Posts Tagged ‘port edgar’

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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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Port Edgar quickie

June 4, 2017

The crew and I were down in London for a couple of days in late May, and I took the opportunity to rattle round some old haunts, catching up with family and friends. I also managed to squeeze in a trip to St Katherine’s Docks, and was really surprised to see that the red-hulled Macwester Malin I spotted back in 2013 when we were down for three months [see here], was still berthed in the innermost harbour. At 32ft long, she looked diminutive compared to the larger boats surrounding her.

It was after midnight before we got back from the airport on the Friday night, but we were keen to make the best of what was left of the weekend, so we set course for Port Edgar as soon as the tide allowed on Saturday. We left a moody, pregnant sky behind us and yet it was remarkably bright by the time we reached the marina. Unfortunately there was a newbie in charge at the marina office and we ended-up having to move three times from our allocated berth due to returning owners amongst other issues. While that was a pain, we accept that the challenges of a new role can be …umm …a challenge. We ended up berthing our Macwester Malin alongside Copepod, a Hallberg-Rassy 43 (see above, lower right of image).

To their credit, Port Edgar subsequently took steps to remedy the situation and we were not left with a sour taste in our mouths. That said, two hours moving the boat around when we had other things to be doing, knocked the edge off our overnight stay, and the inaugural outing of the crew’s newly-purchased disco ball will have to wait for another weekend.

The following day we slowly tacked our way home into the wind, however we eventually chucked in the towel close to Rosyth and pootled the rest of the way back to our mooring using the engine.

Once we had gone through our mooring procedure, there was time for something cold out on deck, while the sun was making a reasonable job of convincing us that summer was on the way.

The following weekend we also squeezed in a quickie to Capernaum. The weather was changeable, but I managed to achieve my goal for the trip which was to construct the basics of a helm seat that will sit on the lower washboard of the campanionway to our Macwester Malin’s aft cabin.

With neepy tides, unfortunately we couldn’t take up the offer to go racing on Calloo, as the window to get back on our mooring was just too tight. That was a pity, as with a noticeable south westerly, the race was very exciting. In the shot above you can see Calloo just this side of Joint Venture. Seconds after I took this shot, a big gust of wind caught Calloo and she momentarily rounded towards Joint Venture. It must have been more than a little bit hairy onboard.

On second thoughts …perhaps it’s just as well that we couldn’t join the Calloo crew afterall.

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Quest for Inchgnome

November 30, 2016

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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].

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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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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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September sunshine in Port Edgar

September 20, 2016

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The forecast for the weekend had been poor, but improved substantially towards the end of the week. With crane-out less than a month away, we set sail at lunchtime on Friday.

We weren’t 100% sure where we were going (or to be more accurate, I wasn’t 100% sure), however it became clear that the crew was pretty keen on Port Edgar, so she called ahead and arranged a berth.

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I recently read in PBO or Yachting Monthly that it’s good practise to give a diesel engine some beans every now and then, therefore as we were approaching the Queensferry Crossing we powered up our Lombardini LDW 1003M diesel, and after letting the engine warm up, opened the throttle all the way. That turned out to be 2900 rpm, which falls short of the stated 3600 rpm max. This is because the throttle cable is no longer set-up to max the engine out. Any-which-way 2900 rpm translated into 7.5 knots through the water. Not sure what additional pace the extra 700 rpm (20%) would deliver.

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Letting the revs drop down below 2000 rpm we motored under the Queensferry Crossing, which (on the southern middle span) appears to only require one more section to close the gap.

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On turning in towards our berth for the next couple of nights, we spotted a Macwester Malin ketch called Lady Mac. I think that’s the first time we’ve encountered another Malin on the Firth of Forth.

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Our Macwester Malin’s berth for the weekend had one of the newer pontoons in the marina. It really makes a difference having solid pontoon fingers that are long enough for the yacht, instead of the stern sticking out well beyond the end of the pontoon finger, as is often the case at Port Edgar.

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From time to time we listen to our favourite playlists during evenings onboard via an iPad and chunky wireless speaker. Sometimes as the evening progresses, we embark on a game that has evolved over time, that (given we don’t have a name for it) I’ve just decided to call ‘Cheesy-Chunes’. Not the most sophisticated of names, granted however it captures the essence of the activity.

At first we started out with Eurovision tracks like Ding-A-Dong by Teach In, and like a pair of willpower-free junkies we became hooked, until before we knew what had happened we were listening to Saddle up by David Christie, Automatic Lover by Dee D. Jackson …and yes, at the weekend we stumbled upon a sordid Soft Cell classic via Spotify (above).

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We had a fab and late breakfast of bacon and eggs, albeit with an uninvited Marc Almond still ringing in my ears. It took days to get that tune out of my head, so take heed and don’t be tempted to Google it.

Actually; really don’t Google that tune …because I seriously doubt that any Soft Cell track will feature amongst the top results.

Back in Port Edgar, Saturday was a cracking day, so we walked along to the harbour at South Queensferry in the afternoon to find out about the QBC muster, but there was very little activity underway.

The image above shows the view looking north-west towards the Forth Road Bridge and the Queensferry Crossing in the background taken from the little beach at Queensferry harbour. Later, we caught up with our friends onboard Miss Louise, a 29ft Dufour, prior to them going out for an evening sail.

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The weather was a bit on the dull side on Sunday, but that didn’t prevent us from enjoying the day. By mid-afternoon we set sail back west. Passing Capernaum, we spotted half-a-dozen Port Edgar yachts. Above; Erin a 49ft Jeanneau closest to the wall, then Yesnaby a 40-something-ft Dufour sandwiched in the middle, and Dreamcatcher a 36ft Hunter Legend. Other Port Edgar yachts were further along the pier wall (out of shot).

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On the way back to our mooring we spotted that it might just be possible to pass through the Ghauts for only the second time (first time here). On our approach a couple of jetskis scooted in front of us, giving me just enough of an opportunity to have a quick squint at the tide table. High water was still over an hour away, but I reckoned that there was enough water …so we went for it.

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Thankfully we made it through.

Once we shut our Macwester Malin down, we popped along to Capernaum to socialise. Erin was busy, but there was still plenty of room onboard. We enjoyed a glass or two of the fizzy stuff and caught up with friends.

One of Erin’s crew mentioned that our yacht had two masts, while Erin only had one. Fearing a Top Trumps style crushing defeat on all fronts except mast and keel count, I downplayed that fact and quietly changed the subject.

Three weekends afloat left before crane-out.

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Westerly breeze to Granton

September 14, 2016

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Our Macwester Malin was left high and dry on Saturday morning as the crew didn’t fancy the early start required to beat the tide. That being the case, we headed over to the chandlers at Port Edgar, before returning to strap on our wellies, walk out on the putty, and perform some outstanding maintenance …or at least that was the plan.

Instead we bumped into our chums from Ragdoll, who were heading for a ketchup-soaked hot breakfast at the marina cafe. One thing led to another, and before long we were all heading out for a short day sail onboard Ragdoll, a fin-keel Westerly 33.

Above; A new section of the Queensferry Crossing was about to be lifted.

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Within a hundred metres of leaving Port Edgar, Ragdoll’s very experienced skipper was in trouble with the crew of Nicola S, for vaguely heading in the direction of “the lift”. Quaking in his boots, the skipper opted to abandon plans to head up river, and set a course east instead.

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After a short spell sulking on the naughty step, the skipper installed me on the helm and the Ragdoll crew threw up their spinnaker. We headed out towards Dalgety Bay, via Hound Point where we shadowed the RS400 race that was underway. From there we changed course and made our way over to Granton at a healthy pace in light winds.

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Approaching Granton, Ragdoll’s skipper took the helm once again, just in time to navigate an irregular course through the VXOne Nationals race that was underway. Above; a close encounter off the stern, but Ragdoll’s skipper handled it well.

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With a bit of manoeuvering, we made it through the pack and continued on our approach. This was a first for us, as we previously hadn’t sailed into Granton.

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The harbour wall offers good shelter from a westerly breeze, and coming alongside the pontoon was uneventful. Just the way I like it.

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We left Ragdoll parked on the end of the pontoon (above) and headed up to the Royal Forth Yacht Club for a late, light lunch. On the way back we bumped into the crew of Wildcat (and dog Stumpy), who had arrived shortly after us.

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The pontoons were much busier on our return and we also met a couple of friends from Elie. It was good to catch up on all the insider gossip from Elie, the East Neuk and beyond.

We set sail into a light westerly, and back on helm duty I was impressed by the way Ragdoll sailed into the wind. Her skipper put that down to Ragdoll being a fin-keel.

Out on the water, Ragdoll’s skipper invited the ladies in turn to leave the safety of the yacht and venture out on to the hull using nothing but a halyard and harness to keep them above the sharks. Second in line, my crew wasn’t overly keen, however the smile on her face when she came back onboard spoke volumes.

With much better weather than forecast, I got a little sunburn. My head was more burnt than a little pink marshmallow that slipped off Beelzebub’s toasting stick. Meanwhile progress up-wind slowed, and by the time a large cruise ship appeared at the bridges, the skipper decided it was time to motor back to Port Edgar. Unfortunately, just as we were arriving back in the marina, we got call(s) alerting us to a family problem back home, so we had to make a hasty retreat rather than shoot the breeze. Nonetheless, we had a great day out.

Many thanks to Team Ragdoll for their hospitality!

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Summer cruise 2016 – Part 1

August 30, 2016

MacwesterMalinAberdourAug2016

Around the middle of August the weather looked promising, so we decided to set off on an extended cruise to the East Neuk. First stop was the fuel berth at Port Edgar, before heading over to Aberdour. We were longer than planned at the marina having met a chum from our club, and with the tide falling quickly, we only just scraped into Aberdour at the very end of the pier. We took an early night as we had an early start in the morning.

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The next morning [Sunday], the journey across Kirkcaldy Bay against the tide to Elie, took us just north of 3.5 hours using the engine. Sailing simply wouldn’t have delivered the pace that we required to make it into Elie before the tide receded once again. Above; Transocean Prospect one of three rigs we passed.

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We spent three nights at Elie. We had mainly cloud-free skies for the duration, although the edge was taken off the hot summer sun by a cool easterly. The shot above was taken from on-board our Macwester Malin looking east to the cricket match on the beach, just in front of the Ship Inn.

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The visitors berth was sheltered in the easterlies, but the Granary, a large building just a couple of metres to the south of the berth, cast a shadow over our yacht from about 11am for three or four hours. You can just about make out the shadow of the building’s roof in the water to the left of our yacht in the image above, and you can see the offending building itself below, with our Macwester Malin just visible in its shadow.

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Shadow aside, we took advantage of the good weather every day, strolling barefooted along the beach in the sunshine, meandering in and out of the water. The distant bell that rang out on the hour every hour was a welcome companion through the night, but was never intrusive enough to actually waken us. The same can’t be said for the freezing cold showers at the yacht club which showed no mercy to sleepy sailors in the mornings.

Most of the time we dined on board with supplies from the Elie Deli. On the only occasion that we ate out, we ventured a few hundred metres along to the Ship Inn, against local insider advice and opinion. The best bit about the meal [apart from the company of course] was the view over to the harbour, and a dove nestled in a rustic iron gutter just a couple of feet away outside the window we were seated at.

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The food was a disappointment… … …however, here’s a photograph of ‘Plop‘.

Not sure if I’m including ‘Plop‘ here with reference to the disappointing food, or just to move the narrative along and make me smile.

Anyhoo, we took the opportunity to walk to St Monans which is about 2.5 miles east of Elie, as we had plans to make the village our next destination. I was keen to take the crew to the ‘East Pier Smokehouse’ for a fishy meal to make amends for the below-deck experience that was the Ship Inn.

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By the Wednesday, four days of hyper-excited, screaming tweens jumping in and out of the water, a few metres from our Macwester Malin proved to be enough. At times it was a bit like holidaying on the edge of a busy urban swimming pool. Besides; the weather was due to go downhill for a few days, and we decided that we had better head to St Monans while we could.

As it turns out, the sea state was much lumpier than we expected and we reasoned that it was unwise to make an approach through the narrow harbour mouth at St Monans, so unfortunately that destination fell off the chart table. Above: leaving Elie, before it got lumpy.

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We carried on directly to Anstruther. It was bright, but breezy and we were heading into an easterly. We spent a lot of time dodging our way through chaotic fields of lobster pots. One small fishing boat ahead of us was dropping lobster pots directly into our path, but this wasn’t too challenging for a skipper of my abilities …as I mastered Mario Kart many years ago.

It was particularly lumpy on the approach to Anstruther, and while personally I found it exhilarating, the crew was no longer feeling 100%. In the end we had to power our Macwester Malin into the outer harbour at speed to minimise the risk of the swell sweeping us off course. The good news when we reached the inner harbour was that for the very first time …the carnival was not in town.

Hurrah!

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