Incredible weekend in Aberdour

July 13, 2016


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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?


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


Limekilns River Festival 2016

July 5, 2016


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.


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].


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Battleships & Bridges

June 1, 2016


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


Kelpie dash

May 29, 2016


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.


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.


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!


Stuck up; well and truly shaken down

May 24, 2016


We left our mooring in a stiff south-westerly early on Saturday afternoon and headed to Capernaum for a few last-minute tweaks ahead of our 2016 shakedown sail on Sunday. While checking the rigging, I spotted that a halyard on our mizzen was on the wrong side of the stay that runs between our Macwester Malin’s two masts, and came up with a fantastically cunning plan to rectify the problem. I’d simply hoist a small hammer up the mizzen, rock the boat, and lower the hammer back down on the right side. All done and dusted in two minutes.

Or so I thought. Unfortunately the hammer wasn’t quite heavy enough to pull the halyard back down, and two minutes later I had a hammer dangling near the top of the mizzen. Despite trying to lasso the hammer from the deck below, eventually I had to accept that I couldn’t avoid climbing the mast and retrieving the hammer with a boathook.

Not such a cunning plan after all.


The following day we had drinks followed by an enjoyable lunch onboard for the friends and family that were coming along for the short trip under the bridges and back home. There were six of us on-board in total.

Our chums in Calloo, a Moody 31 [above] and Fyne Thyme, a Westerly Konsort Duo also made the trip.


The weather was changeable; it was wet and breezy when we left, but it brightened and the wind started to drop as we approached the new Queensferry Crossing. We made steady progress of around five knots over the ground against the tide.

Shot above; all three bridges clearly visible, with the newest to the fore and oldest furthest away. The larger yacht in the middle-distance is Erin, a 49ft Jeanneau that had eased past us on our approach to the bridges.


It was calm and sunny as we rounded Inchgarvie and turned west to head back under the bridges once more. It was great to see lots of yachts out on the water.

I kept an eye out for Huck Finn, a Macwester 27 that I expected would be sailing around the bridges on sunday afternoon …but I didn’t spot her.


Huck Finn spotted us though. The shot above of our Macwester Malin, Indefatigable Banks heading west, passing under the Forth Road Bridge, copyright of Charlie Simpson. Thanks Charlie.


As we left the bridges behind, we lost sight of our chums in Calloo and Fyne Thyme, along with the sunny weather. The wind picked up to over twenty knots and it started raining. We were heeled over enough to prompt crashing noises from below deck, and some of the crew went down to brace the cupboards until things eased a little. We’ll need to re-organise some of the stowage down below.


By the time we reached our mooring the sun was back out. Calloo arrived shortly after, and Fyne Thyme circled around our stern before heading off to her mooring.

We heard the tell-tale ‘pop’ of the cold fizzy stuff being opened while we were still getting the strops on, and three friends from Calloo arrived by dinghy to join the après-sail celebrations shortly afterwards.

One of our chums and crew member for the day, a naval architect by trade, had baked us fresh ginger cookies. They were robust, well-built biscuits that we decided to label as “ginger brittles”. They tasted great and were very much appreciated.

Everyone seemed to be having a fantastic time, which was rather inconveniently interrupted when our Macwester Malin took the ground. Eventually we grudgingly accepted that we needed to overcome the logistics of ferrying a party of nine to the shore while the dinghies were still afloat. We also had to tidy the boat up, and go through our usual procedures of shutting the boat down. It was tight, but we just about made it.

As luck would have it, the local pub happens to be just two hundred metres away from our mooring, and within a couple of minutes our après-sail celebrations started afresh.

All-in-all it was a really fab day.

Shakedown completed; roll on the summer!


Lazy May weekend in the sun

May 17, 2016


Early tides meant an early rise if we wanted to get away for our Macwester Malin’s 2016 shakedown cruise over the weekend, and the crew spectacularly failed to be enthusiastic about a 6am rise on Saturday morning.

I had loosely been planning an overnight at Port Edgar, but that will have to wait.


The weather was better than forecast, however I took the opportunity to squeeze in one or two tasks below decks while we were stuck in the putty. Installing an access hatch in the v-berth was high on my agenda, as that means it will be much easier to open/close the heads inlet seacock when the v-berth is in use. As you can see above, this area still needs some further work …but it’s definitely going in the right direction.


With the tide back in promptly on the Sunday morning, the crew ventured out in the dinghy while I ticked off some more items from my pre-season to-do list. You can just about see her out in our dinghy at the Ghauts above, drifting beside a chum in a kayak, yakety-yak-yaking, while his son was wading back and forth across the Ghauts.

Having completed my tasks, I found myself hanging around on deck waiting …and waiting.


Eventually the crew returned and, racing to beat the falling tide, we took the dinghy back out to the Ghauts as we had planned earlier in the morning. The shot above shows the crew discovering that the water wasn’t quite as warm and inviting as she had imagined.

With the salty wet stuff continuing to ebb away, we parked our dinghy on the pontoons while we still could.


As the water receded further still, we pulled on our gum boots and walked back out to the Ghauts, and then from the far side, walked east along the water’s edge. We spent the rest of the day pottering around on deck enjoying the heat of the sun and generally taking things easy. Although we didn’t make it off our Macwester Malin’s mooring, we actually had a really enjoyable and relaxing weekend.


Before I finish, I want to take a moment to thank our club’s rear commodore piers and moorings for taking swift, hands-on remedial action, when it came to light that the owner of the yacht beside us hadn’t made a particularly great job of replacing his stern mooring chains. I had become aware there was a problem (1) with our neighbour’s starboard stern chain shackled on to our port stern chain (as flagged-up by the passing skipper of Pampero), however our rear commodore discovered it was much worse than we had anticipated (2), with our neighbour’s port stern chain simply lying in the mud unattached.

All fixed now though …thanks the K-man.


Macwester Malin heads refit – part five

May 13, 2016


Although not strictly the heads compartment, a related area that I tackled at the same time is the floor in the forepeak where the original heads had been located. This was also where the replacement Porta-Potti lived. It’s been a bit of an eye-sore since we bought our Macwester Malin back in 2011 and now was the perfect opportunity to put that right.


When I removed the old wooden floor, I was relieved to find pristine GRP underneath. I used the old wood as a template for trimming-out the replacement Treadmaster rubber flooring. This is an even bigger improvement than the photographs above suggest.

I have also purchased a beige access hatch, which will be fitted into the vertical GRP to the right of the image above, to enable easier access to the inlet seacock when the v-berth infill is in place. Just waiting for the 140mm hole saw that I need to arrive.


It didn’t take more than a couple of minutes to fit the air vent, as I had already cut the hole in the ceiling panel, and pre-drilled the screw holes through the vent itself.


I used a small amount of silicon rather than an adhesive to bed in the light switch. I want to be able to remove the switch easily in the event of any electrical issues in the future.


I made sure that the hole for the stainless steel loo roll holder was a very tight fit, as there was no obvious way of securing it in place, and as with the light switch, I didn’t want to use an adhesive. Again, I may need to remove the fitting, given the hole it sits in provides access to the pump on the right.


I left a 3mm space to the left of the wood surrounding the Treadmaster rubber flooring, as I will source something to cover the damaged veneer. That’s probably going to be acrylic, although I’d like to source a solution a with a more natural texture if possible.


The shot above shows how the heads on our Macwester Malin is looking just now. Although there are still a few items required to complete the refit, not least fitting a door frame and door, our new heads compartment is functional. No doubt I’ll finish off some of the smaller items during the season, but installing the door and door frame is a job I’ll do after crane-out 2016.

Enough of this DIY nonsense.

Where’s my tide tables? Surely it’s time for our long overdue shakedown cruise!


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