Posts Tagged ‘macwester 32’

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Queensferry Crossing Fail

September 13, 2017

We were fortunate to be amongst the fifty-thousand ballot winners given the once in a lifetime opportunity to walk over the new Queensferry Crossing before it was formally opened by the Queen on the 3rd of September. Logistically, our allocated slot and crossing direction from south to north was a tad inconvenient, as it meant that we had very little time to make our way back south to the marina and we would have to set sail immediately to have any chance of getting back on to our mooring before the tide dropped.

The skipper of Huck Finn, a Macwester 27 had loosely organised a muster under the new bridge on both Saturday and Sunday prior to the official flotilla on the Monday. Although we met up with Shere Khan (who’s skipper was hoisting bunting, including a large pair of pants with Jeremy Corbyn’s face printed on them), and Christina II, unfortunately we didn’t spot Huck Finn when we were out on the water.

We had to abort our final approach to our berth in the marina, as a yacht that we had deferred to and that had entered the alley between D and E pontoons, subsequently had a change of mind and for some reason decided to come back out after we had followed her in. As a result we found ourselves unexpectedly in shallow water and I had to resort to using our Macwester Malin’s bow thruster to manoeuvre the front end. A grating noise came from the thruster and I stopped using it immediately. That made berthing a few minutes later sightly more interesting, but we managed nonetheless.

Our heads also developed a problem the same day. We reasoned that something must have been sucked-up through the inlet pipe, as nothing solid has ever gone out the other end. There wasn’t much we could do to fix the heads or the thruster until we could take the ground. Given our mooring is blessed with thick putty, that meant drying-out on one of our club’s pontoons, and with the outer pontoons constantly occupied over recent weeks, we realised that the inner pontoon was our only option. Slowly it dawned on us that the only way of getting on to the inner pontoon for remedial work the following day, was to miss out on walking over the new bridge. As a result, the shot above was the closest we got to the Queensferry Crossing over the weekend.

We met up with friends onboard Tight Fit V a Grandezza 33, and enjoyed a great night with food, drink and banter. The following morning the Tight Fit V crew popped round to our berth, and then we both headed out on to the river (above) to pootle around under the new bridge for a while.

With one eye firmly focussed on reaching the club’s inner pontoon at high water, we set a course heading west well before high water. We passed our chums on Miss Lindsay and later Shere Khan both heading in the opposite direction, and we were also buzzed by a couple of jetskis.

We made it on to the pontoon without complications. The following day, I pulled seaweed from the thruster and was able to check that it was back in service. The heads would take much longer to fix. I disconnected hoses and worked my way from the beginning of the system to the end. I seemed to clear the blockage by filling up the bowl with buckets of water and pumping those out. I can only imagine that some seaweed might have been sucked in and was causing an obstruction. That said, it still seems a little asthmatic at times, so I’ll need to keep an eye on it.

The skipper of Calloo and I watched the Red Arrows fly over the new bridge during the opening ceremony, and then up river towards us before banking over our heads.

Several days later, with our maintenance complete it was time to get back to our mooring. Unfortunately we had to pass on the opportunity to land for drinks at Blackness with Calloo because the crew and I are both carrying annoying injuries. Instead we slowly meandered our way home; not very exciting, but there are times to push yourself …and times to hold back.

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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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Escape to Port Edgar

August 9, 2017

We squeezed in a long weekend early in August, and set sail just in time to escape the heavy weather that was about to engulf our mooring. Trying to out run the weather looked unlikely, so we set sail with a reefed genoa and pointed towards Port Edgar.

Inevitably the weather caught up with us as we approached the bridges. With increasing wind and much larger waves, things got a little exciting when sheets and lines were momentarily confused, and our reefed genoa completely unfurled at the precise moment we were aiming to do the opposite. After a bit of faffing and flapping we got things back under control and ran for cover in the marina.

With the wind gusting unpredictably, it took two attempts to get on to our allocated pontoon, which wasn’t helped by the fact that the nearest pontoon cleat had a sizeable custom metal extension complete with owner’s lines. We installed the SlapSilencer to give us a chance of a good night’s sleep when the time came. As there was quite a bit of chop overnight, the SlapSilencer proved it’s worth yet again.

During the bright spells [above] it was really quite hot, but that’s typically what you’d expect for early August so it shouldn’t have been a surprise. We ordered take-out. The last time we had Chinese takeaway from the local Chinese restaurant it wasn’t great, but the memory had faded, the night was getting on …and we were hungry.

Note to self: Don’t ever (ever) order Chinese food from there again.

We went for walks, we chilled, we briefly caught up with our chums from Tight Fit V, a Grandezza 33 and loosely arranged for a proper catch-up next time we’re all back at the marina at the same time.

The crew enjoyed our little weekend break; she seemed to find it relaxing. However, as usual it was all over too quickly and we were back on the return leg before we knew what hit us. It was less blowy on the way home, as we made our way into a westerly. We exchanged briefly pleasantries with one of our chums from the club onboard Chiron as he was heading east.

It’s been a strange season. The weather’s been so changeable from one day to the next that we don’t feel as though we’ve been onboard all that much. With crane-out less than two month away, we had better try to make every day count.

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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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Aberdour sortie July 2017

July 12, 2017

When we set sail on Saturday afternoon, we weren’t entirely sure where we were going to end up. We sailed down river under the three bridges, enjoying the sunshine en route, and eventually set a course for Dalgety Bay. When we arrived, a 26/27ft yacht was already in the small harbour. We considered squeezing in ahead of the yacht, but unfortunately she was badly parked and even although our twin-keel Macwester Malin only draws a metre, it was doubtful there was enough water. So we reversed back out and headed further east towards Aberdour.

There were loads of yachts racing in Aberdour bay as ABC, the local club’s regatta was in full swing, so we kept our sails under wraps and picked our way through the field.

Once we had tied up, we were delighted to hear that the local harbourmaster had bought Vaago, a Macwester 27 over the winter. We found out later that our chum on Joint Venture was the overall race winner. The next day a handful of yachts from RFYC over in Granton turned up for lunch, but didn’t stay. Sunday was a pretty drab and dank affair all day long, but there were breaks and we made sure that we were out and about ashore when we had the opportunity. Whereas when the rain was on, I spent my time carrying out some minor repairs that needed to be done.

The remedial work included replacing the deck fitting for the navigation light at the bow (above), and coming-up with an interim solution to keep the aft cabin hatch open and out of the way until I organise a proper stainless steel stay. This will allow me to use the helm seat (which sits on top of the aft cabin’s lower washboard), that I made a few weeks ago.

We sailed back home on Monday afternoon. Ten minutes after leaving, not far out of the harbour, we spotted our first puffin of the season. He was pretty close, but unfortunately didn’t hang around until I was able to photograph him. Pity. Anyway, with plenty of time in the bag to reach our mooring, we sailed leisurely towards the bridges.

Just north of Hound Point, we heard a shout out over the VHF from Aberdeen Coastguard. They asked if there were any craft in the vicinity of Hound Point as they wanted to follow-up a call for help that they understood came from a small boat near an oil terminal in the Forth Estuary. They ‘thought’ it might be Hound Point.

We couldn’t see anything near Hound Point, but let the coastguard know that we could just see a small craft off Braefoot Bay terminal back at Inchcolm which looked as though it was drifting aimlessly. The coastguard asked us to turn around and go check it out, so we brought our sails in and headed back east. About thirty minutes later we had reached the boat we had spotted and it wasn’t in any trouble. So it proved to be a bit of a wild goose chase …but I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry. After the coastguard had told us we could stand down, we made a beeline for our mooring, as the oodles of time that we previously had in hand were now sadly MIA.

Back on our mooring with the tide receding, we didn’t have time to leave our Macwester Malin in the neat and tidy state we would have liked, however we sorted that out a couple of days later …along with spending some time out on deck with a sundowner in the sunshine (view from our deck above).

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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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