Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Anstruther Muster 2013

Its that time of year again, second weekend of August and El gets packed off to her Dad along with a holiday-making Fly. Its time for the Anstruther Muster.

This year I had made a real effort with my Alacrity 19 "Heron". Everything had been painted, polished or tightened for the weekend. I had spent weeks making sure there was was food and fresh water stored, gas for the stove and beer for the 'crew'. On Wednesday everything was spot on. On Friday I loaded the last of the victuals aboard and fired up the Mariner outboard as I started to bring in the fenders. The engine made a cough and failed...I couldn't believe this was happening! I spent the next forty minutes stripping each component of the engine as best I could, stressed out, hanging upside down in a 20 knot wind. Kenny, the RNLI mechanic offered advice, but eventually we both agreed that the engine needed up on a bench. 

Meanwhile, Cold Water Logger Davie was hopping up and down on his new boat the "Wee Beastie". The tide was flowing and there was a time limit to get into Anstruther that was rapidly decreasing. We were going to sail over in convoy with James and his wee Hurly yacht "Freedom". They had waited as the tide rose then left. Davie rowed across in his tender and offered that I sail with him. It was an obvious decision, Davie was offering a berth and I didn't have a functioning boat...It was still a pisser though. I have waited all year for another chance to set out independently with The "Mighty Heron".

As we left the harbour and clawed our way out between the rocks Davies's outboard did its best to punch above the tide and wind. As a member of the local lifeboat crew, Davie is used to having serious engines on command. A wee bit different with five asthmatic horsepower, but we were soon out into the rolling sea.

Meanwhile I was grinning like an extra from the muppet show.

A bit of green water over the bow, a seriously crisp new Jeckels foresail set with twenty knots of wind and Davie was grinning too as his boat began to power up. The next four hours were a learning experience for the both of us. The "Wee Beastie", a Juno 560, is a seriously fast little yacht that reveled in movement of weight and tight sheets.

A bit later than expected, but we made it and tied up in Anstruther. As ever, the other little boats were welcoming and everyone lent a hand to make sure their pride and joy had a safe berth.

Speaking of berths, this was where I was going to sleep. Beggars can't be choosers, so I happily made up ma scratcher.

There was the usual greeting of old friends, taking of drink and nosing around as Friday night fell.

I didn't sleep very well, but Saturday morning dawned reasonably bright, and things improved appreciably after a shower and a visit to a local cafe.

I sat in the morning sun reading the paper, drinking more coffee and watching the harbour wake up. Simple pleasures.

It was a busy day in Anstruther with loads to see. The Reaper was looking amazing and the crew were kept busy with visitors.

Boats continued to arrive as the tide rose. Some sneaked in, some got stuck!

Clouds were gathering so I headed back to the boat for a lazy afternoon. Every so often a passer-by would offer for me to come visit their boat. This however nearly always involves alcohol so I stuck to my guns and politely refused. I know from previous experience how messy this can become!

A familiar bunch of faces appeared from Dunbar to visit their Anstruther colleagues who were receiving bravery commendations.

As Saturday afternoon turned into evening I went over to join others from Dunbar and we headed up to Anstruther Town Hall where a band were playing. No marquee on the pier this year.

It was a lovely hall and the band greeted us like long lost friends. They had felt quite lonely up to the point when we arrived!

The Wee Beastie won the trophy for the smallest boat to attend the muster. As I had managed to mislay my skipper somewhere, I had my moment of fame when I collected the silverware.

The evening wore on, more folk turned up, Davie was found, and the band played on. Drink was drunk and dancing/staggering commenced.

After the Hall I went back to the very steep ramp onto the pontoon and the boat. Throughout the night I could hear different boat crews negotiating it with varying degrees of success on their return from the pubs.

Sunday morning was bright and I packed up my kit as I had to head to Glasgow to collect El. I felt a bit bad about leaving Davie on his own with the boat, but I knew he could manage it.

So it was farewell to the Muster again as I cadged a lift from Denholm. In the distance I could see the Dunbar lot disappearing into a pub to watch the football. I can't keep up with that level of commitment to beer!

I stayed in Glasgow Sunday night and then it was back to Dunbar on Monday morning. In the afternoon I was back on the Heron. I put the wee kettle on and methodically stripped the engine.

I eventually found a blocked jet and was able to clear it after cobbling together a blow pipe made from some fuel pipe and a pen cap. Everything back together and the engine fired up fine.

Ah well. The rest of the afternoon was spent lazing on the Heron reading.

The good weather of the weekend had to break sometime and I managed to spot it coming and scamper ashore. As the rain lashed down a bedraggled looking Davie sailed back into Dunbar on the Wee Beastie. A weekend that did not go quite to plan, but a bit of improvisation and it turned out fine.


  1. Wow...quite an adventure. Glad it turned out okay. I hope you get in a good trip on the Heron before the weather becomes more challenging.

    1. Looking back, it was quite an adventure. If I can get some things sorted this week, I could try for a boat based S24O on the Heron this weekend. Lets see what the next comment says....

  2. I could see the heavy clouds rapidly approaching from behind, thought i could beat the weather into dunbar but it caught me at the iron poles, i'm glad you got your outboard up and running again the heron looks great inside, and thanks for sailing across on the friday with me as i think i would have struggled on my own, fantastic weekend, looking forward to next year, hopefully i will be a more accomplished sailer in a years time.

    1. I think it all worked out for the best. I was going to suggest a sail/fishing overnighter into the Tyne at the end of the week but the wind is looking a bit wild again. I'll see how the forecast goes.
      You've got a great wee boat and you know about the sea. You'll be fine.

    2. Thats sounds like an idea, i'll keep an eye on the forecast.