Saturday 30 June

It was a lovely sailing day on Thursday and we had another go at the Seasons Challenge, this time to round Inchcolm.  With a north easterly we had a brisk fine reach up to Inchcolm and a run down Mortimer’s Deep.  Rounding the west side of Inchcolm picking up the wind again we headed for Granton with the possibility of a good time to submit to the Challenge.  It was not to be.  The wind had veered a little and it was difficult to make directly for Granton and we found ourselves close to Crammond. Tacking did us very little good as that put us into the swell caused by the easterlies and it was now wind over tide which didn’t help.  Coupled with a decided easing of the wind we we making very little progress in the right direction and our fast time was becoming a very slow time indeed.  So it was on with the engine and motor sailing the last mile.  The Season’s Challenge will have to wait for another day.  It was a great sail though and there were only a couple of other boats out on the water despite the perfect sailing weather.

We do appear to be unfortunate with our weather here on the Forth.  If we have fine warm day we seem to be hit with an overcast or misty day 24 hours later.  Then another fine day followed by another cold misty day.  The joys living on the east coast.  Today was sunny again but very windy withstrong gusts.  Not enough to deter most of the racing fraternity who were taking part in the Neilson Plate / Early Saturday Series 6 race.

Tomorrow early in the morning, they tell me about 06:30 though I won’t be there to see it, five Club boats set off for an Anniversary Cruise in Company to Inverness.  We wish them well.

Thursday 28 June

I mentioned in a recent post Sir Robin  Knox Johnston’s epic race in 1968.  He and Sir Francis Chichester before him inspired many of us and gave us an appetite to go sailing.

Interestingly, 50 years since RKJ set off on his epic race it is about  to be replicated.  The Golden Globe Race is setting off on the 1st July from Les Sables D’Olonne  –  same day as our 150th anniversary cruise coincidentally.

Where we have the advantage  and convenience of modern day navigation aids the boats that are competing in the GGR have to meet specifications similar to those of 1968 and skippers are sailing “as if it was 1968”.  Incidentally, in this year’s GGR there are a number of Biscay 36 yachts competing. Similar to our clubs Blue Biscay.

There is an excellent GGR dedicated web page set up and the footage on you tubethat is compulsive.  No doubt a number of our members will be following the race with great interest.

Back to more local news, the Club has had an upsetting theft last week of the outboard engine on Boswall Bell, the little orange boat used as a safety boat for the Cadet training.  It is despicable that someone should come along and remove the engine from what is obviously a Club safety boat.  It is not yet certain whether it was stolen from the land or from the water and we are checking the CCTV footage to determine how and who was responsible.

Wednesday 27 June

Whilst clearing out some old posts to tidy up the new web site, I came across this post showing the Pharos Pier when ships only had sails.  Granton Harbour picture of 1887

Tuesday 26 June

What a fabulous day it was for sailing yesterday.  Sunny, warm with a light breeze.  I was the only boat out on the Forth apart from a German who was leaving the pontoon and heading out for the North Sea. With a decent south Westerly I thought I would have a go at the Season’s Challenge and do a rounding of Inch Mickery, the island on the Forth the looks like a warship (said to be built like that to deter submarines during the war):

In the event, I could only manage a steady three knots so it was not a winning time but it was a great sail.

The Season’s Challenge is the annual competition for Cruisers, particularly those who don’t race, giving them the chance to be a bit competitive.  It involves rounding as many of the islands on the Forth as possible as fast as possible, choosing when and how to do it taking your time from and back to the harbour mouth at Granton.  There are prizes for the fastest time round each island during the season and a prize for the best to go round all the islands.  However yesterday’s sail was not fast enough to submit.

Today on the other hand I was out again and it was overcast and misty but with a stronger wind.  Unfortunately I didn’t set out to compete so did not take my time of departure so in fact sailed on to Inchcolm before turning back to Granton.  It was a great sail with speeds of over 5 knots, and again there was only one other boat on the river.

I mentioned a German boat leaving the pontoon which reminded me of an account by a friend of mine who was at the 100th Anniversary Regatta.  He tells me that there were three German Boats in the harbour for that event (and I believe it was the start of the biennial Helgoland Race which this year celebrated 50 years).  Anyway, he was chatting to one of the skippers about the difficulties of his passage across the North Sea.  Those were the days before GPS or any electronic aids to navigation.  (See also Robin Knox-Johnston below).  The German skipper replied that it had not been a problem as he was familiar with the passage as he had been the captain of a German U-Boat during the war.  There’s no answer to that.

Sunday 24 June

It was a wonderful sailing day today and the second day of the Anniversary Regatta made the most of it.  There was a brisk breeze with sun and blue skies.  Racing for both fleets was excellent with some closely contested races.  At the end of racing, a buffet was provided in the club Bar and then the Prize Giving followed.  There were prizes for a number of boats though one boat did particularly well.  If we could have guaranteed today’s weather Perhaps the turnout would have been even greater.  That notwithstanding, the event was much enjoyed by all those who took part and was adjudged to be a great success.  Thanks are due to our sponsors, Urban Union, whose support helps to make these events both a success and affordable for the competitors.

Coming up this week is the Anniversary Cruise in Company which starts on Saturday.  A number of Club boats will set off for Inverness, stopping on the way at Arbroath, Stonehaven, Lossimouth/Whitehills and finishing at Inverness.  The boats will then head in various directions, to the West Coast via the Caledonian Canal, to Orkney/The Shetlands or back to Granton.  More details in due course.

Saturday 23 June

The regatta got off to a fine start this morning.  Not as many entries as in the past few years but we did attract boats from Port Edgar, Dalgetie Bay and Aberdour.  There were two racing fleets, with different races.  The faster boats on a windward leeward course with three races and the cruisers with two races.  The first was a passage race of over 2 hours followed by a shorter race round the cans.  Wind conditions good, weather mostly overcast but warmish.  This was followed by prize giving in the Club with food and drink well into the evening.  Repeated tomorrow in whatever conditions are thrown at us.

I mentioned that I was off to Royal Ascot.   It is relevant to the Club and to the 150th Anniversary.  Our Patron, HRH the Princess Royal is allocated a number of places for lunch at Royal Ascot each year in Her Majesty’s Official Guest Tent.  She chose to invite nine of her charities, which are celebrating significant Anniversaries this year, to nominate somebody to attend with their spouse.  I was greatly honoured that our new Commodore nominated me and my wife in recognition of the tough and challenging three years that I had as recent Commodore.  (Club members will know the background to this.)  It was a magical experience.  Not just the lunch with HRH in the Royals Tent but access to parts of the course not open to the rest of the public to see The Queen’s Carriage Procession arrive and then a private box for her guests at the top of the stand with refreshments on tap.  A truly wonderful day at which I was to be the flag bearer for the Royal Forth Yacht Club.  (As a foot note, I did win a bit of money, but not as much as I lost – but they were small wagers.)

Picking up on another of my notes earlier this month about Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and the Globe Challenge, one of my readers has given me an update on this.  But it can wait till another day.

PS: The photos of the Parade of Sail have been updated for this new version.  Uploading photos no longer worked on the old version.

Sunday 17 June

I have before recommended the film “All is Lost” with Robert Redford struggling to survive in the middle of the ocean in a failing yacht.  It can be seen again tonight (or set the recorder) on Channel 4 at midnight.  When I last reported on it, at my second viewing, I said that there were some things that I felt he should have done sooner and some things the I was a bit slow to think of.  Interestingly Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was asked about it he reckoned that it was “A terrible film.  Absolute rubbish.” though he approved of the more recent film about Donald Crowhurst – The Mercy.    However, as one of the rare films about sailing, All is lost is worth watching, just don’t be too critical technically.

Talking of Robin Knox-Johnston, I am re-reading his book “A World of My Own” about his  round the world solo voyage to win the Golden Globe Race.  Starting in June 1968, just about on our 100th Anniversary, he was the only competitor to complete the race sailing a 32 foot boat which was not specifically built for the race.  Comparing it with Helen MacArthur’s round the world races, “Taking on the World”, which I also re-read a few months ago, the differences are huge.  Food, communications, weather tracking, computers, backup teams and specially built boats were all so very different.  If you haven’t already read both these books – do so soon.  Robin Knox-Johnston’s achievements and his approach to the sailing are inspiring.

It was dreadful weather yesterday and I have not had any reports yet about the Coronation Cup.  I will report if and when I do.

This coming week we have the mid season series of the weekday racing, Open Sailing on Thursday (which I shall miss as Is am off to Royal Ascot – but more of that in due course) and our 150th Anniversary Regatta on Saturday and Sunday.  The next of our big anniversary events.  See the Events details.

Tuesday 12 June

I understand that we have had feedback from our Patron and that she enjoyed the Parade of Sail on Saturday, which is very satisfying.  The plaque commemorating the visit is now up on the wall near the Club entrance.

Our next event is the Coronation Cup on  Saturday, 16th June.  First start 16:00

This is a stern chase that can be a great spectacle as the finish (which should be around HW at 18:00) is outside the clubhouse.  Boats often finish close together and because handicaps are applied to start times, rather than elapsed time, the finishing order is the final result.

There is a BBQ planned between 17:00 and 19:00 with music afterwards. All members are very welcome to come and join this event; one for all the family.

I have just had the Club insignia embroidered onto my new body warmer/gilet. Although I didn’t buy it from Super Logo, who put our Club insignia on their own products, for a mere £4 they have done a wonderful job.  If members have forgotten about this excellent service see details here: Super Logo/Club Products

Sunday 10 June

Last night was an excellent Anniversary Dinner.  And it was great to be welcomed to the venue at the Royal Scots Club by two of the Clubs pipers:

Thanks to a lot of effort by the Commodore, Rear Commodore and the House Committee it worked very well.  The venue and the meal were first class.  The meal was followed by a brief history of the Royal Forth Yacht Club which went down well  and the Commodore of the Forth Corinthian Yacht Club, one of the guests, proposed the toast to the Royal Forth Yacht Club.  Everybody seemed to  enjoy themselves, in particular the many long term members and past Commodores who were in attendance.

Today was the monthly Cruise in Company and, regrettably, the weather let us down again. Instead of the previously forecast bright periods and reasonable wind it was heavily overcast, very misty with no wind and a forecast for showers later in the morning.  The sun was scheduled to arrive at about 4 p.m. just when the boatman was going off duty.  Only a handful of people turned up including 4 skippers but only one boat decided to set out, under motor, for lunch at Aberdour.  One of the skippers had driven down from Aberdeen for the occasion and he ended up doing some planned maintenance on his boat.

Ironically yesterday, which was scheduled to be the less attractive sailing day of the weekend, turned out sunny, warm with a good breeze.  A great day’s sailing according to one report.  Such are the joys of Scottish sailing.

Friday 8 June

It was a great evening’s sailing last night, with a brisk easterly and a sunny if cool evening.  Unfortunately only two boats were available for the Open Cruising but we managed to get two new people out on the water having attracted them with the Push the boat Out.  There were other boats out, with the racing fleet out in reasonable numbers and another boat out practicing anchoring, or so I believe.  This Sunday is a Cruise in Company and it should be a good day as the forecast is good and we have tide from the start time 10:00 till 16:00.

I have to apologise as in recent reports about our Edinburgh haar I missed a couple of auto-corrections by the system which resulted in my reporting that we were suffering from a “hair” over the water.  Such is the magic of technology.

Wednesday 6 June

Tomorrow is our first Open Cruising evening of the season, the Thursday evening cruise in company to which potential members are welcome to come along and give sailing a try.  There is also racing taking place, so if somebody is wanting to try the racing type of sailing there is every chance we can get them a place on one of the racing yachts.  It starts at 6 p.m. at the Club.

Tuesday 5 June

For more details on how the Parade of Sail event went, we have a couple of posts reporting it:

We have Our Parade of Sail, From HM Naval Base Clyde’s Facebook Page.

And we have a detailed account of the day with photos Anniversary Parade of Sail.

We will add to the photos as we get more of them.

Sunday 3 June

When still Commodore last year, when I originally conceived the idea of a sail past with our Patron taking the salute as part of our Anniversary celebrations, I had little idea of what a success it would be.  Even last November when I was making a bid for a visit to the Club by HRH, The Princess Royal, I wasn’t sure that it would happen.  There is never any guarantee that she will be able to fit a particular event into her very busy calendar.  We were honoured that she felt that it was a sufficiently significant event to come along, and make it her only event of the day.  Getting her to unveil a plaque to celebrate the event and our Anniversary was a bonus brought about by a box on the bid sheet asking if we wanted a plaque unveiled.   This will shortly be mounted just outside the Club door above the giant anchor which graces our patio.

The glorious Parade of Sail that it turned into was thanks to a lot of work by everybody involved, the Commodore and his team, the House Committee, other members who helped and tidied and cleaned the Club surrounds for the day, through to the many members who turned up to the reception and got their boats our on the water for the parade.  We even had a former member who had been at the 100th Anniversary celebrations and had the badge to prove it.  It also involved HRH’s staff, the Lord Provost’s office, the Royal Navy Reserve for providing HMS Archer for the platform to take the salute and the Sea Cadets who provided a guard of honour.  Our own Cadets also put in an appearance with one of their Toppers.

The final contribution was the weather.  Having been promised thunderstorms and experiencing fog all morning, the haar lifted, the rain held off and the dignatories were able to see the Parade and take the salute from the flying bridge of HMS Archer.

It was truly a fitting and memorable way to celebrate our 150th Anniversary.

Saturday 2 June

What a truly wonderful day.  Our Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, was everything one expected her to be.  At the reception she talked to over 70 members and guests and then unveiled a plaque commemorating the event.  She then talked to the Cadets before embarking on HMS Archer to take the salute for a Parade of Sail.  We managed to field over 30 boats for the parade, sailing past HMS Archer with HRH taking the salute.  Despite the forecast the weather did us proud.  Although it was heavily overcast and threatened to rain, the rain held off, the wind was enough to power the sailboats without engines and it was a wonderful sight.  I hope to get some photos shortly which will be put up on a separate page.  After her departure the club room was buzzing with people enjoying a drink and some food.  A truly memorable event to commemorate the 150th Anniversary.  Congratulations to everybody who were involved in the planning and execution of the event.

Next Saturday sees the next event for the Anniversary year, the Anniversary Dinner at the Royal Scots Club.

Thursday 31  May

Yet again the harbour is shrouded in fog.  It is very interesting to see and monitor it on the web cam.  It has certainly limited any sailing this week.

Today I became aware that another anniversary aligns itself with ours, sort of.  The RYA Magazine was launched when we were celebrating our 100th anniversary.  It celebrates 50 years since its first edition.  There is another link in that the President of the RYA is also our Patron, HRH, The Princess Royal.  The latest copy of the magazine is as usual very interesting.  I know that many sailors question the value of the RYA, but as a  supporter, who has also benefitted from their training programmes, I know that they work hard for their members in matters like the impact of Brexit on sailors and also the danger from fishing gear which is inadequately marked.  Re the latter they encourage all of us to report problems with badly marked fishing gear on

Another RYA activity which we are currently benefiting from is the Marine Scotland investigation into the proposed Granton Marina. An initial scoping report is sent out to Statutory and non-statutory stakeholders, and the RYA is one of the latter.  They then clarify a lot of the issues before it goes out to other interested parties for comment like ourselves.

Wednesday 30 May

On Tuesday the hair took even longer to burn off and today it is again hanging over the Forth.

We hope for better weather this coming Saturday which is the first big event of our 150th Anniversary Year, a Parade of Sail.  After a reception in the club house some 23 or so of the Club’s boats, little and large, will sail across Wardie Bay past HMS Archer where a VIP will take the salute.  Work has been going on over the past couple of weeks to get the club house in good shape for the event.

Monday 28 May

Sunday was a rotten day, cold and overcast and this morning was a heavy mist over the city and the boats in the harbour were barely visible.  By 11:00 the sun had burnt through in the city but the hair was still over the harbour.  At 14:00 it looked as if the haar was clearing from the Forth so I headed down to Granton fully intending to get out on the water.  But it was not to be.  The hair had partially rolled back in again so I headed back inland to the garden where it was gloriously hot.

Anybody going down to the harbour later in the afternoon almost certainly fared better as the sun burnt off the mist and it became a lovely afternoon though the wind was gusty.  The joys of our sailing grounds.

I wonder from time to time whether to continue with the blog, but I am encouraged by one of my regular readers from last year thanking me for reinvigorating it.  My bellwether is if I am getting over 300 hits per month.  More than that and it is worth doing.  Less and it is questionable.  At the moment I am on the cusp.  We watch with interest.

Saturday 26 May

I’ve not been down to the Club today – its a bit cold and windy with a sharp easterly wind – but I notice on the web cam that Conserver, the big buoy handling and survey vessel which lives near the north end of the pontoons, is dressed overall and moored at the slip.   Not sure yet what all that is about but it is a fine sight.

Friday 25 May

It was a great morning to go sailing.  Initially flat calm, a breeze soon came in and it was a great sail in the sunshine.

Not everyone could go sailing though.  A working party was again working on the mooring chain on the chain barge, sorting out the next ground chain to lay and clearing off scrap to take to the scrap merchant.  For anybody who doesn’t fully understand how we do our moorings we lay long lines of very heavy chain across the harbour.  To these we attach smaller riser chains which are topped with a buoy.  Also shackled to the top of the chain are a couple of pennants, thick rope with a loop in the end, which are pulled out of the water and to which we attach the boats.  We use two lines in case one of them comes adrift (though they shouldn’t- but it pays to be careful).  We have a special platform to manage the chain together with a tough work boat specially built to handle the chain:

Over many years the chains rust away – they don’t like sea water – and have to be replaced.  Fortunately the rusty chain still has a scrap value to offset the cost of new chain.

Wednesday 23 May

A happening of interest down at the Club today was a visit from a friendly drone.

Provided by friends of mine at LA Media ( they were kind enough to get some up to date pictures of the Club and yard, our Edinburgh Marina and the harbour.  They
will be a useful record of the Club and its environs in our sesquicentennial year.  Members will have seen in this year’s handbook the picture of the harbour in our centenary year.

There are many components to running the Club and the Committees are part of that.  So today we also had the Harbour Committee meeting to review issues of moorings, yard and all the other things that make the harbour side of the operation work.

Monday 21 May

There was good racing on Saturday afternoon.  Fine weather and a good breeze got quite a few boats out though only 8 racing: 4 H Boats, 3 Dragons and a Squib.  The Squib was the only boat in Fleet 2 so was bound to win his races.  We need to get more boats out for Fleet 2 and 3.  Its a good opportunity to win some of the prizes.

In the Harbour this week we are taking a survey round the pontoons and in the approach, to update the references in various locations and publications.  The area round the Edinburgh Marina pontoons is sadly silting up and needs dredging but there are no plans for this at present.  The Harbour Team are also gathering together scrap chain to take to the scrap yard.  It provides a few pounds for other uses.

Saturday 19 May

The cake wend down well.  I wasn’t sure how many people would be able to come and enjoy it, so it was large but not huge, but the numbers were enhanced by a visit from one of our Out of Port members who lives in Canada who specifically come down for the celebration cake.  The message had got out so other members came along as the morning progressed and by the time I left there wasn’t much left.  So for anybody who came down later in the day – sorry you missed it.

It has been a lovely week for sailing.  I have been out on the water more in the past week than I did in any month last year.  Some in a good breeze, getting round Inchcombe and then on another afternoon to Aberdour.  Some outings in very light airs so not getting far but delighting on being out on the water.  On one of those days when the wind was vey light and from the East, I was puzzled to see a line of waves in the middle distance, as if they were breaking on a shore or across a reef.  On motoring out to investigate I found that it was indeed a line of waves being produced for no obvious reason.  There was no sign of a vessel or its wake and in any case it was a straight line not a radiating pair of lines.  Perhaps it was a build up with the easterly breeze meeting a current round Inchkeith, though it was some way off the latter but parallel to it.  An enigma.

Not all of us have been able to go sailing, even if not working.  Other members have been putting out the racing marks whilst the Commodore has been sorting out the flags and ensigns for the first of our big anniversary events, the Parade Of  Sail.

There is, however, a bit of a celebratory party this evening after the racing.  This being the nearest activity to the exact day of the anniversary.

Wednesday 16 May

Today is our birthday, our 150th Anniversary, the sesquicentennial.

On this day in 1868 the Granton Yacht Club was formed by a group of twenty six local gentlemen who were interested in the encouragement of active boating among the people of Edinburgh. The annual subscription was 6 shillings and Mr George Stevenson of Granton was the first President, Mr Robert Darling of Trinity the first Secretary.

The name was changed to ‘Forth Yacht Club’ in 1872 and in 1883 Her Majesty Queen Victoria was ‘graciously pleased to command’ that henceforth the Club would be known as the ‘Royal Forth Yacht Club’. Lord Rosebery unfurled the first ensign of the Royal Forth and there was a celebratory serving of cake and wine and a display of fireworks.

So this morning there was celebratory cake at coffee time in the Club.

Not quite in line with the celebration but on Sunday we had a most successful open day, Push The Boat Out – and 180 people signed up to do just that.  With eight or so sailing boats and two RIBs, we got them all out on the water for a short trial outing on the water.  Some of them signed up immediately to join the Club.  The Coastal Rowers, the local Sea Cadet units and a visit from the RNLI lifeboat from South Queensferry made up the day.

Friday 11 May

This coming Sunday is our Open Day – Push the Boat Out when we throw open the doors to anybody and everybody to come and try sailing.  Last year we had almost 200 people out on the water.  SO far the weather for Sunday appears to be showery during our event hours from 12 noon to 4 p.m. but sunny periods either side of it.  We have to hope that the forecasters are out by a few hours and we have an afternoon of sunny periods with light breezes.  We have a number of boats lined up to take out the visitors both sailing boats and RIBS.  The Sea Cadets are expected to be there competing for the annual Outram Trophy and  the Coastal Rowers will also be taking people out to try rowing.  In addition the RNLI may turn up with the Queensferry Lifeboat – provided they are not out on a shout.

Then next week is our Birthday.  On Wednesday 16 May we will be 150 years old.  Though there is nothing planned for the day, we do have plans for a number of events over the next few months including a Parade of Sail, an Anniversary dinner and an Anniversary Regatta.  We also have a long distance Anniversary Cruise in Company to Inverness.  Details of all these events are here on the web site.

I said that nothing is planned for the day itself but that is not quite true.  Informally, I shall be taking a birthday cake down to the Club for coffee in the clubhouse that morning for anybody who happens to be there.  Now, where can I find 150 candles?

Sunday 6 May

Today was Cruise in Company day and the weather was wonderful.  Half a dozen boats headed out headed round the Blue Rock (Starboard number 7) buoy and into the harbour at Inchkeith.  Not everybody rounded the buoy and not everybody made it to Inchkeith but for those of us who did it was a wonderfully calm place to drop anchor and have lunch.  The forecast was right about it being sunny, but very wrong about the wind.  Force 2 rising to 3 becoming 4 to 5 from the South West was forecast but it was from the North East and fluctuated around the upper reaches of a force 2 with an occasional light force 3.  This made for leisurely sailing with a lot of dependency on the outgoing tide on the way out and the incoming tide on the way back.  A lovely sail nonetheless.  The South West wind did kick in but only in the late afternoon.

Next weekend is the annual Open Day – RYA Push the Boat Out – when we open the doors to local people to come and try sailing.  See the special pages – PTBO

Monday 30 April

The weather was very kind to us for lift-in today.  Warm sunshine, though it was competing with a cold easterly wind an a swift lift.  Fewer boats this year which helped.  As did the fact that all the boat owners had everything ready to go and there were no hold ups.  Most boats were in the water in 5 to 6 minutes which is the time from presentation of the slings to the boat to clearing the slings in the water.

Last week the focus was on racing (other than those owners who were still preparing their boats for launch).  On Monday there was a Practice Points evening to get in tune for the racing proper and on Wednesday there was a Rusty Racers evening in the club house to remind racers, past and hopeful, of the rules and Race Management roles.  Then on Saturday the Opening Regatta which was also the first of the Early Saturday Series.  Seven boats turned out on what was a sunny afternoon but a bit blustery with a chop from the East.  I managed to get my boat out but it needed a shake-down and I hadn’t been able to get a crew so was not able to join the race.  I have decided that my modest cruising boat needs to do some racing this year and it is hoped that more of the cruising fleet will try the odd race.

Also last week was the first of the Cadet evenings with on shore preparation of the Toppers to get them ready for on the water training this coming week.  We have a good number of cadets this year which is most encouraging.

Sunday 22 April

The weather has decided to be kinder to us this week with lots of activity in the yard.  The gangway to the pontoon is now repaired, refurbished and back in place thanks to the hard work of the Bosun, the Harbour Committee and with a little help from our friends.

The Committee Boat, Royal Forth, is back in the water ready for the racing to start though the racing marks have yet to be towed out into place.  Next weekends racing may have to use temporary race marks.  The opening regatta is on Saturday.

Winter talks are still running with the focus being on racing and moorings (see upcoming events) and yesterday the RNLI were at the Club giving advice and safety checks on lifejackets.  Also yesterday the summer weekend boatman started again and we have Stuart back with us this year.

Lift in is just a week away but it looks as if all the boats going in are just about ready with antifouling and other preparations.  All we need is a good day without too much wind.

One bit of useful information for anybody coming to lift in who still needs to get their own hard hat.  Go to Hewats in Teviot Place up by the University and the old Royal Infirmary.  When the DIY place moved out of Powderhall it looked as if work gear and the like meant a trip out to Seafield or Sighthill/Hermiston Gait.  However I have discovered Hewats have excellent, good value work trousers, overalls and the necessary hard hat.  All available centrally.  They are very helpful too.

Sunday 15 April

It’s been another good weekend for working on the boats and the yard has been fairly busy.

Good progress has been made on the gangway to the pontoons and it is hoped that Conserver, the Granton based work-boat, will be able to lift it into place this week for final finishing.  The recent cold and windy weather has hindered progress but we are getting there.

Meanwhile the Corinthians hard good weather and light winds for their lift in yesterday, and of course tomorrow, our original lift-in day, is set to be fair.

Monday 9 April

It was a good weekend for working on boats and a significant number of members took advantage of it.  The temperature was in double figures, good for painting, varnish and antifouling.  It almost stayed dry, except later on Saturday afternoon it started to rain which mad a mess of my newly painted woodwork.  Heigh-ho – so it gets another coat.

The gangway is coming on but is still some way short of being back in place.  Will it be ready for the commencement of the boatman service on 16 April?  We shall see.

Meanwhile I have been seeing what sailors have done in the winter, apart from working on the boat and bemoaning the cold weather.  Some years ago, 1963 to be exact, a number of our members had this quandary.  They decided to take up curling and formed the Boswall Curling Club.  It is still going strong today.  (You can click on their name to see their web site.)  

You will see that they also use the cross pattée as part of their insignia.  It is not the Maltese cross as some people think, but although it isa type of Christian cross, in the RFYC insignia it is a representation of the cross on the state crown of the British Monarch.

Anyway, the reason for raising it here is that they had their annual dinner last Friday and, being in need of a guest speaker, invited me along to talk about our 150th anniversary, which is of course this year.  The Curling Club is no longer just open to members of RFYC and it does admit women but they currently only have 3 of our members belonging to both clubs.  They would like more, so next winter – think about it.  It is good fun.

Sunday 1 April

The forecast was right.  It was cold during the week, very cold in fact – brass monkey weather.

Today is, briefly, better and the yard could be busy today.  (Addendum – it was busier this afternoon.) However it is back to cold and snow tomorrow and the next dry day forecast is a week away.

It is difficult to think that some of us may be in the water in 16 days, when the water taxi service commences and the first racing is in 27 days time, the Opening Regatta on 28 April.  There is a big push this year to encourage more of our sailors into racing and there is an opportunity to partake in a practice race on the previous Monday, the 19th.  There is also Winter Talks on Wednesday 18 April on the Launch of Sailing Programme & presentation on Race Management Roles  and also Wednesday 25 April a talk called “Rusty Racers” – a rules night and social evening for all those interested in racing.  These are particularly good opportunities for new and potential members who want to get into racing to find all about it and/or get an opportunity to sign up as a crew.

This week we sadly said farewell to one of our oldest members.  At 97 Willie was still a signed up member and the yard is full of items and structures which have the stamp of Willie on them.  He made a huge contribution to the Club and will be missed.

Sunday 25 March

The gangway is quite badly damaged requiring significant repair work.  Though the delay to lift-in means a couple of extra weeks for preparing the boats for the water that time swiftly runs away.  It is only 5 weeks and Easter is notorious for giving us bad weather.  From Tuesday for the following week rain is forecast with even sleet on Friday.  (Not such a Good Friday then.)

This weekend was perfect for working on the boat but surprisingly on both Saturday morning and this morning there were only a handful of owners taking advantage of it.  Perhaps there were more in the afternoon.  This coming week gets colder.

Sunday 18 March

Here we are again, with the Mini “Beast from the East”.  We must trust that it’s impact is not as bad as the last one.  The knock on effect from that one was the damage to the pontoons, both EML and Club and the effort to restore them, coupled with the prolonged easterlies, meant that progress on servicing the moorings was delayed.  There is also damage to our gangway to the Club pontoons.  The effect of all of this is that our Lift In, scheduled for 16 April has had to be put back to 30 April.

I can’t give you the full picture of all this as I have been away for almost two weeks down by the River Exe.  That is a very different piece of water to our own estuary.  The tidal effect is much more pronounced as it is smaller and the drying out of the mud flats more visible.  The current is more pronounced as well and very visible , particularly in the upper reaches where we were fortunate to be in a cottage looking out over the water.  No boats are left on the moorings over the winter but there are a large number of moorings at various points in the estuary.  These moorings are all the responsibility of the individuals using them rather than to any organisation and there are various controls in place to ensure that the individuals keep them properly serviced.  I understand that in the summer the estuary  is alive with boats sailing about, though leaving the estuary to get out into Lyme Bay is, I gather a little challenging, particularly as the flood often runs at 5 knots.  So you go with the flow or not at all.  We are fortunate in that our own tidal challenges are not so dramatic and limited to the amount of water in the harbour.

Of interest to local sailors is that the developers of the Granton Harbour area have engaged with marina developers Camper and Nicholson to develop the proposed marina.  One wonders if they realise what they are taking on and whether they will talk to the local sailing community about it.

Saturday 3 March

What a dreadful week.  The “Beast from the East” was all of that with not just snow but high winds.

Unfortunately that meant a very exposed harbour and the Edinburgh Marina pontoons took a battering with some of the boats on the pontoons suffering minor damage.  The worst part was that some of the floats came adrift and some of the hinges got damaged so this morning a working party with members from both Clubs down to effect repairs.  Some of these were not easy and in the biting cold it was not an enjoyable task.

The club pontoon also suffered from the storms and were damaged.  Another working party is going down tomorrow to recover from this though initially it will probably be a damage limitation exercise.

The yard looks OK with not too much snow, which might have been expected to have drifted somewhat.

It is noted, however, that our travails are not as bad as at Holyhead Marina.  They suffered major damage and lost something like 80 boats.  Look for it on the web – it is horrendous.  If the planned marina is eventually built in Granton’s West Harbour it is to be hoped that the developers make a very carefully designed extension to the breakwater or sometime in the future they may suffer the same fate.

Sunday 25 February

I may have mentioned it before (well it is a big milestone) that this year is our 150th Anniversary, the sesquicentennial to be pedantic.  One of our key events is the Parade of Sail, which is to be on Saturday 2 June.

We plan to try to get as many Club boats out on the water for a sail past and are looking to encourage past members to come along as well, either with or without their boats.  If without a boat we will endeavour to get them on one of the boats taking past.  I also expect to see visiting boats join us as well as our friends the Corinthians.  Put it in your diary.

I have just started re-reading Ellen MacArthur’s book, Taking on the World.  What an inspiration she is.  Sailing single handed round Britain in a little 21 foot Corribe (a good little starter boat for those of you tempted to get your own boat – only about £4,000 for a reasonable one) when she was not yet 20.  She was not much older when she did the Mini Transat, sailing across the Atlantic single handed in a boat the same size as my little boat, 20 feet and my boat is better equipped at least from the comfort perspective.  I was particularly taken with her slogan: “A donf”, French slang for ‘Go for it’.  It is a slogan which we could do well to emulate in our sailing.

Friday 16 February

Our winter talks programme is now under way.

The first (on Thursday 1 March) is one that seems to have become an annual event.  Known as the Seamaster Cruise the boats are actually a Seamaster and a Frances 26.  However, most of the participants sail Seamasters.  This talk is about the cruise last year when they voyaged to Skye and does include moving pictures.  The talk is followed by a discussion about the Cruise in Company to Orkney and the Orkney Race, which form part of our 150th Anniversary events.

Then on Friday 23 March we have a talk from the RNLI followed on Saturday 21 April with an RNLI Lifejacket Clinic.  The timing of that is good as it is the start of the sailing season proper following lift in on the 16th April.  So there is no excuse for any member to go sailing with lifejackets in poor condition and not fit for purpose.

Potential members are welcome at these events if they want to see what the Club offers out of season.  Just turn up, make yourself known and ask a member to sign you in.  You can also contact the Club via the contact page to register your interest for any talk.

All talks start at 7:30 pm.

Also for potential members, though you are welcome to visit at any time and come and see what we are up to, we have our annual open day, Push The Boat Out (PTBO), on Sunday 13 May.  This is a great day out for all the family so put it in your diary.

Sunday 11 February

Having now seen The Mercy, I can recommend it.  Not just as a sailing film but as a human interest film.  Only about half of it is actually on the water so it might even be suitable for the non sailing members of our families.  I suspect that we all know the story of Donald Crowhurst and have our own views as to his motivation.  This film paints a sympathetic and well reasoned story of how it all panned out.  See it and judge for yourself.

Watching a programme on TV the other day, I happened to pick up an interesting snippet about Hawkcraig Point at Aberdour, a place that most of us have sailed past at some time or another.  What I didn’t know was that in World War 1, it was an Admiralty Research Station, which researched methods of detecting submarines during WW.  Designated as HMS Tarlair, the centre employed a large number of personnel working on hydrophones and sonar to help defeat the German U Boat menace which threatened our survival in WW1 (as well as WW2).  There is some information available on the web and also a book published recently.

Tuesday 6 February

I should have mentioned yesterday that the film, The Mercy, is released this week.  I have referred to it previously – it is the film about Donald Crowhurst and his tragic attempt to take part in the first non-stop round the world race.  Starring Colin Firth, it is certainly at the Edinburgh Filmhouse for the next two weeks (from Friday) and will no doubt be in other cinemas near you.

Monday 5 February

One of the events requiring planning this year is the Anniversary Dinner to celebrate 150 years.  Some of the members can remember the last Anniversary Dinner in 1968, on that occasion to celebrate 100 years.  It was held at our previous club house up the hill on Boswall Road where a marquee was installed in the garden.  Reminiscing on this one member was prompted to tell the tale of some German visitors who had come over for the celebrations.  (It may have been the first of the Helgoland races as there were three German boats in the harbour.). The steward at the time -where we had a full time bar and kitchen run by his wife – served one of the visitors at the bar who asked in broken English for a couple of beers.  Our steward responded in very good German, taking the visitor by surprise.  Where did you learn such good German the visitor asked.  Stalag Luft 4 was the reply, which, understandingly, ended the conversation.

Meanwhile, despite the cold wet windy weather there are some members already working on their boats in the yard.  Some of my readers might think that our members sail their boats in the summer and then had them over to professionals to maintain them and service them ready for next season.  Not so.  A tiny minority might do so but most of the boat owners, sometimes with some crew helpers, do all or most of the work themselves.  It is actually quite therapeutic to do work on your own boat, getting it in the condition that you want for the coming season.  This is often more than routine maintenance and may involve planning and fitting some improvement, which may just be a small thing, but will improve the sailing in some way.  We all just like “messing about in boats”.

Tuesday 30 January

Computer problems have prevented any updates of this page for the past few days but they are now resolved (by a computer rebuild and reload of data – a real pain).  We forget how much we now depend on these things.

Meanwhile at the Club there was a successful Burns Night supper where the Corinthians joined us for a jolly evening.  (Report coming shortly.)

What is not visible to most members is the amount of planning that has to go on in the background to make things happen.  Our Winter Talks Programme should be starting soon and suitable subjects and speakers need to be arranged and publicised.  Work also starts early in the year with the complex planning for our sailing/racing programme, considering dates with suitable tides and the timings for our regular Club series.  In fact the key elements have to be decided in the previous year as they need to be co-ordinated with the Forth Yacht Clubs Association.  As well as our usual programme of club and open events this year also requires special consideration for the events linked to our 150th Anniversary.

Anybody down at the Club recently may have noticed that work is taking place on the Powderstore further along Middle Pier, starting with resulting the roof.  It should be noted that there is no evidence of it ever being a gunpowder store.  It is just a warehouse building with very thick walls which people have assumed might have been used for storing gunpowder.  It will be interesting to see how and what develops with the building.

PS. The hit rate for this page has picked up significantly which is encouraging.

Monday 22 January

It is disappointing to see that the hit rate for this page has fallen considerably, despite efforts to update it more frequently.

I am still seeing references to our Anniversary year of 1868.  The latest is Foreign and Colonial Investment Trust, who came into being in the same year and are still going strong.  I note that if you had invested £100 in the trust at its opening it would be worth £10.8 million now.  (However it should be noted that £100 in 1868 would have been a large sum of money and more than most non professional people earned in a year.)

Meanwhile at the Club we are preparing for the Burns Supper this weekend and looking for weather windows to lift the ground chain ready for replacement.

Sunday 14 January

Things are starting to move again at the Club after the relative inactivity of the festive season.  Yesterday members joined with a visit to the Queensferry Lifeboat station and in a couple of weeks it is the Burns Supper.  Meanwhile in the yard preparations are being made for the replacement of the first of the ground chains to be renewed.  For any reader unfamiliar with our moorings, large heavy chains are laid across the harbour, weighted at each end.  Smaller chains, risers, are connected at one end to the heavy chain with buoys on the other end so that they are presented to the surface for boats to moor onto.  It works very well but over a period of many years the chain rusts and needs to be replaced.  That is now the case with a number of our ground chains.

On a different theme, I have just had the latest copy of the RNLI and Offshore magazines and as usual it gave me food for thought.  I was aware that the very large racing boats were starting to use foils to get greater speed but hadn’t, until now, realised to what extent smaller sailing boats were using them.








It sort of defies logic, rather like those acts on the high street where individuals in costume appear to be suspended above the pavement, looking to get some coins in their collection box.

I personally think it looks rather precarious and I am prepared to sacrifice speed and keep my hull in the water.

Thursday 11 January

I am still digging into the state of local environment for our earliest members in 1868.

There were no cars, bicycles, radios or toilets.  Any buses were horse drawn so our first members were probably mostly local within walking distance – bearing in mind that people tended to walk longer distances then.  Perhaps some of them came to the Club on horseback – an interesting concept.

Lifejackets were made of cork and only used by the lifeboat service which was still using oar powered rescue boats.  Signalling when in distress at sea could only be done by flags or early flares or the long standing signal for distress  of burning tar in a barrel, which is still valid today thought oil might be used instead of tar.  Small boats were made of wood, though larger commercial ships were starting to be made of iron.

For more details see 1868 What was happening

Coming back to the present it is interesting to see that the semi-derelict building on Middle Pier, know locally as the powderstore, is undergoing repairs to the roof.   The building was a warehouse and derives its name because it is thought to have been a gunpowder store due to its substantial wall thickness, although no written evidence of this appears to exist.

Sunday 7 January

I have been digging further into the events of 1868, because it gives an insight into how long ago it was and how the world was at that time.  I have put them into a separate post as a page attached to the 150th Anniversary tab.

See Page here

Wednesday 3 January

The annual visit of the Port Edgar Yacht Club was, as usual, a great success, enjoyed by visitors and members alike.Despite the cold wet weather and the variable winds a number of boats, seemingly laden with visitors, managed to get down river to join us in the club house.  Greeted with mulled wine they were then able to warm up on hot soup and bacon rolls, and refresh themselves at the bar before sailing back up river.  The day did brighten up briefly during the lunch but had started to rain again by the time they headed off.

One highlight of the day for me was one of our members telling me how much she missed my Blog, with it having become less frequent of late.  So I foolishly promised to try to return to updating it more frequently – subject to having relevant material of course.

Among the many other discussions which flowed round the club room was consideration of PEYC feeding into some of the celebrations this year of our 150th (sesquicentennial) anniversary, our club having been established in 1868.

Interestingly that date has been popping up in a number of places recently.  The first was in relation to the new TV series of Little Women as the original book was published in 1868.

Then in December  1868: the first traffic light in the UK was installed outside the Houses of Parliament in London to allow the MPs to cross the road to get to work. Traffic jams were not unusual in London’s bustling city streets with horse-drawn carts and drays, hansom cabs, omnibuses, and pedestrians clogging the city streets. A journey through London was also complicated by the many road-works for a new sewer system and the overground and underground railways.

The single traffic light used gas lamps, not electric lights and was manually operated, not automatic. It was rather like railway signals — with semaphore arms during the day and with gas lamps at night.  A police constable used a lever at the base of the light pole to switch the red and green lamps.  There is a link with the sea in that the red and green lights were taken in part from the railways but also from the Admiralty.

Although successful at controlling traffic, its life was brief. It exploded on January 2, 1869 due to a gas leak  injuring the constable who was operating the light.  Traffic lights did not return until electric lights became available in the 1920s.

More anniversary facts may follow.