Posts Tagged ‘Dalgety Bay’

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Double Bay BBQ (feat. Godzilla)

August 29, 2017

We crammed a lot into the last weekend of August, especially given the tides.

It was mid-afternoon on Saturday before we slipped our mooring. We headed east towards Aberdour, but amazingly the small harbour at Dalgety Bay was vacant for the first time in months. Thanks a million to the harbour master for accommodating us.

It turned out to be a lovely, soft evening and we lost no time getting a disposable barbecue up and running. We’ve been burning the candle at both ends for a while, and as we had an early start the next morning to leave on the falling tide, we called it a night not long after dark.

Above; it doesn’t take much to keep me happy.

We were back out on the Firth of Forth pre-9am, but I reckoned that we couldn’t set a direct course to our next destination (which can just about be seen to the top left of the very first picture in this post) as I didn’t want to arrive too early. With this in mind, we turned east again, and circled Inchcolm, which is the island silhouetted on the left-hand-side of the photograph above.

As it turned out, I hadn’t taken into account that we would be sailing into three knots of tide when we turned around to head west from Inchcolm, so in the end we arrived at Peatdraught Bay twenty minutes later than I had planned. This wasn’t a huge problem, but it meant that I totally failed to deposit our Macwester Malin on the beach with the precision that I had hoped for.

Taking the ground and drying out on a beach is something that we’ve aspired to do for several years, but never quite bitten the bullet. [Oxymoron Alert!]: when we heard that there was a club cruise to Peatdraught Bay and the plan was to dry out, we felt compelled to take the plunge.

Ten minutes after we took the ground Joint Venture arrived, shortly followed by Calloo.

Both Joint Venture and Calloo deployed their anchors, but we decided not to bother. In part, this was because we wanted to experiment given that we knew that we would be onboard with our Macwester Malin’s engine running when we refloated, and we weren’t near any rocks or other obstacles.

We waited for the tide to recede, then fashioned a makeshift rope ladder to hit the beach. Collectively we made a beach fire, got the barbecues up and running and cracked open some cold ones. The food was great, with the possible exception of the sandy-like seasoning that our naval architect chum (who was crewing onboard Calloo) sprinkled liberally all over the pakora. Eventually it became apparent that it wasn’t sand-like …it was just sand.

Following our beach banquet, we had a game of rounders with the kids. When my turn came I thwacked a home run and amidst the glory of the moment, and the cheering of the crowd it all became a bit hazy. There was a bit of a disturbance on the horizon to the east. All-of-a-sudden I was back onboard our Macwester Malin. I could hear a distant twisted roar that quickly got louder. I didn’t know what hit me; a freak wave crashed over our yacht throwing me overboard. As the giant wave hit, out of the corner of my eye, I could just see Godzilla over to the east behind Inchkeith. I was confused. It didn’t make any sense to me.

Next thing I knew I came round face-down with gritty eyes and a mouthful of sand. My ribs hurt like John Hurt had hurtled towards me with a chib fashioned from a DVD of The Hurt Locker (you’d think John Hurt of all people would have been a bit more sympathetic when it comes to rib trauma).

It was sore to breathe.

The skipper of Calloo came over to check that I was alright. He apologised, and it slowly sank in that what might possibly have happened is that he (Calloo’s skipper) had a momentary lapse of concentration and thought we were playing rugby rather than rounders …and that I had in essence cracked my ribs by falling over on to some sand.

As that version of events sounds a bit lame, I’m sticking with the Godzilla story.

Our Macwester Malin floated last, and we motored back to our mooring as I didn’t want to be struggling with large sails. I quickly learned not to breathe too deeply, avoid coughing and sneezing, as it was less “achooo” and more “ach-ouch”. As you might imagine if it was sore to breathe, then it was out totally of the question for me to scrub the decks, wash the cars, or mow the lawn.

It seems that the recovery time is about six weeks, so that means we’re going to have to take it easy until the end of the season. I say ‘we’, but I obviously mean ‘me’.

Now where has the crew gone to? I could do with a top up and a foot massage.

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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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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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Westerly breeze to Granton

September 14, 2016

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Our Macwester Malin was left high and dry on Saturday morning as the crew didn’t fancy the early start required to beat the tide. That being the case, we headed over to the chandlers at Port Edgar, before returning to strap on our wellies, walk out on the putty, and perform some outstanding maintenance …or at least that was the plan.

Instead we bumped into our chums from Ragdoll, who were heading for a ketchup-soaked hot breakfast at the marina cafe. One thing led to another, and before long we were all heading out for a short day sail onboard Ragdoll, a fin-keel Westerly 33.

Above; A new section of the Queensferry Crossing was about to be lifted.

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Within a hundred metres of leaving Port Edgar, Ragdoll’s very experienced skipper was in trouble with the crew of Nicola S, for vaguely heading in the direction of “the lift”. Quaking in his boots, the skipper opted to abandon plans to head up river, and set a course east instead.

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After a short spell sulking on the naughty step, the skipper installed me on the helm and the Ragdoll crew threw up their spinnaker. We headed out towards Dalgety Bay, via Hound Point where we shadowed the RS400 race that was underway. From there we changed course and made our way over to Granton at a healthy pace in light winds.

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Approaching Granton, Ragdoll’s skipper took the helm once again, just in time to navigate an irregular course through the VXOne Nationals race that was underway. Above; a close encounter off the stern, but Ragdoll’s skipper handled it well.

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With a bit of manoeuvering, we made it through the pack and continued on our approach. This was a first for us, as we previously hadn’t sailed into Granton.

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The harbour wall offers good shelter from a westerly breeze, and coming alongside the pontoon was uneventful. Just the way I like it.

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We left Ragdoll parked on the end of the pontoon (above) and headed up to the Royal Forth Yacht Club for a late, light lunch. On the way back we bumped into the crew of Wildcat (and dog Stumpy), who had arrived shortly after us.

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The pontoons were much busier on our return and we also met a couple of friends from Elie. It was good to catch up on all the insider gossip from Elie, the East Neuk and beyond.

We set sail into a light westerly, and back on helm duty I was impressed by the way Ragdoll sailed into the wind. Her skipper put that down to Ragdoll being a fin-keel.

Out on the water, Ragdoll’s skipper invited the ladies in turn to leave the safety of the yacht and venture out on to the hull using nothing but a halyard and harness to keep them above the sharks. Second in line, my crew wasn’t overly keen, however the smile on her face when she came back onboard spoke volumes.

With much better weather than forecast, I got a little sunburn. My head was more burnt than a little pink marshmallow that slipped off Beelzebub’s toasting stick. Meanwhile progress up-wind slowed, and by the time a large cruise ship appeared at the bridges, the skipper decided it was time to motor back to Port Edgar. Unfortunately, just as we were arriving back in the marina, we got call(s) alerting us to a family problem back home, so we had to make a hasty retreat rather than shoot the breeze. Nonetheless, we had a great day out.

Many thanks to Team Ragdoll for their hospitality!

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Summer storm stops play

August 8, 2016

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Originally, we had expected to be away on our summer cruise during early August, however the forecast of unseasonal gales led us to cancel our plans. While this was obviously a disappointment, the alternative was a soggy, blustery, stressful break …that we decided we would be better off without.

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There was, however, a brief calm before the storm and we decided to squeeze in another trip to Dalgety Bay. A fickle wind was off our Macwester Malin’s stern and was constantly changing, so we spent a lot of time making adjustments in order to maintain a half-decent pace. By the time we reached the Forth bridges, we were behind schedule and with a falling tide on the cards, we opted to motor-sail. The image above shows our approach to Dalgety Bay, with Donibristle House on the far left.

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Our chums from Calloo, nipped over to spend a few hours with us on the first night (Thursday 4th). We had a smashing time, which ended earlier than it otherwise might have ended if it had been the weekend, but alas it was a week day.

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The following day we walked west towards the Forth bridges in the morning, and then east towards St Bridgette’s Kirk in the afternoon. The image above shows the view looking east towards Inchcolm, with our Macwester Malin in the harbour on the left. In the centre of the image, there’s a channel of water between the mainland and Inchcolm called Mortimer’s Deep, which is the route we typically take to reach Aberdour.

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On the Friday night, we listened to an eclectic music playlist and reminisced about our childhoods. From the depths of her mind, ‘the crew’ recalled a song called ‘Crambone’ from an old Tom & Jerry cartoon, performed by Shug Fisher, which she proceeded to stream (several times). While this isn’t in any way related to sailing, if you have a couple of minutes to spare you can find a clip here.

Later, one of our Dalgety Bay chums saved us from total-retro-meltdown by inviting us along to the clubhouse. It was much quieter than we expected for a Friday night, but pleasant enough.

The following morning we walked east again, although this time we walked past St. Bridgette’s Kirk to the old pier across from Inchcolm. The Fife coastal path seemed to come and go a little, and progress was slow, but eventually we made it and saw Mortimer’s Deep, the aforementioned channel which separates Inchcolm from the mainland, from a completely new angle.

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With gale warnings in place for Sunday, we set sail on the afternoon tide, just as the heavens opened. Despite keeping our cockpit tent substantially closed, we got a little soggy round the edges, however the rain eased by the time we reached the bridges.

Above; I eventually lost patience with the bargain-basement R2D2 that I purchased from Gumtree and chucked it overboard just off Rosyth.

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Later on Saturday, our Macwester Malin was safely back on her mooring. We battened down the hatches ahead of the storm, and left her to face the brunt of the weather by herself …while we were warm and cosy ashore.

Not exactly how we hoped to be spending early August, but sometimes mother nature has her own plans.

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July snack-sized cruise

July 25, 2016

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With dismal summer weather over the previous weekend restricting us to outings ashore, such as visiting the world’s smallest lighthouse in North Queensferry, and Preston Island, it was great to get out our Macwester Malin out on the water in fine weather. What would turn out to be the hottest day of the year so far, came hand in glove with light winds, so the moment we floated we slipped our mooring and motored to Dalgety Bay.

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The weather kept getting better and better as the day unfolded, and we enjoyed a really tasty barbecue before meandering along the coast a little on foot. We had a fab day, and later a friend from the local sailing club joined us for a night-cap onboard.

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The heat stuck around through the night, and there were three or four hours of thunder storms in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Despite this entertaining interlude, we had a reasonable night’s sleep.

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The following day, we took it pretty easy again just lapping up the sunshine while we could. Then on our third day, family and friends came over for a long lunch. While not as warm as the first day, three out of five onboard ventured into the River Forth to mess around in the shallows.

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After three nights in Dalgety Bay, early on the Friday morning (22nd July), I left the crew napping and singled-handed our Macwester Malin out on to the water and into a stunning dawn, before the falling tide trapped us in the harbour for the rest of the day.

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I made the mistake of straying too near the seals [again]. Will I never learn that the photo opportunity simply isn’t worth the stench? Note to self; buy a powerful zoom lens and/or keep a peg dangling from my skip cap.

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As I approached the bridges, I made sure that I had all the fenders and lines ready for single-handing into Port Edgar. It was really calm, so my plan was just to ease our Macwester Malin slowly into a vacant berth. Five minutes before arrival the wind picked up and I was feeling a tad less confident. Just about then, the crew surfaced and was ready to help. Our chums from Ragdoll were also on hand to catch lines, despite it being around 7.30am on a Friday morning. Both of the Ragdoll crew were up early, as they were just about to set off for Eyemouth.

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After doing all the stuff we do when we arrive somewhere onboard our Macwester Malin, we had breakfast and then wandered along to South Queensferry, returning via the local store. Just as we were having lunch, at about 1pm a gaggle of red Spitfire-like aeroplanes swooped past the marina in formation. It could arguably have been the Red Arrows …if it had been 60 years earlier. We reasoned that they had strayed from the nearby East Fortune Airshow which was taking place that day. Best I can tell they were a Swiss Air Force display team called PC-7.

The rain arrived later on, and we decided to eat onboard that night rather than the local Chinese restaurant. Even later still, our friends from Miss Lindsay, a 29ft Dufour, who has just returned from a trip south to Blyth, nipped over for a few drinks and we had a memorable night.

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The following morning brought more showers, but we ventured out for some fresh air, dodging the worst of the rain. By mid-afternoon we set sail for Capernaum as we had a shore-based birthday barbecue to attend on Saturday. That turned out to be a really good night too, although it was over all too quickly.

We spent a second day and night at Capernaum, before reluctantly popping our Macwester back on her mooring. All-in-all, we hadn’t made it very far in comparison to Miss Lindsay and Ragdoll, but we both really enjoyed our week afloat.

 

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Incredible weekend in Aberdour

July 13, 2016

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All week the weather forecasters warned of gales, torrential rain, doom and gloom, so we had no plans to go anywhere over the weekend. In particular, we’ve been frustrated that there hasn’t been a suitable weekend weather window to visit Culross, a recently rejuvenated destination on the River Forth with a partially rebuilt pier. We’ve made the trip to Culross by road several times, checking out the rocks and the best place to come alongside. That adventure would have to wait for another day.

Having studied the forecast locally in detail, it looked as though the worst of the weather was going to miss the Firth of Forth, so we decided that we would take a gamble on heading out on to the water knowing that we could always park our Macwester Malin for a few days if necessary.

We made it onboard late on Friday night, and settled down early as we knew there was an early rise in the morning if we were to catch the tide. We set off before 7am. I say “we”, but the crew remained snuggled-up warm and cosy in the aft cabin while I cast off single-handed. There was a noticeable east coast haar concealing the top half of the Forth Bridge, which only became visible up close [above].

The crew eventually got out of her lazy bed as we were heading past Hound Point towards Dalgety Bay, just in time to see our first puffin of the season. Unfortunately I wasn’t prepared, so can’t provide any evidence in the form of a photograph. I promise will make up for that later in this post with a gratuitous fluffy animal photograph of some sort.

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The haar wasn’t so dense that we were unable to see where we were heading. The shot above shows us approaching Braefoot gas terminal to our port, with the headland south-east of Aberdour just visible in the distance. Actually, we hadn’t planned on heading to Aberdour, however we spotted a yacht against the pier wall on our approach to Dalgety Bay, and weren’t convinced that there was enough room for us alongside.

Handy windspeed info for Braefoot & Inchcolm here.

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It felt really, really good to arrive in Aberdour; it seemed like it had been far too long since we were there. Of course, we had been there over the winter months by road, most notably when we had stumbled upon former UK prime minister Gordon Brown strolling along the promenade deep in conversation with Labour deputy leader Tom Watson.

On arrival, a local skipper was kind enough to catch our lines. His yacht, Markate is pictured off our stern above. Inevitably we got talking, and he told me of his recent trip to the pier at Culross which he informed me had recently been rebuilt. He proudly stated that Markate was the first visiting yacht to Culross for over 100 years. On hearing the news of his visit …my pupils narrowed, my veins started throbbing with anger, and I swear the pigment of my skin flushed with a vivid green. I picked up him up with both hands, effortlessly lifted him above my head, and tossed his helpless body over the sea wall.

Okay, so that all unfolded in my head. In reality I was heartily shaking the skipper’s hand and congratulating him on being an adventurous trailblazer.

Baa humbug!

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Above is the gratuitous fluffy animal photograph that I promised you earlier, as some sort of reparation for my hissy-fit. Best we could tell, this nosey parker spent all weekend looking out from beneath the gate.

The weather was substantially better than we expected, and we had sunshine for much of the time, including walks on the beach and along the coast. When the rain put in an appearance, we simply zipped-up our cockpit tent and took the opportunity to relax. We didn’t do all that much. We caught up with the harbour-master, and as usual we enjoyed gin and tonic along at a local friend’s beach-front house. Other than that, we just took it easy.

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We were due to set sail back to our mooring at around 4.15 on Sunday afternoon, however I prepped our Macwester Malin earlier than required as I wanted to watch Andy Murray play in the Wimbledon final. I streamed the match live to my iPad, as I found the radio commentary annoying. The shot above shows the settled conditions as we left Aberdour behind.

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Once we were out on the water, I found it easier to stream the match to my mobile, which was less of a handful at the helm. We decided to motor our Macwester Malin back home because we were heading into the wind, I reckoned that the conditions were going to deteriorate, and yes …I wanted to watch the end of the match, which was beginning to look good for Andy. More than could be said for the weather, which as expected, was going downhill.

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While we were being bounced around a bit, approaching the Forth Bridge at around 5pm, Andy had already won the first two sets, and the third set was now in the latter stages of a tie-breaker. Would this be the end or was there going to be another set? Just as the match reached championship point, the iPlayer live feed stopped dead [above]. Surely not? After three hours? Right at the very pinnacle of the whole tournament?

Frustrating?

Well, it’s fair to say that my pupils narrowed, my veins started throbbing with anger, and…

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