Commodore’s Blog – 1 July to 30 September 2017

Sunday 24 September

The Harbour team are still busy with yard enhancements, currently re-pointing the old railway wall and dredging the EML pontoons.  There is still racing going on into the Autumn and lift out is looming so it is time to get in the last couple of weeks sailing and plan for mast lifting.

Thursday 7 September

In a busy Club the days pass too quickly and it is over 10 days since our very successful Wine Tasting evening at the Club.  Over 40 members and guests were treated to a wide range of wines presented and explained expertly by Will.  He is qualified to advance level with the Wine and Spirits Education Trust  so knows what he is talking about.  I am told that lights out was at 1 a.m on the Sunday so it was certainly lively.

This past weekend we were hosting the East Coast Sailing Festival at the Club and this too was not only a racing success but a social one.  There was a lot of good feedback from the visitors as to the friendliness of the Club and praise for our facilities.  The event included the Scottish Dragon Championships, yet another national event taking advantage of our wonderful sailing and racing waters.

For all except the Dragons, the event culminated in a move up to Port Edgar for the opening of the new Queensferry Crossing.  A large number of boats of all sizes down to a number of rowing skiffs and a canoe or two circled the towers of the new bridge as a flotilla and blew their horns and klaxons as the bridge was opened by Her Majesty the Queen.  Despite the grey skies it was a wonderful and momentous event.  I was there as can be seen below.  Further pictures can be seen on the flotilla post.

The Commodore passing in front of Pole Star, the leader of the “fast” column.

Unfortunately we are now officially in Autumn, and the papers have gone out to boat owners with details of winter storage and lift out.  Hasn’t the summer (and I use the term loosely) gone fast?

Saturday 26 August

Last Sunday saw a very successful Cruise in Company with 9 boats and 20 plus members taking part.  For a full report and pics see C-in-C.  The pics from the previous C-in-C have also been added.

We have has a slightly better week weather wise since then and I managed to get out on Thursday with two of the newer members as crew.  Sailing across to Aberdour we attempted to heave to just outside the harbour for a tea break.  The combination of wind and current in that corner made this somewhat problematical so we tried to use the backed jib to put us back on track to sail out.  It didn’t want to play, we were well and truly stalled.  Every time we tried to sail away the boat turned up into the wind again and eventually we had to get the engine on to push us through the tack and out on course for Granton, after which we were fine.

I wondered whether the current (about 1.8 kt) was having an effect and preventing us from getting us up to effective speed.  Doing a bit of research on boat stalling there was a suggestion that extra weight (3 big guys) in the stern might have added to the difficulty.  Whatever the reason, it was a good lesson that nothing is certain in sailing and there is something new to experience every time you venture out.

On the routine operational side of the Club, it is encouraging to hear that the dredger is now operational again and will shortly start dredging the inside of the EML pontoons, possibly in advance of the East Coast Sailing Festival (from 1 to 4 September).

Racing as usual is on today, the Saturday Series continues, and on Monday evening a number of the boats are heading out into Wardie Bay for the Festival Fireworks.  Last year one of the boats managed to take out some big speakers so we heard the music as well.  A special boatman service is promised to help anybody needing to get back onto their moorings after the event.  The more fortunate skippers (who don’t have to work the next day) can go onto the pontoon.

On the social side, tonight is a wine tasting in the Club with over 30 tickets sold.  It should be a fun occasion.

Saturday 19 August

Tomorrow is on the calendar as being the next Cruise in Company.  There is a boatman from 10:30 to 18:00 and the forecast looks promising.  The tide also allows for a full day out on the  water so bring your lunch.

The plan is to meet at the Club at 10:00  for a briefing and then out to the boats when the boatman arrives.  Destination to be decided at the briefing.

Tuesday 15 August

The Festival Series got off to a good start last night with some 9 boats taking part across two fleets.

Wind was southerly ish but with big shifts and puffs in it. One of the new courses was used and they raced using K which gave  a good beat and is a great addition. The race was shortened as the wind was getting lighter and the light was fading. It was a challenging race to crew as the sail set was continually needing changed both upwind and down. But it was lovely flat water.

Monday 14 August

I have just had confirmation of the new Queensferry Crossing Opening flotilla for Monday 4 September.

We have to muster at Port Edgar by 10:45 which means that we need to leave Granton before the boatman comes on.  So it requires a night on the pontoon, which, because it is the East Coast Sailing Festival is not at the fully discounted rates.  The boatman is on till 18:00 so unless going into Port Edgar for the follow up festivities there should be plenty of time for the return trip.  For more details see post.

Sunday 13 August

I was out on the water in the Committee Boat yesterday afternoon for the Crew Race.  It was with much pleasure that I noted Willie’s boat, Shalimar, out on the water after a couple of years of relative inactivity.  Despite the odd light shower it was a good afternoon on the water.

I have previously recommended a film about sailing, All is Lost, with Robert Redford as a solo yachtsman in a damaged boat.  It is showing on Film 4 again this week, at 9 p.m. on Monday.  See it or record it if you can.  It is a great film about sailing and surviving.

One awful thought to share with you.  It is just over two months to lift out so we need to get out on the water and make the most of whatever weather we can.

Friday 11 August

It’s been a busy week at the Club with even some reasonable sailing weather.  Last Sunday was the Jubilee Cup, a Joint Passage Race with the Corinthians.  We have had practice racing sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, where the racers were able to practice race starts, and our regular Thursday Open Sailing evening for the cruisers.  Unfortunately one of the boats got their propellor caught on a pot buoy at the mouth of the Harbour.  Fortunately the engine was out of gear so no harm done.  It is just a reminder to be on the lookout for pot buoys, particularly round the harbour mouth.

Tonight is the next Joint White Sail with the Corinthians and tomorrow is the Crew Race.  This is the opportunity for somebody who is not the normal helm to have a go.  It is followed on Sunday with the Marsh and Surrey Joint Passage Race.

Then on Monday to Wednesday next week we have one of our big Open races, the Festival Series.  This is open to keelboats from outside clubs and is timed to tie in with the Edinburgh Festival.

Details of all these races is on this web site under Events.

Saturday 5 August

It’s August already and there is still not much in the way of good weather for sailing.  Whilst the continent is getting overheated we are having cold, rain and strong winds.  I wrote last week that the  Thursday cruising suffered from dramatic changes in the wind.  It is also reported that the Sunday Cruise in Company suffered the same dramatic weather changes.  See the post.  The encouraging detail is that some 7 boats turned out and those participating did enjoy themselves.

On the land side the Harbour team have been doing further work on tidying and improving the yard.  We have always had a smart club house but it is not easy to make a boat yard smart.  However, the team have been replacing and repairing fences and gates and generally cleaning up.

Looking ahead, it has been confirmed that Her Majesty the Queen is to open the new Queensferry Crossing on Monday 4 September, which just happens to be the anniversary of the opening of the original Forth Road Bridge exactly 53 years ago.  A flotilla sail past is being planned and it is hoped that some of our members will take part.  Details and timings are yet to be finalised.

Sunday 30 July

Thursday evening started well though there were only a handful of crew and two boats, Solveg and Cory Louise.  Though windy in the afternoon it had settled by the time we got aboard so I dropped out the two reefs left over from my previous outing.  Big mistake.  Both boats set off well under full canvas making good passage towards Oxcars in some fleeting sunshine.  However heavy black clouds ahead presaged some stronger winds but we sailed on regardless as our speed increased to over 6 knots.  A nasty gust and almost a broach brought us to reason that a reef, or maybe two were in order, but having managed to achieve that discretion brought about dropping the main and turning for home under mizzen and jib.  By now the seas had turned from comfortable slight to uncomfortable moderate and close hauled without the main made progress much slower.  To make it worse the rain started and we ended up motor sailing the last mile.  Of course once we were back on the mooring the wind eased and it brightened up considerably.  Such is the joy of sailing.

It is to be hoped that today’s Cruise in Company fares better.  Winds are forecast to be lighter and the rain scheduled (if we believe it) to be before and after the time out on the water.  There may also be spells of sunshine.  Lets hope.

Wednesday 26 July

The summer continues to be evasive.  One good sailing day last week and one good day this week with a poor weekend in between.

Tomorrow evening is Open Cruising and though the winds look OK, as opposed to this evening when the racing was called off for winds of force 5 gusting 6, the weather is forecast to be the usual mix of sunshine and showers.  Still, we shall turn out at 5:45 pm and see how it goes.  Potential new members are welcome.

Sunday is the next Cruise in Company.

The forecast is mixed with sunny periods and the possibility of some showers in the afternoon, but the winds look to be very favourable and from the South West so we would not expect it to be too choppy.

It is over a split tide, so suitable anchorages may be a bit scarce but we will try and find somewhere safe to go. It’s often interesting to see our cruising grounds at low water as we are able to eyeball some of the hazards that usually lurk under the surface though as it is a half tide it will not be as dramatic as at a spring tide. Interesting nonetheless.  Again potential members are welcome.

Wednesday 19 July

The Open Sailing last Thursday attracted 9 people and 3 boats.  Not surprising because it was looking rather cool, windy and a forecast of rain.   Despite that we went out and had a really good sail, getting back just before the rain started in earnest.  I took out a newbie in my BayCruiser20 and he had a great time, helming just about all the way round Inchmickery and back.  The two Seamasters managed to get a bit further up towards Inchcolm.  So, as always, it paid to turn up on the evening.  Perhaps we will see a few more takers for the next outing on 27 July.

The windy conditions on the evening suited the racers who were out for their Late Evening Points 5.  Racing attendance has been pretty good so far this year with a good turnout for most races.  On Saturday we had the Coronation Cup, one of our Stern Chases) and next Saturday sees our Royal Eastern Regatta.  This counts as our first three races of the Late Saturday Series.

Our next Open event, the Festival Series is coming up in mid August (tying into the Edinburgh Festival) with the big event, The East Coast Sailing Festival, jointly organised by ourselves and the Corinthians under the auspices of the Forth Yacht Clubs Association, coming at the beginning of September.  This replaces the Edinburgh Regatta for this year.

So there is plenty going on on the racing front and if anybody wants to try racing either in their own boat or as crew do come along.  The full program is shown in the Yearbook, available on this site.  (See the right hand side-bar of this page.)

Tuesday 11 July

Tonight our Cadets are out on the water training.  It is encouraging that we have a full class of Cadets this year.  Perhaps there is another future star among them.

Thursday evening sees the next of our Open Cruising events run in parallel to our Late Evening Points racing.  By Open we mean that it is open to non members who might want to come along and get out for an evening cruise to see what it is all about and understand the benefits of becoming a member.  For any potential member who wants to try racing we can also find (usually) a place on a racing boat for the evening.  At the moment Thursday evening looks fair with a decent wind though potentially a bit gusty.  On the day – who knows unless you turn up to see.  Meet at the Club house at 17:45.

Monday 10 July

Over the weekend there were a number of social occasions.  On Friday evening there was an evening of food and refreshment and happy socialising for the volunteers from the Helgoland event.  Sadly a number of the people who made Helgoland such a success were unable to attend but for those that did – a good time ensued.

On Sunday we had the July edition of the Cruise in Company.  Despite a poor forecast and the threat of rain on the day there was a reasonable turnout.  You can see Brian’s report on the day here.

Saturday 8 July

A very unprepossessing week for sailing.  Today is a lot better for those fortunate to get out.  Tomorrow is our next Cruise in Company, which is open to potential members to come and try sailing, but though the wind looks OK for the afternoon (departure is likely to be at about noon) there is the chance of an odd shower.

Monday 3 July

We have been informed that there is a temporary closure of the Forth and Clyde Canal.  See post.

Sunday 2 July

We have had a number of cruise ships in the Forth over the past few days both up by the Forth Bridge and off Leith. I don’t know if anybody else noticed it but I happened to be down at Leith docks on Thursday and spotted this very special cruise liner,  Sea Cloud II.

I am not a person who does cruises, but I must admit I would rather like to go on a cruise on this one, or her sister ship Sea Cloud. They operate out of Malta but sail the World.  This one was off to Aberdeen and then Kirkwall in the Orkneys, where she is at the moment.  Interestingly when checking their web site they both seem to be pretty well booked up for some time ahead, unlike a lot of the more normal floating hotel cruise ships.

Meantime for us mere mortals, with more modest cruising requirements the weather continues to be very disappointing.  I managed to get out  yesterday for only my fifth or sixth outing of the season in what was supposed to be reasonable conditions but ended up not going far with greatly reduced sail area and very gusty winds.

On the EML pontoons we continue to get a few visitors and the big German boat that has been there since Helgoland is currently gathering its new crew ready to sail off tonight or early tomorrow.

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