The Crow’s Nest Blog

AKA: What’s Happening at the Club (plus one or two other bits of relevant interest)

Note: all the relevant information and posts on this site can be seen by scrolling down the side-bar on the right hand side of the page.

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.

For previous Blogs click

The Blog – October to December 2017,  July to September 2017, Feb to June 2017, Oct 2016 to Jan 2017, June to September 2016Jan to June 2016 or on Sept to Dec 2015  or for earlier including  the Helgoland visit see post.

Other Items of Reference

Granton now features in the “visitmyharbour” website

The “visitmyharbour” website has descriptions of many harbours all round Britain, including Granton, and others around the Forth in the East and North Scotland listings.


2018 Sailing Calendar

2018 Sailing calendar: click here


For visitor facilities: click here.

Wind and Tide

For current wind at Braefoot Bay and Ichcolm Island, click here.

For current tidal height and wind for Leith: click here.

To download 2018 tide tables, courtesy of Forth Ports Ltd: click here .

Live AIS and Charts

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To see and explore Navionics digital charts, click here

Read the 2017 yearbook on line!

2017 Sailing Instructions

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Upcoming Events

  1. RNLI Lifejacket Clinic

    Saturday, April 21 @ 2:00 pm
  2. Practice Points

    Monday, April 23 @ 6:30 pm
  3. Cadet training on shore

    Tuesday, April 24 @ 7:00 pm
  4. Rusty Racers rules night and social

    Wednesday, April 25 @ 7:00 pm
  5. Winter talk – Moorings and Racing Marks

    Thursday, April 26 @ 7:00 pm
  6. Opening Regatta

    Saturday, April 28 @ 2:00 pm
  7. Lift-In

    Monday, April 30
  8. Cadet training on shore

    Tuesday, May 1 @ 7:00 pm
  9. Evening Points Early 1/8

    Thursday, May 3 @ 7:00 pm
  10. PEYC Bosun’s Locker (Forth series Div 1&2)

    Sunday, May 6

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