Posts Tagged ‘macwester malin 32’

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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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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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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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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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Macwester Malin …as seen on TV

March 9, 2017

With just one month to go before crane-in, we got a surprise reminder of the adventures that lie ahead over the next few months, when we spotted our very own Macwester Malin, Indefatigable Banks in a fleeting, background shot roughly 14 minutes into BBC1’s Heir Hunters (Series 11:8) shown yesterday.

The footage was shot by a film crew onboard Christina II on her way back up river, while to the best of my calculations, we were heading away on our last sail of the season.

The Christina II crew did well; coming away with all of the fame …but none of the fortune this time.

Imagery copyright of the BBC.

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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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