Posts Tagged ‘inchcolm’

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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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A slow start to 2017

January 17, 2017

christmas2016

We had an unusually quiet time over Christmas and New Year as yours truly was feeling a tad under the weather. Despite missing out on a few social engagements, team Ragdoll dropped in to see us on Christmas Eve, and we managed to catch up with our sailing chums two or three times.

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The weather for the local ‘looney dook’ on the 1st of January was as good as I can remember. It was a prime opportunity to strip-off and take the plunge… …unfortunately I was still recovering.

What a shame!

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We carried on with our winter road trips, including a trip to the East Neuk. While we were there, we spotted a couple of yachts from our club that are spending the winter on the pontoons. With an eight-year waiting list it will be a while before we can join them.

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Not normally one to be taking photographs of vehicles when there are boats around, for some reason I spent more time than a grown man ought to oogling the RNLI’s tractor. In my defence, given that we’re members, I felt in some small way that I was entitled to be interested.

crailjan2017

As well as Pittenweem, St Monans, and Elie we dropped into Crail [above]. We haven’t sailed into Crail before as it has always seemed a bit cramped and busy. Over the winter though, there was more space and it was hard to resist considering an overnight during the coming season.

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Above: the view over to Inchcolm from the beach at Aberdour.

There’s no doubt that the weather has been very kind to us so far this winter. As I haven’t been in a position to carry out the onboard maintenance that’s required before crane-in, I have a lot to squeeze in over the next three months.

I’d better get my skates on.

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Quest for Inchgnome

November 30, 2016

grantonnov2016

At the end of November, our chums from Ragdoll a Westerly 33, very kindly invited us out for one last sail. They spent the night at Granton, and we caught up with them at 11am on the Sunday morning. We soon formed a loose plan to track down the mystical island of Inchgnome.

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It was chilly, but the weather was really good given that it was only a couple of days away from December. Team Ragdoll unfurled the headsail, however there wasn’t enough wind to make much progress.

Our first stop was directly north from Granton to Burntisland [above].

burntisland3nov2016

We brought a simple lunch with us and we collectively demolished that while we were alongside at Burntisland, including way too many chocolate brownies on my part (unfortunately, I kept unearthing conjoined brownies that would just not be parted). After lunch we took a quick tour of the inner harbour at Burntisland [above].

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Heading west, our next stop was Starleyburn, which is a privately owned harbour well off the beaten track. We didn’t actually stop off, as we weren’t sure what was underneath Ragdoll’s keel. Hat’s off to the skipper for getting us in as far as we did though.

mortimersdeepnov2016

After getting up close and personal with the most easterly beach at Aberdour, the skipper pointed Ragdoll’s bow west again to the golden horizon out towards Mortimer’s Deep.

Could that warm glow be the fabled Inchgnome?

inchgnome3nov2016

Yes, indeed (apologies for the cheesy vfx; I couldn’t resist it). Although we had previously passed near by, Inchgnome (a.k.a. Swallow Craig) had slipped beneath our radar. We circled the diminutive little island, which sits just a few metres east of Inchcolm, and drank in the surreal miniature world that largely goes unnoticed out in the middle of the Firth of Forth.

ragdolloutnov2016

It was pretty dark by the time we reached Port Edgar, and the temperature was falling away quickly. The following day, Ragdoll was lifted out of the water and her first season in Scotland was at an end. Although the end of the season is always a low point, our chums have done well, squeezing in six weeks of sailing after we were craned-out.

Thanks very much to team Ragdoll for sharing their final weekend of the season with us.

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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.

DalgetyBayAug2016

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.

LowtideDalgetyBay01

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.

DalgetyBayAug2016-1

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.

dBayR2D2sinking

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.

MacwesterMalinMooringAug2016

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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Summer Cruise 2014 [part 2] – Fife Riviera

August 13, 2014

Leaflet

The weather improved as we reached Aberdour and as ever, we received an enthusiastic welcome from the friendly and helpful harbour master …he’s a real gem.

As it happened, the annual Aberdour Festival was due to start the following day, and would run for over a week. We reviewed the festival programme and were told that a handy map existed that showed the various venues. It’s fair to say that I performed a classic double take, accompanied by a rather colourful expletive when we eventually got our hands on the elusive map (see left), as unknown to us, our Macwester Malin ketch was centre-stage on the map’s front cover, with the strap line “The jewel of the Fife Riviera” underneath.

Looking closely at the details, we reckoned that the photograph had been taken during our first season in 2011. Possibly on our very first visit to Aberdour (more here), as the location of the berth looks about right.

Macwester Malin Aberdour

We spent a week in Aberdour, catching up with friends and going for walks. It was the most relaxing part of our time away. Aberdour is a well-protected harbour and we didn’t have the same problems getting a good night’s sleep as we did in Elie. The shot below shows the view looking west from the harbour across to the Black Sands.

Aberdour looking west

Towards the end of our stay we spent a bit of time considering a visit to Inchcolm, which is something that we have wanted to do for a while, but hadn’t quite managed to get the weather and timings to work for us. The harbour master helped us with insider advice, and we left Aberdour with enough time in hand to make an attempt at landing.

Approaching Inchcolm (video grab)

We managed to avoid the many rocks that litter Inchcolm’s periphery and after a bit of hesitation we parked our Macwester Malin on the wooden jetty on the north-east side of the island.

Macwester Malin Inchcolm

As we weren’t sure how fast the tide would come in, we took the bow as far up the beach as possible to avoid the prospect of the jetty being submerged when it was time to leave.

Inchcolm Abbey 2014

We were only on the island for around an hour. In that time we explored much of the west side by foot, but didn’t make it all the way to the far side and an unbroken view of the bridges, as there were too many agitated gulls becoming even more agitated if we tried to pass near their full-sized offspring. We thought it best to retreat and leave them alone.

Macwester ketch Inchcolm

After an enjoyable lunch on-board in the open air (tent-down) centre cockpit of our Macwester Malin, we reluctantly left Inchcolm behind us and set a course for home. Looking back towards Inchcolm, we became aware of a sinister-looking craft that was gaining on us with alacrity. Best we could tell, it was some sort of Darth Vader-style ‘death’ ship (see insert below).

Olympic Challenger passing under Forth Road Bridge

By the time we reached the bridges, we could see that the mystery vessel was in fact the Olympic Challenger, and she looked as though she had cargo intended for the new Queensferry Crossing. She gave us a deafening honk from her air horns as she passed.

The crew and I agreed that our next boat would need to have a helipad, as that has the potential to bring an added dimension to our cruising season.

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Fife Regatta 0 Aberdour 1

May 22, 2012

Sailing under Forth Bridge May 2012

We headed for Aberdour on Saturday the 19th of June. Motoring into a building Easterly meant that it was a bit choppy on the journey, especially approaching the Haystack. However the weather eased and the sun came out for our arrival at Aberdour aboard our 32ft Macwester Malin ketch.

Macwester Malin Aberdour May 2012

240v shore-power soon chilled the fridge and we had a great evening in the centre cockpit with friends who travelled over by car to join us. We took the ground at a bit of an angle when the tide retreated, but apart from the tilt there was so little movement that we didn’t notice the tide coming and going during the night.

Mizzen rigging cover
Thankfully, the sun re-appeared the next morning and prior to going for a walk up to the town, I decided to check the depth log which was a bit temperamental the previous day. Unfortunately I didn’t make much progress with that, however I did fit protective rigging screw covers behind the cockpit tent to avoid chaffing.

Macwester Malin ketch sailing towards the Forth Bridge
We were back afloat around lunch time and although the weather was glorious, we decided to set-off promptly. In part because our club was hosting the 2012 Fife Regatta that day. We enjoyed a cracking sail back home with the wind behind us. I gave up the helm before Inchcolm soon after we got the sails up, and spent the journey relaxing for a change.

By the time we made it back we had missed most of the regatta action, but the truth is that we would much rather have been away cruising than standing on the shore watching someone else race.

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