Commodore’s Blog January to June 2016

 Archive…
Wednesday 15 June
The final few moorings are being completed this week.
This Saturday sees two races in the Saturday series as well as the Corinthian’s Sail Row, Run event.  A call is out for an assistant Race Officer and a RIB driver to cover these.
Sunday is the next Cruise in Company, so a busy weekend.
Friday 10 June

The Open Cruising evening was a success last night, though with little pre-notification of who was coming we had more people than spaces.  However, we got out three boats and took with us 4 newcomers including a 7 year old girl who had a great time.  The newcomers came following the Push the Boat Out event.  The wind was brisk, and upper E3 but there was some sun.  With an easterly, despite the tide being against us on the return, we opted to head towards Leith and take a turn round the cruise liner anchored off.  Unfortunately as we set off so did she and we just took a turn towards Burnt Island before returning to Granton.   The visitors greatly enjoyed the experience and we hope that they will think of joining us.

Meanwhile the evening series had a good evening’s racing and all enjoyed the bar afterwards.

Tuesday 7 June

Our racing programme is now well advanced, with the normal turnout being between 8 and 12 boats.  For the competitors and results see the Racing Results.  The Royal Eastern Regatta on Saturday was followed up with a barbeque which on this occasion managed to take place in good weather.

I couldn’t be there as I was away in the Channel Islands for a few days.  I did call in to the St Helier Yacht Club on Friday afternoon to see what a Club with 3,500 members looks like.  There weren’t many members around in the afternoon, but there were a large number of tables set for the evening meal, which I am told is quite nomally well attended.  They have a lovely club room overlooking the harbour (so do we) but they also have a dedicated chef.  (See the Friday sample menu.)  Their lunch menu also is quite comprehensive, but then with 3,500 members they can sustain it.  Something for us to aspire to I think.  Let’s all draw in a few more members.  If each member could bring in 3 new members ….

Meanwhile the volunteers keep our Club going.  This week there has been reinforcing going on at the bottom of the Club pontoon ramp, the issue of larger fenders on the launches has been ongoing and our resident boatbuilder has been winning prizes at the Beale Park Boat Show.  And the processing of the dredging licence is an ongoing saga.

Meanwhile this  Thursday, 9 June, is the third of our Open Cruising evenings.  The process, you will recall, is to meet at the club at 18:00 allocate crew to skippers and go out for a sail.  The crew can be members without boats or newcomers who are thinking they might join the Club.  The skippers are prepared to take out people who do not normally crew with them (though it doesn’t stop you taking you usual crew).  The objective is to go out for a sail in company, in a direction to be determined on the evening depending on the prevailing conditions.

To pre-register interest, just email rfyc.crewshare@gmail.com.  Otherwise just turn up and see if there is space or crew for you.  The current weather forecast is for a comfortable breeze but cloudy.  But who knows till you get there

Wednesday 1 June

It’s June already and there do not seem to have been many days to get out sailing this year.  I managed to get out on Tuesday in a little Pandora.  The forecast was for sun and winds N or NE 4+.  (Though the Met Office Offshore forecast was for Force 5 and gusting.)  We motored out of the harbour in flat calm.  Not a breath of wind.  Motoring up towards Crammond where there was a whisper of wind across the surface of the water we managed to get a bit of lift to the sails and eased along at 0.9 knots, with the wind coming more from the East than the North.  It did give us the opportunity to see clearly up river to where the supporting cables of the new bridge tower above the rail bridge.  When the sun is out they reflect the light and look like silver.  A wonderful sight.  Eventually the wind picked up and we had a great sail back into Granton with a pleasant E3.  So much for the forecast.

Thursday 26 May

A chilly and damp day today with few commitments for tonight’s Open Cruising evening.  However, there will be somebody there to arrange it if people do turn up.

I was reminded today that next Tuesday is 100 years since the Battle of Jutland.  See the RN page for details.  There are celebrations at various points around the UK, but the next major commemorative event is with HMS Sutherland visiting north of the border to South Queensferry on the Firth of Forth; nearby Rosyth was the home of Admiral Beatty’s battle-cruisers which suffered terrible losses at Jutland (HMS Indefatigable and Queen Mary both blew up with near total loss of life).

On a personal note, I shall be looking for opportunities to sail with other members over the next few weeks as tomorrow my Cornish Crabber 24 will be going away to a new home on the West Coast.  Though sad to see her go, I am looking forward to the new boat, whatever that turns out to be.  Regular watchers of the sailing on the Forth will notice that my red sails and green hull are no longer a frequent sight on the water.

Sunday 22 May

What a great day yesterday with the RYA Push The Boat Out.  Despite the weather, windy and showery with occasional sunshine, we had nearly 100 visitors with about 90 signing up to go out on one or more of the boats.  Some even went out on two different keelboats as well as a RIB.  Everybody said how much they enjoyed it and the members who were helping also enjoyed the buzz and being able to share our passion with novices.  My thanks go out to these members and skippers with boats who worked solidly through the day with barely a break.  The Sea Cadets enjoyed being with us and Trinity Unit won the Outram Trophy.  They were also the previous winners when it was last run in 2008.  Interestingly, their boat was called Stewart Boyd, after the long term member of both RFYC and FCYC.  The cadets were also out giving a demonstration in the Toppers and Kate gave a demonstration in the RIB.

We hope that we have given some of our visitors the taste of sailing and boating in Edinburgh and that some of them will consider joining us.

Today was the first of the Cruises in Company and a handful of boats set out for the afternoon.  Thursday sees the second of the Open Cruising evenings at 6 pm at the club.  Wind and weather currently look good.  Email rfyc.crewshare@gmail.com if you want to come, either with or without a boat.

Friday 20 May

A busy week with the final preparations for the Push The Boat Out Open Day.  We have a number of keelboats ready to take visitors out and two RIBS.  Unfortunately no dinghies, as none are yet ready for the water.  However publicity appears to be going well so we will see how many people turn up on the day.  Today was a final tidy of the yard and securing any hazards for unwary guests.  Only a handful of people were available to help, but they worked hard and the yard is looking very good, although it is still a working boatyard.  Our huge thanks to the helpers.  All we need now is dry conditions and a little less wind than currently forecast.

Also this week the Strategic Review moved on to the workshop stages, with a good turnout for both workshop evenings.  Some interesting views were submitted, many of which are challenging, some of which are already in train and some of which have been considered before.  However, they are still be worth reviewing and reconsidering.

Sunday is the first Cruise in Company of the Season.  See the calendar.

Saturday 14 May

Another very busy week.  The Harbour and Sailing Committee members worked hard in very windy conditions to get the last of the race marks out ready for the weekday races.   The first of these on Wednesday and Thursday were run in very strong winds but had a good turnout.  In contrast today, Saturday, for the Nelson Plate/Saturday Series 4 the fleet was struggling to find any wind.  Despite it being sunny and almost warm the wind didn’t become very useful till after the racing had finished.  However those of us who had sailed out just for pleasure had a short but pleasant sail after being almost becalmed.

On Thursday we had the first of the Open Thursday evening cruising sessions.  The winds were quite brisk and we only had two boats go out (it should have been three but one was still undergoing a survey).  However, as well as the normal crews of the two boats there were three other people who went out with them who would not otherwise have got onto the water, two of whom are potential new members.  That is what it is all about.  We will hope for a larger turnout for the next occasion in a couple of weeks.

The RYA Push the Boat Out – Open Day is drawing closer, just a week away now and plans are shaping up well.  Boats and volunteers are lining up and there is a good programme coming together.  Keep watching this web site for more details.

We have a new part time boatman covering the weekends and occasional weekdays to cover for Piotr.  His name is Craig and he started this morning.

And finally, we have hit 146 visits in a single day for the web site.  I don’t think we have had this level since Helgoland last year.

Sunday 8 May

A number of volunteers turned out yesterday to help tidy the yard.  Our thanks to them all.  Thanks also to the volunteer boatmen over the wekend.

The Opening Regatta also had a good turnout despite the cold and blustery conditions.  Results are on the web.

Tuesday sees the start of the Cadet Training.  18:30 at the clubhouse.

This Thursday, 12 May, sees the first of the Open evening cruising outings.  At the moment the weather looks to be fine but rather blowy, but that is likely to change.

If you want to come cruising on the evening, can you send and email to:  rfyc.crewshare@gmail.com stating if  you are a skipper, how many spaces for crew you have, of if you are a crew looking for a space.

Pre-notification is more likely to ensure that we have space for everybody.

Meet at the clubhouse at 18:00

Friday 6 May

This Saturday is our Opening Regatta.  The forecast is dry but with brisk North Easterlies.  So we should be in for some good racing.  Racing starts at 14:00 and there is no problem with the boatman as the Commodore is on boatman duty.  Generally we have volunteers coming forward for boatman duty so all should be well.

In my latest message to members I emphasised the yard clearance on Saturday morning.  This is not an absolute time but is when I will be there as well.  If anybody wants to do it on Sunday instead then feel free.  It is pretty obvious what needs clearing and the skip is very visible.  The skip isn’t being uplifted till the beginning of next week.

Thursday 5 May

Volunteering.

Push the Boat Out needs volunteers for all levels of activity.  See the post.  Whilst we are trying to recruit a new part time boatman (any applicants to contact the office), we need to cover the weekends and Piotr’s holidays with member volunteers.  Though a whole shift would be good, a part shift would be a help.  Again, contact the office.

Wednesday 4 May

Thursday of next week sees us starting our open Thursday evening Cruising sessions.  The aim is to encourage new members and potential members to come down and go sailing in a variety of boats for the evening.  We start a list at the beginning of the week for people to say that they want to sail, either as skippers or crew, and we meet at the clubhouse at 18:00, allocate crew to boats and go sailing.  The bar is open that evening and there is racing on so it is a good chance to socialise.  One of the joys of this type of event is that you commit to take part and, unless it is truly awful, you go out anyway even if it isn’t too great weatherwise.  Despite that – it usually turns out better than expected.  Watch this space for more details.

The difficulty with organising such  an event, and making sure there are enough boats and crew to go around, is how to communicate with everybody.  Port Edgar Yacht Club, who have been running Thursday evening cruising for many years, do it with a Yahoo Group, which now has over 200 members.  We have tried to organise a Yahoo Group rfyc_cruising@yahoogroups.com but have only got 18 members signed up after four years.  We then tried to get a gmail group going, rfyc-crew-exchange@googlegroups.com but this only has only got 21 members signed up after one year.  The difficulty with both is that they sometimes constrain people to creating a yahoo or gmail account that they do not wish to do.

So we are now going for a managed email address along the lines of the PEYC mix and match service for crew and skippers to help crew find boats and skippers to find crew. If you are interested just email rfyc.crewshare@gmail.com.  For Thursday sailing this will be invoked on the proceeding Monday.

Monday 2 May

It’s May already, and though the boats are in the water, the weather is not very conducive to sailing.  That being said, Saturday morning saw quite a few boats out for a shakedown sail in the sunshine and the cold.  It was very pleasant on the water, but very cold.  I was doing boatman’s duty, as were other volunteers over the weekend as unfortunately the new boatman has left (unfortunately he’s not well enough for the job).

Our big RIB, Olympian, set off in fine weather to go up to Port Edgar to support the 707 Edinburgh Cup event.

One follow up from the lift-in timings was a timely reminder that a skipper, or his nominated substitute must take responsibility for giving the go-ahead for the lift of his boat.  Whether there are marks on his boat for the slings or not, the lift will not happen till he says that he is happy with the slings and that he says that the lift can go ahead.  Nobody else is going to take responsibility for his boat, and that is right.

Following on from the lift we will now have our clear up of the yard.  A skip will be in the yard all this week and we need to tidy up as much as possible.  We have an Open day in three weeks time and the yard and Club must look their best.  So anybody who can spare a little bit of time … go to it.  Also if anybody has a strimmer, there are lots of grass and weeks that could do with a cut.

Tuesday 26 April

The timings for the lift in are now available for skippers to check.  They are posted in the Clubhouse and can be picked up from the lift in post.

Dutyman.  Racing is an important and valuable part of the Club’s activities.  But there is a cost associated with it, some monetary which is covered by subs and fees, but a lot of it is down to the volunteers who set up and organise the races.  A vital part of the volunteer tasks is as race officials for each of the events on the calendar.  Comprising a Race Officer, Assistant Race Officer a driver for Royal Forth and often a RIB driver and assistant.  These tasks need to be shared and they are managed through the Dutyman system.  All crews competing in the races are expected to do a stint as race officials and often the crew from one boat join together as race officials for a particular event.  Now is the time to sign up for duties that suit you, otherwise spaces in the racing calendar will be assigned to you.  Members who are not into racing can also volunteer to help and maybe it will tempt them into trying racing either as skipper or crew.  For more details go to the Dutyman Page

Thursday 21 April

It was quite a lift-in.  Glorious weather with gentle breeze to prevent it getting too hot.  And with only 25 boats and one mast it should have been easy.  Unfortunately the crane arrived with a driver and banksman who were unfamiliar with our processes.  We usually have at least one of them who knew the routines but not this time and unfortunately it showed.  It didn’t help that they didn’t have radios for communications and had difficulties using our radios.  So everything took a bit longer and it ended up a bit nip and tuck to get all the boats in before the tide and the day flowed away.

However, with a lot of hard work from everyone, particularly the Bosun we did it and the boats are now in the water.  Of course the boats on trailers can choose when to go in without depending on the crane.  They are fortunate.

Tuesday 19 April

You can tell that the sailing season is starting when the WebCam hits on the web pages start to go up.  They’ve started.  We also have the new boatman down today being briefed on the “driving” of the launches.  We have laid on a very pleasant day to let him think that it is always going to be lovely on the water.  However, as he has a lot of sailing experience I don’t think he will be fooled.  The blue launch is also going into the water today so we will have both launches available for the lift-in on Thursday.

Don’t forget that the lift-in is a great Club social occasion.  Even if you are not launching a boat there is a great deal of camaraderie to be had.  Everybody is welcome from 08:00 to get the yard cleared ready for the 100 tonne crane.  Once that is in the yard, and the dredger and the first couple of boats have been put on the slip, it is time for coffee and bacon rolls in the clubhouse.  Then around about 12:00 we should have enough tide (difficult to predict this week due to the high pressure) to start popping the boats in at a rate of one every  10 minutes or so.  We have 25 boats to launch but there are a couple of crane moves in between so it is difficult to be precise about timings.  Then late afternoon it is all hands to getting boats and trailers back into the yard again.

Note that new members and potential members are welcome.  You don’t have to own a boat to enjoy the day, just be willing to do a bit of work.  Oh and the bar will be open for lunch and drinks service.  Alcohol not recommended.

Friday 15 April

Yesterday was the first decent day this week and it saw two of our moorings team out on the water putting numbers on the buoys so that we can find our moorings when we launch next week.  Once that was done it was time for putting the first coat of antifoul on Boswall Bittern.

Today saw the Yard Manager (the same hardy soul who was yesterday the Moorings Manager) moving boats about the yard with the tug, making sure that members requiring early access to their boats could get them out.

On a slightly different note, I was at the Small Harbours and Sailing Clubs meeting with Forth Ports last week gathering interesting information.  Last year there were 2,618 vessels coming into the Forth and 5,000 small vessel movements  around the Bridge.  Projects impacting the river this year include HMS Queen Elizabeth departing Rosyth later this year for her sea trials.  This requires a full river survey for tide and depth out to the Fairway Buoy and includes flow meters positioned on the sea bed.  This will result in chart corrections in due course.  HMS Prince of Wales is still in dry dock at Rosyth.

The other major project, of course, is the new Forth Replacement Crossing aka the new bridge.  This will require main channel closures from May so if you are going up-river check the Notices to Mariners (posted on the Club notice board and on the Forth Ports web site.  The bridge should complete in October this year, initially opening with one lane of traffic.  For updates on the status go the the Forth Replacement Crossing site.

Finally a reminder that if you are involved in an incident on the water, it should be reported on and MRF (Marine Report Form).  A primary function of Forth Ports is the safety of all users on the river.  Recording incidents via an MRF is an important input to this.  Note that last year there were  117 registered incidents, though only 5 of these involved recreational craft.  It is not known how many went unreported.

Sunday 10 April

One of the members spoke to me today to register surprise at the 12 days to lift-in – obviously a timely warning.  Fortunately it was a good day and the yard was very busy.  The Moorings and Yard Manager was also busy working on Boswall Bittern, which still has some way to go to be ready for launch.  If you are one of the fortunate ones who don’t have to go to an office and have already done your antifouling, we will need help this week with the antifouling and related tasks for Boswall Bitteren.  Just turn up and see if you can help.

Regular visitors will be pleased to see that the web-cam is now working again.  The problem was due to an update on the host which had left us behind.

Saturday 9 April

It is a constant surprise how quickly a week passes.  It is also surprising how quickly the lift-in is approaching.  Just 12 days to go.  The Corinthians had their lift in today in benign weather.  Unlike ourselves, they are not tide dependent so their lift started at 7 am, with the first lift soon afterwards and it was all finished by 3 p.m.  Let us hope that our weather is also accommodating.

I mentioned some time ago that we are planning to have an open day under the umbrella of the RYA Push the Boat Out event.  Our event is on Saturday 21 May from 12:00 p.m to 6:00 p.m. and you may have seen links to the details  under the new web banner and the introduction of our Welcome Page.  This should be of interest to all the readers of this blog.  If you are a non-member and live within a reasonable distance, we hope that you will come along on the day and see what we are all about (though you are welcome to visit at any time).  If you are a member we need you to help run the event whether taking people out on your boat, providing welcome, giving guidance, helping in the bar or any of the myriad of roles that will go to making it a fun day for all.  Watch the club notice boards for details as they evolve.

Friday 1 April

I was musing last week about huge engineering projects starting at different points and having to join up precisely during completion.  At this week’s Winter Talk evening we heard about an even greater feat of engineering.

The winter talk was a boaty film evening.  Over 30 members turned up (some to get an update on running the bar to back up the bar person over the season – another key area of volunteering).  The first item was a film from the Seamasters’s group about their summer cruise last year round Mull.  Although it was mostly a silent film (we were advised that the sounds on the recording were mostly wind and faint voices) it was well captioned and had some most imaginative music.  Of particular mention was the Captain Pugwash theme (that shows my age) to accompany one pair trying to make progress in a rubber dinghy and Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides Overture (“Fingal’s Cave“) for the passage round Staffa.  They have set the bar for this year’s cruise when we expect to have all the crew mic’ed up and a commentary from someone like Tom Cunliffe.

The second film (and here I come to the feat of engineering) was about the construction of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth at Rosyth.  I say at Rosyth, but she was actually constructed by four companies across seven shipyards round the UK, with the final block integration and assembly at Rosyth.  Huge sections of the ship were built and fitted out at these shipyards, transported to the Forth and then joined up at Rosyth like a giant jigsaw puzzle.  The clever (and hardly believable) bit of engineering was that these sections included all the pipes, services, corridors and other items which had to line up exactly when the sections were welded together.  An amazing achievement, apparently down to the surveyors who visited each of the construction yards and, using laser devices, measured everything to the nearest millimeter.  She can be seen in the dock at Rosyth now and should start sea trials later this year.

As to joining up the new river crossing … more later.

Tuesday 29 March

I think that the new appearance of the web site is an excellent development and our web team have done a great job with the Welcome page.  They have achieved the objective of making it bright fresh and attractive, particularly for newcomers to the site.  In addition there was no interruption to access of the site during the transition.  So well done, and thanks.

Friday 25 March

During the past week I have been reading the minutes of the latest meeting of the Forth Yacht Clubs Association.  We sometimes forget the part that the FYCA play  in our sport here on he Forth.  They play a major role in co-ordinating the main events round the Forth to avoid clashes which would be detrimental to both organisations’ events.  They also manage the handicaps system used by local clubs and produce safety regulations.  In addition they have all the details of the Clubs on the East coast of Scotland from Dunbar to Anstruther and play a major role in the East Coast Sailing Festival every second year.   Not to forget the very useful role they play if you want to buy a boat locally.  The FYCA Classified section has a range of keel/cruising boats for sale from £1,250 to £27,500 which gives a wide choice whatever your budget.  They also have dinghies.

Obviously as they represent all the clubs on the Forth we, the RFYC, have a presence with one Executive Member and one member on the Handicap Committee.  They are also looking for an Hon Secretary if anybody is interested and has some time to give.

Do have a look at their site if you haven’t done recently and continue watch it for information on events etc.

Tuesday 22 March

A better weekend meant that I got my antifouling on.  A number of other skippers also grabbed the opportunity so the yard was quite busy.  Just 4 weekends to go, including Easter plus the clocks going forward giving us lighter evenings.  The forecast is looking better with quite a few days in double digits of temperature, making the antifouling easier.  Work also continues apace on our dredger.   The Bosun and Harbour Convenor have been working hard on it and have now called out the volunteer reserves to start painting the topsides.   Meanwhile we are recruiting the part time summer boatman to share the job with Piotr.

I was crossing the road bridge at the weekend and was intrigued to see the road sections of the new bridge, sorry  crossing, inching across the gaps.  I had to wonder at the precision that ensured that the sections met exactly in the middle of the gap.  I was reminded of the short pedestrian bridge between the Birmingham Symphony Hall and the Hyatt Hotel built across the road from it (completed 1991). Having shut the road and brought in a huge crane to put the pre-formed bridge in place, it was found to be a foot short.  Somebody had moved the foundation of the hotel by a foot because of a huge lump of rock in the way.  And they hadn’t told anybody!  We trust that our new Queensferry Crossing  doesn’t have any such problems.  Perhaps the Beamer Rock was not quite in the right place?

Thursday 17 March

I make no apology for banging the drum for the RNLI from time to time.  They do a wonderful job at no charge to the people they help or to the taxpayer.  It is a reassuring thought that they will come to our aid if we get into trouble on the water.

They also help those who are not on boats but are in trouble on the coast.  I have mentioned previously that the Queensferry lifeboat spends a lot of time rescuing people from Cramond Island.  Between 2008 and 2013 the lifeboat launched to Cramond Island 178 times, rescuing 593 people and saving 4 lives.  They now offer a texting service which gives a free message giving the safe times to cross the causeway to the island.  For information this is obtained by texting CRAMOND to 81400.

Boat owners should also be aware that the RNLI will give you a free safety check on your boat.  See RNLI Safety Check.  Remember also that the way to help the RNLI is to join them as a member and/or make a contribution in one of the collection boxes.  Remember also that there is the Storm Force membership for the young ones.

Monday 14 March

One of the things which helps to define us as a Club is our racing programme – coupled with the wonderful racing waters of the Forth off Granton.  Our racing programme for this year is now published and the full list of events can be seen on our calendar.  Of particular importance are the Open events which are open to non-members and members alike.  This year they are:  the Edinburgh Regatta 16 and 17 July; the Festival Series 10 to 12 August; and the One Design event (incorporating the Scottish Dragons and Scottish 707 National competitions) 27 to 28 August (and 29 Aug for the Dragons).  We are also hosting the VX1 Nationals on 11 and 12 September.  Further details are available on this site as they are available.

Saturday 12 March

Sadly, there appears not to be anybody wanting to share a table at the Port Edgar Boat Jumble so I will cancel the table.  With the weather forecast to be dry and into double figures (just) the boat will get some attention instead.

As to my two items for sale, if anybody wants a (hardly used) ladies sailing jacket or a square frying pan they know how to find me.

On a related note the Club has been given some boxes of books which used to be part of the Club library and were sold off some years ago.  They have now been donated back and will be available to members in the Club room at £1 each.  They will be on sale at next Tuesday’s Winter Talk, which is on “Sailing Faster”.

Thursday 10 March

The annual Port Edgar Boat Jumble sale is this coming Sunday from 11:00 to 13:00.  For the past three years I have taken a table and shared it with other members of the Club and we have usually been rather successful, both in getting rid of (sorry recycling) old boaty bits and in getting back some money for purchasing newer essentials to enhance our boating pleasure.  It is also quite fun to see what other people are selling, and quite challenging to one’s ability to distinguish between what is necessary and “might come in useful”.

This year I have very little to sell myself and have had no response from the poster on the Club notice board seeking members to share the table.  Unless I get some response shortly, I shall have to cancel our table.   That would be a pity.

Monday 7 March

Whilst I have no issue with it being a sunny morning yesterday for Mothering Sunday, I thought it was a bit hard on our members who would have liked to have been taking advantage of the more settled weather down at the boat yard.  But, I suppose, most mothers are worth it.

For those of us who no longer have such diversions, it was a good day for working on the boat.  In fact one day last week it was almost warm in the sunshine and today was also most pleasant.  It is still cold, though, despite there being cherry blossom on the trees.  Just 6 weekends to go, though I am not sure that you either want or need the count-down.  The good news is that the forecast for the month ahead is now showing temperatures in double figures and dry for next weekend.  It might be a good time to start the antifouling.

Saturday 5 March

The social event this week was the first of the Winter Talks which was about the history of Granton Harbour.  Despite the cold dark evening, over 30 members and guests showed up and were treated to some fascinating detail about the history of this harbour.  It not only showed the ships which regularly berthed where now only small boats dare venture, including a boat berthed against the Pharos Pier, but also the railways coming onto Middle Pier.  I have known about the use of the Pharos Pier for a long time, which to some extent explains it’s current state.  They were very large ships which used to tie up alongside.

However I hadn’t quite realised the extent of the railways presence.  I was particularly interested to see the stone wall, which still borders our yard on the West side, was there when there was a railway station just where the current yard gates are.  The picture dates to 1923, 60 years before our current occupation of the site, and was where passengers used to transfer from the railway to the ferry which crossed to Burntisland.  We also saw the complex gantries and ramps which allowed railway carriages to be loaded onto the ferries.  As I said before, quite fascinating.

If you missed the talk, you can catch up on the Granton History website.

Sunday 28 February

It may still be cold, but with relatively still sunny days, like today, members are starting to get down to the yard.  After today there are only 7 weekends for those essential tasks, so it is wise to take every opportunity that presents itself.  The long range forecast isn’t looking too good temperature wise, slightly lower than average generally.  The forecast I checked doesn’t get into double figures till the beginning of April.  Let us hope that they are being pessimistic.

In the meantime, our winter talks give us the opportunity to socialise, think of sailing and learn a thing or two.  The first talk is this coming Wednesday, and the subject is Granton Harbour History.  The details are among events down the right hand side of this page.  I have just updated the information pages about how we go about dredging in the harbour (See here) and this talk is a timely reminder of how the harbour was a deep busy port in years gone by.  Note that non-members are welcome at these talks.  It is a chance to see what the Club is all about and meet other members.

Wednesday 24 February

Hurrah.  Some better weather at last.  Despite being technically cold, there is a bit of warmth in the sunshine, particularly yesterday.  So we  have had the start of a flurry  of activity among the boats in the yard as members start to address those essential maintenance tasks.  Its time for the ubiquitous lists, split into before launch and after launch.  Now we may well mock those who do lists, but they do serve a purpose.  I know that I don’t have much to do to my own boat till launch.  That dream will last only till I get last year’s list out and update it.  To then try putting timings against everything (timings which will turn out to be hugely optimistic) will show that I need to get started asap and then pace myself.  All we need is a week or two of really bad weather (it is coming up to March of course) and suddenly the timings start to slip.  That’s when the before launch tasks start slipping into the post launch column.  Of course when we get to post launch we just want to go sailing.  Never mind, some of those tasks can be left to next year.  Can’t they?

Oh the joys of boat ownership.  Where would we be without it?

Meanwhile the more settled weather allows our trusty gang of volunteers to make progress with the maintenance of the moorings.  Thanks guys.

Thursday 17 February

It is encouraging to see the number of page visits to the web site is up at the moment, including for the Blog.

I have just received the Spring edition of the RYA magazine, where the front cover features the annual Push the Boat Out event.  They report that last year this event saw more than 24,000 visitors to 347 sailing providers across the UK.  This year they expect the event to be even bigger, and this year we will make sure that the RFYC will be part of it.  It is an excellent opportunity to show citizens of Edinburgh what sailing/boating and our club are all about.  And the RYA will promote it for us.  When the calendar comes out, you will see that our date for this event will be Saturday 21 May, from 12:00 to 18:00.  The date and time fits in with our tides so we can offer visitors plenty of time on the water.  I anticipate that we will give visitors the opportunity to try out sailing boats and power boats, with trips round the harbour and Wardie Bay.  We could also organise some Topper racing as an entertainment and one or two other possibilities either as displays or experiences.

The day after, Sunday 22 May is one of our Cruises in Company, so anybody who is really keen from Saturday can try out a longer outing on the Sunday subject to places on willing boats.  At the end of it we hope to generate some new members to help keep our club flourishing for the years ahead.

Tuesday 15 February

The winter talks have now been finalised.  There is an interesting mix of events, including Granton Harbour History, how to sail faster (and better) and a Film Festival.  See Events.   The “Film Festival” focuses on a mini  cruise in company of a few members on the West Coast last summer.

In the run up to the winter talks, there is a Forth Yacht Clubs Association evening seminar on handicapping, useful to the racers but also of general interest, that’s on Thursday 25 February.  Then the day after that (Friday 26 February) is a general social evening – particularly targeted at the racing fraternity but open to all club members and visitors.   All these events are held in the RFYC club house.

Thursday 11 February

A few weeks ago I mentioned the need for us to renew our dredging licence for Boswall Bittern, our silt agitiation dredger ( the process is also known as water injection dredging).  The next steps in this process took place yesterday, when the Bosun, together with two of our regular volunteers, constructed a dedicated mud scoop and took samples of mud from the planned dredging areas.  These then had to be put in separate sealed containers, packed in ice to preserve them and taken over to Rosyth for the samples to be analysed.  All part of the ongoing work of the Club.  For anybody interested in the process on a fully commercial basis see here.

Monday 8 February

I  make no apologies for references to the input of volunteers in helping to make this a vibrant club, operating at a modest cost.  Unfortunately the Quiz has had to be cancelled as we have not been able to get a Quiz Master with the time available to prepare the right balance of challenge and fun.  It is understood that we all have busy lives, even those of us no longer in full time paid employment, so we accept that we cannot always get volunteers for some tasks.  Needless to say, we all hugely appreciate the time that the volunteers give, no matter how small.  Every little bit helps and the more the workload is spread, the easier it is for everybody.

Sunday 7 February

So now its Imogen.  When did our winter storms start getting names?  The answer (found on the web) is here.   Of course most of these named storms want to visit Scotland and leave evidence of their passage behind.  Storm Henry finally removed Errant’s covers  and before that Gertrude did for Myrine’s covers.  It’s always a tricky decision – do you cover the boat or don’t you?  It is a lot of hassle to get the covers right, to avoid damage from the stanchions, to make sure the lines or a flapping cover don’t damage the gelcoat or the polished finish and to ensure that there is sufficient circulation beneath the covers to avoid the build up of damp and mildew in the cabin.  On the plus side, you get protection from the elements: ice, snow, rain and UV, not to mention the seagull deposits.  I have always covered the boat, but have struggled to get the covers right and have usually had them partly shreded by the end of the winter.  With about a month to go before they come off, they have survived this winter, but perhaps Imogen will have other ideas.  I hope not.

Talking of taking the covers off, have you (if you are a boat owner) started your list of work to be done on the boat before it goes into the water?  It may still be just over two months away, but that is just 10 weekends, some of which will be too cold or wet to do much.  It is a fact of life that many items on the list of tasks scheduled to be completed before launch get moved to the after launch list.

Perhaps you have got beyond the thoughts of getting the boat ready and are planning your trips and journeys for the season.  A lot of the joys of sailing can be appreciated in the planning and dreams for the forthcoming season.  The Club plans for the season are well advanced and we are already talking to sponsors on behalf of the British Dragon Association about the Scottish National event  which we are hosting later this year.  See the BDA calendar.

In the meantime, the winter talks are coming up and the Racers’ Social Evening (not just for racers, all are welcome) is on the 26th February.  Come along to meet old friends and make new ones.

Tuesday 2 February

Firstly, I need to publicise an event at Burntisland Sailing Club later this week.   It is on Thursday 4 February at their clubhouse and is about a different group of sailors in their Journey across the Sea .  For full details see here.

Meanwhile the harbour has been battered by big gales both last week and again yesterday.  A couple of tarpaulins have been blown about a bit, but generally things appear to be holding together well despite the gales.  A working party had to make emergency repairs to the pontoons last week, but again, despite the presence of some large boats with high windage, this was relatively limited.

Friday 28 January

As an offshore member of the RNLI, I get their quarterly magazine and I am always amazed at the rescues that get reported.  In the current issue is a tale of a rescue of a father and son whose fishing boat is wrecked on rocks after engine failure.  They are stranded on the rocks and the Peterhead lifeboat have to find them and rescue them from the rocks.  The video of the rescue can be seen here:   RNLI Rescue Seeing how close they go to the rocks was quite amazing.  Remember there are many ways to help the RNLI, including  collection boxes on many bars.  You never know you may need them yourself one day.

The current edition also has details of how the RNLI train to operate in fog, and I was reminded of my own recent occasion one fine sunny day on the Forth headed for Inchkeith when the Haar suddenly came in and visibility was down to about 100 yards.  Fortunately we were over Middle Bank, so we were out of the main channels.  So  we just headed due west, with nav lights on, horn blowing and listening out for other boats, watching the GPS for a point just short of Inchmickery (where we would have just dropped anchor until it cleared).  Fortunately it did clear well before that point and we were able to head back to Granton in improving visability.  My other tale of traversing the Chenal du Four in thick fog will be submitted for inclusion in the forthcoming Yearbook.  There is still time to get your own tale or pictures in the Yearbook.  Send them via the Office as usual.

Sunday 24 January

If you haven’t spotted it yet, have a look at the post on the “Burns Night Hoolie“.  It was a great social event jointly organised with the Corinthians.  Over 6o members and guests from the two clubs took part last night and the dance floor made its first appearance for many years.  There are some good photos too.

The next event is also a joint one for the two clubs.  The inter-club Quiz has become a regular occasion and this year it is hosted in the RFYC club room.  Wednesday 17 February is the date so start brushing up on your general knowledge (there are usually only a few questions about sailing) and put it in your diary.  Also get your team of 4 ready.

The other thing to put in your diary is the Club lift-in.  It has now been set for Thursday 21 April.  This allows plenty of time to complete the moorings and get our silt dredger ready for re-launch.  Even with a bit of bad weather in March it also leaves abundant time for boat preparation – so no excuses.

Friday 22 January

One of the reasons for starting this blog was to show that there is always something going on related to the Club or to sailing/boating.  Another reason is to remind people that the Club works (at a reasonable cost to members) because of the input of a number of volunteers.

If you have wondered what is involved with the work of the volunteers, or are tempted to put yourself forward to help, there is a new page on this site calling for volunteers and explaining what is required.  You can check it out at: Volunteers-Please.

Another new page is relating to club branded products.  We used to get a small range of sailing and leisure clothing with the Club insignia embroidered or printed on it.  Unfortunately this led to us holding expensive stocks of clothing often with the wrong mix of sizes.  We eventually had to sell this off at bargain prices and we still have a few of these bargains for sale in the Club room.  Now, however, we avoid this by using Superlogo who can provide a very wide range of items to which they can add our insignia for a small premium.  I can verify that it works very well.  Have a look at the page and try it for yourself.  (You do need to be a Club member for this though.)

Sunday 17 January

Picking up on the story of the disastrous de-humidifier (Thursday), a safer alternative is a couple of moisture traps at about a fiver each which are re-usable year on year.  A bag of replacement crystals every other year for about £7 and the job is done.  (Available from Go Outdoors, Lakeland Plastics or a hardware store near you.)

The slightly more settled weather this week has enabled our moorings team to get out on the water to service the moorings.  Despite the very cold conditions they have been out a number of days this week ensuring that our boats’ moorings will be safe this coming season.  We raise our caps to them in grateful thanks.

Also busy in the past week was the team looking after the dredging.  For both the Boswall Bittern dredging and the bucket dredge that Shearwater did on the pontoons we need to get and renew a dredging licence.  At the end of each period we also need to report back to the appropriate authority what we have dredged.  It is of interest to note that it was estimated that we have removed 2300 metre cubed of mud from the west side of the EML pontoon and from the “basin” north of Pharos Pier. This equates to the plan area of the Clubhouse to a height of just under 13 metres. Quite a lump of mud!  And all of it brought downstream by the river and dumped in our harbour on a continuous basis.

Friday 15 January

A member today gave me some information which is a salutary lesson to us about the safety of our boats.

Despite rumours to the contrary, no yachts were damaged by a fire at Barcaldine Marine on Loch Creran where three of our club members store their boats. It is understood from staff at Barcaldine that a yacht was burnt down to its keel and another two suffered severe damage at  the yard of Creran Marine, which is next door, as they say. It is believed that the fire was caused by a faulty dehumidifier. The fire started during the night, but luckily someone who was spending a night aboard on a nearby boat, was wakened by the crackling of the flames and called the emergency services before more damage was done.

The lesson is to be careful with electrical devices on board, particularly when they are left unattended.

Sunday 10 January

Well that was a pretty awful week, with strong easterlies battering the harbour.  Owners of the boats on the pontoons had a busy time in poor conditions checking their lines and fenders.  One skipper was abroad in the States, but other members did what they could to secure the boat in his absence.  Another of the benefits in being in a club like this.  We look out for each other.

Meanwhile, despite being mid winter, we have to start thinking about lift in dates (as well as lift out dates to go in the Yearbook).  This is not as easy as you might think.  Although spring tides and neap tides both give us about 6 to 6½ hours of usable tide, we need a bigger tide, ideally greater than 5.5m, in order to be able to launch some of the bigger boats.  We also need to fit the lift into a working day, which means we want high tide to be in the early part of the afternoon.  This allows us to clear the yard and get the hire crane set up in the first half of the morning.  The lift then starts late morning and is finished – we all hope – by late afternoon.   Over-running into the evening means losing the tide and incurring overtime costs.  If we are less than efficient or the timing is wrong and we lose the tide, we are into a second day of crane hire with an increased share of the costs for all of the participating members.

All of this means that we do not have much choice of dates.  Much as we would like to be afloat from the middle of April to the middle of October it rarely works like that.  So the Club’s lift  team has to make careful calculations and difficult decisions to arrive at a date.  Taking into account the winter weather and our ability to get all the moorings serviced and members get their boats ready for the water and we can understand the challenge.  Oh and I forgot – some members want to fit holidays in around the dates to be chosen!!

Sunday 3 January 2016

What a great social event it was down at the club yesterday.  And how wrong was the weather?  The only part they got correct was the wind direction.  The winds gusting 7 or 8 only managed a steady 3 touching 4 and was perfect for a winter’s sail with the tide with you.  Two tacks to get down to Granton and a run back.  A handful of boats brought down some 60 visitors, though at least one came by bike and one by car.  Coupled with a good sprinkling of our members (including an Out of Port member from Canada) it was a very jolly occasion enjoyed by all.  The bar was busy and most people tucked into the hot soup and  bacon rolls provided by our valiant volunteers.

The PEYC Commodore started congratulating me on the prospect of “our” new Marina in the West Harbour and I had to point out that the press reports were somewhat premature.  All that has been approved is a Master Plan.  There is a long way to go before we see any actual development, not least detailed planning approval.  We have yet to see any plans for extending the breakwater(s) to protect a marina  from the swell from strong easterlies (without compromising the harbour entrance or the East Harbour), let alone rebuilding the west side of the West Harbour and dredging it out to a usable depth.  In addition a marina operator has to be persuaded that it is a viable commercial proposition.  As I say – a long way to go.

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