Home History Findochty & Harbour Calendar Gallery What we do Coastal rowing Contact Race results Join us
Findochty Water sports Club
© Findochty water sports club

What we do 2007

Moray Firth Flotilla It was way back in December 06 that the first hints of the Moray Firth Flotilla were first made known. I signed up for it, which then gave me the incentive to get old Gipsy Maiden well ready for the task ahead. The start at Wick on 23rd June meant a day sail from Findochty on the 22nd. It was foggy, no wind so the old Yanmar deisel had to do sterling service for 13 hours to putter us to Wick. We had on board two GPS`s and two compasses. I felt that as long as they all agreed with each other we shouldn't be far out on the navigation. As it was when we did eventually see the coast we were about 5 or 6 miles south of Wick. By the time we got in tied up to the grand new pontoon, all the welcoming parties were over. A chinese meal for ten sufficed and afterwards the three of us crashed to sleep the sleep of the Gods. Next day, Saturday, the whole of Wick turned out to put on a great show with stalls of all descriptions and even dancing girls from Buckie for a foretaste of what was to come later in the week. Sadly we had to say ta ta to Tina who had let work commitments get in the way of her sailing. On Sunday we attended that blessing of the fleet of thirty or so boats of all descriptions thinking we would need all the help there was available. The sail to Lybster was hairy, a strong nor easterly but blowing right up our chuff but getting shelter from the Caithness coast, it was fantastic sailing until we realised it was too much for the old sails and the main started to tear in spite of being on the first reef. In Lybster licking our wounds over a few jars of amber nectar and a Ceilidh the like of which only Lybster could do, it was agreed that possibly we should have had maybe two reefs instead of the one. So next day, still the same strong nor easterly, two reefs, and the staysail, and still old Gipsy was flying along, seeing 7`s and 8`s on the GPS. At one stage leaping off a gigantic wave going our way, 8.3 was held for what seemed like ages. I had bought Gipsy Maiden from Helmsdale, our next port of call, about five years before and one of the highlights of the trip was to find a local postcard with Gipsy Maiden depicted thereon. She was called just Gipsy then but the Harbour master recognised her and since the `Maiden` had been added he wondered when she had got her virginity back. That nor easterly continued to blow even wilder so it was decided at several skippers meetings that the spare day should be spent in Helmsdale instead of Cromarty.We had already `endured` a night of jollifications and here we were faced with another. Oh! The pain! Leaving Helmsdale next day in the middle of the pack we found that the wind had eased a little but just to prevent any complacency creeping in a few jolly seas leapt aboard going round Tarbet Ness. Still we sped on clocking 7`s and 8`s. Then we realised there were no boats in front of us, we were quite unintentionally leading the pack. It wasn't a race but old Gipsy was just performing better than she'd ever done. On the phone to home I was hearing of torrential rain but here we were sailing in bright sunshine. There was one heavy shower just as we entered Cromarty Firth but Richard was on the helm at that time whilst I was in the cabin calling up Cromarty Harbour. At each port on the way down there had been tremendous interest in the Flotilla but here in Cromarty the interest was even more so. The new pontoon was packed with visitors and at one time there must have been a dozen or more on Gipsy, all armed with amber nectar. In the midst of it all John and Norna Hall appeared and Tina escaped from work again to rejoin us. An evening of much laughter and great food with one or two drinkies rounded off the day very well. Thursday we set off for Buckie. Bonnie day but no wind to speak of so the little Yanmar had to come on watch again. Off Findhorn the weather was positively tropical and ganseys were discarded and a whole lot of Dolphins came out to play keeping with us right on to Hopeman. This is where we had the full ringside seats to watch the magnificence of the Reaper, Isabella Fortuna and the Swan under full sail when a bit of a breeze filled in. Arriving in Buckie about 1600 we were treated to more receptions and a tremendous show organised by the Buckie Festival. Even the rainstorm didn`t dampen their enthusiasm. We should have gone off to Portsoy on the Friday to join up with the Boat Festival, but in the interests of safety and the limitations of the smaller boats an extra day saw us tied up in Buckie. But full of fun and game for anything now we sped of to Portsoy on Saturday morning. But alas their organisation was such that after an hour of tying up and then moving again and again we chickened out and went back to our comfy berth in Findochty. All in all it was a great adventure with terrific camaraderie between all the crews. I was disappointed that we were the only FWSC representatives because it was for classic boats of which there are several in the Club. The next one is going to be in 2009, Gipsy Maiden will be 25 and I'll be 75 so I feel a centenary coming on. Come and join us. Ron Billing Gypsy Maiden
Saturday 29th September - Cruise to Portsoy A last minute cruise to Portsoy turned out to be a very well attended event and a great time was had by all. The majority of yachts left Findochty around 12 noon and motor-sailed to Portsoy. The yachts that attended were Bramble, Sparkle, Nimbus, Ambition, Salker H and Fusion II. The winds were light, averaging 7 to 10 knots and they blew on our bows all the way to Portsoy. Fusion II left a bit later than the others and we decided to head due North for a very pleasant sail in the sunshine before entering the old harbour at Portsoy. We swiftly adjourned to the Shore Inn for some liquid refreshments and then some of us headed up to Hook Line and Sinker for a fish supper, (to continue on a healthy note). The tides over the weekend were springs and we awoke on Sunday to find the yachts sitting high and dry on the sand in the harbour. Sandy Baird donned his wellies and scrubbed the bottom of Bramble on Sunday morning and once the tide came in the fleet left in dribs and drabs to head back to Findochty, again we had light winds and they were blowing on our bows. Still all had a pleasant motorsail back. I hope to organise further cruises during the winter season as several skippers have expressed a wish to remain berthed on the pontoons this winter. I hope that next year I can encourage more of our new and existing members to bring their yachts/boats along on the cruises and to sample the fun and games. All club members and their families are very welcome to attend the cruises and also to partake in the racing events details of which can be found in the Club Handbook. Mairi Innes Fusion II
Whitehills Cruise I had been meaning to take part in a cruise for a couple of years, but never got around to it. I was looking at my e-mails when my wife asked what I had received. I said" There's an e-mail from Mairi to say there is a cruise to Whitehills this weekend". My wife said, " What time are you going?" So that was it. Decision made. The forecast was excellent, south winds, both days, and sunny on Saturday, as a bonus. Low water was just after mid-day. I arrived at Findochty about 11.30am. There was plenty of water under the keel and due to neaps, that's how it stayed. It would have been possible to leave at any time but it was planned to leave just after 14.00. Four boats were cruising. Fusion11, Bramble, Sparkle and myself in Destino. I departed before the others, as I expected to be quickly overhauled. As it happened, the breeze we felt in the harbour disappeared offshore. After an hour under sail I was only North of Portknockie, so when Sandy and Jenny, in Bramble came level I started the engine and motorsailed. With a very light engine assistance I could make 5 knots, without, it was 1 knot. I occasionally switch off the engine, when I thought the wind had picked up, always with the same result, the speed bled away to about 1 knot. There was some breeze though as with the engine just a bit faster than tick-over Destino sailed on at just under 5 knots, so I accepted that and enjoyed the warm sun on my back. We arrived at Whitehills just as the sun was setting. It was a glorious sunset, the end of an almost perfect sail, a bit more wind would have been nice. With all lines secured, I joined Neil Innes and Willie Cowie on a walk to the shop. On returning I was met by Sandy Baird who invited all aboard for "an aperitif and nibbles" and " it's a tradition". I'm all for tradition so I was soon sat aboard Bramble with a red wine and "nibbles". We managed to get the crews of four boats aboard Bramble and Willie's son later joined us. The "nibbles", in the form of pork pies, scotch eggs; crisps and various cheeses appeared in large quantities. We soon realised that none of us would need supper, so more wine bottles were opened. By 8pm it was getting a bit chilly so we returned to our own boats for "supper". I was no longer hungry so I set up the boat for the night. After supper we all went across to the harbour office, where there is a sitting room available to marina users. This is a luxurious suite of rooms consisting of male and female toilets and showers, a laundry room and the sitting room, complete with armchairs, kettle and microwave. We enjoyed a pleasant evening of chat in warm surroundings before retiring to our boats for the night. The next morning I was up just before 07.00. After a leisurely breakfast I sailed at 08.15 for Findochty. There was more breeze than the day before, still from the south, and I was making 5 knots as soon as the sails were raised. It was quite cold but things improved as the sun came up. I was bowling along at between five and six knots with gusts taking me over 8 knots on the log. As I approached Findochty Fred Murray, in Solan who was heading off to meet the returning cruisers, met me. I arrived back in Findochty about 11.15 after the best sail I've had in six months. The crew of Fusion II went for a walk before sailing. They also had a cracking sail back. In fact they enjoyed it so much they continued as far as Garmouth before returning to Findochty. Well that was my first cruise in company and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would recommend any members thinking of joining a cruise to do so. I'll be there again. Bob Chapman Destino
NORTH SEA YACHT RACE 2007 Three yachts left Findochty bound for Norway on Saturday 23rd June. Lady Vi - P Rankine, B Lawton, F Murray, S Hill Fusion II - N Innes, B shilletto, R Brown, Mairi Innes Sunrise - J Cowie, W Cowie, S Laing, G Jack, Charlotte Hovgaard The departure to Norway had to be brought forward as the weather forecast was bad, deteriorating from West Moray Firth so the three yachts motor-sailed in convoy for a considerable amount of time in order to cover as much distance as possible. We passed several oil rigs en route and it was quite a sight to behold. On the second morning we discovered that Lady Vi had encountered some fuel problems during the night but that they were now making good progress. After passing Sleipner Platform, which is almost the half way mark, there was nothing more to see apart from a few Pursers and cargo vessels passing by. The winds freshened approximately 40 miles from Stavanger and Fusion II sailed the final leg of the journey. The approach to the fjord was an awesome sight in the darkness, with a huge amount of flashing beacons and warning lights in front of us. Day broke just as we approached Kvitsoy and the mouth of the fjord, the scenery was stunning. Navigation was by paper chart at this stage as did not have a computer chip of the area. When we arrived at Stavanger, we found Sunrise berthed in a Pay and Display berth in the town harbour so we tied up next to her. Lady Vi went directly to Scudeneshavn, where the race was to start. The weather was glorious, however it turned to rain overnight. On day 2 we awoke to find we had a visitor, the QEII had come into port during the night. We don't know if it was anything to do with the array of Saltire flags flying from our masts or if it was perhaps the rain that drove the QEII away early the next day. The crews tried out the local bars which were very expensive, lager cost about £5.50 a pint and it tasted vile. Thank goodness Peter picked up our Bond supplies before we left home and we also took along plenty of beer and wine for the holiday. Stavanger was a bustling place and very clean and pretty. On day 3 Fusion II and Sunrise left Stavanger to make the short journey back up the fjord to Scudeneshavn where the crew of Lady Vi greeted us. It wasn't long before we noticed that the Norwegians were calling us Lady 6 and Fusion eleven - something misconstrued from our "dodgy" spray dodgers, hats and other merchandise. We kept them right though. Scudeneshavn was one of the most beautiful places we had ever been to, with log cabin houses everywhere, painted white with red roof tiles, looking onto a meandering harbour with narrow, winding, cobbled streets. The home owners had their boats moored right outside their front doors and some even had boat garages inside the house, their lifestyle made us all very jealous. The race organisers laid on an outing for the crews to a Viking museum which was an interesting afternoon and there were barbeques and music events in the evenings. The downside of the event was the Norwegian race officials trying to insist that we all remove our sails for measuring at a cost of £25 per yacht. There was no mention of this before we entered the race and we were all extremely annoyed, the Scottish skippers all stuck together in defiance and we planned to withdraw from the official event and have our own, unofficial race back. The Committee relented after much arguing and they gave us the adhoc handicaps we were promised in the first place. The Sunday of the race was another glorious, sunny day and each yacht did a parade of the harbour to mark the start of the race and the closure of the annual music festival. We were cheered by the huge crowds of people and we were famous for five minutes. The race started at 3pm and Fusion II was one of the first boats over the start line, it was such a fluke as we hadn't even worked out exactly where the line was and the official race boat had broken down! Sunrise was off to a good start but Lady Vi was having a problem with reefing lines for a short time. Fusion II had the cruising chute clipped to the rails up front in a purpose made bag, the clips split clean off the bag and the whole lot went over the side many miles into the race, so we had to about turn and retrieve it. Later that evening we caught up with and overtook several yachts including Mrs Chippy, a yacht crewed by extremely brave men with disabilities who were doing the race for charity. One of the crew was washed overboard by a wave during the storm later that night but thankfully he was wearing his lifeline and managed to get back aboard. We also passed a 36 foot Norwegian yacht who later abandoned his yacht as it started to sink. The winds steadily increased and we saw some yachts heading back to port. The forecast we were given advised that we would see a maximum of force 7 winds for a short period of time, however, the forecast was wrong. The winds increased to force 7 and then up to force 8 and they did not relent for 12 long hours. The waves were crashing over the spray hood and washing through the cockpit and the seas were huge. Approximately 65 miles into the race Fusion IIs boom jibed and split clean in half and landed on the deck whilst we were trying to undo a huge mass of knots from a jib sheet. It took two and a half hours to get things sorted out and lash everything down then we continued on our way under engine and foresail. When we reached Sleipner Oil Platform we retired from the race. The main radio set had also packed in on us and we crossed the remaining two thirds of the North Sea with only a hand held radio. Thankfully, the winds died away in the British Sector and we managed to tidy up the wreckage on the decks, then the fog came in like pea soup. All we can say is Thank You to Lowrance for our radar and plotter, they were a godsend and brought us safely home. Fusion II entered Findochty harbour on a flat calm foggy night to discover yet more damage. Our port side rudder linkage was shattered in bits so we made several attempts to enter our berth with only the starboard rudder functioning. It was great to have a welcoming party, comprising of Neil and Mairi's parents who had been worried sick about us for the past 48 hours. It transpired that Sunrise made the crossing in very good time, despite some crew members being very ill and sick for a large part of the race. They won the Oil Mans Trophy for being the fastest vessel crossing, working for an oil company. They were overall 7th place. Fantastic result when you saw the size and speed of some of the other yachts in their class. They later told me that they saw waves break over their spreaders and that they had knee deep in water in the cockpit at one point during the storms. Lady Vi also made it to Macduff. Not far from Macduff and the end of the race the wind died away to nothing. They were waiting and waiting with absolutely no wind for a long time and had unfortunately lost the halyard for the cruising chute, up the mast. Peter and his crew took the decision to switch on the engine, retire from the race and get home. We all admired them for their spirit and for finishing the whole course. During the storms Peter's laptop smashed - containing his navigation program. If you could experience the physical and mental punishment that the North Sea and the weather dealt us during the crossing you would understand why there was no shame in retiring from the race because the safety and well being of the crew came above all else. To cover a total distance of over 600 miles round trip across the North Sea and back was the real achievement and we were all later presented with our Certificates of Achievement from the Race Organisers at the prize giving event in the Banff Springs. Well done all three Skippers and Crews. Next year is the 25th anniversary of the North Sea Yacht Race - Anyone for Norway? Mairi Innes Fusion II
The July Cruise of Destino I got off to a false start. The Saturday weather was not good for the canal, so I went home again. Sunday night found me bedding down on Destino for an early start. At 03.30 Monday I left Findochty towards Inverness. It was a glorious dawn, with a light S.E. wind that I managed to use un-aided as far as Lossiemouth. From Lossiemouth onwards I motorsailed, entering Clachnaharry sea lock at 14.45. This being by first time on the canal the plan was to go to Gairlochy and back on an 8 day passage ticket. As I was in no hurry I spent the night at Seaport before climbing Muirtown Locks. I Locked up with George Runcie (ex Findochty now Lossiemouth) on Celerity. We agreed to keep going to Dochgarroch, to make it easier to get through the bridge and the Lock. At Dochgarroch Celerity continued west while I stopped for a bit of lunch. I caught up with Celerity after a long motor into a F5, at Fort Augustus. Hire boats had taken all available pontoon space , so I rafted against Celerity. About 20.30 there was a Knock on the cabin roof. It was George. "Would I like to come aboard for a wee nip?" "Thanks I'll bring a Glenmorangie with me". A pleasnt few hours was spent chatting and comparing Glenmorangie with Tobermory and Tobermory with Glenmorangie (just to be sure). A draw was declared and a celebratory drink enjoyed. Next morning the results of motoring into the chop for 20 miles was discovered. The milk for my cornflakes, stored in the forepeak, looked like cottage cheese. It tasted alright on cornflakes but was rubbish in tea. The morning was spent climbing the Fort Augustus flight. In the afternoon I was joined by my wife and mother-in-law, who came down for a picnic from Newtonmore. After lunch we motored to Kytra and back before they left me to return to Newtonmore. I spent the night at Invergarry Castle, on Loch Oich and a very pleasant night it was too. The wind was still S.W so the next day, after stopping at the well of the seven heads, I motored all the way to Gairlochy. Or almost, as I ran out of fuel as I entered the channel. With the prospect of being blown all the way back to a fuel free Laggan Locks, I feverishly filled the tank from a spare can. After a tense few seconds the engine fired and I arrived at Gairlochy pontoons. The return trip was more of the same. Squally weather kept me a day extra at Inverness. I passed Salker H at Clachnaharry sea lock, locking out at 14.30 with thunder threatening. I motored, sails down all the way to Findochty. Arriving at 01.30 on a foul night (morning?) Almost running into the rocks as I entered (big lesson learned). I could get to like this cruising lark. All I need is the time to do it. Bob Chapman Destino
WHITEHILLS REGATTA 18 TH and 19TH AUGUST 2007 This was the inaugural Whitehills regatta organized by the harbour commissioners. Myself and Alex sailed over on the Friday evening, or more accurately motored as there was little wind. We were pleased to meet fellow Fwsc members Willie and James Cowie in their DEHLER 34 "SUNRISE". Again there was little wind on awakening Saturday morning. The regatta consisted of 2 races-a longer course upwind passing buoys in Boyndie Bay and off Banff before returning to Whitehills followed by3 laps of a shorter windward/leeward course off Whitehills in the afternoon.. As I was on my own I had decided to crew on Sunrise. I was pleased however to be offered the company of Andy and Hector, 2 members of Banff Sailing Club. By the start of the first race the wind had increased to 15 knots easterly.19 boats were racing, mostly from Banff and Whitehills and a small number from Lossiemouth. We had an exciting sail to windward and a dead run home. Sunrise was 3rd on handicap Kentra was 7th. By the 2nd race the wind had strengthened to 20 knots North -easterly. Sunrise sailed an excellent first lap but unfortunately misjudged which side to approach the line and retired. We battled on as the wind strengthened to 25 knots, unfortunately now accompanied by rain! In this race we finished 8th out of the 10 boats who completed this race, giving us an overall position of seventh. Overall winner was Volente, a Contessa34 based at Whitehills. There was a most enjoyable prize giving and social event held in a marquee on the quayside. The 2 Findochty boats were now also joined by Lady Vi with 4 crew on board. The wind persisted during the night and Sunday morning so that days race was cancelled and it was not possible for any of the visiting boats to leave given the adverse sea state. This was an excellent event with well-organized racing and excellent hospitality from David Findlay the harbour master. I'd thoroughly recommend you include it in next years racing calendar. Angus Gallacher Kentra
Late cruise to Cromarty On 24th October, Fusion II managed a last minute cruise to Cromarty. We motor sailed all the way as the wind was on our bows, for a change! It was 9pm and pitch dark when we entered Cromarty harbour and we finally got ourselves moored up on a pontoon berth. We didn't fancy trying out a mooring buoy as the wind was gusting quite fiercely and I doubt that going ashore by dinghy would have been a clever idea in those conditions. We found our way up town and settled in the Cromarty Arms pub where we got a cooked meal at 9.15pm on a Wednesday night. The food was nice pub grub, which was hot and plentiful, and I almost took a photo of Willies' fish for entry into the Best Catch competition. In the morning we used the shower facilities after collecting the key from the Royal Hotel on the seafront. A pound coin was required for operating the showers and the facilities were clean and comfortable. The sail back to Findochty on Thursday morning was superb. We started off with over 20 knots of wind and we had a reef in the mainsail and a reefed jib, however, it wasn't long before we had to shake them out as the wind dropped to a more comfortable speed and direction, coming from the South West. We managed to maintain a steady 6.7 knots most of the way backs, peaking at 7.3 knots in the gusts. We made the crossing back in 5 and half hours. The sun was shining brighter that day than it did all summer and I did a bit of cooking on the way back too - I heated up some of Bob Sutherland (local butcher) Curry pies for lunch. Bobs' pies are special and you can buy them in the Findochty Key Store on Seaview Road - try some!!!........I hope our next cruise will be to Helmsdale, but we might find ourselves becoming restricted to dashes to Lossie and Whitehills once the winter weather comes. Mairi Innes Fusion II