Posts Tagged ‘twin-keel’

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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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Single to Dalgety Bay please

May 25, 2017

As the crew had prior commitments, it was down to yours truly to get our 32ft Macwester Malin to her destination for the weekend on the Friday. I had work to complete on the engine bay hatch (see previous post here), and therefore I set off in the morning so that I had the afternoon to get my head down.

There was very little wind on the journey east, which suited me as this was easily the most adventurous single-handed sail that I’ve tackled. As luck would have it, an unwelcome swell appeared out of nowhere just as I was coming into the harbour at Dalgety Bay. Fortunately things settled a little as I rounded the end of the pier. It was a neep tide and having overshot the stairwell, I realised that the leap up on to the pier was too risky, and so had no choice other than to manoeuvre astern …using the thruster to keep the bow steady. It was all good.

I worked on the engine bay hatch until the crew arrived by road later in the day. It was a peaceful evening, however that peace was shattered in the early hours of the following morning by some late-night revellers intent on revelling. With raised voices for an extended period, I got up and kept a look-out for upwards of thirty minutes.

Saturday was mainly soggy and we didn’t venture out apart from a trip to the local store for provisions. There was a brief spell of sunshine late afternoon, but that was followed by increased winds on Saturday night. Despite this, the weather didn’t dampen our experience too much, as this was the first trip away from our home port this season, assuming that our voyage from Whitehaven to Largs on the west coast a few weeks ago didn’t count.

Sunday morning came around all too quickly. We set sail as soon as we floated and headed west towards the bridges. On passing under the Forth Road Bridge, I presented a wooden boomerang to the crew. She momentarily paused, before throwing the boomerang back towards the bridge in an act of commemoration for a close friend’s son who had leapt from the bridge a few weeks previously.

Leaving the bridges behind us, we threw our genoa up and pressed on with the motor to meet friends from our club at Blackness. We arrived just about the same time as everyone else, which was a pleasant surprise as we weren’t at all sure that we were even going to make it given the neepy tide.

With almost nothing under our keels and the tide falling, there wasn’t time for much more than a handshake and a quick beer at the Blackness Boat Club bar. The shot above was taken from our Macwester Malin’s stern as all the club boats made a hasty retreat.

Thanks to Blackness Boat Club for their hospitality. Hopefully we’ll have more time to spend the next time we visit.

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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!!

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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!

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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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Incredible weekend in Aberdour

July 13, 2016

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All week the weather forecasters warned of gales, torrential rain, doom and gloom, so we had no plans to go anywhere over the weekend. In particular, we’ve been frustrated that there hasn’t been a suitable weekend weather window to visit Culross, a recently rejuvenated destination on the River Forth with a partially rebuilt pier. We’ve made the trip to Culross by road several times, checking out the rocks and the best place to come alongside. That adventure would have to wait for another day.

Having studied the forecast locally in detail, it looked as though the worst of the weather was going to miss the Firth of Forth, so we decided that we would take a gamble on heading out on to the water knowing that we could always park our Macwester Malin for a few days if necessary.

We made it onboard late on Friday night, and settled down early as we knew there was an early rise in the morning if we were to catch the tide. We set off before 7am. I say “we”, but the crew remained snuggled-up warm and cosy in the aft cabin while I cast off single-handed. There was a noticeable east coast haar concealing the top half of the Forth Bridge, which only became visible up close [above].

The crew eventually got out of her lazy bed as we were heading past Hound Point towards Dalgety Bay, just in time to see our first puffin of the season. Unfortunately I wasn’t prepared, so can’t provide any evidence in the form of a photograph. I promise will make up for that later in this post with a gratuitous fluffy animal photograph of some sort.

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The haar wasn’t so dense that we were unable to see where we were heading. The shot above shows us approaching Braefoot gas terminal to our port, with the headland south-east of Aberdour just visible in the distance. Actually, we hadn’t planned on heading to Aberdour, however we spotted a yacht against the pier wall on our approach to Dalgety Bay, and weren’t convinced that there was enough room for us alongside.

Handy windspeed info for Braefoot & Inchcolm here.

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It felt really, really good to arrive in Aberdour; it seemed like it had been far too long since we were there. Of course, we had been there over the winter months by road, most notably when we had stumbled upon former UK prime minister Gordon Brown strolling along the promenade deep in conversation with Labour deputy leader Tom Watson.

On arrival, a local skipper was kind enough to catch our lines. His yacht, Markate is pictured off our stern above. Inevitably we got talking, and he told me of his recent trip to the pier at Culross which he informed me had recently been rebuilt. He proudly stated that Markate was the first visiting yacht to Culross for over 100 years. On hearing the news of his visit …my pupils narrowed, my veins started throbbing with anger, and I swear the pigment of my skin flushed with a vivid green. I picked up him up with both hands, effortlessly lifted him above my head, and tossed his helpless body over the sea wall.

Okay, so that all unfolded in my head. In reality I was heartily shaking the skipper’s hand and congratulating him on being an adventurous trailblazer.

Baa humbug!

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Above is the gratuitous fluffy animal photograph that I promised you earlier, as some sort of reparation for my hissy-fit. Best we could tell, this nosey parker spent all weekend looking out from beneath the gate.

The weather was substantially better than we expected, and we had sunshine for much of the time, including walks on the beach and along the coast. When the rain put in an appearance, we simply zipped-up our cockpit tent and took the opportunity to relax. We didn’t do all that much. We caught up with the harbour-master, and as usual we enjoyed gin and tonic along at a local friend’s beach-front house. Other than that, we just took it easy.

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We were due to set sail back to our mooring at around 4.15 on Sunday afternoon, however I prepped our Macwester Malin earlier than required as I wanted to watch Andy Murray play in the Wimbledon final. I streamed the match live to my iPad, as I found the radio commentary annoying. The shot above shows the settled conditions as we left Aberdour behind.

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Once we were out on the water, I found it easier to stream the match to my mobile, which was less of a handful at the helm. We decided to motor our Macwester Malin back home because we were heading into the wind, I reckoned that the conditions were going to deteriorate, and yes …I wanted to watch the end of the match, which was beginning to look good for Andy. More than could be said for the weather, which as expected, was going downhill.

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While we were being bounced around a bit, approaching the Forth Bridge at around 5pm, Andy had already won the first two sets, and the third set was now in the latter stages of a tie-breaker. Would this be the end or was there going to be another set? Just as the match reached championship point, the iPlayer live feed stopped dead [above]. Surely not? After three hours? Right at the very pinnacle of the whole tournament?

Frustrating?

Well, it’s fair to say that my pupils narrowed, my veins started throbbing with anger, and…

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