Sunday, 13 April 2014

Heron is back in the water

The Mighty Heron is back in the water. Yesterday the wind was forecast to gust around 35mph but seemed a lot stronger. This morning didn't look too good either but an availability of helpful friends and we went for it.

I've got a cheek to call that collection of box section and weld a trailer but it does the job. Fellow Alacrity 19 owners may notice that the rudder on the Heron is shorter than usual. That's the way it was when I bought it and it seems quite balanced under sail.

The Heron bobbed it's way down the slip happily wagging it's tail at the prospect of returning to the water. Or of course it could be that the draw bar is too long and starts a weave on the cobbled slip.

The ratchet ties were oiled to make sure they undid easily, rudder and tiller attached, some fenders out, long lines on deck and Stuart holding a the wee ladder to make getting aboard so much easier.

I had fueled up the outboard yesterday to make sure it was running and it fired up again today second pull. Then it was a couple of minutes letting it warm up and then off through the bridge into the blast of the westerly wind. I had to put new risers on my mooring chains this year after the originals mysteriously disappeared, but hadn't left enough for a messenger between the floats. Embarrassingly, I missed picking up the mooring in the strong wind. A quick decision not to even try to turn or drift back, so on I went around the harbour again and picked up the mooring second time.

The wind was really starting to build and was gusting over 40mph so I was quite happy to cadge a lift off an inflatable boat that just happened to be passing by.
The Heron safely on the mooring and it was time to get ashore for a celebratory beer. Here's hoping for sunshine and fair winds.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

A bike, a boat, a busy weekend.

This weekend I have had to crack on with getting the Mighty Heron ready for launch. Most of the Dunbar yachts will be craned in on Friday the 11th but I can't get that day off work due to Good Friday falling a week later. The Heron doesn't need a crane to launch as I built a trailer for it a couple of years ago. Amazingly, my welds are still holding.

After taking Fly out for a morning wander, I grabbed a coffee then jumped on the long haul trucker to nip to the shops then head down to the harbour to get started in a chill grey dawn. That's quality green antifoul this year. It was free as no-one else would paint it on their superstitious boats.  I'll take the risk!

First thing I had to get sorted was the electrics for the boat. When I bought the Heron seven years ago, there were no electrics at all; which is no bad thing on a wee boat. All I had was the atmospheric glow of a paraffin lamp and a small gas stove.  I sort of miss the simplicity, but times have changed, and like many others, I have the Navionics chart plotter app on my mobile phone. Also led technology has moved on leaps and bounds and cabin lights now only draw micro watts and can still provide a warm glow.

So out with the soldering iron, a lot of fiddly wee bits of wire and a lot of patience and I built a new switch board.

After much cursing I got every thing fitted and reconnected the battery. Amazingly it was still showing over 80% charge. The little solar panel seems to have worked well over the winter and kept things ticking along nicely. I'll take the battery off the boat and put it onto an intelligent charger this week.

Damp around the port lights has got to the burgees. If you own a wee boat, this is the sort of thing you get used to.

The new switch panel all painted shiny white with everything working. The wee Heron is getting all sophisticated this season.

Meanwhile, Stuart and Ross had got a lift over to Anstruther on Friday and sailed the Seline (Pegasus 700) back in a fast passage of less than three hours this morning. Unfortunately they didn't have a tender with them so guess who got a call to row out and provide the taxi ashore?

It was great to be on-board a boat again and it's good to see a yacht in the harbour. Hopefully the Heron will be joining the Seline next weekend.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

On-One Fatty in the Woods

The sky has been awfully close to the ground for the last couple of days and combined with cold easterly winds, I didn't really fancy going for a run on the 'trucker. So as usual, plan B was get the Fatty out for a play in the shelter of the woods.

I went for a drive to the Borders to check out a possible summer loop for the LHT and took the Fatty over the woods near Ayton. It was a steep climb up through the trees but there is always the reward of the descent.

The natural shelter of the hillside kept the worst of the wind away. It was just me and Fly swooping through the mist and hopping over roots.

The floater tyres provide great grip, so long as you run them soft enough, and the well drained woodland meant they hardly got clogged with mud.

This glade will soon be full of the smell of wild garlic.

Not a particularly long run, but some good exercise and a happy dog.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Kittiwakes return to Dunbar Harbour

It's time for my annual Kittiwake update. There were three individuals on the thirteenth of March but it has taken another couple of weeks until their numbers have got back up into the hundreds. This is a bit later than last year when they were nesting by the fifteenth.

They have spent winter far out at sea and their return to land always fills me with hope for better weather.

It's lovely to hear their cries filling the harbour, a timely reminder to get the Heron ready for launch.

 Summer is coming!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Easy Sunday Cycling

This week is just a simple old fashioned cycling post, with a little attempt at new ideas. I got on the Surly Long Haul Trucker on Sunday morning and set off for an easy pedal.

There was a cold north westerly blowing but there is a spring like warmth in the sun when I found a sheltered place to stop.

More hints of spring as the fields are ploughed for what will eventually be the summer harvest.

The new idea this week is cold brewed coffee. I've been working on this for the last month or so. Basically, I made up a cafetiere with decent ground coffee and cold water, then left it for eleven hours. In the morning I pressed it, then poured it into a flask and took it with me on the bike.

On the old road to the Cannongate by Spott, there is a little bench which was the ideal place to stop and drum up. Once I was out of the wind I soon warmed up and sat back in the spring sunshine and fired up my very well worn Coleman stove.  I was given it as a gift about eighteen years ago and I was certainly not grateful enough at the time. I can't count how many hot drinks, meals and comfort, this wee stove has provided over the years. As for the coffee, I'm not totally sold on cold brewed. It seems a little sweeter to me, and I prefer my coffee very black and bitter. I'll keep trying different brews.

 Badger midden for those who are interested.

 At the bridge at I stopped to try to get a picture of a Dipper. I've seen the bird feeding here for years but normally only catch a flash of white from the birds chest as it disappears, but today I was willing to sit quietly in the sun and wait.

It's still not a great pic; it was at the full extent of the zoom. But I'm pleased to have captured it and it was good for the soul to sit quietly awaiting the chance of a pic. An easy Sunday morning.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Anstruther and a distinct lack of cycling.

On Saturday I made the long journey around the Firth of Forth to deliver Stuart's outboard motor to the Yacht Seline in Anstruther. Stuart was already there, having travelled over by train on Friday. The Seline won't be moving for a few weeks yet, but it was a good excuse for a night away

 I took the On One Fatty in the hope of a cycle along the East Neuk; Fly came too. I was able to park on the pier and went down to the boat to catch up with a few other friends who were also visiting.

This was Fly's first experience of being on floating pontoons and she was absolutely terrified. I tried carrying her aboard but she was shaking with fear.

I put her back in the car and as I headed back down the pontoons the rest of them were coming up. It seemed that a few others weren't too keen on being aboard in the blustery winds. There was no other option but to retire to The Ship, honest.

Now visiting the Ship is always a pleasant experience with Dave, mein host, laying on free pies, but pies, pints and good company are not the best motivation for cycling.

The late afternoon and early evening was spent between the Seline and wandering around the waterfront.

The Katie L is still sitting quietly awaiting a summer of different adventures during her hiatus from turning left.

Fly found lots to inspect, then, inevitably the sun set and we did what sailors do when in a "foreign" port and stopped looking at the views and started looking at the pubs.

Sunday dawned bright and clear, unlike my head.  I didn't manage a cycle but did have some nice coffee in the morning sun.

A fine wee break and I may have to make up for the lack of cycling this week as the car has just failed its MOT test this morning. Time to dig out the panniers for the commute.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Long Haul Trucker and the first hints of Spring

I've just edited this post following a comment that I won't publish. I was up early on Sunday morning, before sunrise, but there's not a lot of point in taking pictures in the dark so off I went home for a Sunday breakfast and to get the energy and motivation for a pedal on the Long Haul Trucker.

Once the sun had been so decent as to get high enough above the horizon to provide some pictures I headed  west with the morning light to catch the Winterfield Golf Club whilst the first dark banks of heavy cloud started to gather to the west.

The LHT with sun picking out Belhaven Bay. This photo has come out noisy and over saturated but that's kind of what the light looked like this morning so I've left it in for you to make your own judgment.

Down to West Barns with the most minimal of effort on the pedals and I was so lucky to catch this pick of a Little Egret. These bird are normally only seen on in the south of England during the winter and are rare in these climes. I had heard it was about over the last year and MTB Stravaiger Barry had caught a pic in his blog recently. I was still well chuffed to get this pic as it hunted little fish.

Then on by East Links and there was the first real signs of spring, Knock kneed lambs making their pathetic Meh.mumm calls.

You can still see this little ones withered umbilicus. He's only seen a couple of days and was full of the excitement being young.

Ginger ears, stiff legs and wrinkly skin. Ahh...

Then as the sky grew more overcast, I pedaled on and found some shelter from the wind. Although I've been experimenting with cold brew during the week, It was a simple hot flask of  freshly pressed coffee for breakfast.

Sitting the long grass, sheltered, happy.