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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We managed to squeeze in a couple of day sails in the run-up to crane-out, but time and tide waits for no man and inevitably the big day arrived all too soon. We were one of the last yachts to be craned-out this year, as our position in the yard had changed. We duly brought our 32ft Macwester Malin over to the club pier just after lunch at the clubhouse on Sunday.
Thankfully there were no problems lifting the boat out on to the hard. Before she was lowered on to her wooden blocks for the winter, I asked for our yacht to be held aloft by the crane while I inspected the bottom of the keels. As I suspected there was a little bit of damage visible, and so that issue was added to my ‘to-do’ list.
As usual I helped with other boats after our Malin was safely on the ground. Later, as the day was drawing to a close, I got a lift over to our mooring and rowed our dinghy back round to the club to take it out of the water too. That last journey signalled the end of our season.
Crane-out is always a subdued event, but at least it went smoothly. I guess that all we can do now is look forward to the spring.
Our weekend’s sailing was slow to start as there was a lively weather front clearing through on Saturday. However I didn’t manage to avoid getting soaked, as I was drafted in as a last-minute crew member for the local dragon race. The forecast was better for Sunday and we arrived at our Macwester Malin before she was afloat, so that we could slip our mooring at the earliest possible opportunity. We had no plan other than to avoid the rain clouds, enjoy some carefree sailing, followed by a night at Capernaum Pier.
We tacked back and forth off Rosyth, Blackness Castle, Limekilns, and Charlestown in a gentle easterly. The very first shot above shows us on our 32ft centre-cockpit ketch with Charlestown in the background. Just above this block of text, is an on-board shot heading towards Limekilns, and below is a shot of us onboard our Malin with Grangemouth in the background. Thanks to John for photographs 1 & 3 from his yacht.
I’m not sure that I can explain just how good it felt to be sailing again, as this feeling was augmented with relief. 2013 has been a fantastic sailing season, yet we were hundreds of miles away for ten weeks missing most of it. Then when we eventually managed to get home and go for a mini cruise, the elements conspired against us and we spent most of the time stuck in the fog. We were beginning to feel that we weren’t going to get our sails up again before crane-out, so set against the backdrop of our predominantly yacht-less season, we had a totally fantastic day.
We arrived on the pontoon at Capernaum Pier just as a race was finishing. We met up with friends, and eventually made our way to the local pub to catch up on news, and hear about the race.
We woke up to a bright morning, so we quickly scoffed breakfast and got ready to go back out on to the river again. Just as we were setting off, we heard some stirring bagpipes and we both felt compelled to explore. If you like that sort of thing, it was great …and we happen to like that sort of thing.
Eventually our thoughts drifted back to sailing. The piper stopped playing and came down from the pier to see us cast off. It’s quite a tight spot to turn a 32 footer (see shot above the piper), so I used our bow thruster to swing our bow round about 120 degrees. As I was doing this, I couldn’t help but hear the owner of the Westerly Centaur moored just ahead of us say “I want one of those“, and then the piper shouted back over to her “Oh you need to get a bow thruster, they’re all the rage!“
By the time we left Capernaum Pier behind us, the weather was closing in. There was a filthy, black rain cloud consuming all in its path to the west over Grangemouth, and a similar black cloud to the east over the Forth Bridge. Where the sun broke though we were bathed in colourful light, and we reckoned that we must have been at the end of somebody’s rainbow.
Although we escaped the worst of the rain while we were out on the water, we were a bit damp around the edges. However we did make it back on to our mooring before a heavy downpour inevitably caught up with us.
Before too long, the rain cleared and we were left with a beautiful evening. The shot above is an attempt to capture the view we enjoyed over dinner in our cockpit. In case you’re wondering, the dark area occupying the top third of the photograph is the roof of our cockpit tent.
As the sun and tide dropped, we got our stuff together, locked up the boat and jumped into our dinghy. We weren’t quite ready to leave yet, so we went for a row out into the River Forth. It was a stunning end to a great couple of days.
After ten long yacht-less weeks in London, we were uber-keen to get back out on the water as soon as we could. We set a course for the marina at Anstruther, but given that the duration of the trip would be right on the edge of what was possible in one tide, we popped in for an overnight at Aberdour first. It was great to be back in our favourite east coast destination and we caught up with friendly faces that we hadn’t seen all summer.
That evening our rigging became the ‘perch of choice’ for the swarm of swallows that were resident in the harbour. We enjoyed watching their silent acrobatics as the tide fell and the day gave way to night. The next morning brought heavy fog, and it didn’t take an Apple Store Genius to deduce that the trip to Anstruther would need to wait for at least one more day.
Therefore a day later than expected we set sail for Anstruther. In a last-minute change to our plans, we slipped quietly out of Aberdour at 7.15 am on a falling tide rather than a rising afternoon tide. This would mean we would reach Anstruther at near LWS, but we set off anyway, as we were keen to make the journey while the fog had wandered off to bother somebody else.
As there was a light easterly wind, we decided to keep our Macwester Malin’s sails under wraps. About an hour into our journey, just as we started to cross Kirkcaldy Bay, our Garmin chartplotter lost all of it’s satellite signals. I veered substantially off-course to check if there was any change in position, but the screen was unresponsive. During the following five minutes we discussed turning back, as visibility wasn’t great. We could make out the coast to port side over towards Kirkcaldy, but had absolutely no visual of our destination. While the GPS was down, I used the diffused glow of the sun as a reference to steer, and have to confess that I was pleasantly surprised to find out that we were only five degrees off-course after the signal kicked back in.
We decided to press on. After crossing Kirkcaldy Bay, we needed to dump some time as we couldn’t enter Anstruther at low water, especially on one of the lowest tides of the year. We took a leisurely detour around the bay at Elie, before getting back on course to Anstruther.
Just as we were passing the lighthouse on the way out of Elie, ‘the crew’ nearly jumped out of her skin. She was speechless (not a trait I would normally associate with her), and could only point at the large disturbance in the water just off our stern. It looked a bit like we had strayed into a firing range. Moments later we realised that the large splash had been caused by a dolphin breaching alongside us, and that there was a pod of six or seven dolphins including a baby (see baby below).
The dolphins were going our way at around 2.5 knots and they accompanied us on our lazy journey for over an hour, meandering along passed St Monans to Pittenweem. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to video any of the dolphins breaching right alongside our Macwester on the three occasions that happened, but I did film them breaching further ahead of us half-a-dozen times, as can be seen in the video still below. It was a truly magical experience.
The dolphins eventually tired of playing with us, and all to soon they headed south. With the easterly wind picking up, it got a bit lumpy as we approached Anstruther, and we waited around for twenty minutes or so until we saw a fishing boat head into the outer harbour. We promptly followed it, and sat alongside the lighthouse for a further thirty minutes before heading into our berth on the pontoons.
High water came and went, and by 10pm it was approaching low water again. Our twin-keel Macwester Malin started to sink into the silt on the port side, leaning away from the finger pontoon. I courageously ventured out into Anstruther’s foggy Friday night chipmosphere, and did what I could with additional mooring warps. However, there was little could be done until we floated again the following day, and we spent an uncomfortable night listing to one side.
The fog we thought we had left behind, put in an appearance in the morning. Nonetheless we spent our days walking to Cellardyke and Pittenweem, and we also visited Crail by car courtesy of a visiting family member. We were grateful for the short periods of sunshine, but we also found the mellow tones of the fog horns to be strangely soothing. As we left the weekend behind, the fog stayed with us until it showed signs of clearing a little on the Tuesday. While we had the opportunity, we decided to head down to Port Edgar in time for East Coast Sailing Week which started two days later.
As luck would have it, there was a westerly wind blowing against us on the way back down …and as that wind was in-cahoots with the tide, the journey to Port Edgar took us five and a half hours. The marina was already very busy and we struggled to find a suitable vacant berth for the night.
The next morning I looked ahead at the deteriorating weather situation, and discovering that the marina was to get substantially busier, we chose to set sail the following night for Capernaum Pier at Limekilns (see above). In the end the bad weather didn’t arrive on schedule, but it did arrive …and (as I understand it) East Coast Sailing Week was cut short, as winds edged from F7 towards F8 on the last day. By then our 32ft Macwester Malin was safely back on her mooring.
According to the RYA Scotland Facebook page, a Macwester Malin went missing near Oban earlier in the summer. The yacht ‘Cristala’ was returned at the beginning of June, but she had suffered ‘significant damage’.
Further details on the RYA Scotland Facebook page here.