Posts Tagged ‘river forth’

h1

Rescue ends with soggy cox

November 22, 2017

With most of our winterisation tasks completed by mid-November we waited for a weather window that would let us row our tender back to the club. When that opportunity arrived, it was cold but there was hardly any wind. It also happened to be lunch time, so we had a picnic as we floated around freestyle for a while out on the river.

By the time we had finished lunch, we had strayed too close to the local pub’s gravitational field, and no matter how hard I rowed in the opposite direction …the gravitational pull was just too much to overcome.

We parked our dinghy at the bottom of the stairs (first photo, left-hand circle) and enjoyed the panoramic view of the River Forth on a soft day, as we sat outside the pub (first photo, right-hand circle). Inevitably the coldness started to penetrate our winter layers, so we reluctantly left the pub behind us.

I warmed up again after a few minutes rowing but the crew, who was promoted to cox for the day given the traditional layout of a small rowing boat, remained a bit on the chilly side. The next waypoint on our late season adventure was a nearby beach to rescue a stray dinghy that belongs to one of our chums from the club. The plan was simple enough; retrieve the dinghy and tow it back to the yacht club. An oil tanker passed five or ten minutes earlier and we were expecting a large swell, but there really wasn’t much wash at all as we made our final approach to the beach.

Obviously I was rowing backwards unsighted. The cox encouraged me to get on with it as she was cold, and the wisp of ‘ambience’ that had followed us from the pub was dissipating by the second. As luck would have it, just as I was beaching the dinghy the tiny waves breaking on the shore reached a crescendo and two teeny-little waves broke over the transom in quick succession. The cox took a direct hit and she got totally drenched.

The good news is that I managed to escape without much more than a couple of damp patches above the welly line.

The cox wasn’t ‘feeling’ the good news.

The cox was cold, wet, and still wasn’t seeing the funny side; although in fairness to her she refrained from tipping me in when an occasional smirk broke free …and ran screaming from one side of my face to the other like a streaker desperately trying to evade the rozzers. Somehow her soaking turned out to be my fault, because I was rowing.

We successfully retrieved the wayward dinghy and completed the rest of the journey in silence. At least I refrained from sniggering like a cad in the way that Timothy West does when Prunella Scales catches a mouth-full of trees in the title sequence of Channel 4’s ‘Great Canal Journeys’.

With the cox up in the clubhouse drying-off in front of the fire, I got both dinghies back up the slipway with the help of a couple of friends from the club.

Reflecting on the minuscule waves breaking into the dinghy over at the beach; while it was funny and we were never in danger, the dinghy was half-way to being swamped by two very small waves in less than ten seconds. Another couple of tiny waves over the transom and, with the weight of two adults on-board, the dinghy would have sunk; again not a problem in the shallows a couple of feet from the beach. As usual, we had our life-jackets on, but in truth given the flat-calm nature of the river that day I briefly thought about not bothering with them. Whether you’re a supporter of the nanny state or not, it seems to me that life-jackets are a sensible precaution no matter how benign the conditions are. If you already have a life-jacket, it doesn’t cost as much as a penny to wear it one more time …and only takes seconds to throw on.

Advertisements
h1

Nearly caught-out at crane-out

October 10, 2017

The commodore suggested that we took our Macwester Malin round to the club harbour the day before crane-out so that we could be lifted out on the Saturday, as we couldn’t attend on the Sunday (due to an impending London trip). Given that it’s only a hop, skip, and a jump, we didn’t bother with much of the usual procedures. Instead we deployed most of our fenders on the port side, threw our strops off, and set off …or at least that was the plan.

What actually happened was that we let the stern strops off first, and when I cast the main bow strop off and got back to the helm, we immediately started to slip backwards towards the promenade, which is not much more than a boat-length from our mooring. It took a moment for me to figure-out that we weren’t caught on a line – we had no forward gear. By then the bow had blown round ninety degrees and I helped it round a further ninety by using our thruster. Now facing directly towards the ominous promenade wall which was growing larger by the second, I calmly engaged reverse …and eased our yacht back from danger.

Disaster averted. Deep breaths all round to suck up the relief …cool as you like.

I was just beginning to think through my next move, as we continued to reverse back away from the promenade when the engine faltered and ground to a halt.

With the countdown to Armageddon back on and just ten to fifteen seconds left on the clock before impact, apparently I wasn’t filling the crew with confidence as I frantically ran through the options in my mind – a bit like the gearbox there was nothing there. A boat-hook wasn’t going to keep us off the wall for long. By the time I moved the fenders …we’d be on the wall. By the time we deployed the anchor …we’d be on the wall.

The crew was doing her best to keep me informed of our proximity to the yacht on the next mooring and the unforgiving promenade. While the crew’s version of events includes a bit more colourful language, my recollection is that with our one and only remaining throw of the dice I calmly decided to walk forwards to the ignition panel and try to turn the engine back on. It started. I calmly walked back to the helm, buzzed the thruster to take our Macwester Malin’s bow away from the promenade, gingerly engaged first gear and …as luck would have it we slowly moved away from the wall, circled around the back of the harbour …and away from danger.

The shot above shows us motoring through the Ghauts two minutes later.

Ten minutes later we made a complete pig’s ear of coming into Capernaum, possibly because I was worried about losing the engine again, but perhaps mainly because we were still rattled by our close encounter with the promenade. Fortunately there were plenty of friendly faces on hand to help.

We had drinks and nibbles as night fell and the tide eventually dropped leaving our twin-keel yacht safely planted on the putty.

As usual it was an early start on Saturday morning, and we craned the smaller yachts into what’s referred to as the ‘dinghy park’. When the tide came in we moved our Macwester Malin further up the harbour and later in the day we ended-up rafted in-between Ramillies and Miss Lindsay.

It was getting late when our time came, in fact we were the second last yacht out on day one. Thankfully everything went smoothly and our yacht’s keels were resting on her blocks within moments.

The image above shows the view forward which will be fixed for the next six months. We didn’t have time to do anything other than make sure everything was tied down or stowed. Organising stuff properly would have to wait for another weekend. Next stop London.

As usual when we’re down in London, we’re drawn to all things boaty. We had lunch in the sunshine at Chelsea Harbour, and spotting Ramillies Street as we walked along Oxford Street momentarily transported our minds back to the weekend. While the gearbox trouble had been stressful and obviously didn’t constitute a great experience, the outcome was a great one although we didn’t feel that way at the time. We snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, when the outcome could easily have been losing our yacht. Now she’s safely on the hard, we have the time to get the gearbox and engine fixed by a professional, and we’ll be ready for the start of the new sailing season in April 2018. The countdown has already begun!

h1

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.

h1

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.

h1

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.

h1

Cold and windy start to the season

April 26, 2017

We hoped to get away over the first weekend back in the water, (which was the long Easter weekend), even if it was just to Port Edgar. The late tide on Friday was our chance to set sail, but the forecast for the following day was awful and we decided that we didn’t like the idea of being stuck at Port Edgar, so after much (too much) deliberation we set sail for Capernaum instead.

We hid from the worst of the high winds inside the harbour, and made good use of the time by pressure-washing our Macwester Malin’s hull, cleaning her cockpit, and fixing the port midship cleat which had become a smidgeon wobbly. The best access to the cleat was by taking the cockpit speakers out (above).

We also helped the Joint Venture team put out the club’s race markers ahead of the first race the following weekend. The tanker on the horizon is leaving Grangemouth presumably having delivered shale gas from the US.

In total we spent three nights onboard Indefatigable Banks. It was chilly, but it had been six months since we last had the opportunity to sleep onboard so neither of us were too bothered about the cold and the howling wind. It was just great to be floating again.

As you might expect, we had a few visitors, with the crews of Artemis, JambelJoint Venture, and Pitteral dropping by. As if we needed an excuse, we reasoned that it was the six-year anniversary of our maiden voyage from Naarden in the Netherlands back over to the River Forth. Posts here. Photographs here.

The following weekend I single-handed our Macwester Malin back to Capernaum, where the welcoming crew from Joint Venture was on hand to catch the ropes. I had made provision for getting alongside without help, but having assistance took some of the stress out of arriving, as this was my first true single-handed trip leaving our mooring and arriving at Capernaum.

I spent the rest of the day finishing-off some repairs and renewals. Just before noon the following morning the Calloo crew kindly helped me pop our Macwester Malin back on her mooring. I had thought about single-handing again, but the forecast was for 30 knot gusts and I didn’t fancy taking unnecessary risks …especially when I have friends willing to lend a hand.

With another long weekend ahead, hopefully our 2017 shakedown sail is up next!!

h1

Crane-in 2017

April 13, 2017

With our hard hats strapped on we were at the club for 7 am, even before the crane arrived. I say ‘we’, but the crew had other matters to deal with at home, so more accurately I was at the club for 7 am. Okay, yes. I suppose by that token I should really re-write the first sentence, as ‘our’ and the plural of ‘hat’ is also technically wrong, but lets not dwell on that …there’s boat stuff to be getting on with.

Anyhoo, the weather for the first day of crane-in was fabulous given it was early April (day two less so, but still not bad). This meant that we (‘we’ the club) made great progress, as we (‘we’ the club, again) weren’t fighting against gusting winds. In fact by the end of day one only three or four yachts and the pontoons were left to crane-in.

Indefatigable Banks, our Macwester Malin was in the air shortly after lunch on the Saturday. Everything went according to plan, which is always a relief. No matter how prepared we are (that’s a generic, sailor cohort ‘we’), there’s always the worry that something might fail, somehow.

Thankfully, moments later we (collective ‘we’; the yacht, the crew, and I) were in the water and onboard checking all the seacocks were watertight and there was no sign of any water ingress. As usual, one of my first tasks is to burp our (the yacht’s) deep-sea seal, which lubricates the seal and lets some seawater into the bilges in the process. Then we (collective ‘we’, as above) continued preparations to take our (collective ‘our’ as above, again) yacht over to her home for the next six months.

I think it’s probably best that I stop clarifying what I mean by ‘we’ and ‘our’ …and let you (the reader) figure that out for yourself.

It was truly fantastic to be out on the water again. We (no, I’m not going there) did discuss throwing up a sail or two like our chums on Calloo had managed earlier, but it was after high water and we (nope) still had quite a few tasks to nail before close of play.

Reluctantly we headed into the harbour and having popped our Macwester Malin on the mooring, we shut everything down and waited for the club boat to pick us up.

One of the things we wanted to do before the tide dropped completely was row our tender over to the mooring. We enjoyed the journey, but it has to be said that the pull of the tide against us through the Ghauts was pretty strong, and I had to work hard to make progress.

Once our Macwester Malin was safely ensconced in her summer home, we headed back to the club once more to finish-off a number of other tasks. Eventually, we made it to the club patio; the bar was open and we (I just can’t help myself; a club-wide ‘we’) had a really enjoyable time in the sun.

Season 2017 is here at last!

%d bloggers like this: