Longer, larger waves. Life on deck decidedly uncomfortable.


Fresh gale (Gale)

34 – 40


A lot of water getting into the wind. Foam flying and, if you have not made harbour, good luck!


Strong gale

41 – 47


Waves getting uncomfortably tall, seemingly solid chunks of water flying about, landing heavily on deck.


Whole gale (Storm)

48 – 55


Cheer up! Ashore, trees are being rooted up & thrown about. Waves now very high, so much foam & spray you can hardly see anything.


Storm (Violent storm)

56 – 64


Any lone yachtsman who started out an atheist will be cured of that by now. This is the sort of thing for which Cape Horn is famed.



Above 64


Some brilliant sailors have survived one, not many!

Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort (1774-1857) invented the scale in 1805.

An annual prize was instituted at the Royal Naval College (for success in navigation, etc.) in his honour.

Bear in mind that, when recounting tales of excitement & derring-do, yotties in the clubhouse tend to enhance the Beaufort Force by two, particularly if no other club member was there!

If you would like to download this table as a .pdf file, click here:Drascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe Drifter 22 button


I always used to fit a strong U-bolt in the cockpit of my Coasters on which to clip a harness line (carried on board, though rarely used). 

When I started sailing the Drifter 22, the deep cockpit, wider side decks & generally greater stability gave me greater confidence & I didn’t make any provision for harnessing. 

Drascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe Drifter 22, Bolitho, Jackstay forward.JPG

This year, I decided that I wasn’t as nimble or strong as I used to be so I reviewed this & decided to fit a  jackstay down a side deck. I installed two U-bolts, one just ahead of the jibsheet fairleads & another just behind the anchor well & made up a jackstay of 4mm 1x19 SS wire (same as the shrouds) with swaged fork ends (the same as the lower end of the forestay). I could reach that from the safety of the cockpit to clip on & it would enable me to get right up to the end of the bowsprit if the need ever arises. 

I chose the Starboard side for the only reason that I was likely to use my left hand to hold the boat & my right hand to work with. I recall the old sailor’s saying, ‘One hand for yourself, the other for the boat’ although this isn’t always practical. I also ran it inside of the shrouds because, in rough conditions, I would probably have slid between cabin top & shroud to go forward. 

Subsequently, I started having the thoughts that I really should have had at planning stage! 

If I went overboard, harnessed to the boat, how would I get back on board? There is no way I would ever clamber up the side of the boat even in flat calm conditions. Neither would I be able to pull down the gunwhale & slither on board like a seal, which may be possible on the smaller Drascombes with less freeboard. Having thought of this when developing the boat, I have a boarding ladder permanently mounted on the transom, Stbd side. I could get back to that from my Stbd side jackstay so I had (luckily) made the right choice on which side to fit it. 

Drascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe Drifter 22, Bolitho, Jackstay aft.JPGThen I started thinking about harness length to get back to the ladder. My harness is 2M long, which is pretty standard, so I couldn’t get back around the transom to use the ladder! I have now fitted a new U-bolt nearer to the transom with a new, longer jackstay so I could now get to & use the ladder. A further thought was that if the boat was still going forward (most likely) & I was being dragged behind it on a 2M strop attached to my chest, I probably wouldn’t be able to haul in & reach the ladder! I have fitted the new aft U-bolt about 600mm in front of the transom & I hope that will keep me within reach of the ladder. Drascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe Drifter 22, Bolitho, Jackstay outside of shroud.JPG


Putting the jackstay inside the shroud means that if I went overboard forward of the shroud, my harness clip could only run back as far as the shroud, not to the aft end of the jackstay. That would leave me a long way from my boarding ladder, so I have re-routed the jackstay outside of the chainplate. That does mean going outside of the shroud to get to the foredeck, which I usually do anyway, but that is what I will need to do. 

Fingers crossed that I have now thought of all the possibilities but never have to really put my philosophy to the test! 



Drascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe Coaster, Peace Belle, Poled out.jpg



I always used to sail with two whiDrascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe jib whisker pole yoke.jpgsker poles on board my Drascombe Coasters. Goosewinging presents a very large sail area to a following wind & is a bit of extra fun in light airs. The jib pole was a simple dowel with peg in the sail end & a plywood yoke & shock cord loop to keep it on the mast.

For the mainsail, I put an extension & yoke on the end of a telescopic boat hook.







Drascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe Drifter 22, Bolitho, two piece jib whisker pole.JPG

My Drascombe Drifter 22 is fitted with a boom on the mainsail, so no whisker pole required for that, but I needed one for the jib. Collecting ideas together, I decided that I needed one that would allow the jib to be furled away with it still in place & be in two pieces so that it would stow under the cockpit sole (accessed from the cabin).

I used two offcuts of alloy luffspar tubing, fitted spinnaker piston hooks to each end, & made up a simple push fit sleeve to join the two. For attachment each end, I have a stainless steel deck eye screwed to the face of the mast (low down near the tabernacle) & a stainless steel ring at the jib clew interwoven with the jibsheets. The length of the pole is the same as the distance between deck eye & ring (with sail furled).

In use, not only can the sail be furled but, by furling & re-setting with the opposite jibsheet, it can also be tacked if necessary. Goosewinging with only one pole is often tricky: a change in wind direction of only a few degrees can cause a sail collapse or even inadvertent jibe. By having a boom & a whisker pole, the wind angle can vary by about 30 degrees without up-setting the sail set. Definitely recommended.

(The hawk-eyed viewer may also spot main boom gaff jaws of my own design plus a track/slide set up for the mainsail luff. Further tales to tell!)



 Drascombe Quirky Page, my Bombard, eaten by rodents.JPG


Frequent phone calls in the springtime were from Drascombe owners wanting sail repairs or even new sails when they got theirs out of storage & found that little rodents had made a winter meal of them!

I just got my Bombard AX2 inflatable out of rustic storage where it has laid, unused for 4 years. It was full of acorn husks & similar matter & had five serious holes in it! They had even managed to eat the rubber bellows of one of the built-in pumps!

I called them stronger names than just rodents!Drascombe Quirky Page, my Bombard, after repairs




19.10.14. Stewart 5 - Rodents 0! My inflatable is once more inflatable.

I got the 2 pack glue & matching repair fabric from Ribstore. www.ribstore.co.uk. Excellent service & a first class website with loads of information sheets & 'how to's' for inflatables & RIB's.







 I collected my trailer from my iron-fighter friend after he had repaired a major indiscretion, too embarrassing to detail here. While it was easy to work on, I thought I would get out the magic paint (Finnegans Smoothrite Silver) & touch up the rusty bits. The galvanised frame of my 2010 trailer is holding up extremely well but some of the plated boltheads & nuts were rusting quite badly, particularly at the aft end which gets wet during recovery.

Drascombe Quirky Page, trailer, compensator



I noticed that the compensator was pulling up unevenly.

That was because the offside rear brake cable was offering no resistance. (It is the far right cable in the picture.) The brake tensioner was pulling much farther out of the brake drum than it should so more investigation was required.



Drascombe Quirky Page, trailer, one shot nut



The trailer has Al-Ko axles & their hubs use a one-shot nut. This has a crimped outer edge to the thread to give a locking function so has to be renewed once taken off. Using a 32mm socket spanner, they are torqued up to 290Nm so also require a pretty hefty torque wrench. To get them off, a long tube extension to the socket ratchet is a must: my trusty scaffold pole served well!



Drascombe Quirky Page, trailer, brake lining!



Once the hub was pulled, the cause of the problem was immediately obvious. There wasn't even a shred of lining left on either shoe & no evidence of it left inside the hub! Totally, 100% gone! I usually avoid leaving my trailer with the brakes on as they do occasionally bind on (due in part, I believe, to the workings of the reversing release mechanism). There are 2 'cures' for this. The first is to rapidly hammer the backplate until a loud 'clonk' tells you that the shoes have released. The other, lazier way, is to hitch it on to the car & jerk the rig sharply backwards, which I have had to resort to. Linings do delaminate from the shoe but perhaps my 'cure' has exacerbated that.



Drascombe Quirky Page, trailer, offside front hub



I pulled the forward hub to check the condition of that & it was fine. Dry dust inside, as you would expect & plenty of meat left on the linings. Both nearside hubs were also fine.



Stripping the brake shoes out was easy, with a few aide-memoire photographs to make sure it all went back together as intended.


Drascombe Quirky Page, trailer, adjuster

Drascombe Quirky Page, trailer, adjuster Couldn't say the same for the adjuster! That was pretty well seized up so needed stripping right down, cleaning & lubricating. The carrier is a fixed part of the backplate so simply buying a new unit & bolting it in isn't an option. It is worth spending some time on that as you are expected to poke a screwdriver through a little hole in the backplate (with a green plastic plug) & lever the toothed ring around so I didn't want much resistance on it.



Drascombe Quirky Page, trailer, brake adjuster exploded



There isn't much info to be gleaned on this adjuster. If you get to see it as in my 'exploded' picture, you are well beyond where Mr Al-Ko says you should have taken your trailer to his approved specialist! (If your hub nuts have been put on by him, they will have a red line marked on them too: see picture above.)


Re-assembling the hub was quite straightforward. Job done!



Here we are, early in the the sailing season & I am out on the water again, enjoying the exhilaration of riding the waves in a good breeze. I am often single-handed so thinking that easier reefing would be a good thing.

As part of my existing rigging of the boom, I have a gooseneck independent of the downhaul & the downhaul clips onto the tack with a snap-shackle. To reef, the throat halyard is eased, the snap-shackle is relocated to the first reefing tack & re-tensioned.

I have now added a reefing downhaul, which is a duplicate of the usual downhaul but with the line through the reefing tack. That part of the operation can now be done from the safety of the cockpit; no need to go forward & reclip the downhaul.

Drascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe Drifter 22, Bolitho, mainsail reefing clewAt the clew, I have a reefing pendant from the first reefing clew vertically down to the boom, though a bullseye, with a jamming cleat forward of the bullseye. The pendant has a whipped eye through the reefing clew & a rope end ball on the free end. The distance reefing clew to bullseye is the same as bullseye to jamming cleat so the act of reefing is to pull down the reefing pendant until the reefing clew is tight to bullseye (the thoat halyard has already been freed to deal with the tack reefing) & cleat off into the jamming cleat leaving very little 'free end' to thrash around.

It would be possible to replicate all this for the second reefing position but, in practice, I have never used it. I can hold full sail up to around 16 kt winds & first reef to around 22 kts. beyond that, I tend to drop the main & sail under jib & mizzen.

That still leaves the job of tying all the reefing points, which I do around the boom. That is an awkward enough job to do at anchor before setting out & can be quite difficult to do under the conditions that require reefing.

 Anyone who has followed my parrel string evolutions will know that I am a great fan of what I call 'Paddington Bear Techology' - the loop & toggle fastening of his duffle coat but, being nautical, using rope end balls instead of the wooden toggles. I have changed the reefing pendants so that they now have a ball close to the sail on the Stbd side & a bowline in the free end on the Port side. That makes tying in the reef a quick & simple operation: loop under sail/boom & onto toggle.

This modification has made it very easy to put a reef in & has been very succesful.



Drascombe Quirky Page, Bolitho 11, 13A power socket

Although my boat is snugged down in the compound at the club, I still go down to do odd jobs & spend the night on her. Chilly nights have lead me to think about cabin heating (other than just putting the gas stove on & making coffee).

I already had a shore-power cable linked into a step charger mounted in the boat to maintain her rather large battery so it was relatively simple to wire up a 240V, 13amp power socket in the cabin.

Now I can use a mains fan heater. 1kw of the 2kw capacity is plenty & having a source of dry heat makes it easier to get out of my bunk in the morning!

The fan heater is quite noisy so gets switched off at bunk-time. For really chilly nights, I now also have an electric underblanket - a small single one, £10 from Argos. All a bit soft, but very toasty!



MIZZEN BOOM GOOSENECK Drascombe quirky page original mizzen boom gooseneck

The mizzen on D22's has a boom fitted as standard, the gooseneck of which is a Holt Allen Mirror Dinghy mainsail gooseneck which we fitted at an angle so that the boom can be raised vertically to the mast for furling the sail round the mast in the usual Drascombe fashion.

The boomed mizzen has turned out be a quite powerful sail when running before the wind (with the usual proviso that it will try to broach you if you don't stay alert). Unfortunately, with it being behind you, there is a tendency to forget it until it gybes wildly. A couple of seasons ago, that caused the gooseneck screws to break out, splitting the end of the boom. That was cured by gluing it back together & adding a vertical screw as reinforcement. This year, we have been out in some fairly wild conditions (See Happenings page) & while de-commissioning the boat, I found more strain on the screws showing.


Drascombe quirky page new mizzen boom gooseneck


To create something stronger, I have gone back to the principles of the mainsail gaff jaws which have a square hollow section that the yard pushes into & created something similar for the mizzen boom.

It uses a 35mm SHS giving 31mm internally so the existing boom just needed the end shaving & revarnishing to fit.





LOADSA TWEAKS!Drascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe Drifter 22 button, link to Hopwood

If you want details of another thousand tweaks to do to a Drascombe, my friend Douglas Hopwood created a website where he set out all the ones he had undertaken before he sailed off to that great anchorage in the sky:  

Sorry but his website has been taken down. It may appear elsewhere at some future date.






Last updated: 28.10.17