Commodore’s Blog – 1 Feb to 30 June 2017

Thursday 29 June

We are all fed up with the constant news reports about Brexit.  But how many of us have thought about what Brexit means to us sailors.

I attend on the Club’s behalf a Cross Party Group at the Scottish Parliament on Recreational Boating and Marine Tourism.  The impact of leaving the EU was one of this week’s topics.  The key items highlighted were:

  • UK Border Controls.  Will we have to ensure that every EU visitor to Granton is checked by the Police or Customs officials.  And what about when we want to sail to the continent or to Ireland (were some of our members have been sailing recently)?
  • Status of VAT on recreational boats – the potential difficulties of buying or selling used boats to the EU members
  • RYA qualifications – may no longer be acceptable in the rest of Europe and it might be advisable to convert Day Skipper or other RYA qualifications to an ICC (International Certificate of Competence)
  • There are also likely to be areas of regulatory divergence such as relation to birds and fish

Fortunately on all these matters the RYA are acting on our behalf and there is a short briefing in the current issue of the RYA Members’ Magazine (a copy of which will shortly find its way to the club room).  The RYA website will also keep their members informed as to developments.

Meanwhile here at home the Harbour Committee have been working on the south boundary to replace the fencing.  The gates were replaced some months ago.

Wednesday 20 June

There is a postscript to the Helgoland visit.  As well as the many expressions of thanks and warm wishes from the visitors we received an email from Jobst Wellensiek which also included words of one of the songs of the evening on Saturday.  It is published on the Helgoland page.

On Sunday we had the second of the Cruises in Company.  Six boats turned out, including one of the Dragons which is a welcome addition, even though she did show us up with her turn of speed as we sailed close hauled up river to Port Laing.  See the Cruising pages for a report from the Cruising Secretary.

Saturday 17 June

It’s back to normal this week following a very lively and successful Scottish evening with our German guests last Saturday.  The partying went on till 2 a.m. with music provided by the members.  There were a lot of very positive comments from the visitors about the great welcome they received and the help that was forthcoming from the many members who rallied round to help them sort out damage to their boats from crossing the North Sea or ferrying them to the airport.  By Monday morning they had just about all left either to go back to Germany or sail on to other destinations.

So with evening tides this week was training, racing and the Thursday open cruising.  Only two boats for the cruise this week but we did have a couple of newcomers to introduce to sailing.  The forecast was not very promising but the evening was dry and the wind not too fierce so both boats set off at a brisk pace.  I had my boat out this time and we raced across to Aberdour at 6 knots with one reef in the main.  A good showing from what is a newish boat for me.  Coming back the wind had increased a little  so we dropped the main and sailed home with just the jib and mizzen.  We still managed to get about 4 knots on a broad reach until, disaster, the mizzen mast broke as we approached the harbour.  Its not supposed to do that being carbon fibre.  Fortunately I am told that a replacement is readily available and I can at least sail her without the mizzen.

Tomorrow is the next Cruise in Company and with decent weather and brisk winds forecast we hope for a good turnout.  Briefing at 11:30 with a 12 noon departure.  The tide is out during the afternoon so there is no boatman again till 18:30 or else overnight on the pontoon.  Potential members are welcome to come and get a sail.

Friday 9 June

The Club room was a hive of activity this morning as our German visitors tucked into their hot breakfasts.  Three boats are on the pontoon and two boats are temporarily moored in the West Harbour waiting for the tide to give them the depth to approach the pontoon.  As I write another boat has just crossed the line with two boats still to arrive.  One late today and the other which has failed to show on the tracker since yesterday morning.

There are also the two big boats, one of which, Milan, crossed the line on Tuesday after a very fast time but had to go into Leith to effect some repairs before heading off back to Germany.  The other big boat, Bank von Bremen, crossed the line and then turned back and headed down to Blyth where they found two of the other boats which had retired.

That makes 12 boats out of the 14 as two of them retired early and headed to Denmark, one of them with a broken mast.

So they have had an interesting race with difficult weather and for the most part arriving in Edinburgh to rain and wind.  However, we are giving them a warm welcome, as always, culminating in the Scottish evening/barbecue tomorrow night, to which members are also welcome.  Readers might be interested to see the tracks across the North Sea:

Tuesday 6 June

The Helgoland race is now well under way though unfortunately due to the poor forecast  only 14 boats have started.  Our input is now sorted though there are still places to fill for the radio watch to monitor the boats’ arrival.  The race can be followed online as each boat carries a tracker.  This is the position at midday Tuesday:

You can follow the tracking here.  For more details regarding the tracker see TRACKER.

On Saturday there is a barbecue for our German guests, both on the boats and their supporters coming by coach, and our members.

Elsewhere, over the weekend was the East Lothian Yacht Club Regatta at North Berwick.  We were happy to loan them the smaller of our safety RIBs which they needed for a large field of dinghies.  Among these was the RS400 class where our own Stewart & Sarah Robertson took the honours (and the NB Gin) ahead of 16 other crews in the largest class fleet of the regatta.  Well done to them.

None of us would want to be the ones to call out the RNLI to help us in difficulty but unfortunately one of our newer members had to do just that last week when they had engine failure just off Inchmickery.  It was a newly acquired boat which had yet to have its mast and sails rigged and was just out for a motor about for familiarisation.  Without sails as a back up the boat was at risk of drifting onto the rocks so the call was made by phone (the VHF not working due to no mast or aerial).   Getting a new or different boat always delivers some challenges and one quickly learns the lessons but it is disconcerting.  I think the primary lesson (which we have all learnt at some point) is proceed with caution and don’t be too ambitious, too soon.

Friday 2 June

Though the forecast was not promising, it was actually quite a good evening for a sail last night.  The racing fraternity were out in good numbers but there was a very light turn out for the “open sailing”.  We had three skippers (plus another doing repairs on his foil – so not sailing) but only one crew.  So one skipper went racing with a Dragon crew. one returned home to attend to pressing domestic issues and the last one, David, took out the one crew, a lady who had attended our Push the Boat Out day.  I think the best way to show how successful this outing was for a potential new member is to include David’s report back:

“I put her on the helm immediately we slipped the mooring.  This was a “first” for her but she soon got to grips with “pointing in the right direction” or something approximating that!  We sailed out to Oxcars before returning to Granton and I only got my hands on the wheel shortly before we re-entered the harbour and I had to drop the sails in anticipation of picking up the mooring.  I noticed an ear to ear smile on her face.”

There is no doubt that the best introduction to sailing is to be out on the water at the helm of a boat.  For any other potential newbies the next open evening is Thursday 15 June, with an open Cruise in Company on Sunday 18 June.  (See the calendar for details.)  And if you are new to the Club, please try to let us know beforehand that you intend to come along.

Thursday 1 June

It’s June already and the sailing season hardly seems to have started.  The weather is still all over the place.  One of the great things about sailing as a sport is that the conditions on the water do change and have to be taken into account every time you want to go out.  But it is very difficult when it is so variable.

I was out yesterday morning (the joys of being retired) in lovely sunny weather with light winds which unfortunately got so light it was a matter of motoring back to the harbour.  Today the forecast for this evening’s Open Sailing is force 4 gusting 6 with cloudy skies and occasional rain and drizzle.  Of course when we get down to the Club it could be something different.

As I had suspected, the weather also put paid to the Midsummer Challenge Regatta last Saturday, the sail/row/run event run by the Coastal Rowers and FCYC.  The threat of heavy thunderstorms ruled out the barbecue so the event has been postponed to another day.

Meanwhile preparations continue for Helgoland.  Soundings of the area around the pontoons have been taken and the information passed to the organisers to brief their skippers.  Fortunately although the depth around the pontoons has reduced due to heavy silting, during the event we have over a metre of tide at its lowest point which coupled with the soft mud base should mean that there will not be any real issues.

Monday 29 May

As usual the holiday weekend weather has not been great.  With thunderstorms threatened on Saturday afternoon I am not sure what happened to the Midsummer Challenge Regatta.  I was monitoring the web cam and saw very little activity on the pontoons.  This weekend was also the Anstruther Muster which will also have suffered from the poor weather.  Whether any of our members took part I have yet to hear.

Club activities this week include Early Evening Points on Wednesday and Thursday and the second of our Open Sailing evenings on Thursday.  A fortnight ago I mentioned visitors from Australia and we managed to get  both of them out sailing, one on a race boat and one on a cruiser.  Remember that potential members can always come along and see if they can get an outing to try before they commit to membership.

From time to time I look at the web statistics and I noted that we hit a peak of 222 visits on the day of our PTBO and my own page has been regularly at over 500 views in 30 days compared with a little over 300 regularly last year.  It is most encouraging.

Friday 26 May,

What a lovely day for sailing today, though it was a bit cooler on the water (with a faint haar) and the wind was a bit flukey at times.  No matter, at last it was inviting to go out on the water.

Tomorrow (Saturday, 27 May)  is the Forth Corinthians & Newhaven Coastal Rowing Club Forth Midsummer Challenge Regatta – a unique relay race between yachts, rowing skiffs and runners.
The race starts at 2.15pm from the EML pontoon and there will be catering throughout the day at Corinthians Yacht Club – starting with bacon rolls and hot coffee at 1130am and finishing with a bbq after the race, at approximately 6.30pm.  RFYC members are welcome to join them for a drink throughout the day.

Coming up early in June is the biennial Helgoland race.  This is a great event with over 30 mainly German boats racing from Helgoland to Granton.   Every boat has a tracker so we can watch the progress of the boats throughout the race.  The link for the tracks will be posted on this site and snapshots of them will be posted throughout the race on a dedicated page.  Volunteers (and there are still spaces) do duty throughout three days and nights to log the boats in as they cross the finish line.

This year there are Club representatives on 2 different boats.  Simon Peakman is on ‘Morran’, an IMX 40, and Rich Maspero is on ‘Logoff’ a 47.5ft one off design boat so we can watch these tracked with particular interest.

Friday 19 May

Our visitors to Push The Boat Out all thoroughly enjoyed themselves and none less than Rosie and the class hedghog.  They had a little go at steering the Club committee boat, Royal Forth and had great fun.  Here they are at the helm:

 

 Thursday 18 May

There’s been a bit of a gap as I was away last week, though I was back in good time to Push the Boat Out on Sunday.  As you will have seen from the report and photos (seen here) we had a great turn out with double the numbers from last year.  At least one person signed up on the day and there were a number of indications of further signings.

Our 2017 Yearbook is now available (alas too late for PTBO) and copies can be collected from the Club.  Members and visitors can take as many copies as they want and circulate them to libraries, community centres, doctor’s surgeries, etc.  as well as use them for essential reference for activities and tides.  There are also some good ‘reads’ there as well and some wonderful pictures.

The Yearbook also has details of all racing and it is noted that the Early Evening Points series starts this evening.  We had a couple of visitors to the Club from Sydney, Australia , this morning and they are keen to go racing tonight if we have space for them.  Tonight is also the first of the Open Evening Cruises but it has not been widely circulated so numbers are uncertain.  We will be following up the visitors who gave permission for a follow up at PTBO to appraise them of the dates for the next few Open sailings.

Monday 9th May

PUSH THE BOAT OUT:  I invite all my readers to come and Push the Boat Out next Sunday.  It is our annual open day when we welcome anybody living within reach to come and try sailing and boating.  For members it is a chance to show off your club and share your love of sailing with newcomers.  For non members it is a chance to try sailing or boating and/or check out the Club with a view to joining us.

The doors open at 1 p.m. and there are refreshments and food available.  I hope to see you there.

(For full details – PUSH THE BOAT OUT)

Sunday 30 April

The lift in on Thursday went very well.  The weather and the wind were good and the day went without a hitch.  The turn around per boat was less than ten minutes with most boats taking 6 to 8 minutes from presentation of the strops to the strops clearing the boat in the water.  Rarely, we had just about finished by 5 p.m. despite the later start.  SO well done to all the skippers and helpers.

We now need to tidy up the yard.  Although it is understandably a working yard it works better if it is kept clean and tidy.  Some work was done during the day and a working party was scheduled for yesterday afternoon.  With masts being put on boats at that time some members opted to do their bit in the morning.  However the skip is in the yard for a few more days so anybody with a bit of time on their hands could be well employed doing their bit.

Monday 24 April

The decision to postpone the lift was the right one after all.  For a while the forecast was showing rather better wind conditions than existed on Friday when the decision had to be made.  In fact though sunny today it was very cold and the wind was at the limit of 20 mph with very strong gusts all afternoon:

Thursday’s winds are looking much more acceptable.

I need to make another appeal for members to volunteer.  It is sometimes difficult to commit your name to a list but that is what is necessary for us to plan activities.  This week we need you to volunteer for Dutyman for the season’s races.  We ask that every racing boat put forward their crew for at least three race duties over the year.  If the crew does it together it means just missing those three races.  Non racers are also important as volunteeers to drive Royal Forth, the RIBs or as Race Officers.  Please volunteer on line using Dutyman.

We also need volunteers for Push the Boat Out on Sunday 14 May.  This is a great opportunity for the Club to show the people of Edinburgh what we are all about.  But it needs a lot of effort to make it happen.  Please put your name on one or more of the lists on the Club notice board.

Finally you will note that my pic at the top of this Blog has changed from winter mode to sailing mode.  This reflects that I launched my boat at the weekend and it is now on its mooring waiting for sailing weather.

Friday 21 April

Sadly the weather has thwarted us.  The current forecast for Monday is too windy for the lift to go ahead so it is deferred to Thursday next week, 27 April.  This is unfortunate for our working members but safety has to take precedence and in any cast the crane company will not operate if it is too windy.  The next most suitable day is Thursday and the crane is available on that day so Thursday it is.

Tuesday 18 April

The weekend was again moderately  kind weatherwise for skippers still needing to work on their boats prior to lift-in.  With just 6 days to go now there is only one more weekend to go and fortunately for the last minute work it looks to be set fair albeit still cold.

The scheduled lift day itself, next Monday 24 April, looks to be a bit windy and high winds would result in a delay of a day (or more if necessary).  However, we are hopeful that the more benign conditions of the weekend slide over into Monday.

For new members without a boat do come along for the day if you are able.  It is a good social event and promotes great camaraderie. The day starts at 8 a.m. clearing the yard of trailers and dinghies.  The huge crane arrives a couple of hours later and there is an opportunity to purchase bacon rolls in the club house whilst it sets up.  The lift starts as soon as there is enough water which should be shortly before 11:00.  Lunches will be available, soup and rolls, and the day finishes when all the designated boats are in the water and the trailers and dinghies are back in the yard.  This will be late afternoon so it is a full day.

Tuesday 11 April

Another fine weekend and most of the boats expecting to be lifted in by the big crane have their antifoul on.  There are a few that haven’t started yet and it will be a bit of a rush for them as there is now only Easter weekend – which is looking to be cold – and the 2 days before lift-in which is leaving it a bit late.  Only 13 days to go.  There are a lot of maintenance items that can be left till the boat is afloat but antifoul isn’t one of them.

Meanwhile the latest copy of the RNLI magazine (copy available in the Club room) reminds us that the RNLI offers a free safety advice service.  Don’t worry that they will be recommending lots of expensive safety gear, they are primarily looking to help you review the safety aspects of your boat.  It can be done ashore or on the water.  To find out more go to RNLI.org/AdviceOnboard.

I recently included a piece about moorings.  Our hard working moorings team have this week come up with a piece of sinker chain which is seriously twisted.  This happens (particularly in the West Harbour) as a boat swings around the moorings in the wind and tide.  The way to avoid it is to use your boat.  Make sure you get it off the mooring and out on the water.  The riser chain then has an opportunity to get the kinks out of itself.

Wednesday 5 April

We have previously featured a piece on the web about the dangers to the ecology of plastics in cosmetics and toothpaste, etc.  The other problems to marine life are the plastics discarded into the sea along with all sorts of other rubbish.

If you feel strongly about this now is the chance to help.  Associated with  the Marine Conservation Society is WardieBayBeachwatch.  They have  a monthly exercise in Wardie Bay to clean up the plastics just round the corner from us.  On Tuesday next from 3pm, they’re organising another clean, this time for a TV programme and I wondered if any of our members or web readers would like to come down to help? They start to set up and work from 3pm and then the filming will start at 5pm. Channel 4’s ‘Food Unwrapped’ alsowant to interview Catherine Gemmell of MCS about Ocean Plastics.

Please think about going down and add to the numbers!

Meanwhile in the yard two weekends of fine weather have enabled essential work on the boats to proceed and it is gratifying to see fresh antifoul everywhere.  Lift in is now only 19 days away so time is running out fast.  Next weekend is looking possible although windy but don’t rely on the Easter weekend.  It is usually wet and windy.

Thursday 30 March

One of the things that sets us apart from other sailing clubs with moorings is that we offer our members fully serviced moorings.  There is no requirement for a member to get involved in laying or checking his boat’s mooring.  Which for busy members is a real benefit.  (That’s not to say that we turn away volunteers who might want to help with the moorings.)  But how many members know what is involved with laying and keeping moorings safe?  They also need to understand the obligation on them to routinely check the pennants attaching the boat to the mooring chain.

Tonight’s excellent winter talk covered just that.  Over 20 members got a clear illustrated insight into how our moorings are organised and what the potential issues and pitfalls are.  As well as the illustrations there were samples on display of how the components of a mooring can break down, which are prevented by proper servicing.

For new members, and existing members who may not be aware, an information pack will be produced and details also published on this web site.  However it won’t be quite the same as having it shown to you in detail, which was tonight’s treat.

Sunday 26 March

I’m just back from a few days away to my favourite city, Venice, where everything is done  by boat.  If you want to see amazing boat handling under power there is no better place.  Never mind the gondoliers and water taxis what the Venetians do with their delivery and service boats is nothing short of stunning to watch.  Without really slowing down till the last minute they put their boats into the smallest space against the quay and then tie up alongside with a single small piece of rope midships.

Then there is my old favourite the “midship spring”.  Banned in this country by the MCA as being unsafe for commercial use, hundreds of thousands of times it is used every year by the Vaporettos in Venice.  For readers who haven’t been to Venice, large water buses loaded with Venetians and tourists come alongside the pontoon “bus” stops, flick a large piece of rough rope over the bollard, a couple of turns and a locking hitch and the driver puts power on.  The Vaporetto is then secure enough for scores of people to get on and off in about a minute before a touch of reverse, flick off the line and on to the next stop.  It is a joy to watch.  Here are a couple of examples.  (The second also gives a bit of travelogue but a good example of the technique part way through.)

Meanwhile this weekend looks good for boat preparation with the sun out and  temperatures good enough for epoxy and antifouling.  I hope members are taking advantage of it.

One final thing.  If you haven’t been to Venice because you have heard it is smelly – it isn’t.  That is a myth.  Also that it is too crowded.  Sure there are a lot of tourists, but there are a lot of quiet areas where you can get away from it all.

Friday 17 March

Last night’s Winter Talk – “from purgatory to paradise” – was very entertaining and the members who came along were treated to an enviable summer cruise of Peak Flow.  It’s three owners took sections of it alone and together travelling via Inverness and the Caledonian Canal, among the Western Isles and as far north as Westray at the north end of  Orkney before returning via the East Coast.

There are still two more talks on the next two Thursdays (see Events).  I am particularly looking forward to the one on moorings on 30 March.  We boat owners put our trust in our moorings but how much do we know about them and what goes into making sure that they are secure?  This is the chance to find out.

We have long had the offering of hot coffee in the Club room and when some people complained that it was a bit ordinary a few years ago we changed the blend to something a bit stronger.  We have now gone a step further in response to comments to our strategic review and introduced Premium Coffee.  The previous filter coffee is still available, but there is also, at a slightly higher cost, a Nespresso machine, so that members can choose the strength of coffee that they like and have it as an expresso, Americano a latte or a cappucino.  Nobody can say that we don’t listen.

Monday 13 March

It is just 6 weeks to Lift In, so time to get going on all the tasks needed before putting the boat in the water.  Fortunately I don’t have much to do having downsized to a smaller boat with a copper coated hull.  So I don’t need to worry about antifouling.  Nonetheless the covers come off today and the list of jobs will be put together.

The Vice Commodore and I had a meeting with the University Sailing Club during the week to try to entice them back to Granton.  Their sailing club operates during the winter so they are hardy types and we will be pleased to see them back in the yard and on the water.

The Winter Talk this Thursday is about Peak Flow’s sailing adventures last year, entitled “from purgatory to paradise”.  It should be very interesting and non members are welcomed to come along.  Just introduce yourself to a member and get signed in.  Buzz at the gate for admission.

Saturday 4 March

I don’t know where  the time has gone.  There are still lots of things happening at the Club.

We had a visit from the Committee of the Edinburgh branch of the University of the Third Age (U3A).  They have about 1,800 members in Edinburgh and the expectation is that some of them might be tempted into sailing.

This week the Thursday talk was a film about the adventures of two of the Club boats in convoy on the West Coast.

Work continues on the Club boats and there have been repairs carried out on the moorings for the South end of the EML pontoons.  Working parties have been de-rusting and painting the race marks with another team taking advantage of the dry weather tomorrow (Sunday) morning to continue the work.

Also tomorrow is the monthly afternoon music session.  All are welcome and the bar is open.

Tuesday is the next Winter Talk, which is about “Sailing Fast”.  This is not just for the racing fraternity as there are always times when even cruising boats want to sail a bit faster, particularly when on passage and needing to make a tide gate or get over a marina sill or just to get back into Granton in time for the launch service.

The following week the talk is back to Thursday (March 16) for an insight into Peak Flow’s adventures last year.  Peak Flow is a Contessa 32 for those who don’t know her.

Friday 17 February.

The blog has been rather quiet for a couple of weeks as I have been very ill (now recovering).  That doesn’t mean that the Club is quiet though.

There was a modest turn-out for the Volunteers day but it was an enjoyable event for those who did come along.  The Winter talks continue and the screenings of the Six Nations Rugby continue to draw members.  Last Saturday was the joint Quiz night with the Corinthians and a team from RFYC was victorious.  As far as I can make out the prizes were Corinthians’ Beanie hats which got a mixed reception.

Meanwhile the Harbour team were doing the finishing touches to the moorings launch repairs with the winch and hydraulics now working.  We can now get on with the moorings servicing before lift in.  We also have to fit in installing the first of the replacement ground chains.

Sunday 5 February

It has been a busy week at the club with some essential tasks going on in the background.  The kitchen had its annual deep clean at the start of the week and the club room carpets are to be cleaned tomorrow.  All fitted in to what has been a busy week on the social front.  Not only did we have the first of the Winter Talks on Thursday, but yesterday saw the first of the Six Nations matches shown on the big screen in the club room.  It was a bonus that Scotland won convincingly.  Today is the gathering to thank the volunteers who do so much for the club and make it the busy vibrant place that it is.  It coincides with the monthly music session so it should be an enjoyable day.  Unfortunately I can’t be there due to illness which has laid me low all week.

Also this week our Harbour Committee have been trying to source chain for laying new ground chain for our moorings.  After years buried in the mud, the old chain has deteriorated in parts and we have instigated a programme of replacing it.  Unfortunately even second hand replacement chain is expensive as well as being cumbersome to manage and store.  But it is an essential task and one of the many things that go on in the background.

Wednesday 1 February

I should have mentioned yesterday that our Winter Talks  start this Thursday – that’s tomorrow.  We have a packed programme this year with something for everybody.  Non-members who are thinking they might join us are more than welcome.  Just come along to the Club and get one of our friendly members to sign you in.  It is a good way to find out about the Club and what it offers.

VISITORS

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2017 Sailing Instructions

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Upcoming Events

  1. Christmas Lunch

    Friday, December 15 @ 2:30 pm
  2. Burns Night Ceilidh

    Friday, January 26, 2018 @ 7:00 pm
  3. 150th anniversary Regatta

    Saturday, June 23, 2018 - Sunday, June 24, 2018
  4. Start of Orkney race

    Thursday, June 28, 2018 @ 7:00 pm