Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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Festival flotilla fail

June 13, 2017

Preparations for this year’s river festival had been going on for months, and it must have put a smile on the organising committee’s collective face to see things taking shape on Saturday morning. It’s a pity that the weather forecast for the weekend was poor, with rain and gusts over 30 knots.

The main task for the crew and I was helping with the river golf. Our job was to collect the balls after they were struck by the paying public. This meant a three-hour shift in a dinghy, which at some point was interrupted by the arrival of Wave Spirit from Port Edgar. With two 500 hp water jets, we could feel the hum of her engines permeating every inch of our bodies. Yes, I’ll have one of those please!

After our river golf shift was completed, we dried ourselves off and spent some time catching-up with friends on the pier and in the garden. The sun came out for a while, and it started to feel like June. At the bar, the barman gave me a choice of beer from the local brewery. It wasn’t until later that I realised the barman owned the local brewery, and that my favoured tipple would probably have been available too. This would come back to haunt me.

Our plans was to bring Indefatigable Banks, our Macwester Malin round later in the day once the rib trips had stopped. We had a window of about 30 minutes to leave our mooring before the tide would leave us high and dry. I spent a lot of time mulling over the conditions; the wind was picking-up and there were waves coming into the harbour from the south-east. In the end the conditions, the deteriorating forecast for the following day, plus the lack of space to manoeuvre in a busy harbour meant that I decided on the safe option and left our yacht on her mooring.

We enjoyed a good night with live music and our friends in the marquee. As usual, time vanished and I didn’t get to catch up with everyone that I hoped to. With no yacht alongside to sleep onboard, our chums from Calloo kindly put us up for the evening (thanks again team Calloo). Unfortunately the crew had to put up with me keeping her awake for what was left of the night, as three hours in a dinghy obviously represented more exercise than I’m used to, and I had leg cramps all night long. The following morning I was hobbling around like a ninety-five year old cartoon crack-whore who’d been a life-long-nookie-neighbour of Glenn Quagmire.

Giggity-giggity.

We all headed back to the club to help clear away the fixtures and tidy-up the litter left behind the night before. The flotilla was planned for mid-afternoon, and the raft race would take place following that. Although we’re no quitters, with the rain tipping down it became clear that our collective lack of sleep, my ongoing leg cramps (I should really be fitter), the hangover jitters from the local hooch …and the pressing requirement for me to be near conveniences (which again I put down to the local bitter rather than the very mild chicken curry) …meant that sailing in challenging conditions wasn’t the most sensible thing to do next. I guess that makes us light-weights; not heavy-hitters.

As the crew didn’t have a bullet to hand, she scooped me up and took me home for a warm bath. While that was disappointing and represented an epic flotilla fail …sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

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Crane-in 2017

April 13, 2017

With our hard hats strapped on we were at the club for 7 am, even before the crane arrived. I say ‘we’, but the crew had other matters to deal with at home, so more accurately I was at the club for 7 am. Okay, yes. I suppose by that token I should really re-write the first sentence, as ‘our’ and the plural of ‘hat’ is also technically wrong, but lets not dwell on that …there’s boat stuff to be getting on with.

Anyhoo, the weather for the first day of crane-in was fabulous given it was early April (day two less so, but still not bad). This meant that we (‘we’ the club) made great progress, as we (‘we’ the club, again) weren’t fighting against gusting winds. In fact by the end of day one only three or four yachts and the pontoons were left to crane-in.

Indefatigable Banks, our Macwester Malin was in the air shortly after lunch on the Saturday. Everything went according to plan, which is always a relief. No matter how prepared we are (that’s a generic, sailor cohort ‘we’), there’s always the worry that something might fail, somehow.

Thankfully, moments later we (collective ‘we’; the yacht, the crew, and I) were in the water and onboard checking all the seacocks were watertight and there was no sign of any water ingress. As usual, one of my first tasks is to burp our (the yacht’s) deep-sea seal, which lubricates the seal and lets some seawater into the bilges in the process. Then we (collective ‘we’, as above) continued preparations to take our (collective ‘our’ as above, again) yacht over to her home for the next six months.

I think it’s probably best that I stop clarifying what I mean by ‘we’ and ‘our’ …and let you (the reader) figure that out for yourself.

It was truly fantastic to be out on the water again. We (no, I’m not going there) did discuss throwing up a sail or two like our chums on Calloo had managed earlier, but it was after high water and we (nope) still had quite a few tasks to nail before close of play.

Reluctantly we headed into the harbour and having popped our Macwester Malin on the mooring, we shut everything down and waited for the club boat to pick us up.

One of the things we wanted to do before the tide dropped completely was row our tender over to the mooring. We enjoyed the journey, but it has to be said that the pull of the tide against us through the Ghauts was pretty strong, and I had to work hard to make progress.

Once our Macwester Malin was safely ensconced in her summer home, we headed back to the club once more to finish-off a number of other tasks. Eventually, we made it to the club patio; the bar was open and we (I just can’t help myself; a club-wide ‘we’) had a really enjoyable time in the sun.

Season 2017 is here at last!

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A slow start to 2017

January 17, 2017

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We had an unusually quiet time over Christmas and New Year as yours truly was feeling a tad under the weather. Despite missing out on a few social engagements, team Ragdoll dropped in to see us on Christmas Eve, and we managed to catch up with our sailing chums two or three times.

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The weather for the local ‘looney dook’ on the 1st of January was as good as I can remember. It was a prime opportunity to strip-off and take the plunge… …unfortunately I was still recovering.

What a shame!

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We carried on with our winter road trips, including a trip to the East Neuk. While we were there, we spotted a couple of yachts from our club that are spending the winter on the pontoons. With an eight-year waiting list it will be a while before we can join them.

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Not normally one to be taking photographs of vehicles when there are boats around, for some reason I spent more time than a grown man ought to oogling the RNLI’s tractor. In my defence, given that we’re members, I felt in some small way that I was entitled to be interested.

crailjan2017

As well as Pittenweem, St Monans, and Elie we dropped into Crail [above]. We haven’t sailed into Crail before as it has always seemed a bit cramped and busy. Over the winter though, there was more space and it was hard to resist considering an overnight during the coming season.

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Above: the view over to Inchcolm from the beach at Aberdour.

There’s no doubt that the weather has been very kind to us so far this winter. As I haven’t been in a position to carry out the onboard maintenance that’s required before crane-in, I have a lot to squeeze in over the next three months.

I’d better get my skates on.

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Crane-out 2016

October 20, 2016

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Day one of crane-out was wet, windy and cold. Most of my wet weather gear was onboard, so I had to cobble together an eclectic array of clothing that should have kept me substantially dry.

Like many others, I still got thoroughly soaked.

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By mid-morning I felt something snap on my right hand. My finger didn’t feel broken so I carried on, stopping to check my limp finger tip every now and then. Eventually, I accepted that something wasn’t quite right and went in search of a second opinion. The second opinion I found suggested that I needed to pop over to A&E, and following an X-Ray the diagnosis was something called ‘Mallet Finger’, which means that my tendon had snapped. Treatment was a small finger splint to be worn 24/7 until the end of the year, and then a further month wearing the splint at night. Zang!

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My injury did nothing to prevent the unrelenting approach of the season’s low point.

When the tide arrived the following day, we brought our Macwester Malin over to the harbour ready for crane-out. We had a short 15 minute wait before the dreaded event was upon us.

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The wind had dropped, and the lift went reasonably well. I say ‘reasonably’, because there was some contact between the crane lifting gear, and some delicate equipment at the top of our main mast. At this stage I’m not sure if any remedial action is required.

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Moments later our twin-keel yacht was heading for what will become her home for the next six months. This year we have a slightly different spot, roughly twenty feet away from last year, on more even ground.

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Once our Macwester Malin was safely deposited on her wooden blocks, we stowed some items and checked that everything was present and correct before turning our attention to other outstanding tasks. Above; muddy antifoul paint power-washed a few days after crane-out – it’s a task that’s easier before the mud and paint dry out.

crane-outdinghy2016

One of the traditions the crew and I have is rowing our dinghy over to the club one last time, however that was going to be more complicated than normal given the damage to my finger. Hoping to avoid being labelled a finger-malingerer, I was keen to row the tender round as usual …but I was overruled. Instead the club boat did the job for us in a matter of moments.

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As crane-out weekend drew to a close, just prior to heading up to the club patio for a consolation beer, I noticed the view through our sprayhood from our new spot on the hard-standing. In that instance, I knew that it wouldn’t be long until I find myself staring out at that view, gently rocking back and forwards on the balls of my feet.

The long wait for crane-in 2017 begins.

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Reccy to Seacliff

September 15, 2016

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The day following our trip to Granton on Ragdoll we decided to go on a reccy by road to Seacliff.

While we were up in Anstruther a couple of weeks earlier, we had spent a few hours onboard Pearl Fisher, a LM27 currently up for sale @ 29,500 via Boatshed. The LM’s skipper told us about a fabulous beach just south of Bass Rock, and so we thought we would check it out.

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I had seen a photograph of the harbour a few years back, and quite fancied the idea of squeezing in. However once we were actually there, it became clear that it would be a tight squeeze.

A very tight squeeze.

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So tight in fact that we’re gonna need a smaller boat. Theoretically our 32ft Macwester Malin might, just about, somehow fit inside the harbour, but the only way she could get in is by crane …as the harbour entrance is less than the Malin’s beam.

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To make things worse, the approach is just as narrow and goes around corners, nooks and crannies.

So Seacliff harbour is definitely off our cruising destination list, however the beach is fab and would be a great place to anchor for lunch …or possibly even take the ground given the right conditions.

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Tender trouble July 2016

August 2, 2016

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We hit a snag right from the first moment we arrived at the pontoons at the weekend. Our tender wasn’t attached to the link line at the stern, and by design there was no way of pulling the bow all of the way into the pontoon.

After much faffing around, we managed to get our dinghy within reach.

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It didn’t take too long to figure out that the problem had been caused by third-party interference. Somebody had been on board, and presumably in order to get on board they had tied the 2m stern chain around the pontoon. This meant that as the water level rose, there wasn’t enough slack in the system, and the U-bolt had been wrenched out of the transom.

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Looking at the evidence, it seemed clear the uninvited guests had been adolescent or adult-sized rather than small kids. They left a trail of mud inside the dinghy, on top of the mud they freely distributed on the exterior of the hull. They also removed or otherwise disposed of our trusty bailer.

I reckon that our dinghy was targeted because she was moored stern to, and (because we use her a lot), much less rain water had collected in her compared to most of the other tenders.

We spent some time on board our Macwester Malin ruminating, and given there wasn’t much we could do as the horse had already bolted, we decided on a change of scenery.

AberdourRegattaJuly2016

Good call. We headed over to Aberdour by car, where the annual ABC regatta was under way. We met up with friends and spent some time on board Joint Venture, followed Chiron, both yachts from our club. The crew on board Chiron had already munched their way through the provisions, and were a little embarrassed that they couldn’t offer us as much as a biscuit (no need). Amusingly, we were offered a falafel sandwich to compliment a Singapore Sling …both of which we opted to pass on.

Later we had a couple of drinks in the ABC clubhouse while the prize-giving ceremony was underway …and the crew from Joint Venture picked-up one of the two cups up for grabs.

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Meanwhile back at the ranch, the following day we decided to take swift remedial action to resolve the dinghy problem. I made a temporary repair to the transom so that it’s water tight again, and then I more or less reinstalled the running mooring solution that we had in place in previous years. By my reckoning I could fix the transom and there would be absolutely nothing to prevent the very same twit from turning up for another party on our dinghy a week later. At least now, our dinghy is much less prone to interference.

Hopefully out sailing again soon!

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Kelpie dash

May 29, 2016

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I popped over to the entrance of the Forth & Clyde canal mid-week to help a chum who was taking Pampero, 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.

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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.

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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!

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