Posts Tagged ‘Clyde’

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Irish Sea 2017: Cumbria to Cumbrae

May 11, 2017

Last weekend’s plans to get our Macwester Malin out on the water for a long overdue shakedown sail had to take a back seat, as the skipper from Ragdoll sent me a text telling me he was absolutely crew-less. Our chum needed to get Ragdoll, a Westerly 33 ketch, from the Lake District to Largs. With weather on Saturday the 6th of May the wrong side of sensible, we travelled down to Whitehaven by road and prepped for a Sunday departure.

After a night on board, we were in the sealock at Whitehaven by 7am, and were looking forward to a great couple of days out on the water. First up was crossing the Solway Firth with the Isle of Man to our south. The skipper had planned the journey to arrive at the Mull of Galloway at low water (around 3pm), with a view to hugging the coast and missing the worst of the choppy seas where two conflicting tidal streams meet. The weather was changeable; good enough for shorts at times, but cold enough for a neck gator at others.

We kept look-out for a black 17ft Fletcher speedboat which had gone missing (leaving from Port Logan) on the Saturday. We wondered why such a small craft was out on the water given that they would have had to navigate the Mull of Galloway during what must have been reasonably poor conditions.

We rounded the Mull of Galloway at the same time as Angel’s Share, a large cat with a similar passage plan. There were a number of vessels taking part in the ‘mayday’ search, including ‘HMS Battersea Power Station’ (a.k.a. MPI Resolution) which was the first self-elevating Turbine Installation Vessel in the world,  as well as planes and helicopters. The majority of the SAR activity appeared to be further offshore, which we found a little strange as the speedboat was supposed to have been travelling from Port Logan to Stranraer.

When we reached Portpatrick some 12.5 hours and 65 nautical miles after leaving Whitehaven, one of two lifeboats was exiting the harbour. We later discovered that the bodies of the two men from the missing speedboat were onboard the lifeboat. We also discovered that they weren’t on a leisure trip to Stranraer, instead they were heading over to Northern Ireland on some sort of puppy smuggling run.

We berthed in front of Angel’s Share and popped up to the Crown for a cold one in the remnants of the evening sunshine.

The following morning (Monday), we set off just before 8am and found that it was heavy going for a few hours as we pushed against the wind and tide. Talking of heavy going, the skipper treated us to a rendition of some show tunes, as he sang along to an American musical that we were unfamiliar with. Captive in the cockpit, I was reminded of the Vogan captain in “The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by the late Douglas Adams, when the captain reads Vogon poetry as a form of intergalactic torture. Still, we survived without jumping overboard and things got a little more entertaining when we found some useable wind approaching Ailsa Craig (above).

With the wind typically in the high teens to early twenties, we made good progress and buzzed the east of Ailsa Craig, before altering course slightly toward the west coast of Arran. We had planned on circumnavigating Arran, with an overnight in Lochranza, but commonsense kicked in and we changed course for Largs, which was a couple of hours nearer.

By the time we cleared Arran, the wind gradually fell away and we had to resort to motoring. The skipper was first to spot the dolphins (above, looking back to Ailsa Craig), and we lost count of the amount of sightings. The tranquility and warmth of the sunshine was a big contrast to our romping sail just a couple of hours earlier.

On the approach to Largs, the skipper unexpectedly dropped the engine into neutral as the depth log was showing almost no clearance. My first instinct was to look over the side and a couple of feet away a dolphin broached the surface; the closest I’ve been to dolphins since our 2013 cruise [here]. Dolphins beneath the hull seemed to be the most logical explanation for the momentary lack of depth.

The wind picked up again to 20 knots on our final approach to Largs Yacht Haven. Berthing wasn’t too much of a problem as it’s quite sheltered in the marina. On day two we had travelled another 65 nautical miles and it had taken about 12.5 hours again, so our pace was pretty steady over both days.

All in all a cracking couple of days sailing for our first west coast adventure.

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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.

Starfish

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.

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