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Summer storm stops play

August 8, 2016

SummerGales01

Originally, we had expected to be away on our summer cruise during early August, however the forecast of unseasonal gales led us to cancel our plans. While this was obviously a disappointment, the alternative was a soggy, blustery, stressful break …that we decided we would be better off without.

DalgetyBayAug2016

There was, however, a brief calm before the storm and we decided to squeeze in another trip to Dalgety Bay. A fickle wind was off our Macwester Malin’s stern and was constantly changing, so we spent a lot of time making adjustments in order to maintain a half-decent pace. By the time we reached the Forth bridges, we were behind schedule and with a falling tide on the cards, we opted to motor-sail. The image above shows our approach to Dalgety Bay, with Donibristle House on the far left.

MacwesterMalinDalgetyB01

Our chums from Calloo, nipped over to spend a few hours with us on the first night (Thursday 4th). We had a smashing time, which ended earlier than it otherwise might have ended if it had been the weekend, but alas it was a week day.

LowtideDalgetyBay01

The following day we walked west towards the Forth bridges in the morning, and then east towards St Bridgette’s Kirk in the afternoon. The image above shows the view looking east towards Inchcolm, with our Macwester Malin in the harbour on the left. In the centre of the image, there’s a channel of water between the mainland and Inchcolm called Mortimer’s Deep, which is the route we typically take to reach Aberdour.

DalgetyBayAug2016-1

On the Friday night, we listened to an eclectic music playlist and reminisced about our childhoods. From the depths of her mind, ‘the crew’ recalled a song called ‘Crambone’ from an old Tom & Jerry cartoon, performed by Shug Fisher, which she proceeded to stream (several times). While this isn’t in any way related to sailing, if you have a couple of minutes to spare you can find a clip here.

Later, one of our Dalgety Bay chums saved us from total-retro-meltdown by inviting us along to the clubhouse. It was much quieter than we expected for a Friday night, but pleasant enough.

The following morning we walked east again, although this time we walked past St. Bridgette’s Kirk to the old pier across from Inchcolm. The Fife coastal path seemed to come and go a little, and progress was slow, but eventually we made it and saw Mortimer’s Deep, the aforementioned channel which separates Inchcolm from the mainland, from a completely new angle.

dBayR2D2sinking

With gale warnings in place for Sunday, we set sail on the afternoon tide, just as the heavens opened. Despite keeping our cockpit tent substantially closed, we got a little soggy round the edges, however the rain eased by the time we reached the bridges.

Above; I eventually lost patience with the bargain-basement R2D2 that I purchased from Gumtree and chucked it overboard just off Rosyth.

MacwesterMalinMooringAug2016

Later on Saturday, our Macwester Malin was safely back on her mooring. We battened down the hatches ahead of the storm, and left her to face the brunt of the weather by herself …while we were warm and cosy ashore.

Not exactly how we hoped to be spending early August, but sometimes mother nature has her own plans.

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Tender trouble July 2016

August 2, 2016

TenderTroubleJuly2016-01

We hit a snag right from the first moment we arrived at the pontoons at the weekend. Our tender wasn’t attached to the link line at the stern, and by design there was no way of pulling the bow all of the way into the pontoon.

After much faffing around, we managed to get our dinghy within reach.

TenderTroubleJuly2016-02

It didn’t take too long to figure out that the problem had been caused by third-party interference. Somebody had been on board, and presumably in order to get on board they had tied the 2m stern chain around the pontoon. This meant that as the water level rose, there wasn’t enough slack in the system, and the U-bolt had been wrenched out of the transom.

TenderTroubleJuly2016-03

Looking at the evidence, it seemed clear the uninvited guests had been adolescent or adult-sized rather than small kids. They left a trail of mud inside the dinghy, on top of the mud they freely distributed on the exterior of the hull. They also removed or otherwise disposed of our trusty bailer.

I reckon that our dinghy was targeted because she was moored stern to, and (because we use her a lot), much less rain water had collected in her compared to most of the other tenders.

We spent some time on board our Macwester Malin ruminating, and given there wasn’t much we could do as the horse had already bolted, we decided on a change of scenery.

AberdourRegattaJuly2016

Good call. We headed over to Aberdour by car, where the annual ABC regatta was under way. We met up with friends and spent some time on board Joint Venture, followed Chiron, both yachts from our club. The crew on board Chiron had already munched their way through the provisions, and were a little embarrassed that they couldn’t offer us as much as a biscuit (no need). Amusingly, we were offered a falafel sandwich to compliment a Singapore Sling …both of which we opted to pass on.

Later we had a couple of drinks in the ABC clubhouse while the prize-giving ceremony was underway …and the crew from Joint Venture picked-up one of the two cups up for grabs.

TenderTroubleJuly2016-04

Meanwhile back at the ranch, the following day we decided to take swift remedial action to resolve the dinghy problem. I made a temporary repair to the transom so that it’s water tight again, and then I more or less reinstalled the running mooring solution that we had in place in previous years. By my reckoning I could fix the transom and there would be absolutely nothing to prevent the very same twit from turning up for another party on our dinghy a week later. At least now, our dinghy is much less prone to interference.

Hopefully out sailing again soon!

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July snack-sized cruise

July 25, 2016

MacwesterMalinDalgetyBayJuly2016

With dismal summer weather over the previous weekend restricting us to outings ashore, such as visiting the world’s smallest lighthouse in North Queensferry, and Preston Island, it was great to get out our Macwester Malin out on the water in fine weather. What would turn out to be the hottest day of the year so far, came hand in glove with light winds, so the moment we floated we slipped our mooring and motored to Dalgety Bay.

BBQJuly2016

The weather kept getting better and better as the day unfolded, and we enjoyed a really tasty barbecue before meandering along the coast a little on foot. We had a fab day, and later a friend from the local sailing club joined us for a night-cap onboard.

ThunderJuly2016

The heat stuck around through the night, and there were three or four hours of thunder storms in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Despite this entertaining interlude, we had a reasonable night’s sleep.

MacwesterMalinDalgetyBayJuly2016-2

The following day, we took it pretty easy again just lapping up the sunshine while we could. Then on our third day, family and friends came over for a long lunch. While not as warm as the first day, three out of five onboard ventured into the River Forth to mess around in the shallows.

DawnDepartJuly2016

After three nights in Dalgety Bay, early on the Friday morning (22nd July), I left the crew napping and singled-handed our Macwester Malin out on to the water and into a stunning dawn, before the falling tide trapped us in the harbour for the rest of the day.

Seals-HoundPointJuly2016

I made the mistake of straying too near the seals [again]. Will I never learn that the photo opportunity simply isn’t worth the stench? Note to self; buy a powerful zoom lens and/or keep a peg dangling from my skip cap.

ForthBridgesJuly2016

As I approached the bridges, I made sure that I had all the fenders and lines ready for single-handing into Port Edgar. It was really calm, so my plan was just to ease our Macwester Malin slowly into a vacant berth. Five minutes before arrival the wind picked up and I was feeling a tad less confident. Just about then, the crew surfaced and was ready to help. Our chums from Ragdoll were also on hand to catch lines, despite it being around 7.30am on a Friday morning. Both of the Ragdoll crew were up early, as they were just about to set off for Eyemouth.

PortEdgarJuly2016

After doing all the stuff we do when we arrive somewhere onboard our Macwester Malin, we had breakfast and then wandered along to South Queensferry, returning via the local store. Just as we were having lunch, at about 1pm a gaggle of red Spitfire-like aeroplanes swooped past the marina in formation. It could arguably have been the Red Arrows …if it had been 60 years earlier. We reasoned that they had strayed from the nearby East Fortune Airshow which was taking place that day. Best I can tell they were a Swiss Air Force display team called PC-7.

The rain arrived later on, and we decided to eat onboard that night rather than the local Chinese restaurant. Even later still, our friends from Miss Lindsay, a 29ft Dufour, who has just returned from a trip south to Blyth, nipped over for a few drinks and we had a memorable night.

MacwesterMalinCapernaumJuly2016

The following morning brought more showers, but we ventured out for some fresh air, dodging the worst of the rain. By mid-afternoon we set sail for Capernaum as we had a shore-based birthday barbecue to attend on Saturday. That turned out to be a really good night too, although it was over all too quickly.

We spent a second day and night at Capernaum, before reluctantly popping our Macwester back on her mooring. All-in-all, we hadn’t made it very far in comparison to Miss Lindsay and Ragdoll, but we both really enjoyed our week afloat.

 

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Incredible weekend in Aberdour

July 13, 2016

ForthBridgeHaarJuly16

All week the weather forecasters warned of gales, torrential rain, doom and gloom, so we had no plans to go anywhere over the weekend. In particular, we’ve been frustrated that there hasn’t been a suitable weekend weather window to visit Culross, a recently rejuvenated destination on the River Forth with a partially rebuilt pier. We’ve made the trip to Culross by road several times, checking out the rocks and the best place to come alongside. That adventure would have to wait for another day.

Having studied the forecast locally in detail, it looked as though the worst of the weather was going to miss the Firth of Forth, so we decided that we would take a gamble on heading out on to the water knowing that we could always park our Macwester Malin for a few days if necessary.

We made it onboard late on Friday night, and settled down early as we knew there was an early rise in the morning if we were to catch the tide. We set off before 7am. I say “we”, but the crew remained snuggled-up warm and cosy in the aft cabin while I cast off single-handed. There was a noticeable east coast haar concealing the top half of the Forth Bridge, which only became visible up close [above].

The crew eventually got out of her lazy bed as we were heading past Hound Point towards Dalgety Bay, just in time to see our first puffin of the season. Unfortunately I wasn’t prepared, so can’t provide any evidence in the form of a photograph. I promise will make up for that later in this post with a gratuitous fluffy animal photograph of some sort.

BraefootGasTerminalJuly16

The haar wasn’t so dense that we were unable to see where we were heading. The shot above shows us approaching Braefoot gas terminal to our port, with the headland south-east of Aberdour just visible in the distance. Actually, we hadn’t planned on heading to Aberdour, however we spotted a yacht against the pier wall on our approach to Dalgety Bay, and weren’t convinced that there was enough room for us alongside.

Handy windspeed info for Braefoot & Inchcolm here.

Macwester-Malin-32-AberdourJuly2016

It felt really, really good to arrive in Aberdour; it seemed like it had been far too long since we were there. Of course, we had been there over the winter months by road, most notably when we had stumbled upon former UK prime minister Gordon Brown strolling along the promenade deep in conversation with Labour deputy leader Tom Watson.

On arrival, a local skipper was kind enough to catch our lines. His yacht, Markate is pictured off our stern above. Inevitably we got talking, and he told me of his recent trip to the pier at Culross which he informed me had recently been rebuilt. He proudly stated that Markate was the first visiting yacht to Culross for over 100 years. On hearing the news of his visit …my pupils narrowed, my veins started throbbing with anger, and I swear the pigment of my skin flushed with a vivid green. I picked up him up with both hands, effortlessly lifted him above my head, and tossed his helpless body over the sea wall.

Okay, so that all unfolded in my head. In reality I was heartily shaking the skipper’s hand and congratulating him on being an adventurous trailblazer.

Baa humbug!

PuffinJuly2016

Above is the gratuitous fluffy animal photograph that I promised you earlier, as some sort of reparation for my hissy-fit. Best we could tell, this nosey parker spent all weekend looking out from beneath the gate.

The weather was substantially better than we expected, and we had sunshine for much of the time, including walks on the beach and along the coast. When the rain put in an appearance, we simply zipped-up our cockpit tent and took the opportunity to relax. We didn’t do all that much. We caught up with the harbour-master, and as usual we enjoyed gin and tonic along at a local friend’s beach-front house. Other than that, we just took it easy.

LeavingAberdourJuly2016

We were due to set sail back to our mooring at around 4.15 on Sunday afternoon, however I prepped our Macwester Malin earlier than required as I wanted to watch Andy Murray play in the Wimbledon final. I streamed the match live to my iPad, as I found the radio commentary annoying. The shot above shows the settled conditions as we left Aberdour behind.

HoundPointJuly2016

Once we were out on the water, I found it easier to stream the match to my mobile, which was less of a handful at the helm. We decided to motor our Macwester Malin back home because we were heading into the wind, I reckoned that the conditions were going to deteriorate, and yes …I wanted to watch the end of the match, which was beginning to look good for Andy. More than could be said for the weather, which as expected, was going downhill.

Championship-Point-Wimbledon2016

While we were being bounced around a bit, approaching the Forth Bridge at around 5pm, Andy had already won the first two sets, and the third set was now in the latter stages of a tie-breaker. Would this be the end or was there going to be another set? Just as the match reached championship point, the iPlayer live feed stopped dead [above]. Surely not? After three hours? Right at the very pinnacle of the whole tournament?

Frustrating?

Well, it’s fair to say that my pupils narrowed, my veins started throbbing with anger, and…

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Limekilns River Festival 2016

July 5, 2016

QueensferryCrossingJune2016

We’ve been busy with life ashore over recent weeks, and so haven’t made it out on the water all that much. We did manage to squeeze in a ‘quiet’ night over at Port Edgar a couple of weeks ago. Well, at least it was supposed to be quiet, however when a fellow club member parked a trolley-full of drink at the end of the pontoon, I should have realised that we were in for a long boozy night. We collectively ended up on a lovely Grandezza 27 until 3am.

The next morning ‘the crew’ [who had called it a night early on] harvested oodles of pleasure* from my delicate disposition, and the large colourful flag that our new chum from Ragdoll, a fin-keel Westerly 33, had hoisted up our mizzen mast at some stage the night before. Later that day, we sailed back up river to our mooring complete with flag et al.

*Don’t worry, I’ll get payback somewhere down the line.

riverfest01

Two weeks later, we brought our Macwester Malin into Capernaum on a falling tide towards the end of the first day of the Limekilns river festival. Reaper, a Fifie herring drifter, and four or five yachts, mainly from Blackness, had arrived the day before [above].

MacwesterMalinRiverFest01

The bow to the left of the photograph above belongs to Reaper. In the evening there was live music in the marquee and we enjoyed a good night with friends from far and wide, although we did bail-out a bit earlier than planned.

About 11.30pm, just as we were settling down for the night I heard the deep burble of a yacht manoeuvering at close quarters. It was still pretty windy, but fortunately I could hear help was at hand ashore, as if it had been down to me to provide assistance, I wouldn’t have had time to get my kit back on.

MacwesterMalin-Westerly33-01

The next morning we were greeted with the welcome sight of Ragdoll sitting off our starboard quarter. They just about managed to make it to the bar before last orders the previous night. Above; our Macwester Malin with Ragdoll just behind taken from Reaper’s bow.

MacwesterMalin-Westerly33-02

The shot above, taken from the pontoon shows the threatening clouds, and the colourful flag that drew a complaint against Ragdoll’s crew, although we also heard that the complaint was about the EU flag. Who knows? Either way, apparently when the woman who made the complaint had zero joy with the organisers, she intended to call the police. Given that neither Starsky nor Hutch put in an appearance, it’s probably fair to assume that any complaint wasn’t taken too seriously.

Reaper-FyneThyme-Calloo-JV-01

We had three guests aboard for the sail past, as our friends’ Westerly Centaur, Jambel had engine-cooling problems. We were ready to roll about ten minutes ahead of schedule and were all eager to get out on the water. In the end, we made a break for the harbour entrance first, and cleared the way for Reaper to set off.

After thirty minutes of mustering, we headed west for the sail past. The shot above from the left shows Reaper, Joint Venture, Calloo, and Fyne Thyme.

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A tug had made the journey up from Hound Point, and set off her water-cannons as we sailed up river. I use the term ‘sail’, but we were all under power. It was choppy, with the wind occasionally above 30 knots.

Ragdoll-westerly33-01

Above; Ragdoll off our port with some giant figs hanging from her stern [they must be keen vegetarians].

Although it was windy, it was pretty invigorating and everyone aboard appeared to have a good time. I certainly did, even when I got a face full of salt water at the helm just as we were heading back into our Macwester Malin’s mooring.

Why I hear you ask?

In no small part because ‘the crew’ was out on the fore-deck at the time. She got absolutely drenched. It might have taken me a couple of weeks, but revenge is undoubtedly a dish best served cold.

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Battleships & Bridges

June 1, 2016

ForthBridgesApproachMay16

It was an early start on the Saturday of the long weekend. We set sail about 15 minutes after half-a-dozen yachts from our club set-off on a race down river to Granton. With the tide and wind against us, our Macwester Malin ketch managed a respectable 6.5 knots over the ground on the way to the bridges.

In the distance [circled above] we could just about make out HMS Kent which was lying in front of Inchgarvie.

HMS-Kent-Jutland_May2016

The 436ft long frigate was on the Forth as part of the Battle of Jutland commemorations. Later, the dazzle-painted Windsor Castle would also make an appearance.

While the club racers carried on to Granton, we sailed north-east towards St David’s Harbour before turning back to Port Edgar for lunch.

PortEdgarQueensferryCrossingMay2016

The weather brightened, and we had a relaxing day in and around the marina …and beyond to South Queensferry. Most of the yachts from our club that had been racing to Granton arrived at the marina around 5.30pm, and before long we had all congregated on Joint Venture (a Salty Dog) which was berthed alongside us. By my reckoning there were thirteen of us on a twenty-six footer, so it was pretty cosy in the cockpit.

We cooked and ate on board Indefatigable Banks while the others headed-off to an eatery in South Queensferry. Although there was more stuff and nonsense to be had on Calloo later on, we opted for an early night.

MacwesterMalinCupboardSpring

Early the following morning (Sunday), we heard our chums all set off for home. We thought about that momentarily, and quickly decided to spend the day pottering around in the marina instead.

Having managed to find the right size and shape of spring (above; at last), I replaced a missing spring from one of our Macwester Malin’s cupboards, so we can now heel over without fear of the contents making a riotous bid for freedom. Hurrah!

RosythDocks01

Later on Sunday afternoon we decided that we would head back to our mooring. We took it easy, only unfurling the genoa, as the wind and tide were behind us. By the time we reached Rosyth (more naval hardware above) we partially furled the genoa to lose some speed, as we were well ahead of time. In the end, we were still about an hour too early to access our mooring, so we spent the night at Capernaum.

As the haar smothered Port Edgar, we were happy with our decision to leave.

HeadsVeneerCover01

We opted for another late start on Monday morning, so we missed the opportunity to pop our Macwester Malin back on her mooring, and spent another day pottering around. Still seeking to finish-off the heads, I had sourced a rubber/cork solution (from Tiflex, the same company that provided the Treadmaster flooring), to cover the veneer that had been ruined when I removed the seating that was originally situated there. The new rubber (left-hand-side on the bulkhead above) was a substantially lighter brown than I had hoped, but tonally it was a reasonable match for the paint to the rear of the heads, so I trimmed it up and installed it.

MacwesterMalinDuskMay16

It was about ten pm on Monday night before we popped Indefatigable Banks, our Macwester Malin back on her mooring. By then the light was beginning to fade, and we knew that we had squeezed just about all we could out of our long weekend.

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Kelpie dash

May 29, 2016

MoodyKelpies01

I popped over to the entrance of the Forth & Clyde canal mid-week to help a chum who was taking their Moody Eclipse over to the west coast. The Moody’s mast had been taken down at crane-out last year, so there wasn’t really much manual effort required.

MoodyKelpies02

While I was ready to fend off at all of the tricky bits, there weren’t any problems, so my input didn’t amount to much more than catching and returning lines. Due to other commitments, I wasn’t able to make the two-day trip from Grangemouth through to Bowling, but at least I managed to see them through the first couple of hundred metres.

MoodyKelpies03

This was the first time that I had returned to the Kelpies since our time there last summer, and as I stood at the lock the memories came flooding back [click here for more info].

Once the Moody was safely on a pontoon, we were treated to tea and chocolate biscuits by the skipper. Not chocolate-flavoured biscuits; real chocolate biscuits on account of me being a guest rather than crew. Maybe it’s just as well I wasn’t able to spare the time, as I bet the skipper made the crew sleep out on deck!

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