Posts Tagged ‘Ghauts’

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That sinky feeling

August 21, 2017

Our frustration with the weather has been building with each weekend that passes. It hasn’t been particularly bad for day-sailing, as there have been some cracking days, but they tend to be immediately followed by days with 25-30 knot winds, and that makes any cruising return leg more challenging than we would ideally like.

In an act of desperation we sought answers from a drinking den in Burntisland [above]. While the accuracy of Sinky’s Weather Forecasting Stone is yet to be proven, we’re already planning a night raid to seize the wonderous stone and install it in our Macwester Malin’s cockpit.

With day-sailing the most sensible option, we spent time on our mooring waiting for the tide. The shot above shows the view over to our mooring from the Ghauts. Later that day when tide was in we returned to the Ghauts in our dinghy to faff around.

The loose plan for one of our day-sails was to head down to the bridges with Calloo, however on that occasion there was hardly any wind, and we headed to the south side of the river in search of a breeze instead. En route, we were passed by our friend’s youngster whizzing-by on a sailing dinghy …sensibly shadowed by his father in the club rescue boat.

The wind finally put in an appearance, and Calloo followed-through on the plan to head east to the bridges, but we knew we had less time to get back on our mooring, and that we also had stuff to do once our Macwester Malin’s strops were back on. With this in mind we headed from Blackness over towards Charlestown harbour for a bit of a nosey.

We briefly caught up with our chum onboard Joint Venture as we were pulling our sails down. Then on the way back to our mooring, we decided to go for a Ghauts hat trick [above & below].

Our frustration with the weather continues to build, but it’s beginning to look like it’s just one of those years when the weather, the tides, and our free time stubbornly refuse to synchronise. Making the most of the sailing season would be soooo much easier if work didn’t get in the way.

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Focaccia the police

June 27, 2017

Early on Monday the 26th of June, we learned that HMS Queen Elizabeth was due to leave Rosyth for the first time later in the day. After a bit of homework, it became clear that the timings would allow us to be out on the River Forth onboard our Macwester Malin at the same time. We slipped our mooring at 5pm and headed down river via the Ghauts. At the bottom left-hand corner of the shot above, you can just see the Ghauts in yellow on our chartplotter, which ties in with the view I had through our sprayhood.

There were other yachts out on the water when we arrived, but for some reason we were the only ones that were on the north side of the river. We kept a respectful distance from the new aircraft carrier, under the constant gaze of several police craft. Eventually, I switched off our Macwester Malin’s engine and just drifted while we watched the operation unfold. We were joined by friends in the rescue boat from our club which was full, followed by Christina II. Calloo and Chiron would put in an appearance later.

The crew was out on deck when a police rib took a wide arch around our bow over to our starboard, presumably to check us out. While they were about 15 maybe 20 metres away the crew asked them whether they wanted a snack, by holding out the aforementioned snack and shouting “focaccia bread stick?”. The police officers’ demeanour immediately changed, and they had very stern faces as they drew alongside, at which point the crew cheerily re-offered the bread sticks. The penny dropped and the officers’ faces lit up, as they realised that she wasn’t shouting profanities at them after all.

They asked about our movements, so we told them that we would need to be back on our mooring by 7.15pm, and that our plan was to walk over the Forth Road Bridge around 11.30pm at low water when HMS Queen Elizabeth would be passing below. Thankfully, they told us that the bridge would be closed to foot passengers (which seemed like a sensible precaution), so we dropped that from our itinerary.

As it transpired, I would actually be shouting profanities aimed at the very same police officers later on, when I noticed the black marks their rib had left along the length of our gelcoat. However, by then we were parked on our mooring, and the police were well out of earshot.

For a while near ‘Dhu Craig’ (a buoy) it seemed to get quite busy, with tugs manoeuvring left, right and centre, the police craft darting about, and boats from our club milling around, including Calloo shown above. It was a bit reminiscent of mustering for the start of a race or flotilla. Eventually Calloo set a course over to the south side of the river, and we decided to follow.

We have actually been a lot closer to HMS Queen Elizabeth on several occasions over the proceeding years, but she was always partially hidden behind the outer walls of the dockyard at Rosyth. This was the first time that we had crossed in front of her bow without a barrier between us. Fortunately she was at anchor, not angrily steaming towards us at 25 knots.

As time was slipping away we slowly started heading back towards our mooring, but then a couple of choppers approached from the north. They circled HMS Queen Elizabeth and flew over towards us, so we turned and slowly motored back down river for a better view of the action.

Then the helicopters repeated the same manoeuvre, but this time one flew almost directly overhead while the other peeled-off and headed over in the direction of Calloo. It was a fitting end to our time on the river. As we were now a tad behind schedule, I pressed on towards our mooring until I was comfortable that we had some time in hand. Calloo arrived before us, but as they knew we had less water at our mooring, they kindly let us have access to the harbour first. We shut the boat down quickly, and were ashore with time to spare.

In the car it became clear that we all enjoyed our evening out on the river, and rather predictably I couldn’t help but crank-up some NWA from way back in August 1988.

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High & dry …ish

November 22, 2016

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On-shore life has been hectic since crane-out, but we’ve been squeezing-in boat related stuff where ever possible. Team Ragdoll have been doing their best to gloat about being afloat while we’re high and dry. Last we heard they made it over to the inner harbour at Dysart.

Me …jealous?

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Not to be out done, we decided to get out on the water too.

Yes, it’s fair to say that our choice of vessel was a tad more compact, and had slightly less in the way of creature comforts [such as cabins and engines]…

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…nonetheless, we made it out on to the river, glided majestically past our Macwester Malin, sitting high and dry on the hard [above], and even ventured over to the Ghauts to upset the gulls, curlews, and oystercatchers.

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Obviously there was some work to do too. We performed our usual winterisation processes, making sure that everything is properly decommissioned for the winter months. This year we also had to winterise the heads for the first very time [above].

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As usual over the closed season we go out on regular reconnaissance missions. I couldn’t help but include this “in-seine” snap I took of a snazzy-kitsch-car on a Parisienne house boat in early November. Who knows, we might make it there some day.

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Another post crane-out-road-recce saw us nip over to Fisherrow, which could be on our cruising to-do list next year. On the way back we dropped into Leith docks to have a look at the Windsor Castle and her de rigueur dazzle paint. This is the boat that we totally failed to see during the Battle of Jutland commemorations earlier this year.

Later the same day, we dropped by Port Edgar to find out if team Ragdoll were around, but they were nowhere to be seen. Instead we bumped into our chums on their brand new Grandezza 33, Tight Fit V. We spent a night onboard Tight Fit IV, a Grandezza 27 back in June. They sold Tight Fit IV shortly after, and had been AWOL over the summer, so it was great to catch up and have a tour of their lovely new pride and joy.

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Another cracking day found us back out in our little dinghy. The river was like a mirror and we gently drifted just off the Ghauts as we enjoyed a leisurely picnic in the November sunshine, before heading over to the local pub.

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By the time we reached the steps just across from the pub, the tide was dropping and the wind had changed direction. We decided to head back round to the club harbour straight away, which turned out to be a sensible precaution. The wind picked up during the journey, and by the time we reached the harbour there were sizeable waves breaking at the harbour mouth. Fortunately the crew couldn’t see them rising menacingly behind her.

Note to self; take life-jackets with us next time we head out.

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As well as a walk along to Peatdraught Bay, a road trip to Dysart, and dropping into North Queensferry, we planned to walk out on the [new but rickety] pier at Culross. That didn’t go particularly well, as can be seen above. We expected a high tide given the super moon, but this was an hour after high water and the tide should have dropped to around 5.8m by the time I took this photograph. So by my reckoning, the stone part of the pier [just visible in the distance] is completely submerged at around six metres. As the pier can’t be all that much more than a metre [maybe a metre and a half] above the putty, I’m not all that confident about our aspiration to visit Culross next season.

We’ll see.

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September sunshine in Port Edgar

September 20, 2016

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The forecast for the weekend had been poor, but improved substantially towards the end of the week. With crane-out less than a month away, we set sail at lunchtime on Friday.

We weren’t 100% sure where we were going (or to be more accurate, I wasn’t 100% sure), however it became clear that the crew was pretty keen on Port Edgar, so she called ahead and arranged a berth.

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I recently read in PBO or Yachting Monthly that it’s good practise to give a diesel engine some beans every now and then, therefore as we were approaching the Queensferry Crossing we powered up our Lombardini LDW 1003M diesel, and after letting the engine warm up, opened the throttle all the way. That turned out to be 2900 rpm, which falls short of the stated 3600 rpm max. This is because the throttle cable is no longer set-up to max the engine out. Any-which-way 2900 rpm translated into 7.5 knots through the water. Not sure what additional pace the extra 700 rpm (20%) would deliver.

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Letting the revs drop down below 2000 rpm we motored under the Queensferry Crossing, which (on the southern middle span) appears to only require one more section to close the gap.

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On turning in towards our berth for the next couple of nights, we spotted a Macwester Malin ketch called Lady Mac. I think that’s the first time we’ve encountered another Malin on the Firth of Forth.

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Our Macwester Malin’s berth for the weekend had one of the newer pontoons in the marina. It really makes a difference having solid pontoon fingers that are long enough for the yacht, instead of the stern sticking out well beyond the end of the pontoon finger, as is often the case at Port Edgar.

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From time to time we listen to our favourite playlists during evenings onboard via an iPad and chunky wireless speaker. Sometimes as the evening progresses, we embark on a game that has evolved over time, that (given we don’t have a name for it) I’ve just decided to call ‘Cheesy-Chunes’. Not the most sophisticated of names, granted however it captures the essence of the activity.

At first we started out with Eurovision tracks like Ding-A-Dong by Teach In, and like a pair of willpower-free junkies we became hooked, until before we knew what had happened we were listening to Saddle up by David Christie, Automatic Lover by Dee D. Jackson …and yes, at the weekend we stumbled upon a sordid Soft Cell classic via Spotify (above).

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We had a fab and late breakfast of bacon and eggs, albeit with an uninvited Marc Almond still ringing in my ears. It took days to get that tune out of my head, so take heed and don’t be tempted to Google it.

Actually; really don’t Google that tune …because I seriously doubt that any Soft Cell track will feature amongst the top results.

Back in Port Edgar, Saturday was a cracking day, so we walked along to the harbour at South Queensferry in the afternoon to find out about the QBC muster, but there was very little activity underway.

The image above shows the view looking north-west towards the Forth Road Bridge and the Queensferry Crossing in the background taken from the little beach at Queensferry harbour. Later, we caught up with our friends onboard Miss Louise, a 29ft Dufour, prior to them going out for an evening sail.

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The weather was a bit on the dull side on Sunday, but that didn’t prevent us from enjoying the day. By mid-afternoon we set sail back west. Passing Capernaum, we spotted half-a-dozen Port Edgar yachts. Above; Erin a 49ft Jeanneau closest to the wall, then Yesnaby a 40-something-ft Dufour sandwiched in the middle, and Dreamcatcher a 36ft Hunter Legend. Other Port Edgar yachts were further along the pier wall (out of shot).

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On the way back to our mooring we spotted that it might just be possible to pass through the Ghauts for only the second time (first time here). On our approach a couple of jetskis scooted in front of us, giving me just enough of an opportunity to have a quick squint at the tide table. High water was still over an hour away, but I reckoned that there was enough water …so we went for it.

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Thankfully we made it through.

Once we shut our Macwester Malin down, we popped along to Capernaum to socialise. Erin was busy, but there was still plenty of room onboard. We enjoyed a glass or two of the fizzy stuff and caught up with friends.

One of Erin’s crew mentioned that our yacht had two masts, while Erin only had one. Fearing a Top Trumps style crushing defeat on all fronts except mast and keel count, I downplayed that fact and quietly changed the subject.

Three weekends afloat left before crane-out.

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Super moon eclipse 2015

September 30, 2015

Seal off Hound Point

By the end of September, we were painfully aware that crane-out was fast approaching. However the weather continued to surprise us with light winds and sunshine, and so we jumped at one last opportunity to head away for a couple of days.

The shot above shows a curious seal just north of Hound Point as we headed east, with Barnbougle Castle in the background.

Sunbathing on Pier

The original plan was to head for Port Edgar, but they didn’t have a suitable berth, so we opted for one more visit to Dalgety Bay. As you can see circled in the shot above, it was warm enough for the crew to sunbathe. We spent a couple of relaxing hours counting the small fish at our feet, and watching the traffic on the river pass by, as we sipped on some cold stuff from the fridge. It was fab.

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On to the blood-moon eclipse. I readily concede that the image above is a tad un-amazing, nonetheless avid readers of this blog, I got up at 4am and hung around for forty-five minutes in the cold late September air to take the picture above …just for you to savour from the comfort of your cosy armchair.

The photographs I took were actually pitch black, and I had to use some image processing to tease out the faint shape. This is partly because I was using a mobile phone, and partly because the previously bright, super-moon, moonlight was substantially diminished when ‘we’ (the earth) blocked out the sun to leave ‘it’ (the moon) in the shade.

If you missed it, then you didn’t miss all that much really.

Seals with Forth Bridge

After a couple of restful days and nights we set sail again, reluctantly heading home for the last time this year. We meandered and pootled up the river, in an attempt to avoid the inevitable. While going in for a close-up drive-by of the seals [above] was visually interesting, we both wish that I had kept our Macwester Malin up-wind of them.

Queensferry Crossing construction

We passed under the bridges around at three in the afternoon, but the light made it feel more like dusk.

Above: a section of the Queensferry Crossing is lifted up into position.

Sailing through the Ghauts 2015

The sky had brightened again by the time we were approaching our mooring. It was around high tide and I spotted that for the first time ever, we had a prime opportunity to take a short-cut to our mooring by sailing through the Ghauts.

Sailing through Ghauts close-up

I understand that at one time the Ghauts were part of a pier that was used for off-loading cargo. The channel through the Ghauts is about 10-12 metres wide with stone walls on either side. The water would have been around 1.5 metres deep, giving us roughly half a metre below our Macwester Malin’s keels.

Above: the birds on the rocks that can be seen to the right didn’t hold their nerve.

Back on mooring one last time

I guess that ticking off something that we had wanted to do since we bought our yacht back in 2011 is a reasonably high note to end our sailing season on. With the exception of a dinghy excursion to the Ghauts and the short sail to crane-out …the end of our fifth season was upon us.

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