Cruise in Company – Saturday 11 August 2012

A wry view from Blue Ilex. (With thanks to Graham Mitchell)  Photos John Spencely & Tom Wilson.

Another good sailing day dawned with a gentle wind – the Sailing Secretary Robertson’s choice of dates for the season’s three CiC events was worth an accumulator bet at the bookies in rain sodden easterly wind dominated June.
Eleven skippers/old salts turned up for the briefing at 09.30.  Discussion ensued as to the best anchorage in what seemed to be a SE wind: the weather forecasts indicated an E or NE wind.  Conclusion – stick to the plan of Inchkeith as the first destination and hope that the forecasters were right meaning that Starleyburn would be a tenable second anchorage in easterlies in the afternoon.
Skippers were quick off the mark and out of the door to the ferry before the organiser could impart all his pearls of wisdom.
The gentle SE wind turned out to be fluky and a more dominant E breeze gradually asserted itself.  The fleet converged on the Inchkeith Harbour and vicinity by 12.00, anchoring in a tight bunch except for Dernier Sou who poked her nose into the harbour and then disappeared with a sniff for the rest of the day.  The sun came out and although the wind crept round the island and had a southerly slant a peaceful lunch hour was enjoyed.  The lack of a rib for ferrying ashore was a downside.  But this did not stop the resourceful with their own dinghies.

Going ashore at Inchkeith

Shortly Lorne Byatt turned up single handed in his Twinkle Twelve (TT) clinker dinghy after setting out late – a creditable sail – and lunched and ‘abluted’ aboard Blue Ilex.

The message circulated around the fleet that the move to Starleyburn would start at 13.30 and they were away smartly.  It was soon apparent that a fresh easterly was running out of the Inchkeith wind shadow and the boats were soon strung out in a line for Burntisland following TT.  The four miles were quickly covered and by 15.00 there were 9 yachts anchored in the Starleyburn Bay having safely navigated in past the Common Rocks and Ross Point.  Blue Ilex tucked in close to the shore in 2.5 metres, good holding in black mud, as advised in the pilot, with Hoodlum and Peak Flow not far away.  The other 6 remaining, Varrich and TT (bravely in the conditions) having headed home early, anchored much nearer Starleyburn harbour with poorer holding in weed and more exposure in easterlies.  Seals dotted the rocks off Ross Point singing occasionally.
The organiser did his calculations for the return stern chase and then rowed around the fleet with instructions and timings, interrupting siestas, afternoon teas and maintenance sessions.

Graham Mitchell delivering the Racing Instructions at Starleyburn

All skippers were gracious and ‘under calm exteriors’ seemed raring to go!
The race back started at 16.30.  Tamara tried to sneak off early drawing a headmasterly, reprimanding bellow from Tom Wilson (TW) (for heaven’s sake this is a fun race) on Blue Ilex the start yacht.  Orithya the other first starter and slowest on handicap struggled to rid her anchor of a prize seaweed harvest and crossed the line 2 minutes late to the handicapper’s chagrin.

TW urged the (sea)-dog to help with the jib sheets but was ignored.  The 3 yachts in second group (Saluki, Serenity and Silkie) started well 5 minutes later.  Next at 9 minutes lag were Starspinner and Hoodlum.  Singlehanded Starspinner’s bow decoration of nutritious seaweed and Hoodlum’s flapping main were noted by TW for ribaldry in the clubhouse.


Finally the scratch yacht Peak Flow with her Bilge Boy (aka Commodore Primrose) perspiring over full genoa sheets was off with a bone in her teeth and a glance at the Ross Point rocks from cool skipper and Rear Commodore Spencely.

The passage back to Granton was swift with the stiff E wind and all seemed to finish within a few minutes as seen from Blue Ilex a mile behind.  Thence to the ‘wash-up’ where Peak Flow was adjudged the winner of the champagne – Spencely’s first race win since the year dot.  Saluki in second missed out again but skipper Gillon drowned his sorrows in a plate of fish and chips.

The organiser was sent back to the handicapping school.

Learning Points

A rib would again have been useful to assist with the organisation and shoregoing;
A winter talk/discussion session on anchoring techniques/equipment might be of interest;
Every yacht should have a Bilge Boy
Starleyburn anchorage is worth a visit in easterlies


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