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 2009 (part 2)
Mouse Tales 05.45 and its Good Morning Grangemouth! The sea lock keeper is doing his rounds. Nice morning, I say. Might be, he replies. Could snow. With that in mind, I find a fleece. There is a passage plan. One I made earlier. It incorporates a 6.5-mile sail, Carron Sea Lock, Grangemouth Yacht Club and two tides. I have a favourable SW to WSW wind in low figures, and rain. That is the plan. However there is a hiccup. The canvas has not been tested, and the jib is as we speak is being reinforced after I put my fingers through it on the approach to Bowling Sea Lock some months previously. You will remember the log. In a nutshell. I have spent several hours trying to get the rudder right (there is another tale here), and having collected my crew, he proceeds to take it off again, re-align it and drop one of my brand new wing nuts into the drink. However, on the up side, we manage to set off five minutes ahead of schedule, at 09.25. But after much thought, Mouse does not go Forth. Instead she goes east, to investigate the Falkirk Wheel, for a bit of exercise. There is a strong wind in the canal and a chill requiring Macs and Wellies. At 12.00, after a busy morning, we stop off at a waterside pub called Lock 16 for a pint of Guinness in a Fosters lager glass, and the usual "other facilities". For lunch there are banana muffins. I am sitting, not very warm, in the cockpit trying to decide if the compass works. We have navigated sixteen locks on the Forth Clyde canal, and have almost reached the Wheel. The Findochty Water Sports Club burgee is flying high on the handle of the deck brush, setting a competitive standard. They did not think we would go this far! Mouse might well be the first 20' sailing boat to transit west to east on the Wheel, or indeed she might be the first Robert Tucker to sit 115 feet above the Scottish countryside suspended in a revolving bathtub, or indeed the first Matilda to be waltzing on water in the sky. I make a note to contact the Guinness Book of Records. We are the subject of many an interested tourist. Up from the Clyde on a water biscuit, they may think, adjusting their tripods. In the Ladies I appear to be the only one wearing waterproof trousers and a lifejacket. At the top of the Wheel we begin our journey on the Union canal, the ancient aquatic highway of the lowlands, heading in the general direction of Edinburgh. There are two tunnels and an aqua duct, but no locks. The canal is narrow, shallow and full of wildlife. The weather brightens as we embark on the eleven miles to Linlithgow, where Mouse will stop for a while. There is no traffic, save for a moorhen floating past on her nest. Linlithgow has no loos and no electricity. It has a definite canal feel, though. There are barges, brightly painted, in the basin and along the towpath. The night is chilly and I wake up early, facing Mecca and the rising sun. The sails are in their bag under my head in the forepeak, which is my personal palace for most voyages. I make tea and snuggle down again until the runners and walkers and cyclists and dogs begin rush hour on the towpath. Up and busy by nine, with two new ideas. One is to fathom out how the sea toilet works (very necessary in these conditions), and the other is to shorten the rudder blade. Yesterday it spent most of its time up, and we spent most of ours pushing it down (with the deck brush and attached burgee). There is a sunny patch at the end of the pontoon, so Mouse and I walk along and tie up. I have attended to the sea toilet, which now works in a basic sort of way. I reset the fenders with some new rope, and take off the rudder blade whilst finishing off the potato scones from yesterday. I leave Mouse just after lunch in order to be ready to earn more pennies on Monday for the mooring fees. Tina Harris Mouse
Sailing in Turkey 2009 Mairi and Neil set off to Turkey for the annual foreign sailing trip on 3rd May 2009, just as all the hype was rising in the UK about "swine flu". Turkey being a Muslim country and all that, we had no worries whatsoever, so off we trotted…… Day one - Arrived at Port Bodrum Yalikavak Marina late afternoon to be greeted with beautiful, hot sunshine and a warm welcome by the staff of Aura Yachting. As usual our Dufour Grande Large 325, "Fantastique" was ready and waiting for us and following a quick visit to the supermarket for essential supplies we headed off to the local bars and restaurants where we had an excellent meal of Turkish Meatballs for me and steak for Neil. We are so predictable, Brits abroad and all that. At least it wasn't an all day breakfast! Day two - Set sail for Altinkum which lies 10 miles north of Yalikavak as the crow flies, in the Ionian sea. The wind was perfect for a deviation to the east into Paradise Bay, where we anchored in 5 meters of water on the gently shelving beach of a holiday village, having successfully dodged several mussel farms, with floating nets, floating baskets and floating "sheddies" - honest! Photographic evidence is attached. Altinkum lies on the ancient coast of Didim, and Neil and I once stayed in a hotel there, a few years back. We headed for the brand new marina, having covered about 25 miles under sail that day, only to find that it was not yet officially open. However, we were made very welcome, and it turned out that we were one of only three yachts moored in the multi million pound complex. The weather changed that night and it started to rain at 6pm. We headed up to the town, which is about 3 miles from the marina, and by the time we got into a restaurant (having jumped on a "dolmus" - translation ="wee bussie"), the rain was torrential. Much to my horror, the rain continued all night and into the following morning. Just not cricket. Day three- I could not believe it when I woke up and I heard rain battering off of the coach roof - I though for a minute I was in Lossie or Banff or even Wick where such weather conditions prevail! We decided, whist still horrified, to head much further north to Kusadasi as originally planned, however, "my" plan had been to do it wearing my dookers (translation = swimwear) and sun cream. On went the jeans, anoraks and baseball hats and up went the bimini shade (absolutely unheard of) to keep the rain off. The rain did however, eventually stop at lunchtime and down went the bimini shade, and on went the dookers. I was happy once again!!! We had a pretty good sail up to the dogleg of the ancient gulf of Letmos towards the narrow passage of Sisam Bogazi between Turkey and the Greek island of Samos but by the time we approached the coast to go up the narrow channel, the prevailing meltimi winds were absolutely screaming at us, blowing 39 knots from the north straight on our bows (like it says on the tin) and we had to motor for the shelter of the cliffs in order to creep around the corner, as the yacht was slamming up and down on the waves and the speed over the ground was greatly reduced. Once in the sheltered waters between Samos and the Turkey the wind calmed, the sea state went down and it was roasting hot and sunny once again - Oh Happy Days. We covered over 40 sea miles that day and it was pretty hairy going at times. Finally arriving at Kusadasi - a bustling tourist resort that we reckoned had changed almost beyond recognition since we first visited it about 15 years ago. The souks are still there selling the fake designer labels and tatt and the restaurants and bars are still bustling with tourists. The marina is a well established and reasonably priced one and we really enjoyed our stay there, where there appear to be a lot of Americans and Europeans doing "live aboards". "Kusadasi Weather Forecast" - Please see the accompanying photograph of the chalk board - only Johnny Foreigner could get away with displaying such a forecast, tongue in cheek…….. Day four - Set sail for Cam Limani, and Lebedos Limani, anchorages 15 - 16 miles north west of Kusadasi where we anchored in the bays, in approx. 7 meters of water and we spent the day relaxing in the sun before returning to Kusadasi marina for a second night. The approaches to Kusadasi are quite pretty as there is an ancient fort on a peninsula to the south of the city, known as Bird Island. I seem to remember that "Kus" means "bird" In Turkish and anything with "adasi" after it means "rock" or "island" - hence the name of the city. The only thing that spoils the view of the city is the cruise ship dock. Some of those ships are so big that they blot out the entire landscape and apparently the shop prices double when the ships come in, according to the local Turks. Day five - an early start "at the sparra's fart" - for a 50-mile passage from Kusadasi, back to the deep south, to Turgetreis in the Carian Sea. The beauty of this particular day was that we sailed the entire passage with the meltimi wind blowing up our chuffs and the boat was never below 6 and a half knots. Oh for a spinnaker…… It was just superb and we arrived in Turgetreis in daylight and in time for supper. This is without doubt the best sail I have ever had and it was roasting hot too - dookers were on! Bimini was firmly folded away! Day six - we set off for Bodrum, which lies about 7 miles south of Turgetreis, (in the Gulf) in light to moderate wind conditions, where we just pottered around, tacking and sunbathing and relaxing, which suited me just fine. We sailed past Gumbet and the marine area known as the Aquarium then berthed at Bodrum Marina for our penultimate night where we had a good time out on the town, once more feeding on Turkish meatballs……what can I say? Hey ho, depression started to set in as the final day of the holiday dawned. Day seven - departed Bodrum for an anchorage 10 miles west of Bodrum known as Bitez, which I thought was so picturesque and just gorgeous. There were little, white, sugar cube houses dotted all around the cliffs with lush, green vegetation growing down to the water's edge. I was shocked to see people swimming in the sea as the water is not too warm at the start of May, however not to be outdone, Neil and I decided to go for a swim. It was way too cold, like Finechty harbour on craning in day, so we hurriedly climbed back aboard Fantastique and sunbathed instead. Departing for Gumsuluk for a final visit to the very pretty anchorage, just north of the Gulf of Gokova Korfezi. And that was the end…nearly....We sailed Fantastique back to Port BodrumYalikavak and the wind kicked up to over 29 knots, just as we were approaching the refuelling pontoon, by the muckle rocks! at the outer wall of the marina. This final task was rather "challenging", however, our mission was a success and we dropped Fantastique, back at Aura Yachting, unscathed. One more night on the tiles was had in Yalikavak and before we knew it we were in Bodrum airport, checking in to fly home. For a summer of sailing and cruising and racing in the Moray Forth and beyond…………… Ps. Can I please have my "electric windlass" competency certificate! Here's to 2010, when who knows where we'll sail to……………. Mairi Innes Secretary
Wick Harbourfest Angus and I decided to sail to Wick on Friday lunchtime so I prepared Solan with all the necessary supplies for the trip and waited until 1.30pm when Angus finished work. When he arrived he got his gear aboard and off we went. Motoring out of Finechty we quickly got our sails up and cut the engine to catch the easterly breeze. At first it looked like progress would be slow under sail alone but the breeze picked up and soon we were fairly belting along on a broad reach in a fairly flat sea - ideal conditions. Visibility wasn't up to much so we soon lost sight of land, nothing could be seen ahead or behind us for most of the way to the Beatrice Oil Field. This was the longest part of our journey and it seemed ages before a platform structure appeared out of the gloom. We had set a waypoint just to the East of it, but as we progressed we became aware of another structure ahead and to our starboard, this wasn't there on a previous trip and turned out to be some sort of satellite station. Anyway we passed it leaving it a few miles to the East. Having cleared the Oil Field we found that the tide, which had been favourable earlier, was now giving us a very definite push towards our destination. We were positively flying and after an hour or two we made out the welcome sight of the coast on our Port side and as we travelled along it details on the coast gradually became clearer as we converged on it towards our final waypoint in Wick bay. The passage took us an incredible 7 hours 50 minutes. We called up Wick harbour on the radio and were told to come in where we would be met at the last pontoon and shown to our berth. Imagine my surprise when our guide announced, on catching our ropes, that he recognised me from when he played badminton with me years before! Wick Marina turned out to be splendid and we were made most welcome. Already there were a number of Lossie and Finechty boats, namely Sparkle, Fusion II and Gypsy Maiden who had sailed the day before. On Saturday, we toured around the harbour area visiting the various stalls and displays. Our lunch consisted of Cullen Skink and an ice cream, which kept us going until evening when, courtesy of Angus, we had an evening meal at the Bord de L'eau or as Mairi called it - the "Bordeloo'. After our meal we went socialising around the Marina and we finished up as guests at the Lifeboat Headquarters thanks to Angus and his Buckie Lifeboat duties. On Sunday it would have been to our advantage to set off very early in the morning to use a favourable tide in getting home, 4am was mentioned but I exercised my command of the vessel to depart at 9am instead. Leaving at this time, with several other boats, meant that we were punching against the tide at least until the Beatrice Field and this we did and had to motor sail for a time making slow progress. At this stage the boats that left harbour with us were gradually fading into the distance as their courses diverged from ours. However the tide eventually eased and the easterly wind picked up. We were able to cut our engine again and made much faster progress on the latter part of the journey, arriving back in Finechty just in time for tea. Fred Murray Solan.
Wicked! My passage plan was complete until we decided to go four hours early. However, life, for the moment is just at the right speed, and Wick tides are 47 minutes before Buckie, and this is Thursday. In case of emergencies I pack the big torch and the first aid kit, adding to those already aboard. My glow-in-the-dark fleece is in the bag in case I need to be found in a hurry, together with four large bananas to ward off scurvy. The pilot book is missing, presumed on another vessel. Eating one of the bananas makes the bag slightly less heavy. Two sailing boats pass the house on starboard tack while I am dithering over whether to drive 60 miles to retrieve the pilot book or go without. After all we have done Wick before. As the boats pass the shipyard they are abeam, reminding me of our passage to St Vaast, when we were in company with a Sigma 33, just before our dramatic rescue by lifeboat off Le Havre. I leave the house at 11.30, without the pilot book, which includes the port plans for Wick. On the way I call in to the harbour office in Buckie, and he gives me a guide to all ports in Scotland. £25, he says, but free to me! On board is the new chart plotter, but we appear to be at a loss for paper charts. There are new flares and the temperature is 26 degrees. I join the sun on deck. I notice all the little bits of wood put here and there to prop things up and hold things down. While he is ashore fetching things I map out a suitable watch rota and cut my toenails in case they puncture my sea boots. Then I do some fairly unsuccessful tack practice in an inflatable sailing dinghy, round the harbour in circles, and ending up on the beach. He finds a paper chart but no rubber to erase our last headings to Wick. I give him one of my deck shoes, so he can complete the task with the help of its rubber sole. Unfortunately it is wet due to the episode in the dinghy, and removes more than the pencil plots. The other crew arrives an hour late. We leave Findochty in bright sunshine and temperatures high in the twenties, in a heavy swell. Port tack, one reef, and no radio contact. I have a chat with Aberdeen coast guard on the phone. There is a bank of fog; windforce that I log as F6, but later find out it was F7. Short lived, and we pass Beatrice in a slightly calmer sea. Alas though, the tide now runs against us, making our passage slow. Autohelm on and lighthouse in sight, we sit and wait, once more, for Wick, some fifteen miles off. Gipsy is taking water at some alarming rate, and we pump and mop furiously. There is seaweed and bits of shell seeping up through the floor. Just on the approach the engine kicks out black smoke. It is 03.45, and it is with no surprise that I replace the transmitter unable to raise the harbourmaster on Ch14. I wake up in full thermals in two sleeping bags. Never less in the most comfortable forepeak. In the next berth is Dormouse, but while I am in the shower, Gipsy moves, and shacks up next to About Time, whose skipper lives just up the road from me. I have him up Gipsy's mast by nine, retrieving the flag halyard, which I let fly. A quick call to the coast guard in Aberdeen celebrating our arrival, apologising for the delay, which was due to four hours' sleep. They understand. It is hard to believe that this time last week I was on the west coast of Wales with the fleet sailing to Fort William. 44.2NM to Wick, I discover, from the new electronic brain. Ten hours. The book of port plans donated by the harbourmaster in Buckie remains unopened. Wick lifeboat men and an Irishman join us for lunchtime drinks, after we visit Dormouse and reminisce about our rendezvous in Cromarty 2007. In the unfortunate knowledge that I have to be home by Sunday, I wander into Wick to find a bus timetable. I have considerable difficulty trying to jump ship, and I am persuaded in the end to sail the boat back with the crew. We cannot do it alone, they wail. Looking at the state of them by bedtime, as they fall asleep in Witherspoons, I believe it. The snoring was coming from your side of the forepeak, they both agree, over a large breakfast. It was About Time, I tell them. I never snore. I sing the praises of the breakfast chef by way of changing the subject, and agree to sail them home. If only every day started with a bacon and egg roll. I ring Aberdeen coastguard for a weather check, and prepare to leave, beginning at 58.26N, 003.8W. The prediction is E to ESE 4-5, possibly 6, slight to moderate, occasional showers. The back passage. Up go the sails, as I steer Gipsy reluctantly out of Wick. I have the T-shirt. After cutting off a considerable corner of the plot, I turn right and head down and away from the coast of Caithness. Various articles including the Ports of Scotland and a length of rope have jumped onto the chart table on their way to the floor, which as we speak is beginning to fill with water again. Coming in waves, he tells me, hunting for the leak. After a while we trace the seepage to the cockpit drain, easily seen in daylight. Plugged with the dishcloth we carry on towards the Smith Bank. The seas are much more moderate than on the up run. We are on a close reach, and will be for the duration unless there is a wind shift. We're doing about half an hour to a square, says the novice crew, pressing buttons on the new chart plotter before it fixes in one position and will not move again. I carry on with the paper chart. Auto helm all the way. However, we do not escape the predicted F6. We can see Scotland, he says, taking the helm with an hour to go. He can count the bricks in the harbour wall, he tells us. The sun is out and by the time we arrive in the homeport the temperature is in the mid twenties again. Off with the oilies on the way to the onshore heads, and then home. By the time I reach Banff I remember the cakes in Gipsy's oven, that we forgot about. Again I ring Aberdeen coast guard to tell them we are back safe and well. Its nice for us to get good news, she says, and hopes I have a good evening. Tina Harris (Aboard, Gipsy Maiden.)
Up Against the Wall in Portsoy With a modicum of tide, in Portsoy's inner harbour, you think, would be safe enough, with bilge keels. Not so. There is a dip in the seabed which will pitch you to kingdom come. So when it comes to bedding down you must remember the Boy Scout motto and Be Prepared. I am tucked up in my sleeping bag on the port side, which is the way I will be heading when we begin to go sideways. An arm extends in, and hands me the washing up bowl. For the drips, comes the voice at the other end of the arm. There are always drips. And then I remember, one very wet night aboard Gipsy in Seaport Marina. The drips are recalled, one by one; their passage and their effect. There is a blue flashing light coming from my bag, which will be an incoming text. No reception down here with the tide going out, I remember. We had been ondeck discussing Wimbledon when the midges joined us, earlier in the evening. Now I am itching. Getting wet as well is not an option. The rain has begun. An hour later the drip becomes a trickle. On the shoulder and down the arm. He has put up with this for years. Not me, I can't live with it for ten minutes. With the help of a large towel, I stem the flow by stuffing one end of it into the port side of the fore hatch, and running it across to the bulkhead, where I attach its loop to a hook. The idea is to reduce the drips by allowing them to be soaked up by the towel. Simple. I snuggle down, for the moment warm and dry, with no more interference. In the morning there is a good list to port. She has taken the ground with her bilge keels at different levels, causing her to lean precariously away from the harbour wall. No one can function at this angle, and the necessities will have to be dealt with onshore. The heads are locked, he wails, climbing down the ladder. So no joy there. Showers, if any, are well camouflaged. Whilst looking for something else, I find his teeth under the rip-stop tape. The sun comes out at 09.30, and I forget the list, and the drips, for a while. I have a chat with the harbour-master from Wick. What did you think of our facilities, he asks, remembering me from last week at his harbourfest in Wick. The vegetation continues to grow on the harbour wall as I make my comments. The crew from the boat rafted on the outside of Gipsy arrive clean and showered. They have taken on water in the night and begin baling furiously. So here we are, at ten in the morning, having motored some half a mile off, with no wind, listening to the bagpipes. The sun is hot, and perhaps this is just too relaxing. Out comes the gin and tonic. Sadly, no ice. You know you have had one too many when you think you can see fishes swimming about in the compass. Slightly more alarming when these comments come from your friends too. Exhausted by five, we hang the little red water taxi back on the davits (there is another story altogether about the davits), and prepare once more for the night. And another falling tide. This time he attaches the jib halyard to a bollard, high on the harbour wall, and follows this with a ten-minute lecture on quantum mechanics. About to enjoy an early night, I curl up in the fore-peak to the tune of voices, in the general direction of our port bow. There was a mooring buoy in this particular spot, but now it appears to be underneath a thirty- foot wooden boat, wrapped round their prop. I am out of the fore hatch in pyjamas, taking their stern line and cleating it on to the little dinghy rafted next to us. An unstable affair. It is getting dark and chilly. I go below for a fleece and when I return to the deck there is a half naked Norwegian sprawled over the side of an inflatable with a hacksaw. He goes into the water, reminding the owner not to flush the heads as he is under the outfall. It is too dark to watch. By first light the boat has berthed successfully and the mooring buoy is hiding in the corner, no longer attached to its ground tackle or the unsuspecting propeller. Waking up on Sunday I am in much the same position, in my portside forepeak berth at an unladylike angle. About fifteen degrees off the harbour wall. Transforming the forepeak temporarily to en suite, I attempt to make use of the facilities and put on some clean clothes. I smell like the remains of yesterday's kippers, and prepare myself for a day of enforced solitude. A bacon and egg roll has jumped into my hand by nine (I have been training them to do this), and by ten I have reluctantly decided to jump ship, in order to preserve not only my sanity but also that of the remaining crew. There is rampant lethargy. I sit on the deck until I can cope with the upright position. This is a common affliction caused by sleeping in far too many fore-peaks. The Scottish Traditional Boat Festival programme sits limp on the side deck. There are a few stalwarts at the community hymn singing. I go for a walk in search of my lost youth, and after a last pint, wave Gipsy off as she makes the return passage to Findochty. Tina Harris (aboard Gipsy Maiden)