Commodore’s Blog June to September 2016

Monday 26 September

The start of another windy week.

Having gone to the lengths of ensuring that there was no confusion about the racing on Saturday, it had to be cancelled due to high winds.  With F6 gusting F8 the Race Officer called the racing off.  Ironically Sunday was a better day and, although it was still quite gusty, quite a few boats got out sailing.

Meanwhile our volunteers were at it again over the past week, jet washing the slime off the slip and manning the bar on Saturday, whilst reorganising the cellar storage and galley layout.  Well done.

Friday 23 September

The sharp eyed among our members will have noted that the racing this weekend, The Saturday Series 15/16, is published as being on Sunday in the Handbook and on Saturday on the web site.  Logic says that the Saturday Series is run on a Saturday, so the racing will be tomorrow, Saturday.  The racing starts at 10:30.

One of the ongoing tasks this summer has been work on the dredger and also on the mooring barge.  The latter has needed strengthening between the two pontoons as movement with the tide has result in a break between them.  Although some work was done by the Bosun and volunteers we have had to get in George Brown Engineering to finish the job.  The work on the dredger has been a mixture of the Bosun, volunteers and outside agencies.  Though we are very fortunate in having some very skilled volunteers there are times when we have to buy in additional services.

Having been without a boat this summer my sailing has been very limited, despite kind offers to go sailing with other skippers.  So I have not had much chance to visit Cramond or Burntisland.  I say this because on of my regular blog watchers has pointed out that I regularly misspell these two places.  I won’t do it again (though there is no guarantee that I won’t get something else wrong).

Monday 19 September

On Friday a potential new member was looking round the yard and chatting to one or two people and she was very surprised to hear that the annual membership subscription was “only” £160 for the first 3 years.  (For 1 year for boat owners wanting moorings or yard storage.)  When you think about it that is only 44p per day or £3 a week.  Not much more than a cup of  coffee shop coffee each week.  Admittedly the sailing season is nominally only half the year, but there is plenty going on over the winter as will be apparent from looking at the events programme and the posters shortly appearing on the notice board and in members’ mail boxes.

The weekend was good for sailing.  Saturday was bright, sunny and with light breezes and the prefect opportunity for me to sort out the sails on my new boat and see how she sailed.   The answer was very well indeed.  In such light airs my previous boat, beautiful though she was would have hardly moved.  The new one, being much lighter was moving at 2 to 3 knots in just 7 or 8 knots of wind.  It also received some admiring comments from a passing boat (not an RFYC member) so it passed one of my other criteria that my boat should be good looking in a traditional way.

The light and changeable airs were not so good for the racing, which was the Pennel Trophy, a stern chase.  Getting across the start line was a problem for most of the boats and over the course of the race the wind changed direction through 180 degrees and the feet were at times becalmed.  Sunday was the Jubilee Cup, a joint passage race, rescheduled from earlier in the year.  The winds were better but very gusty and largely overcast.

On Sunday about 8 boats set off for the Cruise in Company.  The weather was much better on the water than on land – almost sunny.  They had a good 5 to 6 knot sail across to Inchcolm.   Then a cup of tea and potter back at 3 knots under spinnaker with wind filling back in as we got home.

Thursday 15 September

When I last reported on Tuesday I hadn’t picked up on the details of the VXOne Nationals over the weekend.  We now have a report with pictures and even with videos. I am pleased that we have sorted that one out (thanks Maria).  Some 9 boats took part and it appears from the results that the competition was strong.  Well done to all our members who made this event possible.  It is great to be able to host such National events on our great sailing waters.

Tuesday 13 September

The blog has been silent as I have been away.

However that hasn’t stopped life at the Club which goes on as usual.  More work has been done on the yard tidy.  One of the things to come out of the Strategic Review was that it was felt that we could do a bit better with our appearance.  Accepting that we need to maintain security a lot of effort has been put in, particularly by John and John to continue with the tidy up.  We are grateful to them.

Meanwhile Thursday evening saw the last of our Thursday Evening Open Cruising, a new departure for us this year.  The forecast looked very windy, putting off at least one skipper.  However some people did turn out and I would like to quote one skipper’s report on the evening:

“Thursday night’s cruise was a great success.

As is the oh so familiar pattern on the Forth, we went out with a heavily reefed jib in around 25knts and returned under motor around 20.00hrs when the wind dropped away completely.

Jacob, our young crew member, conveyed his gratitude for taking him out with us and all agreed that it was a pleasure to have him sail with us.

Hopefully the Thursday evening cruises next season will develop further and encourage more interest from both owners and prospective members.”

I go along with that sentiment.

Of course we also hosted the VXOne National Championship over the weekend.

Sunday 4 September

September already and only 6 weeks to lift out.  This week didn’t help much to catch up on the season’s sailing.  It was very windy during the week and then the wind dropped away again this weekend.  Yesterday afternoon proved to be much better than the forecast which was for heavy showers.  In the event it proved to be very pleasant with a gentle breeze and there were quite a few boats out in the afternoon.  There was also the Single Handed Race, but I have not had any feedback on how that went.

Today was beautiful and sunny but not very much wind.  I drove up the coast to North Berwick where a very pleasant sea breeze came in during the afternoon.  I suspect that closer to home it was very light airs.  But it was sunny and warm.

This coming Thursday should be an Open evening Cruise.  It shows on the events list but is missing from the calendar.  The boatman is scheduled to finish at 19:30, but if we manage to get a few of the cruisers out we will try to get someone to run the launch at 20:30 to 21:00 to get people ashore.  Otherwise it will be a night on the pontoon or use your dinghy.  As usual try to let us know via the rfyc.crewshare email or turn up on the evening at 18:00 and see what is happening.

Tuesday 30 August

Monday was a perfect Edinburgh day for racing on the Forth, and the Dragons made the most of it for the third day of their Dragon Scottish and Classic Championships 2016 event.    Only two races on this the third day of the Championships but they were good ones.  We tried to tell our visitors that these were normal  conditions for sailing on the Forth but I don’t know if they believed us.  At the end of racing a buffet in the clubhouse preceded the prize giving.

On Sunday evening there was a Dragon Crews Re-Union Party with a buffet, and I understand that this was well attended and enjoyed by both present and previous Dragon Crews from Granton.  It was an opportunity for meeting old friends and swapping Dragon stories.

It was not all fun on the water over the weekend.  Danny and John from the Harbour Committee set to to repair the north end of the stone wall bordering the yard.  In the clearance of the area at the foot of the southern fence a number of stones, possibly originating from the wall, had been uncovered and these did the repair job very well.  It should be noted that this wall dates back to when there was a railway terminus on the pier for the cross Forth rail ferry.  It can be seen on the Granton Harbour History site, labeled Granton Station on the Middle Pier.  Scroll down the page to Shore Installation and it is the second photo.

What was fun was the Fireworks Party with a sail out into Wardie Bay to see the Festival Fireworks.  Some 8 boats from both clubs motored out and anchored, and Ian’s Boom Box on the deck of Hoodlum provided the musical accompaniment broadcast by Forth 1.  We also got a mention on air as one of our number tweeted to the presenters that we were in a small flotilla sailing out onto the Forth to view the show.  They thought we were rather showing off, but we did get the mention.  There were also a few more boats who stayed on the pontoon and a few more people in the Club bar, so a good evening was  had by all.

Sunday 28 August

As indicated yesterday, it was the first day of the Open weekend with the 707 , H-Boat and Dragon one series.  After an almost windless period when the race start was delayed, the wind filled in and a fine series of races took place, with some close finishes.  The joy of one class races is that what you see over the line is the result (baring any protests which were fortunately absent yesterday).  It makes for some exciting sailing.  A post of the first day and photos can be seen here.

I mentioned yesterday that a Dragon had arrived from Estonia.

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

It is called Heuschrecke, the pronunciation of which was giving us some challenges on the Committee boat until Patrick googled it and determined that its English translation is Grasshopper.  After that it was easy.

We also had a Dragon from Aldeburgh.

Saturday 27 August

It was an Edinburgh week weatherwise this week.  Monday was ok, Tuesday was awful, Wendesday was glorious and a wonderful sailing day  for those fortunate enough to be able to get out, including the racers in the evening.  Then Thursday was very foggy and cold.  The Evening Points racers went out and disappeared into the fog beyond the breakwater.  I am told that it was very much follow the boat in front hoping that the boat in the lead knew where the next buoy was.  The cruisers had the sense to stay ashore, which unfortunately meant that another open evening cruising didn’t happen.  We have been very unfortunate with the weather for these evenings this year.  The next one, though not shown on the calendar could be Thursday 8 September.  Watch this space.  Going back to our week of variable weather, Friday was very autumnal, sunny periods with some dark clouds and a cold breeze.

Friday saw the arrival in the yard of the first of the Dragons for the Scottish and Classic Dragon Championship weekend.  I understand it had come from Estonia.  As well as being the Dragons weekend, it is also the One Design and 707 Open weekend, so the Club will be very busy.  Sunday evening also sees the Scottish Dragon Crews Re-Union Party.  So it is all happening.

PS the weather today looks set fair.

Tuesday 23 August

It was a fairly quiet week with racing at the weekend.  This included the Coronation Cup, a stern chase which finishes in front of the Club house.  The handicapping was good with a close finish to be enjoyed by those watching from the bar.

This week we have Evening Points and Open Cruising on Thursday.  Meeting at 18:00 at the Club.  If you intend to be there, please email to the usual address.

Sunday 14 August

This morning saw some 12 boats available to take about 20 young people of between 16 and 18 afloat for the day.  These are all Sports Ambasadors   for the schools of Edinburgh who had taken the opportunity to try sailing as a sport.  Following the strong winds of the week, the conditions were benign with very light winds which became lighter as the day progressed.  At least nobody will have been put off by the conditions.  The fleet set off to Aberdour a little after 10:00, accompanied by Olympian and Royal Forth.  A full report can be seen here.  It is to be hoped that some of the Ambasadors will be keen to follow up the experience and they have been invited to come to one of the Thursday open evenings or our next Cruise in Company.

I should have reported that our assiduous yard team have been at it again this week, with further hard graft on the south fence.  Our thanks go to them.

Saturday 13 August

The Festival Series/Evening Points racing suffered from very difficult conditions.  Day 1 fielded 8 boats in the fast fleet (all from RFYC)  and two boats in the slow fleet (all from FCYC).  With strong wind on Thursday and Friday there were fewer boats, but seven boats sailed in all three races.  See Festival Series post for details.

Despite the very windy conditions the racing did take place.  What did look very uncertain was the Thursday evening cruise in company which I suspect didn’t happen.

However, the weather looks very good for our next Cruise in Company which is tomorrow, Sunday 14th August 2016, meeting at 9.00 in the Clubhouse.
Royal Forth Yacht Club are taking 30 Young Sports Ambassadors over to Aberdour for lunch and to give them a sailing experience .
The Ambassadors are from Edinburgh High Schools and participate in all aspects of sport.  So we need to make sure that there are enough boats with crew spaces to accommodate these Ambassadors.  It’s an early start, but it should be a good day and these Sports Ambassadors could be the members of the future.

Wednesday 10 August

Such interesting weather conditions.  Severe winds at the start of the week causing Pemva to drag her moorings, ending up by the East breakwater.  Yet today there was little wind giving some concerns about the Festival Series starting this evening, though it looks as if there might be some wind in time for the race after all.

Tomorrow and Friday it is back to strong winds again.  This may not deter the racers, but it could put off the open cruise tomorrow evening.  Though as ever the forecast isn’t always right.  So potential cruisers should either turn up and see what the real conditions are, or check the Braefoot/Inchcolm readings on this web site.

Monday 8 August

It’s a very busy week ahead with our next Open event, the Festival Series.  This is one of our major events which ties in with the Edinburgh Festival and runs for three evenings, Wednesday to Friday, with one race per evening.  As always we are hoping for a good turnout of both our own boats and visitors.  There will be a prize giving and buffet after the last race on Friday.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, 11 August,  we have our next open Thursday evening Cruising. 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.  Unfortunately the current weather forecast is for force 5 to 7 with sunny periods.  But who knows till you get there.

Saturday sees the next races in the Saturday Series whilst Sunday is the next Cruise in Company, starting at 09:00.  This is a special CinC as we are taking 30 Young Sports Ambassadors over to Aberdour for lunch and to give them a sailing experience .  The Ambassadors are from Edinburgh High Schools and participate in all aspects of sport.  So we need a good turnout of boats to help making this an enjoyable day out by offering places aboard the yachts.
The Ambassadors, aged 16 and over,  will provide their own lunch and will play games on the beach while we relax, leaving at 2.30 to return to Granton.  Fortunately the weather forecast is looking good for this one.

Saturday 6 August

The year seems to be racing past.  At least today was a decent sailing day and both the cruisers and the racers managed to get out for a decent day’s sailing.

Meanwhile the immediate past Commodore managed to launch his new boat, Galumph, duly named with a dash of champagne by the current Commodore.  This boat has been some 8 years in the building but it is worth it as she looks good and launched well.  Watch the posts for some pictures of the launch and details of the build process.  It is a huge achievement to build a boat from scratch and must be most satisfying.

Tomorrow is the Jubilee Cup, a joint passage race with the Corinthians.  The race was due to start at 15:30.  Unfortunately the conditions don’t look too favourable with winds forecast to be up to force 8, so after discussion with FCYC the decision was taken, reluctantly, to cancel tomorrow’s race and reschedule it for 18th September.

Later this year we have the Scottish Dragon Championships (from Saturday 27th until Monday 29th August) and we are still looking for more entrants.  This club has in the past had a very strong Dragon Fleet and one of the events over the weekend is a party for Dragon crews, from all clubs, past and present.  This takes place on Sunday 28 August at 7:30 at the Club House and it is hoped that Dragon racers will turn out to join in and meet old friends and make some new ones. There will a buffet provided, and it would help if people intending to come along would let the Office know in order to get the catering right.

Sunday 31 July

As usual it has been a busy week at the Club.

And not only at the Club, our RS400 team of Stewart and Sarah Robertson have been  at the RS400 European Championship at Travemünder Woche in Germany and (subject to confirmation) have come out as overall winners.  Well done to Stewart and Sarah.  They are now having a few days holiday in Germany.  It shows what hard work and determination can do.

Meanwhile back at Granton we have had the Evening Series on Wednesday, the Open evening Cruising on Thursday and the Saturday Series on Saturday.  To round off the week there was the Cruise in Company today (for which we hope to get a report in due course).  We have also had the H Boat – Rush Hour getting back into the water (that was the plan anyway) and new members launching their Drascombe.

One of the issues that was raised as part of the strategic review that we have been undertaking as a Club was the fact that the yard should be more presentable.  Bearing in mind that this is a working boat yard and not a showroom, it will struggle to look pristine, but it is a fact that there was a lot of foliage and plant growth which detracted from the appearance.  So a handful of our members have this week started tackling this, and made good progress with removing the large buddleia from behind the portacabin as well as much of the growth along the south fence.  Plans are also afoot to tidy up the fence.

Monday 25 July

For various reasons I hadn’t been down to the club to check out the space left by the May Shed till this weekend.  It is surprising to see the space with markings for parking spaces for the Flag Officers.  Not that we plan to use them for that again, though it might be an idea having lost so much parking in the vicinity of the Club.  The blocks that have been put out to stop the travellers have seriously depleted the available parking.  They have even blocked off the public parking at the top of the Public Slip.  As a result there is a danger that this area at the top of the slip will become congested and access to the crane becomes difficult.  Nothing gets any easier.

This coming Thursday is designated as an Open Cruising evening, though there is no racing on as the boatman is not on duty till 18:30.  He is on till 21:00 though so it is an opportunity for a cruise either starting a little later or going from the pontoon.  As before, register any interest, either as skipper or crew, at rfyc.crewshare@gmail.com

Tuesday 20 July

The Edinburgh Gin Regatta was a success, despite the last couple of races on Sunday having to be abandoned because of the conditions.  We were joined by boats from around the Forth for two days of sailing and socialising.  As always the success of the event is  the result of the input of both the participants and the organisers.

Of course, Monday and Tuesday were much better days for sailing, but today we are back to the more normal Edinburgh summer.  Heavily overcast with heavy rain, lightened up with the odd flash of lightening and clap of thunder.

This week should be Evening Points racing and the Thursday  evening Open cruising (being the second week in the normal cycle).  Unfortunately we only have tide till 19:30 so it won’t be happening.  Our next Open Cruising is the Thursday Cruising on 28 July (not show in the printed calendar) followed by the Cruise in Company on Sunday 31 July.

This week  is the May Island Race and the Anstruther Express (the latter race being organised on behalf of Crammond Boat Club).

Wednesday 13 July

This weekend is one of our big open events of the season, the Edinburgh Gin Regatta.  In the past this has been one of the big  sailing  events on the Forth and it is hoped that this year will not be any different.  Edinburgh Gin are our sponsors for the third year in succession and it makes for an excellent opportunity in the bar to try a variety of gin cocktails.  The racing should be good as well and the atmosphere at the Club over the weekend will be great.  Even if you are not racing, do come and enjoy the atmosphere.

Meanwhile the May Shed has gone.  We had to take it down before it fell down and we will continue to consider how we are going to replace the facilities that it provided for us.

I have in the past extolled the work done by the RNLI.  There is an excellent BBC TV series showing on Wednesdays at present showing some of their remarkable stories.  Watch it live or on the BBC iPlayer.

Saturday 9 July

Thursday evening’s Open Cruising was the most successful so far, perhaps in part due to the excellent conditions that evening.  We had 5 boats out with enough crew for all, including 3 potential members, one of whom had joined before the evening was out.  The wind and tide dictated an up-river passage and the fleet set off towards Oxcars with a view to rounding either Inchcolm or Inchmickery.  Some of them took a harbour mouth time to log the island rounding for this year’s Round the Islands challenge.  Regrettably the wind eased for a while as we rounded Inchmickery so there were no winning times.  It was a lovely sail in lovely conditions, though.  Meanwhile the really competitive boats were on the first of the Evening Points Late series and they too had a good outing.  It was noted though that there are still very few of the cruising boats racing in the “slow class”.  If you have a cruising boat and feel a little competitive why not give racing a go?

Friday saw the Commodore, past Commodore and Vice Admiral collecting samples of mud from below the water in our latest attempt to get a new dredging licence.  Members are already noting that the depth round the pontoons is reducing and this is the inevitable result of mud silt constantly being washed into the harbour from the Forth.  Unfortunately, though we are equipped to push it back out again with our silt agitation dredger (also know as water injection dredging), we cannot do it without an expensive dredging licence.  This only lasts for 3 years, and it has to be approved by Marine Scotland who are currently questioning the  quality of the mud that we wish to return to the Forth.  It is all very frustrating.  Hence the collection of mud, which then has to go over to Rosyth for analysis at even more cost.  We keep our fingers crossed that this set of mud samples is acceptable for dredging.  Otherwise we are in deep …mud.

Friday also saw the loss of even more parking in the vicinity of the Club as the landlords laid even more blocks alongside any land that might be used by travellers.  This time it was the area of the old railway tracks alongside the public slip.

Tuesday 5 July

This coming Thursday is our next Open Cruising evening.  Open to both members and potential members we meet at 18:00 at the Club and mix up skippers and crew.  As always we hope that there are enough spaces for all the potential crew.  The forecast for this Thursday looks promising so if you haven’t tried it before, give it a go.

I often find little snippets which might be of interest to fellow sailors.  There are two in the Summer edition of the RYA Magazine.   The first is a hand operated outboard for your tender or inflatable.  It sounds crazy, but you can see it in operation on utube.  The web site for the thing is here.

The second item is something that has been around for a couple of years or so but has been enhanced.  It is the RYA’s mobile vessel-tracking solution, SafeTrx, whereby your smart phone enables people at home to see where you are when you are cruising and can be used to raise an alert if there is an emergency.  You can of course switch it off if you don’t want them to know where you are.  For details go to SafeTrx.

Thursday 30 June

I have been off-line for two weeks, having been on holiday in Italy (in the most gloriously warm weather).  The last 5 days were in Venice, that wonderful city where everything is done by boat.  As well as the bus boats (Vaporettos), water taxis, lorry boats and car boats, there were fire boats, ambulance boats and police boats.  And not a single lifejacket to be seen, even in rather small boats out on the Giudecca or the lagoon, where it can get quite choppy.  The small runabout boats are between 16 and 20 feet or so and the engines on them are not the 5 HP that you would expect.  The smallest I saw was 8 HP going up to 90 HP with the norm being about 40 HP.  And kill-cords – very few of those on view and where there were they were just dangling, connected to make the engine work rather than for safety.

The classic boat manoeuvre to watch of course is the mid-ship spring which is used extensively on the Vaporettos to hold the boats alongside whilst hundreds of passengers get on and off at every stop.  It is a wonderful technique for us to use when bringing a boat alongside the pontoons short handed.  Most of my readers will be well versed in this, but if not, check it out.

Meanwhile life goes on at the Club.  We have a new full boat cover on Olympian, and the gangway to the pontoon has been re-clad with a new non-slip surface, thanks to Piotr and Peter.  Also we are still struggling against officialdom to get an new dredging licence.   In addition it will have been noticed that EML has wonderful new banners along the length of the gangway to welcome visitors.

The other thing which will be readily obvious is that the gravel area opposite the Club is no longer available for parking.  Giant boulders have been placed along the edge to prevent its use for anything at all.  Certainly it will stop the travellers who have turned up there from time to time and I suspect that this is their prime purpose.  Unfortunately it takes the area out of use for parking and for temporary placement of boats during lift-out and lift-in.  It’s good to be back.

Saturday this week is the Crombie Cup, whilst on Sunday it is the Ladies’ Race.  If you are about the Club house on Sunday keep an eye out for Julie Bergman, who will be visiting Edinburgh on 3 and 4 July, and would like to come by the club.  She is a member of the Pacific Mariners Yacht Club in Marina del Rey, CA as well as the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, and she is traveling from California on a short visit to UK.  If you see her, please give her a warm welcome.

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    Thursday, March 30 @ 7:00 pm
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