Posts Tagged ‘bilge-keel’

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Port Edgar quickie

June 4, 2017

The crew and I were down in London for a couple of days in late May, and I took the opportunity to rattle round some old haunts, catching up with family and friends. I also managed to squeeze in a trip to St Katherine’s Docks, and was really surprised to see that the red-hulled Macwester Malin I spotted back in 2013 when we were down for three months [see here], was still berthed in the innermost harbour. At 32ft long, she looked diminutive compared to the larger boats surrounding her.

It was after midnight before we got back from the airport on the Friday night, but we were keen to make the best of what was left of the weekend, so we set course for Port Edgar as soon as the tide allowed on Saturday. We left a moody, pregnant sky behind us and yet it was remarkably bright by the time we reached the marina. Unfortunately there was a newbie in charge at the marina office and we ended-up having to move three times from our allocated berth due to returning owners amongst other issues. While that was a pain, we accept that the challenges of a new role can be …umm …a challenge. We ended up berthing our Macwester Malin alongside Copepod, a Hallberg-Rassy 43 (see above, lower right of image).

To their credit, Port Edgar subsequently took steps to remedy the situation and we were not left with a sour taste in our mouths. That said, two hours moving the boat around when we had other things to be doing, knocked the edge off our overnight stay, and the inaugural outing of the crew’s newly-purchased disco ball will have to wait for another weekend.

The following day we slowly tacked our way home into the wind, however we eventually chucked in the towel close to Rosyth and pootled the rest of the way back to our mooring using the engine.

Once we had gone through our mooring procedure, there was time for something cold out on deck, while the sun was making a reasonable job of convincing us that summer was on the way.

The following weekend we also squeezed in a quickie to Capernaum. The weather was changeable, but I managed to achieve my goal for the trip which was to construct the basics of a helm seat that will sit on the lower washboard of the campanionway to our Macwester Malin’s aft cabin.

With neepy tides, unfortunately we couldn’t take up the offer to go racing on Calloo, as the window to get back on our mooring was just too tight. That was a pity, as with a noticeable south westerly, the race was very exciting. In the shot above you can see Calloo just this side of Joint Venture. Seconds after I took this shot, a big gust of wind caught Calloo and she momentarily rounded towards Joint Venture. It must have been more than a little bit hairy onboard.

On second thoughts …perhaps it’s just as well that we couldn’t join the Calloo crew afterall.

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Single to Dalgety Bay please

May 25, 2017

As the crew had prior commitments, it was down to yours truly to get our 32ft Macwester Malin to her destination for the weekend on the Friday. I had work to complete on the engine bay hatch (see previous post here), and therefore I set off in the morning so that I had the afternoon to get my head down.

There was very little wind on the journey east, which suited me as this was easily the most adventurous single-handed sail that I’ve tackled. As luck would have it, an unwelcome swell appeared out of nowhere just as I was coming into the harbour at Dalgety Bay. Fortunately things settled a little as I rounded the end of the pier. It was a neep tide and having overshot the stairwell, I realised that the leap up on to the pier was too risky, and so had no choice other than to manoeuvre astern …using the thruster to keep the bow steady. It was all good.

I worked on the engine bay hatch until the crew arrived by road later in the day. It was a peaceful evening, however that peace was shattered in the early hours of the following morning by some late-night revellers intent on revelling. With raised voices for an extended period, I got up and kept a look-out for upwards of thirty minutes.

Saturday was mainly soggy and we didn’t venture out apart from a trip to the local store for provisions. There was a brief spell of sunshine late afternoon, but that was followed by increased winds on Saturday night. Despite this, the weather didn’t dampen our experience too much, as this was the first trip away from our home port this season, assuming that our voyage from Whitehaven to Largs on the west coast a few weeks ago didn’t count.

Sunday morning came around all too quickly. We set sail as soon as we floated and headed west towards the bridges. On passing under the Forth Road Bridge, I presented a wooden boomerang to the crew. She momentarily paused, before throwing the boomerang back towards the bridge in an act of commemoration for a close friend’s son who had leapt from the bridge a few weeks previously.

Leaving the bridges behind us, we threw our genoa up and pressed on with the motor to meet friends from our club at Blackness. We arrived just about the same time as everyone else, which was a pleasant surprise as we weren’t at all sure that we were even going to make it given the neepy tide.

With almost nothing under our keels and the tide falling, there wasn’t time for much more than a handshake and a quick beer at the Blackness Boat Club bar. The shot above was taken from our Macwester Malin’s stern as all the club boats made a hasty retreat.

Thanks to Blackness Boat Club for their hospitality. Hopefully we’ll have more time to spend the next time we visit.

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Cold and windy start to the season

April 26, 2017

We hoped to get away over the first weekend back in the water, (which was the long Easter weekend), even if it was just to Port Edgar. The late tide on Friday was our chance to set sail, but the forecast for the following day was awful and we decided that we didn’t like the idea of being stuck at Port Edgar, so after much (too much) deliberation we set sail for Capernaum instead.

We hid from the worst of the high winds inside the harbour, and made good use of the time by pressure-washing our Macwester Malin’s hull, cleaning her cockpit, and fixing the port midship cleat which had become a smidgeon wobbly. The best access to the cleat was by taking the cockpit speakers out (above).

We also helped the Joint Venture team put out the club’s race markers ahead of the first race the following weekend. The tanker on the horizon is leaving Grangemouth presumably having delivered shale gas from the US.

In total we spent three nights onboard Indefatigable Banks. It was chilly, but it had been six months since we last had the opportunity to sleep onboard so neither of us were too bothered about the cold and the howling wind. It was just great to be floating again.

As you might expect, we had a few visitors, with the crews of Artemis, JambelJoint Venture, and Pitteral dropping by. As if we needed an excuse, we reasoned that it was the six-year anniversary of our maiden voyage from Naarden in the Netherlands back over to the River Forth. Posts here. Photographs here.

The following weekend I single-handed our Macwester Malin back to Capernaum, where the welcoming crew from Joint Venture was on hand to catch the ropes. I had made provision for getting alongside without help, but having assistance took some of the stress out of arriving, as this was my first true single-handed trip leaving our mooring and arriving at Capernaum.

I spent the rest of the day finishing-off some repairs and renewals. Just before noon the following morning the Calloo crew kindly helped me pop our Macwester Malin back on her mooring. I had thought about single-handing again, but the forecast was for 30 knot gusts and I didn’t fancy taking unnecessary risks …especially when I have friends willing to lend a hand.

With another long weekend ahead, hopefully our 2017 shakedown sail is up next!!

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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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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.

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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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Last hurrah 2016

October 12, 2016

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Early on Saturday morning, just as our chums from Calloo were returning from Port Edgar, we were heading over there for our final overnight trip of the season. It would have been great to catch up with them, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

Out on the water, we passed Christina II, and spotted a solo seal basking in the autumn sunshine on Dhu Craig.

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As we passed under the Queensferry Crossing it seemed likely that the gap would close soon; in fact that turned out to be the following day (although there are still two gaps yet to be closed elsewhere).

Our berth for the weekend was on the east side of the marina, which is closest to the Forth Road Bridge and gets much less protection from the breakwater. Not ideal. We had asked for a better berth that we knew was free, however the staff refused claiming that it wasn’t available (not surprisingly the berth we requested lay vacant for the duration of our stay).

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We had no fixed plans for our time in South Queensferry. I checked that our new wheel cover fitted (which it did). We strolled around the pontoons after returning from the local mini-market. Later, the crew hosed down our Macwester Malin one last time.

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It was peaceful, uneventful and enjoyable. After dusk it became apparent that we weren’t going to get a decent sleep in the aft cabin (due to our bumpy berth), so we moved the bed linen through to the forepeak and spent the night there. That was after I nipped round for a quick chat with our friends on Ragdoll, who had arrived late on Saturday. Team Ragdoll were getting up early in the morning and heading over to Granton with the skipper of Solveig, a Westerly Konsort.

Latterly, we decided not to tag along, and opted instead for a relaxing day in the marina.

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The next morning, we chomped through our ubiquitous bacon and eggs for breakfast. The shot above shows Inchmickery and the Cow and Calves, (the three dark blobs) in front of Inchkeith, which I snapped on our way to Granton.

It took us until around 10.30 to accept that we both really wanted to be out on the water. After all, with crane-out the following weekend …it was our very last chance.

We noticed the depth beneath our keels fade away to just two metres as we left Hound Point behind us and passed over a sandbank. I say ‘passed’, however what we actually did was slow to a crawl …and then gingerly retreat in the opposite direction.

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A while later, as we approached the pontoons at Granton, it became clear that there wasn’t much space for us. In fact, there was no space at all. What’s more, Ragdoll and Solveig weren’t sitting on the pontoons as we expected.

That being the case, we decided to turn around and head back east. We thought that we might have one more attempt at landing on the pier at Blackness Castle before the end of the season.

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The photograph above, shows our Macwester Malin’s bow pointed towards Inchkeith, which if you know the Firth of Forth at all, is in totally the opposite direction to Blackness Castle. I can only put our abject failure to do what we planned to do, down to fevered, last-day-of-the-season madness.

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Fast forward thirty or forty minutes and RagdollSolveig were rafted up just a few metres away from the harbour at Inchkeith; we joined them there. We had a couple of drinks and spent some time shooting the breeze. Apparently our friends on Pampero, a Moody Eclipse had also stopped off on their way up to Anstruther.

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Eventually our thoughts turned to mugging fish, and before long a couple of rods magically appeared. The crew (my crew) was new to fishing and didn’t have much luck. Time for me to step up the mark and show the lil lady how it’s done.

Yup, I didn’t catch anything either. In fact, nobody had a bite all afternoon. Personally, I blame the seals; there were more congregated off our collective sterns than I’ve seen for many a year.

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We probably spent more time at Inchkeith than we should have. Understandably, we didn’t want to think about heading back up river, however we knew that it would take 2.5 hours motoring and twice that sailing given the lack of wind. A couple of hours before dark, we reluctantly slipped our lines and pointed our Macwester Malin’s bow back west.

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As we sailed under the Queensferry Crossing, the small gap that we saw the day before had been plugged. In plugging the gap, the Queensferry Crossing entered the record books as “the largest freestanding balanced cantilever in the world”. More here.

We pressed on, and once again stumbled across Erin just off Rosyth [above]. The light was beginning to fade as we reached Brucehaven, and we made for the harbour wall. As darkness enveloped us, we ate a fishless meal and waited until the tide reached our mooring.

We set sail again about 7.30pm in total darkness. Once our eyes had adjusted to the night sky, we still couldn’t see a damn thing. Nonetheless we navigated our way to our Macwester Malin’s mooring and promptly ground to a halt about 15 metres short. Having looked at the tide tables, I reckoned that we should have had a meagre 10 cm under our keels by 7.30pm, but tide tables are just predictions …and we evidently didn’t have enough water.

Unfortunately it was too dark to see where the tide had actually reached. We tried again taking a different route, but it took a third attempt to make it on to our mooring. Obviously, there was no physical damage to our yacht as our mooring is nestled amongst thick, soft mud …and any damage to my reputation might actually represent an improvement of sorts. So it was all good.

With season 2016 relentlessly drawing to a close, next up for us is crane-out.

As ever, that has come around way too soon.

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Double ketch up at the Bay

October 6, 2016

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With just a fortnight until crane-out we were keen to get out on the water at the weekend. We had planned to be sailing on the Friday, but for one reason or another that didn’t happen. Instead we motored east into a light easterly, with Christina II [above] keeping us company on the way to the bridges that cross between North and South Queensferry.

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Our chums from Ragdoll, a Westerly 33 ketch had plans to anchor off Inchcolm overnight and asked us if we would like to join them. Overnight anchoring doesn’t sound like a recipe for a great night’s sleep and there’s not much scope for shorepower, so we decided to pass opting for Dalgety Bay instead.

We moved our Macwester Malin, which floats in just a metre of water, further up the small harbour than usual. We could get to within about five metres of the beach, which looked a little surreal.

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Approaching high water, Ragdoll arrived from Inchcolm to the east, and had no problems getting in behind us, despite having a 1.7m draft and taking a somewhat sub-optimal route in (over some sizeable rocks).

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The weather was really good for early October. The harbour master dropped by for a chat and we enjoyed what was left of the afternoon in the sunshine.

We had dinner onboard our Macwester Malin and didn’t make it to the clubhouse this time around, opting instead to have drinks onboard.

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The following morning, we had bacon and eggs onboard for breakfast, and then went for a walk west towards St. David’s Harbour. By the time we had talked to some of the local club members who wandered along to see the yachts, it was time to get ready for sailing back up the river.

We waited [tum-te-tum, have we really finished all the crosswords?] until Ragdoll had reasonable clearance so that we could sail west together. Yes, there’s no absolutely doubt a fin-keeler is quicker, but then if we were truly racing …we would have been across the finishing line before Ragdoll even floated! In orange text for Ragdoll’s skipper ; )

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Out on the water there wasn’t all that much wind. We were only making about 2-3 knots over the ground, and given that we hadn’t left as soon as we floated [did I mention that we waited for Ragdoll?], I handed the helm over to the crew and started calculating how much time we had to reach our mooring. It was sunny and given that the crew had everything under control, I cracked a cold beer which had been popped into the freezer from the fridge as we were leaving. It was so Jean-Claude Van Damme cold my brain stopped working momentarily.

When I was eventually ‘back in the room’, I managed to work-out that we needed to do some motorsailing, so we switched on our Macwester Malin’s Lombardini diesel engine and doubled the pace.

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By the time we reached Dhu Craig we had reverted back to just using sail power. The shot above shows Erin, the 49ft Jeanneau we spent some time aboard the previous weekend, heading back east.

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With no engine power, our pace dropped back down to around 2.5 knots. Ragdoll passed to our port as she was heading into the harbour at Brucehaven for an hour or two, before heading back to the marina at Port Edgar.

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On the final approach to our mooring, the skipper of Solveig and his son came out to greet us in their dinghy. At the time we weren’t sure what their dinghy was called, so we christened her Smallveig. They were having a great time.

Just one more weekend to go until crane-out, so fingers crossed that the weather holds!

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