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Findochty Water sports Club
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What we do 2008 - part 3
Banff Sailing Club Annual Regatta The annual Banff Regatta was heldf over the weekend of 12th September and the event was hailed as a great success for the Banff Club Officials who organised the weekend. The regatta attracted a mighty total of 18 yachts to Whitehills marina, and 17 of those yachts entered into the racing on Saturday morning. The race entries came from the three main clubs on the Moray coast, which are Banff Sailing Club, Lossie Cruising Club and Findochty Water Sports Club. The briefing was held at 08.30am and the race officers advised those present that there would be a series of three races that day, commencing at 10.00am. The yachts were divided into 2 Classes, (Class I), yachts with Clyde handicaps of under 20 and (Class 2), yachts with handicaps of 20 and above. The first race was to be a passage race from Whitehills to Banff Harbour, the second, an Olympic course off Banff Harbour with separate starts for Class 1 and Class 2 yachts and the third and final, a race from Banff Harbour, round a seaward mark and back to Whitehills Marina. Race 1 Started as scheduled and the yachts headed off en mass, towards Banff Harbour, however, there was a slight problem. The RIB had been unable to get out of the harbour at Banff to lay the race mark, due to starter problems, so after a great deal of radio chat between race officials and various yachts (during the racing) it was eventually clarified that there was no mark at sea and that the fleet had to head for a finish line, in transit of Banff Harbour Lighthouse and Macduff Harbour Lighthouse. Conditions were pretty good for race one, as there were about 22 knots of wind but the sea state was still quite lumpy following the recent bad weather offshore. The conditions proved to be quite difficult for many of the yachts and our crew eventually reefed the jib sail on Fusion II as we struggled against the sea state and weather conditions and threatened to be overpowered by both. However, with one reef in the mainsail and a well reefed jib sail we battled on to the end of the race where we had a very keen tussle with a yacht named Aquamarijn, ( of Class 1), from about 200 metres off, to crossing the finish line. Fusion II was first over the line from (Class 2) and won first place in the race on corrected time. Fellow club members Sandy Baird, of Sea Swallow and Fred Murray, of Solan, took second and fourth places in (Class 2). F.W.S.C also took the second place in (Class 1), with James Cowie of Sunrise putting in a superb show and coming a close second to Tony Wright, skipper of "Eh?" a Hunter 707 sports boat - Not quite a floating caravan! Race 2 Proved to be an even bigger challenge and a battle with the elements ensued! The wind was steadily increasing, although the sea state remained moderate. The (Class 1) yachts started 5 minutes ahead of (Class 2) on this occasion and the majority of the yachts remained pretty well reefed for the conditions, except "Eh?" who flew a spinnaker! on the down wind leg of the race. The wind gusted up to 29 knots on occasions, and the conditions were extremely testing for those yachts who were shorthanded, thus resulting in several yachts retiring during race two and heading back to Whitehills Marina. It was yet another well fought race around the Olympic course though, as sail trim had to be radically altered for each leg of the triangle. In the end, Fusion II crossed the line first in (Class 2), once again, winning the race, with fellow team members, Sandy Baird and Fred Murray taking a well deserved second and third places in the class. (Class 1) was won again by "Eh?" and James Cowie of Sunrise took second place. Race 2 was a great test of seamanship skills and those yachts with shorthanded crews, actually finishing this particular race, deserve special credit. Race 3 Began in near perfect racing conditions with reasonably calm seas and a good strong southerly wind blowing. The horn blast came over the radio and it was off to a flying mass start this time - with two separate classes still in force for the racing. The crew shook out the reefs from Fusion's sails prior to the start and decided to "just go for it" and this turned out to be the right decision, albeit the skippers' decision!!! The pack set off on the first leg of a two leg course and most of the yachts were goose-winging, or rather, trying to goose wing, in the now lumpy sea state. Many of the fleet's jib sails were crashing between port and starboard tacks and occasionally luffing due to the lumpy seastate. Then, on reaching the first mark, we rounded it to port and headed at full speed back to Whitehills Harbour and to the finish line. The race was closely fought with a big mixture of (Class 1) and (Class 2) yachts intermingled and vying for position for the bulk of the passage. To the utter jubilation of the crew and skipper, Fusion II crossed the line first in (Class 2) for the third time that day and took first place again on corrected time. Sandy Baird of Sea Swallow, took second place and Fred Murray, of Solan, took third place. Again, "Eh?" won (Class 1) and James Cowie, of Sunrise, took second place. On return to Whitehills Marina, we tidied up Fusion II (nothing broken this time - well, not much anyway) before sitting down to some spicy lobster and dressed crab, purchased that same morning from Downies' fish shop in Whitehills Harbour, it was exquisite! Speaking of breakages, poor Fred from Solan broke some of his china dishes whilst sailing in the challenging seas, at least it was someone else who broke something for a change. Later that evening, the crews were driven round to Banff Sailing Club where a meal was provided and the prize giving took place. Prizes were awarded to the overall first, second and third in each class and I am absolutely delighted to say that F.W.S.C brought home four of those six prizes. Needless to say, I am "chuffed to bits" to have crewed on my own yacht and to have won three first places on the same day at an away event but I am also very pleased to see my fellow club members, Sandy taking overall second, (single handed) and Fred taking overall third in (Class 2). James Cowie took overall second in (Class 1). What a Result for Findochty Water Sports Club, it is certainly the best haul of prizes I have ever seen for the club at an away event. Early afternoon on Sunday, the Findochty yachts departed Whitehills, in a convoy, homeward bound and the weather was just superb for early to mid September. The combination of glorious sunshine, southerly winds and a flat calm sea surface resulted in the most perfect sail back along the coast to our Findochty homeport. There was still just one more wee surprise in store for us though. Just as Fusion II rounded the Scar Nose Rock to the western edge of Cullen Bay, we were met by Robert Morrice, a fellow F.W.S.C. club member, who was sailing east from Findochty on his yacht, Lolita and at the same time playing his bagpipes for the fleet of returning yachts, he provided us with an excellent medley of tunes. A friend of Roberts', also armed with a set of bagpipes, accompanied him and whilst one helmed, the other played and so on. Many photos were taken of the "salty pipers" and I even attempted to do a wee hielan' fling in the cockpit of my boat!!! The boys piped us all into the harbour where they continued with their ceiledh, on their pontoon, attracting quite an audience, from locals, tourists and sailors alike!!! A befitting finish to a great weekend of cruising and racing. Lets make next year an even better attended event. Mairi Innes, (crew of Fusion II)
Findochty`s Americas Cup Challenge - 40 years on. This was an article first published in the Club Newsletter in 1990. First sighting - meeting a 12 metre - cameras - the challenge - the sail past. Thursday, 2nd August 1990 was such a good day for sailing that it would have been a sin to miss it, a strong hot southerly wind that meant a broad reach either east or west along the coast. My friend and I chose to go east. With just the Genoa set on the old Myth of Sandwood we were thundering along at a steady 7kts enjoying every minute.. Off Sandend we noticed another sail to the east near Portsoy. Thinking it was probably a Banff based boat we sailed to meet up with them and went about as we drew near. We then found that it was gaining on us at a fair old lick. As it came near we could make out the sail number, 12 with K17 beneath it, a 12 metre no less. We rapidly snapped off as many pictures as we could without missing the moment of seeing this magnificent vessel. They soon overhauled us, storming past on our starboard side just 10 or 15ft from us. A great hole in the water formed between us, boiling and heaving, reminding me of refuelling at sea in my navy days. All too soon they were past, powering away towards Cullen. During the rush past someone shouted for us to put up our mainsail and make a race of it. We were already on our ear and decided against that idea. As they flew past we saw the name on the transom - Sceptre. Now where had I heard that name before? The sail home - how we nearly caught them - the meeting - the invitation. As they stormed off into the distance we were jesting about how concerned they probably were at the prospect of us catching them. Suddenly we realised that they no longer had any heel on but were sailing bolt upright, whereas we were still flying along - we were catching them! For the next ten minutes our excitement grew, the old Myth performing magnificently and we were definitely making up on them. Then someone switched the wind off, and within a 100yds we were becalmed, our moment of glory over. On the VHF we heard Sceptre calling up Buckie Harbour for a berth for the night. We resolved to call on them once we were tied up ourselves. In Buckie the great yellow mast towered above all. We introduced ourselves and were invited aboard and introduced to the crew, five blokes and six youngsters doing part of their Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Our delight was complete when Arthur Wray the Skipper invited us to join them going to Inverness next day. Gathering gear - harbour manoeuvres - the off - exploring the ship - meeting the crew - presenting the Burgee - heading for Lossie. Friday started early, gathering gear from Myth, because we had been warned that Sceptre was a wet boat in a blow, then off to Findhorn to gather my friend, and back to Buckie in time to get on board without causing them loss of time. They had to fill their water tanks first. Getting out of the corner berth was a joy to watch - a bow spring, drive ahead letting the prop wash push the stern out then going astern in wee bursts to get the utmost out of the prop wash as she doesn't steer very well going astern, then around into the next basin alongside the Heathery brae for water. Now we were ready to leave and we puttered out in company with another two yachts into a misty calm. Once settled on course, we explored the boat and got talking to the crew. Arthur Wray was Skipper for this leg and I presented him with a FWSC burgee, which to my delight, he immediately hoisted to the crosstrees with their house flag. Sceptre was the first Americas Cup contender of the post war years. Built by Robertsons of Sandbank on the Clyde, she was shipped to Newport Rhode Island to present the challenge in 1958. Unlike the defender Colombia, with some forty trial races under her belt, Sceptre had only three or four races with her sister ship Evaine (which was being restored at Caley Marina at this time), and so was relatively untried. Like all previous challengers, she was unsuccessful. Originally 73ft overall, she had eight feet chopped off her counter when she was converted to a luxurious cruiser/racer. So now she is 65ft loa, 12ft beam and 10ft draft. She had been the first yacht to be fitted with `coffee grinders`, these having been made by British Leyland. On close inspection you could see the pedestals were lorry axles and the sheet wnches converted lorry wheels. They were nonetheless very powerful, enabling a young slip of a girl to sheet in a big headsail really hard. Raising a ton and a half of mainsail - the lunch - first tack for a week - under Kessock Bridge - sail stow - more Harbour manoeuvres - the dinner - goodbyes. We were soon given the wheel and were thrilled to find how easy she was to steer. Once past Lossie a light N westerly encouraged them to hoist the sails. All the rig was as on our own boats, but massive. The topping lift ran from a huge deck winch and it needed a lot of effort, ie all hands on deck, to lift the boom and one and a half tons of sail out of the crutch. Then everyone on to the main halyard via a mast mounted winch. Initially it was quite easy but the last 20ft or so was a real sweat. They say they can manage with just two hands if they take a lead to the anchor winch. Once up, sheeting in the main was easy as there was a lot of mechanical advantage built into five falls of blocks. The jib was the same as our own, just bigger. The one they were using was their no 5. They actually have eight, but the effort of getting another sail up on deck makes them tend to use whatever is on deck at the time. Once all set up, even in these light airs, we were chuckling along at 6 or 7 knots and able to sail remarkably close to the wind. Arthur Wray told me the main was the original and still in perfect condition. Over the years various sponsors had donated new sails of Mylar and Kevlar, but whilst they certainly made the old girl go well, they didn`t suit her image, and they tended to use the original just for looks. Arthur is a remarkable man and truly loves his yacht. He also loves to cook, and after a round of drinks, lunch was served, delicious soup of Arthur's own making followed by bacon and hamburgers, made on board. Arthur and three others of the crew were part of a consortium who now own Sceptre, and during the times she is on charter, they arrange between themselves to crew for the various stages. Cyril was a comedian from Preston, retired from the furniture trade. John, a lecturer in architecture and Bill the navigator seemed not to disclose his background. The other adult member was John, a teacher accompanying the youngsters. And what a good lot they were, full of fun and ready for any task that might be thrown their way. As we approached Ardersier the wind started heading us, and they suddenly realised they would have to tack, for the first time in a week. I was lucky enough to be on the wheel at this time, and when they were ready it was Lee oh and wind the wheel with a young lass at the coffee grinder sheeting in. Stopping the turn about halfway round, she settled into the new tack nae bother at a`. Another five tacks saw us into the Chanonry Narrows and then round the corner into the deep channel, tacked again at the Fortrose moorings and held a stbd tack all the way to the Kessock Bridge. Reeds Almanac tells us there is 89ft clearance under the bridge at High water. Sceptre`s mast is 88ft ! But it`s now low water but even so I was glad the responsibilty was Arthur`s and not mine. We passed under the bridge with a slight heel on which further reduced the mast height. Once clear of the bridge sails were lowered with a request for a tiddly stow as it was crew change next day and everything had to be in tip top order.. Everyone helped with the mainsail stow, one guy stamping it into shape with his bare feet as he walked along the boom. Into Inverness Harbour it seemed impossible that there was enough room to turn round, but Jack managed it, walking her round on the prop till we were alongside. We had been invited to stay for dinner so after nipping ashore to a phone box (no mobiles then) to organise transport home we came back aboard to pre dinner drinks and a delicious Arthur Wray dinner of roast lamb and a glass or two of excellent wine. Arthur proposed a toast to his young crew and wished them all success for the future. I gave the crew a huge thank you from the two of us for giving us such a glorious day, one that will never be forgotten by either of us. All too soon our transport arrived and we had to say our goodbyes. As we drove away we could see `The Mannie` still fluttering away at the crosstrees of one of the biggest yachts in Scotland. Ron Billing - Gypsy Maiden
Whitehills Cruise I had no excuses, as I was O.O.D. so I was going on a cruise. A quick look at the tides and the fact I was working until 12.30 suggested only one destination. Whitehills. It was the final official cruise of the year but it was a full month earlier than the same cruise last year. E-mails were sent and replies received. It looked like we would have at least five boats taking part. As Saturday approached the weather forecasts all said the same thing, stay at home in front of the fire! That was not an option for me so straight from work I arrived at Findochty in steady rain. By 13.30 Sandy Baird, in Sea Swallow and myself, in Destino set off eastwards through the murk. Once clear of the harbour we found a steady light northwest breeze. Sandy in the much lighter Sea Swallow was sailing at 4-5 Knots. I was having to motor sail to keep up. The rain was steady and visibility was less than half a mile. At the Bow Fiddle I couldn't see the far side of Cullen Bay. By the time we were passing Sandend the rain was clearing from the North and I realised, even with the rain, I was enjoying the trip. By the time we reached Whitehills, at 15.45, the sun was shining and all was well with the world. We started looking westwards from the harbour wall to see when other boats would be following us down, but to no avail. At 16.30 we had just decided to go aboard Sea Swallow for an early sundowner and nibbles when we were hit by a squall of monsoon proportions. It was a good time to be tied to a pontoon, even one that was writhing like a snake. We realised that there would be no other boats joining us, so, when Sandy's wife Jenny arrived I returned to Destino to cook Dinner. An after dinner chat and Glass of red was enjoyed on Sea Swallow before I returned to Destino for an early night rocking in the swell entering the harbour. By morning the wind had dropped a bit and backed and was now coming off the land, giving the prospect of a beam reach back to Findochty. With spirits high I set full sail and set off at 5 knots. It didn't last long as even before I was a mile from Whitehills, the wind veered to right on the nose and the sails were lowered and engine started. The next three and a half hours were spent slamming into a short chop of up to five feet high. At it's worst, between Sandend and Findlater Castle Just about every wave, combined with a F4-5 wind slowed the boat down to 1 knot through the water. It was only when the tide changed against me, when the waves became less steep fronted, that I managed to lift my speed to the usual 4-5 knots under engine. Passing Portknockie I could only make out the outlines of buildings, no details. I put this down to looking into the sun, which had made an appearance as I crossed Cullen Bay. It was only when I was tidying Destino, in Findochty, I realised my glasses were almost opaque with dried salt crystals. The following weekend Destino's mast was lowered, ready for the crane out, so my sailing is over for another year. It's not been the best of years for sailing but there have been some memorable days. The long range forecast for next year is more promising, so roll on the Spring. Bob Chapman Destino
Crane out 25th October had a terrible weather forecast. It was also the day the crane was booked to lift out club members boats. We had a very early start. The Crane was just arriving as I arrived at 07.15. It was still dark and I switched on the navigation lights as I moved Destino across to the North Quay, ready to lift out. The Forecast was for a severe storm later in the day with gusts upwards of 80 mph. At this early hour the winds were still light, so we started the lift. We had a fishing boat to move along the pier first, as it was getting an engine change over the winter. Once this was done we lifted the first boat on to the quay. The new operating rules were working very well. There was less of a carnival atmosphere and it was clear who was doing what. The fears about problems getting on and off boats during lifting (no riding now being allowed) were without foundation. Once the first boat was in place others followed in succession, with the line handlers removing the slings and helping sling the next boat, then becoming line handlers again on this boat. We had two teams so, in theory, one boat would be preparing while another was lifting. We had a barbeque going at the Howff for refreshments, which started serving about 10.00. It's service was short lived though as Craning was aborted about 10.45 when the wind became too high for safety. The next day we had an extra hour in bed, as the clocks changed to GMT. We started at 07.30 again and as the sun rose on a completely different day we quickly got into the swing of things. The last boat was swung on to it's trailer about 11.30 and the crane moved on to Portknockie to lift boats there. I spent the afternoon"winterising" Destino. I started by flushing the engine with fresh water. I do this by slowly pouring water from a watering can into the raw water filter. I had a bucket to top up the can, so I had about three gallons of fresh water ready. I also had a litre of antifreeze to pour in after the last of the water. I started the engine and slowly poured in the water. It took about ten minutes to pour all of the water. I then turned around to get the antifreeze to find I had knocked it over and most of it was flowing out of the scuppers. There was about a quarter left so I poured this in and looked at the exhaust. I was relieved to see antifreeze coming out, so I switched off the engine quickly. I followed this by pressure washing below the water line. At first sight the bottom was very clean, with a few barnacles between the keels, but as I started washing I realised there was a good coating of fine algae. This easily came off. It is the second season the anti-fouling has been on so lifting out every other year has been well worth it. I also hung the solar panel,I bought from Maplin's, in the cabin window. I was delighted to see the battery monitor showing a 0.1 amp charge. There is a shunt on the monitor and I suspect this is absorbing some of the output of the panel and I may connect it directly to the battery. I would appreciate it if any electrical wizards out there can put me right. There are no plans for major work on Destino this winter so I shall be visiting occasionally to check everything is ok and that will be about it until antifoul time. Bob Chapman Destino
The "Flexible Water Sports Club". One of the most exclusive. The only way you can become a member is if you have the right frame of mind. The clubhouse is a small flexible shack waiting to be flushed away by the next high tide. One or two unwritten rules, however - to become Commodore you have to be the first member to sail as far as Cullen during the season and to become vice-Commodore you have to be second. Fetching up somewhere near Bergen does not count. Nor does crossing the Pentland. Or not quite making it to Cullen because you are so keen you have not attached the jib sheets. If you fail in this challenge completely during the season it is considered that your membership has lapsed. The club burgee sports a figure on a seat, appearing to have lost his boat. It is of little use having a burgee unless you have the right frame of mind. And a boat . The burgee on the other hand is also at home on the back shelf of your car with the nodding dog. It all hinges on which way the wind blows. It is pointless looking for fellow members in Cullen if the wind is in the wrong direction. They will all be aground off Craigenroan with little more than a small tin of beans between them, waiting for the tide, which they have missed because they spent too long thinking up alternatives to an ice-cream. A laid back attitude to sailing. The right frame of mind. As for honorary membership, well…. Tina Harris Mouse
In a nutshell Once there was a wee mouse who lived on a mooring at Gourock. In a nutshell........ Mouse is fed up with the wet west coast weather and habitual disturbance from the Dunoon ferry. Armed with an ancient Mariner outboard engine and disposable camera from Tesco, Mouse sets off up the Clyde in a bit of a swell, looking for a bit of adventure. Because of the size of unexpected waves, Mouse comes very close indeed to Dumbarton Rock. In fact at this point Mouse runs out of steam altogether and has to raise a sail. While in this predicament someone shouts from a high wall and Mouse is dragged into a huge black hole full of churning water. The gates closed behind Mouse, and as if by magic the waters began to rise. In a nutshell, Mouse is confused. Under the bedcovers, Mouse tries to sleep. It is not warm, and in the dark there are noises, which sound like an entire company of mice performing River Dance on tinfoil, with no music. From the wings there is much squeaking from the fenders. In the morning Mouse sets out to explore this new environment, which mercifully is less fierce than yesterday. But that was Monday, and Mondays are rarely plain sailing. Down a river which is called a canal, with bulrushes and swans. This will do. Mouse is carried along peacefully for some time in the company of some floating sticks and reeds. Mouse manages a substantial breakfast at lunchtime and a few nibbles here and there. Later in the afternoon Mouse passes alongside the shopping centre in Clydebank. It is getting dark. Mouse leaps onto the bank and buys luminous red and green sticky labels. Stuck on each ear. Port and starboard. Mouse continues down the canal, dazzling the ducks with navigation lights. Mouse approaches Kirkintilloch, and ties up for the night. On the towpath in the morning Mouse finds a scrap of blue and white fabric. Saltire. Fishermen on the bank dangle the back end of a fish on a hook. Bait, they tell Mouse. Mouse checks behind and sees a blue and white fender, which has fallen off. And the Falkirk Wheel. Above the canal there is a crow's nest in a birch tree. In or out of a nutshell, Mouse could be a nice meal. Time to build up some speed. Downhill all the way to Grangemouth, with a few doglegs here and there. Nice place for the winter, Grangemouth, in a nutshell. Tina Harris Mouse
Granton to Findochty How exciting, buying a new (second hand) boat After dragging my wife up and down the west coast, from Ullapool to Largs, over a long weekend and finding nothing, I finally found one on the east coast, lying in Granton Harbour. We paddled out to her mooring on a very blustery day, with her owner. She was a bit tatty; tired would be a better description. The engine struggled to start, she needed new sails and the headlining was hanging in all the wrong places, but the hull looked good. I made an offer, subject to seeing the survey that had been done a couple of months earlier. A 26 feet Westerly Griffin was mine. I spent a couple of days, the following week with my son, cleaning and checking her over, before sailing her home. Kerry accompanied me, leaving on a blustery late September Saturday afternoon. Out in the Firth of Forth, a strong westely wind soon pushed us past Inchkeith island and on past the fairway buoy. We motored into Anstruther and moored on a visitor's berth. It's a lovely Marina but has no facilities. (sounds familiar, Bob) We had to use the public convieniences and they closed at 20.00!! A couple of old salts, in Granton, told me not to use the smart looking chipper at the front of the marina. They said to walk a couple of hundred yards to the local's chipper, owned by the same person, which is just as good and cheaper. They were certainly excellent. A couple of pints and bed. We set off at 06.30 with a westerly f2-3. The tide was with us and we were past Arbroath by mid day. We decided to keep going and arrived in Stonehaven at 18.30. We moored on the outer harbour wall and had supper in the local pub. Andy Morrison joined us on Sunday morning. Kerry went home, as he was going offshore that week and had a few jobs to complete. We departed Stoney at 08.00 and made our way north, in a north east wind, dodging the numerous pot markers. With the strong tide against us in the afternoon, it was a slow slog into Peterhead Marina. The harbour Master could not be contacted by VHF or phone. Fortunately I had been a member of Peterhead, some years earlier, and I still had a key. The locks had not been changed and we were able to use the excellent facilities. We walked into town for fish and chips, then back for a couple of beers followed by bed. Out of Peterhead at 07.00,into a strong north westerly, we were soon past Rattray Head. Andy pointed out places of interest as we passed the Broch. We now had the wind on the nose and motored. I really enjoyed the scenery along the north coast and marvelled at the Gannets, off Troup Head, with their precision flying and fishing. We motored into Findochty at 17.45, relieved that the tatty sails and stubborn engine had got us safely home. Now the work starts. At least my wife will not be dragged around the countryside anymore with the offer of a weekend away, which just happens to take in a few marinas on the way!! Thanks to Kerry and Andy for their help and to the many others who offered. Ed Durkin (Rhapsody) re-named Wylo Too