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Findochty Water sports Club
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What we have been doing 2008  
Craning Day We used to have a crane in day and a crane out day, but things have changed. The mild winters, of recent years, have encouraged more owners to keep their boats afloat over winter. Myself, I have been lifting out every other winter. Although I did not leave the pontoon more than three times, this winter, I benefited by having my mast up, which allowed me to completely change the running rigging. On Saturday 20th April the crane was booked and the lifts commenced. We have got the job down to a fine art over the years. Strops were readied and hands held lines. Hooks were connected and the banks man signalled the driver. A rhythm soon established and gaps appeared on the quayside. There were as many boats lifting out as lifting in, so these gaps were soon filled again. By the end of the day thirty-two lifts were made, comprising 28 boats and 4 masts. The quay appears to have more boats on it now than before. Most of these boats will be craned in on the May Day Saturday, after a couple of week's hard graft. This may be the way of the future afloat for most of the year and a short lift out for annual refit. With our colder northern waters, osmosis is less of a problem than in the warm south, so why not.
Restoration of the Howff We had been planning a major overhaul of the Howff for some time. The weekend of 29-30th April 2008 saw the start of work. I had often wondered where the name "Howff" came from. A long time Findochty resident enlightened me. It is an acronym from it's days as a fisherman's meeting shelter. I was told it stands for "Home of weary Findochty Fisherman" . (Re FWSC newsletter. I think the definition of HOWFF is not quite as has been suggested. HOWFF when used as a verb is indeed an abode, familiar shelter or resort. When used as a noun is to reside or visit a familiar haunt. However in relation to Finechty it is was something quite different. It was originally the village mortuary. This is from good authority of one Mrs Mary Billing who is native of Findochty having been born there at a very early age. Keep up the good work, Cheers Ron.) By the time I arrived, work was well under way. Inside the plaster board had been replaced around the chimney and an emptying of surplus furnishings was taking place. These were carried down to a bonfire below the high tide mark. The main job of the weekend was the erecting of a fence and laying of a large area of paving. While one group dug post holes, another cleared the area of weeds and surplus hardcore. The first line of paving slabs was laid by mid-day. The cement mixer was shared between wet mix for posts and dry mix for paving. While this was going on, the ladies were busy with paint brushes, creosoting the shed, and emulsioning the harbour office and finishing with a very nautical Oxford(R.N.L.I.) Blue for the door. Energy ran out mid afternoon, so, it was Sunday morning when the fence and paving was completed. A new window was fitted. There is still a lot of work to be done. The paving needs completing and the edges need tidying and planting with suitable plants. Later the real transformation will take place, with a proposed kitchen, shower room and toilet. The start has been made, when we eventually finish we should have a facility to be proud of.
First Sail Saturday 17th May was designated as the "first sail". Numbers were down as a number of "boats" were cruising the Turkish coast. There were three boats that ventured out into a lumpy sea, on a bright sunny morning, Solan, Sarah Bheag and Destino. The wind was north east and chilly. I left Findochty with the first reef in the main and a couple of rolls on the foresail. Passing Sterlochy I realised that there was not as much wind as I thought so the foresail was fully unfurled. I left the main sail reef in as we were doing almost hull speed, any extra sail would make little difference. The tidal stream (west to east) and the northeast swell was producing steep fronted waves. The average height was 4-5 feet but occasionally a black-faced monster of 8-9 feet bore down on us. At one point I could only see Solan and Sarah Bheag's masts, above the crosstrees, when all three boats were in troughs. The wind was not that strong though so the waves were not breaking and the sailing was enjoyable. Surprisingly, with these steep waves, we only received a soaking a couple of times after slapping into the face of a wave. After about 90 minutes we returned to Findochty and put a pizza in the oven as we put Destino to bed. A number of other "boats" had arrived as we sailed although no more boats ventured out. The day was ended with an informal barbeque at the Howff. Here's to a vintage sailing season.
Fusion II Cruise to Banff Marina It was Friday 24th April and the motley crew of Fusion II set sail for Banff Marina. Banff Sailing Club was celebrating the anniversary of the opening of their new marina and we were invited along by Gordon Maitland to join in with the fun. We motored down on the Friday afternoon, as there was hardly a breath of wind, so the passage took us 2 hours. On arrival, we called Jim Henderson, the new harbourmaster, on the radio and he came along and assisted us to moor up and filled us in with the domestics. That evening it started raining and it forgot to stop so we didn't venture far. In fact we ran up the hill to the Railway pub where we bumped into an old friend from Banff whom we first met 20 years ago in Tenerife, it was great to catch up! On Saturday morning we were advised that the "cruise" we were initially invited to join, in Banff Bay, had turned into an official race so we filled up our entry form and paid our fiver (could not possibly grudge this as the berthing was free). Then we set off to the Spotty Bag shop for a slimfast breakfast of burger and chips for me, and mixed grill for Neil. Just the thing before a race!!!!! The weather was beautiful and the sun was shining, then just about five minutes before the start of the race the wind really blew up and the showery squalls came howling in, some of the gusts were hitting 33 knots of wind and we noticed that several yachts had too much sail up - but for once, Fusion II was not guilty, we had the mainsail reefed and were flying along nicely. We reached the first marker ahead of the others, stealing Aquamarine's wind as we overtook her on the start line, then made off in hot pursuit of the second which was near Tarlair as Gordon's drawing said it would be. About half way there we looked behind and saw some of the other boats making a change in direction. We then realized that the marker was away out to sea so we came about and headed for it. It turned out that I had been making for a creel stowie and everyone was following me. Ooops! The 31foot, fin keel boat, Aquamarine, just got to the second marker before us, owing to our little detour and we followed her round and quickly overtook her for a second time. It was a great race back to Banff harbour and Fusion II finished the course in 36 minutes, in first place, 2 minutes ahead of Aquamarine, who took second. There are always casualties in Mairi's seafaring stories and this day was no exception. During one of the gusts of wind one of the Banff yachts tore his mainsail in two and a friend of mine later told me that he was racing his yacht "Elise" at Lossie at the same time, on the same day, and he tore his sunstrip off his jib when he was caught in a gust which overpowered the yacht and blew her over on her side. After the race we headed back to the marina and the sun came out and the wind dropped, then we had a surprise visit from Bob and Jackie Lawton who came down by car for a look around. Banff Sailing Club opened their clubhouse that evening and they put on a lovely buffet for the sailors. They really do put in such an effort into their social calendar and they are very welcoming indeed to visitors, the hospitality was second to none and I sure that Findochty Water Sports Club will manage to direct a cruise or two towards Banff this summer. We sailed home on Sunday in the beautiful warm sunshine with just the mainsail and the spinnaker up - bliss. I got really sore hands and I was also rather bored when it was my turn to fly the spinnaker for what seemed like an eternity. Neil could not believe it when he came up on deck and found me sunbathing with the spinnaker cleated off and the autopilot on. You just canna get the crew nowadays!!!!!! For the record, I would like to point out that Findochty Water Sports Club had nothing whatsoever to do with the Banff Marina Wall collapsing last year, following Neil's cruise, just minutes after the last Findochty yacht set sail for home!!!! The Banff Club advised me that they would remember the event forever…………….. Mairi Fusion II
Sailing in Harmony to Loch Aline Myself, John Barclay and Fred Murray left Buckie at 11pm on the Thursday after the crane- in. The timing of this departure was to allow Fred to play tennis in Elgin that evening, so consequently we had to buck the tide most of the way. The wind was light s/westerly and we motored all the way to Inverness arriving at 9.30 am, our slowest passage so far in 22 years. Normally it takes us 8 hours though we once did it in 6 1/2 hours on the tale of a northerly 4/5. The Thursday/Friday shipping forecast was giving 6 to 7 between SE and SW but other forecasts such as GB Windmap and pressure charts we checked before departure gave only light south to south- easterlies. We have found the shipping forecasts to be very unreliable for the last few years, often forecasting far stronger winds that in fact occur. We arrived in the inner Moray Firth in a flat calm and had light head winds down Loch Ness whilst we lunched on pizzas. Friday night was spent at the top of Fort Augustus locks. Hot showers, chicken casserole and an early night to catch up with lost sleep the night before. Up at 7am Saturday, muesli and toast and off into a very cold strong headwind. We had 30 to 35 knots on our head going down Loch Oich. With much the same down Loch Lochy where our decks were given a real good washing! We did however manage a cooked brunch of bacon, sausage, beans, eggs and toast whilst the autohelm steered straight down the middle of the Loch. Fred and I had our meal at the saloon table whilst John had his under the shelter of the sprayhood. On arrival at Neptunes Staircase, Fort William, we had a fast ride down being the only boat and were in time to lock out of the canal before closing time if we had wished. We did not however fancy another night passage of approx 36 miles to our mooring and it was also rather bumpy looking at the pontoon outside the sea lock. The lock keeper, as a favour, let us stay in the sealock basin on the promise that we would lock out in the morning. He also gave us a print out of the latest forecast, which was for light and variable wind. Wine, beer and whisky in reverse order was consumed as we waited for our shepherds pie to heat up in the oven. Another hot shower, a few more drams and off to bed on a beautiful evening with the sun shining off the snow on Ben Nevis. Sunday dawned sunny and still and we locked out at 9.30am with the whole of the ebb tide under our keel. We were through the Corran Narrows in under 2 hours, meeting the cruise ship "Lord of the Glens" coming the opposite way. We touched 10 knots over the ground as we popped through Corran and out into Loch Linnhe. Our big red buoy fenders we use for the canal were deflated as we motored along and stored in the forepeak under the bunks. The sea was like glass as we enjoyed a brunch of bacon sarnies on the way. We lazed around the cockpit and saloon, reading and chatting as the autohelm did the work. Eagle eye Fred spotted a large red round buoy washed up on the shore beyond the Glen Sanda Quarry and we motored inshore before launching the dinghy and recovering it. Strangely we recovered another buoy from the same spot 2 years ago. As we turned into the Sound of Mull the ebb tide, which had been with us, then headed us as it poured into Loch Linnhe. The Sound was quiet and sunny as we continued up to Loch Aline entering against the last of the ebb at about 3pm. It took about 2 hours to reset our mooring, which we drop to the seabed at the end of the season, and secured "Harmony" for the summer. Robert Morrice had volunteered to pick us up and arrived about 5.30pm. It was a beautiful evening for a run home, which was enlivened by a very, very close encounter/near, miss with a deer and also a speed camera north of Aviemore. Thanks for the run Robert and thanks Fred for your good company. Phil Brown
Findochty Water Sports Club - On Tour - Turkey 2008 Eight Club members headed for Bodrum Airport in Turkey on Sunday, 18th May 2008. Mairi & Neil Innes of Fusion II, Peter & Vi Rankine of Lady Vi, Walter & Maggie Watson of Ambition and Jim & Brenda Sutherland of Janet. Mairi & Neil chartered a Dufour 325 Grande Large, named Fantastique (same yacht as last year) and the others chartered a Beneteau Oceanis 411 named Dougie T. We were picked up at the airport by an air conditioned minibus and whisked us off to Port Bodrum Yalikavak Marina which lies to the North West of Bodrum airport on the Ionian coast at location 37degrees 06'. 42N 27degrees 16'. 92E where we met Merina, of Aura Yachting and were shown around our yachts. We unpacked and chilled out for a while then after showering, headed for the Windmill restaurant at Yalikavak fishing harbour where we had an excellent dinner and discussed our plans for the week ahead. Monday. An early start and both yachts set off, destination Bodrum, to the southeast in the Carian Sea. We anchored on an isthmus at Catalada Island. Easy to see why there are so many wrecks there because ships would think from the distance that you could pass through between the islands. We had some lunch that consisted of bread, goats cheese, salad veg, olives, as is the norm when I do the shopping. After lunch we went swimming before weighing anchor and we sailed down to Bodrum Milta Marina where we berthed for the night. It is practice to call up the marinas on channel 72 and the yachts are met by a rigid inflatable who will escort you to a berth and assist you moor on an anchor buoy to the bow and with two stern lines to the pontoon (then you drop your gangway/plank). We later discovered that not only adults used this gangway to gain access to the yachts, however this part of the tale will remain a closely guarded secret. Tuesday. Set sail from Bodrum Marina headed for Pubus, a beautiful bay sheltered from the Meltimi winds, approximately 8 miles south east of Bodrum where once again we anchored for lunch using the electric windlass and had some lunch and went swimming. The bay was quite peaceful and very pretty and a couple of tourist/day trip boats came and went as we pottered round in our dinghies, which soon became the popular way to communicate between the two anchored yachts. We then headed back up the coast, north of Bodrum and continued North to the beautiful town of Turgetreis, which we nicknamed Hollywood because the name of the town is spelled out on the hill in white stones. I was informed that a brother and sister created the marina development that includes a yacht club, a supermarket, banks and several designer shops, helipad etc. The marina is the best laid out, modern, chic development I have ever seen! That night we ate in a restaurant looking out at Catalada Island anchorage, where we anchored that same afternoon. Wednesday. Set sail in good winds prevailing from the North east and headed all the way across the Gulf of Gokova Korfezi (about 20 miles), passing very close to the Greek Island of Kos, in fact, so close that a Greek Coastguard boat passed between us and the island, perhaps as a little reminder!!! We anchored at a cove known as Mersinick, en route to Kormen fishing harbour. Mersinick is an enclosed bay lying under the cape, south of Akcali Adasi, where we had the usual fayre for lunch and did some swimming. In my opinion this was the most beautiful anchorage and the most idyllic location of the holiday. Huge rocky cliffs that appeared to give good shelter from the Meltimi encircled the cove, but after a few hours we were hit by some huge gusts of wind that seemed to come from nowhere and the boats swung on their anchor chains. We suspected that Fantastique had dragged slightly but it was about time to leave anyway so we weighed anchors and departed, under motor, for Kormen fishing harbour, which lies about 3 miles to the east of the anchorage. Again we moored with the anchor at the bow and two stern lines ashore to the old pier. This time it was Dougie T who dragged anchor and had to have a second anchoring. There was nothing at Kormen except a restaurant so we decided to call it the "Captive Audience Restaurant" after we saw the prices that is!!! It turned out to be pretty expensive but the food was very enjoyable. Thursday. We headed on a course of 33degrees North east, back across the Gulf of Gokova Korfezi, on a heading for Cockertme Koyu but then the crews had a change of plan and we altered west for the anchorage of Pubus, once again. The sailing conditions were perfect and Fantastique had a fabulous display of dolphins on the way across and we even managed to get some dolphin photos. They were very large dolphins compared to those in the Moray Firth and they kept giving the boat a tap as if to say "catch me if you can". No chance!!! We were the first two boats to arrive at Pubus and to drop anchor then a beautiful, big, private hire, gullet called "Papa Joe" came in behind us and anchored. We declined to join them at their loud Turkish disco which they were holding on board or on the jet ski that appeared as if by magic. We set sail for Bodrum once more and had a cracking sail up the coast. Fantastique had a pretty good race with a French crewed Oceanis 411 and we held him off as long as we could but eventually he got past us. It was good fun all the same but at times like this, when you fancy a race, you wonder why you are towing your dingy behind the boat? We moored up in Bodrum Milta Marina for the evening. Friday. Departed Bodrum, destination Gumsuluk, which lies 4 miles south of Port Bodrum Yalikavak Marina. We took great care on the approaches as the pilot book advises that there was a submerged reef at the entrance on the port side and that you could not see the bay until you were level with the entrance. We entered the bay and anchored in the southern end for lunch and swimming. Some of the party went ashore to check out the pretty town but it consisted of little more than restaurants along the beachfront and some small shops. It was, however, very picturesque and typically Turkish. There were several gullets at anchor along the shores and a handful of foreign yachts at anchor in the bay. That evening we headed back to Turgetreis Marina, my favourite, and moored up for the night. We ate out at La Villa restaurant where we had the best and biggest meal of the holiday. We had pizzas; curries, meatballs and everyone agreed that the food at La Villa was great. Saturday. Market day in Turgetreis - so we headed for the market which lay behind the mosque with the two spires which looked like space rockets. This was our last day so we decided to do some serious shopping at Versace, Dolce and Gabanna, Radley, Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren etc. In Turkey, these exquisite designer retail outlets can all be found on the busy back street stalls where you hear shouts of "five for a tenner" and "cheap as chips". I am sure that Neil's five designer t-shirts which he got for a tenner are all genuine fake designer goods though. After the market we stashed our purchases onboard the yachts and watched the waterlines go down, then we set sail in a northwesterly direction, destined for Bahce Koyu (Yalikavak Liman) that lies directly across the bay from Yalikavak Marina. We anchored on the north side of the bay, immediately behind the partly submerged wreck of a gullet, which had struck the rocks. Here we enjoyed our last day of chilling out by sunbathing and swimming. The crews met both in the Ionian Sea and onboard Dougie T, where much merriment was held and where a new dance was invented to the song "Loch Lomand". Later, we topped the boats up with fuel at Yalikavak marina and berthed out our mother port where the staff of Aura Yachting met us for a debriefing, so to speak. Later that evening we all set off for our last supper at the Windmill Restaurant, where once again the food was excellent and the waiters were such good crack, before departing for Bodrum Airport and the flight back home. I thoroughly enjoyed my holiday and in my opinion these were the best sailing conditions of my three sailing holidays in Turkey so far. I really hope that the crew of Dougie T enjoyed their sailing holiday, as this was the first holiday in Turkey for all of them. Maybe some of our club members will be tempted to try a sunny sailing holiday after reading my story………….Just remember to invite me along. Mairi Innes Fusion II
KENTRA VARIS SPEY BAY REGATTA Team Kentra - Skipper - Angus Gallacher Crew - Alex Mitchell Crew - Mairi Innes Crew - Councillor Gordon Macdonald (SNP) Kentra left Buckie harbour with her crew honed to perfection for the impending Regatta. The weather was warm and sunny but unfortunately there was hardly a puff of wind and the arrival of the Buckie Lifeboat at the race start line caused a bit of a surge, which resulted in Kentra struggling to get over the start line. The bulk of the competitors crossed the line and headed north in search of wind to assist them to Findochty but our skipper and team decided to try something different in order to salvage something from a bad start so we set off for Strathlene, via the inshore route, with the assistance of the tide. We made good ground on the others and we cut between the East Muck and Portessie (secretly hoping the rest of the fleet would follow us and get wrecked on the rocks) However, only a couple of boats cottoned on to what we were up to and tagged along with us. The passage seemed to take forever but we eventually crossed the finish line hard on the heels of Joker, a larger, higher handicap, yacht than Kentra and Kentra won the race in class 2. Race 2 was an Olympic race around the triangle/sausage, marks and Kentra did quite well once again, the sailing was more testing this time and the wind had freshened significantly to 17 knots for the race start and sea state became a bit lumpy. On leg 3 we went to hoist the cruising chute and basically made a mess of things so we hauled it down again but we had lost ground and valuable time against a lot of very serious competitive racers so, no medals this time. At one point Kentra was approaching a mark on a starboard tack and an unnamed yacht almost rammed us - closest I have ever been to another sailing vessel at speed!!!!! Race 3 - cant really remember it all, but it was a fabulous start with all 16 yachts from all 3 classes crossing the start line at the same time and heading in a North Easterly direction before tacking for the first mark. The view must have been pretty spectacular from the shore. In the beginning…………. Kentra was very close to the start line and after the race the committee boat said that we were over the line at the start gun (so were 4 other yachts allegedly) but I reckon they need to buy a decent watch because in my opinion, Kentra was not over the line - like I said we were a racing team, honed to perfection!!!! A racing team…… Kentra is a beautiful yacht to sail on and she certainly held her own against the more serious, racing, fin keelers from Lossie and Banff. At the prize giving, Angus was presented with the third overall cup for yachts in class 2, which was an excellent result for Findochty Water Sports Club. I really enjoyed my weekend and I was very proud to be a small part of Kentra's crew. I must take this opportunity to congratulate Sandy of Bramble who came second in his class, Bill and Fiona of Vivari, first in their class and Fred, of Solan, third in his class - very well done Findochty Water Sports Club Skippers and Crews overall. Mairi Innes (usually Fusion II but will crew for Kenta anytime)
Varis Regatta - the lifeboat tale I was approached by the committee to act as photographer for the Findochty/Buckie Varis Regatta, to be held on Saturday 7th June 2008. This was to be the first of a series of three regattas, with those following being hosted by Lossiemouth and Banff/Whitehills. Boats started arriving at Buckie throughout the Friday evening and by 9pm the number 2 basin was looking very "Yottie". Buckie was being used as the muster point as Findochty would struggle to find wall space for those fin keelboats that could take the ground. Those that cannot would not be able to berth in Findochty, so we all assembled in Buckie. While the boats arrived the Lifeboat laid the race marks for the next morning, off Findochty and Portknockie. Sandy Baird doesn't mind rafting up on a muster but he got more than he bargained for when the lifeboat returned, when the Severn Class lifeboat William Blannin came alongside to drop off members of the race committee. An impressive manoeuvre expertly carried out by the Coxswain and crew. We were invited to the Lifeboat station for a barbeque, which was expertly done, the collection buckets being well filled with the folding stuff. While this was going on, much hard work was going on establishing handicaps for the racing. Handicaps established the race briefing was given before socialising was resumed. Saturday arrived overcast with little wind, I was unable to follow the action in my own boat as it was stuck in Findochty, high and dry, so I was invited to join the lifeboat for the morning. We duly left harbour and whizzed out to the start line to fire a maroon to start the first race, a passage race to Findochty. Once the boats were on the way we headed for Portgordon, to lift a race marker, which was not now being used due to the lack of wind. We then moved markers off Findochty and Portknockie. On returning to the committee boat, now off Findochty, we discovered it disabled by a fouled propeller and drifting towards the rocks. An offer of help was accepted and the lifeboat soon had the committee boat in tow. The youngest crew member asked his mentor if this was "a shout". He had been with the lifeboat only three months and hadn't had a shout yet. He was told no, as we had come across the casualty and were not called out. His disappointment vanished a couple of minutes later when everyone's pager went off. It was now his first shout!! We recovered the casualty to Buckie, where the lifeboat arranged for a diver to sort out the propeller. I had to leave at this point to head for Findochty to photograph the finish of the passage race. It was another hour before I could get my boat out and photograph the rest of the racing. The wind increased as the day went on ending up quite lively. The third race was changed to an Olympic course, before the boats returned to Buckie, where a bus was waiting to take the competitors back to the prize giving and an excellent Buffet in the Admirals.
FUSION II PORTSOY 2008-06-25 Fusion II and Sparkle left Findochty at 2pm on Friday afternoon of 20th June, bound for Portsoy Traditional Boat Festival. The wind was blowing at 15 to 20 knots from the northwest and the sail down was pretty quick. Both yachts chose to sail down with just the jib out and no mainsail. Entering the harbour was pretty scary as the berthing plan had changed yet again and the wind was gusting and blowing the boats anywhere other than their intended mooring. Everyone got moored up safely and a really good night of socialising with singing and dancing ensued. Saturday turned out to be a glorious, sunny morning and the crews checked out the side stalls and attractions on the harbour front. The racing was split into two separate events this year with the small traditional drascombe/dinghy boats sailing in the first race and the larger, cruiser yachts taking part in the second race. The racing was well attended and the cruiser race turned out to be a pretty long distance passage race (triangular course) from Portsoy harbour to the quarry east of Portsoy, then a mile north to seaward, round mark 2, then back to Portsoy and through the start gate. Fusion II and Sarah Bheag got off to a flying start but unfortunately it wasn't the start, it was the five minute warning gun…………Both yachts retuned and restarted the race. Fusion II soon took the lead and held it all the way, passing the second mark as the other yachts rounded the first mark. We launched the spinnaker for leg 3 but just like Kentra at Varis, she wrapped herself around the forestay and we ended up dumping it down the fore hatch. We went to open the jib again and found the roller reefing to be stuck………we could not fathom this one so we just sailed the entire last leg 3, with only a mainsail. Fusion II finished first, on corrected time, Bramble finished second and Solan third in the event. Findochty Water Sports Club 1,2 and 3. The skippers prize giving on Saturday evening was well attended and we were given lovely helpings of Cullen Skink and trifle, courtesy of Downies Fish Co. of Whitehills. The fish soup was fantastic, almost as good as my own!!!!!!Ha ha. When we awoke on Sunday morning the weather was terrible, it was bucketing rain and blowing a hooley. Nothing deters the Finechty yachters though; we trickled out of the harbour, one by one. Solan, Sparkle and Bramble departed at about 12 noon. Fusion II left at about 12.30. And the rain by this time was torrential. The sea state was rather scary too and we were blown home with only the jib sail up (Mairi let the whole thing out by accident - oops) We did intend to reef it. Anyway we did some serious surfing down big waves at a steady speed of 7.5 knots, over the ground in 20 to 25 knots of wind, all the way back to Findochty harbour. When we approached Sterlochy we rolled away the jib and suddenly wind battered us, rain and waves from every direction, I thought we were going to be shipwrecked. All of the fleet made it home intact. We lived to tell the tales and we will no doubt be there next year. Mairi Innes (Fusion II)
Portsoy Traditional Boat Festival The forecast for the weekend wasn't bad as I monitored it for the week before the boat festival. There would be a west wind Saturday which would veer to an east wind Sunday, so it should be a soldiers wind both ways. On Friday morning this was still the case, although wind speeds were on the high side of the comfort zone, with F5-6 gusting F7 now forecast. Oh well better have a look before we decide what to do. After collecting my crew, John, we headed for Findochty. As we approached Portgordon we could see white horses from a couple of miles inland, never a good sign. As we waited for the tide to rise we watched the sea. There were plenty of white horses but the sea state didn't look too bad, so at 11.00 we left. We set a half rolled genoa, leaving the main down and were moving at the hull speed of 6 knots. The waves were steep and averaging 8-10feet but were regular and all from the same direction, so the sleigh ride was begun. It was exhilarating and felt safe as we surfed down the occasional bigger wave. The log was reading above the theoretical hull speed hovering around 8 knots, the highest I saw on the plotter was 9.2 knots!! We may have gone even faster, but while surfing down the bigger waves I was occupied with avoiding broaching. Off Sandend we furled the genoa and started the engine. We were now running directly downwind and the sail was collapsing in the wave troughs and filling with a bang as we climbed the wave face, so it had to be stowed. I had been thinking I may have to go on to Banff if the harbour approach to Portsoy was too rough, so I was scanning the sea ahead for clues as we neared Portsoy. The seas never worsened as we approached and the only difference was large reflected waves off the wall. As these were only creating up and down movement of the water we entered Portsoy new harbour without difficulty. Inside however was a different story. The strong winds meant that without the help of club members already in port we would have found it very difficult to come alongside. The trip had only taken ninety minutes, but what a ninety minutes it was. To some of the salty sea dogs in the club it may have been nothing, but it was the next level on my personal learning curve.I thoroughly enjoyed it although I wouldn't want every trip to be like that. We had just secured the boat when the festival harbourmaster came along and said that the boat inside of me had to move, as it did not match his berthing plan. He could not be made to see the dangers of moving boats in that wind so with the aid of a rib the boat was moved, with some difficulty. Boats arriving over the next couple of hours all berthed with difficulty, one boat almost being blown onto the rocks at eastern end as the "rescue boat" sat un-attended. Disaster was averted by the great efforts of the other boat crews. The skipper must have had a premonition as he had a doctor and the local lifeboat coxswain as his crew, all bases covered there then. On arrival I found I was absolutely famished so we had a huge picnic lunch to replace calories burned. As we finished lunch The Reaper arrived. I had seen it at Portsoy before but never thought about how it was berthed. The answer to that question is "expertly", involving warps and lots of engine power to turn it's 70 feet 270 degrees to port, in an area of water only a little wider and longer. Boats continued to arrive throughout the afternoon, we spent the time checking in and wandering around the harbour area until it was time for an excellent chicken Tikka Marsala to be produced from the galley. We attended the concert, in the evening, at the Wally Green. As usual the performers were excellent. We were glad to see the return of the Norwegian Shantie singers, Slogmaakane (the fat sea gulls), whose charisma changes mundane songs into works of art. The evening was ended by the Irish band , The Raparees. The next morning revealed bright sunshine and a light north wind. The Skippers briefing at 10.00 was followed by the opening of the Salmon Bothy by Alex Salmond, who made a very entertaining job of it. As the V.I.P's toured the restored building Slogmaakane burst into spontaneous song, as they did throughout the weekend. They make Ken Dodd look like a reticent performer and we were very happy to listen to them. A slow wander around the harbour area was followed by an excellent kipper lunch. By now the crowds were building. The wind was veering to the east and thinks were looking good. This soon changed as the new forecast for the next day was "severe gales and heavy rain", so an instant decision was made to return to Findochty straight away. The wind was now a F3-4 easterly and I enjoyed an excellent down wind sail back to Findochty. On arrival in Findochty the wind was starting to rise and the right decision had been made as the next day was exactly as forecast. Here's hoping for more settled weather next year. Bob Chapman Destino