Monday, 30 April 2012

30th April and Heron is under attack..again!

In Dunbar there are main chains running the length of the harbour with shorter cross chains. The Harbour Trust are supposed to maintain these chains and the individual boat owners are responsible for their risers, fore and aft. Little boats with shallow draft, bilge or lifting keels are closest to the wall. Larger fin keels with 2m draft are on the chain in the middle of the harbour. Fin and long keels are unusual on drying moorings as they fall over at low tide. If they fall away from the other boats things are fine. 

Six years ago the Magie de mer sat on the Heron and the mast support beam had to be replaced. On my way home from work this evening I stopped to see a worrying sight.

The Magie de mer (big blue boat middle distance) is awfully close to Heron (the wee red one). Fortunately there is plenty of water at low tide, at least until Friday.

I've added extra weight to my front chain this season in the hope that Heron will sit far enough forward when the Magie falls the wrong way.  All I can do is keep my fingers crossed.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Another cold Sunday

I have managed to catch another cold, my fourth this year. Trying to take it easy with feet up, Kindle and paracetamol.  Out for short walk with Fly this morning. I have to remind myself how lucky I am to have beaches on my doorstep. This is the entrance to Dunbar harbour on the right of the photo.

Grey skies and a cold northerly blowing in.

 The sea looked grim towards the Bass Rock. Different from only a week ago when I was sailing past in the sunshine.

Will have to try to get out cycling this week. I haven't been on the bike for a fortnight and need to take advantage of the light evenings after work.
Cloudy, 6 degrees, NNE F2 gusting F3.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Sun 22nd April, Bosun's Call race.

Sunday was the Bosun's Call race at Dunbar Sailing Club. This is a pursuit race and being the slowest boat I was first to start at 12.00. I was late and missed my start! Stuart, Scott and Ross (the navigator) had already headed out in Ambition to wait at the line so I decided to try to get some pics of them and go for the sail anyway.

Out between the rocks to catch the Ambition which is just visible in the distance.

The couple of feet of swell can be seen in the next photo along with breakers on the rocks below the cliffs.

As the Ambition sailed off in race mode I gybed and headed after them to the first marker a mile away.

In the distance the Bass Rock can be seen on the horizon. This is the turning point before heading back to Dunbar. The wind was supposed to be 10mph NE but was often lighter. There was also a bit of sunshine and I sat back to enjoy the sail. 

After a few hours of minding the tiller and occasionally playing with a sheet I eventually started  to round the Bass. The island is a volcanic plug that rises to around 350 feet at its highest point.

St Baldred lived there in 600AD when Christianity was first catching on in these parts. Since then it has been occupied off and on until 1988 when the lighthouse was automated. Now it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its huge Gannett population. I was beginning to smell this as Heron sneaked around into the lee.

There is a cave right through the Bass which can be climbed a through at the right tide but apparently it is not a very pleasant experience.

Grumpy Bill and his crew came round soon after. The Carioca is a Warrior 34 and a lovely boat. 

The Carioca began to pick up speed as it cleared the wind shadow and soon headed off into the distance. Tantallon Castle is visible on the cliffs in the background.

The boat from the seabird center at North Berwick gives an idea of scale.

The lighthouse was built by David Stevenson and first lit in 1902. It was the part of the same commission to build the lighthouse at Barnes Ness that I visited back in February.

Time was getting on and all the other boats were miles away so I got the wind on the port beam and started a long beat towards Dunbar.

I was probably out sailing for five hours and I felt it when I got back to the harbour. It was a great sail with Heron doing everything I wanted, albeit very slowly.  In addition to the thousands of Gannets I also saw Razorbills, Fulmars, Guillemots, Terns and a possibly a Swallow skimming over the waves.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Sunday 15 April and some Sunshine

Took the Falcon road bike for a blast around Dunbar. When I got home it was one of those days when I wanted to keep going, so I did. I followed NCR 76 out of town and then mixed my own variations down to Cockburnspath.

I'm still using the bigger chain rings which can be hard going but it suits the feel of the bike. I stopped at one of the bridges over the Dunglass burn.

It's a fair drop off the side of the bridge and the parapet is not very high. Look at my seat height compared to the wall.

I got to Cockburnspath but there's not that much in the village so I turned around. Stopped at the bridge again to get a shot of the rail bridge and newer road bridge in the distance.

After the bridge I turned up the climb to Dunglass Collegiate Church.

This church was founded for Sir Alexander Home in around 1443. He employed a provost and three chaplains to spend there time praying for the souls of his family. Presumably this allowed the family to carry on sinning without the inconvenience of having to attend the church too often.

It's a substantial building with a stone roof and was used as a stronghold by both sides during the wars between Scotland and England in the 1540's.

The square holes in the walls would have supported beams for the ceiling and upper floors of the church. The Church is still used for weddings and there was seating and a lectern in place with carpet laid on the gravel floor. 

Above is the south transept where various members of the Home family are buried.

 Seems a fine place to be put to rest.

The church was used as a barn for a long time which probably saved it from being broken up for building stone.

That's a proper door.
A new back wheel is a priority for the Falcon and I think a better looking saddle is needed. Oh, and working brakes.

18 Mile loop plus earlier pedal gave 24 miles today. Sunny, 7 degrees, F2 NW.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Heron August 2011 pt2

Last week I recounted the trip over to Fife in the Heron for the 2011 Anstruther Muster.

Once we were all in the harbour we got down to the task of mooring up. Rudders were raised or lashed as the Harbour dries at low water. It also makes for a quieter night without the eeedonk sound of a rudder moving in the tide. Fenders were tied and springs were run between the boats. Beers were passed around and we sat back in the last sunshine we were going to see all weekend.

When the rain started we put a simple tarp across the boom to form a basic boom tent. It needs to extend the full length of the boom from mast to out-haul to provide any real protection on an Alacrity. The dodgers came into their own here providing side protection without the angle of the boom tent taking up space inside the cockpit.

A small Jib was lashed around the mast under the tarp to give some protection from the driving rain. This all helps but it would be nicer to have a little more headroom on the boat ..or better weather.

As the rain showed no sign of letting up we wandered off to The Ship to have another beer and watch the rugby. I think Scotland were playing Ireland and Scotland won! Things did become a little hazy as we spent the afternoon between the boat jumble, nosing around other boats and visiting various pubs. Anstruther has no shortage of drinking holes.

I think the next pic was at The Masons where I met up with Darren and Kirsten and fair enjoyed myself.   

We could here music from the marquee on the pier and eventually staggered over to meet up with everyone else. Ross and I had missed the prize giving where Stuart and Scott won the smallest boat (Ambition) to attend. I miss this by about 1ft every year! 

There are pics of the events in the marquee here. The band knew how to entertain and as the beers continued more and more folk believed they knew how to dance. I decided to switch over to soft drinks as I had the thought of sailing back the next morning at the back of my mind. Unfortunately as the next pic shows, Ross, my crew and Jamie, Gordon's crew weren't planning that far ahead.

The next morning we decided to catch the early (1pm!) tide to ensure a safe entry at Dunbar. There was hardly any wind as we left and we decided to motor. We were soaked and going to get a lot wetter.

Above is leaving Anstruther. The sky behind is darkening and I think this was about this time I decided to put the wash boards in place and batten down. The pictures don't give an impression of the swell that was running. At about 6 miles from land the swell was coming in against a flowing tide and we were all over the place. I had no doubt in the Heron's ability but it was not a comfortable crossing. Ross was strangely quiet. Over on Gordon's boat, where these pics were taken, Jamie was happily talking Swahili into a bucket.

Miserable sailors in a lull. Yeah I know, someone forgot to take in a fender.

Although it was hard going at times there were still great moments. Really hard rain out at sea is something special. I couldn't see any land and we could barely hear for the hissing of the water all around. We also saw a whale. Probably a pilot or a minkie. They are not uncommon but make you realise how small an Alacrity is. As usual wasn't a camera to hand.

Three hours and we were tying up in Dunbar. Everyone was heading home with the usual "never again" remarks.  Anstruther Muster this year is Thursday 9th to Sunday 12th August. 

Monday, 9 April 2012

April 9th Easter Monday

It's been a long weekend. Friday was a holiday and was also craning-in of the sailboats at Dunbar. A few engines didn't start but generally things went ok and no one drowned. Saturday was spent fiddling with boats despite the dull weather and a metre of swell running. Got home and the TV broke.  E never watches television so I'll see how long I manage without.

Sunday was an early start to replace a section of ground chain. Got a bit wet in the "drysuit", then spent the afternoon sitting on Zig Zag in good company. The forecast is for Northerlies with 10ft swell by Friday. The tides will be smaller so there is less chance for Heron's keels to pound but I might end up in the old harbour again. The computer is running as slow as a week in the jail so I'll keep the post short and defrag it overnight.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

April 4th and a storm is passing, I hope...

Last week I posted pics of the Heron launched and the mast up. The weather was great but I noted that I wasn't to feel too smart as the forecast was poor! Oh yes it was poor.

The above pics were taken on yesterday, Tues 3rd April.

 On Monday Stuart (Ambition) had texted me saying the fishing boats were all moving to safer ground and Bob the harbourmaster had no problem with us sneeking our little twin keelers through to the Cromwell harbour. Lots of antics with dinghy rowing and plenty of rope and I was tied up in relative safety. Cheers for the help Stuart..and get your Ambition blog going!

North Easterly blowing in. predicted 11.5 ft swell. This is a great site for sea state if you have a location near you, try the search.

Stuart (Fladden suit) and one of his willing helpers! running more lines and springs to the Heron and Ambition.

Low water and the wind still howling but the Heron is safe.

Today, Wednesday, I had a day off to take E to the BGH. (this is a diary entry)  Snow on the road by Duns.

Got home after lunch so down to boat to check the damage. One back stay had come loose, the sail cover has lost some fixings, there was plenty of water in the bilges but no major damage. The rubbing strakes have taken a battering and I will take pics to show the damage. I think it will cover up with plenty of linseed oil. Hopefully this will be the advantage of oiling over varnishing.

Between the hail and rain there was occasional spells of sunshine. This is the view from inside the ambition as we checked for damage. And maybe had a beer. The wind is dropping and backing NNW. Friday is crane in for the big boats and also a long weekend for Easter.

Wind, blowing a hooley, Temp, Baltic.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Heron August 2011

I posted some pics of my little yacht, Heron, last Monday. Thanks to Jens at his blog Alacrity sailboat I got loads of hits...ok, 47. Obviously there are other Alacrity 19 owners out there. I know I enjoy reading of their adventures, problems and solutions with their boats and I thought I would post some photos of my adventures to give other Alacrity owners a taste of sailing out of Dunbar.

Above is Heron this afternoon (Sun 1st April). The mast of Stuart's Pirate 17 (Ambition) is just visible. No other sailboats launched yet but I won't be smug as the weather forecast for this week is not looking good.
Whist I'm waiting for some good sailing weather I thought I would post some pics of a mini cruise from last year.

Anstruther is a small fishing town in Fife 14.6 nm north of Dunbar where I live and the Heron is moored. Every August the Anstruther Sailing Club organises a gathering for the small boats that sail the local, and sometimes further, shores. Check their website for all the information, tide info and some intersting pics.

I've sailed to the Anstruther Muster the last three years and it has become the social highlight of my sailing calander.

Last year on Saturday 6th August the Heron caught the tide at around 07.00 with myself and friend Ross as crew. Other boats had sailed out on Friday but Ross and I both had family commitments that meant only one night away. Fortunately our wives are not the slightest bit interested in sailing!

Starting out in the early morning sun we got a light wind with a calm sea which is the best we could have hoped for given a poor forecast. Full main and jib pushed us along at a slow couple of knots. Ideally I wanted to make the crossing in just over three hours to ensure a high enough tide for a safe entry into Anstruther.

The calm conditions allowed for easy sailing and we got the kettle going for a leisurely coffee. Here's a happy crew taking the tiller whilst I try to get a photo.

Around one hour out we had the Bass Rock off the port side. This island has a great history, most often as a prison of war. Today it is one of the biggest gannet colonies in Europe. is worth a click for more info.

Although this early morning sail was very pleasant, we had a tide to catch so the motor disturbed the peace.

Hour two, and we had he Isle of May off the starboard side. Another link

If you have an interest in wildlife try to track down a copy of the book "One Mans Island" by Keith Brockie. It is a fantastic illustrated history of an artists year on the May.

11.15 and the Heron had tied up in Anstruther harbour alongside Stuart and Scott in the "Ambition" who had passes from their wives for the whole weekend! They were sitting in the sun enjoying a beer. Lots of other yachts were arriving and most were making an effort to dress with bunting or signal flags. The sunshine and flat calm we had enjoyed couldn't last for ever and the clouds were starting to gather. Note the blue spray dodgers that were going to become very useful. Our priorities were to sign in with the harbour master, meet some good friends and enjoy a cold beer.

Gordon and Jamie had also escaped from their respective wives and sailed across in Gordon's Jaguar24 "Sona". They too fancied a cold beer. Do you see a theme developing?

I'll dig out some more photo's and continue later this week.