Crane-in 2016

April 22, 2016

Macwester Malin crane lift

This year crane in went according to plan despite concerns about the neep tide which peaked at 4.8m, with our drying mooring only accessible north of 4m. It’s always a little stressful seeing our Macwester Malin overhead; I’m pretty sure they’re designed to float not fly.


As things turned out, our chum the new piers and mooring rear commodore in charge of crane-in ensured that we were dropped in the drink with plenty of time (thanks K), and we had the luxury of approaching our mooring slowly.

This was just as well, given that I didn’t bother to bring our chartplotter (we never leave valuables onboard and I know where the local rocks are), which provides us with speed over the ground information, and the speed log (which I was relying on because I didn’t bring the chartplotter) wasn’t working …no doubt an antifoul paint issue given that some fool* forgot to spin the log wheel once the paint had dried.


The image above shows the new dingy pontoons to the left of the image, with our target, the orange Hippo buoy and adjacent yellow pick-up buoy to the right of the pontoons at the top of the harbour.


Having been the last yacht to leave our harbour at crane-out 2015, we happened to be the first yacht back in our harbour in 2016 (gotta make every second of the season count).

Our chums in Calloo, the Moody 31 pictured above, arrived shortly after.

Macwester Malin mooring 2016

We had an extended crane-in delivery crew this year as our niece joined us for the journey. Given that crane-in was still underway back at the club, we secured our Macwester Malin and waited for the club rescue boat to come and ferry us back to the action.

Macwester Malin tide out

Safely on the mooring, our Macwester Malin took the ground as planned. Relief all round in our camp.

However there were a couple of problems over the weekend. ‘Caprice’ lost engine power on the way to Port Edgar and for a short while looked as though she was heading for the rocks, until the club rescue boat arrived and a brave chum leapt aboard to save the day. There was also a small collision when one of the yachts (that will remain nameless here to spare online blushes) got a tad up close and personal with a Hunter 26, and a 26ft Colvic didn’t quite get her mooring procedure right and ended up a boat length ahead of where she should have been …but all in all there weren’t any huge mishaps, and on reflection it was one of the smoothest crane-ins we’ve experienced …so a job well done and brownie points to the new piers and mooring rear commodore.


Ten days and counting…

April 6, 2016



The new season is almost upon us, with just one more weekend’s prep to go.

As usual when our yacht’s on the hard standing we’ve been out and about by road, along the coast to Anstruther, Crail, Dysart, Elie, Pittenweem and St Monans amongst other coastal villages. The shot above was taken on the 29th of December 2015 while the tide was out at Pettycur Bay (click to enlarge).


We also spent a few days in Portpatrick in February, which was the very place that we decided to buy a yacht when we were last there back in 2010. On the far right hand side of the image above you can just make out a Zorb that was part of a BBC Blue Peter presenter’s attempt to cross between Donaghadee and Portpatrick (click to enlarge).

Anyhoo. I’ve been really busy over the last few months, but I’ve still got way too much to do before crane-in. With a bit of luck we should float, however this year our Macwester Malin has a date with me and some power tools for the first month or two in the water. Once I’ve finished I’ll talk through what I’ve been working on here, but prior to that there’s the small matter of crane-in.



As usual, our Malin’s hull has been anti-fouled, I’ve de-winterised the engine; changing the oil and flushing out the anti-freeze. The dinghy has been repaired following on from the damage caused by vandals at the end of last year, and anti-fouled too.



I’ve dismantled our dinghy mooring, as this year the club has installed pontoons for our dinghies. You can see our dinghy already parked on the nearest pontoon above.



I have also tackled the opaque patch on our sprayhood window. Having read online that there’s little can be done to improve opaque vinyl, I tried a variety of solutions coupled with several hours of elbow grease. Subsequently it still wasn’t clear to me whether the opaque patch was dirt or sun damage, but on balance it seemed most likely to be a distilled stour that had dripped down from the main boom. Eventually I reached the point where replacing the window seemed like the only alternative. Once I’d made that decision, there was nothing to stop me trying one last solution …a solution that isn’t recommended in online forums.



I dug out some old car wax (Johnson Rally Wax) that had been languishing in the shadows of our garage and tested a couple of strips using my Dremel 3000 as a circular polishing tool. I bought 100 wool polishing wheels from Ebay, opting for non-Dremel wheels as they are a couple of millimetres deeper and I wanted to use the tool at a right angle to the vinyl. Surprisingly the test strips proved that the opaque patch was stubborn dirt on top of the vinyl, rather than sun damage integral to the plastic itself. There was a noticeable improvement and no sign of any damage caused by the Dremel or wax.



As I kept experimenting I discovered it was best to use plenty of polish, and have a heavy white card underneath the window in order to have a good view of the process. There was often a stubborn layer of orange residue, which came off with a second or third pass of the Dremel and car wax. While not quite as good as new, it’s a major improvement. Now I’ll need to find a way of removing the excess wax and cleaner from the surrounding fabric.

While there’s loads more to do, the only essential task that I’ve still to perform is installing our Macwester Malin’s mooring tackle. That’s one that I’ll choose to do on a sunny day if one of those turns up in the first half of the month. Failing that I’ll be getting soggy …again.


Christmas cheers!

December 28, 2015


With party season well underway, the crew and I have been enjoying ourselves with family and friends. Christmas day was great, with a slightly over-crispy goose (that’s the way I like ’em) being the lowest point …so not so bad really.


As usual there were boat-related gifts aplenty; “the crew” spoiled me with a new painting of our Macwester Malin with her sails up [above left], to add to the painting she gave me earlier this year of our Malin on her mooring [detail, top]. The fuzzy detail [above right] is from another painting of our Malin with her sails up, but it’s taken through glass hence the lack of clarity. If I get the time, I’ll take a photograph without the glass.

With Hogmanay just a few days away, there are still over three months until crane-in, however I’ll be busy with maintenance and upgrades until then. Crane-in 2016 will be here before we know it (Yay!)

Merry Christmas to you and yours!



Get well soon Forth Road Bridge

December 4, 2015


As widely reported in the media today, following it’s closure overnight, it seems that the Forth Road Bridge is to remain closed until 2016. Regular readers of this blog will be used to seeing our photographs of the bridge and it’s replacement, the Queensferry Crossing, which is due to open next year.

Clearly the plan was that the Forth Road Bridge would be in service until the new bridge is completed. Hopefully the closure will be short-lived, but its early days and it could be that vehicle users are in for many weeks, if not months of detours further up river to Kincardine; a detour of approximately 45 miles one-way. That’s bound to be made substantially worse by the volume of traffic, as 80,000 vehicles cross the Forth Road Bridge daily (source BBC).

Flotilla Reaper

This is all in stark contrast to last year, when we took part in the celebrations to mark the Forth Road Bridge’s 50th birthday. We were part of the flotilla [above], and were in Port Edgar for the awesome fireworks [below].


What a difference a year makes (the firework event was a great night). Hopefully the engineers will be able to nurse the bridge back to health sooner rather than later.



UPDATE: The Forth Road Bridge opened to all traffic except HGVs on the 23rd of December 2015. The shot above, taken on the 22nd of December shows the bridge without any traffic. Fingers crossed that won’t be repeated any time soon.


Winterisation 2015

October 27, 2015

Wash me

As I have a large upgrade planned over the coming closed season, I decided to get all of the winterisation tasks completed within a week of our Macwester Malin being craned-out. Thanks to my chum Sandy for the hand-written reminder of my first job (above).

Macwester Malin hull cleaned

As usual, one of the first tasks was to pressure-wash the hull to remove the season’s accumulated grime and fouling, as tackling that job after it all dries out and hardens would take much longer than a half-day hose-down.

Mooring tools

A couple of days later I picked a mild, dry autumn day to remove the mooring tackle. This year I made sure that I had a full set of suitable tools, including a new 24 inch monkey wrench. That alone made a huge difference.

Misty Ghauts at low tide

There have been times when it’s taken me more than one session down in the putty, however with the right tools none of the shackles took more than a few minutes to loosen off. Above: view to the Ghauts with the east coast haar threatening to engulf our mooring.

Hippo buoy and strops

Fortunately the sun kept the haar at bay, and I managed to get our Hippo bouy and the rest of the tackle loaded into a wheel barrow without much drama, although I certainly needed a shower afterwards.

Vandalised dinghy

After the mooring tackle was power-washed and stored for the winter, a day or two later my attention turned to getting our dinghy off it’s mooring. Unfortunately some dim-witted twit (I may have erroneously typed in an extra ‘w’ there) had vandalised the dinghy in the intervening days. There was a bottle and bits of wood in her, and damage to the seat at the stern. Nothing that can’t be fixed, but it left a sour taste in my mouth.

Dingy parked

This year we parked the dinghy under the our Macwester Malin, and I had to tie the bow to an old sinker to make sure that the dinghy doesn’t get blown away during the winter storms.

Engine exhaust

As usual, I swapped out the impeller, ran fresh water through the engine using a make-shift reservoir, and then followed that up by running anti-freeze through the system for the winter. Popping a small rag into the exhaust signalled the end of my winterisation tasks. If you want further details, there are links to previous winterisation posts on the right hand side of this page including this one (click here).

Which leaves me the next five months to work on further maintenance and upgrades. Yay!


Scottish Boat Show reflections [subtitle: a rambling monologue]

October 14, 2015

Scottish Boatshow wideshot

We made it along to the 2015 Scottish Boat Show despite being too busy to be there. As usual there was a gauntlet of luxury cars to push past, including all types of Astons and Rollers, before reaching the yachts. Nonetheless we didn’t break a stride on our way to the pontoons; we were on a tight schedule as we were planning to be in Largs for lunch.

Jetski stunt show

Having looked at a couple of 45ft Beneteaus (should the plural of Beneteau be Beneteaux?) and the new Hanse range of yachts on show, we decided to view a used centre-cockpit Moody 346, and were impressed with not just her condition but the addition of a bow thruster. Following that, we looked at another couple of similar sized yachts (a Westerly Seahawk and a Hunter Legend 36), but neither compared well with the Moody.

Of course, the danger is that you attend a boat show casually viewing a couple of boats and before you know it you’ve signed a contract and have a for sale sign hanging up on your pulpit. Talking of which, we spotted ‘Freebird’ a Colvic Atlanta ketch which was for sale at the show at £25,000 (she sold before we arrived). We know the owner and the boat, which is pictured below alongside our Macwester Malin at Port Edgar back in May 2013. More here.

Macwester Malin, Colvic Atlanta, Colvic Watson

We paused, and decided to view a Moody 28 for comparison as neither of us were sure we wanted a bigger boat than we already have. After no more than two or three seconds inside the 28, we realised that internal space is important to us. It was diminutive – easily half the space that we’re used to on-board our Macwester Malin.

While the Moody 346 at Inverkip was in good condition, unfortunately it was the fin-keel version and that didn’t go in its favour (against our requirements). Aft cabins that are in reality cupboards hidden under the cockpit aren’t to our taste; we much prefer proper aft cabins. Having ruled-out any move away from the centre cockpit and aft cabin format, we then considered the options for centre cockpit boats in the 30-40ft range with bilge keels. Westerly produced quite a few twin-keel centre cockpit models over the years, but having seen examples of most of them including some at this year’s boat show, we prefer the Moody offerings which started with the 346 and grew over time through the 35 to the 36. There was also the 376 which I understand was effectively a stretched 346 with an en-suite in the aft cabin, whereas the 35 and 36 both have a Jack & Jill heads that serve the aft cabin. Oh and there’s a more modern 34 centre cockpit somewhere in there too.

Nardini icecream Largs

We left Inverkip and headed down to Largs for a bite to eat followed by a visit to Largs Yacht Haven, where there was another Moody 346. It wasn’t as good an example as the one at Inverkip. At Largs and later at James Watt Docks, we also viewed another Westerly Seahawk and more variations of the Moody centre cockpit including a 35, and 36 and a 376.

Objectively, it seems to us that the centre cockpit Moodys mentioned above are more modern looking, better made, and should sail better than our Macwester Malin. So we should sell our Macwester Malin and buy one right?

Not quite. Our Macwester Malin has had epoxy treatment to the hull, it has a replacement engine, a bow thruster, a well-made cockpit tent, stainless steel shoes, etc, etc. While I’m no broker, if you could find a Moody 346 with a replacement engine, bow thruster, and high-quality cockpit tent then the asking price would likely be approaching £50k. That could be nearer £60k for a Moody 35, and £80k for a Moody 36.


As the crew and I talked things through, the next logical step in the process was to value our Macwester Malin. That’s a mixture of objectivity and subjectivity. Objectively, as mentioned above, our Malin has a replacement engine, bow thruster, a well-made cockpit tent, stainless steel shoes, etc, etc. Subjectively, having seen loads of examples of centre cockpit makes and models, we think she’s worth more than the wider market might see her at (as you might expect).

She’s certainly the best example of a 32ft Macwester that we’ve seen over the years. That’s not to say she’s perfect, because she’s not; older yachts are always a work-in-progress. We have invested in our Macwester Malin year on year, and most comparable examples just haven’t had the same investment. We have seen quite a few Macwester Wights and Malins advertised north of the £30,000 mark (here, herehere, and here), so for argument’s sake, lets say we managed to realise £30,000. If we then want to buy a similarly specced Moody 346 to replace our Macwester Malin, we’re going to have to splash out an additional £20,000. That’s approaching double the money.

As the trees in our back yard grow leaves rather than tenners, the question that then springs to my mind is why? Is a Moody 346 going to mean that we can achieve more during the season? Is the 346 going to provide us with more berths? Is the additional two and a half feet in length going to provide a major increase in space? Are we going to sleep better knowing we have a more modern-looking yacht cocooning us?

Small fish

The answer to those questions (for us) is no.

Getting back to the theoretical sale price of £30,000 for our Macwester Malin, many would argue that’s too expensive for a 32ft Macwester. They are of course entitled to their opinion, however we don’t agree. We don’t agree because if we sold our Macwester Malin for £30,000, and then tried to replace it with another 30ft plus centre cockpit with a proper aft cabin we wouldn’t be able to find anything that meets our requirements (which at the very least would be matching the boat that we already own) without spending more than the £30,000 we have just hypothetically received for our Malin. We’ve looked. We’ve compared. We haven’t found anything that comes close. Sure you can probably pick up a tired Westerly Seahawk or similar, but over time the bills will mount up as you have to replace the engine along with other key components, and before you know it you’ve not bought cheaply …you’ve done precisely the opposite.

Where does that leave us then? Exactly where we were before we visited this year’s boat show, with the exception that we now realise that; should we consider changing our yacht, the first question we need to ask ourselves is …why? What are we going to achieve? How will any new yacht improve our experience, and what will the additional cost be to achieve that improvement?

If the answer to those questions is something like …half a knot, half a metre, and an additional sink, then it doesn’t make sense to sell our Macwester Malin and fork-out an additional £20,000 in my book.


Crane-out 2015

October 12, 2015

Last few remaining yachts

As has been the case every year since we bought our Macwester Malin back in 2011, crane-out turned-up with the predictable frequency of an appointment card for your dental check-up. It’s hard to believe that six months have gone by since crane-in.

Above: We were the last to leave our harbour, with Ramillies and Calloo [right] both slipping their moorings a few minutes earlier.

Macwester Malin 32 mooring

The weather was good, with a light easterly. In fact, the weather in September and October 2015 was better than much of the preceding El Niño summer.

River Forth crane-out 2015

Having procrastinated for as long as we could, we set sail with all the alacrity of a doomed sinner heading for the gallows. Ramillies was already heading in towards the crane, as can be seen in the shot above. When we reached roughly where she was fifteen minutes later, we had to hang around with Calloo for at least half an hour as there was a bit of a queue for the executioner.

Macwester Malin in slings

Eventually, inevitably, we got the call …and within seconds of coming alongside, our Macwester Malin had a pair of strops underneath, and her keels were dangling in mid-air.

At least the end was quick.

Macwester 32 in slings

The lift went well with no winds or other issues to be concerned about. In fact, I’d say that process-wise, it was the most relaxed crane-out that she’s had over the last five years.

Macwester Malin on the hard

A few short minutes later, she was firmly planted on five sets of wooden sleepers. As you can see from above, the antifoul paint was dirtier than we would normally expect, but that appeared to be the same for the other yachts in the yard.

Six months of consignment to the hard standing starts here.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 52 other followers

%d bloggers like this: