Monday, 30 June 2014

Another lazy Sunday

Nothing special this weekend, just a Sunday messing around at the harbour. The end of May and most of June has been lovely weather with hot sunny days and light breezes. Unfortunately the harbour has been blocked by the dredger. Now that it has finally gone, and the harbour is shallower...yes you read that correctly..., the wind has turned to the North.

There was a race around the Bass planned but there wasn't much of a turn-out, so I ended up rowing over to the Seline to watch the world go by and have a cold beer.

Dave got tail-tied when he caught his mooring risers around his prop shaft. This sort of misfortune is welcomed with glee amongst other boat owners and provides an hour or so of good spectating.


I could have gone for a cycle but the spirit was weak. Lazy days.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Hell hath no fury...

I think I bought the Heron nearly eight years ago. Time certainly flies by and I just thought that the wee boat seemed slower due to me becoming more familiar with it. I have however noticed that the foresail in particular was just getting too saggy to create any sort of decent shape. So a couple of weeks ago I bit the bullet and ordered a new furling genoa.

The last couple of weeks have had some fine sailing weather but unfortunately the dredger Shearwater has been back digging holes and breaking down. On Sunday the weather was overcast but very hot. The dredger eventually stopped about 2:30pm and I was off out of the harbour for a sail.

I passed Jamie on the "Ambition" with his daughters. He had hoped to sail along to Belhaven beach but it was getting more overcast and the girls were looking a little green when they sailed beyond the shelter of the rocks. A little further out another couple of yachts were motoring in.


They all disappeared into the harbour and that left me alone on the Heron with an empty sea ahead. Clouds were gathering but I had a new sail to play with and there was a good hour of tide left before I had to get back to my mooring.

And what a revelation the new genoa was. It's actually a little smaller than the previous one but far closer to the recommended sail size. There was a little weather helm, nothing to worry about, just enough to know the boat will round up in a blow. When I turned on to a reach I realised just how slow the old sails had been. I had to use two hands to sheet-in and will have to get the little winches running again. Brilliant!

I just sailed around the rocks, tacking for the sake of tacking and enjoying every minute. But time and tide don't wait, even for the mighty Heron, so too soon I had to squeeze back in between the dredger and the wall and pick up a connection to the land again.

Above is the stern of a boat built in the 1960's. Below is the stern of a boat built in the 1960's, although from an older design. I know which I prefer. Bob Clunas has done a wonderful job restoring the "Mareen" and she should be attending a few classic boat meets this season.

A great little Sunday afternoon sail, although the Heron might just be coming up for sale as I have been coveting another boat recently. A faster, flighty younger model. The poor Heron may be scorned!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Summers day Borders Cycle

I took another drive into the Borders on Monday. I've cycled a few routes out of Duns and it was to be the base again for an afternoon jaunt. The weather was beautiful with the slightest of breezes and glorious sunshine.

In the town the heat was oppressive, reflecting off the buildings. The streets were nearly empty and the only sound was the thrum of an old rotary lawn mower. The smell of freshly cut grass is something I associate with the long summer days of childhood and it was a pleasure to lose myself in memories as I cycled up hill and out into the country.

Old mile posts overgrown in the hedgerows but this one has had a lick of paint recently.

As I carried on photos tended to be taken where there was some shade rather than any particular view. I had three bottles with me and I needed them.

 On across the field and on to little used gravel roads. The low shadows on the horizon are the Cheviot hills. Last time I was there was on my loop to Wooler last July. That was a hot day too.

For some reason there are still folk who ask how you can tell the difference between a cow and a bull. Well here are a couple of pictures. See if you can spot any differences.

These roads are fantastic. Always sweeping and turning with new views around every corner and very little traffic.

There was some blessed shade through the woods so I took the chance for a rest on a log pile and watched chaffinches arguing about something that must be important to woodland birds.

Back on the road and I passed this donkey that had a very poor tail. 

Perhaps it had been pecked by this noisy group who were sharing the field.

I eventually rolled back into Duns in the late afternoon. Quick stop into the shops for juice and then the drive home for a much needed shower.

A fine afternoon's cycle, nothing too strenuous, just what was needed.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Coffee at Loch Lomond

After work on Friday I quickly drove home, collected El and an eager Fly, and turned around to drive through to Glasgow for the weekend. It was quiet evening-in catching up with El's dad, my father in law, which made for an early start on Saturday. I packed Fly into the car and drove out of the city to Loch Lomond.

When I looked through the photos I took, I realised that I hadn't taken any of the standard pics of the head of the loch with Ben Lomond in the background. You will have to google an image, and if your only knowledge of the loch comes from the song, then take my word that it is worth a visit. I'm probably guilty of taking this beautiful national park a bit for granted. I've spent a lot of good times around here over the years.

I took a walk through the woods on the lower slopes of Conic hill. Through the upper canopy I could here Ravens calling but couldn't catch a decent view. The sky was overcast but there was quite a heat and I was glad of the breeze to keep the midges at bay. We dropped down to the lochside and then wandered around to the boatyard at Balmaha. Fly was keen to have a paddle while I unpacked the wee flask of coffee for another Saturday breakfast alfresco.

Tucked away in a corner of the boat yard I found this rather neglected looking boat. It looked like a Pegasus 700 bilge keel. The forestay and a lower shroud were broken.


Looks like the mast is being held up by a very worn foresail halyard. The rest of the boat looked like it had been sitting for a few years.

The was an outboard well with an old 9hp mercury in situ. The long leg easily cleard the hull and was a neat fit behind the rudder. Nothing drastic and I would bet on a weekend of scrubbing, fixing and painting and this could be a cracking yacht again. I can imagine Stuart giving the yard a call after reading this.

There were some well cared for boats too. This little clinker launch would be ideal for balmy summer evenings casting for trout.

I thoroughly enjoyed a lazy morning walking the loch shore and Fly mostly enjoyed herself although she did meet her nemisis in the shape of an angry Mallard hiding in the grass.
A good weekend away and I should have taken the bike. Perhaps it would be useful to build a cheap beater out of the Kona Caldera. Something I wouldn't be too worrid about leaving in a parked car. Plans, plans.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Sailing to the Isle of May, Anstruther and Dunbar

Over the last eighteen months or so, El seems to have only met up with her sister at funerals. This weekend however they had different plans. A couple of bottles of wine, three series of Game of Thrones to watch and a lot of gossip to catch up on. Understandably, I wasn't required. So on Saturday morning I fired up the little motor on the Heron and put-putted my way out of the harbour into the bright sunshine rising over the North Sea.

There was a light, variable, westerly which had just enough puff to catch the sail and get me moving along. I wasn't making much more than three knots but it was a lovely morning and there was no hurry.

In the distance Stuart and Gipper were on the Seline and near to them I could see Davey and his father on the Wee Beastie.

As the sun rose, the day grew warmer and the light wind began to fade. I had a coffee from my flask and the radio was murmering away below deck. Gannets skimmed low over the water, heading east out to sea and the Heron just silently drifted along heading north to the Isle of May.

There eventually comes a point when even the keenest of sailors has to admit defeat and turn on the engine. I had managed for two hours to eek out little breezes but the others had turned on their motors much earlier and by now were just specks in the distance. There was nothing else for it but to fire up the Mariner.

The Stevenson Lighthouse on the May eventually apeared out of the morning haze, and as I got close, I headed to the east to approach the little landing at Kirkhaven. Unfortunately the tide still hadn't flooded enough to get ashore. Instead, Stuart had dropped his anchor and Davey was rafted alongside.

I rafted up to port and we all sat back in the sun having a picnic and watching the birds fly by. There were loads of puffins, who as usual always dive as I try to get a picture. I still love seeing their little orange feet paddling frantically like clockwork toys. The guillemots, on the other hand, were much more elegant, just sitting watching me as I watched them.

It was after lunch time and the tide was beginning to pick up so the anchor was weighed and we slowly motored, or tried to sail in my case, along the east of the island to catch the incoming tide between the island and the Fife coast.

With a helpful push under our keels we soon covered the last four miles to the approach into Anstruther, and of course it's minefield of creel markers.


I was first onto the potoon. I think that this may be the only time that the Heron has been first to do anything. There are advantages to havin little bilge keels. Davey lifted the keel on the Wee Beastie and was soon tied up. Stuart however hit the mud and took a little longer.

The fisheries museum in the town was having an open day and the lifeboat shed had joined in. A convivial afternoon was spent around the harbour, enjoying the occasional burger at the barbecue and perhaps a cold beer or two.

As the afternoon turned to evening the gulls settled down for the night and we went off to look around the town. When I eventually wandered back down to the pontoon, the tide had dropped again and the Heron was sitting at an angle in a little hole. There was nothing to be done so I put the kettle on for a coffee and settled into my sleeping bag. At some point during the night the Heron floated back upright, but I was long asleep by then.

Morning dawned bright again and boded well for another hot day. Various local boat owners appeard for a chat, including George, who had just returned from a night in Dunbar and had wondered where we were.

It was after 2 pm when we finally had enough water to sneak out of the harbour, and unfortunately by then, the sky had clouded over.

The forecasted south westerly came to nothing and it was back on with the engines for a rather boring 14.6 nautical miles .

But the wee boats all made it safely to Dunbar and we were soon tied up at our moorings 36 hours after leaving, with around 35 sea miles covered.