Anstruther LWS cruise

September 2, 2013

Macwester Malin 32

After ten long yacht-less weeks in London, we were uber-keen to get back out on the water as soon as we could. We set a course for the marina at Anstruther, but given that the duration of the trip would be right on the edge of what was possible in one tide, we popped in for an overnight at Aberdour first. It was great to be back in our favourite east coast destination and we caught up with friendly faces that we hadn’t seen all summer.


That evening our rigging became the ‘perch of choice’ for the swarm of swallows that were resident in the harbour. We enjoyed watching their silent acrobatics as the tide fell and the day gave way to night. The next morning brought heavy fog, and it didn’t take an Apple Store Genius to deduce that the trip to Anstruther would need to wait for at least one more day.


Therefore a day later than expected we set sail for Anstruther. In a last-minute change to our plans, we slipped quietly out of Aberdour at 7.15 am on a falling tide rather than a rising afternoon tide. This would mean we would reach Anstruther at near LWS, but we set off anyway, as we were keen to make the journey while the fog had wandered off to bother somebody else.

As there was a light easterly wind, we decided to keep our Macwester Malin’s sails under wraps. About an hour into our journey, just as we started to cross Kirkcaldy Bay, our Garmin chartplotter lost all of it’s satellite signals. I veered substantially off-course to check if there was any change in position, but the screen was unresponsive. During the following five minutes we discussed turning back, as visibility wasn’t great. We could make out the coast to port side over towards Kirkcaldy, but had absolutely no visual of our destination. While the GPS was down, I used the diffused glow of the sun as a reference to steer, and have to confess that I was pleasantly surprised to find out that we were only five degrees off-course after the signal kicked back in.

Dolphins off Elie

We decided to press on. After crossing Kirkcaldy Bay, we needed to dump some time as we couldn’t enter Anstruther at low water, especially on one of the lowest tides of the year. We took a leisurely detour around the bay at Elie, before getting back on course to Anstruther.

Dolphins off Elie 2

Just as we were passing the lighthouse on the way out of Elie, ‘the crew’ nearly jumped out of her skin. She was speechless (not a trait I would normally associate with her), and could only point at the large disturbance in the water just off our stern. It looked a bit like we had strayed into a firing range. Moments later we realised that the large splash had been caused by a dolphin breaching alongside us, and that there was a pod of six or seven dolphins including a baby (see baby below).

Dolphin baby

The dolphins were going our way at around 2.5 knots and they accompanied us on our lazy journey for over an hour, meandering along passed St Monans to Pittenweem. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to video any of the dolphins breaching right alongside our Macwester on the three occasions that happened, but I did film them breaching further ahead of us half-a-dozen times, as can be seen in the video still below. It was a truly magical experience.

Dolphin breach

The dolphins eventually tired of playing with us, and all to soon they headed south. With the easterly wind picking up, it got a bit lumpy as we approached Anstruther, and we waited around for twenty minutes or so until we saw a fishing boat head into the outer harbour. We promptly followed it, and sat alongside the lighthouse for a further thirty minutes before heading into our berth on the pontoons.

High water came and went, and by 10pm it was approaching low water again. Our twin-keel Macwester Malin started to sink into the silt on the port side, leaning away from the finger pontoon. I courageously ventured out into Anstruther’s foggy Friday night chipmosphere, and did what I could with additional mooring warps. However, there was little could be done until we floated again the following day, and we spent an uncomfortable night listing to one side.

The fog we thought we had left behind, put in an appearance in the morning. Nonetheless we spent our days walking to Cellardyke and Pittenweem, and we also visited Crail by car courtesy of a visiting family member. We were grateful for the short periods of sunshine, but we also found the mellow tones of the fog horns to be strangely soothing. As we left the weekend behind, the fog stayed with us until it showed signs of clearing a little on the Tuesday. While we had the opportunity, we decided to head down to Port Edgar in time for East Coast Sailing Week which started two days later.

Approaching Inchcolm

As luck would have it, there was a westerly wind blowing against us on the way back down …and as that wind was in-cahoots with the tide, the journey to Port Edgar took us five and a half hours. The marina was already very busy and we struggled to find a suitable vacant berth for the night.

Macwester Malin Capernaum Pier

The next morning I looked ahead at the deteriorating weather situation, and discovering that the marina was to get substantially busier, we chose to set sail the following night for Capernaum Pier at Limekilns (see above). In the end the bad weather didn’t arrive on schedule, but it did arrive …and (as I understand it) East Coast Sailing Week was cut short, as winds edged from F7 towards F8 on the last day. By then our 32ft Macwester Malin was safely back on her mooring.


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