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Findochty Water sports Club
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What we do 2011
The Leeuwin Log STS Leeuwin II was born out of a dream in 1974, begun in 1981 and launched in 1986. She is the largest sail training ship in Australasian waters, owned and operated by Leeuwin Ocean Adventure Foundation. I am up at 05.45 struggling with a log I should have written yesterday. There is a strong breeze which would appear to be coming from the northwest. Only down here you are never sure. Especially when the forecast tells you to expect warm northerlies. For the first time ever, I am sailing under the ensign of the Australian Merchant Navy. The sun is rising and I can just pick out the white sands of the mainland coast. Bit like home really except for the heat. The recommended temperature for your aircon is 24. But on board ship there is no aircon and we make do with the breeze, or lack of. I am in the middle of a text conversation with the family. Yesterday as we set out from O'Connor Landing in Fremantle all appeared calm at 11.45. Quick safety briefing and out past the little green lighthouse on the port side and the little red one to starboard. They are both called Moles. How confusing is that! Safety briefs are given as and when there is an activity, i.e. climbing the mast. This keeps the briefs short, and relevant to the immediate task in hand. All female crew, except the Galley Slave, who bakes a wicked emu pie! Skipper Sarah is from Fishguard, First Mate Tania from Poland, Second Mate me, from the frozen North, bosun Angie, and Alex in the galley. Additional to his culinary skills, he is also the source for all social info and gossip. Eighteen volunteer scrubbers of all descriptions, recognisable at the end of a day's hard graft only by their red shirts, and the fact that they all walk like Quasimodo after twelve hours in a harness! And then twelve young people and their leader. These are Police Ranger Cadets from the suburb of Subiaco, age 12-18. Maximum depth on yesterday's log was 14m. The depth is set below the draught; so no mental sums each time you need to start worrying. She draws 3m. Out of Freo on a heading of 82 degrees, and then head to wind to hoist the sails. Mizzen first, so that the kids think everything is easy! And she heels! They all grab something, and unfortunately most of that includes each other and/or lines that they have just hauled! And then on to the mainsail. The volunteer crew do this as a very efficient demo, and the helmsman turns 15 to starboard and we are away. No-where in particular, as long as you read the chart and avoid the reefs. They tend to leave their knitting in a mess, so I make an effort to help them coil the heavier sheets on the deck. The landmark is Rottnest Island, approximately ten miles to port, as we sat yesterday, and several other drying rocks. Once under sail Angie switches the engines off and the Lioness is quiet, apart from 23k of wind in her sails. All up except the Main Course. Craig was welded to the helm all of yesterday except for ten minutes when he had to go to the heads and so the kids got a (very short) chance to steer. There is a Tannoy system on board which is quite intrusive but apparently an additional safety measure. So Tania announces the opportunity to steer and there is an immediate rush up the starboard deck by all those who are not seasick. I noticed there were no orders from on high to suggest that the afflicted should be on the lee side! By teatime yesterday the Police Ranger Cadets were suspiciously quiet, clutching their belongings with both hands as if they are about to be shipwrecked. They are pale, and unstable because they have forgotten one hand for the boat. The sea is now F5, as the Fremantle Doctor blows in. The volunteer crew begin to moan as the sun sets, but it has been a long six hours, and the heat intense. The main attraction for me was a planned gybe, which all-in- all took about twenty minutes and the kids thought the world was about to end with Tania's lengthy instructions. I got on the helm for this bit and moved the Lioness's backside effortlessly through the wind very slowly indeed. Down in the saloon, there are a lot of emu pies left. The kids had been more interested in the oranges because they can chase them around the deck before eating them. Unfortunately the eating of oranges after the emu pies led to a rush for the heads and the lee rail! Sadly some of the kids had not listened to the briefing and mistook the pinrail for the lee rail! In the meantime they are appearing for breakfast and Alex is not ready. It is not such an interactive ship as those I have sailed on in the past, and Alex is the only one allowed in the galley. Not that anyone else would fit in, and to add to the shortage of space, the reflective steel surfaces and doors make you think it is in fact full of chefs! Also for health and safety reasons there is a tea/coffee machine so you do not have to boil kettles. To my injury I discovered at lunch yesterday the pain of dropping anything hot when wearing shorts. I jumped as high as the crow's nest when hot emu escaped from my pie and landed on my sunburn! After the tsunami off the Japanese coast I am looking for a weather report, before we raise anchor. There appears to be nothing on the metfax. The sea is running a mild F3, set to increase as it always does later with the Doctor, to 5-6. The kids are much more lively this morning, and very hungry. After breakfast they have jobs to do. It is an interesting concept that before going on deck you take off more clothes than you have on. It is not necessary to wear a harness unless you are climbing up the mast or the bowsprit. So we need a calming power for well-rested and unharnessed children! The mops are waiting on deck. I treat myself to a few minutes to watch yesterdays Hobart win over Melbourne at Rugby on iplayer. And then we prepare to sail back to Freo. There is a lot of learning to be done! Predicted temperatures today 31. We pass the Sunday sailors out of Fremantle Sailing club close hauled and heeling. We do the whole sails up thing again, and sails down before our re-entry to Fremantle Ports. The children disappear quite quickly to waiting parents, chatting about tonight's TV programmes and eager to hear who won the first footie game of the season. They all support the Dockers. It is difficult to assess whether they enjoyed it or not, but as crew, we certainly did. Tina Harris 13/3/11
Fantastique Trip home from Howth. Happy days, Thursday 17th March is finally here and Mairi and myself are getting a lift through to the airport picking up George Craigen at Macduff on the way. Robin Nicholson is meeting us at the airport and his brother Graeme is flying over from Newcastle to meet us in Dublin. We all arrive in Dublin airport at lunch time and get a taxi out to Howth Marina and head down to the boat to drop off our hand baggage as everything apart from Graeme`s kit was dropped off in February. The 17th was St Patrick's day so not a lot open in Howth apart from the pubs which was fine as we didn't want to head off without everybody getting a night onboard to familiarise themselves with the boat, we also had a few small jobs to do and navigation lights etc to check before we left. We headed up to the Abbey, where we had a good bar supper with Bob and Jackie on our last visit and had lunch and a couple of pints then headed back to the marina to get a couple of jobs done before getting showered at the clubhouse and heading back up for supper later in the evening. Our worst fear for getting Fantastique home in March was always going to be the possibility of wild weather but St Patrick's day turned out to be dry and sunny with light winds. There were lots of locals and tourists visiting Howth, which is the exclusive bit of Dublin where all the pop stars live. Thankfully the weather picture was predicting to be settled for another few days. Friday morning we got up to a glorious, sunny morning had breakfast and we picked up a couple of things from the local chandlers, called Philip to say thanks and cheerio and at 11am were on our way out of the marina, homeward bound. The wind was very light south westerly so we hoisted the mainsail and motor sailed on our course up the Irish coast for the rest of the day. After some supper George and myself went below for a few hours nap while Robin Graeme and Mairi took the first watch of the night, it was nearly 19:30 hrs before darkness finally fell and with hardly a cloud in the sky and a full moon, visibility was very good. (Still no wind to sail). George and myself got up at midnight to let the others get some rest and were able to sit back and let the autopilot get on with it with minimum alterations from time to time, there was hardly any traffic to avoid, despite our crossing a major shipping lane and we only saw a couple of small container ships and ferries, so had a few hot spicy drinks along the way and yarned the night away. The weather was still really good as we approached the Mull of Kintyre at around 5am although there was now a bit of a swell running as expected. Daylight came in with another really nice morning, we could not have had better weather for this part of the trip considering the time of year and I suppose to be asking for a favourable breeze might have been asking for "too much". When we got to the Mull of Kintyre we had the tide against us for the first time as we had the flood coming up from Southern Ireland and the ebb carrying us nicely along the coast of Northern Ireland. We didn`t make much speed past the Mull and it looked like the lighthouse was never going to disappear until Robin came up and gave the engine another few hundred revs (great idea as George and me were too busy yapping to think of that) Duh! As the day progressed we headed up the sound of Jura with intention of making it to Oban for the night. The weather stayed bonny all the way up the west coast with Mairi even threatening to retract her statement from last year when she swore that she would never again visit the west coast of Scotland due to the rain endurance test of last summer. At five minutes to four in the afternoon we moored at Kererra in time to watch the 4pm water taxi leave for Oban so went up to the marina office locked and a sign saying that the last water taxi was leaving Oban for Kerarra at ten minutes past six which meant we would not have had time to get washed and go across for a meal so we headed on to Dunstaffnage where the hotel, "wide mouthed frog" had reopened for business. The marina facilities at Dunstaffnage were first class, very clean and warm with under floor heating etc so after a freshen up and a dram we headed up to the hotel for a meal and a couple of pints where we met Allan and Roberta a couple who used to berth at Findhorn and are now moving their Bavaria 36 round there full time. Sunday after breakfast we headed for Loch Linnhe to get the tide through the corrin narrows and on to Corpach, lying against the sleepers of the outer pier for the night as the canal was due to open at 9am on Monday morning. During Sunday night the wind picked up considerably higher than expected and George stayed up until the early hours to adjust fenders and mooring lines, after a while I was getting concerned so got up to check that everything was ok and stayed up until around 7:30 as we were really getting pushed hard against the pier with the wind and waves. The lock keepers arrived early and decided to let us in right away to get out of the uncomfortable conditions but it wasn`t an easy decision on which way to go and we decided to walk Fantastique around the pier and into the lock, as we rounded the concrete corner going into the lock the wind was making things really difficult for everyone to fend off so I decided to lock the wheel and run forward to help ,unfortunately I fell overboard and Robin who was trying to help me did likewise , unusually enough we didn`t even get our feet wet as we landed in the lock gate and Mairi had a hold of me as did Robin so after a bit of commotion and minor heart failure all round we were back onboard and made it into the shelter of the lock (still shaking). We were soon on our way up Neptunes staircase and heading through the canal system arriving at Fort Augustus late afternoon. After a shower we headed down to the Bothy for a meal and a few pints then back to the boat for the night. We were up early on Tuesday morning and Robin had noticed some water under the aft cabin sole board again so having some time on our hands we decided that some fault finding had to be done and removed the cover from the front of the holding tank and pumped out the heads, only to find that waste was running down inside the hull and into the bilge as the discharge seacock was blocked and the holding tank was full so that every time you pumped the loo fluid came into the boat via a badly fitting hose to the overboard vent line (not nice) to cut a long story short it took about another 15 mins to rectify the problem much to the disappointment of a couple of swans which Mairi had been feeding with bread earlier, and were too close for comfort when the line eventually cleared. We were soon on our way down through the locks to Loch Ness and onwards to Inverness the sun was shining all the way once again we couldn't believe our luck. George had told the lock keepers we were on a delivery trip, heading for Lossie and that we were hoping to get out to sea that day and they got us through as swiftly as possible. After all we were their first customers of the season. Everything went very efficiently we were also the only boat travelling in that direction so never had to wait for anyone. The staff at the canal were all friendly and helpful, a credit to their employer. Mid afternoon Tuesday and we were out into the firth and heading for Lossie with brilliant sunshine and a nice temperature for March and flat calm sea without a breath of wind. We were outside Lossie harbour at approximately 8:30 pm that evening, waiting for the tide and we eventually got in at around 10pm and settled down for the night. On Wednesday morning the lads all helped get the boat cleaned up and George found the fault which was only allowing the fridge to work intermittently so as a reward we managed to help him on his way back to Whitehills with "About Time" so that we could move into the berth which he had been wintering in, in the west basin. All in all we had a great trip back from Howth putting around 300 nautical miles on the log, which was almost as much as she had done since new. We got to familiarise ourselves with the equipment onboard and now feel comfortable with all the gismos. Robin, George and Graeme were a great help and the crack was good all the way so it's been a "Fantastique" start to the 2011 season. Neil & Mairi Fantastique
Phil,John,Fred and Robert go west on Harmony We left Buckie at 5.30pm on Thursday 28 April in sunshine and a brisk SE wind, so genoa unfurled and 6 Knots on the log - perfect ! Unfortunately the wind left us just short of Lossiemouth. So on with the Perkins at 6 knots and 1500 rpm. Burghead arrived within 3 hours so good going but then the tide turned against us and knocked 1 to 2 knots off our speed over the ground. John and I turned in for a couple of hours then took over the con while Fred and Robert crashed out later. Quiet night and as the hours ticked by the nav lights around the Riff Bank came into view. We made good use of our plotter at the wheel and chart on the laptop at the chart table and picked up the south cardinal light at the east end of the Riff Bank. We motored down the south channel to Fort George in ever increasing foul tide and past the narrows at the Fort at midnight making about 3 knots over the ground. Once past the narrows we had less tide against us as we took the middle (shallower) ground to the Kessock Bridge leaving the Meikle Mee shoal to starboard. The tide was fierce as we passed under the bridge and it took quite some time to reach the canal entrance, which was of course in darkness. I was on the wheel and made a bit of a pig's ear of an approach, having to do it twice. It was tricky with the lack of light and the strong tide immediately outside the canal entrance - although the crew just rubbished my efforts - fair enough I'd have taken the mick too if anyone else had been on the helm. We tied up to the pilings outside the sea lock using our big red bow fenders. We slept from 2am to 7.30am, then quick breakfast and entrance into the canal. We were held up for an hour or so as 3 yachts were coming down the Muirtown locks then a fast passage up the locks, through Tomnahurich bridge and Dochgarroch lock before entering a windy Loch Ness - fortunately the wind was on our quarter or our stern all the way to Fort Augustus varying between 12 and 30 knots. We were flying just under full genoa, at one point reaching over 8 knots. Loch Ness was disposed of in 3 hours and then we had a fast passage up the locks to the basin at the top. Robert entertained the tourists playing his pipes as we rose. We spent the night at Fort Augustus, making use of the excellent showers there. Dinner was a big curry supplied frozen by Ann and we also demolished a couple of bottles of wine prior to serving it. Bed was at 9.30pm as all were tired with a lack of sleep, strong sunshine, strong winds and drink. Up at 7am quick breakfast and motor to Kytra lock for 8.30am as it opened. Fred and John both getting a gold star stuck on their lifejackets by the lockkeeper for wearing them. Robert and I were sent to the naughty corner. We had a wonderful passage in bright sunshine to Banavie and Neptunes Staircase, stopping in Gairlochy whilst the lockkeepers had their lunch and we took the time to visit "Braemar Jim" who lives on his boat there. At Laggan locks we came across an ex Buckie fishing boat the Lynn Marie, now in Isle of Mann ownership which was on escorted passage to Macduff for major repairs after a collision with a coaster that almost tore their bows off. The whole whaleback had been moved about 2 feet to starboard and the wooden stem was badly shattered. It was a miracle that they had not sunk and unbelievably the coaster had not stopped although they were able to report the name to the authorities and the skipper had his ticket taken off him. We were held up at Banavie for an hour, as there was trouble with the road bridge, which was playing up. However eventually we got through with Robert entertaining the visitors on his pipes again. The Saturday evening we spent in the Corpach sea lock basin enjoying a stunning twilight as the sun played on Ben Nevis. More wine, beer and whisky followed by Robert's wife's excellent farmer's casserole, again taken aboard frozen. Left the sea lock at 8.45am in brilliant sunshine and no wind. Spent the first half hour deflating our large red bows and storing then away together with our normal complement of fenders and rope until shipshape and ready for more open water. We had the tide with us until midday so whooshed through the Corran Narrows at over 10 knots over the ground (log 6 Knots). Shortly afterwards we picked up a nice easterly breeze which gradually freshened to 20 plus knots so that we were close reaching in the sunshine at 6.5 to 7.5 knots. As we turned into the Sound of Mull the wind died away to a zephyr and we gybed back and forth to keep moving although by this time we had the flood tide with us heading west up the sound. Just as we were about to furl up the sails the wind freshened from the stern up to 15 knots apparent and we bore away on a run reaching speeds of up to 7.6 knots until the entrance to Loch Aline. We reached into the entrance, furled up the genoa and sailed into the loch under mainsail with the tide under us. We picked up our mooring marker and winched the chain riser up to our stem then attached our mooring buoy and junk. We set up the cockpit table and enjoyed a few drinks prior to a lasagne dinner and enjoyed our first evening of 2011 on our own mooring. Bed at 10pm up at 8am for a quick sail in the Sound of Mull before Robert's wife Kathleen was due to pick us up at lunchtime. A gentle breeze took us on a broad reach across the sound to Fishnish Bay on Mull where we anchored in 5 metres and had a tasty brunch of smoked sausage on fresh baguettes. We upped anchor and leebowing the tide close reached across to Loch Aline were we came across the paddle steamer Waverley steaming up the sound past Loch Aline. We got a great view of her as she sailed close across our bows. Then into Loch Aline to tidy up and ashore in the dinghy and home. Sunshine and fair winds all the way - the best trip ever? - Yes. Phil Brown
WINDY WEST COAST After our wonderful delivery trip to our west coast mooring at the end of April, it has been high winds and rain since. John and I spent a week end on the boat two weeks later with forecast winds of NW 5 to 7 for Saturday and Sunday. Loch Aline is completely sheltered from the NW so whilst it was quiet and calm at our mooring there was plenty of wind in the Sound of Mull if we popped out of the Loch. Friday night we spent having a few drinks aboard and good nights sleep on the mooring. Arising on Saturday morning we could have run down to Oban or Pulldhobrain for the night, but it would have been a very very stiff beat back to Loch Aline on the Sunday. We decided instead to beat up the Sound of Mull towards Tobermory until we got fed up, then run off down wind to Loch Aline and a quiet night at our mooring again. Staying at Tobermory overnight would have been uncomfortable as it is open to the NW although we could have found shelter in the Dorlinn, which is a well sheltered anchorage in a little sound between Calve Island and Mull in the south end of Tobermory Bay. Two reefs were put in the main and the genoa tracks taken forward to suit a well reefed headsail prior exiting the loch. Once in the Sound of Mull we turned north and set out hard on the wind in 25 knots gusting 30 knots. the tide was with us so the waves were only 3 or4 feet high as we powered upwind at 6.5 to 7 knots effortlessly. We are still getting used to our "new" boat it being only our second season with her. We are however still amazed at how powerful she is to windward. The Sun Fizz has a beam of 12.5 ft and a 40% ballast ratio so carries her sail area well and is in fact easier to sail well in strong winds than our Sigma 33 was - and we thought she sailed well. Heel angles averaged approx 15 degrees and 20 degrees in strong gusts. The thing we like most is the manner in which she resists rounding up in the strong gusts, instead just digging in more and going faster with just a light touch needed on the wheel. Most of the time she sails herself to windward, often needing no correction to the wheel for minutes at a time. The bouyancy of the hull proving a very dry ride. We tacked from side to side of the Sound of Mull until within sight of Tobermory, at which point the wind began to really blow consistently above 35 knots with prolonged gusts to 40 knots. This began to get really exciting and despite thinking we would have to take in the 3rd reef Harmony took it all in her stride winding up to 8 knots at times sending spray flying everywhere as the tide turned and the waves increased and became steeper. We were amazed how manageable the boat remained, the only hard work being winding the headsail in each tack. As we tired of beating upwind and being aware of looking after our rig and sails, also being ready for a drink and a bite to eat we dropped the mainsail and turned downwind under headsail at 7 to 8 knots in comfort to run the 9 or 10 miles back to Loch Aline. A truly great sail followed by a few drinks and a tasty dinner on board and other quiet night on the mooring rounded out a great weekend. As the forecast was for increasing winds on the Sunday we rowed ashore late morning and drove home. We were due to go sailing on the weekend of 21/22 May but the forecast of SW gales and rain put us off and we didn't go. Of course Monday 23 May was a storm from the SW so the following weekend we drove to the boat to check if everything was ok. The first thing we saw as we drove down to the loch was 2 boats driven ashore and that our own mooring had dragged about 60 metres. Everything was ok on the boat but we were amazed the mooring, which we laid 23 years ago, had dragged, as it had never moved an inch before. We drove up to the mouth of the loch and spoke to a couple of locals and one of the ferry staff who stated that Monday 31 May had been the worse storm anyone had seen before. The ferry had to stop sailing at midday as the entrance to the loch had become too dangerous despite the power and size of the ferry. The ferry remained out of service for the rest of the day leaving hundreds of cars and passegers stranded until the following day. The state of the sea within the loch was described as "boiling" and the water level in the loch was stated not to have lowered even at low tide due to the force of wind and wave entering the mouth of the loch. I have attached photos of the Moody 38 driven up the shore due to a broken mooring rope. John and I spent last weekend fabricating an additional mooring anchor for our mooring to try and ensure it drags no further. This we will attach this weekend. We will also need to find a way of lifting our mooring before the end of the season and putting it back to its original position. Phil Brown 31 May 2011