Hats off for crane-in 2014

April 17, 2014


I was really surprised that the crane driver was prepared to lift boats into the water as the wind maintained 35 to 45 knots with even faster gusts for most of crane-in weekend. All the same, we made good progress on the Saturday, however there was a bit of a roadblock in the harbour as more and more yacht owners opted not to leave the safety of the pier wall.

It was pretty blustery, and there were regular instances of hard hats being blow right off worker’s heads and straight into the harbour. Although my hard hat had straps, I still did my bit to retrieve one or two hats using a boat hook.


I also helped crew a Colvic Countess round to her mooring (shot above from onboard the Countess looking astern to a Hunter 26). It was a bit lumpy, a tad wet,  and it took three attempts to pick-up the mooring buoy, but we made it without too much fuss. Eventually work stopped early on the Saturday as there was no more room alongside.

The following day started off with lighter winds, but that didn’t last long. I had hoped to fit a new bilge pump hose in the morning, but it failed to arrive the day before and thankfully a friend from the club fashioned a temporary solution for us. Despite the high winds, we made reasonable progress and our slot was getting ever nearer.

Crane in cancelled

Time was getting tight and some individuals were cutting corners, which is never a good idea when there’s heavy equipment in play. As with the day before, hard hats continued to whip off club member’s heads and into the drink. One chap decided that it would be easier to pick up a hard hat that had landed in-between his yacht and the harbour by hand …rather than fetch a boat hook. A large shout went up as inevitably the boat jostled in towards the wall, and the chap ended up in the water squeezed within a rapidly diminishing gap. Disaster was averted, and hopefully he learned a valuable lesson.

Then during one of the lifts, hydraulic fluid erupted from a hose on the crane, and crane-in ground abruptly to a halt. As the news filtered through to us, ‘the crew’ started putting away our guide ropes and fenders (see above).

Macwester Malin 32 crane-in

Amazingly though, the crane driver drove off in the defunct crane, and returned just over an hour later with a replacement. I was impressed by his dedication and thanked him personally for returning to finish the job.

Macwester Malin centre cockpit crane in

The wind was howling, and it subsequently became clear that most of the 13 yachts left were not going to be lifted that day. After consultation, it was decided that no more boats were going to be allowed out of the harbour due to the conditions, and there was only one suitable space left alongside.

Macwester 32 crane in

As luck would have it, we were the only yacht out of the remaining 13 boats that were lifted in over the weekend. I put two control ropes on the bow and the stern to make it easier to steady our 32ft Macwester Malin in the strong westerly. The lift went without any drama.

The wind had died down substantially by the Monday and I fitted the permanent bilge pump hose. I also rowed the dinghy round to our mooring. Unfortunately, as I had been too busy talking before we left, we made it to our mooring too late to simply step off the dinghy, and I ended up dragging it over twenty metres through the mud. That was hard work; a bit like wading through …wait a minute. It was exactly like wading through mud, only I was dragging a heavy GRP dinghy along behind me.

It was pretty thirsty work, so we headed to the local for a well-earned cold one after we had tied the dinghy to our beached Hippo buoy.

The new season starts here!


Prepping for season 2014

April 7, 2014


The long wet and windy winter is drawing to a close, and over the last couple of months we’ve been doing what we can to prepare our Macwester Malin for the new sailing season. As usual, we haven’t managed to achieve all that we hoped to, however on top of the annual routine of de-winterising the engine, changing the oil, checking the engine anode (new one required next season), replacing the impeller, fitting a new impeller gasket (see above for part number), freeing-off the cockpit drains, anti-fouling and other processes, we’ve also ticked a couple of ‘bigger’ (yes, more expensive) boxes on our list.

At the end of last season we put all three of our 32ft Malin’s Quantum sails in for repairs and cleaning including replacing the UV strip on the head sail (total cost approaching £500) at the local sail loft over in Port Edgar. We’ve yet to pick them up, but the sail-maker said that our sails are high-quality sails that are still in good condition. So that’s great news.


The other ‘even bigger’ job that we decided to do over the closed season was to have stainless steel shoes fitted to the bilge keels and skeg. This was because we spotted that the keels had acquired some damage over last season (see above), and we were keen to not just repair that damage …but also prevent it from happening again this year.

20 tonne bottle jack

The prevention aspect of the equation is why we decided to go for a stainless steel solution, rather than simply build-up new glass fibre over the damage, as I’ve occasionally spotted on some bilge keelers with encapsulated keels.

repaired keel

Several weeks ago my grinder and I got up close and personal with the keels. Then, when the temperature was warm enough, I repaired the holes that I’d made with epoxy, and sanded the keels down to a smooth finish.

The biggest part of the job was well beyond my limited abilities, so we had the keels manufactured and fitted professionally. That was always the plan, and the company that produced the shoes, also did all the technical stuff required to jack up our 5.5 tonne Macwester Malin to facilitate unrestricted access to the underside of the keels.

stainless steel shoe

For the record, we used 5mm 316 stainless steel plate for the shoe base, with the walls slightly thinner to aid bending. We used A4 (316) stainless screws, silver CT1 as a sealant/adhesive, and we also added an additional layer of resin to the bottom of the bilge in order to be 100% sure that the screws in the skeg plate were sealed internally and externally.

bilge keel stainless steel shoes

It was financially painful, but undoubtedly a job worth doing properly.

This week, I’m replacing the bilge pump hose, and getting the strops attached to our Hippo buoy, which has already been re-installed. Once that’s done, we’re more or less ready for crane-in this coming weekend.

Almost there!


Spring Tide Storm Surge

January 5, 2014


With the BBC news channel headlines specifically warning of a storm surge on the Firth of Forth on Saturday afternoon, we were sure to check over our Macwester Malin ahead of the storm. The shot above shows the steps just across the road from our local pub mid-afternoon.


As our yacht’s hatches were well and truly battened down, we enjoyed a couple of drinks from our picturesque vantage point on top of the steps [shown in the first photograph] overlooking the river.


The strong winds didn’t show any signs of putting in an appearance as the tide continued to rise. We watched a local fishing boat Christina II make her way back up the river as the temperature began to fall.


A squadron of council vehicles with yellow flashing lights and many hi-viz-jacket-wearing workers were waiting in the wings with sand bags to the ready. The shot above shows the pier where we moor our yacht during the season, getting thinner as high tide approached.

As the light continued to fade, we made our way back along to the village’s east harbour where our Macwester spends it’s winter months.


The photograph above shows the end of the pier which had already been gently consumed by the tide. As it turned out, the storm surge didn’t happen, as the forecasted strong winds simply failed to turn up. This was a welcome stroke of luck, as I reckon that waves of around a metre could have caused havoc at our club. Our Malin’s twin keels are raised 30 cm above the hard-standing, and our 32ft Malin weighs in at 5.5 tonnes, so we would probably have been alright. However there are a number of smaller boats, including some on cradles, that might not have stood up to a sustained side-on pounding from uninhibited rolling waves combined with south-easterly gale force winds.

As the tide turned we realised that we could start to relax. Of course, I subsequently spent a restless night waiting for the missing storm to hit 12 hours later [the following morning] when the tide would be back up at a similar height. Fortunately it remained eerily quiet all night long, and once again we managed to avoid any problems as the tide came and went without incident.


Party season 2013

December 30, 2013


Party season is in full swing and we’re burning our candle at both ends. You know you’ve had a good night out when you wake up the morning after, with a hazy recollection that you agreed to buy a Russian-built hydrofoil (thankfully, in this instance, subject to a few caveats).

It seemed like a good idea at the time.


As usual during the closed season, we’ve been out and about by car and on foot. Typically visiting harbours and ports up and down the Firth of Forth, often travelling back to cruising venues in a forlorn attempt to rejuvenate our memories of the summer. The shot above is the lighthouse at the entrance to Anstruther on a crisp winter’s day.


At low tide on Boxing Day, we walked out along side the Dragon’s Teeth to Crammond Island. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for years, but any time we’ve had the opportunity the tide or weather hasn’t been aligned to our plans. The image above is from Crammond Island looking over towards Crammond and the mainland. Given that the island is East of the Forth Bridge, technically the trek there and back is along the bottom of the North Sea.


Reflecting on our truncated 2013 sailing season, there’s no doubt that the highlight was spending an hour with a pod of dolphins travelling East from Elie (read more here). Next year, we’re contemplating taking our Macwester Malin through to the River Clyde on the west coast of Scotland for a few weeks, but that’s far from a done deal. We have a lot of work to cram in before crane in, and my attention is turning towards how we’re going to get everything completed by early April.

Whatever your plans for 2014, I hope that you have an enjoyable and peaceful Hogmanay and a great start to the new year.


Interesting Malin for sale @ €38500

December 3, 2013

Macwester Malin for sale

I occasionally post a blog on interesting Macwester’s for sale in mainland Europe such as this post, and this post. I recently stumbled across an interesting Macwester Malin for sale over in Hamburg. She’s a sloop that looks to be in good condition, and appears to have had many interesting modifications including a self-tacking jib. With just one owner from new, this unique 32ft twin-keel Malin with original BMC Captain diesel engine, appears to have high quality woodwork above and below deck, no doubt because the owner was a cabinet-maker by trade.

Currently up for sale at £32,000. For more info follow this link (link working early December 2013, when link expires click here for images).

UPDATE: April 2014, price reduced to 29,500 euros. If I didn’t have one already …I’d buy it myself!


River Forth in widescreen

November 10, 2013

Port Edgar Marina

We took a break from boat maintenance this afternoon to walk over the west side of the Forth Road Bridge. By my reckoning it’s been one year and five days since our last crossing by foot (on the east side of the bridge), and today was the first time that we have walked across in daylight. The image above shows the view from the south bank of the river, looking east towards Longannet power station, with Port Edgar on the left and Rosyth on the right.

Lookinf west from the Forth Road Bridge

The weather was crisp and clear, with very little wind and it was surprisingly warm in the afternoon sunshine. Walking from one side to the other and back again takes just over an hour. Unfortunately the photographs shown here fail to properly capture the breath-taking widescreen views or the scale of what stretches out in front of you. It was truly awesome. If you ever have a spare 90 minutes and have the opportunity, then I highly recommend it.

Forth Road Bridge looking south towards Port Edgar

One of our chums from the sailing club was somewhere up above us in a microlight taking snaps, so it will be very interesting to see those …assuming that we don’t read about him in tomorrow’s papers.

Port Edgar at sunset

As regular readers of this blog might imagine, over the last month I’ve been taking photographs and video of remedial and maintenance work that I’ve been carrying out on our Macwester Malin since the end of the season. I’ll create a summary post of this work over the coming weeks, but for the moment I just wanted to share some alternative views of our closest cruising grounds.


Scottish Boat Show 2013

October 15, 2013


We enjoyed a great day at the Scottish Boat Show on Saturday the 12th of October. We just managed to catch some of the flyboarding from a distance, as you can see from the video grab above. Before lunch, we meandered around the pontoons and looked around a few yachts.

Malin Angee

Of course, we couldn’t help but notice ‘Angee’, a fin-keel Macwester Malin for sale. There seemed to be quite a bit of interest in her while we were having a look.  She’s a ketch with a factory-fitted doghouse and original BMC diesel engine. Incidentally  another Macwester Malin already in the photobank section (Iana; a twin keel), is also currently up for sale at £20000. Photographs of both yachts now available in the photobank section of this website here.

We met up with friends from our club for lunch, and we heard how they got on crewing on ‘Drum‘. We were kicking ourselves that we missed the opportunity to sail on her, but the truth is we didn’t know what day we could make it over to the show, and so couldn’t book in advance. It sounded like a blast, so that’s something that we hope to do some day.

It was an enjoyable day out, made all the better by the autumn sunshine.


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