With the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the Forth Road Bridge due to kick off with a 180-boat flotilla on the River Forth on Sunday the 7th of September, we took some time out in the late summer sunshine at Port Edgar marina on the run up to the event. As well as cleaning our Macwester Malin, we went for walks along the coast to Hopetoun House and other nearby destinations. South Queensferry got busier as the week progressed, and before long the big day had arrived.
We were in column two of three columns, and our column lead was Reaper, a large wooden Fifie herring drifter. The muster point was on the east of the Forth Bridge (the original, rail bridge). The start of the flotilla was delayed and most of the boats were anxiously schooling like sardines. Eventually we set off, and ten minutes into proceedings things settled down and we were able to relax a little. That said, my head continued swivelling back and forth checking we had enough space, like an owl watching a ping-pong championships final.
The flotilla passed under the road bridge and the waving crowd above, and continued out passed what will become the Queensferry Crossing. On the way up to Dhu Craig buoy, Jacarah, a Seadog ketch from our club (see here), had a gearbox failure, and she broached side on to the flotilla just ahead of us. We, along with a hundred other small craft, managed to avoid T-boning her without too much trouble. The rescue boat was with Jacarah very quickly and she was towed back to Port Edgar without any further drama.
The rest of the flotilla made it up to Rosyth and performed a 180 degree turn to head back through the bridges once more. The sun came out for the return leg, and that brought an even bigger smile to the crew and guests onboard our yacht. As we came under the Forth Road Bridge, there was a cacophony of klaxons, but the sound that stuck with us were the happy whistles from the two little steam boats that had made the journey. The one in the shot above is called Talisker.
We rounded the Forth Bridge (the original, rail bridge) including Inchgarvie and headed back up river. On our short journey back to Port Edgar, we spotted what initially looked like human-shaped flags on ‘Erin’, a 49-foot Jeanneau Sun Odyssey, but on closer inspection, we realised that there were actually two enthusiastic souls dancing around on her spreaders. Back in Port Edgar the party atmosphere continued, and along with lots of members from our club we enjoyed a lively evening.
South Queensferry remained a busy place at the start of the week, and we ventured on-board Reaper. At 70ft long and with a 20ft beam, she’s a voluminous boat, however the conditions below are very cramped. By mid-week we had well and truly recovered. However the same could not be said for Jacarah, the Seadog that was berthed alongside us. Her gearbox trouble was terminal, so we gave our chum a tow back up river (see below).
As we approached Capernaum Pier, we brought the Seadog alongside and rafted up. Rounding the end of the harbour a small battalion of club members were waiting at the pontoons. We took it easy, letting the gentle easterly do most of the work with a short burst from our Macwester Malin’s bow thruster here and there. Everything went according to plan, however it was reassuring to know that we had more than enough help in reserve in case things hadn’t gone well.
We spent a further couple of days pootling around up river, including nipping into Charlestown harbour (see above). We didn’t stop, as there was lots of flotsam and jetsam lying on the surface, so we performed a gingerly 360 degree turn and beat a hasty retreat back out to the river.
After giving our Macwester Malin yet another clean with a power-washer, this time to remove the overly-generous gifts of a thousand berry-eating swallows, we set a course back to Port Edgar for the last weekend in the Forth Bridges Festival.