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 impellor, 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.


Super moon eclipse 2015

September 30, 2015

Seal off Hound Point

By the end of September, we were painfully aware that crane-out was fast approaching. However the weather continued to surprise us with light winds and sunshine, and so we jumped at one last opportunity to head away for a couple of days.

The shot above shows a curious seal just north of Hound Point as we headed east, with Barnbougle Castle in the background.

Sunbathing on Pier

The original plan was to head for Port Edgar, but they didn’t have a suitable berth, so we opted for one more visit to Dalgety Bay. As you can see circled in the shot above, it was warm enough for the crew to sunbathe. We spent a couple of relaxing hours counting the small fish at our feet, and watching the traffic on the river pass by, as we sipped on some cold stuff from the fridge. It was fab.


On to the blood-moon eclipse. I readily concede that the image above is a tad un-amazing, nonetheless avid readers of this blog, I got up at 4am and hung around for forty-five minutes in the cold late September air to take the picture above …just for you to savour from the comfort of your cosy armchair.

The photographs I took were actually pitch black, and I had to use some image processing to tease out the faint shape. This is partly because I was using a mobile phone, and partly because the previously bright, super-moon, moonlight was substantially diminished when ‘we’ (the earth) blocked out the sun to leave ‘it’ (the moon) in the shade.

If you missed it, then you didn’t miss all that much really.

Seals with Forth Bridge

After a couple of restful days and nights we set sail again, reluctantly heading home for the last time this year. We meandered and pootled up the river, in an attempt to avoid the inevitable. While going in for a close-up drive-by of the seals [above] was visually interesting, we both wish that I had kept our Macwester Malin up-wind of them.

Queensferry Crossing construction

We passed under the bridges around at three in the afternoon, but the light made it feel more like dusk.

Above: a section of the Queensferry Crossing is lifted up into position.

Sailing through the Ghauts 2015

The sky had brightened again by the time we were approaching our mooring. It was around high tide and I spotted that for the first time ever, we had a prime opportunity to take a short-cut to our mooring by sailing through the Ghauts.

Sailing through Ghauts close-up

I understand that at one time the Ghauts were part of a pier that was used for off-loading cargo. The channel through the Ghauts is about 10-12 metres wide with stone walls on either side. The water would have been around 1.5 metres deep, giving us roughly half a metre below our Macwester Malin’s keels.

Above: the birds on the rocks that can be seen to the right didn’t hold their nerve.

Back on mooring one last time

I guess that ticking off something that we had wanted to do since we bought our yacht back in 2011 is a reasonably high note to end our sailing season on. With the exception of a dinghy excursion to the Ghauts and the short sail to crane-out …the end of our fifth season was upon us.


Flash muster in Aberdour via “the Bay”

September 20, 2015

Leaving our berth behind

With yet more half-decent weather on the forecast, we slipped our Macwester Malin’s mooring for another short break on the Firth of Forth. As you can see from the sea state above, there wasn’t much in the way of wind, so sailing was out of the question.

Macwester Malin stern September 2015

We weren’t a hundred percent sure on our first destination, but with Port Edgar being constantly full due to the commercial contracts they’ve taken on, we ended-up piloting our Macwester Malin to Dalgety Bay. It’s turned out to be our top destination this year. Obviously it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s been a welcome change of scenery for us.

Dalgety Bay radiation

That said, we don’t have small children or pets, and so the concerns about radiation don’t bother us so much. The next morning, I spotted some researchers with what looked like, to a layman like me, geiger counters and back-mounted GPS locators. Although we’re still not concerned, we’re not sure we’d make a habit of eating the local shellfish.

Cockpit lights

We spent two or three peaceful nights alongside the harbour wall. The above picture shows some of the various candles and lights that the crew insists on illuminating our Macwester Malin’s enclosed cockpit with when the sun goes down.

Aberdour beach fire

We set sail for Aberdour on the Friday morning; yachts from our club and from South Queensferry were due to arrive later in the day. A 32ft Westerly Berwick (or possibly a Pentland …or Longbow) with a doghouse was already alongside when we arrived. Roughly eight boats turned up in total, and that resulted in a long night on-board Calloo, our chums’ Moody 31.

The next day was slow to start, but we made it out of bed eventually. As is often the case, we were invited along to a friend’s beach-front house for a lunch time refreshment. Then, in the afternoon, a crowd of us meandered to the beach for a fire and picnic…

Aberdour beach cricket

…as well as rolling around on the sand …which I subsequently understood was supposed to be representative of an English game called cricket.

I managed to score a respectable ‘one’; respectable on the basis that the kids had an under-handed under-arm browling (bowling/rolling) technique on the go, which involved rolling the ball along the sand and into the stumps.

By the time we made it back to the boats, they weren’t far from floating. Even more yachts were due to arrive for Saturday night, and we were in two minds about whether to stay or go. While we were deliberating, a large catamaran appeared in the harbour and rafted-up alongside us. The couple were pleasant enough, but having a large cat rafting off our starboard tipped the balance for us and we decided to head off.

Leaving Aberdour harbour

We left our chums and their yachts behind, but many followed us later on the same tide, while most of the South Queensferry boats stayed for another night.

Approaching Hound Point

The journey back was into a westerly and it was a mildly lumpy here and there, but nothing that went beyond entertaining. Looking back, we made the right choice to leave on the afternoon tide, as the alternative was an early morning departure and having been away for a few days, we really enjoyed a hot shower and a respectably early night at home.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 46 other followers

%d bloggers like this: