Posts Tagged ‘HMS Queen Elizabeth’

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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 saying “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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D-Day 2017

June 25, 2017

We headed over to Port Edgar on the Saturday morning, with just the genoa pulling us along at 5 knots, ahead of D-Day the following day. Obviously not the original and substantially more important D-Day from WWII, but “Dad-Day”.

Yes okay, admittedly it’s more often referred to as Fathers Day, but then the title “F-Day 2017” would arguably set the wrong tone for this post.

As we piloted our Macwester Malin into the marina under ominous skies there was a heavy police presence. Given that we’ve probably only ever spotted one single police craft on the Forth over the previous six years, it was a surprise to see seven or eight [above]. Several days later the online rumourati concluded that ‘the rozzers’ are in town to close down the river west of the bridges when HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Rosyth for sea trials. More recently a Notice to Mariners clarified that a 200m exclusion zone was in place for the big event.

With the wind in the high teens / early twenties all weekend, we deployed our Slapsilencer for the very first time. Essentially, it’s a bit like one half of an XXXXXXXL padded bra that’s deployed around the yacht’s stern. It’s supposed to stop the constant slap-slap-slap of the waves that can drive you nuts at 2am …and 3am.

Not forgetting 4am.

Having tossed it around in my head for a while, I reckon that there was an 80-85% reduction in noise and we had a quiet night uninterrupted by the racket that would undoubtedly have kept us awake without the Slapsilencer being deployed …so it gets a big thumbs up from us.

Oops; that’s getting a bit close to being a useful consumer review. I’d better move along.

So …moving along, early the following morning we hosed-down the Slapsilencer and put it out on deck to dry. Just after lunch the guest of honour arrived along with other family members. It was blustery but sunny as we set off for Inchcolm, where we arrived around low tide to find a couple of yachts at anchor sheltering from the westerly breeze.

My plan, given that it was D-Day, was rather predictably to attempt a landing, but the tide was so low that there was no means of securing our Macwester Malin to the wooden jetty [see above]. Instead of anchoring, we opted just to pootle around for a while.

We picked our way through very shallow waters around Inchgnome [above], and then headed west again, south of Inchcolm. Later we passed under all three bridges for the benefit of our guests, then back in Port Edgar we ordered some Chinese food to go, before setting-off on a late evening sail back to our mooring.

The weather the following weekend was poor with high winds forcing sailing off the agenda, including the cancellation of the Fife Regatta. That actually worked out well for us, as we had shore-based commitments. Our boy Harry was up from London playing a Friday night gig in Glasgow, as a warm-up for two sets they were playing at Glastonbury a couple of days later. They stayed the night chez nous, with 21-year old Matt even giving us a tinkle on our piano in the wee small hours. Despite downing more than a couple of shandies, he managed to knock out an impressive ditty. Come to think of it, listening to the lyrics of ‘As the world caves in‘ you might be forgiven for thinking that D-Day could easily stand for Doomsday.

Here’s hoping for fair winds next weekend.

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East Coast Sailing Festival 2015

August 24, 2015

East Coast Sailing Festival start line

On leaving Dalgety Bay we headed directly for Port Edgar, which was the venue for the four-day 2015 East Coast Sailing Festival. The marina was packed, and we were sorry to learn that many boats including a seventy-footer called off at the last minute as there was no guarantee of a berth.

We were on-board Stark Ravin a Sigma 38 for the start of the first race on day one. We did have some engine trouble on the way to the start line as a jellyfish was sucked into the engine’s water intake, but the skipper sorted the problem out without too much fuss.

StarkRavinSigma38-01

I can’t put my hands on a half-decent photograph of Stark Ravin at the time of publishing this post, however all going according to plan, I’ll come back and update the image above at a later stage. [UPDATE] Now updated with a photograph taken in November 2015.

Tug water cannon display

Two tugs made the short trip over from Hound Point and treated onlookers a water display. The first race course lay to the east and the yachts were away for four or five hours.

HMS Prince of Wales passing Inchcolm

After the racing was over for the day, a new section of the second aircraft carrier (HMS Prince of Wales) made its way to Rosyth to join HMS Queen Elizabeth.

HMS Prince of Wales (part) Rosyth

I had meant to have a closer look when the hull section was coming under the bridges, but other things got in the way. I took the shot above when we all went out on a booze cruise aboard the Forth Belle. To be honest, it wasn’t really our kind of thing, but it was a different way of spending the night.

Packed marina

More racing and messing around on boats followed over the following four days. After the hog roast and prize-giving ceremony we spent a night on Christina II, a green fishing boat which can just be seen to the left of the photograph above, with our Macwester Malin circled to the right.

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Escape to Port Edgar & Dalgety Bay

August 19, 2015

Wideshot River Forth from onboard

We managed to squeeze in a quick overnight at Port Edgar when a brief break in the unseasonal weather appeared. Above shows a panorama iPhone photograph looking towards Rosyth, taken from on-board our Macwester Malin. After a meal at the local Chinese restaurant, we enjoyed a good night with friends on-board their Moody 31, Calloo.

Macwester Malin Dalgety Bay

A few days later we set sail for Dalgety Bay. The weather forecast was mixed, but we had plans to be away for well over a week. As you can see from the shots above and below, the harbour at Dalgety Bay is very small, but the pier provides pretty good protection no matter which direction the wind is blowing from.

Macwester Malin Harbour @ Dalgety Bay

We enjoyed a couple of barbeques, went for walks along the coast, and I spent ages trying to capture just one of several fish jumping instances that were taking place. The best I managed was a distant splash which I won’t bore you with here.

InchcolmRiverForthReflections

After three or four days we set sail pre-8am. The shots above and below show the view off our stern to the east. I’m not one hundred percent sure that these truly captured the liquid metal sensory immersion that we experienced; it was truly breath-taking.

Hound Point River Forth Reflections

The view to the west was pretty too, if more mundane (as you can see below). The contrast between what we were seeing behind us compare to the view forward was notable. If you notice the tanker above at Hound Point (looking backwards to the east), and then spot the same tanker on the left of the picture below, you’ll get some indication of what I’m trying to describe.

RiverForthViewWest

Our next destination was Port Edgar for the 2015 East Coast Sailing Festival. If you know the River Forth then you’ll see that’s where our bow is pointing.

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Out with the old…

July 21, 2014

HMS Illustrious River Forth

There’s been a lot of heavy metal moving around the Forth recently. HMS Illustrious was alongside the UK’s newest aircraft carrier in Rosyth for the naming ceremony, before being moved up river [see above and below].

HMS Illustrious River Forth July 2014

‘Lusty’ left the Forth at the weekend heading down to Portsmouth where she’s to be decommissioned.

HMS Queen Elizabeth dry dock Rosyth

HMS Queen Elizabeth is one of two replacements for the Invincible-class ships. While Illustrious dwarfed our Macwester, HMS Queen Elizabeth is three times the size of Illustrious.

HMS Queen Elizabeth floats

At the moment HMS Queen Elizabeth dominates the skyline in the Forth, even substantially blocking out the view to the bridges from Capernaum Pier.

HMS Queen Elizabeth bow

We sailed past her this morning [see shot above]. Not at all convinced I’d want to be in the way of 65,000 tonnes travelling at 25 knots. We were thankful that she was caged inside the dockyard at Rosyth.

HMS Queen Elizabeth Disney look-a-like

The shot above shows HMS Queen Elizabeth parked alongside a handful of nuclear subs [see the black line about half way along her port side].

Having made it safely past, we speculated what HMS Queen Elizabeth’s nickname might be …and from a distance we mischievously thought that she looked a little bit like a Disney pooch. Pluto was our first guess, but then we noticed the snaggle teeth on the bow and we realised that she looked more like Goofy or possibly Preston from Wallace & Gromit from that angle. Given what we had felt just a few moments earlier, we reasoned that this must be a strategic attempt to lull the enemy into a false sense of security.

Reckon I’d still be tempted to run away …fast!

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