The weather was set to deteriorate as Sunday unfolded, so we were keen to get our Macwester Malin alongside sooner rather than later. We arranged to park our 32ft ketch on the club’s north pontoon ready to be manoeuvred into position on demand.
Plan B: As we were in the process of entering the harbour, we were told not to head for the pontoon as another yacht was unexpectedly ensconced there. Instead we were to raft alongside our chum’s Westerly Konsort, which was sitting at the south end of the harbour (just at the entrance, to the left of the chap with the yellow jacket in the shot above). We got a stern line over to the Konsort, and I used the thruster to help get our Macwester Malin’s bow round, (a bow thruster is a fantastic asset for that moment when Plan A slips through your fingers). However half way through executing Plan B, we heard a voice from the pier informing us that we couldn’t raft up to the Konsort after all. Instead we had to revert to Plan A, as the yacht on the north pontoon was in the process of leaving.
We slowly motored north and soon we spotted that the pontoon had not in fact been vacated …so we slowed down even more. As we continued, we were rapidly running out of water and had nowhere to go other than the pier wall (where all the craning-out was taking place). With just moments to spare, the maverick yacht cleared the pontoon and we got alongside as planned …that’s as planned in Plan A. Before long, the crew and I both got back to helping with crane-out, leaving our yacht quietly waiting for lift off.
About three-quarters of an hour later the weather had deteriorated and our Macwester Malin was straining at her leash, almost as though she was as unhappy as we were about being craned-out. One or two of the fenders were riding up, and it became evident that she needed some immediate attention. We had plenty of help, and one of our friends retrieved and fitted a large round buoy to help protect against her truculent bucking. Amidst all of this we were informed we were next up for lifting. That was easier than I feared as we had at least two club members on each warp, and I motored backwards into position. It was really good to have so many hands on and off deck.
I popped the washboards back in, and within seconds the strops were in place and I jumped over on to the pier. The first few feet are always particularly stressful, but all was looking good. We had three lines on our yacht; two at the bow and one on the stern, however the wind dropped while she was lifted.
Above: edging slowly to our twin-keel Macwester Malin’s place on the hard standing. Below: As usual we took a bit of time at the end to make sure that the blocks were all in the right place before the crane driver dropped the full load and the strops slackened off.
The lift itself went smoothly and within a couple of minutes our bilge-keel Macwester Malin was firmly planted on the hard, where she will sit out the next six months. The contrast between her straining at the leash and being completely motionless was not lost on us later, as we left her rooted to the spot and headed back home.
The following day I found myself flying over the Scottish coastline and spotted the pretty coastal village of Portpatrick far below. That’s the very spot that we decided to take up sailing back in the autumn of 2010, and sparked our search for a yacht. A search that reached all corners of the Scottish coast before ending up in the Netherlands, and a North Sea passage.
Spotting Portpatrick and reminiscing about searching for our first yacht helped me see the bigger picture. Sure, we’re incredibly melancholy about the season being over, but wearing my big rose-tinted optimistic pants for a moment …we’re now one full day closer to crane-in 2015!