Earlier Commodores’ Blog June to August 2015

This is the content of the Commodore’s Blog earlier in 2015.  It may be of interest for looking back to the summer of 2015 during the dark winter months.
Tuesday 25 August

I don’t need telling that a Blog is only effective if it is updated regularly.  There just seems to be a lot going on lately, on the water, at the club and, dare I say it, ashore in the City.  If anybody thinks retirement is leisurely just think again.

Anyway, the main point of interest over the past couple of weeks was the East Coast Sailing Festival which this year was at Port Edgar.  We were particularly interested in the management of this as in two year’s time it is scheduled to be at Granton.  As usual our club committee boat and RIB were pressed into use for the event, as well as a number of club boats either competing in the racing or taking part in the cruising event to Burnt Island and the activities ashore.  The weather was variable with some good days, some sunny days and some very windy days.  Through all of that I understand a good time was had by all.

My own involvement was in taking our committee boat, Royal Forth, up on the eve of the event with my good friend John.  There was a bit of a flap on earlier in the week as we could not start her, but this was tracked to a loose wire.  We then had an easy run up to Port Edgar and left her on a pontoon for the next day.  On the Friday I was duty driver of Royal Forth and our designated duty was as press boat.  The event that day was a pair of orienteering races and the photographer,  Alistair wanted to get some action shots, having got pictures of massed starts and finishes at the previous day’s passage races.

We did get some pics of the start of the fast boats in Division 1, but then followed the pack down to the first buoy getting the desired shots on the way and then as they rounded the buoy.  His aim was to show the energy and effort of the racing rather than just rows of boats racing.  How successful he was we shall see shortly as he is going to let me have some of those photos for a post on this site.  When they come, I shall put a link to them here.

Where they will appear in the press I am not sure, but it all helps promote our wonderful and exciting sport.

Tuesday 11 August

Yet another few hours out on the water this morning, with a brisk sail out towards Aberdour and a slow sail back.  And today, despite being a weekday, there were half a dozen other boats out on the water, including a shake down outing for the new little Shrimper.  One couple I spoke to planned to potter about on the boat this afternoon and then sail out this evening to see the meteor shower.   They should get an uninterrupted view if the clouds hold off.

Fortunately I was not out yesterday when bad weather resulted in a fatal accident with a small fishing boat further out the Forth.  A timely reminder that we need to be careful out there.  See missing fishermen.

Monday 10 August

Well I did get out yesterday and we had an excellent sail.  There was virtually no sun and only the slightest spot of rain but it was great out on the water.  The wind was supposed to be very gusty but mostly behaved itself with some exhilarating sailing.  We took advantage of a slight lull in the wind to go round the inside of Inchgnome, hoping to catch the gnomes unawares.  Unfortunately they were fidgeting and I didn’t get any clear shots of them.

I am expecting to see a change on the flag mast at the club as we revert to the previous process of only flying the Club’s ensign when the boatman is on duty.  Of late it has been left up continuously which is not only bad etiquette but the ensign suffers as well.  I suspect that most of our members and readers already know why we drop the ensign at 21:00. or when it gets dark and raise it again in the morning at 08:00.   In 1687, when  Secretary of the Admiralty, Samuel Pepys instructed that flags be raised at sunrise or 08:00 and lowered at sunset or 21:00.  He had noted that flags left flying on the Royal Navy vessels all the time quickly got tatty.  He also observed that nobody could see them at night anyway.  By reducing the hours he doubled the life of the flags thereby saving costs and keeping the Royal Navy looking smart.  The Club does have a smart one for special occasions but by reverting to the previous process we not only make the working one last longer, but make it clear when the boatman is on duty as well.

Saturday 8 August

I have been trying to write this since Wednesday evening which was the start of the Festival Series but I have been out sailing instead.  Two days in a row, which is rare this season and I plan to try to get out tomorrow morning as well!  Yesterday afternoon was a perfect day out on the water and yet there was only one other boat out there.  This morning was much busier, being a Saturday, and a number of boats turned out for the West Cup , a joint passage race.  This is a long distance race which passes round Inchkeith and a number of the channel and cardinal buoys as well as race markers.  It was a good day for it with a brisk, occasionally gusting, wind.  My outing was much shorter but nontheless very enjoyable.

But back for a moment to the Festival Series.  Although it is one of our Open events, we failed to attract any outside competitors this year.  To make up for that we had an excellent Club turn out of 10 to 12 boats (on the different evenings) including some who were either new to racing or very occasional competitors.  This was most encouraging and they were rewarded with three very good and varied evenings’ sailing.  (The only downside was a very heavy downpour on Wednesday at the end of the racing.)  Let us hope that we continue to get better numbers out racing.

Sunday 2 August

I can’t believe that it is August already.  Looking at the web cam (which I am afraid is pointing to the sky) it looks like October.  It certainly feels like it, which is most unfortunate for some of the members who are having one of their weekends away.  I did manage to get out for a fine sail this week, though I was wearing the full set of oilies.  At this time of year it should be a short sleeved shirt.  We managed to do a circuit of Inchcolm, checking the gnomes as we went as were the passengers on the Maid of the Forth.

CIMG5629

This week sees our annual Festival Series, from Wednesday to Friday in the evenings.  At the moment it looks like sunny intervals and brisk winds which should make for some good racing.

In just over two weeks time it is the East Coast Sailing Festival at Port Edgar, which includes a yacht muster over the weekend.  Our Cruising Secretary is organising a stern chase as a feeder race, there is reduced price berthing at Port Edgar and there is lots going on.  See ECSF Muster for details.  Note entries have to be in by 18:00 on Friday 7 August as numbers are limited for the BurntIsland visit.

P.S. I will correct the web camera this morning.  Someone has knocked it from its usual setting.

Saturday 25 July

Another week passes without managing any real sailing.  I was out on Thursday evening driving the Committee Boat for the Evening Points race but that was as close as I got to being on the water.  It wasn’t a bad evening though it started off a brisk force 5 which deterred some of the boats.  For the three boats which persevered, they had a good race with the winds easing a little as the evening progressed and the sea state calming down a bit.  The three boats were one from each of the main groups of our racing keelboats, a Dragon, an H-Boat and a 707.

We had a contact today regarding another junior champion who wishes to join our club when she comes to Edinburgh University in the autumn.  She is a keen Laser Radial sailor, and has topped the girls’ national rankings in her age groups for the last three years.  She is one of just five girls in the National Youth Squad.  She is presently in Portugal representing GB in the European Youth championships, and is off to Canada in August to represent GB in the world championships.  Also taking part and high up the rankings is our own Jamie Calder and Lewis Smith.  See the results.

Tuesday 21 July

I was looking at the RNLI magazine recently and was reminded that it cost £149.6M to run the RNLI in 2014, which is around £410,000 per day.  It is a huge comfort to us when we go to sea (though we probably don’t think about it specifically) to know that if we do get into difficulties the RNLI will turn out, whatever the conditions, to help us.  What is  of concern though is that the lifeboat at Queensferry is Scotland’s busiest inshore lifeboat, primarily because of having to rescue people from Crammond Island.   See the piece in the newsletter, Forth Sight, in the bar.  This is a publication from the Forth Estuary Forum.  You can see their new web site at : http://www.forthestuaryforum.co.uk/.  Meanwhile, if you havent’ donated to the RNLI lately, please do so or better still become an Offshore Member or remember them in your will.

At the yacht club we are looking for volunteers again.  The Festival Series, our next Open event starts in just over two weeks and we will be needing help.  Two weeks later it is the East Coast Sailing Festival (which used to be the East Coast Sailing Week) at Port Edgar.  There will be lots going on so apart from volunteering to help (driving Royal Forth or the RIB or assisting with either) turn up to share in the activity.  See the web pages ECSF.  In two years time we will be hosting the event with the Corinthians so we need to learn from this year’s event.

These events which greatly enhance our sport can only be undertaken thanks to the input of our volunteers.

Saturday 18 July

It’s another very windy Saturday and despite dry weather with sunny periods the Joint Passage Race with FCYC has had to be postponed and our Saturday Series race is likely to go the same way.  Fortunately tomorrow the winds for the Crawford Cup look better.

During the past week there has been at least one day when the sailing was good.  On Wednesday the sailing conditions were near perfect for the first of the 3 planned Family Cruise/Sailing days.  Only 2 boats turned out,  Border Maid and the Wayfarer, Lucky Dip, and they headed off to Aberdour.  I joined them in Embleton for the run out and the run back though I wasn’t able to stay.  But it was a beautiful sail, with  a good force 3 on the way over and force 4 for the sail back all in moderately sunny conditions.  It was a timely reminder as to why we all want to go sailing.

Tuesday 14 July

I am puzzled why the space probe, New Horizons, being 3 billion miles from earth just off Pluto, can send back pictures and images whilst I, out on the Forth, a couple of miles off Crammond, have difficult with a phone signal back home in Edinburgh.  It’s a conundrum.

That aside, tomorrow sees the start of three days of possible Family Sailing, from 1300 each day.  It starts tomorrow at 1300 when the boatman comes onto duty.  Newcomers again welcome.  See the event.

Monday 13 July

Our Cruise in Company yesterday was a great success.  Despite the strongish winds forecast there was a good turnout and some 9 boats reported for the briefing.  There was also a young man who had taken up the challenge to come and try before considering joining and who opted to crew for me on my Cornish Crabber.  Taking into account the winds, tides and timescale it was clear that the best destination was Port Laing.   If you don’t know where that is, and not a lot of people do, it is in St David’s Bay, just south of Inverkeithing and before the railway bridge.  There is a sandy bottom, and old pier (not of any use) and good shelter from Westerlies.

So it was close hauled all the way up with most people heading directly there, though I went almost to Aberdour and then tacked up Mortimer Deep.  We all dropped anchor in about 4m of water and enjoyed our lunch.  Then with time running down for the water taxi, we took advantage of wind and tide for a very brisk ride back to Granton, where the House team had put on afternoon tea for us all just to round off the day.

All in all a great sail and a great day out.  The next Cruise in Company should be in August.  Watch the Cruising page for information.

Saturday 11 July

I note that our web hit rate has dropped back to normal levels of between 80 and 100 hits a day, which isn’t too bad.  We had 280 hits on one day during the Orkney race which is very satisfying for the volunteers updating the web site.

The week has been fairly normal, with Training for Cadets on Tuesday and Evening Points on Wednesday and Thursday.  Also on Thursday I (and a couple of other members) attended a meeting in Dunfermline on Sedimentation and Dredging organised by the Forth Estuary Forum.  Because of our active experience with dredging we knew some of the information already but it was very interesting nontheless.  I did learn that whereas I had believed that Boswall Bittern operated as SAD (Silt Agitation Dredging) it is more commonly know as WID (Water Injection Dredging).  The vessels for this can get very big and expensive so ours is only a little WID.  We won’t bother with an acronym for that.

Tomorrow, if the winds ease up a little we have our next Cruise in Company.  Be at the club for 10:00.  We should be back between 3 and 4 pm and afternoon teas will be available in the club house.  Bring potential new members and we will find a place for them on somebody’s boat.

Wednesday 8 July

Notice has just gone out to remind members about the Cruise in Company on Sunday.   It currently looks breezy with sunny periods.  We are using it as an opportunity to introduce potential members, so if  you know of anybody who might be tempted, bring them along.  Starts 10:00 & bring your lunch.  Back ashore between 3 and 4 pm with a gathering in the club house afterwards – perhaps with tea and cakes.

Today, John and I had to go out on the launch to measure the depth on the inside of the pontoon.  We have been doing some dredging to prove the capability of Boswall Bittern to do maintence dredging rather than a big dredge every 4 years.

Whilst down there, I saw the giant cruise liner, Britannia, moored off Leith and using the new cruise passenger ferry landing point at Newhaven.  The Britannia is one of the world’s biggest cruise ships and is on its maiden voyage round the British Isles.  See the press report.  Unfortunately I didn’t  have the camera with me and by the time I got the (more limited) phone out she had disappeared into the rain showers.

Saturday, 4 July

What a contrast from yesterday to today.  Today it’s typical Edinburgh weather with the only consolation being that the heavy rain might wash off some of the bird droppings from the boat.

However, yesterday was a fine sailing day and yet there were only about 3 boats out on the water.  Fortunately I was one of them and I was joined by a young couple who lived nearby and wanted to see what it was like out on the water, rather than just looking at it.  Considering them potential new members of the club I was delighted to have them join me and they had a great time.  We had a very pleasant sail in the sunshine out to Inchcolm and Inchgnome.

Did you not know about Inchgnome?  It can be seen as Swallow Craig on the charts and in the pilot books but if you look closely at this photo (click on it to see the detail) you will see how it has acquired a new name:Inchgnome

Nobody knows how they took up residence here, but (it is reported source unknown) that Historic Scotland told some of their staff to go onto the rock to remove the ‘intruders” and were advised that it was not possible for Health & Safety reasons.  Note that Inchgnome is not part of the round the islands Season’s Challenge, but it is only a matter of time.

Anyway, the wind strengthened on the return trip and we had to severely reduce sail to keep the outing pleasant and I delivered our guests safely ashore.

So for any readers of this page who are not members, but who think they might like to take up sailing, do contact the club through the usual channels.  We are happy to provide “try before you buy” though we are not in the game of casual day trips.  Having said that, our Open Day next May (part of the RYA Push the Boat Out event) will be a fun day to come and try it.

And although we do not have a formal Open Day this year, we can suggest that anybody considering membership, or new members without their own boats, should come along to our next Cruise in Company on Sunday 12 July at 10 am.  We can’t guarantee the weather, but, unless it  is too windy  and cancelled, we can promise a lot of fun.

Wednesday, 1 July

Members will have received a request to volunteer for pontoon duty today.  This is yet another area of the club activities that depends on the input of volunteers.  Sharing the EML pontoon with the Corinthians, the clubs do turn and turn about to check the pontoons for visitors and usage by members.  It requires a morning and evening visit for the designated week to note down the boats on the pontoon.  This allows EML on behalf of the clubs to ensure that all dues are collected for usage of the pontoons.  So if you can spare a few house and live close to the club, please step up for one (or more) week of duty.

Back on the water, members should be aware of the Season’s Challenge.  This is the round the islands race that you complete in your own time  and is a chance for everybody, weather a racer or a cruiser, to have a bit of fun.  Anyway, I have been informed that one of the club’s smallest boats, Charles Morton’s Wayfarer, has taken up the challenge an already has one of the islands “bagged”.  So come on the rest of you.  Give it a go.

Tuesday, 30 June

I was right about the Dragons going to Largs.  Four of the club boats have been competing in the Scottish Championships and showing the Club flag.  Well done to them all.  See the full report in the post.

At last the weather is improving this week, thought the wind is a bit up or down.  Boatman every afternoon so if you are lucky enough not to be working its a chance to get out on the water.  No racing this week, though.

Last week I pointed up the web statistics.  I note today that the Web Cam has been knocked off its top spot by the report on the Orkney Race.

Thursday, 25 June

It’s the usual variable weather.  Days of rain and strong wind then today, when it was supposed to be fair with a decent wind, it was almost windless this morning.  I got out for a couple of hours but only got half an hour actually sailing.  It was nice on the water though.

I was reading the new Yearbook at the doctor’s yesterday (nothing serious), having taken a copy with me to read in the waiting room and then leave for somebody else to pick up, and I read the excellent article on the Dragons by Cathy Sedgworth.   I noted that it is a big event in Largs next week for the Dragons featuring both the Scottish Championship and the Edinburgh Cup, which is their National Championship.  (You will need to read the piece to see why its called the Edinburgh Cup.)  I noted this morning that a couple of our Dragons (we have 6 still listed for the Club) were loaded up in the yard and wondered if they were off to Largs.  Good luck if they are.

Finally this week I want to sing the praises of our web site.  I regularly check the performance figures for the site and it is gratifying to see that the normal steady level, with a lot of views of the web camera, peaks significantly for reports on events like Helgoland and the Orkney Race.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 10.19.57It is also pleasing to see that my Blog is not wasted and gets a reasonable response.

Orkney Race Blog

This is now set off to a separate Post

Wednesday 17 June

I could say it is back to normal at the club, but then what is normal?  After the excitement of the weekend, now covered in full with photos and results on this web, there are already plans to make the event even better next year with a wash-up meeting shortly.

Meanwhile the next event is our biennial Orkney race.  We have a good number of entrants this year, including two boats from Orkney who have sailed down for the race back starting Thursday evening.  They were due to take it slowly down, but because of the winds forecast for today, which have now arrived, they sailed down without stopping,  arriving  on Monday.  So if you see them on the pontoon or in the club do give them a good welcome.

The coming weekend  sees the next Cruise in Company (Sunday) starting at 3 pm, though there is a small body  of opinion that would like to start off in the morning and be out over the tides.  See the club note for details.

Sunday 14 June

A better day on the water for the  Edinburgh Gin Regatta, though a little less wind.  Not so much swell and a bit brighter.  I managed to get out on the water and got a few photos of the race for the web site.  Then on round Inchmickery and headed back to Granton.  This time I had to cross the fleet in mid race which was rather interesting.  A bit like crossing a traffic separation lane, having to heave-to or tack to avoid cutting across in front of the racing boats.  I must say they all kept coming without hesitation or deviation and I hope that I didn’t put any of them off.  It didn’t look like it.

It looked as if they were all finished by 3 pm, so it was back to the bar for drinks, prizegiving and buffet, with RFYC volunteers and bar staff doing stirling work as usual.  (Not forgetting the FCYC members and their input to this joint event.)

Saturday 13 June – Regatta Day

After a couple of very fine days out on the water (feeling sorry for the poor folks who have to work) we now focus on the Edinburgh Regatta in more normal Edinburgh weather.  Dull and cloudy with variable winds.

Anybody listening to Radio Scotland yesterday afternoon may have caught Rear Commodore Patrick Carnie talking about this event, a regular in our club calendar.  Two days of challenging racing on the wonderful Firth of Forth.  It started yesterday evening with a feeder race from Port Edgar and registration at the club for those crews not already signed up.

Today there are a number of races covering different classes of boat with a similar set of races tomorrow.  I  joined our sponsors (but no press representation) on the hospitality boat.  The sponsors were represented by Jennifer, their marketing lady  and the prize winner (plus friends) of their naming competition for the new Edinburgh Gin.  The new Gin is called Seaside and is the classic Edinburgh Gin infused with Coastal Botanicals (a combination of seaweed, scurvy grass, ground ivy and gorse flowers to lend the gin a slightly sweet yet refreshingly minerally taste ).  Only 1000 bottles of this limited edition have been produced and they are being showcased at the RFYC bar this weekend.  We even have a Maritime Cocktail featuring the new gin with martini.  Give it a try if you aren’t driving.  Thibault is back for the weekend to do the cocktail shaking for us.

Anyway, it was  a cold but exhilarating  day on the water. Our guests were able to see the whole of the first set of races and the start of the second, all from the comfort of the wheelhouse and deck of The Conserver, courtesy of Bill Simpson and Seahunter Marine.  

Wednesday 10 June

The tide is in, the sun is out, the winds are light and there is a boatman on duty.  I’m going sailing.

Beautiful evening light on Wednesday - photo by Hillary Sillitto

Beautiful evening light on Wednesday – photo by Hillary Sillitto

Tuesday 9 June

You will have had a reminder on the front page about the Edinburgh Regatta this weekend.  Usually a very busy event, open to all clubs and visitors, not just the two local clubs, RFYC and FCYC who are hosting the event jointly.  The forecast for the weekend looks mixed but dry.  The day starts off with bacon rolls and coffee and the tide gives us sailing during the day followed by plenty of evening activity in the club house from late afternoon.    Last year our Sponsor, Edinburgh Gin helped us to sort our some Gin cocktails and we hope to repeat that this year.  The Regatta Committee still needs some volunteers (see recent emails to members) and there is still time to enter for the event if you want to race, with entries on Friday evening at RFYC.

The Council had a rather protracted meeting last night with one topic being the attraction of new members.  If you are reading this and not yet joined the club, but are tempted by going sailing why not come down and give it a try.  Someone will happily take you out on their boat so that you can try it and see.  Contact us for more information.

Monday 8 June

I have been reminded that the closing date for the Orkney Screen Shot 2013-06-15 at 07.31.38Race is this Friday.  Currently we have potentially 7 or 8 boats committed with 2 of them from Orkney.  Not sure if we have any home grown boats this year, but there is still time.  For the last race I had excellent posts back from the boats in transit.  Given a similar feedback this year, the race will be tracked on  this blog.  (Its good to know that Tom Wilson is watching this from the West.  Hi Tom!)

Sunday 7 June

It’s yet another disappointing weekend for sailing with winds gusting to between 40 and 50 knots yesterday.  Today is not as windy (only force 5) and with a boatman from 3 pm,  a few hardy people may get out with a reef or two in.  There is no racing today and no bar service.

As a foot note to the visit of the German boats, our cadets went down on the pontoon on Tuesday evening and were excited and inspired by what they saw.  I am told that some of them will be looking to try and get a passage on one of the boats at the time of the next race in 2017, which is the 50 year anniversary of the event.

A couple of our cadets have also been active at the Scottish Powerboat Championships on Saturday and did very well.  See the post for the details.  Meanwhile a few hardy volunteers put in a couple of hours in the yard on Saturday morning to clear rubbish into the Helgoland skip before it is taken away.

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