Posts Tagged ‘Inchkeith’

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Summer cruise 2017 – Part 2

August 3, 2017

With no private facilities for marina users, it was intriguing to notice that the local farmers were making good entrepreneurial use of the public loos in Anstruther. At least I assume that’s who was scribbling in the men’s cubicles. There was a telephone number for anyone interested in what must be a new politically-correct alternative to cock-fighting, where the cocks have ‘fun’ instead – that sounds like a step in the right direction for animal cruelty. There was also an animal-lover who seemed keen to have his donkey …let’s use the word “serviced”. I say ‘donkey’ but the chap who wrote it actually used ‘ass’; I’m pretty sure they’re interchangeable.

The Dreel Tavern was open for business again, so we popped in there a couple of times when we couldn’t enjoy a tipple on the foredeck. We also enjoyed walks to Cellardyke and Pittenweem, but didn’t make it to Elie, St Monans, or Crail this year. By the time we reached day eight or nine, we were looking for a weather window with an easterly that would facilitate a less-eventful journey back across Kirkcaldy Bay.

We found one.

Back out on the water, we counted puffins and our count easily surpassed the round dozen that we spotted on the journey east. I also spotted a glimpse of a dolphin as it plunged back into the depths, but other than that the journey was pretty uneventful.

Our next destination was Aberdour. It was bright when we arrived and we knew that the harbour would offer great protection for the high winds and rain that were forecast. On arrival we heard the sad news that our friend Pat had died a week or so earlier. Pat was a lovely older gentleman (and fellow sailor), who used to cycle along to the harbour to welcome us, wearing a sports jacket complete with cravat, before typically inviting us back for gin and tonics at his beach-front home.

He will be sadly missed.

The weather didn’t pick-up much at Aberdour, but we made the best of the dry spells and took shelter onboard our Macwester Malin when the heavens opened. After a couple of days, with the forecast still looking very unsettled (including lightning), we decided to head for home.

We managed to avoid the worst of the downpours on the journey back to our mooring. It was a bit gusty at times, but we had only had a couple of metres worth of genoa out on display. When our shower-dodging luck eventually ran out, we simply closed-over the top section of the cockpit tent roof, which substantially reduced the amount of rain cascading into the cockpit.

The weather in the north of the UK hasn’t felt much like summer this summer. While I’m sorely tempted to point the finger of blame at the tech department for not installing summer properly, I guess you have to take the rough with the smooth.

Right …I’m off to Google Mediterranean sailing holidays!

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Summer cruise 2017 – Part 1

August 2, 2017

The forecast for the foreseeable future was for unsettled weather, so we chose to set sail on a day with marginally lighter winds and sunny spells. Our final destination was unclear, however St. Andrews and Lindisfarne were both possibilities. We left as the tide was receding, so the first leg to Anstruther would have to take over seven hours, or we risked arriving before there was enough water. This meant intentionally making slow progress, as we can typically reach Anstruther in five or six hours. The shot above shows us approaching a wreck to the south of Inchkeith with a following sea.

We started-out with a much reduced genoa, and the mizzen ready to deploy if required. With the tide pushing our twin-keeled ketch forward combined with 25+ knots of wind, we were doing between six and seven knots over the ground. That was way too fast, however I reasoned that the tide would be against us later in the journey.

We tacked as close to the south-east of Inchkeith as we could. That was a mistake; we should have delayed tacking, as the waves caused by the current/tide circumventing the island grew to over 2m. Unfortunately I don’t have any photographs, as the crew was a tad unsettled, and politely suggested that I might stop taking photographs.

I say ‘politely suggested’, but in reality she delivered an eclectic unbroken chain of colourful expletives strewn upon the wind, which all but obscured the words “Cecil” …and “B” …and “DeMille”.

We brought the genoa in further, now down to no more than a hankie, and hunkered-down until we were eventually afforded some protection from the island itself. The shot above shows a much calmer following sea as we headed along the East Neuk coast later.

Arriving at the marina on the late tide, we were welcomed with much-needed alcohol by our chums from Pampero, a Moody Eclipse. For my future reference, our Macwester Malin’s 1m draft lets us have access to the marina when there’s 2m at Rosyth. The photograph above shows the view from our Macwester’s centre cockpit over towards the Ship Tavern.

With the crew keen for a break from sailing and the high winds ever-threatening, we stayed in Anstruther and took some time out. We scrubbed the deck and I noticed that the varnish on the foredeck grab rails of our Macwester Malin was cracked, so I gave them a quick rub-down then varnished them. It was an in-season remedial approach, so they will have to be done properly at some stage.

One afternoon a pipe band turned up to the cobbled square adjacent to our pontoon (across from the Ship Tavern), followed by a number of visiting dance troupes. Apparently there was an international dance festival underway. The photograph above shows some of the Croatian dancers.

After a day or two the chap on a small Wayfarer dinghy called Dreamtime, that was berthed next to our Macwester Main, told me that he had decided to throw in the towel. His original plan was to sail around the UK, but the weather outlook wasn’t great and he didn’t fancy the journey up north. Instead he returned a couple of days later and I helped him get Dreamtime on to a trailer, so that he could spend what was left of the summer sailing in Cornwall.

As the days passed the crew and I eventually agreed that we wouldn’t be heading any further east, north or south with the possible exception of the Isle of May …but even that fell by the wayside. The shot above shows the Anstruther lifeboat returning from a rescue mission over at …the Isle of May.

Part 2 up next…

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Last hurrah 2016

October 12, 2016

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Early on Saturday morning, just as our chums from Calloo were returning from Port Edgar, we were heading over there for our final overnight trip of the season. It would have been great to catch up with them, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

Out on the water, we passed Christina II, and spotted a solo seal basking in the autumn sunshine on Dhu Craig.

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As we passed under the Queensferry Crossing it seemed likely that the gap would close soon; in fact that turned out to be the following day (although there are still two gaps yet to be closed elsewhere).

Our berth for the weekend was on the east side of the marina, which is closest to the Forth Road Bridge and gets much less protection from the breakwater. Not ideal. We had asked for a better berth that we knew was free, however the staff refused claiming that it wasn’t available (not surprisingly the berth we requested lay vacant for the duration of our stay).

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We had no fixed plans for our time in South Queensferry. I checked that our new wheel cover fitted (which it did). We strolled around the pontoons after returning from the local mini-market. Later, the crew hosed down our Macwester Malin one last time.

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It was peaceful, uneventful and enjoyable. After dusk it became apparent that we weren’t going to get a decent sleep in the aft cabin (due to our bumpy berth), so we moved the bed linen through to the forepeak and spent the night there. That was after I nipped round for a quick chat with our friends on Ragdoll, who had arrived late on Saturday. Team Ragdoll were getting up early in the morning and heading over to Granton with the skipper of Solveig, a Westerly Konsort.

Latterly, we decided not to tag along, and opted instead for a relaxing day in the marina.

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The next morning, we chomped through our ubiquitous bacon and eggs for breakfast. The shot above shows Inchmickery and the Cow and Calves, (the three dark blobs) in front of Inchkeith, which I snapped on our way to Granton.

It took us until around 10.30 to accept that we both really wanted to be out on the water. After all, with crane-out the following weekend …it was our very last chance.

We noticed the depth beneath our keels fade away to just two metres as we left Hound Point behind us and passed over a sandbank. I say ‘passed’, however what we actually did was slow to a crawl …and then gingerly retreat in the opposite direction.

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A while later, as we approached the pontoons at Granton, it became clear that there wasn’t much space for us. In fact, there was no space at all. What’s more, Ragdoll and Solveig weren’t sitting on the pontoons as we expected.

That being the case, we decided to turn around and head back east. We thought that we might have one more attempt at landing on the pier at Blackness Castle before the end of the season.

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The photograph above, shows our Macwester Malin’s bow pointed towards Inchkeith, which if you know the Firth of Forth at all, is in totally the opposite direction to Blackness Castle. I can only put our abject failure to do what we planned to do, down to fevered, last-day-of-the-season madness.

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Fast forward thirty or forty minutes and RagdollSolveig were rafted up just a few metres away from the harbour at Inchkeith; we joined them there. We had a couple of drinks and spent some time shooting the breeze. Apparently our friends on Pampero, a Moody Eclipse had also stopped off on their way up to Anstruther.

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Eventually our thoughts turned to mugging fish, and before long a couple of rods magically appeared. The crew (my crew) was new to fishing and didn’t have much luck. Time for me to step up the mark and show the lil lady how it’s done.

Yup, I didn’t catch anything either. In fact, nobody had a bite all afternoon. Personally, I blame the seals; there were more congregated off our collective sterns than I’ve seen for many a year.

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We probably spent more time at Inchkeith than we should have. Understandably, we didn’t want to think about heading back up river, however we knew that it would take 2.5 hours motoring and twice that sailing given the lack of wind. A couple of hours before dark, we reluctantly slipped our lines and pointed our Macwester Malin’s bow back west.

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As we sailed under the Queensferry Crossing, the small gap that we saw the day before had been plugged. In plugging the gap, the Queensferry Crossing entered the record books as “the largest freestanding balanced cantilever in the world”. More here.

We pressed on, and once again stumbled across Erin just off Rosyth [above]. The light was beginning to fade as we reached Brucehaven, and we made for the harbour wall. As darkness enveloped us, we ate a fishless meal and waited until the tide reached our mooring.

We set sail again about 7.30pm in total darkness. Once our eyes had adjusted to the night sky, we still couldn’t see a damn thing. Nonetheless we navigated our way to our Macwester Malin’s mooring and promptly ground to a halt about 15 metres short. Having looked at the tide tables, I reckoned that we should have had a meagre 10 cm under our keels by 7.30pm, but tide tables are just predictions …and we evidently didn’t have enough water.

Unfortunately it was too dark to see where the tide had actually reached. We tried again taking a different route, but it took a third attempt to make it on to our mooring. Obviously, there was no physical damage to our yacht as our mooring is nestled amongst thick, soft mud …and any damage to my reputation might actually represent an improvement of sorts. So it was all good.

With season 2016 relentlessly drawing to a close, next up for us is crane-out.

As ever, that has come around way too soon.

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